a generous orthodoxy

This Eastern tradition, of which I had known little beyond stereotypes, turned out to have rich resources that attracted me and sparked my curiosity.

In particular I became intrigued with the way the Eastern Orthodox family (which includes the Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, and several other communities) celebrated the Trinity–not as an abstract exercise in theological hairsplitting, but as an introduction to a powerful and dynamic view of God.

I learned that the early church leaders described the Trinity using the term perichoresis (peri–circle, choresis–dance): the Trinity was an eternal dance of the Father, Son, and Spirit sharing mutual love, honor, happiness, joy, and respect. Against this backdrop, God’s act of creation means that God is inviting more and more beings into the eternal dance of joy. Sin means that people are stepping out of the dance, corrupting its beauty and rhythm, crashing and tackling and stomping on feet instead of moving with grace, rhythm, and reverence. Then, in Jesus, God enters creation to restore the rhythm and beauty again.

—  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy
So often the danger or evil we face is self-created, self-inflicted, self-sabotaging—and we keep doing it because we are self-deluded and self-deceived through denial. By judging our evil, by naming it for what it is, by penetrating our denial and self-delusion, God begins saving us.
—  Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy
Already, many people are using terms like post-Protestant, post-denominational, post-liberal, and post-conservative to express a desire to move beyond the polarization and sectarianism that have too often characterized Christians of the past. Up until recent decades, each tribe felt it had to uphold one image of Jesus and undermine some or all of the others. What if, instead, we saw these various emphases as partial projections that together can create a hologram: a richer, multidimensional vision of Jesus?

What if we enjoy them all, the way we enjoy foods from differing cultures? Aren’t we glad we can enjoy Thai food this week, Chinese next, Italian the following week, Mexican next month, and Khmer after that? What do we gain by saying that Chinese food is permissible, but Mexican food is poison? Isn’t there nourishment and joy (and pleasure) to be had from each tradition?

No, I am not recommending we throw each offering in a blender, press the “liquefy” button, and try to create a gray porridge of all cuisines. That doesn’t sound appetizing at all. Neither would it be helpful. Rather I’m recommending that we acknowledge that Christians of each tradition bring their distinctive and wonderful gifts to the table, so we can all enjoy the feast of generous orthodoxy–and spread that same feast for the whole world.
—  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy
Interestingly, when Scripture talks about itself, it doesn’t use the language we often use in our explanations of its value. For modern Western Christians, words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal are crucial. Many churches or denominations won’t allow people to become members unless they use these words in their description of Scripture. Hardly anyone realizes why these words are important. (It should be noted that I am not saying these words are “bad” or not important, nor am I denying they have value and validity, but I am saying that they are important within certain contexts and that many use them without deeply understanding those contexts) Hardly anyone knows about the stories of Sir Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, the Enlightenment, David Hume, and Foundationalism–which provide the context in which these words are so important. Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extrabiblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority.

Oddly, I’ve never heard of a church or denomination that asked people to affirm a doctrinal statement like this: The purpose of the Scripture is to equip God’s people for good works. Shouldn’t a simple statement like this be far more important than statements with words foreign to the Bible’s vocabulary about itself (inerrant, authoritative, literal, revelatory, objective, absolute, propositional, etc.) ?
—  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy