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Brian McLaren’s final speech was simply outstanding — here are my notes, expanded by my recollections a bit….

Brian: I believe the deepest question facing all Christians — the nagging question, is “is God really kind?”

The Bible helps us and also makes this more difficult for us to answer.
For example, Romans one tells us that God shows wrath toward sin. But in Romans 2 it opens with “THEREFORE you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. … But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same {yourself,} that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

We show contempt for the riches we have been given when we condemn others.
God’s kindness is intended to lead to us to repentance.

We see another example of this — the kindness of God — in Mark 2.
In Mark’s version of the story, we read how Jesus reacted to the hard-heartedness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus was, as we described at the beginning of the conference, “flipping the script”. They were worried about observing the sabbath — but as the four men held up the paralytic man, with his shriveled arm above their heads, he asked them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’??
“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.'” Mark notices that Jesus looked around at them in anger, and saw the hardness of their hearts. We’re told that from that moment the Pharisees and the Herodians went out and made a pact to kill Jesus. Now, these were sworn enemies — and yet they were so deeply opposed to Jesus that these enemies became united in violence and hatred toward Jesus.

Now, if we believe that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father — that in him dwells the image of the invisible God, that if we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father; if we believe as I do, that in him dwells the fulness of deity, then we should carefully look at what made Jesus angry, because that will show us what makes the Father angry.

What makes Jesus angry — is a lack of kindness..

[Here was a paralytic, weak and deformed since birth, and these religious people didn’t care about that– they were not kind. — They were focused on their doctrine of what can be done on the sabbath.]

Kindness is a friendly, generous, warm-hearted concern for others. And the etymology is that it comes from the way we relate to those who are most like us.
God is kind to people who are different, and so the challenge of the Christian church has always been to learn to break down walls and treat as kindred, or with kindness, those who are different from us.

God is kind.

God is light.
And in God there is no darkness at all .
God doesn’t have a dark side.
I have to believe that God isn’t faking us out in Jesus — only to come back and hammer us later on.

Now, I’ve written a lot of books that are controversial, but the one book that I was sure would not be controversial at all has been the most controversial one yet: “A Generous Orthodoxy” (laughter) — Now, in there I wrote that some people’s religious tradition breeds out a sense of humor.

So I believe we need to reintegrate the idea of God’s kindness, and our own need to express and experience kindness — into our views of doctrine. We use the term orthodoxy — it means correct opinion.. It’s a good concept — having the correct idea.

We also focus on orthoproxy — having the correct practice. This is good, too.

But when we go back to the original Christian creed it was very simple — that Jesus is Lord. He is our Supreme authority — when you have a question you go to Jesus first and foremost.

I believe we need an unwillingness to separate how we think and how we act — othodoxy and orthopraxy — from our feelings — how we belong to God .

This year in my travels I visited a seminary that was started by a man who later
ran off with another woman. I met his wife — and what do you suppose she felt God wanted her to do? She had decided to pick up where her husband had left off, and she was running the seminary.

She told me about orthopathy — having the right feelings.
She focused on joy, peace, compassion. That is what God enabled her to do. what God wanted her to do.

If there is a religion well positioned for growth in the world, it is Buddhism.

Buddhism focuses on orthopathy — an internal attitude of peace and compassion toward others.
Jesus practiced orthopathy. He saw the crowd and felt compassion toward them.
He brought kindness – a revolution of kindness — and this is the Revolution I felt it in these days. —

I saw it in Sunil’s story, of how social systems that teach us we are all different, teach us not to have compassion — kindness. [Sunil had said there is no word for “kindness” in the Indian language — because the caste system teaches that all are different — and that even in the lowest caste, the Untouchables, there are 68,000 levels so that no one can have commonality with anyone else.]

Yet Sunil believes the impossible can happen, and he’s making a difference through teaching people about kindness.

We learned about domestic violence — the corruption of the best things in all of us — and learned about challenging it through the simultaneous expression of compassion and anger —

My hope is that we will go from here with a revolution that Jesus started — not merely speaking for God — but living a revolution of kindness — like Jesus, who was so sure he was really reflecting the character and image of God that he was willing to die.

I’d like to close with a new song I have writeen, based on the poem by Teresa of Avila which says that Christ has no body on earth but ours no hands and feet on earth but ours; — no way to do things on earth but through us. [We then sang this new song– it was outstanding.]

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