Denying the atonement. Here‘s an NPR piece on Brian McLaren. The clip also includes a comment from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Bruce Ware, who says “I’ve thought of Brian McLaren for years as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I think in this book he’s taken the sheep’s clothing off.” It’s that book, A New Kind of Christianity, that has made several longtime McLaren sympathizers, like CT’s Scot McKnight and Mike Whittmer, turn against McLaren and his interpretation of Scripture. I think Ware’s assessment is right — it seems that McLaren has at last dispensed with most pretenses and just said what he’s kept silent all along: he doesn’t believe in Original Sin, total depravity, sovereign election, eternal damnation for the wicked, propitiation, any real kind of expiation, or any manner of penal substitution for that matter. Sounds like Jim Hamilton was right; this is no Christianity at all. For other assessments of the book, click here, here and especially here. For the panel discussion at SBTS referred to in the NPR piece, go here.
Piper. John Piper is taking an eight-month leave of absence from preaching, writing and virtually all other public responsibilities. As he mentioned to his congregation yesterday, this is unlike his previous writing breaks or other sabbaticals. This is is eight months of no sermon prep, preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, blogging or tweeting. Here’s why, according to Piper:
I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.
But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.
Kind of confused? Me too. The next part helps clarify a lot:
Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.
If anyone deserves an eight-month leave, it’s Piper. But I still find this puzzling. I suppose it could be easy to infer some private sins, but as Justin Taylor put it, Piper really would take an eight month leave just to spend re-cultivating his relationship with his wife and family. We should just pray that he comes back in January refreshed and renewed for the struggle.
NCAA. The Final Four is set. Two five seeds — Michigan State and Butler — play in the left side of the bracket. If you’re like me (and probably most other people), your right side has been great and your left side has been awful. If the previous games are any indication, the next week should be fun to watch.