Russell Moore, a president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, came up with a spicy bit of slander when he called Brian Mclaren ‘serpent-sensitive.’ The Baptist Press has an article on this gem of an observation that you can read. When I read it this is what I thought.
Russell Moore Thought:
1. Brian McLaren is a close to being an Anabaptist.
2. Brian sees violence as contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (hardly a new or radical idea for a Christian in any era and especially a member of the Free Church, but I don’t know how free the Southern
3. Brian wants an understanding of eschatology without divine violence and coercion so it coheres with his understanding of the message, cross, and resurrection of Jesus. (We talk about it during the podcast)
THEREFORE: Brian McLaren is ‘Serpent-Sensitive’ because he is showing ‘hostility to the most basic aspects of the Gospel message.’
Then he has asks Willow Creek a good question, why would you invite Brian to speak when you are part of a movement that desires to reach seekers?
Here’s my response: Brian does a great job communicating the message of Jesus and the church’s message about Jesus so that they are connected and serve as an invitation to follow God in Christ. Willow Creek recognizes that there thousands of people who take their faith seriously, have growing relationships with God in Christ, and are seeking to participate with God who is at work in the world because of the conversation Brian is a part of and for many because of his books and speaking.
Moore on the other hand, cannot see how a Christian could legitimately think that God could be as loving and as compassionate as Jesus or that God might even love all God’s enemies or that God’s eschatological triumph will come through the same method as the self-revelation of God in the incarnation of God, namely self-giving love.
I know it is important for certain Christians to preserve the idea that God can only be God if a bunch of people get thrown in hell and that after Jesus raptures his friends off the planet God opens up a can whoopin’ on all the sinners who are left in God’s angry hands, BUT can’t y’all just say that those of us who believe the hands of God are eternally loving and bear the marks that demonstrate the end of coercive violence and God’s refusal to do so a break. Maybe we are theologically deformed and get too excited and over-emphasize when Jesus preaches about a non-violent reign of God that is present and coming, BUT can we please just be deformed Christians who took the Sermon on the Mount literally and not ‘Serpent-Sensitive?’