Posted by: Jim Black | August 26, 2008

Set of Beliefs or Way of Life?

I recently came across this comment by Brian McLaren in the latest issue of New Wineskins magazine and found it extremely thought-provoking.  Here is what McLaren said:

 I was interviewing Dr. Peter Senge, who does not portray himself as a Christian. . . . I was interviewing him by satellite. “Dr Senge, what would you like to say to Christian pastors to a group of Christian pastors?”

“Well, I was in a bookstore the other day and I asked the bookstore manager what the most popular books were. He said the most popular books right now were books on eastern religions. So, I want to know why that is the case in America?”


I (McLaren) turned the question back on him and said, “Dr. Senge, why do you think this is the case?”

“I think it’s because Christianity currently presents itself as a system of beliefs and Buddhism presents itself as a way of life.” Now, that one sentence was the one sentence we’d all come to hear. It was a powerful moment. For many of us, we can’t imagine Christianity as anything other than a system of beliefs. We use phrases like a “Christian worldview”—we’ve never questioned what we mean. And what we mean is a kind of intellectual system that has an answer to every question and a solution to every issue. Well, if you believe that is what the Christian faith is, then it shouldn’t surprise you when Christians are viewed as arrogant, narrow-minded and judgmental. We’ve set up the whole system to give us the ability to give quick answers. But this idea of a “way of life” has to do with how we are formed as human beings and how we live our daily lives, and how we see our very being transformed and changed. That, to me, is what Dr. Senge was doing, in a Restorationist sense, was calling us back to Jesus because Jesus, that’s what his followers were first called, followers of “The Way.” This to me is a very important rethinking of the way we need to be engaged in.



 Its a good question I think… are we portraying Christianity as a way of life or just a set of beliefs?  Which is it?  What’s the difference?  Food for thought along “the way”….


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