Journey: Holy Evolution

Read:  “The Great Conversation”

As we move from the Old Testament into the New Testament, McLaren wants us to make the transition realizing that “we make the road by walking” as a people whose experience is unfolding and maturing.
As a hermeneutical principle, it means what E. Stanley Jones often said, “I am a Christian under construction. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

Just as we can see changes taking place in the Israelites as we read the Old Testament, we must read Scripture with a willingness to allow God to change us along the way.  Otherwise, we become fossilized in a singular view that was not itself intended to be a once-for-all experience.  From story to story, God was shaping the people of God, and God continues the same formative process in us.

This is not relativism, it is what theologians call progressive revelation.  It means that the message God wants us to have in the present is the accumulated wisdom that has evolved over the centuries and not what a single story found somewhere in the Bible may have to say.

McLaren readily admits that to read the Bible in this way “presents a morally complex and dynamic world where the best of us can do wrong and the worst of us can do right.”  So, by its very nature, the Bible will not us allow to isolate one view from others, and it certainly will not approve our using an isolated view as ammunition against someone else.  But sadly, we do this all the time–and part of the reason we do it is because we have lost sight of the progressive revelation which is in Scripture itself.

We must, says McLaren, allow all five voices in Scripture inform and form us : priests, prophets, poets, sages, and storytellers.  He calls this dynamic “the great conversation,” and challenges us to keep it going today.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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