TIME: 25 Most Influential Evangelicals Photo Essay: Brian McLaren: "Brian McLaren
Paradigm Shifter: Asked at a conference last spring what he thought about gay marriage, Brian McLaren replied, 'You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there's no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.' You might call his a kinder and gentler brand of religion. At a mere 48, McLaren, a nondenominational Maryland pastor, qualifies as elder statesman of a movement called the 'emerging church.'

OK, some of you will want to reach for your flamethrowers right now. I'll wait.

At the risk of alienating my eternally emerging bretheren, the thing that breaks my heart is that McLaren feels the need to duck a question here. The crux of the issue here is what is right and wrong - even though seems kinder and gentler to make how people feel the focal point. Here's a little insight into humanity - we generally all feel pretty okay with what we do wrong. That's what allows us to continue it. Nevertheless there are things in scripture that counter what 'feels' right and even moves us to do what 'feels' uncomfortable.

I'm beginning to wonder if the church in America thinks that Oprah needs God or God needs Oprah. For crying out loud, I wish some of our great thinkers and writers would show some fortitude.

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