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Archive for the ‘Emerging Church’ Category

Back in 2010, I came across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I ended up corresponding with Aaron Wright. Aaron, along with his brother Adam and their dad Troy, have a discernment ministry called Foundations Research Group.

Interestingly, Aaron, Adam and Troy had been attending the Evangelical Friends church in which I grew up. This church (as well as many churches in the Evangelical Friends denomination) is increasingly following the postmodern/ Emerging/Emergent teachings of heretics Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc. Aaron, Adam and Troy attempted to “wake people up” in this Evangelical Friends church. Unfortunately, their efforts failed.

Aaron, Adam and Troy now attend a Grace Brethren Church in North Canton, Ohio along with their families. Eric Barger’s 2010 seminar was held at this church.

Troy has written various discernment articles. My Concerned Nazarene friend Manny Silva posted one of these – an article by Troy entitled “Falling Away”. Click here for the original posting of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Falling Away
March 29, 2012 by reformednazarene

[Introductory comments by Manny Silva (reformednazarene)]:
The following is from a brother in the Lord, Troy Wright, of Foundations Research Group.  With his sons Aaron and Adam, they work diligently at providing information, as well as teaching, about the many dangers that have come into the evangelical church.  I met them finally last year at an Eric Barger conference in Canton, Ohio.  If you are in Ohio and you need resources or any kind of help in dealing with false teaching, please contact them.

Falling Away
(Troy Wright)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2: 1-2)

The Bible predicts a “Great falling away from the faith” in the last days shortly before the return of Christ to earth to establish His earthly kingdom. Foundations Research Group is an apologetics/discernment ministry of under-shepherds (sheepdogs) committed to the protection and guarding of the sheep. We seek to support local pastors (shepherds) by providing research and support tools that time prohibits them from gathering on their own.

Our prayer is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to the apostasy that is prophetically sweeping over the church in these last days. May He give you unashamed courage to stand up for Biblical truth in your own church and to expose these false teachings wherever they pop up.

Do not be naïve about the reception you will encounter. You would think that in light of Paul’s instructions throughout his letters to call out and expose deceivers and Christ’s example with the religious leaders during His ministry, committed Christians would have unashamedly cried out the truth long before these teachings established their footholds in our churches. But in the name of Christian unity, love, and meekness the silence has been deafening. But let one small voice boldly speak truth in the face of the deception and suddenly all the Christians grow vocal chords and are emboldened with courage to shout their disapproval…….not at the false teachings……..but at their Christian brother for voicing his “mean-spirited” judgment and stirring up dissension in the church. Thanks to the “seeker friendly” mentality they don’t want to offend anyone by disagreeing openly and suggesting absolute truth. That would appear too “narrow” and would be disrespectful to the heretics……….and we are talking about heresy. The teachers of these apostate movements attack the very foundations of historic, apostolic Christianity as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Those of us who have been serving Christ for a generation or more remember when the Bible was revered as the very Words of God Himself throughout the pulpits all across America. We knew that a day was soon coming when the world would forsake the God of the Bible and swear their allegiance to a one-world ecumenical religious system. We recognized through Bible prophesy that we were living in the last days of men’s rebellion against their creator and that the soon return of Christ for His church was right at the door. We assumed that the “great apostasy” preceding His return referred to all those liberal churches of the last 2 centuries and of course Roman Catholicism. Because of the Biblical foundation of our faith, it was easy to discern false doctrine and heresy.

What is so alarming to all of us is that in just three short decades or so, we have watched one Bible-believing church after another fall into disbelief and even paganism until now it’s difficult to find anyone who is willing to stand up for truth in our pulpits. Our fundamental denominations are caving in to ecumenical pressures as their seminaries are filled with liberal professors and new age thought. Due to the feel-good-gospel and the you-can-have-it-now message, our churches are full of false converts who are oblivious to Bible truth and are offended when they hear it. Since they are clueless about Bible prophesy and what’s really going on around them, anyone who sounds a warning is considered a nut, not to mention politically incorrect and socially despicable.

Our war is with the lies of the enemy of our souls. We aren’t directly fighting the wolves who are attacking the flock with their false teachings and books. Our main battles in this war are with the goats……..those church members and leadership who God has permitted to live among us until he separates us at the rapture. They sit in our pews with us and sing our songs. They like hanging out with sheep. Though never really surrendered or regenerated, they intellectually and logically ascent to the same beliefs as we do. They do all the same stuff as sheep but without a life or death commitment to Biblical truth. They actually think they are sheep because of the great works they do…..sheep stuff. They even try to convince the Lord at the resurrection that they are sheep but He tells them “I never knew you.”

Because goats have not surrendered lordship over to Jesus, they are very possessive of their environments. They don’t want anyone messing with their territory. If you try to spiritually take a goat where he doesn’t want to go he will buck you. Goats aren’t concerned about the welfare of the flock but only with the comfort of their own stall. Doctrine is of no importance to goats. You see, sheep eat sheep food…….the pure milk of the gospel of truth. They feed from the hand of the Good Shepherd. They know His voice and eat of The Word. Goats, “on the other hand,” will eat anything. They even eat garbage. They don’t care where it comes from or how clean it is. If they can get it down, they will eat it. Goats especially like goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is that watered-down, low-fat gospel fit for goats who are lactose “intolerant” of the nutritious, pure milk of the gospel. When a pastor offers sheep food from the pulpit, he will fill his church with sheep. If he offers goat’s milk he will fill his church with goats.

I cannot stress enough how lonely this battle is for most people. Most of your friends and relatives will encourage you to keep quiet if you disagree with the church’s new teaching and simply leave the church without a controversy. They always bring up Matthew 18:15-17 instructing you to go to the person privately and not to bring reproach on the church. This scripture is for a brother in sin or for someone personally offended and is out of context when used for false teachers in the church. We are never instructed to be quiet or understanding toward wolves attacking the flock in scripture. As Paul, we are to lovingly and with all truthfulness expose, correct, call out by name, print, and warn the other churches about unrepentant heretics as his letters did in the early church and were passed around to the entire body of Christ. God’s Word is offensive to all who love not the truth whether in the church or out and THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW IT.

Make no mistake about it, these movements have leaked into every seminary and every church to some degree in the form of books, videos, study courses, worship seminars, pastoral retreats, small groups and  youth leaders.

Don’t be discouraged. There are thousands of Christians in churches all over the country fighting this same truth war with these last-days false teachers. We and many other good ministries across America have lots of materials available for you. You can contact us by internet through our e-mail at frgsheepdogs@hotmail.com. The scriptures warn us to “come out of her” in Revelation 18 referring to the apostate church. If you don’t feel equipped to fight this battle, find another church that stands for Biblical truth. But first find a warrior in your church who you can share this material with who feels compelled to stay and fight for the flock. Pray, pray, pray for our pastors and leaders in these last days. Behold….He comes quickly!

Troy Wright
co-researcher / Foundations Research Group
Canton, Ohio
on FaceBook

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Back in 2010, I happened to chance across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I met Concerned Nazarene Manny Silva. And it was not long before we found something in common – Manny had recently attended a local seminar here in Ohio, led by counter-Emergent speaker Eric Barger. Small world!

I am reposting a blog by Manny, in which he recounts Eric Barger’s seminar. Click here for the original posting. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

1 Timothy 1:18-20  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

By tonight, I will have returned from Canton, Ohio, where Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries, spent two days at Grace Brethren Church.  Eric is a Christian apologist who has been traveling all around the country for over 27 years now, warning the body of Christ of false movements, such as the New Age, the emergent church, and many more.  On Saturday, he spoke in the morning on the dangers of the emerging church, and in the afternoon session, the topic was about how the popular novel, The Shack, is deceiving so many Christians today, even though it is a book filled with heresies and blasphemous doctrine.  On Sunday, he preached in the morning on the truth and reliability of the Bible, and finished in the evening with a talk on the “real Jesus vs. the counterfeits.”  Eric is a true soldier in the fight for the true gospel. Eric spent three days with us at the Nazarene General Assembly last June, helping Concerned Nazarenes to expose the heresies being introduced to the Nazarene denomination by way of the emergent church.  Please pray for him and his ministry, as Christians who do what he does are constantly under vicious attack by the enemy from within.  I am hoping that he can soon be invited by someone to speak in New England, where he has never spoken yet.

There were several more reasons to come to Ohio.  In the past two years, I have found many new brothers and sisters in Christ who are true Christian soldiers, while I was undertaking whatever efforts I could to fight false teachings in the church.  And it seems that for every friend I have lost because of standing for the truth, I have gained at least one or two more.  My list is long, but every single person who has joined me in this fight, via emails and the phone, has been a blessing and an encouragement, and in turn, I have also been able to help some of them as well, and I thank God for that, and nothing else.

A few of these soldiers is a small group of men in Canton, Ohio, who helped organize Eric’s seminar.  I met Aaron Wright about a year or so ago via email, and along with his father Troy, and Aaron’s brother, Adam, they have a ministry called Foundations Research Group in the Northern Ohio area. When Aaron and his family encountered false teachings of the emergent church in their former church, they did not close their eyes to it and pretend it did not exist.  They did not say, oh well, we’ll just have to live with it.  No, they boldly confronted the purveyors of false teaching and tried to show them the truth of God’s word.  The end result was that they made the decision to leave, rather than stick around and tolerate false teaching.

Their faithfulness has been rewarded with a ministry that is now helping Christians at their new church and in the community to equip themselves with knowledge of the emergent church, and at the same time, equipping and reinforcing others with a love for the scriptures, which is the best way to combat false teaching.  Grace Brethren Church, led by Pastor Joe Cosentino, is a shining light in this town where there does not seem to be much light, or much of a desire to fight false doctrines.  If you live in the Northern Ohio area, and are looking for a strong, Bible believing church, perhaps you should pay a visit to Grace Brethren.  These kinds of churches are becoming rare in the midst of all this apostasy.

And so God blessed the faithfulness of Aaron and his family, and led them to a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church whose pastor and leadership will not put up with the nonsense of emergent heresy or any other gospel except the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  So one of the reasons I went to Canton was to finally meet Aaron and his family, who are truly another new addition to my eternal family, the family of God.  We have shared information over the past year and helped each other with our ministries, and they have already made a big impact in their community and church.

But there were other soldiers that I just knew I had to meet when I came to Ohio.  There was Becky, her husband and young daughter, who came to the seminar.  I had met Becky over the internet as she was also finding herself and her family being thrown into turmoil, and again, the usual suspects were the purveyors of emergent church heresy. Their eyes were opened to the truth, and they had to walk away from their church as well.

Then there was Angie, and her friend Wendy.  These ladies are true soldiers as well, and for staying true to God, have also paid a price for it.  The tenacity and the determination of these two women, is an inspiration to me.  They will not be moved, they will not be pushed around or bullied by any false teacher.  Not even by the high-minded intellectuals with multiple PHds, nor by the smooth words of deceived pastors or anyone else.  They just want to faithfully compare and contrast everything they hear with the scriptures, and like the Bereans, prove that what they hear is faithful to the word of God.  They are solid sisters in Christ, and I am glad I got to finally see them personally.

There was also my good friend and brother in the Lord, Tim Wirth and his wife Donna, and I thank God for their friendship.  Tim started the Concerned Nazarenes website a few years ago, and was instrumental in helping get the DVD put together about the emerging church.  He was the first person that I actually made contact with when I first started stepping into the emergent mess, and has been a trustworthy friend who has given me solid advice, friendship, and encouragement.  Tim is also not well liked by a lot of emergents, which to me is a badge of honor for him, because he has a knack for exposing their false ideology, just by using the sharp-edged sword of God’s word against them.  I value his friendship; and the impact he has made in this battle as a missionary to the Nazarene denomination is immeasureable, and only God knows.  He and Donna are true and courageous soldiers in the fight against the apostasy of this age.

Finally, the only regret that I had was that there at least a few other soldiers from the Ohio area who could not make it to the seminar.  There was Brenda, who I have known also since the past year and a half.  She and her family chose to leave a Nazarene church because of emergent ideology, rather than stay and tolerate false teaching.  She has been a source of encouragement and advice and a real sister in the Lord.  And Beverly Turner could not make it this time, but I had hoped to see her as well.  She is a very brave Christian lady and evangelist who is not afraid to speak the truth about what has poisoned our denomination.  And then Rick Headley is also in Ohio, but I was not able to see him this time.  But he also has been an example of standing for God first, above anything else, including his own denomination.  He would not compromise, and like Brenda and Beverly, is a true soldier in this battle as well.  Finally, I thank God for a wife who has been behind me all the way, put up with my long hours of writing on some nights, was okay with me going on this trip, and who has also refused to compromise in any way her faith in Christ.  She knows the price that she has paid, but she would not change her mind if she could.  Her support has made this job I am doing a lot easier to do.  She is a soldier in this battle.

Folks, there are many more soldiers in this battle.  I only mention these friends now because of the Ohio connection and my trip there to see them.  There are so many more around this country and even around the world, who I have met, who are standing up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Someday, I will write about many more of them (with permission) and tell you how they have chosen to stand for the truth, and how they have blessed my life with their example.  This is why I call them soldiers.  A true soldier of Jesus Christ is someone who refuses to sit quietly on the sidelines while multitudes of young people and adults walk down the wide path of destruction towards hell, following a different Jesus.  And it does not take too many requirements to be a “true soldier”: just be faithful to Jesus Christ- completely faithful; and trust only in the word of God that is revealed in the Holy Bible.  It does not mean you have to write a blog like I do; it does not mean that you have to be a preacher or evangelist; or that you have to have a ministry like the one Aaron and his family has.  No, all it means is that you are willing to stand up for the truth, with whatever gifts God has given you, and be faithful to Jesus Christ and defend the gospel once for all delivered to the saints.

You see, if you had not noticed, there is a great apostasy spreading throughout the Christian world, dressed in the robes of a false Jesus. It does not matter what denomination: Nazarene, Brethren, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Salvation Army, Calvary Chapel, you name it.

It is here, it is deadly, and it is leading countless people down the road to hell with a false gospel, with another Jesus which is not of the Bible.  Don’t you see it yet?  And if you have seen it, what are you doing?  Are you going to be walking through the narrow gate, or have you been diverted to the wide path?

Are you willing to stand for the truth… no matter what the cost, and be a true soldier for Christ, like these friends decided to do?

2 Timothy 3:12-14 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

MannyAaronEricPastorJoe.JPG
Manny, Aaron Wright, Eric Barger, Pastor Joe Cosentino

EricAdamAaron.JPG
Eric, Adam Wright, Aaron Wright

TroyAndEric.JPG

Troy Wright, Eric

* Note to all emergents and New Agers and other false movements reading this: we will not let up in our battle for the truth.

FOR FURTHER READING AND RESEARCH

Canton event notice on Facebook

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A reader (Paul Anthony Preussler) has been making a number of  comments on my blogs. Paul has made me aware of a popular postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) UMC blogger, Rev. Jeremy Smith, who goes by the handle of UMJeremy. I realize UMJeremy is just one of many postmodern voices in the increasingly liberal UMC, but he is a loud voice that well represents where the UMC is heading. To put it another way, UMJeremy is one small but very noisy cog in the huge wheel of postmodern United Methodists. (Yes Jeremy, you can take this as a compliment if you wish.)

I realize that to many I come across as attacking individuals, but this is not my intent. It’s likely that, if I met UMJeremy on the street, I would view him as an amicable, sociable fellow. But brotherly love, human fellowship and Christian unity should never trump biblically sound doctrine. If an individual is spreading postmodern heresies and thus tearing down the true, born again Body of Christ, I will call that individual out no matter who he or she is.

UMJeremy has a blog named “Hacking Christianity”. His blogs strike me as typically postmodern musings. They fit the mold of postmoderns Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, etc. etc. Click here for his Manifesto.

Also, click here for UMJeremy’s church bio page. And click here for his Hacking Christianity Facebook Page.

Since I haven’t seen a doctrinal statement yet by UMJeremy (postmoderns are infamous for denying the need for doctrinal statements), I have been surfing a bit for objectionable material. There is plenty to object to, as a born again “fundamentalist right wing Christian”.

Looking through UMJeremy’s Twitter account, I found a number of offensive photos and comments:

1) Nov. 21, 2013 – He posted an image with the following quote. Although unnamed, this is Paul Anthony Preussler commenting on one of my blogs here. UMJeremy captioned the image with this comment: “Looks like I’m winning. This was posted in a “Christians Against Apostasy” group.” UMJeremy claims that he’s winning – but this must have gotten under his skin – why else would he post this on Twitter? What do you think?:

Paul Comment

Question – what does UMJeremy mean by “winning”? Note that he doesn’t deny “advocating acts of theological violence against the scriptures and church tradition”. Nor does he deny his lack of reference to Scripture.

2) Nov. 22, 2013 – UMJeremy quoted Fr. Richard Rohr – many articles have been written about Rohr’s heresies:

Rohr

3) Nov. 17, 2013 – He posted the following photo from the Explo 13 Sacred Space area, which refers to God as “(s)he”. The UMC – like many mainline denominations – is getting heavily into goddess worship – click here for many articles on this.

She
4) Date unknown – UMJeremy attempted to post a video about Bishop Talbert’s “homosexual marriage” breach of the UMC Discipline. Click here for a UMC article about the incident. Here is UMJeremy’s posted photo [with a broken link to the YouTube video], entitled “Good News President on Talbert’s Breach of the Discipline”:

Talbert Breach

There are many more offensive materials I’m sure – I plan to add more as I locate them, so readers can get more of a “handle” on where UMJeremy is coming from, and is headed…

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(revised 01/11/15)

Note – since I started blogging in Fall 2010, I have rarely mentioned specific churches. I feel I can no longer hold back. Various northeast Ohio churches, schools and bookstores are getting more and more into Spiritual Formation, and becoming more and more Emergent. Some of them I have warned for several years now – yet they either ignore or put down my “warning” blogs (saying things like “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”).

I’m fed up with Emerging/Emergent heresies. And like many other discernment ministries (see my Blogroll at the right of this post) I will not back down!!

There are many traits of a church, which can identify it as Emerging/Emergent. I think of an Emerging church as “emerging” from fundamentalist or New Evangelical into an Emergent (mainline/liberal) church). The lines are blurred here. There is no specific point where a church becomes totally mainline/ liberal. Thus the term “Emerging/ Emergent”. (Also, Emerging/Emergent churches tend to be large, perhaps  300 or more attenders, and of course have fewer and fewer members from the “old fashioned” older generations.)

[Proof that the Spiritual Formation/Emerging/Emergent situation is getting worse – since at least November 2011, every accredited seminary has been required to include a Spiritual Formation program. See this article from Lighthouse Trails. I hope to discuss this in a future blog.]
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I found it rather ironic that, today, a Facebook Friend wrote this:

When did we lose our reverence in the House of God? When did the pew we sit in each Sunday just become an extension of our living room sofa? I believe that it is due to this comfortable state that we display in churches that we have lost our relevance to the world around us. Our children have grown up in churches where they have never seen reverence modeled before them. We have casual conversation, we tell jokes and share antidotes and entertain each other as we would in our kitchens or living rooms and then we expect the preacher to get behind the pulpit and present God’s Word as reverent, as holy, as worthy of all honor and praise and then we ask ourselves why so many young people are leaving the church or have been in the church all their lives and still don’t understand what it means to sit before a holy God. We wonder why they are being drawn to the Catholic faith or to rituals. When there is more world in the church then their is church in the world we have lost sight of Christ and the reason He was crucified.

Speaking of lack of reverence in the house of God, we attended an Assemblies of God church today (my wife likes the music). But after today, my wife finally saw my point (I think) that we should not go there any more. Turns out the pastor loves Tony Campolo. After his sermon he posted a photo of him with Campolo on the two big screens of the sanctuary. Below is the sanctuary (my actual cell phone photo of the screens showing him with Campolo turned out fuzzy):

1150267_10200588848547816_2062333642_n

Here’s the kicker – he then showed a video of Campolo (I hesitate to mention this) talking about prostitutes WHILE THE USHERS WERE PASSING OUT THE ELEMENTS FOR COMMUNION.

The video we saw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWlMV-UmueM

And here’s the text of Campolo’s prostitute “sermon”: http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/june/15742.html

My question: would this be considered sacrilegious? Or blasphemous? I was amazed that my wife and I were the only ones that walked out. I guess the church members are like frogs who stay in the water as it gets closer and closer to boiling – they haven’t realized their church is becoming increasingly Emerging/Emergent. Not to mention, the church is right next to Malone University. The current President of Malone (Dr. David King) was previously the provost at Eastern University, where Campolo taught full time. See the following link:

To other discerning Christians in northeast Ohio – thought you might want to know this, to warn others about the church, Bethel Temple.

And, the very Emerging/Emergent Canton First Nazarene is on the other side of Malone University. Check out this blog discussing Emerging/ Emergent teachings in the Nazarene denomination.

Then of course there’s Canton First Friends nearby – which I dropped in on for a minute today. I’m not surprised that Canton First Friends had an Emerging/Emergent sermon, about “loving your neighbor”. Dear Pastor, I’m sure you’re aware that Emergent “social gospel” messages akin to this are preached often in the Evangelical Friends denomination’s Northwest Yearly Meeting, where contemplative heretic RIchard Foster got his start.

Another Emerging/Emergent northeast Ohio church to watch out for is Newpointe Community Church. They posted prominent billboards along roadways which stated, “God isn’t boring – church shouldn’t have to be either.” (I took this as a slam against “old fashioned” i.e. “fundamentalist” churches which I believe are biblically sound.) And one Sunday recently, they had no services – they just went out and did “community service projects”. They cancel Sunday services for this reason once a year.

Various individuals have stated that Ohio is a hotbed for Emergent churches, but the preponderance of these in northeast Ohio is ridiculous.

Several additional institutions are:

High Mill Church of the Resurrection – They have strayed in recent years, taking on a woman with Catholic connections as co-pastor, and getting members involved in spiritual retreats (with contemplative spirituality ala Richard Foster’s occultish, Eastern-influenced Spiritual Formation). As of Jan. 2015, High Mill advertised itself as a “Spirit-filled, Word-based” church. Yet they continue to retain this woman as co-pastor. In addition to her Catholic background, she is a Spiritual Director (teaching Spiritual Formation).

Lifeway (which bought out Berean Christian Stores) – They are carrying many heretical titles (although not as many as Berean did). They do not have heretics Richard Foster, Robe Bell, etc. listed on their website.  Yet their bookstore carries heretical books by Beth Moore, the heretical book “The Circle Maker”, etc.

I’m sure many other discerning Christians can tell similar horror stories about Emerging/Emergent churches in their areas. I just couldn’t hold back – this Bethel Temple thing about Tony Campolo today really ticked me off.

I’m seriously looking around, hoping to find a good Conservative Holiness church that my wife and I will both enjoy attending.

This blog has been difficult to write. I have been closely associated with a number of the above churches, schools, etc., and still have close friends at a number of these. It is precisely because I care about these institutions so deeply, that I am mentioning how far they have fallen doctrinally. I am praying they return to being biblically sound.

Regarding further research, I’m thinking of listing the most Emerging/Emergent churches in Ohio (and perhaps some other states). But it would be easier to find lists of Emerging/Emergent evangelical colleges and seminaries and list them by state then city. I would say every accredited evangelical college and seminary is Emerging/Emergent to some degree. Sad.

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(revised 05/29/13)

The Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) was once staunchly born again, “separatist fundamentalist” Wesleyan Holiness. Yet today the EFCI treats heretical Emerging/Emergents like Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLarenLeonard Sweet, Randy Woodley, etc. as their “darlings.” All of these heretics have taught and/or are teaching at George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

I came across an excellent 3-part series of articles exposing the blasphemous “theology” held by a number of Emerging/Emerging individuals, including most of the individuals above.  I have reposted this article below.  I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

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Click here for the original site of Part One reposted below.

(Part One)
What are the Emergent Church’s ’95 Theses’?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

The Emergent Church movement promotes itself as a “new Reformation” with its own “95 theses” in a book by Emergent guru Brian McLaren. Despite their claims of charting the way forward for the church, the architects of this theological Tower of Babel are bent on taking the church back into pre-Reformation darkness.

Part one of a series.

Since the turn of the new millennium, the Emergent Church movement has been grabbing headlines as the darling of the religious media. Its influence has spread like wildfire in mainline liberal, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic seminaries alike.

A New Luther?

In 2004, Emergent Church guru1 Brian McLaren published what was hailed as a landmark book called A Generous Orthodoxy.2 Phyllis Tickle, who according to her website is “a lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal church,”3 wrote the foreword, in which she said:

Religion is like a spyglass through which we look to determine our course, our place in the order of things, and to sight that toward where we are going. On a clear day, no sailor needs such help, save for passing views of a far shore. But on a stormy sea, with all landmarks hidden in obscuring clouds, the spyglass becomes the instrument of hope, the one thing on board that, held to the eye long enough, will find the break in the clouds and discover once more the currents and shores of safe passage. Ours are stormy seas just now; and I believe as surely as Martin Luther held the spyglass for sixteenth-century Europe, so Brian McLaren holds it here for us in the twenty-first..

…The emerging church has the potential of being to North American Christianity what Reformation Protestantism was to European Christianity. And I am sure that the generous orthodoxy defined in the following pages is our 95 theses. Both are strong statements, strongly stated and, believe me, not lightly taken in so public a forum as this. All I can add to them in defense is the far simpler statement: Here I stand.

So, on that basis, the one thing that remains is to invite you to join thousands and thousands of others who have already read these words and subsequently assumed them as the theses of a new kind of Christianity and the foundational principles for a new Beloved Community.4

A “Beloved Community”?

The “Beloved Community” of which Tickle speaks is a term coined by pseudo-Christian philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916). In his 1913 book, The Problem of Christianity, Royce said that the doctrine of the incarnation is not about the coming of God in the person of Jesus Christ, but the incarnation of God in the visible church. He added that “the visible church, rather than the person of the founder [Jesus Christ], ought to be viewed as the central idea of Christianity.” To Royce, the “problem of Christianity” was Jesus Christ.

Royce also said that the visible church forms a “Universal Community of Interpretation” that redefines “Christianity” to suit the conditions of the times. Tellingly, Royce’s book was recently republished by the Catholic University of America, an institution of the greatest chameleon-church on earth.5

Confused and Proud of It

McLaren is clearly comfortable in the company of people like Tickle and Royce. The full title of McLaren’s “95 theses of the Emergent Church” is quite a mouthful:

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional – Evangelical – Post-Protestant – Liberal/Conservative – Mystical/Poetic – Biblical – Charismatic/Contemplative – Fundamentalist/Calvinist – Anabaptist/Anglican – Methodist – Catholic – Green – Incarnational – Depressed-Yet-Hopeful – Emergent – Unfinished Christian

Rather than being ashamed of his confused state of mind, McLaren wears this complex and contradictory title proudly, and uses each of the descriptions in the lengthy title of his book as the title of a chapter within it. McLaren presents himself as the guru of a “new Reformation” built not on orthodoxy, but on what another Emergent spokesman has called “orthoparadoxy”.

A followup 2007 book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, authored by McLaren and twenty-six other Emergent thought leaders, is an equally confused and confusing theological Tower of Babel. Its architects and builders are bent on not simply tearing down the Reformation, but on taking the church back into pre-Reformation darkness. In the process (lest a Scripture-driven Christian have any doubts) McLaren and his fellow Emergents show us clearly that they are not Christians at all.

How Do Emergents Measure Up?

How does this “new Reformation” compare to that of the 16th century, which freed Biblical Christianity from the shroud of Romanism? What of the five solas that were the rallying cries of that Reformation –

  • Sola Scriptura: Our Authority is Scripture Alone
  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by Grace Alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is Through Christ Alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is by Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory Belongs to God Alone

Emergents say that adherence to such fundamentals is “a constant reminder that religion can be a source of chaos and confusion.”6 But who is it that is really living in the realm of chaos and confusion – those whom the Emergents deride as “fundamentalists”, or Emergents who have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God? In our next article, we shall begin comparing the theological currents flowing through the Emergent Church with the Reformation’s great and fundamental statements of the Biblical faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

References:

1. We use the term “guru” advisedly; McLaren and other Emergent Church leaders position themselves as spiritual advisers imparting transcendental, higher knowledge – higher than the Word of God.

2. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004).

3. Her website, phyllistickle.org, notes that she was the “founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in print sources like USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, The Hallmark Channel, and innumerable blogs and web sites. Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject….Tickle is a founding member of The Canterbury Roundtable, and serves now, as she has in the past, on a number of advisory and corporate boards.”

4. A Generous Orthodoxy, pages 11-12.

5. Josiah Royce, The Problem of Christianity, 1913, republished in 2001 by Catholic University of America Press, pages 43 and 340.

6. Barry Taylor, “Converting Christianity” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 165.

Click here for the original site of Part Two reposted below.

(Part Two)
What does the Emergent Church movement believe about Sola Scriptura?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

Emergent Church leaders will tell you they are uncertain of most things. In fact, they wear ambiguity like a badge of honor. But of one thing they are certain: The Bible is not the inspired, infallible, inerrant, uniquely authoritative Word of God.

This is part two of a series. Read part one.

As we continue our series, “Was the Reformation a Mistake?” we take up this question: How does the Emergent Church movement’s so-called “new Reformation” compare to the one that freed Biblical Christianity from the shroud of Romanism in the 16th century? What of the five solas that were rallying cries of that Reformation? –

  • Sola Scriptura: Our Authority is Scripture Alone
  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by Grace Alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is Through Christ Alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is By Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory Belongs to God Alone

We shall let Emergent spokesmen answer for themselves.

Inerrancy is “Foreign to the Bible’s Vocabulary”

What do Emergent Church leaders say is the nature of the Bible? Emergent guru Brian McLaren says that “the Bible is “an inspired gift from God – a unique collection of literary artifacts”.1 Emergent leader Doug Pagitt agrees with McLaren, hinting at what they mean by “inspired”. The “history of the Christian faith,” Pagitt says, is that “the Scriptures come from and inform the church.”2 In other words, they do not come from God in the sense of verbal, plenary, authoritative inspiration spoken of in passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.

McLaren is even more explicit. He says that “the purpose of Scripture is to equip God’s people for good works.”3 The italics are his. McLaren and other Emergents repeat this statement often in their writings, almost as a mantra. But there is never a word about Scripture’s telling mankind how to become one of God’s people, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Throughout their writings, Emergents’ assumption seems to be that everybody is already one of “God’s people.” You just have to get busy doing “good works.”

But then, after stating that “the purpose of Scripture is to equip God’s people for good works” McLaren follows immediately with this:

Shouldn’t a simple statement like this be far more important than statements with words foreign to the Bible’s vocabulary about itself (inerrant, authoritative, literal, revelatory, objective, absolute, propositional, etc.)?4

Just how “foreign” does McLaren think these words are to Scripture? He does not hesitate to tell us, in a book with one of the most ironic titles ever: Adventures in Missing the Point, co-authored by McLaren and so-called “evangelical left” spokesman Tony Campolo. McLaren and Campolo’s title reflects their fatuous belief that the Bible-believing Christian church has “missed the point” on just about everything (and, of course, Emergents have “gotten the point”). “The Bible is an inspired gift from God – a unique collection of literary artifacts,”5 McLaren says. But it is not the inspired, infallible, inerrant, propositional, revelatory, absolute, objective, Word of God. What’s more, McLaren asserts, “not even one-hundredth of one percent of the Bible” presents “objective information about God.”6

Those are some pretty absolute statements from a man who claims that little, if anything, is certain. But McLaren is just getting warmed up. The Christian Church, says McLaren, has misrepresented the Bible as something containing “universal laws” – “We claimed that the Bible was easy to understand” – “We presented the Bible as a repository of sacred propositions.” All of that was wrong, he says. And, echoing the true position of the Roman Catholic church, McLaren laments that “we mass produced the Bible” and gave Christians the impression that they could interpret it for themselves.7

Not Orthodoxy, But Orthoparadoxy

According to Emergents, how are we to approach this “inspired” but humanly-originated, non-inerrant, non-infallible, non-authoritative Bible? Emergent spokesman Dwight J. Friesen, a professor of practical theology at Mars Hill Graduate School (Seattle) and a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, says that Christ was not interested in orthodoxy but in “a full and flourishing human life.”8 What must develop, says Friesen, is not orthodoxy – correct teaching – but a piece of Emergent doubletalk called orthoparadoxy, “correct paradox.” Friesen writes:

Orthoparaxody represents a conversational theological method that seeks to graciously embrace difference while bringing the fullness of a differentiated social-self to the other. Through the methodology of orthoparadoxy, competing ideas, practices, and hermeneutics are seen as an invitation to conversational engagement rather than as something to refute, reform, or revise.”9

“Current theological methods that often stress agreement/disagreement, win/loss, good/bad, orthodox/heresy, and the like set people up for constant battles to convince and convert the other to their way of believing.”10

“Orthoparadox theology is less concerned with creating “once for all” doctrinal statements or dogmatic claims and is more interested in holding competing truth claims in right tension..Orthoparadox theology requires a dynamic understanding of the Holy Spirit.”11

“[S]ee conversation starters where you once saw theological disagreement.”12

This is how we must approach the Bible, according to Brian McLaren:

“Drop any affair you may have with Certainty, Proof, Argument.The ultimate Bible study or sermon in recent decades yielded clarity. That clarity, unfortunately, was often boring – and probably not that accurate, either, since reality is seldom clear, but usually fizzy and mysterious.”13

“Find things to do with the Bible other than read and study it” [and McLaren suggests several that are forms of medieval, mystical meditation commended by the Roman Catholic church].14

“In the recent past we generally began our apologetic by arguing for the Bible’s authority, then used the Bible to prove our other points. In the future we’ll present the Bible less like evidence in a court case and more like works of art in an art gallery.”15

“In the recent past we talked a lot about absolute truth, attempting to prove abstract propositions about God (for instance, proving the sovereignty of God).” [That, McLaren asserts, is passé in the postmodern world.]16

Protestants Have the Bible All Wrong

According to McLaren, Protestants have gotten it all wrong about the Bible, using propositional truth, right and wrong, to “lay low” their Catholic “brethren” –

“Protestants have paid more attention to the Bible than any other group, but sadly, much of their Bible study has been undertaken to fuel their efforts to prove themselves right and others wrong (and therefore worthy of protest). the Bible does not yield its best resources to people who approach it seeking ammunition with which to lay their [Catholic] brethren low. How many Protestants can’t pick up their Bibles without hearing arguments play in their heads on every page, echoes of the polemical preachers they have heard since childhood? How much Bible study is, therefore, an adventure in missing the point?”17

Warmed-Over Neo-Orthodoxy

Students of church history will recognize much of Emergent Church thinking on the Bible as the warmed-over 20th-century neo-orthodoxy that destroyed most mainline Protestant churches as well as many conservative ones. Emergents are following in the insolent footsteps of Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich and others, who in turn were influenced by early 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, whose great gift to theology was to assert that there is no such thing as objective truth.

One of the main reasons the Emergent Church movement is finding acceptance among Evangelicals is that few Evangelicals are students of church history. As such, they are condemned to repeat the deadly mistakes of the past by embracing a theology of nonsense that leads souls to Hell.

Acceptance in Reputedly Conservative Seminaries

The Emergent Church movement is spreading a new wave of spiritual poison through Christian academia. The fact that Emergents are welcomed on the faculties and in the classrooms of openly liberal seminaries is no surprise. But the response to the Emergent movement in the majority of reputedly more conservative Evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries is also friendly. It ranges from favorable classroom exposure to outright advocacy. Seminaries that are falling into the Emergent web include Dallas Theological Seminary, Houghton College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Biblical Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Erskine College and Seminary, Biola University, Taylor Seminary, and most Southern Baptist schools.

It only takes a a few years of exposure to false teaching for young minds to become the generation that will carry the poison out of the seminaries and colleges, into the pulpits, and into the pews.

Next: Emergents on Salvation

References:

1. Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), page 75.

2. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 171.

3. Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004), page 183.

4. A Generous Orthodoxy, page 183.

5. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 75.

6. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 262.

7. Adventures in Missing the Point, pages 76-77.

8. Dwight J. Friesen, “Orthoparadoxy: Emerging Hope for Embracing Difference” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, page 204.

9. Friesen, page 207.

10. Friesen, page 208.

11. Friesen, page 209.

12. Friesen, page 212.

13. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 84.

14. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 85.

15. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 101.

16. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 102.

17. A Generous Orthodoxy, page 138

————————————————————————————————

Click here for the original site of Part Three reposted below.

(Part  Three)
What does the Emergent Church movement believe about the Reformation solas of salvation?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

As we continue our series, we examine the movement’s “new Reformation” teachings versus the salvation solas of the 16th century Protestant Reformation:

  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by grace alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is through Christ alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is by faith alone
Once again, we shall let Emergent spokesmen answer for themselves.
This is part three of the series. Read part two.

An Insult to Their Intelligence

The writings of Emergent Church spokesmen contain many recurring themes, but one is especially prominent: The Biblical doctrine of personal salvation from sin and wrath by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, is an insult to their intelligence.

Emergent Church spokeswoman Nanette Sawyer is an ordained Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) minister with degrees from both Harvard and McCormick divinity schools. Her story is typical:

My explicit rejection of Christianity happened when our family minister implicitly rejected me. When I was a preteen, he visited our house, spoke with my parents, then pulled me aside, the eldest, for a chat of our own. He asked me if I was a Christian. This is a very interesting question to ask a child who has been raised in a Christian household. Being asked such a question I was, in essence, being told that I might not be a Christian. I responded that I didn’t know. The conversation went downhill from there and ended with my saying that I guessed I wasn’t a Christian. He told me that I had to believe [on Jesus Christ as Savior] to be a Christian and I didn’t believe it.

After that, I spent a good fifteen years defining myself as not Christian. Some of the things that I had been taught in Christian contexts, both explicitly and implicitly, were unacceptable to me. I was taught, for example, that there are good people and bad people, Christian people and non-Christian people, saved people and damned people, and we know who they are.

…I was taught that I was inherently bad, and that I would be judged for that. I was told that the only way out of the judgment was to admit how bad I was.

Thinking back on that pivotal interaction with my childhood minister, I believe the whole conversation missed the mark in a big way. He was defining Christian identity as assent to a list of certain beliefs, and he was defining Christian community as those people who concur with those beliefs.In asking me if I was a Christian, and accepting [my] answer, he essentially told me that I wasn’t part of the community. I wasn’t in; I was out.1

Insulted by this, Sawyer says that she later became a “Christian” through Hindu meditation and the medieval, mystical Roman Catholic practice of “centering prayer” – all while a student at Harvard, taking a master’s degree in comparative world religions. She then tells of her experience while attending the services of a liberal Presbyterian church in Boston:

The minister there invited me into the community by serving me communion without asking if I was a Christian. He didn’t ask, “Are you one of us?” He didn’t say, “Do you believe?” He simply said, “Nanette, the body of Christ, given for you.”2

On this basis, Sawyer says, she became a “Christian” and was subsequently ordained as a minister in the apostate PCUSA.

With all this background, you may understand the reason my statement of faith, my personal credo, written in seminary and required for ordination in the Presbyterian Church [USA], included the line: “I believe that all people are children of God, created and loved by God, and that God’s compassionate grace is available to us at all times.”

Imagine my surprise when a particular pastor challenged me on this point. He suggested that “children of God” is a biblical phrase, and that I was using it unbiblically. He believed that not all people are children of God, only Christians.3

Imagine a pastor having the nerve to say that to be a “child of God” is a doctrinal term with a specific Biblical meaning! How thoroughly un-postmodern can you get? Sawyer recounts her shocked reaction to this intellectual baboon: “I focused on not letting my jaw hit the floor.” She continues:

So what about the Bible on this question of the children of God? Is it unbiblical to call all people the children of God? It is true that there are many places in the New Testament that talk about the children of God as the followers of Jesus. But it is not true that this must lead us to the kind of arrogance that asserts that non-Christians are not children of God..

Even if we could answer the question of who is and isn’t a child of God, it wouldn’t help us be better followers of Jesus; it would only help divide people into more categories.4

Sawyer goes on to misread three New Testament passages to support her contention that even the Bible itself is “undermining such an exclusionary claim.”5

Rather than submitting to the Gospel teaching that only those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior have the authority to be called the children of God (John 1:12), Nanette Sawyer, like most of her fellow Emergents, takes refuge in the theology of paradox. Those who believe the Bible’s categorical, propositional truth claims are arrogant and superficial, she says. They have not ascended to the lofty realms of higher knowledge that can only be attained by embracing paradox:

There is a beauty in paradox when it comes to talking about things of ultimate concern. Paradox works against our tendency to stay superficial in our faith, or to rest on easy answers or categorical thinking. It breaks apart our categories by showing the inadequacy of them and by pointing to a reality larger than us, the reality of gloria, of light, of beyond-the-beyond. I like to call it paradoxology – the glory of paradox, paradox-doxology – which takes us somewhere we wouldn’t be capable of going if we thought we had everything all wrapped up, if we thought we had attained full comprehension. The commitment to embracing the paradox and resisting the impulse to categorize people (ourselves included) is one of the ways we follow Jesus into that larger mysterious reality of light and love.

The Gnostics, who sought to destroy the Biblical faith of the early church by leading it to a “higher” mystical knowledge beyond Scripture, would be proud of Nanette Sawyer. So would the church of Rome, whether 16th- or 21st-century.

Like Nanette Sawyer, Brian McLaren also takes umbrage at the Bible’s doctrine of salvation:

.I used to believe that Jesus’ primary focus was on saving me as an individual.For that reason I often spoke of Jesus as my “personal Savior” and urged others to believe in Jesus in the same way.6

Through the years.I became less and less comfortable with being restricted to the “personal Savior” gospel.7

McLaren says that his rejection of the Biblical Gospel is rooted in his rejection of the Bible’s teaching of eternal punishment in Hell for those who do not receive Christ as Savior. He says that “radical rethinking” of the doctrine of Hell is needed.8 Since McLaren can’t stand Jesus’ own words on the subject (He spoke of Hell far more than of Heaven), he dares to put these words in Christ’s mouth:

“I am here to save you.not by telling you to.focus on salvation from Hell after this life (as some people are going to do in My name) – but by giving you permission to start your participation in God’s mission right now, right where you are, even as oppressed people. The opportunity to start living in this new and better way is available to you right now: The kingdom of God is at hand!”9

The audacity of Emergents in suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) seemingly knows no bounds.

Given these and other statements by Emergent Church leaders, it seems almost ludicrous to compare their mindset with the salvation solas of the Reformation, but we shall do so, because it further reveals the depths of their darkness.

Grace Alone?

The term “grace” does not appear often in Emergent writings, and the reason is simple: Since everyone is a “child of God,” no one needs the kind of grace of which the Bible speaks. When Emergents do speak of “grace” at all, it is not as the basis of salvation from sin through Christ. In the Emergent lexicon, grace means inclusiveness. And that is the basis on which, they claim, God is saving society and the environment through the moral example of Christ.

Emergent spokesman Samir Selmanovic, who grew up as a Muslim, became a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, and now serves on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, writes a chapter in The Emergent Manifesto of Hope called “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness.” His theme is that everyone, “Christian” and non-Christian, is going to be “saved” by the grace of inclusiveness:

For the last two thousand years, Christianity has granted itself a special status among religions. An emerging generation of Christians is simply saying, “No more special treatment. In the Scripture God has established a criteria [sic] of truth, and it has to do with the fruits of a gracious life” (see Matt. 7:15-23; John 15:5-8; 17:6-26). This is unnerving for many of us who have based our identity on a notion of possessing the truth in an abstract form. But God’s table is welcoming to all who seek, and if any religion is to win, may it be the one that produces people who are the most loving, the most humble, the most Christlike. Whatever the meaning of “salvation” and “judgment,” we Christians are going to be saved by grace, like everyone else, and judged by our works, like everyone else.”10

By using such twisted definitions of “grace” Brian McLaren is able to assert that:

The average Roman Catholic today (at least, among those I meet) is increasingly clear about God’s grace being a free gift, not something that can be earned or merited. It’s hard to keep protesting against [such] people.11

On the basis of such an inclusive “grace”, McLaren says that we need to redefine – actually deconstruct – what it means to be a Protestant, and come together in an all-embracing Christendom:

“What if we were to redefine protest as ‘pro-testifying,’ pro meaning ‘for’ and testify meaning ‘telling our story’? . . . Both Catholics and Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox too, can come together as pro-testifiers or post-Protestants now, because together we are reaching a point where we acknowledge.we have a lot to learn from the very people we’ve been protesting.[and] can come together searching for what we are for.”12

Christ Alone?

McLaren devotes several chapters in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, to the subject of Jesus Christ. They are in a section deceptively titled “Why I am a Christian” in which McLaren brazenly demonstrates that he is no Christian at all.

Chapter one is titled “Seven Jesuses I Have Known”13 and chapter two is titled “Jesus and God.”14 You may have already guessed from the title of the second chapter that McLaren teaches a distinction between Jesus and God. The undiscerning reader might miss this, at least in the beginning. McLaren uses a lot of Bible words and even Bible quotations to describe Christ. Jesus is the “Son of God” – “the image of God” – “the radiance of God’s glory” – “the image of the invisible God.” But McLaren’s definitions of these terms are not the Bible’s.

McLaren refuses ever to say that Jesus is God. He spends several pages explaining why he stops short of this: “God is not a male” (italics his).15 He goes on to say:

The masculine biblical imagery of “Father” and “Son” also contributes to the patriarchialism or chauvinism that has too often characterized Christianity.

There is so much more that could be said, but for now, let’s conclude: “Son of God” is not intended to reduce or masculinize God.16

When McLaren comes to his fourth chapter, “Jesus: Savior of What?”, he says that Christians have “demoted” Jesus by claiming that He died on the cross to save individuals’ souls from eternal damnation:

I believe we’ve also misconstrued, reduced, twisted, and torqued the whole meaning of what words like savior, save, and salvation are supposed to mean for generously orthodox Christians.17

.it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you “know” about what it means to call Jesus “Savior” and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention.

Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means “rescue” or “heal.” It emphatically does not automatically mean “save from hell” or “give eternal life after death” as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon.18

Elsewhere in the same chapter, McLaren denies the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners, and places Jesus in the category of a moral example pointing the way in man’s quest to improve society and the environment.

To say that Jesus is Savior is to say that in Jesus, God is intervening as Savior in all of these ways, judging (naming as evil), forgiving (breaking the vicious cycle of cause and effect, making reconciliation possible), and teaching (showing how to set chain reactions of good in motion). Jesus comes then not to condemn (to bring the consequences we deserve) but to save by shining the light on our evil, by naming our evil as evil so we can repent and escape the chain of bad actions and bad consequences through forgiveness, and so we can learn from Jesus the master-teacher to live more wisely in the future.19

“This,” McLaren concludes, “is a window into the meaning of the cross.”

Elsewhere in A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren makes it clear that when he uses Biblical terms such as “reconciliation” – “evil” – “repent” – and “forgiveness” he has nothing like the Bible’s definitions in mind.

By “reconciliation” he means the reconciliation of oppressed social classes and their oppressors, and the reconciliation of those who differ theologically under the umbrella of inclusivism – not the reconciliation of men to God through the blood of Christ.

“Our evil” is “the oppression of the poor and disadvantaged” – not the sin nature and eternal death sentence passed on to the entire race through the Fall of Adam.

The “consequences we deserve” are societal and environmental consequences here on earth – not eternity in Hell.

“Repent” means making society and the physical world a better place – not turning from sin to faith in Christ, or ongoing repentance through the operation of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“Forgiveness” means forgiving each other of our injustices – not being forgiven by God, the One offended in all offenses, based on propitiation of His wrath by the blood of Christ.

These things, not what the Bible actually teaches, are what McLaren and his fellow Emergents claim the Bible means by “words like savior, save, and salvation.”

So much for solus Christus, salvation from eternal damnation through God the Son alone.

Faith Alone?

At this point it may seem even more absurd to ask about Emergents’ attitude toward sola fide. But we press on, if only to demonstrate that Emergents’ notions of “Biblical faith” are at least as astonishingly un-Biblical as their notions of “grace” and “salvation”.

We shall cite just one example. Emergent leader Randy Woodley, one of the contributors to An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, is a Cherokee Indian who works for an organization called First Nations Ministries. As a discerning Christian reads Woodley’s chapter titled “Restoring Honor in the Land” it becomes obvious that his theology is rooted in the animism of the American Indian.

Woodley quotes liberal theologian Walter Brueggemann as saying that “land is central, if not the central theme of Biblical faith” (italics his). The Scripture-driven Christian may ask, “Really? And how is such a ‘Biblical faith’ to be worked out?” Woodley tells us: Through the “salvation” of Indian lands “stolen” by white Europeans – that is, the return of the entire North American continent to its “rightful owners” –

As a Native American, I view the land given to my people through covenant with the Creator as sacred. We have developed ceremonies, stories, and traditions [all steeped in pagan animism, we must note] that aid us in living a sacred life on the land. Living this life is one that is reminiscent of the original covenant with human beings in the garden. It can be characterized as a “shalom sense of place.” Because our land was stolen, the nonindigene must find it difficult to feel the same congruity with the land. Yet the apparent sense of loss and incongruity felt by nonindigenes cannot be avoided until the issue of stolen land and missing relationship with America’s host people is worked through.

The solutions will not come easily. There will be more pain and loss to be sure, and it will likely span several generations. Yet God’s shalom kingdom demands that the issue of land be addressed. The issue must be addressed if Native Americans are ever to come back from marginality and into wholeness. It must be addressed if nonindigenous peoples ever hope to recover the missing sense of place that God has always intended for all human beings to experience to gain integrity, congruence, and wholeness in their lives. Seeking out and establishing relationships between the emerging church and indigenous people is paramount to finding shalom and providing a secure future for the next seven generations.

So much for the Biblical faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ to save individuals from sin and eternal condemnation, apart from works. Authentic Christian faith focuses not on fixing up this dying world, but looks forward to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Authentic Christians seeks to win souls for that kingdom, not to rearrange the kingdoms of man on earth.

An Incredible Array of Heresies

The Emergent Church movement’s “new Reformation” embodies an incredible array of past heresies. They begin with the denial of the inspiration, infallibility, and sole authority of the Scriptures. From there it is a short journey to the embrace of mystery – not in the Biblical sense of truth once hidden and subsequently revealed, but of inscrutable ambiguities open only to higher intellects; and the embrace of paradox – the god of “yes-and-no” instead of the God of “Yes, and Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). From there it is but a small step to deny the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. And from there the headlong plunge into the abyss accelerates with the teaching of the false doctrine of a moral-example “atonement” by Christ on the cross, the social gospel of the mainline liberals, salvation (whatever that may mean) by moral effort, ecumenical inclusivism and syncretism, the lie of universalism, and even pagan animism.

How Can Evangelicals Speak of “Positives”?

How is it, then, that so many Evangelicals are embracing the Emergent Church movement, or expressing their appreciation for its “positives” while perhaps also weakly expressing their “concerns”? There are no positives about a movement that stands against everything the Bible stands for. And “concern” is a woefully insufficient response from people who are supposed to be engaged in spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness that are behind evils like the Emergent Church movement (Ephesians 6:10-12).

There is a reason why so many Evangelicals today are accommodating and even embracing the Emergent Church movement, and we shall discuss it in our next article. That reason is intellectual pride – glorying in man rather than seeking the glory of God.

References:

1. Nanette Sawyer, “What Would Huckleberry Do?” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 43-44.

2. Sawyer, 44.

3. Sawyer, 45.

4. Sawyer, 46-47.

5. Sawyer, 47.

6. Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004), page 107.

7. McLaren, 109.

8. McLaren, 108-109.

9. Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), 25.

10. Samir Selmanivoc, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 195.

11. A Generous Orthodoxy, 139.

12 A Generous Orthodoxy, 140.

13 A Generous Orthodoxy, 49-76.

14 A Generous Orthodoxy, 77-86.

15 A Generous Orthodoxy, 82.

16 A Generous Orthodoxy, 83-84.

17 A Generous Orthodoxy, 99.

18 A Generous Orthodoxy, 101.

19 A Generous Orthodoxy, 104-105.

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(revised 02/08/13)

It is puzzling why discernment ministries are vigorously protesting Emerging/Emergents but not heretical Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger. I couldn’t believe it, for example, when a well respected  discernment ministry posted this comment here:

“It’s one thing to expose heresy, such as that of the Emergent Church. It’s quite another to blast away at a man [Cahn] who is simply calling for personal and national repentance…”

Fact is, Cahn is doing much more than calling for “repentance.” The Harbinger is just the most profitable of his books, CDs, DVDs, radio and TV broadcasts, etc. “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible to Jew and Gentile.”

To me “ancient mysteries” sounds too much like the occult Kaballah/Zohar and other rabbinic books of “hidden secrets.” Speaking of which, Googling on the search strings [“rabbinic” “ancient secrets”], [“rabbinic” “hidden secrets”] and [“rabbinic” “ancient mysteries”] brought up articles by many rabbis. Apparently “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible” (as Cahn describes his ministry) is is a popular teaching method among rabbis. This Wikipedia article on Esoteric Christianity mentions Judaism and the Kaballah along with many other sects.  Shame on Cahn.  Messianic people, who claim to born again, should have no part in this genre of teaching/preaching – it’s occultic.

Either many discernment ministries haven’t researched Cahn enough, and/or they won’t heed whatever documentation they have read about Cahn’s heresies. I pray these discernment ministries see the light – I would hate to see them lose their integrity because they wouldn’t recant their defense of Cahn.

Ironically, I am coming across various Messianic ministries which are exposing Cahn as a heretic. For example, he is listed as a heretic by a Messianic ministry here (scroll down to the section entitled “The Wolves List”).

Also, I came across an excellent expose of Cahn by Danny Moriel, of the Messianic Moriel Ministries. I have reposted this expose below; click here for the original site of this expose. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [bracketed and bolded in orange].

JULY 9TH, 2012
This entry posted by MORIELDANNY

Shhh…It’s a Secret God Told Me to Tell You!

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

As the Preacher has already told us, “There is nothing new under the sun”. (Ecc. 1:9) So why should we be surprised that yet another person has been the exclusive recipient of yet another “secret” from God and, for the first time in the history of the world, is making it known to us? For some reason, instead of writing it down in one of the original languages of the Bible and making it freely available to all like the original Prophets of old, this time around God chose to have it printed in English and sold for $16.99 ($9.00 on the Kindle). For a fee, the “prophet” will come and speak about it. False teaching disguised as “revelation” like Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger have been around since  handwriting was invented and such will, no doubt, persist until the Lord returns. Please do not buy it or even bother reading a friend’s copy; why should you take away time from your personal meditation in Scripture, the only true source of revelation? But such things keep coming up, so I keep going back to the above verse.

  • Fact 1: God has not revealed everything to us, nor will He.
  • Fact 2: He has already revealed everything we need to know in His Word. There is no room for new books in The Book.
  • Fact 3: If we cannot be obedient to what has already been revealed, there is no “new” or further revelation coming.

In addition to outright false teachers and false prophets who teach error, there are also those who, “…speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord”. (Jer. 23:16b) In either case, it is to be rejected just the same.

The sad thing is that I cannot even report this to be the most egregious attempt to deceive the Elect in this age-old genre of claiming something never-before-revealed. There seems to be a whole “Bible codes” industry built on individuals and movements who purport to be the first ones in history whom God allowed to figure out these “secrets”. On the most shallow, surface level of this nonsense, why does it not bother anyone with a grade school education that the Lord has allowed all of the apostles, pastors and scholars throughout the whole of history up this point to have miscalculated, mistranslated, or just plain mishandled the Word except these chosen few whom God waited until now to reveal it to? Why is it that we so rarely see these “gifted” individuals living like a true apostle or prophet, much less a faithful rank-and-file believer? Why does God choose for them to personally profit so greatly from this particular revelation when this was anything but the case for those through whom the true, written Word of God was previously given? (Prophets from biblical times must be jealous of profits in modern times—pun intended.) Why should I even attempt a scriptural response when the argument is won and lost without ever leaving the arena of common sense?

For the uninitiated, the name of the last book of the Bible, in Greek, is “Apokalypsis”. It describes an unveiling, something that becomes clearer and clearer as you get nearer to it, and the veil which you can already partially see through is finally lifted out of the way. The truth is that if we would just trust the timing and direction of the Holy Spirit through Whom we obtain the only guidance that can explain God’s Word, there are no remaining “secrets”. At present we can already see the outline of them all, so it is really a case of God’s timing as to when we will be brought close enough and the veil fully removed so that what has been there all along comes into our clear, earthly view. Such are not “secret” things, but a test of faith to see if we will obey all that we have already been given while we wait for His timing when it comes to the rest. Beware of those who claim they are the only ones who can explain what is behind the curtain, especially if it costs $16.99.

But I have to say that it amazes me how poor the so-called “Christian” con-artists and counterfeiters are at their work! We could never find an unbelieving con-man or counterfeiter producing obvious imitations and cheap knock-offs that would not fool anyone. They have much more pride in their work than the Christian con-artists! The professional thief at least does their homework, pays attention to all the tiniest details and makes it the most difficult possible to see any difference between the fake and authentic. At least their fake diamond is so good, only the most well-equipped and knowledgeable expert can tell the difference so that they really do fool the mark. All Christian con-artists seem to need to do is produce something sparkly and pretty which only they would have the audacity to call a “diamond”, and there is no end of takers who are fooled! They do not have to make any effort whatsoever beyond simply calling it a “diamond” and, unlike a wiser person of the world, their marks simply take their word for it. Unlike the world’s counterfeits, it is so obviously something of little resemblance to the real thing that it should never have fooled anyone to begin with.

One would think that these charlatans would spend at least a little time studying how an authentic, biblical prophet lives, speaks and acts. Or that they would carefully craft their wares to be as indistinguishable as possible from the authentic. Or that they would try to imitate the original right down to the worn out sandals. Why is it that Christians will accept an obvious imitation which any non-believer with bad eyesight and a poor sense of smell would recognize in ten seconds? Why is it that every modern-day false prophet fills the exact mold Jesus identified as producing something obviously false?

“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! (Mt. 11:8)

How did John’s appearance and stature reveal he was anything but someone who called a king’s palace a home? He first and foremost looked and lived the part.

Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Mt. 3:4)

And what was John’s accompanying message? What did he say to do about the impending arrival of the Messiah, the greatest literal “revelation” of all time?

“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; (Mt. 3:8)

Everyone then, just as today, knew that the Messiah was coming soon. The real prophet did not reveal a new “secret”, did not dazzle them with something only he had, but called them back to the most basic thing they knew all along because it had been drilled over and over again through all the previous prophets and God’s Word predicting His arrival: repent of sin and put the Word of God as already given into practice so you will be able to handle the coming revelation.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

And what is even more incredible is that the Messiah DOES come, the Messiah fulfills more than three hundred twenty prophecies in the Old Testament, and the vast majority completely miss the “revelation” of the Messiah’s first coming! Why? Instead of doing what John said, they kept following and seeking after those who dangled something else in front of them. How much more authentic can it get than to have the Messiah, in person, right there in front of you and instead giddily run after the cheap, sparkly imitation that “looks pretty” over there? No, the problem then is the same as it is now: a lack of obedience to what God has already revealed, a population that can be deceived because they are not prepared for something “new” because they never truly believed the “old”.

Do I believe that there are “deeper” truths to be gleaned from the Word than are obvious at first glance? Of course, but there is a basic rule of interpretation which tells us when the line has been crossed from “exegesis”—drawing out of Scripture what is there, and “eisegesis”—reading something into Scripture that was never there to begin with: Scripture never contradicts Scripture.

I have seen people use Gematria, where the letters of the Greek or Hebrew alphabet are assigned a number, to show that the Messiah to come was going to literally be named “Jesus”. If that is true, it is not actually something “new” or in conflict with the rest of Scripture, is it? Scripture confirms that the Messiah is indeed named “Jesus”. Within Scripture is a rich texture of patterns, allegories, parables and typology, all of which never form the basis for doctrine, but in every instance is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture by what is plainly stated. The “deeper” things reflect and provide a better understanding of the basic things. If someone offers something that cannot be confirmed and supported by Scripture, run far, my friend…run fast.

How does a real prophet handle God’s prophetic Word? Look at the guy through whom more “secrets” were revealed in the Old Testament than any other. No one has left us more Old Testament prophetic puzzles than Daniel. How did he handle the recognition of God’s revelation in his time?

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the LORD God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O LORD, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. (Dan. 9:1-5)

Daniel is searching the Word which God has already given! Daniel, someone renowned for personal faithfulness to God’s Word, discovers something no one else seems to be aware of which is inside the Word which God has already given! What does he do with this “secret”? Daniel begins by addressing the core issue of repentance of sin and obedience to the Word—that which has already been made known. He knows they are not going to get the greater fulfillment to come if they do not get what has already been revealed.

When faced with the imminent and inevitable fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, a true prophet first and foremost addresses the shortfall in living according to what God’s people should already know. Daniel did not know how God would specifically fulfill the prophecies in Jeremiah, but he knew that it would be missed in whatever form it took by God’s people if they did not repent and start living according to the Word already given to them. In other words, because people were not living according to the Word of God as already given, they were incapable of seeing what was about to be revealed in the prophetic Word of God! God is not going to reveal a “secret” to someone who is unwilling to obey the plain truth already provided. In fact, when Daniel was given an actual secret, he was told to keep it secret until God Himself would reveal it at God’s appointed time. (Dan. 8:26-27)

Now here is an interesting supporting “revelation” from Scripture when it comes the unveiling of God’s secrets. What would happen if God DID make one of His secrets known? How would we know for sure that this was authentically taking place?

The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)

It will only come to those who are obediently putting His Word into practice for the purpose of their further putting His Word into practice! Biblically speaking, “those who fear Him” is defined as someone who is intimately acquainted and so reveres the Lord that it is visibly proven by their obedience to His Word. This verse does not contradict the one previously quoted from Deuteronomy, but establishes what we know not only about every biblical prophet’s ministry, but every sign and wonder recorded and still to come: it is always about obedience to the greater message of the Word. The Psalmist tells us that the end result is the deepest and most complete working of God’s Word, to “know His covenant”. This is the term which expresses having entered into a personal relationship with God based on the mutual terms of His Word. Authentic secrets from the Lord confirm His Word for those already in a right and obedient relationship in the most profound ways so that it has the greatest effect to reinforce obedience to His Word!

  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because God does not reveal secrets to someone living a life apart from His Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are not supported by nor conform to God’s already provided Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they try to introduce something “new” that cannot be found in God’s written Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are so general, we do not know what to actually do with the information.

But we ultimately know to automatically reject anyone using the term “secret” without delving very deeply. Why?

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

“I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob
‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright. (Is. 45:19)

What is here articulated through Isaiah in the Old Testament is expanded upon by Christ Himself:

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. (John 18:20)

Paul tells us that even when God reveals a mystery, it is verified by God’s Word and those through whom His written Word was given, and that such is always freely and publicly revealed to the entire world and has as its ultimate purpose faithfulness to God’s Word:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 16:25-27)

What is, has, and most certainly will come many more times in the form of those claiming to reveal something “secret” is probably best explained by Peter for what it really is:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pe. 2:1-3)

Too many are so easily deceived because they spend absolutely no time in the Word, usually because to do so would mean having to address the persistent issues of personal sin in their life. They do not know what God’s Word says, so they allow someone else to define it for them. It is like buying a diamond without ever actually knowing what a real diamond looks or feels like, so why not just take the salesman’s word for it? But for those of us who strive to attain to being a Wise Virgin (Mt. 25:1-13) who remain committed to His Word in spite of the lateness of the hour, we have already been provided everything we authentically and literally need from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Everything else is an obvious and pale imitation.

In Him,

Servant@WalkWithTheWord.org

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God’s Word has warned us that many Christians in the End Times will fall away from the faith. They will no longer tolerate sound doctrine, instead following false teachers. Here are just a few of the pertinent Scripture passages:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Tim. 4:3-4)

And:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…” {Eph. 4:14)

Below I have reposted an excellent article by T.A. McMahon, who ministers at The Berean Call with Dave Hunt. Click here for the original site of McMahon’s article. (Note: I learned about this article from Stand Up for the Truth.) Below I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Demise of Biblical Discernment

Feb Cover.jpg

In last month’s issue of this newsletter we exhorted our readers to discipline themselves to read the Word of God daily. The emphasis was on developing a habit, the best and most necessary habit—one that every believer should have. Of course, we encouraged reading the Bible as a basis for living one’s life by what it teaches, which is the only way that one who is born again spiritually can mature in the faith. Yet, here is the simple truth that too many Christians have missed: if we don’t read God’s Word for ourselves, we can’t truly know its instructions. If we don’t know God’s instructions, we can’t follow Him, and we therefore can’t do what pleases Him. Tragically, many if not most Christians haven’t considered that simple truth. Their spiritual beliefs tend to be a collection of things they’ve heard (sermons, radio, TV, books, movies, etc.) mixed with what they may or may not have gotten from the Bible. They have been spoon-fed rather than getting their spiritual meals directly from God’s Word.

Why is that tragic? Wouldn’t it be of value to get input from the various Christian media regarding the teachings of our Lord? Hasn’t our Lord gifted teachers to help believers better understand His Word? Certainly, but if that is our primary feeding of God’s Word, it leads to a spiritual anemia at best and makes us defenseless against spiritual deception at worst. How can a believer tell the difference between a good teacher and a false teacher? Although Scripture tells us that God gave some to be teachers (Ephesians:4:11), His Word also tells us, “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies” (2 Peter:2:1). So how can we know what’s what and who’s who?

Most Christians are not asking such questions—nor do they seem to be concerned about the consequences related to a lack of biblical discernment. The second chapter of Hebrews begins with a warning that we could drift away from the Scriptures and find ourselves going along with something that seems biblical but is not. [“1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation…” (Heb. 2:1-3)] More and more frequently these days, I hear confessing and professing Christians excusing themselves and others for their unbiblical beliefs and practices by declaring that they all nevertheless “love Jesus.” What Jesus might that be? Is it the biblical Jesus—the One who declares that He is “ the way, the truth, and the life”? Is it the Word incarnate, who challenges everyone who professes to be a believer in Him by asking: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke:6:46). Would our reply be, “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t aware of most of the things that you said”? If that’s the case, having “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians:2:16) is a wishful delusion.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, the heart of this article is a concern for the fruitfulness of everyone who truly knows the biblical Jesus, everyone who has by faith alone put his or her trust in Christ as Savior, the One, the only One, who could (and did) pay the full penalty for the sins of mankind. For those who have put their faith in Him and have received His gift of eternal life, what follows is their life in Christ , which is all about living a godly and productive life. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John:10:10). A believer’s fruitfulness not only greatly enriches his own life, but his new life in Christ becomes a testimony, a witness to the truth of the gospel that changed his life, so that others may be drawn to Jesus. Yet a believer’s life in Christ will be spiritually futile if he (or she) doesn’t really know what Jesus taught.

An unproductive life in Christ is bad enough, but it can go far beyond just being spiritually feeble. Not knowing the Word of God sets one up for being spiritually deceived. Again, it should be rather obvious: if we don’t know what the Bible says, we can’t discern what is true to it and what is contrary to it. Consequently, a person who is ignorant of the Scriptures is ripe for being led away from God’s truth. When such a condition becomes epidemic among Christians, they become collective pawns of God’s adversary, Satan, and participants in the apostasy as well as unwitting contributors to the emerging religion of the Antichrist (Revelation 13). But could such a thing happen?

Both Dave Hunt and I have been observing trends in the evangelical church for 35 years. In those three and a half decades significant developments have taken place, all of which have greatly undermined the belief in and dependence upon the Scriptures. We have documented such developments in the twenty years of TBC’s existence and five years prior to that in The Seduction of Christianity . In past articles we have shown from God’s Word that Satan’s primary strategy as the deceiver of mankind is reflected in his initial statement to Eve in the Garden of Eden, a tactic calculated to weaken her trust in God’s Word by questioning it: “Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis:3:1). Down through history, he has expanded his assault on the Word beyond planting seeds of doubt to distorting, denigrating, corrupting, compromising, and outright lying about the Scriptures. In the last 30 years, some of his most effective devices have seduced Christians away from the written Word of God, replacing it with subjective and experiential content (feelings-oriented beliefs). Briefly (see our archives for more extensive writings on these subjects and others), that drift has been a major contributor to the demise of biblical discernment .

For example, the false teaching known as Rhema vs. Logos says that God speaks today to believers with the same or even greater authority than is found in the Bible. For decades this doctrine has led millions of Charismatic and Pentecostal believers away from the objective, written Word of God.

The subjective pseudoscience of Christian psychology, with its goal of integrating psychology with the Bible (primarily through psychological counseling), has infected the conservative evangelical church with the humanistic doctrines of self-love and self-esteem. Even more damaging, it has all but eliminated the belief in the sufficiency of the Scriptures for multitudes of Christians.

The Church Growth Movement (the attempt to increase church membership through various consumer-oriented devices aimed primarily at meeting the “felt needs” of the lost) has turned to the “way that seemeth right unto a man” (read marketing ) in opposition to God’s way. That development has been a major factor in ushering man’s so-called wisdom into the church and distancing it from the Scriptures.

The youth-oriented Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is an attempt at supposedly reaching the “culture” for Christ by emulating that culture and much of its worldly affinities. ECM writers (many of whom have conservative evangelical backgrounds) have advocated  “reinventing Christianity” in order to reconcile it with what the world believes and acts upon socially, psychologically, politically, morally, scientifically, and theologically. Because it claims absolute authority in its doctrines , the Bible itself is the chief obstacle to the ECM, and therefore “must be re-imagined” in order to accommodate man’s thinking. Such distortion of God’s Word is deceptively tragic for a generation of young Christians, few of whom have been discipled in the faith.

These are just a few of Satan’s most successful assaults against the doctrines of the Bible and the people of God. Should anyone be surprised that the Adversary would be so effective among those who profess to be Christians? Shocked perhaps, but not surprised. When an army lacks training, discipline, and is ill equipped to do battle, should it come as a surprise that the enemy is taking many of its soldiers captive? [Read Ephesians Chapter 6 for Paul’s description of the spiritual weapons we should be using.]

Let’s spell out the problem in spiritual terms once again: lack of training (no discipleship), lack of discipline (not reading the Scriptures daily), and being ill equipped (mishandling the Sword of the Spirit). [I would add “using a defective Sword” i.e. inaccurate Bible per-versions]. But don’t take my word for it! Let’s go to God’s infallible Word. Regarding the particular time when biblical truth will be abandoned by great numbers in the church who have been deceived, Jesus gives us a sobering warning, characterizing the last days prior to His return in these words: “Take heed that no man deceive you….” He then adds that the deception will be so great that the very elect will be vulnerable (Matthew:24:4,24). Furthermore, most of the epistles also address the subject of believers drifting away from sound doctrine.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ” (2 Timothy:4:3). Paul is obviously speaking to the church. Those in the church who do not study the Scriptures for themselves cannot endure (take to heart and live out) sound doctrine (God’s instructions). He wrote to the church at Ephesus, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine , by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians:4:14).

Scripture seems to be making it quite clear that not enduring sound doctrine opens one up to spiritual deception. To the Ephesian elders Paul issues a warning of what would take place after his departing: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts:20:28-30). This was Paul’s parting warning to his beloved Ephesian believers, a message of critical concern for their future in Christ. Paul knew what devastating destruction would result from their turning to false doctrine. It was a message that he preached continuously and tearfully during his three years with them.

Those who do “endure sound doctrine,” besides having the primary foundation for a fruitful life in Christ, are also equipped to discern and resist the wiles of the Adversary’s many deceptions. That’s the good news. The not-so-pleasant news is that they will find themselves on the front lines of a spiritual battle that is increasing in intensity daily. One need only conduct a cursory review of the Scriptures and later church history to get an idea of how destructive, even deadly, have been the consequences related to the church’s non-adherence to biblical doctrine. We see many reacting today by claiming that it is the doctrines of the Bible themselves, especially when they are accepted dogmatically, that create division. Such thinking is a fulfillment of “not enduring sound doctrine.” It is false doctrine itself that divides because it separates a believer from the truth.

Paul clears up the misconception: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans:16:17). Incredibly, it is that verse, misapplied, that has been used against the multitudes who have contacted us because their church leadership would not hear their concerns regarding false doctrines and programs that had entered their fellowship. Most have been threatened with “disfellowship” for actually enduring sound doctrine. Such situations are intensifying throughout the church, undoubtedly for some of the reasons listed in this article but perhaps in fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” (1 Peter:4:17).

Although for decades we at TBC have been exhorting and encouraging believers to be Bereans (i.e., to check out everything they are being taught by searching the Scriptures—Acts:17:10-11), we too have experienced the increased intensity of the spiritual battle and witnessed its exponential growth. The latest issue, which we submit to you for prayer support, is a threatened lawsuit over the book we published by David James ( The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? ). The complaint is that the author used too many quotes from the New York Times best-selling book, The Harbinger , without permission from author “rabbi” Jonathan Cahn and publisher Charisma Media Publications (CMP). The complaint further states that our use of the quotes has inhibited the sales of The Harbinger and has thus financially damaged Cahn and CMP in an amount yet to be determined. In effect, we are being told that we must limit our documentation in warning the body of Christ of the biblical errors in The Harbinger. In other words, we cannot be Bereans or like the watchman of Ezekiel:3:17-19 without Cahn’s permission.

This is the first time in my 35 years of working with Dave Hunt and our addressing nearly every major religion, religious cult, aberrational Christian sect, unbiblical trend, religious publication, book, media production, etc., that any organization or individual has even hinted at suing us. Now, however, we are being threatened with legal action by those claiming to be in the church. More critical than the unbiblical action of a brother threatening to take another brother to court (1 Corinthians 6) is the issue of preventing the biblical evaluation of a work that is influencing hundreds of thousands of professing and confessing Christians, as well as those who don’t profess to know Christ. We have hired a copyright attorney to address the legal issues and have responded to the attorney for Cahn and CMP. Even so, we covet your prayers that the Lord will be glorified throughout the process.

As the spiritual battle rages around us, the Word of God gives us directives regarding how we are to function in it. Paul gives Timothy general instructions: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy:1:13). In ministering correction, he writes: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy:2:24-26). Then there may be times that, as the Spirit leads us, tougher action is to be taken: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee…” (Titus:2:15). Titus was to minister the Word of God to his flock, his authority was the Scriptures, and he was exhorted to stand fast in them that he not be despised for backing away from sound doctrine.

Our prayer is that all who name the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will follow Paul’s encouragement to Timothy and to us as well: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine… Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee… Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (1 Timothy:4:13,16; 2 Timothy:4:2).   TBC

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