I just finished reading the first section of Book 2, The Church Question: What Do We Do About The Church. At this point I am entirely fed up with much of the criticism that Brian has received over this book.
For one, this idea that Brian is trying to minimize the writings of Paul in favor of the Gospels is just ridiculous. Earlier in the book Brian wrote a summary and commentary on the entire book of Romans, and now in the church section he has done a full summary and commentary on 1 Corinthians. It seems thus far like he has written more about Paul than about Jesus. And this is no criticism. He has done so with the highest respect and regard for Paul, strongly and repeatedly championing the causes for which Paul wrote.
Secondly, critics seem to have this idea that Brian is attempting to create a Christianity with no need for a savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Church section, Brian asks:
"What one great danger do people need to be saved from, and more positively, what one great purpose do they need to be saved for? ...the church exists to form Christlike people, people of Christlike love. It exists to save them from the great danger of wasting their lives, becoming something less than and other than they were intended to be, gaining the world but losing their souls."
Taken out of context as I have it here, it might seem to the uninformed that Brian is suggesting some sort of health and wealth "your best life now" kind of church. But the entire Church section revolves around love, the sacrificial suffering kind of love that Jesus demonstrated, that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13. As I already mentioned, Brian goes on to summarize and commentate the entire letter, giving us a vision for the purpose of the church through Paul's eyes, one where we stop bickering over petty things, over who knows what and who doesn't, where we stop acting like infants and put childish things behind us, where we live out lives of mature Christlike love that teach and inspire those around us to live and love the same. THAT is the purpose of the church.
And I could not agree more. In fact, our church adopted a new vision statement about a year or so ago: "Love God, Love People". That's it. It's that simple. And Brian has nailed it.
Next up, the highly anticipated "Sex Question". More of my thought to come.