McLaren was one of the early emerging church leaders when Leadership Network (Bob Buford) pulled together a group of young church leaders – a group that eventually became known as “Emergent.”
McLaren’s message that everything must change is the ongoing message of the emerging church. Much of that message has to do with rejecting biblical prophecy of a last days period prior to Jesus Christ returning. Roger Oakland explains some of McLaren’s philosophy:
It is no secret that Brian McLaren rejects the Book of Revelation’s reference to a coming apocalyptic judgment in the future. McLaren’s book The Secret Message of Jesus, reveals much of his outlook on this matter. Of the book, he says, “Everything I’ve written to this point has been a preparation for this book.”1 In a chapter titled “The Future of the Kingdom,” he writes:
The book of Revelation is an example of popular literary genre of ancient Judaism, known today as Jewish apocalyptic. Trying to read it without understanding its genre would be like watching Star Trek or some other science fiction show thinking it was a historical documentary, or watching a sitcom as if it were a religious parable, or reading a satire as if it were a biography–or like thinking you knew all about lions because you watched one pacing on a concrete slab one afternoon… instead of being a book about the distant future, it becomes a way of talking about the challenges of the immediate present. It becomes a book of warnings and promises.2
Further, discrediting the validity of the Book of Revelation as a book that provides prophetic insight, McLaren states:
If Revelation were a blueprint of the distant future, it would have been unintelligible for its original readers, as well as the readers of all succeeding generations, and would only become truly and fully relevant for one generation–the one who happened to live in one period of time it is prognosticating about. But if Revelation is instead an example of the literature of the oppressed, full of ever-relevant warnings and promises, it presents each generation with needed inspiration and wisdom and encouragement. In this light, Revelation becomes a powerful book about the kingdom of God here and now, available to all.3
Not only does McLaren believe this last book of the Bible is about “the kingdom of God here and now,” he claims that Jesus had nothing to say about a period of catastrophic judgment:
Other readers will be thinking of long passages in the Gospels that seem to be full of prognostication from the lips of Jesus himself–prognostications that seem to relate to the end of the world. What are we to make of these passages, such as Matthew 24-25? …
Since Jewish apocalyptic was a popular genre in Jesus’ day, we would expect him to be influenced by it and use its language and metaphors…. against the backdrop of Jewish apocalyptic, we discover that phrases that sound like they’re about the destruction of the world–like “the moon will turn to blood” or “the stars will fall from the sky”–are actually rather typical stock phrases in Jewish apocalyptic. They are no more to be taken literally than phrases we might read in the paper today.4
Someone who might agree with McLaren is New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard. But she puts a little twist in the Kingdom Now theology. She calls it Armageddon Alternative, which basically means that if enough people join together and think positively about the earth and the world, then this disastrous end-time scenario described in the Book of Revelation doesn’t have to occur at all. She explains:
Here we are, now poised either on the brink of destruction greater than the world has ever seen–a destruction which will cripple planet Earth forever and release only the few to go on–or on the threshold of global co-creation wherein each person on Earth will be attracted to participate in his or her own evolution to godliness.5
This quote is from Marx Hubbard’s book she titles Revelation. In essence, she is describing what the New Age believes is going to take place–that man will evolve into “godliness” and thus prevent what the Bible has prophesied. Using language from the Bible, she describes this time period:
In the twinkling of an eye, we are all changed by this experience. It is a mass metanoia, a shared spiritual experience for the human race, a peaceful second coming of the divine in us as us.6
What Marx Hubbard is proposing is not much different than McLaren’s message that the kingdom of God will be established here on earth by Christians without King Jesus being physically present. McLaren describes his all-inclusive kingdom:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven… We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost–and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.7
Barbara Marx Hubbard also speaks of this coming kingdom where all humanity will realize its divine potential and thus avoid Armageddon:
You are to prepare the way for the alternative to Armageddon, which is the Planetary Pentecost, the great Instant of Co-operation which can transform enough, en masse, to avoid the necessity of the seventh seal being broken.8(Faith Undone, pp 157-160).
Brian McLaren would agree with Marx Hubbard when she talks about the “en masse” (critical mass) transformation of people. In his book, Everything Must Change, he states: If it [“revolution of hope”] happens in enough of us, we will face and overcome the global crises that threaten us” (p. 6).
If you have a family member or friend who is planning on attending the “Everything Must Change” tour, we hope he or she will look at the evidence and documentation and reconsider.
For I am the LORD, I change not. Malachi 3:6
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Romans 1:25
1. From biography on Brian McLarenâ€™s website: http://www.brianmclaren.net/biography.html.
2. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, A division of Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 175-176.
3. Ibid., pp. 176-177.
4. Ibid., pp. 177-178.
5. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation (Mill Valley, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 1995), p. 174.
6. Ibid., p. 324.
7. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, op. cit. pp. 78-79.
8. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, op. cit., pp. 172, (for more information, this topic, see Reinventing Jesus Christ by Warren Smith, http://www.reinventingjesuschrist.com).
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