As we near the five-hundredth anniversary of the day when Martin Luther came out of the closet so that all would know what he had been thinking in secret, it is time, I propose, to reinvigorate the dialogue by having many of us come out of our closets and admit we have been asking these and other important questions in secret. We must stop being ashamed of our questions, and we must stop pretending to be content with unsatisfying answers. Instead, we must let our questions and our fresh readings of Scripture become passageways out of the thought-boxes and mental stages and cages that can confine us. We must let our questions be the picks and shovels of a Spirit-inspired jailbreak. Once free, we can launch an exodus and continue our adventure, our quest for truth in the wild, unmapped places, asthe biblical story beckons us to do.
Doing so is scary. We don’t want to betray our heritage. We don’t want to prove unfaithful to the faith that has nourished our souls and formed the communities to which we belong. Yet we must realize what being faithful and true to our spiritual forebears really requires. It’s not simply a matter of repeating again and again what Luther and the other Reformers said. Rather, true fidelity means we must do what they did. Like them, out of love for the truth, we must dare to precipitate a change, to foment a kind of gentle and hopeful revolution, to give birth to a new generation of Christian faith. By transcending and including, we must now rise to a new zone on the spectrum – to turn a page and open a new chapter by vulnerably exposing our previously secret thoughts, and by tenderly, reverently listening to one another as we do so.
Yes, we have a past, to be sure, to which we must show proper honour and with which we must maintain proper continuity. That past should always have a vote, as G. K. Chesterton famously said when he defined tradition as ‘the democracy of the dead’. But I would add that the dead should not be given excessive veto power. As part of our inheritance from the past, we have been entrusted with an ongoing mission, and that mission requires us to be loyal, yes, to beloved tradition, but no less to the beloved present world in which we serve. And perhaps our greatest loyalty should be directed forward, to a beloved future which we are co-creating with the Spirit of the living God. To be loyal to the God who was without being loyal to the God who is and to the God who is to come would be only 33% infection with a new kind of Christianity.
~ Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity