An Open Letter to say Thank you to Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell.

On February 18, 2014 this article was written in Parse Leadership Journal. The title is The Strange Yet Familiar Tale of Brian, Rob, and Don.

The Article is written Anglican Pastor Kevin A. Miller and identifies Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, three of the most influential Christian thinkers in the last 10-15 years. In a nutshell, and you can certainly read this for yourself, he seemed to put some blame on these three for their influence and questioning of some of current issues within Christianity. As a matter of fact, Miller recently wrote a post called I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect with Him Elsewhere which you can read here Not surprisingly, instead of examining what Miller actually has to say, many in the evangelical church  have done the disservice of questioning Miller’s faith. (Even though the Guy they claim to follow had a conversation about judging)

To his credit, McLaren wrote a very gentle and kind response

I admit to be one of the many that in some way, shape or form, have been impacted by Miller, McLaren, and Bell. I feel that this is in a positive way. The way I express my views on Christianity in some ways, come from understanding their thoughts. So, this Open Letter is a letter of thank you from me to them. Maybe you resonate with what you read.

Dear Don, Brian, and Rob,

You don’t know me, but my name is Kevin. I live in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I’m assuming you know Calgary. Donald, I remember seeing you speak in Edmonton for a conference a couple of years ago. Brian, and Rob, I don’t know if you have come this way, but you should. I am one of many that can say they were positively impacted by your words, and your thoughts.

I know what you are asking. How? Great question and glad you asked. Let me tell you stories.

Donald, it was the book Blue Like Jazz. I have to admit, I was a little cynical about this book. The reason was because, many people liked it and my friends would call me against the grain. However, when I read this book, the words that still sink in for me were this.

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.” 

It started to sink in for me and it was beautiful. I appreciated the honesty and the reflection and continued to read. I will also remember your story about going to a carnival and personally apologizing for the actions of Christianity. In the back of my mind, I knew we needed to do that, but was too afraid to say it. It was because people would question my Christianity.

I moved on to other books like A Million Miles and a Thousand Years. I took it with me on a travel to Vancouver. I loved the honesty. 

Brian, for you it was two books in particular. The first was a New Kind of Christian. I loved the characters, the deep issues handled with integrity. Issues like cancer, questioning your faith, changing your approach to faith. I was impacted by how my Christianity was about us vs them instead of simply, us. 

The second was  A New Kind of Christianity. The questions about how we read the Bible, how we view Jesus, God and sexuality. Quite frankly, your questions were far ahead of the times. Because many are comfortable with the Blue eyes and handsome Jesus that is portrayed as a super hero. Not the one, we see in Scripture. I love questions, I love asking and reflecting on things. That book was inspiring too me.

And Rob, Rob, Rob. I remember taking a bus from Calgary to Seattle reading Velvet Elvis. I remember reading the section on how you thought the Bible should be interpreted. I thought to myself “You are right!”. I decided to read that section in a group I led. Needless to say, it was met with resistance. However, it created quite a conversation which I liked. Your books made me think.

The other thing is you made me think about God. Your video The Gods Aren’t Angry still impacts me to this day. The quote that sticks with me is this

“If you are repenting because God wants you to do something, you are bargaining with the wrong kind of god.

It helped me realize my distorted views on this god I call God. I’ve been repenting from that ever since.

This is just a small sample size of your impact. However, in a day where it seems so easy to critique from afar as all three of you have been so often, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for asking questions. Thank you for your deconstruction and construction.

I’m one of many that have needed to hear it.