McLaren does not believe that coexistence requires followers of Jesus to weaken their Christian identity. He does, however, recognize that some traditional Christian doctrines pose challenges to living neighborly with non-Christians. Part II of his book on interfaith relations tackles "The Doctrinal Challenge."
This section opens with a quote from Diana Butler Bass: "[T]he word doctrine, a word fallen on hard times in contemporary culture, actually means a 'healing teaching,' from the French word for doctor" (p. 97). McLaren then goes about articulating anew ancient teachings in winsome ways that have the potential to heal strained relationships. He offers chapter explorations of creation, sin, election, the Trinity, Christology, and pneumatology. Rather than rejecting these doctrines, McLaren tries his hand at "faithfully reformulating orthodoxy by treating its oppositional, hostile, and imperial tendencies" (p. 156).
After an obvious chapter ("All human beings are, ultimately, sisters and brothers in one human family created in the image of God" [p. 103]) and a muddled chapter ("[Sin] is the crisis of identity that emerges as we reject our original God-given name...our original identity as soil creatively organized into 'the image of God,' within the original harmony and hospitality of creation" [p. 112]), the third chapter in this section--on the doctrine of election--shines as its highlight. McLaren names seven understandings of election that have encouraged "Us and Them" thinking--domination ("Us over Them"), revolution ("Us overthrowing Them"), assimilation ("Us absorbing Them"), purification ("Us eliminating Them"), competition ("Us competing with Them"), Victimization/self-preservation ("Us oppressed by Them"), and Isolation ("Us apart from Them") (pp. 116-118). The problem, posits McLaren, is not that Jews and Christians and others have believed that God has chosen them; rather, the problem is that they have sometimes arrogantly thought of themselves as chosen for "greatness" rather than service--"greatness exploiting others (domination), greatness overthrowing others (revolution), greatness absorbing others (assimilation), greatness excluding others (purification), greatness resenting others (victimization), greatness separating others (isolation), or greatness at the expense of others (competition)" (pp. 120-121). The faithful application of the "doctrine of chosen-ness" is humble service (p. 121).
to be continued