Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Alma Mater Does It Again!

I went to seminary at Abilene Christian University which is a strange place. It is a church of Christ school which was birthed as a sectarian fundamentalist Bible college but has now become a left leaning, emergent friendly place with a serious case of Duke, SMU, Harvard, Yale, Princeton envy. I knew that when I was there and when I left the place as a little emergent neo-neo orthodox pastor but I hoped that it would change. I love the faculty there and hoped and prayed that they would repent of following mainstream denominations and seminaries into the land of blur.

But this past week I received my quarterly alumni newsletter focusing on the seminaries upcoming lectureship (a huge deal to the folks at ACU) only to discover that the featured speaker is none other then Brian Mclaren...Brian friggin' Mclaren!!! The ex-Jesus Freak hippie who, with the help of Doug Pagitt, shifted the "conversation" among the Gen-X pastors of the Young Leaders Network from how to reach the lost among the Gen-X and Gen-Y crowd to how to jettison 2000 years of orthodox Christianity.

Now this is a really strange turn for ACU because it prides itself (to a sinful degree, in my estimation) on its rigid academic standards and here it is inviting a self-confessed "non-theologian" with no seminary training and a flair for poorly argued positions to highlight their most cherished event.

After I left ACU with my M.Div. in 2001, I was a Mclaren, Bell, Grenz, Barth, N.T. Wright Emergent. I preached nice little "God loves you, so recycle" sermons and fed my congregations' worst instincts wrapped in a nice liberal, feel-good package that ignored the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man and the need for substitutionary atonement. Yet, despite hours of prayer, fasting and "conversations" about such "deep thinkers" as Brueggemann and Moltmann I was an absolute miserable mess. It was only after God took me, smacked me around and introduced me to the Gospel preached by Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine and...well...the Apostle Paul that I found true peace.

So, after staring at Mclaren's mug in my alumni mag, losing my mind and repenting (a few times) I will start praying that ACU either truly turn from leading students down the same liberal, narcissistic path it led me or that God will move to close its doors before it does too much harm.