In Scotty McLennan's bold call to reclaim ownership of Christianity, he advocates a sense of religion based not on doctrinal readings of scripture but on the humanity behind Christ's teachings. He addresses such topics as intelligent design, abortion, same sex marriage, war, torture and much, much more.
As he says in the Preface, "We liberal Christians know in our hearts that there is much more to life than seems to meet the rational eye of atheists; yet we find it hard to support supernatural claims about religion that fly in the face of scientific evidence."
The Rev. Scotty McLennan is the dean for religious life at Stanford University. He was the university Chaplain at Tufts University from 1984 to 2000, and senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School for ten of those years. McLennan received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970 as a Scholar of the House working in the area of computers and the mind.
He received his M.Div. and J.D. degrees from Harvard Divinity and Law Schools in 1975. In 1975, he was also ordained to the ministry (Unitarian Universalist) and admitted to the Massachusetts bar as an attorney. He is the author of Finding Your Religion and was the inspiration for Doonesbury's Rev. Scott Sloan.
Rev. Scotty McLennan
The Rev. Scotty McLennan is the dean for religious life at Stanford University. He was the university Chaplain at Tufts University from 1984 to 2000, and senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School for ten of those years.
McLennan received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970 as a Scholar of the House working in the area of computers and the mind. He received his M.Div. and J.D. degrees from Harvard Divinity and Law Schools in 1975. In 1975, he was also ordained to the ministry (Unitarian Universalist) and admitted to the Massachusetts bar as an attorney.
He is the author of Finding Your Religion.
In Christianity, the son of God and the second person of the Holy Trinity. Christian doctrine holds that by his crucifixion and resurrection he paid for the sins of all mankind. His life and ministry are recounted in the four Gospels of the New Testament. He was born a Jew in Bethlehem before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, and he died while Pontius Pilate was Roman governor of Judaea (AD 2830). His mother, Mary, was married to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth (see St. Joseph). Of his childhood after the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, nothing is known, except for one visit to Jerusalem with his parents. He began his ministry about age 30, becoming a preacher, teacher, and healer. He gathered disciples in the region of Galilee, including the 12 Apostles, and preached the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God. His moral teachings, outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, and his reported miracles won him a growing number of followers, who believed that he was the promised messiah. On Passover he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, where he shared the Last Supper with his disciples and was betrayed to the Roman authorities by Judas Iscariot. Arrested and tried, he was condemned to death as a political agitator and was crucified and buried. Three days later visitors to his tomb found it empty. According to the Gospels, he appeared several times to his disciples before ascending into heaven.
British political party that emerged in the mid-19th century as the successor to the Whigs. It was the major party in opposition to the Conservative Party until 1918, after which it was supplanted by the Labour Party. It was initially supported by the middle class that was enfranchised by the Reform Bill of 1832. Earl Russell's administration in 1846 is sometimes regarded as the first Liberal government, but the first unequivocally Liberal government was formed in 1868 by William E. Gladstone. Under Gladstone, until 1894, the party's hallmark was reform; after 1884 it espoused Irish Home Rule. It championed individualism, private enterprise, human rights, and promotion of social justice; wary of imperial expansion, it was pacific and internationalist. During World War I it split into two camps, centred on H.H. Asquith and David Lloyd George. It continued as a minor party until 1988, when it merged with the Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party.
Jesus may have been a liberal. We can't know that, although we have some hints that he was probably quite the liberal of his time.
What we can know, though, is that he was certainly scientifically illiterate, even by the standards of his time. He was not traveled, either, and did not have any exposure to the world outside of an area about sixty miles from East to West and hundred some miles from South to North. This is well documented in the Bible. One can be fairly sure that, had Jesus e.g. traveled to Rome, the Bible would mention that.
Jesus was, with some certainty, a fairly clever man. Again, the Bible, if we are willing to believe it (and I am), clearly shows that. But being clever is not the same as having information. And the Bible certainly does not make the claim that the son of God was given any earthly information by his father which would have been generally unknown to a fairly clever man of his status at his time and place.
And therein lies the rub... a "modern liberal" has access to millions, if not billions of times more facts than Jesus had. Modern liberals proud themselves for making up their minds based on facts. We do not make snap judgments based on some moral principles. We first analyze the situation based on techniques developed in thousands of years of human intellectual development. Jesus, based on any evidence, could not, did not.
And so one has to ask oneself, as a modern liberal, do we really want to see ourselves in this man? I, for one, can not.
What an interesting, challenging video! As a Roman Catholic, most of his views are at odds with my understanding of Jesus'teachigs and Christianity and he makes most of his premises fall the more he speaks. He is a very smart man, but he plays so broadly with his definition of Christianity and his views are so mutable, in his own words, that he comes across as someone who believes in pretty much everything and therefore has few principles.
He calls Jesus a radical, publicly and bravely violating Jewish Law, but then he justifies his pro-abortion rights views by quoting the Torah and Talmud?
He states his belief in the allegorical nature of Bible, but ignores some very clear allegorical messages in the Biblical stories of Jesus' life.
One question from the audience and the speaker's response were very telling. One gentleman talked about the "co-opting" of Christianity by the poltical Conservatives and then asks how can political liberals use religion/Christianity tactically to bolster their arguements. Jesus was a separation of Church and state proponent, in my view. He once said, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." I know of no Biblical support for a reliance on the state to love its citizens or to practice acts of benevolence on our behalf. In fact, as this gentleman stated on more than one occasion, tax collectors and governors were referred to as being among other "sinners." Jesus commanded INDIVIDUALS to be responsible for our fellow human beings in need. Paying taxes does not absolve us from personally caring for the poor or the weakest among us with our own time, money and effort.
I cannot remember a single political issue discussed in the sermon in my Church, with the exception of Proposition 8. The Priest decided to state the Church's views on marriage because the pastor claimed he had received many questions from parishoners regarding the issue from a Catholic doctrinal perspective.
Questions I would ask Reverend McLellan:
Does he have any moral qualms, on Christian grounds, aborting a fetus 1 day before the due date? His principle was that personhood begins at birth, (again using the Torah and Jewish teachings as a basis) therefore he should see no problem, in principle, with aborting a full term fetus just prior to birth.
If the Biblical narrative is allegorical, does he see any relevance to Jesus being born and living in a two parent, Mother/Father family? Or that in Genesis, when God saw that Adam was lonely and that it was not good for man to be alone, he created Eve, a woman?
I think that although I have serious differences with him, that I will read his book. This was very eye opening for me because I have a daughter in her first year at Stanford. I am comforted that such a kind, smart man is involved in the religious life at Stanford in that he seems likely to respect all faiths.
Wow, this guy really distorts the scriptures to fit his own view. I don't think we can label Jesus Christ as a liberal or a conservative, or even a moderate for that matter. The confusion begins with people not understanding who GOD is.
GOD is the unification of grace and law. We want to put these two aspects of God against each other - insisting that they are poles appart and cannot co-exist. But when we do that we distort the character of GOD.
The unification of grace and law are fundamental for understanding the gospel. Someone who places these two aspects of GOD against each other - does not understand the gospel.
As Christians we need to mirror these atributes of God, and only throguh the Holy Spirit is it possible. We mirror the law by not shrugging off sin. To shrug off sin cheapens what Christ did on the cross. We mirror grace, by being liberal in our giving of what God has blessed us with.
Much of what I see from "Liberal Christians" is a tistortion of truth from scriptures and reality. If there was a party Jesus would be a part of it would be the party of truth, and then let the chips fall where they may. It is NOT cheritable to give away other people's money - that's theft. Jesus was not politically motivated, and did not go about changeing the would through legislation. He changed the world by changing individual hearts.
Legislation can never get at the core problem of man - the heart. You may legislate - "give your money to the poor" but then its not really giving, is it? Does GOD force us to obey Him, by making us slaves of the law? Or does he set us free?
Sanity reigns -- You have missed McLennan's point in this video. Having a literalist interpretation of the Bible is just one perspective. It is not the only perspective, and it is not inherently the "right" perspective either. We can all find "proof texts" in the Bible, and the exact same proof text can be argued for either a literalist interpretation or an allegorical interpretation of the Bible.
I think that the message is less about liberal Christianity vs. conservative Christianity, than it is about what constitutes biblical Christianity. Yes, Jesus came to save the the world, not to condemn it. Still, we will all be judged in the end. Grace and judgment go hand-in-hand. That's in the Bible.
The term "liberal" has, by special pleading of both left and right, been completely bleached of its original meaning. "Liberals" of the modern American political landscape are not authentically "liberal" in most respects - they support as many entrenched interest and the continuation of the status quo on too many fronts to be actual liberals.
Meanwhile the conservatives of the modern landscape have done their share to cheapen the word as well by flinging it around as if it's some epic insult.
As for the misleading question of whether or not Jesus was a "Liberal" it's, um, a little misleading. He was a liberal in the sense that he challenged status quo. In some sense anyone that challenges the status quo is a liberal. Which doesn't make them "Liberals" in any current American political sense, only in the actual sense. And our national vocabulary might be better off if we could restore the word to its meaning.