One post begins thus:
"To my Christian friends: would you agree with this statement?
'Christianity was not intended to create a chosen people, fostering exclusive claims for themselves, while looking down upon the rest of humanity as a sea of untouchables or regarding the animate and inanimate worlds around them as fields ready for wanton exploitation. Wherever Christians find themselves, they are called upon to be actively and positively engaged as vanguards of mercy, welfare, and well-being.'"
McLaren goes on to confess that, though he wishes he were the author of these words, he borrowed them from a Muslim thinker who was in fact speaking of Islam. (In other, words, the original quote has "Islam" where McLaren inserts "Christianity" and "Muslims" where he inserts "Christians.")
I find here something of a mixed bag. First, Christ and the apostles surely never intended to found a church that excluded certain ethnic groups (one need only read the end of Matthew's Gospel or the second half of Ephesians 2!). Second, we may be thankful for the reminder never to look down on others or view creation as merely a pool of resources designed for our selfish pleasure. Third, later in the post McLaren speaks of how easy it is to compare the best of Christians to the worst of Muslims in an act of self-righteousness. This comment is an important one to me as I've been impressed by the respectfulness and kindness that I've received from Muslim friends. I would imagine that any Christian who has befriended Muslim folks gets frustrated when they hear an off-colour quip about Muslims and terrorism (especially if the quip is uttered with a sort of smirk).
However, as mentioned above, the bag is indeed mixed. God in Christ has in fact established a chosen people (the church), but this chosen people is neither necessarily exclusivistic in an ugly sense nor necessarily smug because of its place in redemptive history. The church serves as custodian for a gospel that is both inclusivistic (all people groups can and should be welcomed into the church) and exclusivistic (Christ and his saving work will permit no rivals, religious pluralism not withstanding). Unfortunately, McLaren's enthusiasm for the quote above pairs the concept of "chosen people" with "exploitation" (as if the two were necessarily connected) and fails to distinguish between a proper exclusivity (the truth of the gospel speaks against contrary religious claims) and an improper exclusivity (a smug attitude toward other human beings).
In the end, it seems to me that McLaren offers some helpful reminders but tends to muddy the waters on some key issues. Honestly, when I ponder these two dynamics at work (the helpful reminders and the muddy waters), I am inclined to be more concerned about the latter than I am excited about the former because Christians can get such (undeniably important) reminders from other voices who will be less theologically confusing. Thoughts?