In a previous blog, I discussed the difference between “the Emergent Church” and “the Emerging Church.” And in another blog, I listed traits of the Emergent Church movement. In this blog, I want to turn my sights to the traits of the Emerging Church.
The following excerpts are taken from an article entitled “How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging in Your Church,” by Roger Oakland:
The Gospel of the Kingdom
One of the main indicators that something has changed can be seen in the way the future is perceived. Rather than urgently proclaiming the gospel according to the Scriptures and believing the time to do so is short, the emphasis has now shifted. No longer are “signs of the times” significant. The battle cry is very different. A major emphasis among evangelicals is the idea that the world can be radically improved through social programs. [Click here for my blog about the EFCI denomination and its changing eschatology.]
This concept, while on the surface may sound very good, has some serious biblical implications. According to the Scriptures, there will be no kingdom of God until the King arrives. All the human effort man can muster up will fall short of bringing utopia. In fact, according to the Scriptures, fallen man will lead us further down the road to a society of despair and lawlessness just like it was in the days of Noah.
Thus, this purpose-driven view of establishing global utopia may be a plan, but it is “driven” by humanistic reasoning and not led by the Holy Spirit. While it is of course good to do good unto others, all the goodness that we can do will not be good enough. Pastors and church leaders who get involved in such man-driven programs can usually be identified by certain characteristics:
* Sound biblical doctrine is dangerous and divisive, and the experiential (i.e., mystical) is given a greater role than doctrine.
* Bible prophecy is no longer taught and is considered a waste of time.
* Israel becomes less and less important and has no biblical significance.
* Eventually the promises for Israel are applied to the church and not Israel (Replacement Theology).
* Bible study is replaced by studying someone’s book and his methods.
* Church health is evaluated on the quantity of people who attend.
* The truth of God’s Word becomes less and less important.
* God’s Word, especially concepts like hell, sin and repentance, is eventually downplayed so the unbeliever is not offended….
[Further down in the article, Oakland gives the following further signs of an Emerging church. There is some repetition of the above, but you get the idea.]
Signs the Emerging Church is Emerging
There are specific warning signs that are symptomatic that a church may be headed down the emergent/contemplative road. In some cases a pastor may not be aware that he is on this road nor understand where the road ends up.
Here are some of the warning signs:
* Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
* The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
* More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
* The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
* The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
* The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.
* An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
* Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
* The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
* While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
* These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
* There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
* Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
* There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
* Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave…
The Emerging Church movement is surely a sign of the End Times. Evangelical churches, which were once biblically sound, are becoming Emerging and then Emergent (as more and more biblically sound Christians leave the churches). It is especially shocking to see these changes happen in the very churches you are attending. I have to say, practically every evangelical church I have ever attended is somewhere on this road to apostasy. Heaven help them!
Having seen firsthand the dangerous, divisive, destructive ways of Emerging churches, I have developed the following Summary Statement:
Regarding Spiritual Formation (particularly Contemplative Prayer/ Contemplative Spirituality) and Emerging/ Emergent teachings:
We want these things to stop being taught in our denominations, to cease completely. And with the eternal destiny of so many souls at stake, we will not take “no” for an answer. Either the churches stop teaching these things, or we will plead with their members to LEAVE, to “run for your life” as Carter Conlon so movingly put it. It’s as simple as that.
Click here for a step by step guide to leaving an apostate church and locating a biblical church.
I thank God for the many individuals and discernment ministries that see this apostasy (even if their pastors don’t see it) and are promptly leaving such churches. Note – it is also important to speak out against Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. Pray, asking the Lord how you should go about this.
A word of encouragement: there will always be a remnant of truly born again, biblically sound Christians on earth until Christ returns. I pray you remain a member of that remnant. Consider the following passage:
2b) Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, 3)Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Rom. 11:2b-5, KJV)