The telecast discussion is part of "The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity," a project that seeks to bring together a diverse panel of "evolution-celebrating" Christians who don't believe one has to settle on either Jesus or Darwin. Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution, is host and moderator of the series.
"Evolutionary Christianity is a fact of history about which a lot of Christians are in deep denial," said McLaren during a session entitled "Evolving Church." "The fact is the church has constantly been evolving. So many Roman Catholics are shocked to learn that priestly celibacy wasn't required for quite a while. It was several centuries ago that it became a universal requirement."
"I think of lot of Protestants assume that when the Apostle Paul was establishing house churches they had Sunday School, bulletins and hymnals," he continued. "So many of things, even doctrines that are very precious to a lot of people, particularly doctrines of atonement, for example, have evolved greatly over history."
The emergent church pastor, who views the Bible more as an "inspired library" rather than a legal constitution, also praised "Evolutionary Christianity" as a faith perspective that allows for the discussion of Darwin and evolutionary theory as opposed to orthodox views that raise arguments to the theory.
Though McLaren was recognized as one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals" in 2005, many conservative evangelicals are happy to distance themselves from him, calling him "unbiblical" for rejecting the Bible's narrative of Eden, the fall, condemnation, salvation, and heaven or hell/damnation.
Other panelists that spoke during the session with McLaren included Gretta Vosper, a progressive Christian in Canada who advocates that the Bible is not the authoritative word of God for all time; Ian Lawton, a minister at C3 Exchange, a church that recently made national headlines for the controversial decision to remove the cross from their church; and Bruce Sanguin, a minister at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, who wrote a book combining science, scripture, and poetry into 21st century prayers.