Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Generous Orthodoxy

I've exchanged a couple of emails with a friend who is very concerned with McLaren's writings/teachings. I still haven't gotten very far into the book, school caught up with me big time, so that's where most of my offline reading is concentrated. McLaren's blog, however, has a very interesting email from a reader who he refers to as a "respected theologian." Obviously that can mean many things, but the reader seems to offer up a couple of the same objections as my friend, though my friend is much harsher than this reader. McLaren responds to the points that the reader makes, and his usual response is an admission of guilt. Its obvious that McLaren would re-write a few things if given the chance, if nothing else than for clarity purpose.

One of my friend's objections is over the definitions that McLaren uses. This friend feels like he redefines terms so that his position is right and everyone else is wrong. Again, I haven't gotten much into it, but in the first chapter, which deals with the definition of orthodoxy (one of the terms my friend mentions), he sticks pretty closely to the traditional definition (being "orthodox" traditionally means being in agreement with the creeds of the early church), though he allows for Scripture to inform the creeds that are traditionally used as the definers of orthodoxy. There are more specific orthodoxies as well. Reformationonline agrees with the definition I've laid out above and then adds that "reformed orthodoxy is expressed preeminently in the great Reformed confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Chalcedon supports both early ecumenical orthodoxy and Reformed orthodoxy." The basic core orthodoxy, however, lies in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, and possibly others. Without these basics underlying the more specific orthodoxies, those "orthodoxies" would be grounded in sand rather than the solid foundation that is Biblical teaching. In this sense, I need to find out if my friend is using a more specific definition of orthodoxy. It would be very easy to view McLaren's definition as suspect if that's the case.

As far as other terms, I haven't read enough to have a clue. Should make for some interesting reading!