I'm co-leading a weekly book study group on Brian McLaren's "Everything Must Change" and tonight's class covers Parts 3 & 4. I read them on the plane home from Boston last night and just love how well he articulates -- in really accessible language -- the challenge to look beyond what he calls "the religion about Jesus" that the conventional church has become to "the religion of Jesus" that the work and witness of our Lord was all about in the first place.
Most of it isn't new to me. In McLaren's writing I hear echoes of Verna Dozier, Ed Bacon, Desmond Tutu and Barbara Harris (to name a few.) But I particularly loved his chapters on "reframing Jesus" and wanted to share in this space his example of the Magnificat Mary DIDN'T sing as food for thought.
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my personal Savior, for he has been mindful of the correct saving faith of his servant.
My spirit will go to heaven when my body dies, for the Mighty one has provided forgiveness, assurance and eternal security for me -- holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who have correct saving faith and orthodox articulations of belief, from generation to generation.
He will overcome the damning effects of original sin with his mighty arm; he will damn to hell those who believe they can be saved through their own efforts or through any religion other than the new one He is about to form.
He will condemn followers of other religions to hell but bring to heaven those with correct belief. He has filled correct believers with spiritual blessings but will send those who are not elect to hell forever.
He has helped those with correct doctrinal understanding, remembering to be merciful to those who believe in the correct theories of atonement, just as our preferred theologians throughout history have articulated.
[McLaren, Brian. Everything Must Change. pg. 103]