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(image source: http://www.discerningthetimesonline.net/interfaith4.gif)

A number of readers have been commenting on my blog about Tres Dias and similar Cursillo-based weekends. One of my major concerns with these weekends is ecumenism.

A reader (Jeremy) pointed out that, on the plus side, some born again believers do attend these weekends; this affords them an opportunity to witness to unsaved attendees. I still have a problem with these weekends though, in spite of this. Read on.

I’ve “narrowed” my position on ecumenism over the years. Growing up, my family and my denomination (Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Evangelical Friends, now EFC-ER) actively supported Billy Graham crusades. I didn’t realize until recent years that the Billy Graham crusades became ecumenical years before, in 1957, encouraging mainline denominations to become involved. (I could give other examples of ventures we were involved in that I learned recently were actually ecumenical – the Billy Graham crusades is the best known example.)

Readers may ask, what exactly is wrong with ecumenical ventures? Let’s take a look at the fruit. Many ecumenical ventures now seem to be morphing into interfaith ventures. Such ventures are extending the right hand of fellowship to Catholics, Jewish people, Mormons, Muslims, etc.

The mainline/liberal end of the “Christian” spectrum is involved even in interfaith ventures with Hindus, Buddhists, etc. And… with Unitarian Universalists (which would include among others New Agers and Wiccans.) Note this quote: “The Unitarian-Universalist Association (http://www.uua.org/) has openly accepted Wiccans through the Covenant of Unitarian-Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)(http://www.cuups.org/).”
Source: http://www.angelfire.com/nv/scharff/wicca.html

Where is  ecumenism and the interfaith movement leading us? Toward the One World Religion, I’m afraid.

It still seems to me that separation (as much as possible) from all ecumenical ventures is always the best position for born again believers. So far, I have not heard of any ecumenical ventures where the born again attendees were able to bring significant numbers of mainline/liberal attendees to Christ. In many of the ecumenical ventures I’ve heard of, the opposite has happened – born again attendees and born again denominations have become more liberal. It seems to me many born again attendees are not well grounded in their own belief system. A similar scenario: born again kids going off to state universities and losing their Christian faith.

Bottom line: it appears to me “evangelism by ecumenism” does not work. Here is a link to many more articles documenting that “evangelism by ecumenism” has been a dismal failure: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ecumenism.htm

If readers have heard of a truly “successful” Tres Dias weekend or other ecumenical venture (“successful” as in converting many non-born again attendees), I would be interested in hearing about it. This would be something to praise the Lord for – although as I’ve tried to explain above, I think the facts show that such a success would be the exception rather than the rule.

FOR ADDITIONAL READING

Unitarian Univeralists (articles in favor of them)

What is a Unitarian Univeralist?

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Is Hell real? Yes! Will those who reject Christ suffer for eternity in a literal, burning Lake of Fire? Yes, no doubt about it! Click here for the original source of an excellent sermon on Hell by D.L. Moody, reposted below.


Hell

By D.L. Moody

      A man came to me the other day and said: “I like your preaching. You don’t preach hell, and I suppose you don’t believe in one.” Now I don’t want any one to rise up in the Judgment and say that I was not a faithful preacher of the Word of God. It is my duty to preach God’s Word just as He gives it to me; I have no right to pick out a text here and there, and say, “I don’t believe that.” If I throw out one text I must throw out all, for in the same Bible I read of rewards and punishments, Heaven and hell.

No one ever drew such a picture of hell as the Son of God. No one could do it, for He alone knew what the future would be. He didn’t keep back this doctrine of retribution, but preached it out plainly; preached it, too, with pure love, just as a mother would warn her son of the end of his course of sin.

The Spirit of God tells us that we shall carry our memory with us into the other world. There are many things we would like to forget. I have heard Mr. Cough say he would give his right hand if he could forget how badly he had treated his mother. I believe the worm that dieth not is our memory. We say now that we forget, and we think we do; but the time is coming when we shall remember, and cannot forget. We talk about the recording angel keeping record of our life. God makes us keep our own record.

We won’t need any one to condemn us at the bar of God; it will be our own conscience that will come up as a witness against us. God won’t condemn us at his bar; we shall condemn ourselves. Memory is God’s officer, and when He shall touch these secret springs and say, “Son, daughter, remember” – then tramp, tramp, tramp will come before us, in a long procession, all the sins we have ever committed.

I have been twice in the jaws of death. Once I was drowning, and was about to sink, when I was rescued. In the twinkling of an eye every thing I had said, done, or thought of flashed across my mind. I do not understand how every thing in a man’s life can be crowded into his recollection in an instant of time, but it all flashed through my mind at once. Another time I was caught in the Clark street bridge, and thought I was dying. Then memory seemed to bring all my life back to me again. It is just so that all things we think we have forgotten will come back by and by. It is only a question of time. We shall hear the words, “Son, remember” – and it is a good deal better to remember our sins now, and be saved from them, than to put off repentance till it is too late to do any good.

The scientific men say that every thought comes back again, sooner or later. I heard of a servant girl whose master used to read Hebrew in her hearing, and some time afterward, when she was sick of a fever, she would talk Hebrew by the hour.

Do you think Cain has forgotten the face of his murdered brother, whom he killed six thousand years ago? Do you think Judas has forgotten that kiss with which he betrayed his Master, or the look that Master gave him as he said, “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Do you think these antediluvians have forgotten the Ark, and the flood that came and swept them all away?

My friends, it is a good thing to be warned in time. Satan told Eve that she should not surely die; and there are many men and women now who think that all souls will at last be saved in spite of all their sins.

Do you suppose those antediluvians who perished in Noah’s day – those men too vile and sinful for the world – do you think God swept those men right into Heaven, and left Noah, the only righteous man, to struggle through the deluge? Do you think when the judgment came upon Sodom that those wicked men were taken right into the presence of God, and the only righteous man was left behind to suffer?

There will be no tender, loving Jesus coming and offering you salvation there – no loving wife or mother to pray for you there. Many in that lost world would give millions, if they had them, if they had their mothers to pray them out of that place, but it will be too late. They have been neglecting salvation until the time has come when God say, “Cut them down; the day of mercy is ended.”

You laugh at the Bible; but how many there are in that lost world today who would give countless treasures if they had the blessed Bible there! You may make sport of Ministers, but bear in mind there will be no preaching of the Gospel there. Here they are God’s messengers to you – loving friends that look after your soul. You may have some friends praying for your salvation today; but remember, you will not have one in that lost world. There will be no one to come and put his band on your shoulder and weep over you there and invite you to come to Christ.

There are some people who ridicule these revival meetings, but remember, there will be no revivals in hell.

There was a man in an insane asylum who used to say over to himself in a voice of horror, “If I only had.” He had been in charge of a railway drawbridge, and had received orders to keep it closed until the passage of an extra express train; but a friend came along with a vessel, and persuaded him to open the bridge just for him, and while it was open the train came thundering along, and leaped into destruction. Many were killed, and the poor bridge tender went mad over the result of his own neglect of duty. “If I only had!”

A good man was one day passing a saloon as a young man was coming out, and thinking to make sport of him he called out, “Deacon, how far is it to hell?” The deacon gave no answer, but after riding a few rods he turned to look after the scoffer, and found that his horse had thrown him to the ground and broken his neck. I tell you, my friends, I would sooner give that right hand than to trifle with eternal things.

Tonight you may be saved. We are trying to win you to Christ, and if you go down from this building to hell you will remember the meetings we had here. You will remember how these Ministers looked, how the people looked, and how it has seemed sometimes as if we were in the very presence of God himself. In that lost world you won’t hear that beautiful hymn, “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By.” He will have passed by. There will be no Jesus passing that way. There will be no sweet songs of Zion there. No little children either to pray for their impenitent fathers and mothers.

It is now a day of Grace and a day of Mercy. God is calling the world to Himself. He says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?”

O, if you neglect this salvation, how shall you escape? What hope is there? May your memories be wide awake today, and may you remember that Christ stands right here! He is in this assembly, offering salvation to every soul. He is not willing that any should perish, but turn to him and live.

When I was at the Paris Exhibition in 1867 I noticed there a little oil painting, only about a foot square, and the face was the most hideous I had ever seen. It was said to be about seven hundred years old. On the paper attached to the painting were the words, “Sowing the tares.” The face looked more like a demon’s than a man’s, and as he sowed these tares, up came serpents and reptiles. They were crawling up on his body; and all around were woods with wolves and animals prowling in them. I have seen that picture many times since. Ah! The reaping time is coming. If you sow to the flesh you must reap corruption. If you sow to the wind you must reap the whirlwind. God wants you to come to him and receive salvation as a gift. You can decide your destiny today if you will. Heaven and hell are set before this audience, and you are called upon to choose. Which will you have? If you will take Christ He will receive you to his arms; if you reject him He will reject you.

Now, my friends, will Christ ever be more willing to save you than He is now? Will He ever have more power than He has now? Why not make up your mind to be saved while mercy is offered to you?

I remember a few years ago, while the Spirit of God was working in my Church, I closed the meeting one night by asking any that would like to become Christians to rise, and to my great joy, a man arose who had been anxious for some time. I went up to him and took him by the hand and shook it, and said, “I am glad to see you get up. You are coming out for the Lord now in earnest, are you not?”

“Yes,” said he, “I think so. That is, there is only one thing in my way.”

“What’s that?” said 1.

“Well,” said he, “I lack moral courage. I confess to you that if such a man [naming a friend of his] had been here tonight I should not have risen. He would laugh at me if he knew of this, and I don’t believe I have the courage to tell him.”

“But,” said I, “You have got to come out boldly for the Lord if you come out at all.”

While I talked with him he was trembling from head to foot, and I believe the Spirit was striving earnestly with him. He came back the next night, and the next, and the next; the Spirit of God strove with him for weeks; it seemed as if he came to the very threshold of Heaven, and was almost stepping over into the blessed world. I never could find out any reason for his hesitation, except that he feared his old companions would laugh at him.

At last the Spirit of God seemed to leave him; conviction was gone. Six months from that time I got a message from him that he was sick and wanted to see me. I went to him in great haste. He was very sick, and thought he was dying. He asked me if there was any hope. Yes, I told him, God had sent Christ to save him; and I prayed with him.

Contrary to all expectations he recovered. One day I went down to see him. It was a bright, beautiful day, and he was sitting out in front of his house.

“You are coming out for God now, aren’t you? You will be well enough soon to come back to our meetings again.”

“Mr. Moody,” said he, “I have made up my mind to become a Christian. My mind is fully made up to that, but I wont’t be one just now. I am going to Michigan to buy a farm and settle down, and then I will become a Christian.”

“But you don’t know yet that you will get well.”

“O,” said he, “I shall be perfectly well in a few days. I have got a new lease of life.”

I pleaded with him, and tried every way to get him to take his stand. At last he said, “Mr. Moody, I can’t be a Christian in Chicago. When I get away from Chicago, and get to Michigan, away from my friends and acquaintances who laugh at me, I will be ready to go to Christ.”

“If God has not Grace enough to save you in Chicago, he has not in Michigan” I answered.

At last he got a little irritated and said, “Mr. Moody, I’ll take the risk,” and so I left him.

I well remember the day of the week, Thursday, about noon, just one week from that very day, when I was sent for by his wife to come in great haste. I hurried there at once. His poor wife met me at the door, and I asked her what was the matter.

“My husband,” she said, “has had a relapse; I have just had a council of physicians here, and they have all given him up to die.”

“Does he want to see me?” I asked.

“No.”

“Then why did you send for me?”

“I cannot bear to see him die in this terrible siate of mind.”

“What does he say?” I asked.

“He says his damnation is sealed, and he will be in hell in a little while.”

I went in, and he at once fixed his eyes upon me. I called him by name, but he was silent. I went around to the foot of the bed, and looked in his face and said, “Won’t you speak to me?”, and at last he fixed that terrible deathly look upon me and said:

“Mr. Moody, you need not talk to me any more. It is too late. You can talk to my wife and children; pray for them; but my heart is as hard as the iron in that stove there. My damnation is sealed, and I shall be in hell in a little while.”

I tried to tell him of Jesus’ love and God’s forgiveness, but he said, “Mr. Moody, I tell you there is no hope for me.” And as I fell on my knees, he said, “You need not pray for me. My wife will soon be left a widow and my children will be fatherless; they need your prayers, but you need not pray for me.”

I tried to pray, but it seemed as if my prayers didn’t go higher than my head, and as if Heaven above me was like brass. The next day, his wife told me, he lingered until the sun went down, and from noon until he died all he was heard to say was, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.” After lingering along for an hour he would say again those awful words, and just as he was expiring his wife noticed his lips quiver, and that he was trying to say something, and as she bent over him she heard him mutter, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.” He lived a Christless life, he died a Christless death – we wrapped him in a Christless shroud, and bore him away to a Christless grave.

Are there some here that are almost persuaded to be Christians? Take my advice and don’t let any thing keep you away. Fly to the arms of Jesus this hour. You can be saved if you will.

(Mr. Moody closed by reading the following piece of poetry, which, he said, had affected him deeply):

I sat alone with my conscience,
In a place where time was o’er.
And we talked of my former living,
In the land of the evermore.
And I felt I should have to answer,
The question it put to me.
And to face the answer and question,
Throughout an eternity.

The ghosts of forgotten actions,
Came floating before my sight.
And things that I thought had perished,
Were alive with a terrible might.
And the vision of life’s dark record,
Was an awful thing to face.
Alone with my conscience sitting,
In that solemnly silent place.

And I thought of a far away warning,
Of a sorrow that was to be mine.
In a land that then was the future,
But now is the present time.
And I thought of my former thinking,
Of the Judgment day to be.
But sitting alone with my conscience,
Seemed Judgment enough for me.

And I wondered if there was a future,
To this land beyond the grave.
But no one gave me an answer,
And no one came to save.
Then I felt that the future was present,
And the present would never go by.
For it was but the thought of a future,
Become an eternity.

Then I woke from my timely dreaming,
And the vision passed away.
And I knew the far away warning,
Was a warning of yesterday.
And I pray that I may not forget it,
In this land before the grave.
That I may not cry in the future,
And no one come to save.

I have learned a solemn lesson,
Which I ought to have known before.
And which though I learned it dreaming,
I hope to forget no more.

So I sit alone with my conscience,
In the place where the years increase.
And I try to fathom the future,
In the land where time will cease.
And I know of the future judgment,
How dreadful soe’er it be.
That to sit alone with my conscience,
Will be Judgment enough for me.

Back to D.L. Moody index. 

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(revised 12/12/13)

When addressing evangelicals, Emergents like Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet discuss topics like ecumenism, Catholicism, and “big tent Christianity.” Yet elsewhere they reveal their true goals, openly endorsing the Interfaith Movement/Interspirituality and the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist). Demonically deceptive.

The following seems to be the strategy most commonly used by Emergents in destroying evangelicals (particularly the youth):

Step 1) Introduce evangelicals to the devotional writings of heretical so-called Christians throughout the ages. Use the endorsements by numerous born again Christians to persuade evangelicals that these heretics are acceptable. One such born again Christian who nievely quoted nonchristian heretics in more innocent times (before the advent of Spiritual Formation) was A.W. Tozer. Another was the otherwise wonderful Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley, who wrote:

The literature of devotion which makes the greatest and most direct contribution to the spiritual life has been built up from the rich spiritual experiences of the saints in all ages… Among the devotional writers, whose works have been generally accepted [emphasis mine] throughout the church, may be mentioned the following: Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Theologica Germanica, first discovered and published by Martin Luther; Francis de Sales, Defence of the Standard of the Cross, and An Introduction to the Devout Life. Among the Quietists we may mention, Molinos, Spiritual Guide; Madame Guyon, Method of Prayer; and Fenelon, Maxims of the Saints… Among the Friends are the writings of George Fox, Robert Barclay, William Penn and John Woolman. (Christian Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 63,64)

Step 2) Introduce evangelicals  to Spiritual Formation. Specifically, the discipline of contemplative prayer – which technically is not prayer but occultish contemplative spirituality.  Richard Foster, influenced by “Catholic Buddhist” Thomas Merton and others, built upon the writings of the devotional heretics mentioned in Step 1 above, popularizing  his unique occult perversion of biblically sound prayer practices.

Step 3) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices and sacraments of Roman Catholicism specifically. Persuade evangelicals to accept Catholics as being “born again Christians” (even though, in reality, Catholics hate the term “born again”).

In this 3-part series of articles, Richard Bennett discusses Emergent Brian McLaren’s emphasis on Catholicism: http://www.the-highway.com/emergentchurch1_Bennett.html (Click on “next” at the bottom to go to the second, then third article.)

In part 2 of the series Bennett says:

“McLaren is at no loss to demonstrate how his “emergent thinking” works. The object of his book [A Generous Orthodoxy] is to lump all Protestants and Catholics together, which would be the new ring around the Protestant Catholic split, and to move beyond that into Eastern mysticism, which would be the new ring around Catholicism.”

Bennett apparently is contending that McLaren’s goal in pushing Catholic contemplative practices and rituals on evangelicals is not Catholicism itself, but Eastern mysticism, aka occultish contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality).

Step 4) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices of other religions as well as the New Age movement (labyrinth prayer, for example).

Step 5) Introduce evangelicals to the Interfaith Movement/ Interspirituality. Several examples: The Taize pilgrimage and the Wild Goose Festival. Note – the “theology” of the Interfaith Movement is very similar to the “theology” of Unitarian Universalism.

At first evangelicals were fellowshipping with Catholics. Then we made the interfaith jump to establish ties with Jewish groups as well. Now we are dialoguing  with Islam organizations. What’s next? Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. etc.? Unfortunately, according to End Times prophecy, this is coming.

Step 6 Introduce evangelicals to the teachings of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Phyllis Tickle and other Emergent/ Emergence leaders regarding the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist).

FOR FURTHER READING

The Emergent Church Teaches One World Religion!

The Goal of the Journey – to be one

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference

One Lie to Rule Them All (includes links to many additional articles about the Interfaith Movement)

Shane Hipps,  Co-Pastor With Rob Bell, Says All Religions Valid

ADDENDUM – Involvement in the Interfaith Movement by Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, etc.

Personally, I do not believe postmoderns (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence leaders) are pulling us back to a pre-modern form of Roman Catholicism. That being said, it’s actually a win-win situation for postmoderns to push Catholic contemplative practices and sacraments on evangelical denominations. Why? Because Roman Catholicism itself “ain’t what it used to be.” As you probably are aware, there is a huge emphasis at the highest level of Roman Catholicism on the Interfaith Movement.

In light of End Times prophecy, the Interfaith movement in my mind is where the real danger lies. And yes, I would say Roman Catholicism is the most power proponent of the Interfaith Movement. Here’s an interesting article about the jump from Ecumenical to Interfaitlh. And guess who is a major playor?  Catholicism: http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge10.htm

There are also other major players:

Interfaith ventures by the National Association of Evangelicals:
http://www.cephasministry.com/world_church_evangelical_manifesto.html

Interfaith ventures endorsed by CotN professor Dean Blevins http://sadnazarene.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/dean-g-blevins-nazarene-theological-seminary-religious-education-association-north-american-interfaith-network-youthfront-nain-rea-john-1518-20-18-if-the-world-hates-you-you-know-that-it/

Interfaith venures endorsed by Nazarene Theological Seminary: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/does-nazarene-theological-seminary-support-the-interfaith-movement/

Another link – the United Religions Initiative: http://www.cuttingedge.org/News/n1094.cfm

And a good Christian response to the Interfaith movement: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/christian_worldview/why_is_a_christian_worldview_important/when_no_one_is_wrong.aspx

And yet another discernment article that mentions Catholicism and other interfaith ventures: http://www.wordconnect.org/page_article14.php

The history of the Interfaith Movement: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/interfaith.htm

An expose of Interfaith “rules of conduct” for promoting conversions: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/10-commission-pluralism.htm

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[blog under construction – I have written a number of related blogs which I will be linking to this blog]

George Fox’s Universalist “Inner Light” teaching has had a deadly effect on Evangelicalism over the years. Two of the most recent big names who seem to have no problem with George Fox’s teaching on this are Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Foster and Willard both played a huge part in popularizing Spiritual Formation, with its occultish spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. Interestingly, Foster and Willard co-pastored an Evangelical Friends church, and Foster actually grew up in the Evangelical Friends. Yet Foster and Willard both seem as equally comfortable with non-evangelical universalist Quakers.

I came across the following article, written by Quaker univeralist Samuel J. Chadwick. In the article, he makes a case for uniting Universalism with evangelical Christianity via George Fox’s universalist Inner Light/Inward Light teaching. I do not approve of this article. I am merely providing this article in its entirety to show how destructive George Fox’s Inner Light/Inward Light teaching has been to Evangelicalism. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [bracketing].

The entire article is also found here.

The Inward Light: How Quakerism Unites Universalism and Christianity, by Samuel D. Caldwell

We are all well aware of the long-standing tension in the Religious Society of Friends between Christianity and Universalism. Each pole of this historic tension has had its partisans over time. The Quaker Universalist Fellowship represents one pole of the contemporary debate. Evangelical Friends International [renamed Evangelical Friends Church International] is an example of a group that represents the other. Each side of the debate claims that its own view of Quakerism is the true one, and each side feels that the other side’s position is a negation of its own. Typically, the debate is cast in logically exclusivist terms: if one position is true, then the other must of necessity be false; both cannot possibly be true at the same time.

For my part, I have never accepted the terms in which the debate has been cast. It is my own view that Quakerism is neither exclusively Christian, as some Quaker Christians would have it; nor is it exclusively Universalist, as some Quaker Universalists would have it. The fact is Quakerism has always been a powerful amalgamation of both. My thesis is that not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time, but it has always been the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to join the two in holy matrimony! I wish to explain how this is so.

Let me start with the Universalist side of the equation. What many Christian Quakers fail to understand or accept about the Quaker approach to Christianity is that it is Universalist to the core. Universalism is thoroughly embedded in the Quaker perspective precisely because it is intrinsic to our most central and distinctive religious insight: the principle of the Inner Light.

It is helpful to remind ourselves of the essential core of this important insight. Historically, it is this: God gives to every human being who comes into the world a measure of the divine spirit as a Living Witness and a Light to be inwardly guided by. Those who learn to heed the promptings of this Light within them come to be “saved” – that is, they come into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship with God, themselves, and one another.

Those who resist, ignore, or otherwise deny the workings of this pure spirit within them, though they make a profession of faith, are “condemned” – that is, they become alienated from God, from themselves, and from one another. The chief end of religious life, therefore, is to hearken to and act in accordance with the promptings of the Inner Light in one’s life.  This description closely parallels George Fox’s original “opening” concerning the Light in 1648, as recorded in his Journal (Nickalls edition, p. 33).

A number of important characteristics of the Light can be readily inferred from this description. First, this Light is “divine” or “supernatural.” That is, it pertains to God and God’s activity. Numerous Friends, among them George Fox and Robert Barclay, have been urgent in cautioning us against confusing the Inner Light with such natural phenomena as reason or conscience, both of which are physically and socially conditioned. Rather, they have emphasized that the Light is God’s eternal and indwelling power resident within our mortal frames, there to enlighten and inform the natural reason and conscience with truth of a higher order.

This Light is personal. It is no mindless, purposeless, undifferentiated force or power. It is the mind and will of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah – who indwells our souls. To claim, as we do, that we are led or taught by the Light is to accept by inference that the power by which we are led or taught is capable of actively leading or teaching us. This requires a personal or theistic conception of the Spirit, which Friends have traditionally held.

This Light is saving. It is the instrument or means by which we are drawn into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship to God, ourselves, and one another. It is not primarily through the mechanism of assent to certain theological propositions, however heartfelt, nor by participation in certain established rituals, however sincere, that one comes to be “saved” in Quaker faith and practice; it is chiefly through the operation of this Saving Light in human hearts – in the hearing and doing of the Living Word as inwardly revealed in the course of common life.

This Light is eternal. It was before time, is now, and will be forevermore. As the writer of John says, “in the beginning was the Word.” Friends have always identified the Inner Light with this “logos” or Eternal Word [Evangelical Friends however, say, as the book of John says, that this Logos is Jesus Christ the Son of God, not the Inner Light]. It is by this Eternal Light and Word that all of the saints and sages down through the ages have known and spoken the Truth. It is by this Light that the Holy Scriptures of the ages have been written (and must be read). It is by this Light that whatever is true, good, and beautiful has been brought forth in human community over time. This Light is and has always been the source and fountain of all human creativity.

This Light is resistible. It is not an inevitable force or automatic power; it can be resisted, ignored, or otherwise denied in the human heart. To quote C. S. Lewis, “God does not ravish; He only woos.” Although we receive this Light freely and from birth, we are free to choose whether or not and how to respond to its promptings. As someone once remarked, “We are predestinated and foreordained to decide for ourselves!”

This Light is persistent. The Light never ceases to make its Living Witness within each and every human heart, even when it is resisted. Although stubborn resistance and persistent disobedience may greatly dim its luminosity, the Light can never be fully extinguished within us. This is the unfailing love and mercy of God which passes all understanding.

This Light is pure. It is utterly infallible and perfectly good. Although we may err in our discernment of the Light’s witness within us, for any and all who turn to it in humility of heart, the Light is an inerrant guide to truth and wisdom. And, because it is the pure love of God within us, this Light is completely good and trustworthy.

This Light is ineffable. It defies complete and accurate description. Like much in the realm of spirit, the Light cannot be completely understood, but it can be experienced and known.

Lastly, and perhaps most important to the present discussion, this Light is unequivocally universal. It is freely given by God to each and every human being who comes into the world, regardless of race, sex, nationality, philosophical orientation, religious creed, or station in life. It is the divine birthright and inheritance of all, not the privileged possession of a few. To paraphrase the scripture, it is the Good News of God “preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).

Now it can readily be seen from these characteristics that the Quaker concept of the Inner Light is radically universalist in its thrust. As such, it offers a strong challenge to many of the exclusivist assumptions of conventional Christian faith. Here is where the tension between Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism begins to be felt.

It is hard to overstate, for instance, how radically different the Quaker view of salvation is from the popular Christian conception. According to our understanding of the Inner Light, any person of whatever religious persuasion, who turns in sincerity of heart to the Divine Light within, and lives in accordance with its promptings, will be saved. All of God’s children, Christians and non-Christians alike, have equal access to salvation through the Light.

This view constitutes an outright denial of the exclusivist Christian assumption that salvation comes only to those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and participate in certain established rituals of the Church. One need not be a professing Christian, in other words, to be saved; and many who are professing Christians are (apparently) not saved.

Similarly, Quaker Universalism challenges the now-prevalent evangelical Christian view that the Holy Spirit “comes into one’s heart,” presumably from outside, at the moment of conversion. Friends have testified throughout their history that this Holy Spirit is already resident as a Divine Seed in every human heart, waiting to be decisively accepted and nurtured through attentive obedience in daily life. This difference in viewpoint explains the real distinction between Quaker “convincement” and evangelical “conversion. ”

[Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) today tends to explain away this Inner Light as being the Holy Spirit.  This is in direct contradiction to a statement made in 1877-1879 by one of its own regions, the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) – now the EFC-ER. The Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) was the only Quaker yearly meeting ever to condemn George Fox’s Inner Light teaching. Also, the EFCI’s definition of the Inner Light as the Holy Spirit flies in the face of the previous paragraph, which explains clearly that the Inner Light is vastly different from the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit.]

Salvation and conversion are not the only fronts on which Quaker Universalism challenges conventional Christianity. From the beginning, for instance, Friends have vociferously challenged the fundamentalist Christian assumption that the Bible is the Word of God, insisting instead that the Holy Spirit, the Christ Within, is the Word of God. The Bible is a declaration of the fountain; it is not the fountain itself The fountain is Christ, the Living Word. George Fox argued disarmingly that, if the Bible were really the Word of God, then one could buy and sell the Word of God and carry it around in one’s pocket!

In a similar vein, the Quaker doctrine of “continuing revelation,” which says that God continues to reveal Truth to those who have ears to hear, directly challenges the fundamentalist Christian belief that God’s revelation was completed when the books of the biblical canon were finalized by the Church.

Quaker Universalism also challenges the conventional Christian definition of the Church, insisting that the Church is not a building. Nor is it an identifiable group of confessing Christians. It is, rather, the universal fellowship of all those persons, of whatever background or persuasion, who know and live in accordance with the Living Witness of God’s Light within them. Unlike the standard Christian definition, the Quaker definition of the Church embraces non-Christians, and even theoretically excludes professing Christians who have no real inward, life-changing experience of God. [Now this is a contradiction if every I’ve seen one. How can any non-Christian ever have a “real inward, life-changing experience of God”?]

These few examples should make it clear how deeply-rooted and fundamental the Universalist perspective is in Quakerism, and how profoundly, in turn, this perspective affects the Quaker approach to Christianity – so much so that Quakerism takes a strongly prophetic stance over and against a number of widely accepted interpretations of Christian faith.

It should also be clear, however, that Quaker Universalism, as we have described it here, has little or nothing to do with that brand of eclectic, humanist philosophy called “universalism” that is so prevalent in liberal Quaker circles today. This sort of pseudo-universalism – “pseudo” because it bears a superficial resemblance to Quaker Universalism, but is really contrary to it in a number of crucial ways – poses such an insidious threat to the true Quaker view that I would like to spend a few moments describing in more detail how the two are different.

[I must admit, in the following paragraphs, the author does a good job of condemning “pseudo-universalism” – what I would call Unitarian Universalism.]

While Quaker Universalism is strongly religious in content and devotional in orientation, pseudo-universalism typically maintains a pronounced philosophical detachment from all religious traditions (especially, as we shall see, from Christianity). Unlike Quaker Universalism, which calls for a faith commitment to a specific religious path, pseudo-universalism teaches non-adherence to any particular religion at all, referring a kind of smorgasbord approach to religious ideas instead.

Quaker Universalism acknowledges the differences between the major religions of the world, but calls them all to the same universal standard of Truth: the Living Witness of God within. Pseudo-universalism often ignores, trivializes and obfuscates the real differences between world religions, claiming that “all religions are essentially the same.” In effect, it denies all religions by affirming all equally and embracing none.

While Quaker Universalism is a specific religious path that leads the seeker toward transformation and salvation, pseudo-universalism institutionalizes seeking and is highly suspicious of finding in religious life. Partly because it considers the major religions of the world to be primitive (and therefore false?), and partly because it is highly intellectual in orientation, pseudo-universalism discourages the sort of existential faith commitment that is essential for real spiritual growth and transformation. It offers no genuine spiritual path of its own, while discouraging its adherents from embarking on any established path.

Because it is a view of religion and not a religion itself, and because it accepts no particular religious tradition as normative, pseudo-universalism has within it no principle whereby it can discriminate between what is true and what is false in any particular religious view. To what standard, for instance, would pseudo-universalism appeal regarding a membership application from an avowed practitioner of the religion of Satanism? Quaker Universalism, on the other hand, is founded on the premise that there is one true principle of discernment, and that is the Inner Light. In addition, as we shall see momentarily, although Quaker Universalism radically challenges Christianity at many points, it also has historically accepted Jesus Christ and the gospel tradition as normative for faithful living. [Yes and no. Quaker Univeralists profess Jesus as “Teacher and Lord,” but not as “Lord and Saviour.” In another blog, I quoted a liberal Friends General Conference fellow who sang, “I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker, I’ve got Christ’s Inner Light but he’s not my Saviour.” What an abomination.]

Lastly, while Quaker Universalism is firmly rooted in the Christian tradition (albeit not always comfortable with it), pseudo-universalism often acts as a smoke screen for anti-Christian sentiment. In my conversations with Friends who have been influenced by this kind of universalism, I frequently encounter significant discomfort with, if not open hostility to, Christians and the Christian faith. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to their own professed principles. To this sort of universalist, it seems, all religions are equal except Christianity!

Perhaps you have heard of H. L. Mencken’s famous definition of a “puritan” as someone who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is having fun? The pseudo-universalist is one who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone has “gotten religion,” especially the Christian religion.

As you can see, the two types of universalism, while similar on the surface, are as different as night and day. It is easy to see why pseudo-universalism is uncomfortable with the practice of Christianity. The two are philosophically incompatible. True Quaker Universalism, however, has a uniquely symbiotic relationship with Christianity. And this brings us to the Christian side of the equation.

If I did not make the Christian party happy with my remarks on Quaker Universalism, it is certain that I will not make the Quaker Universalist party happy with my remarks on Christianity. As we have seen, Christian Quakers have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically universalist in its interpretation of Christianity. Universalist Quakers, on the other hand, have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically Christian in its interpretation of Universalism. For, the truth is that, despite its somewhat testy relationship with conventional Christianity, Quakerism is and always has been decidedly Christian.

We have already sketched how the Quaker view of Christianity is distinctively Universalist. How is the Quaker view of Universalism distinctively Christian? It is really quite simple: Friends have always identified the Inner Light with the living Christ. Christ, in Quaker theology, is the Light [but non-evangelical Quakers do not believe that we are saved by accepting Christ as our Saviour]. “There is One, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” said the voice to George Fox at the moment of his convincement [notice again that the author uses the term “convincement” – which is vastly different from “conversion”]. And this Christ Jesus, Fox perceived and subsequently preached, was the Eternal Risen Christ, the Light of the World, come to teach all people who would hear his voice, not just professing Christians. To be Quaker is to be a follower of Christ, Who witnesses Within each one of us as we walk through life.

This strict equivalency of Christ with the Inner Light is the key to understanding how it is that Christianity and Universalism are so inextricably bound together in Quaker faith and practice. Not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time; it is the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to marry the two in one powerful synthesis through the doctrine of the Inner Light. In the final analysis, the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light is really a radically Universalist interpretation of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit. To be Quaker is, therefore, to be radically Christian.

As a result of this unique marriage that Quakerism has effected, the quintessentially exclusivist text of the Christian faith – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes unto the Father except by me” (John 14:6) – is transformed into a powerful Universalist message for the whole world. Friends have witnessed for 350 years that the Light of Christ Within is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to God except by it. This Light is the universal, saving, eternal, personal, resistible, persistent, and pure witness of God within every human heart, and no one is excluded from partaking of its riches. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Christ has returned, and everyone is invited to the reception!”

And, how fortunate for both Christianity and Universalism that Quakerism has joined them together. Fully embedded in the context of Christianity, Quaker Universalism is richly informed by all of the pregnant imagery and profound meaning of the Judeo-Christian tradition and the transforming story of Jesus Christ. In the Quaker synthesis, Christianity saves Universalism from the vapid sterility of mere abstraction. Universalism, in turn, saves Christianity from the spiritual poison of religious parochialism and exclusivity. The two not only complement each other, they are essential to one another.

In the end, the marriage metaphor we have been using is not very satisfactory, for it implies a kind of voluntary association that is not applicable here. The union of Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism is one of mutual entailment – more like two sides of one coin than like a marriage. Friends on both sides of the discussion need to face the fact that divorce is out of the question. Quakerism is, by definition, both Universalist and Christian at the same time.

After reading the above defense of Quaker universalism – and the damage the Inner Light teaching has done to evangelical Christianity – how could any member of the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) accept or fellowship with non-evangelical universalist Quaker denominations?

Amazingly, the EFCI is proud of its Quaker ecumenism with all non-evangelical Quaker groups. If we dig beneath the surface, we find that non-evangelical Quakers have many ungodly beliefs and practices – everything from universalist Quakers to LGBT Quakers to atheist Quakers to Buddhist Quakers.

There is no way around it. To insist on ecumenism with non-evangelical Quaker groups is, in essence, to endorse the heresies of these non-evangelical Quaker groups. Leaders in the EFCI who insist on Quaker ecumenism know very well the heresies of these non-evangelical groups, yet they still proclaim “let the conversation continue.” What an abomination!

Edward Mott, one of my favorite fundamentalist Evangelical Friends, warned against Quaker ecumenism. Tragically, Quakers eventually ignored the warnings of Mott and others, developing ecumenical ties with non-evangelical Quakers. Click here for my blog about Edward Mott, in which I included the following quote:

“Edward Mott, who was a leading minister and teacher in [Northwest Yearly Meeting] for many years earlier in [the twentieth century], strongly and bitterly opposed any moves toward ecumenical contacts or fellowship among what were then much more fragmented groups of Friends. In his memoir, Sixty Years of Gospel Ministry, published in the late 1940s, he insisted, as he had for decades, that such efforts “cannot have the blessing of the Lord upon them.” In fact, he insisted that “The attempt to fellowship and work with unbelievers [which is what he considered other Friends to be–Ed.] spells death. Any conclusion to the contrary is ruinous to all concerned.”

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(revised 02/05/14)

Click here for the source of the above collage. Also, for Windows users – if you would like to zoom in on the above collage, click CTRL-PLUS on your keyboard (and CTRL-MINUS to zoom out).

I’ve been struck lately by how many evangelical colleges, seminaries and denominations are falling into Spiritual Formation, as well as Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings. In fact, every accredited seminary is now required to include a Spiritual Formation program – click here for more info.  To me it is very obvious that this can be described as a “great falling away” into apostasy. Paul wrote:

1) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3)  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4)  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thess. 2:1-4, KJV)

I believe many of the evangelicals currently falling into apostasy will ultimately follow the one world religion of the Antichrist. So what are the stages of this ultimate apostasy?

This is very simplistic, but here are the steps to the ultimate apostasy as I see them:

1) Separatist fundamentalists (they don’t like to use the term evangelical). These are born again, biblically sound Christians who have not compromised with the world or with heresy. I consider myself as belonging to this group.
another article by David Cloud discussing Separation

2) Non-separatist fundamentalists (also called non-separatist evangelicals,  conservative evangelicals)
another article about non-separatist evangelicals

3) New Evangelicals

4) Emerging Church movement

5) Emergent Church movement

6) Emergence Christianity (with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, and “Christian” Universalism ala Rob Bell’s 2011 book Love Wins)
Brian McLaren’s list of Emergence leaders (including himself)
Eric Barger’s article about Brian McLaren teaming up with New Agers (Eric Barger refers to the coming one world religion in this article). Actually, many Emergence leaders are even more openly New Age than Brian McLaren – Phyllis Tickle and Richard Rohr for example.

7) Interfaith movement (with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, and with a theology very similar to Unitarian Universalism)

8 ) One World Religion – with a strong emphasis on New Age spirituality, a theology very similar to Unitarian Universalism, and Satanic/Luciferian worship. I believe the Satanic/Luciferian worshippers will be growing in strength and number, but for the most part lurking in the background at this point. There will still be groups on Earth that are resisting the One World Religion – such as separatist fundamentalist Christians (group #1 above), the Amish, “fundamentalist” Muslims, etc. I assume there will also be additional religious groups that will refuse to join the one world religion.
One of many articles by Berit Kjos on these subjects. She has written many articles about the New Age movement, the United Nations, the New World Order, the coming One World Religion, etc. Of all the End Times articles I’ve read, I would say the articles by Berit Kjos are the most thoroughly researched.
A “heavy” Christian article about the Lucis Trust, the United Nations, the New World Order, etc. Check out the accuracy of the links yourself if they sound too “off the wall.” Like I said, it’s a “heavy” article.

9) One world religion worshipping the Antichrist – I believe this one world religion will be purely Satanic/Luciferian; all New Age and Unitarian Universalist teachings will be absorbed into this Antichrist religion. Satan wants to be worshipped as God. So when the Antichrist takes charge, he will become possessed by Satan. When the world is worshipping the Antichrist, they will also be worshipping Satan who has possessed him.

Many religions believe in a coming “Messiah” figure. Of course they refuse to believe in the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet they will have no problem accepting – and worshiping – the false Messiah, the Antichrist, when he comes on the scene.

All those still on earth who refuse to worship the Antichrist will be “eliminated.” Those of us who went through World War II should have no problem envisioning the rule of the Antichrist. Simply imagine a Hitler (incredibly more Satanic than the World War II Hitler) ruling the entire world. All nations will ultimately answer to him and bow to him. This “world-Hitler” will at first seem to provide the answer to all the world’s problems.  Then he will turn against the Church (whatever Christians are on the earth at the time) and the people of Israel. When this “world-Hitler” declares himself as “God” (II Thess. 2:4), his worshipers will eagerly carry out the ultimate holocaust, far, far greater than that of World War II. This will be a persecution that has never been seen before, nor will ever be seen again (Matt. 24:21).

Does all this (or even part of this) sound far fetched to you? Let me just say this. Even Christians experience something called “cognitive dissonance” when they read about biblical prophecy and future events. They believe, in a general sense, that we are approaching the End Times. Yet when presented with documentation that we are closer to the End Times than they ever imagined, many laugh in disbelief.  They view various articles about the End Times as being paranoid, full of conspiracy theories, off the wall. I admit, there are many articles that are not well researched and are off the wall, but many others are spot on.

We are getting closer and closer to the End Times. Looking at the steps to apostasy above, we already see step #7 (the Interfaith movement) in the world today. And yes, evangelicals are getting involved in the Interfaith movement.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives a word of encouragement and comfort to born again Christians who are ready to meet their Maker (no matter when or how). He says:

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28, KJV).

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We need to be aware of the theology of postmodernists (the Emerging, Emergent and Emergence movements). Yes, they do have theological views, even though most will not provide doctrinal statements or creeds. And we need to know their agenda. Dr. Norman Geisler provides an excellent overview of Emergent thinking in his following critique. The critique can be found in its entirety and original format at:

http://www.normangeisler.net/The%20Emergent%20Church-Emergence%20or%20Emergency.html [broken link]

[Note, an update of Dr. Geisler’s article can be found here.]

I am emphasizing comments by bolding, and inserting comments in [bracketing]. Also, I have reformatted portions of Dr. Geisler’s critique to make it more readable. And I hope to insert further comments, as well as links to pertinent Internet articles as I find them.

You will see that a number of Geisler’s lists overlap in their content. Nonetheless, the lists are very helpful as “hooks” or leads to further research. I hope to do just this, collating the various lists and further researching the various points.

A caveat – Geisler has provided quotes from various authors whom I do not recommend. Among them are St. Augustine, Mark Driscoll, and C.S. Lewis. Also, in his list of books at the end discussing Emergents, he lists Dan Kimball as an author; I cannot recommend Kimball. The fact that I am providing Geisler’s critique here in its entirety, in no way is meant to imply that I approve of all his sources.

Nonetheless, thank you for this critique, Dr. Geisler, and God bless you!!!

 

The Emergent Church: Emergence or Emergency?
Copyright by Norman L. Geisler 2008

The Background of Emergence Stated

There is one key influence on the Emergent Church movement—postmodernism.  While not all Emergents accept all premises of post-modernism, nonetheless, they all breathe the same air.  Post modernism embraces the following characteristics:

1) The “Death of God”—Atheism
2) The death of objective truth—Relativism
3) The death of exclusive truth—Pluralism

4) The death of objective meaning—Conventionalism
5) The death of thinking (logic)—Anti-Foundationalism

6) The death of objective interpretation—Deconstructionism
7) The death of objective values—Subjectivism.

From post-modernism Emergents devise the following key ideas: They consider themselves:

1) Post-Protestant
2) Post-Orthodox
3) Post-Denominational
4) Post-Doctrinal
5) Post-Individual
6) Post-Foundational
7) Post-Creedal

8 ) Post-Rational
9) Post-Absolute

It is noteworthy that “post” is a euphemism for “anti.” So, in reality they are against all these things and more.

Brian McClaren, one of the leaders of the emergent church, stressed the importance of the postmodernism influence upon the movement when he wrote, “But for me…opposing it [Postmodernism] is as futile as opposing the English language.  It’s here. It’s reality. It’s the future…. It’s the way my generation processes every other fact on the event horizon” (McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 70).

“Postmodernism is the intellectual boundary between the old world and the other side.  Why is it so important? Because when your view of truth is changed, when your confidence in the human ability to know truth in any objective way is revolutionized, then everything changes. That includes theology…” (McLaren, COS, 69).

Basic Works by Emergents Listed

There is an ever increasing flow of emergent literature.  To date [2008], it includes the following:

[I have alphabetized Geisler’s list by author]

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor, A Heretics Guide to Eternity

Steve Chalke and Allan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus

Stanley Grenz,  A Primer on Post-Modernism
Beyond Foundationalism
Revising Evangelical Theology

Tony Jones, The New Christians: Dispatches from  the Emergent Frontier

Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side
A Generous Orthodoxy
A New Kind of Christian
Everything Must Change

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope

Dave Tomlinson, The Post-Evangelical.

See also: www.emergentvillage.com

Basic Beliefs of Emergents Examined

Of course, not all Emergents believe all the doctrines listed below, but some do, and most hold to many of them.  And since they associate with others in the movement that do, it is proper to list all of them.

1) Anti-Absolutism

McClaren insists that “Arguments that pit absolutism versus relativism, and objectivism versus subjectivism, prove meaningless or absurd to postmodern people” (McClaren, “The Broadened Gospel,” in “Emergent Evangelism,” Christianity Today 48 [Nov., 2004], 43).  This is a form of relativism.  Let’s reduce the premise to its essence and analyze it by showing that it is self-refuting.

Relativism Stated: “We cannot know absolute truth.”
Relativism Refuted: We know that we cannot know absolute truth.

2) Anti-Exclusivism (Pluralism)

Pluralism is another characteristic of the emergent movement.  McClaren claims that “Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion” (McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 109).

In brief,

1.  The Claim of Pluralism: “No view is  exclusively true.”
2. The Self-Refutation: It claims that its view (that no view is exclusively true)   is exclusively true.

3) Anti-Foundationalism

Foundationalism in the philosophical sense may be defined as the position that here are self-evident principles at the basis of all thought such as:


1. The Law of Identity (A is A).

2. The Law of Non-Contradiction (A is not non-A).
3. The Law of Excluded Middle (Either A or non-A).
4. The Laws of rational inference.

Inferences take several forms:

  1. The categorical form includes the following necessary inference:  a) All A is included in B; b) All B is included in C.  Hence, c) All A is included in C.
  2. Hypothetical inferences include the following: a) If all human beings are sinners, then John is a sinner; b) All human beings are sinners. c) Therefore, John is a sinner.
  3. Disjunctive inferences are like this: a) Either John is saved or he is lost. b) John is not saved. c) Therefore, John is lost.

One of the fore-fathers of the Emergent movement was Stanley Grenz who wrote a whole book against Foundationalism entitled: Beyond Foundationalism.  McClaren contents that:  “For modern Western Christians, words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal are crucial…. Hardly anyone knows …Rene Descartes, the Enlightenment, David Hume, and Foundationalism — which provides the context in which these words are so important.  Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extra-biblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority” (McLaren, GO, 164).

So, the claim and refutation of anti-foundationalism can be stated like this:


1.  The Claim: “Opposites (e.g., A is non-A) can both be true.”

2. The Self-Refutation: They hold that the opposite of this statement (that opposites can both be true) cannot be true.

4) Anti-Objectivism

Another characteristic is the denial that our statements about God are objectively true.  Grenz declared: “We ought to commend the postmodern questioning of the Enlightenment assumption that knowledge is objective and hence dispassionate” (Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism, 166).


1. The Claim of Anti-Objectivism: “There are no objectively true statements.”

2. The Self-Refutation: It is an objectively true statement that there are no objectively true statements.

5) Anti-Rationalism (Fideism)

Most emergents have a strong doze of fideism.  Grenz chided “Twentieth-century evangelicals [who] have devoted much energy to the task of demonstrating the credibility of the Christian faith…” (Grenz, Primer on Post-modernism, 160).


“Following the intellect can sometimes lead us away from the truth” (Grenz, PPM, 166).  One might add, that not following basic rational thought will lead you there a lot faster!


McClaren adds, “Because knowledge is a luxury beyond our means, faith is the best we can hope for.  What an opportunity! Faith hasn’t encountered openness like this in several hundred years” (McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 173).


Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument—and replace it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue, and search” (McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, 78).


Donald Miller confessed that  “My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific, and yet there was nothing I could do to separate myself from this belief” (54).  He said, “My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect…. I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away… I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons…” (103).


“There are many ideas within Christian spirituality that contradict the facts of reality as I understand them. A statement like this offends some Christians because they believe if aspects of their faith do not obey the facts of reality, they are not true” (201).

So the basic claim of anti-rationalism goes as follows:

1. The Claim of Fideism: “There are no reasons for what we believe.”

2. The Self-Refutation: There are good reasons for believing there are no good reasons for what we believe.

1. The Claim of Fideism: “Knowledge is a luxury beyond our means.”
2. The Self-Refutation: We have the luxury of knowing that we can’t have the luxury of knowing.

6) Anti-Objectivism (of Meaning)

Anti-Objectivism deals not only with truth (above) but with meaning (called conventionalism).  Emergents embrace both.  All meaning is culturally relative. There is no fixed meaning. Meaning is not objective.

1. The Claim of Conventionalism: “There is no objective meaning.”

2. The Self-Refutation: It is objectively meaningful to assert that there is no objective meaning.

7) Anti-Realism

Strangely, some emergents claim there is no objective world that can be known. Rather, “the only ultimately valid ‘objectivity of the world’ is that of a future, eschatological world, and the ‘actual’ universe is the universe as it one day will be” (Grenz, Renewing the Center, 246).

1. The Claim of Anti-Realism “There is no real world now that can be known.”

2. The Self-Refutation: We know it is really true now (i.e., true in the real world now) that there is no real world now that can be known.

8 ) Anti-Infallibilism

Not only can we not know absolute truth, but there is no certain knowledge of what we do claim to know, even of biblical truth. McClaren insists:  “Well, I’m wondering, if you have an infallible text, but all your interpretations of it are admittedly fallible, then you at least have to always be open to being corrected about your interpretation, right?… So the authoritative text is never what I say about the text or even what I understand the text to say but rather what God means the text to say, right?” (McLaren, NKC, 50).

1. The Claim of Anti-Infallibilism: “My understanding of the text is never the correct one.”

2. The Self-Refutation: My understanding of the text is correct in saying that my understanding of the text is never correct.

9) Anti-Propositionalism

Emergents, along with post-modern, oppose propositional truth, that is that true can be stated in propositions (declarative sentences) that are either true or false.  Grenz wrote: “Our understanding of the Christian faith must not remain fixated on the propositional approach that views Christian truth as nothing more than correct doctrine or doctrinal truth” (Grenz, PPM, 170).“Transformed in this manner into a book of doctrine, the Bible is easily robbed of its dynamic character” (Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, 114-115).


1.  The Claim of Anti-Propositionalism: “Our view of the Christian faith must not be fixed on propositional truth (doctrine).”

2.  The Self-Refutation: We must be fixed on the propositional truth that we should not be fixed on propositional truth.

1.  Another Claim of Anti-Propositionalism: “Doctrinal truth is not dynamic.”
2.  The Self-Refutation: It is a dynamic doctrinal truth (of the Emergent Church) that doctrinal truth is not dynamic.

They fail to recognize that doctrine is dynamic! Ideas Have Consequences! For example, Einstein’s idea that “energy equals mass times the speed of light squared” had consequences—the atomic bomb!  Likewise, Hitler’s idea (Nazism) led to the holocaust and the loss of multimillions of lives.

10) Anti-Orthodoxy

The emergent movement is post-orthodox.  Dwight J. Friesen suggests it should be called “orthoparadoxy.” He claims that “‘A thing is alive only when it contains contradictions in itself ….’ Just as he [Moltmann] highlights the necessity of contradictions for life, so I declare that embracing the complexities of contradictions, antinomies, and paradoxes of the human life is walking the way of Jesus” (in Pagitt ed., An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, 203).

“Jesus did not announce ideas or call people to certain beliefs as much as he invited people to follow him into a way of being in the world…. The theological method of orthoparadoxy surrenders the right to be right for the sake of movement toward being reconciled one with another, while simultaneously seeking to bring the fullness of conviction and belief to the other…. Current theological methods that often stress… orthodoxy/heresy, and the like set people up for constant battles to convince and convert the other to their way of believing and being in the world” (Friesen, in EMH, 205).

To summarize,

1. The Claim of Post-Orthodoxy: “We should not insist on being right about doctrine.”
2. The Self-refutation: We insist on being  right in our doctrine that we should not insist on being right in our doctrine.

11) Anti-Condemnationism (Universalism)

Many emergents are not merely pluralist, but they are universalsts.  McClaren affirmed that:  “More important to me than the hell question, then, is the mission [in this world] question.” (McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy, 114).

Bell believes that Jesus reconciled “all things, everywhere” and that “Hell is full of forgiven people.” So, “Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making” (Bell, Velvet Elvis, 146).

“So it is a giant thing that God is doing here and not just the forgiveness of individuals.  It is the reconciliation of all things” (Bell in “Find the Big Jesus: An Interview with Rob Bell” in Beliefnet.com).

Let’s analyze the claim of universalism:

1. The claim: “All persons (free agents) will be saved.”
2. The Self-refutation: But this is self-defeating for it is claiming that: All persons (free agents) will be saved, even those who do not freely choose to be saved.

C. S. Lewis [whom I do not recommend, but in this case makes a good point-DM] pinpointed the problem with universalism when he wrote: “When one says, ‘All will be saved,’ my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’  If I say, ‘Without their will,’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say, ‘With their will,’ my reason replies, ‘How, if they will not give in?’” (The Problem of Pain, 106-107).

12) Anti-Inerrantism

Most emergent leaders are not inerrantist. They believe that “Incompleteness and error are part of the reality of human beings” (McLaren, COS, 173).

“Our listening to God’s voice [in Scripture] does not need to be threatened by scientific research into Holy Scripture” (Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, 116).

“The Bible is revelation because it is the [errant] witness to and the [errant] record of the historical revelation of God” (Grenz, ibid., 133).

McClaren rejects the traditional view that: “The Bible is the ultimate authority…. There are no contradictions in it, and it is absolutely true and without errors in all it says.  Give up these assertions, and you’re on a slippery slope to losing your whole faith” (McLaren, GO, 133-134).  He adds, “Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extra-biblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority” (GO, 164).

In brief, the problem with the errantists view is this:

1. The Claim of Errantists: “No extra-biblical words or ideas should be used to support the Bible.”

2. The Self-refutation: It is a truth (of Post-Modernism) that no extra-biblical words or ideas (like Post-Modernism) should be used to support the Bible.

Yet this is self-defeating for If “No human writing is without error,” then emergent human writing is not without error when it claims that no human writing is without error.


Inerrancy is built on a solid foundation: 1) God cannot err.  2) The Bible is the Word of God.  3) Therefore, the Bible cannot error.  To deny this, one must deny either: a) “God cannot error,” or- b) “The Bible is the Word of God,” or-

c)  both a and b.

However, God cannot err: Jesus declared: “Your Word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17)
Paul said, “Let God be and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  Indeed, “It is impossible for God to lie: (Heb. 6:18).  And he Bible is the Word of God “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (Jn.10:34-35)  “Laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the traditions of men…, making the word of God of no effect through your traditions.” (Mk. 7:8, 13)  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….”(2 Tim. 3:16) “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.”  (Rom. 9:6)  “’It is written’…by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4)

St. Augustine’s dictum is to the point [I do not recommend St. Augustine – he is a Catholic mystic; I am just providing Geisler’s quote here – DM]: “If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either [1] the manuscript is faulty, or [2] the translation is wrong, or [3] you have not understood.”  (Augustine, Reply to Faustus 11.5)

Emerging Problems with the Emergent Church

Other Errors of the Emergent Movement

In addition to all the above self-defeating claims of emergence, there are some other crucial doctrinal and practical errors.  Here are some of them:

1) Anti-Substitutionism

Steve Chalke speaks of the Cross as “a form of cosmic child abuse” which contradicts the Bible’s claim that “God is love” and ‘makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies” (Steve Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus, 182-183).

2) Anti-Trinitarianism

“I asked him if he believed that the Trinity represented three separate persons who are also one” (Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 202).

3) Anti-depravity (Pelagianism)

Some (like Chalke and Tomlinson) reject depravity.  The former said, “Jesus believed in original goodness.” (The Lost Message of Jesus, 67).  The latter said it is “biblically questionable, extreme, and profoundly unhelpful” (The Post-Evangelical, 126).

4) Anti-Futurism (Amillennialism)

It has an overemphasis on the present spiritual kingdom to the neglect of Jesus’ future literal kingdom—an overrealized eschatology.

5) Anti-Capitalism (Socialism)

It has a social Gospel, not a spiritual Gospel with social implications.  It adopts the agenda of the political left.  Tony Jones said on David Chadwicks show that he and most of the Emergents he knew were voting for Barack Obama (6/22/08).

6) Ecumenism

The Emergent movement is a broad tent which includes numerous heresies (see above), embracing Catholicism, and even pantheism (by some).  Spencer Burke said, “I am not sure I believe in God exclusively as a person anymore either…. I now incorporate a pantheistic view, which basically means that God is ‘in all,’ alongside my creedal view of God as Father, Son, and Spirit.” (A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, 195).

Difficulties with the Emergent Movement

There are many difficulties with the Emergent movement.  Here are some of the main ones:

1. Its central claims are all self-defeating.
2. It stands on the pinnacle of its own absolute and relativizes everything else.
3. It is an unorthodox creedal attack on orthodox creeds.
4. It attacks modernism in the culture but is an example of postmodernism in the church.
5. In an attempt to reach the culture it capitulates to the culture.
6. In trying to be geared to the times, it is no longer anchored to the Rock.
7. It is not an emerging church; it is really a submerging church.

Answering an Anticipated Objection

Some emergents may wish to claim that:  No self-defeating truth claims are being made.  These are straw men set up by critics.  In response we would reply that: Either they are making such truth claims or they are not.   If they are, then they are self-defeating.  If they are not, then why are they writing books and attempting to convince people of the truth of these views, if not always by affirmation, at least by implication?

While directed to another view, C. S. Lewis [whom I do not recommend-DM] made a insightful comment that applies here as well:

You can argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome’: but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome, but I’m not saying this is true.’  I feel that this surrender of the claim to truth has all the air of an expedient adopted at the last moment.  If [they]…do not claim to know any truths, ought they not to have warned us rather earlier of the fact? For really from all the books they have written…one would have got the idea that they were claiming to give a true account of things.  The fact surely is that they nearly always are claiming to do so.  The claim is surrendered only when the question discussed…is pressed; and when the crisis is over the claim is tacitly resumed” (Lewis, Miracles, 24).

To re-cast the Emergent Movement, using titles from its own books,

It is not “The Emergent Church” but “The Submergent Church.”

It is not “A Manifesto of Hope” but is “A Declaration of Disaster.”

It is not “Refocusing the Faith” but “Distorting the Faith.”

It is not “Renewing the Center” but “Rejecting the Core.”

It is not “Repainting the Faith” but “Repudiating the Faith.”

The Emergent movement is not “A Generous Orthodoxy” but “A Dangerous Unorthodoxy.”

It is not the “Church on the Other Side,” but it is on the “Other Side of the Church.”

It is not “A Primer on Post-Modernism” but “A Primer on the New Modernism.”

It is not going to “Produce a New Kind of Christian” but a “New Kind of Non-Christian.”

In short, the Emergent Church is the New Liberalism.  As Mark Driscoll [whom I do not recommend although he claims to be anti-Emergent – DM] wrote: “The emergent church is the latest version of liberalism.  The only difference is that the old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity” (Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformation REV, 21).

To put it to poetry:

The Emergent Church is built on sand
and will not stand.
Christ’s Church is build on Stone,
And it can not be overthrown.
(Matt. 16:16-18)

Works Evaluating The Emergent Movement

Several works are emerging on the Emergent Church.  The following is a select list containing valuable criticisms of the movement:

Adler, Mortimer. Truth in Religion.
Carson, D. A.  Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.
Carlson, Jason. “My Journey Into and Out Of the Emergent Church” (www.Christianministriesintl.org)
*DeYoung, Kevin and Ted Kluck. Why We’re Not Emergent.
Driscoll, Mark. Confessions of a Reformation REV.
Howe, Thomas ed., Christian Apologetics Journal of Southern Evangelical Seminary (Spring, 2008, www.ses.edu)
Kimball, Dan. The Emerging Church.
Rofle, Kevin, Here We Stand.
Smith, R. Scott Truth and The New Kind of Christian.
Geisler, Norman.  “The Emergent Church” DVD (InternationalLegacy.org).
MJ@InternationalLegacy.org

Conclusion
Of course, not all emergent beliefs are bad.  De Young and Kluck summarize the situation well.  They “have many good deeds.  They want to be relevant.  They want to reach out.  They want to be authentic.  They want to include the marginalized.  They want to be kingdom disciples.  They want community and life transformation….”  However, “Emergent Christians need to catch Jesus’ broader vision for the church—His vision for a church that is intolerant of error, maintains moral boundaries, promotes doctrinal integrity, stands strong in times of trial, remains vibrant in times of prosperity, believes in certain judgment and certain reward, even as it engages the culture, reaches out, loves, and serves.  We need a church that reflects the Master’s vision—one that is deeply theological, deeply ethical, deeply compassionate, and deeply doxological” (Why We’re Not Emergent, 247-248).

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Emergence Christianity does not have a doctrinal statement. But if it did have one, what would it look like? This question is not as complex as it sounds. In a nutshell, Emergence Christianity is New Age thinking with a Christian twist. I plan to develop this blog further, showing biblical Christian doctrinal statements, followed by statements from Emergence Christianity leaders. In almost all cases, their statements are the exact opposite of biblical Christian beliefs.

Some of the closest beliefs to Emergence Christianity are those of Unitarian Universalists.

And to back up my point, consider these comments made by former Emergent Bill Kinnon at the following web page, where he comments on Jeremy Bouma‘s EXCELLENT critique of the Emerging/Emerging Church movements:

http://www.novuslumen.net/goodbye-emergent-why-im-taking-the-theology-of-the-emerging-church-to-task

Jeremy,
I think this is a hard but good and important post. BMcL’s A New Kind of Christian was a very important book for Imbi (my wife) and I when we read it 10 years ago. We became evangelists for Brian’s books for a time – but are no longer. Our paths have diverged significantly from the one Brian has taken (in my humble estimation.)

I’ve read most of A New Kind of Christianity (which arrived on Thursday) as I’ve had time and am disturbed by the cross-less Christianity that Brian describes. There are also some things I do like in the book but by and large, Brian appears more Unitarian Universalist in his understanding of the faith – in spite of how mean, nasty and unloving I am for saying that. 🙂 The easiest form of debate is to suggest that anyone that dares question you is arguing ad hominem. (I will unpack the reasons for my stated opinion above in a blog post I hope to put up in the next 24 hours.)

And check out this excellent blog by Ken Silva on “Christian Universalism”:

http://apprising.org/2009/04/29/apprising-ministries-with-a-peek-at-the-coming-soteriology-of-emergence-christianity/

Note especially Ken Silva’s statement from the above blog, discussing the terminology of Christian Universalism:

As we pointed out in Rob Bell And Christian Universalism, [Christian Universalism] (CU) is also sometimes called Universal Redemption (UR), or even Evangelical Universalism as Gregory MacDonald (a pseudonym) wrote in the 2006 book The Evangelical Universalist.

Now on to another Internet article. Consider this description of Unitarian Universalist beliefs, copied and pasted from Contender Ministries, a born again Christian discernment website. Although Christian Universalism is technically different from Unitarianism Universalism (UU), it does share many of UU’s tenents.

The entire article can be found at:

http://www.contenderministries.org/UU/uus.php#beliefs

General Unitarian Universalism Beliefs

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that claims to be “born of the Jewish and Christian traditions.”  They believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In the end, religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. We put religious insights to the test of our hearts and minds. In other words, the UU’s espouse a humanist believe of each individual in a position superior to God or scripture.    The UU believes that each individual’s spiritual path for truth should not be hampered by a creed or set of rules.  It describes itself as a “free faith.”  Past this, it is hard to be very specific.  If the UU cult believes in anything, it is everything, and it stands for nothing.  Whew!

UU Beliefs About God

UU’s are definitely not married to the concept of God.  Some UU’s claim to be Christians, while others claim to be agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, or even pagan!  I really can’t describe their belief in God any better than they do in their own words.  Here is a sampling from the Unitarian Universalist Association website:  “Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find language about God useful. The faith of other Unitarian Universalists in God may be profound, though among these, too, talk of God may be restrained. Why?  The word God is much abused. Far too often, the word seems to refer to a kind of granddaddy in the sky or a super magician. To avoid confusion, many Unitarian Universalists are more apt to speak of “reverence for life” (in the words of Albert Schweitzer, a Unitarian), the spirit of love or truth, the holy, or the gracious. Many also prefer such language because it is inclusive; it is used with integrity by theist and nontheist members.”  To sum up, the UU’s believe that belief in God is too exclusionary, so they don’t have much regard for its use.

UU Beliefs About Jesus

The UU belief about Jesus will not take more than a few sentences.  They UU’s deny the deity of Jesus Christ.  Their belief on the nature of Jesus pretty much parallels that of the New Age — that Jesus was an example of a good and moral man.  Nothing more, nothing less.  In light of this, it would be hard to call the UU cult Christian.

UU Beliefs About the Bible

The UU’s do not believe – as Christians do – that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  It is more of a guide than scripture to the UU.  Let us once again view the UUA’s own words regarding their view of the Bible: “We do not, however, hold the Bible-or any other account of human experience-to be either an infallible guide or the exclusive source of truth. Much biblical material is mythical or legendary. Not that it should be discarded for that reason! Rather, it should be treasured for what it is. We believe that we should read the Bible as we read other books (or the newspaper)-with imagination and a critical eye.” The UU sees the Bible as no more than a good issue of Readers Digest.

UU Beliefs About Salvation

Salvation to the UU is a guarantee.  They do not believe in Hell.  They do not believe that there is a penalty for sin.  As Christians, we believe there IS a penalty for sin, but that penalty has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.  All each person has to do is to accept that.  But to the UU, that would seem exclusionaryThere is no sin, there is no penalty for sin, there is no hell, therefore, there is nothing to be saved from.  That is the belief of the UU.

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