What do you get when you crossbreed the social gospel and liberation theology? "The Justice Project" headed by persons like Brian McLaren. That's the title of one of McLaren's more recent book co-edited with Elisa Padilla and Ashley Bunting Seeber. The book is predictable without anything we haven't already heard or knew about McLaren, the Emerging Church, and postmodern Christianity.
Anytime a movement rejects the postmodern gospel, they are left with this sort of theology. The book is full of calls for Christians to fight for justice, help the poor, save the planet, seek peace, and be racially united. We have heard all of this before. Anyone who follows the Emergent Church, theological liberalism, or postmodern Christianity will have already heard all of this. Each chapter is the same old thing. The book offers chapter after chapter after chapter of brief defenses and the call of urgency for action.
What is missing from all of this is the gospel. The centrality of the cross is completely absent from the book. With all of the different authors discussing subject after subject, one would think that the cross would at least play a small role, but it doesn't. The emphasis is on the present reality of the Kingdom of God and an almost complete rejection (or at least it is ignored) of the future hope of the Kingdom.
This is nothing more than the social gospel and liberation theology united in postmodernity. The editors sound redundant and spend more time attacking orthodox Christianity than false gospels like that portrayed in this book. This does not mean that I am against helping the poor (heck, I'm broke now!) or seeking for international peace. Rather, we must realize that apart from the gospel, this is all a waste of time. Are we trying to moralize the unconverted, or are we trying to convert the immoral?
Of course such a question is the sort of problem that McLaren and the Emergent Church is reacting against. The idea that we have all of the answers and others don't is preposterous. This fallacy is rooted in a fundamental rejection of the gospel's transcendency. The gospel changes with the times and since our culture is different from an Islamic nation's, then how can we say that we have the pure gospel and they don't?
When we reject the gospel we are left with social reforms and green movements. I for one am tired of the social gospel with postmodern flavors. I want the gospel. I want redemption. I want reconciliation. I want the cross. If that is what you want, you would do yourself a favor by avoiding this book.