Brian McLaren's new book 'Everything Must Change' marks a significant turning point in the Emergent Conversation. This book, unlike McLaren's previous works clearly DEFINES emergent thought and theology. McLaren is apparently finished with his deconstruction and chemotherapy on the 'cancer' of American Evangelicalism and he is now ready to reveal the new religion that he has been constructing all along.
'Everything Must Change' is a manifesto. Having just finished the book, the best way that I could condense and describe McLaren's ideas is that he has created a hybrid of Theism and Neo-Utopian Marxism. McLaren's 'new religion' is globally pragmatic and re-imagines Jesus' life and message so that they can be applied to solving the Earth's most pressing problems (as identified by the United Nations). In order to do this, McLaren completely retools the Biblical message and Jesus' life in particular in terms of social, political and economic struggles and injustices.
In "Everything Must Change" we learn that in McLaren's way of thinking, the primary problem that the Bible is trying to solve is mankind's injustice to mankind. In the opening chapters McLaren warns us that humanity is about to commit planetary suicide through the selfish misapplications of our security, prosperity and equity systems. Since THIS problem is the 'real evil' that we face (not our sinfulness), Jesus' actual reason for coming to Earth was to call mankind to defect from the Imperialistic framing stories that justify oppression and resource hoarding and call humanity to adopt His new 'framing story' of peace, non-violence and social / economic justice.
In McLaren's theology Jesus' death on the cross wasn't a sacrifice for our sins. Instead, Jesus' death demonstrated the injustice and brutality of the Imperial System. Therefore, according to McLaren, the real solution for all of our problems is for us to defect from Imperialism and Theo-capitalism and follow Jesus' example and adopt Jesus' new framing story. McLaren believes that if humanity does this, we will be able to eradicate global poverty, end social and economic injustice, heal the planet's eco-system and achieve God's original vision and dream for mankind. In short, McLaren argues that WE can build 'The Kingdom of God' on Earth. All we need to do is adopt and implement Jesus' 'framing story' of peace, justice and an economy of love.
To give you a taste of McLaren's thinking, here is a passage from his book where he warns us of the evils of 'Theo-Capitalism' by reinterpreting the early chapters of Genesis through an economic / class warfare lens. Said McLaren:
"It's interesting to consider the importance of consumption in the biblical narrative. When the crisis of human evil is introduced in a passage beginning in Genesis 1:19 and ending in 2:20, forms of the words "eat" and "food" are used about twenty times. Consumption is closely linked with human evil. Adam and Eve live in harmony with creation in a garden, surrounded by food-bearing trees. But to be a human being is to live within creaturly limits in God's creation - reflected in self-restraint in regard to eating the fruit of 'the knowledge of good and evil' (Genesis 2:17). If they break the limits represented by the fruit hanging on that tree, they will taste death (or as we said earlier, they will decompose).
Eve exceeds the limit, drawn to consume a fruit that "was good for food and was pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom" (3:6). Adam joins her. As a result, an avalanche of alienation crashes into the human story - alienation from God, alienation from one another, alienation from oneself, and alienation from the creation.
In the following chapters, brother is alienated from brother and a form of class violence enters the story, as the class of pastoralists (symbolized by Abel) are exterminated by the class of agriculturalists (symbolized by Cain). Soon new forms of institutionalized violence arise in great cities, so horrible that they are swept away by a flood of judgment. Eventually empires emerge, reflecting the imperial dream of unifying people under one dominating language and culture in Babel. Genesis provides a genealogy for all the pain and evil in the whole social structure of humans on planet Earth: it can be traced back to a problem of consumption beyond limits." (pages 209-210)
Notice that McLaren is injecting a Marxist framework into his interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis. Gone are the ideas of sin, rebellion, disobedience against God, the fall of man, and the Lord's solution to our sin in the promise of a savior. McLaren has replaced those Biblical themes with the economic & political categories of consumption, class warfare and imperialism.
In "Everything Must Change" we are finally able to see what McLaren has really been up to. In this book we are witnessing the emergence of a North American Protestant strain of Liberation Theology and a resurgent "Religious Left" that will have a twisted Biblical 'framing story' that they can use to impose their interpretation of the 'common good' upon all of us in the name of God's new 'Love Economy'.