Mike Cope's blog

Friday, May 13, 2005

As you continue responding to Leroy Garrett's wonderful piece I put on the blog yesterday, I thought I'd ad these words from McLaren's A GENEROUS ORTHODOXY: "One of the most fascinating and vigorous sectors of protesting Protestantism has been 'restorationism' -- a belief held by a succession of groups through church history that, by finally getting the last or lost detail right, they now represent a full-fledged restoration of "New Testament Christianity.' "Having been raised in one such group, and having spent a lot of time with many wonderful people in other restorationist groups as well, I can tell you this: if you are part of a restorationist group, the group dynamics of your group will be nearly identical to those of every other restorationist group. Change the details -- mode or meaning of baptism, church structure, administrivia of worship or piety . . . , doctrinal fine print (a unique interpretation of at least one verse from Revelation, for example, that highlights your group as eschatologically significant) -- and you could be in any super-Protestant restorationist setting. "Fortunately, beneath these squabbles over distinctives, one nearly always finds an idealism among restorationists, a belief that Christianity should and can be better than its common manifestations. This is a good thing and needed -- an important contribution (along with the less helpful static) restorationists bring to the table. . . . "Restorationists . . . often refer to themselves . . . as a remnant. This remnant language is common in the Bible. For those who need consolation for small numbers, it's an attractive blanket to wrap up in: we're not small because we're ineffective, or lazy, or ingrown, or otherwise unattractive; we're small because we're a faithful remnant! Everyone else has compromised. They're taking the easy way. We're the few, the committed, the faiful, the proud. . . . "What is a truly faithful remnant like? Its members do not turn inward in elite self-congratulation, smugly casting a critical eye of disdain on the rest. No, the faithful remnant 'after God's heart" turns its heart others-wise, outward, toward the unfaithful, in loyalty and love. True faithfulness bonds the hearts of the faithful to their unfaithful neighbors. . . . The faithfulness of a faithful remnant is not crabbed and constricted; it is loyal, magnanimous, and generous." Now . . . go back and check Leroy's article yesterday.


  • Maybe I'm short-sighted or my vision is too simplistic, but it seems to me that our questions as a people of God shouldn't be questions concerning what makes us unique compared to other followers of Christ. When I'm talking to a college student on our local JC campus, he/she not asking what makes my church so unique. The questions are bigger. He/she is trying to make sense of of life. I grow weary of discussions about distinctiveness. I'd rather explore bigger, more important questions about how to present the Gospel genuinely in ways that engage people in this world. That invite them in.

    By Blogger Chad, at 5/13/2005 06:29:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Thank you so much for this post. McLaren's words were telling, troubling, and truth-filled!

    These words might not ever move from my memory: "True faithfulness bonds the hearts of the faithful to their unfaithful neighbors"



    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 5/13/2005 06:44:00 AM  

  • Mike, your last two posts have been incredible. Chris Gonzalez linked us to Jimmy Shaw's response to the "Affirmation" yesterday. I think it shoule be read along with Leroy's.


    Let me know what you think!

    Love you,

    By Blogger David U, at 5/13/2005 07:11:00 AM  

  • should be......sorry for the typo!


    By Blogger David U, at 5/13/2005 07:12:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Great quote from McLaren! His comments on the "remnant" hit home. His reference reminded me of one of my Old Testament professor's comments at Harding. One of the main themes he presented was "the remnant," however, I don't think it was in a sectarian sense. I can understand though how students in the context of the mid 70's would interpret his teaching.

    Chad's comments about the college students trying to make sense of life are right on. It reminds me again of Max's comments about church. Most folks aren't concerned about "which church," they are asking "why church?"

    By Blogger David Michael, at 5/13/2005 07:14:00 AM  

  • I agree totally with Chad (And Mike...and McLaren). Plus, I've felt from a very young age that using "remnant" language, and to a degree, "restoration" language was simply a smoke-screen to justify doing church badly.

    By Blogger Neal W., at 5/13/2005 10:29:00 AM  

  • I'm reacting the same as everyone else. Haven't read a lot of his stuff yet, but McLaren seems to have this way of looking straight at all of the flaws, all of the blackness, all of the short-sightedness, and then loving people unconditionally for all of the things that are good about who they are.

    To me, that is the way of grace.

    And, good grief, even though he was speaking about a broader category of movements, he somehow managed to speak to the exact struggle that is lurking behind the buzz over the Christian Affirmation. I mean, did he NAIL it, or what?

    I hope McLaren's model of speaking the truth in a way that is genuinely and ultimately charitable can serve as a model for all of those whose voices are joining in this debate.

    By Blogger Matt, at 5/13/2005 12:20:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    Appreciate the information and thoughtful comments on the latest declaration. Why is it we so emphasize points that Christians disagree on rather than the most basic defining characteristic of all- love? (John 13.34-35) If we truly want to restore anything, it should be the love and service of Jesus, beyond the apostles. Maybe that is the problem with restoration- it never goes back far enough.

    By Blogger Dan M., at 5/13/2005 12:24:00 PM  


    And--the "remnant" word scares me these days thanks to Gwen Shamblin. But--guess how many people out there view us in much the same way as we view the cult she's leading? We've brought it on ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing this today. Matt's right--Brian has a great way of putting things--and it's not like he hasn't experienced it. Can't wait for the Emergent convention next week!!

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 5/13/2005 01:41:00 PM  

  • The mentality you've been describing (defense of Faith vs. invitation to a life of faith) is all around us. Thanks for pointing out these few examples over the last few days.

    Here's one the Nashville Baptist Convention is allegedly considering. How sad is this?


    By Blogger Josh.Graves, at 5/13/2005 03:16:00 PM  

  • Good comments and discussion. Out of curiosity, what "restoration" heritage did McLaren come out of anyways?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/13/2005 03:39:00 PM  

  • If you would like to read an interesting conversation with Brian McLaren go to Jen Lemen's blog. She is a friend and her blog is always relevant but may be a little too real for some. She interviews Brian and then Brian converses with others in the comment portion of her blog.
    grace, julie

    By Blogger julie, at 5/13/2005 07:33:00 PM  

  • Brian was raised in the Plymouth Brethren movement. He shared some of his background at "Look to the Hills" in Nashville last October. The resemblances were eerie.

    There are five CDs of his lectures available through Gaylor Multimedia Online. The fifth one has that history on it.


    By Blogger Owen B., at 5/13/2005 09:53:00 PM  

  • I do not see my call to restoration or preservation. God called me to transformation. I see Jesus calling us to lead others to the rebirth into God's family through Him and His death.

    I know you do not lead others and model Christ through an article in a newspaper.

    I must also say that two of the signers have led me to a greater knowledge of God and His love by sharing their life with me.

    Satan would love for us to hoard the blessings and insight of the Holy Spirit. He laughs as we huddle in our many "remnants" and furiously struggle. In the shadow of human pride, we cram our feeble, human view of the creator together and call it god with the best intent. Our golden calf is more than effective in distracting us from the life and relationship offered through the entire body of Christ.

    I agree that we must diligently cling to what gives us hope. I see the need to author this document driven by prideful, self-reliance that has distracted from a growing relationship with God. We have been so proud of our textual understanding of issues that we have lost passion for our only pure and true love, God. This idolitry is keeping us from growing spiritually and discipling others in the way of life that God has offered us. The mystery of Godliness is great. I celebrate that mystery. I fear that mystery. I am in awe of that mystery.

    I do not want to be the first century church. I want to be Godly. God is transforming me in wonderful ways. I am leading others to His working and a newspaper article has never helped that pursuit. Not even once.

    By Blogger Allen on Signal Mtn, at 5/15/2005 08:52:00 PM  

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