Friends 2007: McLaren in Malaysia

Everyday, I’m reading more feedback and responses to Brian’s visit last week. Here’s one from my new friend (who’s much more experienced and wiser than I am) Todd Nelson in a nice little post McLaren in Malaysia. I recall listening to Todd talk about his experiences in the USA and light bulbs were popping in my head gaining greater insight on Christianity in the USA. So, it’s interesting to read his take on last week.

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“On March 3rd and 5th, I got the chance to meet and converse a bit with American pastor-teacher-author and spokesman of Emergent Village, Brian McLaren. He was invited by our mutual friend and Malaysian pastor Sivin Kit to stop over in Malaysia on his way to Australia. (That’s Brian and Sivin in the photo.)

Iím glad I went to the conference and the dinner that Sivin and several others organized. I listened closely to Brian’s provocative talks, interpretations of Scripture, and wide-ranging stories. I wrote elsewhere that his approach to theology and evangelism intrigues, inspires, and troubles me, all at the same time–which is, I think, the kind of reaction he is hoping for from pastors like me (Iím only five years his junior.) I found Brian to be very down-to-earth, approachable, and eschewing of any VIP treatment. He genuinely wants to interact and learn from others–especially in the “two-thirds world”. This is refreshing. I also appreciated the insights of the several Malaysian church leaders and thinkers who engaged him in public conversation.

Brian’s visit prompted me to hurry and read one of his many recent books before he arrived, A Generous Orthodoxy, and to look again at Reinventing Your Church, his first book. I bought that book (now republished as The Church on the Other Side) back in 2004 as part of a small bundle of books for the elders of our brand new church to read and discuss. And in 2006 I bought A Generous Orthodoxy to see what all the fuss was about regarding Emergent ideas and Brian McLaren. When I heard he was coming to KL, I thought I should at least go ahead and read what I bought! Maybe I could ask an intelligent question. (Turns out I did a lot of listening and thinking and processing instead.)

What attracts me most about Brian and the whole emerging church movement is the combination of humility and passion–humility expressed through listening in conversations with Christians and non-Christians about truth and ultimate reality, and passion expressed in reaching present and emerging generations with the Good News of Jesus through patient and serving relationships.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything Brian writes or says, but thatís ok. The conversation can sharpen us both, if weíre willing to listen to one another and keep conversing, rather than shut down too quickly and lazily label the other as an opponent. Too many of us Christians operate this way over theological, political, and moral issues.

Thank you, Sivin, and thank you, Brian, for your “quiet revolution of hope”. I believe Jesus is calling us all to be revolutionaries in His cause–to participate in passionate actions and humble conversations for the purpose of world transformation. And all the while, we must stay in intimate connection with Jesus lest we get off track. “Thy Kingdom come, Lord, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Posted by Todd Nelson at 3/12/2007 08:38:00 PM”

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2 Responses to Friends 2007: McLaren in Malaysia

  1. Paul Long says:

    Looks like I missed a lot in just a couple of months :-( But I knew that Brian McLaren’s visit would be a stimulating one. My prayer is that the conversation circle will grow … but at the same time will not degenerate into many people yelling to make themselves heard over the crowd (ie we will take turns to listen when another talks).
    Thanks Sivin for posting so much on McLaren’s visit.

  2. Sivin says:

    Paul, we missed you … especially for this event. I can “testify” that the conversation circles have grown at least for myself. Very often, the new contacts are totally unexpected.

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