(by Richard Bennett)
McLaren absolutely denies the Gospel when, for example, he states,
"Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil."
Contrary to McLaren, Christ Jesus proclaimed, “I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” The Lord Himself summarized the Gospel when He said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The contrast is stark; the one who personally believes on the Son has everlasting life. The one who denies personal salvation is not only under the wrath of God, which is surely the soul’s death, but God’s wrath abides on him. McLaren has formally denied the faith. He and his followers have fulfilled the Word spoken of Scripture, that they “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
One can see McLaren’s heresy in other pastors and authors in the Emerging Church movement, such as Alan Jones. McLaren has endorsed Jones’ book, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind. Alan Jones, like McLaren, rejects what is central and pivotal to the Gospel message. Jones brazenly declares, “The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.” Jones goes on to say, “Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.”
As we saw above, the Lord declared, “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” If McLaren and others, such as Alan Jones, continue to deny personal biblical salvation then they shall neither enjoy true life or happiness here nor in the world to come. Rather, they are now under the wrath of God’s condemnation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, those who will not personally trust and believe in Christ’s penal substitution in his or her place must go to eternity under the wrath of God and be cast, “into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Such is the miserable condition of those who accept such teaching, i.e., denying personal salvation, which we have documented.
McLaren, however, is not concerned with hell because, he says,
Isn’t hell such a grave ‘bottom line’ that it devalues all other values? It so emphasizes the importance of life after death that it can unintentionally trivialize life before death. No wonder many people feel that ‘accepting Jesus as a personal Savior’ could make them a worse person — more self-centered and less concerned about justice on earth because of a preoccupation with forgiveness in heaven. Again, although I believe in Jesus as my personal savior, I am not a Christian for that reason. I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
In the above statement McLaren does what countless others have done before him. He remakes Jesus into a social justice mascot. “Accepting Jesus as a personal Savior” for him is not focused on “forgiveness” but rather on “justice on earth.” The Lord Himself spoke about sin before God, and He was not an advocate of “justice on earth!” He taught that “...whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin... if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” In this passage, the Lord showed that He was not referring to political bondage but to a person’s slavery to evil passions and desires. The Lord’s message is about the bondage to sin and of the spiritual liberty that He brings. Christ Jesus’ message is “...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It never was a call for “justice on earth.” It is interesting that the Catholic priests, Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, would agree with McLaren as they wrote, “Liberation theology was born when faith confronted the injustice done to the poor.” Let it be clearly and emphatically stated: if Christ Jesus does not save a person spiritually, that person’s case is desperate, and he will die in his sins. McLaren’s profession, “I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world,” suggests that the whole world makes up the kingdom of God. Unless his profession is interpreted in the sense of personal repentance and salvation from sin, which he denies, McLaren’s personal salvation is a socialized reduction of the Gospel message.
The true message is the clarion call of the Lord, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Lord’s message will always be “everlasting life,” notwithstanding a thousand McLarens who try to reduce His teaching into pragmatism, i.e., “concerned about justice on earth.” McLaren needs the light of the biblical solas to draw him out from his efforts to demolish the Christian faith; but he has rather turned aside into a still darker haunt, Eastern mysticism.