As groups around the world celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with highly ecumenical events and speeches, Brian McLaren, once likened to Luther,1 has outlined his view of what the next reformation will look like in an article he wrote on November 1, 2017 titled, “The Last Reformation … and the Next Reformation.” A disgruntled former evangelical Christian, McLaren says that the first reformation was led by white European men whose belief of an inerrant Bible was “papal authority with paper authority.” In contrast, McLaren says the next reformation will be much different:
The last reformation is associated with one “great man”–Martin Luther. He was joined by other “great men” – all white and European. The next reformation will be associated not with one “great man” but with many diverse people–especially women and people of color. The contribution of Liberation Theology, Black Theology, Feminist/Eco-Feminist/Womanist/Queer and related theologies will be as central to the next reformation as white European theology was to the last reformation.2
This, of course, is what McLaren has been hoping would occur for a very long time.
McLaren’s public beginnings on this emergent “progressive” anti-Christianity path began back in the late 90s when men Bob Buford, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels put their heads together and came up with a way to raise up a group of young men, get them into the lime light, and bring the new spirituality into the church through them. They succeeded, and most don’t even realize they were the initial driving force. What brilliance! If you have never read about this time period, it’s worth doing so. We’ve put together a PDF of chapter 2 of Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which describes the early days of the emerging church and McLaren’s role in that.
Rick Warren has his own ideas and hopes for a new reformation. He’s been talking about it for years. The following quotes illustrate some similarities between Brian McLaren’s new reformation and Rick Warren’s:
Who’s the man of peace in any village—or it might be a woman of peace—who has the most respect, they’re open and they’re influential? They don’t have to be a Christian. In fact, they could be a Muslim, but they’re open and they’re influential and you work with them to attack the five giants. And that’s going to bring the second Reformation.3
Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” “Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they’re all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.”4
Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America … Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.5
As for Brian McLaren, he is convinced that it is white European Christian men who are the source of corruption in the church, and even in the world. In his article, he uses the term “white Christian supremacy” to refer to white Christian men saying they “naturally led” the “genocide” of the Holocaust and the nuclear war. He believes if there can just be a reformation that is made of everyone else (no matter what their beliefs are), then we will have a truly pure reformation that will change the entire world and make “Christianity” what it should be. But, like other emergent teachers, McLaren threw out the Bible as the actual Word of God, and in so doing, has embraced and clung for dear life to ideologies that try to explain why there is evil in the world. The only thing McLaren can come up with is it must be white Christian European males. McLaren has become so deceived in his rejection of biblical truth that he actually believes this, and with a passion. He rejects Christianity now because he believes it is a “white man’s religion.” He cannot see that man’s heart is sinful and full of deceit, and it has nothing to do with color or status. While we know there have been great atrocities and abuses done at the hands of white men, there have also been great atrocities and abuses done at the hands of non-white men. McLaren believes the problems and sufferings of this world are because men of one color – white – are more wicked than any other race of people. Tragically, many will believe his new reformation theology and will turn against the God of the Bible altogether and join forces with an all-inclusive god of this world. That god, however, cannot save one single soul. He cannot give lasting peace, and he cannot give eternal life. McLaren hates the fact that the Jesus Christ of the Bible says, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) and “narrow is the way” that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).
The reformation leaders from over 500 years ago tried to separate themselves from what they saw as a false corrupted Christianity (Roman Catholicism). And that was a good thing. Many of them paid a high price to stand for truth; for many, even their lives. But there were groups that formed after the reformation that created their own forms of “Christianity,” and many of those groups became corrupt as well. But that is not the church (the body of Christ). The church is made up of people, starting with the very first Christians described in the New Testament, who name the name of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who become born again through His Spirit, and who have the mind of Christ because they are born again in Him. While some of them may belong to different groups and denominations, they know in their hearts that their first allegiance is to God. This body of Christ has been in existence since the beginning of the church after Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. It consists of both men and women, rich and poor, and of many different skin colors and from many different nations. Those distinctions merely describe the outer shell of these believers. The important distinction that separates them from the entire world is that they are sealed through the Holy Spirit in Christ (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). They have been translated from the kingdom of darkness (sin) into the kingdom of light (Jesus Christ) (Colossians 1:13). Because they have the Spirit of God living in them, they do not hate, they do not despise someone because of the color of his skin, and they pray for the lost knowing that God loves them and wishes for all to come to repentance and the knowledge of Him; and while they may attend various denominations, they first are Christians, born again and sanctified through Jesus Christ. Though not perfect by any means and can succumb to their flesh and sin, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who convicts them of sin, gives them power from on high to walk righteously, and cleanses them from all sin. After reading this article by Brian McLaren, we must seriously doubt that he has ever seen or entered this Kingdom of Jesus Christ (who said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Tragically, Brian McLaren and those like him have missed the boat and are sinking in a mire of lostness, always seeking, but never finding, and taking anyone with them who will follow. Equally tragic are the many Christian leaders and pastors who somewhere along the line jumped into that quagmire of deception because they were tempted by that evil one who offered them popularity, wealth, and lust in exchange for a truth and discipleship that costs dearly.
Brian McLaren, truth isn’t about white men or black men. Yes, there are racists, and people of color have often been victim to them. But that is because of sin, sin in the hearts of men who became cold, callous, and wicked from the hardness of their hearts. But you Brian McLaren have chosen to walk on a path that is also cold, callous, and wicked. You have been kept from truth because your eyes have been on this world rather than on an invisible world that is far above anything you can imagine. You think your neo-political, anti-Christian, pro-gay, environmental, anti-Bible rhetoric is going to save the world. You are wrong, dear sir. Truth does not lie on the path you are venturing on. Nor does it lie in any man-made institution. It is found in the pages of a book that God gave us, along with His Spirit, to show us the way to One Man Who has invited all to come unto Him and believe on Him. You think that your “progressive” relevant, emergent talk is so far above those who simply believe in a simple Gospel. You have swung to the other side of the pendulum, and you are just as off as those on the opposite side.
- Brian McLaren, “The Last Reformation . . . and the Next Reformation” (Patheos, November 1, 2017, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/brianmclaren/2017/11/last-reformation-next-reformation/#o77FxR1O0HGLI2ws.99)
- Rick Warren quoted in “Myths of the Modern Megachurch” (Pew Forum on Religion, 2005, http://www.pewforum.org/2005/05/23/myths-of-the-modern-megachurch/).
- Rick Warren quoted in “The Purpose Driven Pastor” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060116060443/http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm)
- Rick Warren speaking at the Pew Forum on Religion, 2005, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pewreligion.htm).