I continue to worry about the lack of doctrinal boundaries in the Emergent Church movement. When the primary goal is open-minded compassion, then too many foundational issues get thrown out the window. In the words of the greatest Christian rock artist in the last three decades, “are you so open-minded/that your brain leaked out?”
Here is one important exchange and then the result in the perception of the viewers a little later in the interview:
CALLER: I was raised in the Christian faith, and I also happen to be a gay man. And I just heard one of your panel members say that there's no hatred towards the gay community, but that's not how I see it. All I see is hate. And didn't Jesus preach love? Aren't we to love one another?
MCLAREN: Yeah, I am very sympathetic with your call. I see, even though we might say that people don't individually hate, the language of culture wars -- war is a hate word. So I think we've got to get away from that kind of language. And I think one of the greatest things that Christians can do, especially Christians with the name evangelical, would be to start making some friends and invite their neighbors over, and get to know someone who's gay, get to know someone who's very different. And not to just fix them or argue with them, but really to understand them as a neighbor.
And then a little later, this call came in:
CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Good evening to your panel. I would like to preface my comment to Mrs. LaHaye by saying that I highly respect Reverend Jakes and Mr. McLaren because they seem to be the most compassionate, understanding and open-minded of the evangelicals. Mrs. LaHaye, with regard to abortion, I'd like to tell you that you cannot legislate morality….
Notice how the LaHayes (King’s whipping boy and girl) were immediately identified with a doctrinal stance and how McLaren was unequivocally identified with the non-doctrinal stance.
McLaren emphasized over and over the need to understand each other and love people, and all of that is right and good, but he couldn’t make a stand on orthodox doctrine when he was give a chance to at least twice. (Earlier in the interview McLaren was asked about sin, and he didn’t say anything about sin in his response.) The most loving and understanding thing we can do is love the sinner and hate the sin-but that involves hating the sinful actions that people engage in.
Being open-minded to the point where your listeners and readers feel fine about their lifestyle is a kind of profound neglect. Granted the line where we actually love people and hate sin is a hard one to find most of the time, but it is necessary that we find it.