McLaren opens his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, in a quite pithy and jovial manner. It is nice to see a pastor not take life, or theology, too seriously. I’ve only read the first chapter (actually chapter 0).
One concept that he brings up that I found interesting is the idea of “accumulated orthodoxy.” He notes that the longer the discipline of theology goes one, the check list of orthodoxy grows. Whereas the Bible asserts that orthodoxy meant following Jesus as Lord and Savior and trying with all our might to be like him and accepting his grace for none of us can make the grade. The simplicity of that statement has been befuddled by subsequent years of theology. Now orthodoxy includes views of salvation, Jesus’ deity, humanity, the Trinity, grace, works, Scripture, prayer, the Holy Spirit, faith, Communion, and on and on the list could go. And on and on the list does grow. Theology now is consumed by the whims of the day. Current discussions are focused on the openness of God and whether he can see the future or not. The list of “orthodoxy” is growing.
Thus, McLaren proposes a generous orthodoxy (not his phrase). He quips that those are two terms that have not oft been paired together. Why must we make non-Christians jump through so many hoops? Why must we make them assimilate into doctrine which is not core to the biblical narrative? Why can’t we allow the Savior to be the Savior instead of allowing doctrine and speculation to rule our faith?
Orthodoxy should be generous . . . and I write that coming out of a tradition that has recently been most ungenerous in the matter of orthodoxy (if you haven’t been so exposed – then you should count yourself blessed – Churches of Christ often think their version of orthodoxy is the sole ticket into heaven . . . too bad all those lost souls who tried . . . (note the sarcasm)). What you know is tertiary next to who you know. Yeah, it sounds preacherish . . . but it’s true! We confess belief in a person, not a standard of doctrine.
I’m very interested to see where McLaren takes me in my thinking. I’m becoming more worried that I’m getting too far afold of my tradition.