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Posts Tagged ‘Brian McLaren’

(revised 01/30/15)

I feel privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member of the “anti-Emergent” Facebook Group Concerned Nazarenes. This Facebook Group is attempting to confront and warn members primarily of The Church of the Nazarene denomination.

I, John, and many others are concerned about the doctrinal falling away of many evangelical churches and entire evangelical denominations. Most of these churches are falling away from biblically sound doctrine into the postmodern heresies of Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc.

Interestingly, all of the above individuals have spoken and/or taught at the heretical George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary, schools in the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. The EFCI was once (relatively) biblically sound.  But, in recent decades, all the Regions of the EFCI (including the once very biblically sound, Wesleyan Holiness EFC-ER) have begun trending quickly into postmodern “progressive evangelical” apostasy.

By the way, John – like myself – is Wesleyan Holiness in doctrine. We hold to the Wesleyan-Arminian position that a born again Christian can turn his or her back on God, walking away into apostasy and “losing” his or her salvation. Technically, we believe in “conditional eternal security”.

So why exactly is the EFCI (and many other evangelical denominations) falling away? There are many factors I’m sure – factors which I will not attempt to enumerate here. But I did find the following post by my friend John Henderson very pertinent. Click here for the original source of this post. Note: I am inserting comments [in brackets] and emphasizing certain points by bolding.

Point of No Return
By John Henderson
12/14/14

This is one of those things where I would welcome, would embrace, having someone tell me I was wrong and showing me how so. It has to do when a person or a group has gone so far in the wrong direction, making wrong choices, and ignoring and neglecting God that they will never return to their better days outside of a divine miracle of intervention.

It happened first in the Garden of Eden. God made it clear to Adam and Eve what the limits were and what would happen if they went beyond them. They went past them and, in the day they sinned, they died spiritually on the spot and physically a few years later. Not only were those the consequences to them but they brought sin and damnation upon all of their descendants that only the Cross of Christ could overcome.

One might argue that God’s creation was perfect and it was impossible for man to undo what God had done. That is a good argument but it was not what happened. Salvation is perfect but man can still trample the perfect redemption.

That is how it is. There is a point where a person can go beyond the possibility of repentance—not because God is powerless but because his or her conscience is so seared by unbelief and rebellion that they cannot come to repentance. Someone has likened it to no longer hearing God’s call because the heart is so filled with animosity to the things of God and the attractions of the world that His call is drowned out by the din of those things. The call has not diminished. The hearing has ignored it so long that it is as though there is no call.

We have a grandfather clock in our hallway. It chimes the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes. Frankly, I do not notice them very often because I am accustomed to ignoring them. A visitor sleeping in a nearby room will often remind me of them. I try to remember to silence the chimes when we have overnight guests.

For this reason, I think a backslider who once followed Christ faithfully is less likely to return than would be a reprobate who has never received Christ. I think of the man who wrote that great song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” who apparently never made it back. There are statics [sic] that say younger people are more likely to receive Christ than are older people. I often wonder if I would have ever turned to Christ had I put it off at the age of 15 until a later time; had I decided to taste of the world a bit before considering Christ.

There are many sad stories of people who put off salvation so long until all opportunities are gone. I do not like to hear of them but they are out there. Many of them I knew personally.

That same thing is true of once-great churches. I have yet to learn of a backslidden church or denomination that ever returned to its original level of spiritual life, activity, and influence after having started down the road of compromise. The slide was always gradual and hardly noticeable in the beginning. After a while, people started to notice something was wrong and eventually there were those who began to warn about it. There were occasional turnabouts, but not many and not often. Once the fatal drift took hold, it was too late. The cancer of sin had eaten away too much for there to be a recovery. If there ever was to be a cure, it had to be divine, but usually God had been so excluded that He was no longer considered that relevant and His call was no longer being heard.

The good news is that it does not have to turn out like that. There is still that clarion call and most can still hear it. Some will turn to Christ who seemed beyond the call.

I was told that when news got out that I had been saved, there were some who found it unbelievable about me. One person reportedly expressed such disbelief as to say: “Not him! Not that Henderson boy! Anybody but him could be saved!” I am glad that the Holy Spirit thought differently. God may have had to reach a little farther for me but He did. The stain of sin may have penetrated deeply even at my young age, but the Blood of Jesus went deeper than the stain had gone.

I have often thought that my own point of no return was very near then. An accident that should have been fatal convinced me of that. I had come to Christ shortly before the accident—maybe a week, two at the most—and believe I would have perished in the accident if I had put off salvation. I broke my neck in three places in a diving accident and walked away with no permanent damage of any sort.

Genuine revival is still possible. Maybe it won’t look like we used to know or expect, but it can be every bit as real and far-reaching as ever. As long as the Holy Spirit is still with and in us, everything pertaining to the preaching of the gospel is still just as possible as it was in the beginning. That will not change or diminish until Jesus comes again.

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Plain and simple, I like lists. Lists of cults, lists of false teachings, even lists of lists. So I was intrigued to come across a “list” article reposted here by our friends Amy and Mike on the Stand Up for the Truth website. In this article, a diehard postmodern lists and discusses “6 things [that he thinks] Christians should just stop saying”. Be forewarned – his list is extremely liberal/ Emergent and anti-Christian. This, my friend, is a look inside the minds of today’s postmoderns – sick.

Amazingly, this is the garbage many evangelical churches and colleges today are entertaining, in clinging eagerly to the teachings of Emergents Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and a myriad of other heretics. (Some of these postmodern/Emergent leaders hold to just a few of the six anti-Christian views below; most hold to all six anti-Christian views.)

Now on to the article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Six ways Progressive theology is destroying Christianity

Jesus is So Cool

[Introductory comments by Stand Up for the Truth]:

First they asked you to think outside the box of Truth; now they’re asking you to stop speaking Truth altogether.  The Progressive wing of the Church has been able to grow and thrive, thanks in part to the re-surging Emergent movement that has long been taking the doctrines of Christianity apart. Here’s how contributor to the extreme leftist publication Huffington Post (a site from which I share frequently about the activities of the Christian Left), is trying to re-shape the Bride of Christ into the harlot of Babylon.  How influential is this guy? Steve is celebrated as the “Voice of the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious),” as well as author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher.  His latest article is getting thunderous applause. Gird your loins:

6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying

It is time. No, it is past time. Christians must stop saying the following things.

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It isn’t inerrant and not likely even in the “original manuscripts.” But then, I cannot say that with absolute certainty, anymore than anyone else can either. Why? Because no such “original” manuscripts even exists. That’s like saying, “We believe there are aliens on other planets!” Good for you. Now, prove it. As we have it, no matter what translation you favor, the Bible is replete with errors. To pretend otherwise is your right. To say otherwise is a lie. You are entitled to your opinions, your assumptions, even your beliefs. What you are not entitled to is a misrepresentation of the facts. A corollary to this that Christians should stop saying is this:

2. We just believe the Bible. That, too, is false. What you really believe is your interpretation of the Bible. And the last I checked, the history of the Christian church is the history of disagreement over “interpretation.” How else do you explain the scores of denominations within Christianity alone? It would be patently more honest of Christians to say, “The following represents our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures, but we are also aware there are many equally sincere Christians who interpret the Scriptures differently from us.” A third thing Christians should stop saying:

3. Jesus is the only way to heaven. What you are really saying is, “The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: ‘If you do not believe in Me, you won’t go to the Father when you die.’” For this, I refer back to No. 2 above: what you and your group of believers really mean to say is, “It is our interpretation of John 14:6 that Jesus is saying that He is the only way to heaven.” There are scores of Christians, however, and I am one of them, who do not interpret Jesus’ words in John 14 the same way. Just because I do not makes me no less Christian than you are. So stop drawing lines in the sand, please, between equally sincere followers of Jesus. When I read the 14th chapter of John, I see a context that yields an alternative reading of the text. Instead of Jesus starting some new religion here and saying, “OK, fellas, I’m going to go away soon” — referring to his death — “but, before I go, you should know that where I’m going you, and others who believe just like you, will one day be, too — that is, of course, if they believe like you believe that I am the only way to heaven. That is to say, if the people around you and who come after you don’t believe that I am the only way to heaven, then, of course, they’ll have to go to hell. Is all that clear?” I offer an alternative interpretation: When Jesus spoke to them about leaving them, they were understandably shaken. How could they not be? After all, they had left everything to follow him. Now, just a year, or two, or three years later, Jesus is saying he’s getting ready to leave them? But, of course, they’re upset. So Thomas, speaking on behalf of the others, asks, “But where are you going and why can’t we go with you? Furthermore, how will we know the way?” Jesus responds in tender, reassuring ways. Sensing the fragility of their faith, seeing the anxiety on their faces, he reassures them that, in God’s house are many rooms, “mansions” or places. Yes, He’s going away but where He’s going they, too, will go. Just as He has led them this far, He will lead them further still (and what follows in the latter part of John 14 is the beautiful reassurance of the on-going presence of God in the Holy Spirit). So, for me personally, and many other Christians, too, Jesus is no more pointing to himself as the “one-and-only-way” to God than Thomas is expressing in his question concern for Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists and whether they’ll go to heaven? I can assure you that Thomas, and the others, were only concerned about themselves. And yet, even at that point, Jesus is tender in His care of them and seeks to reassure them that, just as He and the Father were one, and just as they had trusted the things He had been saying to them during his time with them, so they could trust him and what he was saying at this time, too. Yes, he was leaving them. But no, they would not be left alone. Where he was, they would be. He had shown them the way to the Father. But, even after He’s gone from them, they will know the way then, too. The Comforter would guide them. And so, the Church is here today. But not because Christians declare, “There is no way to go to heaven if you don’t believe in Jesus.” The Church is here today because when people do trust the things Jesus said about Himself, about His relationship to the Father…when people believe and so live the teachings of Jesus they, too, are changed — they, too, become “new creations in Christ,” as Saint Paul put it (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, I took longer with this one thing Christians need to stop saying because many Christians seem stuck here, thinking that there’s only one way to interpret Jesus’ words about being the way. It is my hope these Christians will know there are equally sincere Christians like myself and others who do not believe Jesus was drawing a line in the sand between him and some new religion he was creating and all the other religions of the world. Again, it’s your right to “believe” or, more accurately, interpret Scripture as you wish. You do not, however, have permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words. Last I checked, no one’s interpretation of anything is infallible. Not yours. Not mine. A fourth thing Christians need to stop saying:

4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent. Again, if you want to believe in some secret rapture of Christians from the earth just before the Tribulation, if you want to believe in and carry around in your hip pocket detailed charts and graphs of how its all going to happen, then so be it. But do the rest of us a favor and stop saying so in public. So far, your record of correctly predicting the future earns a flunking grade. And I and scores of other Christians are frankly tired of apologizing for your arrogant — and so far, absolutely wrong — predictions as to when it’ll happen. My recommendation? Burn up your charts and go live like Christ. Quit masking your real fears by calling them faith. It isn’t faith that leads you to sell all you have, give the proceeds to some wacko, and go camp out on Mount Horeb as you await the rapture. It’s stupidity instead. It’s embarrassing, too. It makes thoughtful Christians have to apologize to the world and explain that we’re not all off-our-rockers, at least, not yet, anyway. So, please, please. If you want to believe in the charts that Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and other “get-rich-off-the-stupidity-of-Christians” have duped scores into believing, then have at it. Just stay out of the news please! Go quietly to your campsites and do your waiting.:

5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God. This one issue, my friend, is on the outs. If you don’t know that, you are more blind than the Republicans were in the last election. They misinterpreted the political environment and so completely blew it when it came to getting their candidate elected. And you, my friend, are misinterpreting the moral, spiritual and religious environment — and the changes that are coming. My son said it well the other day. We were discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage and he observed, “Dad, it’s your generation that’s hung up on these issues. Once you guys get out of the way and the younger generation moves into the decision-making arena, these issues will disappear. The day will come when, just as slavery is unthinkable in our consciousness today, it will be equally unthinkable to deny anyone the right to be who they are or the right to same-sex marriage.” You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don’t need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important. Finally, please, please Christians stop insisting that…

6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old. If you want to believe that Genesis is a scientific description of the origins of the universe, then have at it. Just stop insisting that those myths be taught in our public schools. You do no service to the Bible nor to the morality of this country by demanding school administrators include textbooks that teach that nonsense or by demanding courts hang the Ten Commandments on chamber walls or classroom walls. If this democracy is going to survive, get over your silly, misinformed notions that our forefathers were all Bible-believing, Bible thumping, Genesis-affirming Christians who came to this country to establish your kind of Christian nation and then expect everyone else to conform to your misguided assumptions. Whew! I feel better. Thanks for letting me get a few things off my chest. Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember — no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) — and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by… Not our beliefs. Not our doctrines. Not our denomination’s distinctions. Not even our declarations. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35). When we love, what more needs to be said?

[Note – the reposting of the above article here on the Stand Up for the Truth website is followed by a number of insightful reader comments.]

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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].

———————————————————————————————–

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 12/06/12)

Imagine if you could force all of the following Emerging/Emergent heretics to be your captive audience. Specifically, imagine coralling them into a church sanctuary, then locking them in (I realize some of these have passed away):  Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Bob Buford, Tony Campolo (click here and here), Shane Claiborne, David Crowder, Mark Driscoll, Peter Drucker, Richard Foster, Stanley Grenz, Bill Hybels, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, Brennan Manning (click here and here), Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Henri Nouwen, John Ortberg, Doug Pagitt, Eugene Peterson, John Piper, Andy Stanley, Ed Stetzer, Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola, Jim Wallis, Rick Warren, and Dallas Willard.

Next, announce to your captive Emerging/Emergent audience that you are going to have an evangelistic service. There will be a gospel music singspiration/marathon, interspersed with the reading of salvation-related passages from the King James Bible (1). Then, a salvation message calling sinners to repentance. And finally, an altar call, inviting sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour. And this congregation-of-sinners will not be allowed to interrupt the service in any way – they will have to sit quietly and listen to the entire service.

Imagine how this captive Emerging/Emergent audience would be behaving by the end of the evangelistic service. Granted, there are some among these names who would perhaps accept the gist of the evangelistic service. But others would be going batty. Some would be inwardly cursing, some outwardly cursing. Some would be pulling their hair out, others would be grinding their teeth, or wringing their hands, or perhaps ripping their clothes. Some would be screaming out in misery, others would be crying “stop, stop”, yet others would be covering their ears.

Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Certainly it would feel like Hell, for these heretical Emerging/Emergents to be forced to sit through such an evangelistic service. How many of these Emerging/Emergents would submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repent of their sins, and accept Christ as their Saviour? Probably none – this just goes to show how hardened their hearts are.

Seriously, I would challenge Emerging/Emergents (especially those listed at the beginning of this blog) to attend an evangelistic service, sit through the entire thing and listen attentively, take notes, record it, whatever. Perhaps God’s Holy Spirit will get through to you and convict your hardened hearts. Perhaps He will reach you with the Truth,  the gospel message of “The Blood and The Cross”, of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross to save those who repent of sins, believe and receive Him from eternal punishment (John 3:16).  This is what Christianity is all about!

Getting back to the nuts and bolts of an evangelistic service that would drive Emerging/Emergents batty: what would such a service look like? Here are some possible items that would be included in such an evangelistic service:

HYMNS

Are You Washed in the Blood” by Elisha A. Hoffman (click here and here)

Power in the Blood” by Lewis E. Jones

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” by William Cowper (click here and here)

What Can Wash Away My Sin” by Robert Lowry (click here and here)

SERMONS

Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

D.L. Moody, “Hell

D.L. Moody, “Repentance

ALTAR CALL/THE PLAN OF SALVATION

“Are you ready to meet God?”: The plan of salvation presented by Pastor Max Solbrekken

ENDNOTES

(1) I favor the King James Bible (specifically its source documents, the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Text Old Testament). However, I am not necessarily referring to the Bible version debate in this blog. My point is, reading from the King James Bible will drive Emerging/Emergents batty. I don’t know of any Emerging/Emergents who like the King James Bible.

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(revised 01/04/14)

Since their inception in the early to mid-1990s,  the Emerging/Emergent/ Emergence church movements have been growing virtually undetected. However, in recent years, church attenders are becoming increasingly aware of these movements, due in large part to various Online Discernment Ministries (ODMs).

I am reposting an article by Dave Fiorazo revealing the heretical anti-Christian teachings of several leading Emergents. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange , and inserted comments in [brackets].

Where Did the Emergent Church ‘Emerge’ From?
By: Dave Fiorazo

WARNING: The author of this article has determined that ignoring the following information may be hazardous to your spiritual health, and that choosing to do nothing with this knowledge may grieve the Holy Spirit and cause regret; but taking action may strengthen your faith. “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:3-4)

The emerging church is a movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal or post-liberal, reformed, neo-charismatic, and post-charismatic. [And many additional labels as well.] They seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a “Postmodern” society. It is a rapidly growing network of individual believers and churches who would prefer to be understood as a conversation or a friendship rather than an organization. What those involved mostly agree on is their disdain and disillusionment with the organized and institutional church. The emergent church favors the use of simple story and narrative. Members of the movement often place a high value on good works or social activism. The hallmark of the emergent church is the new age aspect including the practice of contemplative monastic meditation and prayers. While some emphasize eternal salvation, many in the emerging church emphasize the here and now. Much of its doctrine  rejects systematic Christian theology, the integrity of Scripture, and gospel exclusivity. [Interestingly, many Emergents refuse to produce doctrinal statements summarizing their positions. Ironically, church history shows that doctrinal statements were developed to address false teachings within Christendom.] They don’t believe Christianity is the true religion and they promote homosexuality. They call for diversity, tolerance and camaraderie among all religions, and they modify and expand their teachings. It is a war against the Truth.

At an emergent church workshop in San Diego, Tony Jones said, “This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.” What? I submit to you that Jesus never changed his message to fit the times. Books, sermons and articles have been and will be written about the emergent church, and I’ve come to realize that too many believers are at times uninterested, uninformed, or just plain apathetic about the Bible and understanding the times we live in. There’s plenty of information out there if you’re interested in doing the research. You may even know their names. They are best-selling authors in Christian stores, speakers at our music festivals, and well-known leaders in Christian circles. Please read the following quotes from emergent church leaders, keeping the following verses in mind:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

“Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30

Tony Campolo“Going to heaven is like going to Philadelphia… There are many ways…It doesn’t make any difference how we go there. We all end up in the same place.” 1a

“On the other hand, we are hard-pressed to find any biblical basis for condemning deep love commitments between homosexual Christians as long as those commitments are not expressed in sexual intercourse.” 1b

“But the overwhelming population of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can’t change…” 1c

“…we want to see God at work converting society, converting the systems, so that there aren’t the racist overtones, the economic injustices, the polluting of the atmosphere.” 1d

“I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me about Christ, as well.”1e

“I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.” 1f

(Tony Campolo is an author, professor of Sociology at Eastern College, former spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton, and a leader of the movement called “Red Letter Christians”.)

***

Brian McLaren“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts…” 2a

“Yes, I find a character named God who sends a flood that destroys all humanity except Noah’s family, but that’s almost trivial compared to a deity who tortures the greater part of humanity forever in infinite eternal conscious torment, three words that need to be read slowly and thoughtfully to feel their full import.” 2b

“For many Christians, their faith is primarily about what happens to people after they die. That distracts them from seeking justice and living in a compassionate way while we’re still alive in this life. We need to go back and take another look at Jesus’ teachings about hell. For so many people, the conventional teaching about hell makes God seem vicious. That’s not something we should let stand.” 2c

“In this light, a god who mandates an intentional supernatural disaster leading to unparalleled genocide is hardly worthy of belief, much less worship. How can you ask your children…to honor a deity so uncreative, over reactive, and utterly capricious regarding life?” 2d

(Brian McLaren is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, MD, he serves as a board chair for Sojourners, an emergent church leader and a founding member of Red Letter Christians.)

***

Jim Wallis“I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery…I think poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment.” 3a

“Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not bodily integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force us to consider new ways of being sexual.” 3b

“As more Christians become influenced by liberation theology, finding themselves increasingly rejecting the values of institutions of capitalism, they will also be drawn to the Marxist analysis and praxis that is so central to the social justice movement.” 3c

(Jim Wallis is a writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners’ Magazine, for which he admitted to accepting money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism; Wallis has been arrested 22 times for acts of civil disobedience, and he serves as a spiritual adviser to President Obama.)

***

Rob Bell“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? …Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?” 4a
*This writer is concerned that Rob had his bell rung one too many times.

(Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and a popular icon in the emergent church movement.)

Related information from GFM:
Rob Bell: Populating Hell (Article)
Rob Bell: Welcome to Hell (Audio Resource)

***

Tony Jones“In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer] can live lives in accord with Biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” 5a

I think the Bible is a [expletive] scary book (pardon my French, but that’s the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this).” 5b

“Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.” 5c

(Tony Jones is an author and a leader in the emergent church movement, blogger, and social commentator)

***

Shane Claiborne“There are extremists, both Muslim and Christian, who kill in the name of their gods.” 6a

“So for those of us who have nearly given up the church, may we take comfort in the words of St. Augustine: ‘The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.’ She is a mess and has many illegitimate children. But she is also our momma…” 6b

(Shane Claiborne is an author, the co-founder of The Potter Street Community – formerly The Simple Way, a graduate of Eastern University and is a part of The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Claiborne is featured in the documentary “The Ordinary Radicals” and wrote the foreword to Ben Lowe’s “Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation.”)

How did we get to the point where some, if not all, of these teachings have blended in with truth and sound doctrine, and are accepted by many churches and ministries? Make no mistake. I’d need to write an entire book to completely answer that question. False teachers have been around since the early church days. The major issue with the emergent church is that it rejects the authority of the word of God. These teachings were not accepted by evangelical Christians overnight. This is 2010. We can trace the advancement of the emergent church to the late 80’s and 90’s, when people began talking about how to modernize and re-create church to be more attractive to the unchurched. But going back to the hippy flower-power days of the 1960’s, the new fad was all about peace, love, free sex, and rebelling against authority. Absolute truth and Biblical standards were questioned and labeled as too rigid, leading some to moral relativism. Moral Relativism is an ethical judgment. It is the claim that no ethical system is better than another, and rests on the belief that values are subjective.

Some churches responded to the 60’s rebellion by trying to convert as many as possible and accepted them as they were. ‘Come as you are’ was the new slogan. Jesus does meet people right where they are, but there’s an important distinction: He loves people too much to leave them that way, and unlike the emergent church, His message never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Many churches began watering down the true gospel in an effort to lure potential new members and not offend unbelievers. Some Pastors and church leaders simply wanted to increase their market share, so to speak. The seeker-friendly or seeker-sensitive movement began to grow and a skim milk diet replaced the meat of God’s word. More young people began attending church but there was little follow-up or discipleship training, and lots of baby Christians went back out into the world with little conviction to change.

Mega ChurchThe 1970’s brought us the development of the Christian music industry. Most of the industry pioneers were authentic, God-fearing, and ministry-minded, but I wonder if they would approve of Christian music as a whole today? In some cases, bands are more into the entertainment aspect than building up the body of Christ. Biblical truth was becoming irrelevant to young Christians and grace was way over-emphasized. One might argue that we shouldn’t judge others because it is divisive. In Luke 12:51, Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace but division. He never backed down when it came to facing hypocritical religious leaders. If you’re a mature Christian, you too need to be careful. The Apostle Paul writes, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Gal. 5:7-9) Many churches in America now have beautiful buildings, coffee shops, bookstores, great music and sound systems, state of the art lighting, and good drama or video presentations, but they seem to put more of an emphasis on entertaining the flock than on feeding them God’s word. Well, at least the young people are happy.

The 80’s rolled around and a few years after I gave my life to Christ, I heard Tony Campolo speak in California. I remember laughing a lot because he’s a great entertainer. He knows how to reach both young and old. His presentation has never been a concern; his theology definitely is. To fully understand the background and motives of some of the emergent church gurus, you’d need to know more about Liberation theology, Marxism, Saul Alinsky, Sojourners Magazine, George Soros, Red Letter Christians, Collective Salvation, and the Students for a Democratic Society. Most young people like to take action for a cause, and some of these works-based teachings call for organizing, social or environmental action. This is a clever way to lure those who are not as mature in the faith.

In 1995 Jim Wallis founded ‘Call to Renewal’ for the purposes of advocating for leftist economic agendas such as tax hikes and wealth redistribution to promote social justice. He himself stated, “That’s what the gospel is all about.” In 2005, Democratic Senators (including Harry Reid) met with Wallis to devise clever ways to use religious language to pull evangelical voters away from Republicans. According to TraditionalValues.org, Wallis was hired to fool Americans into believing secular liberals had found “religion” in part by sprinkling references to God and faith into their speeches. Just this year, Wallis has criticized America’s heritage, capitalism, conservative Christians, and jumped on the race card express saying, “would there even be a Tea Party if the president of the United States weren’t the first black man to occupy that office?”

God Versus SocialismThe “social gospel” and the social justice message is an apostasy. Apostasy means a departure from the faith or one who denies the fundamental doctrines concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. Social justice teachings have branched off from the emergent church. We can no longer deny the fact that humanism, liberalism and the secular-progressive movement are alive and well in the Church, just as it has been for years in government, education, media, and the entertainment industry. Last month, Jim Wallis brought his social justice message to a Christian festival in Wisconsin called Lifest. (Wallis’ Sojourners puts more emphasis on the environment and poverty than on salvation and sin.) Because there were many great bands and speakers there, I’ve heard a few people try to make an argument in favor of Wallis, with the over-used analogy, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” So, if only a few people hear a false gospel, that’s ok? “Let’s just agree to disagree.” Sorry, that method may be fine when dealing with petty arguments between friends or family. But when it comes to false doctrines, we can’t simply just look the other way. I heard the story of a woman who told her daughters that they no longer could attend Lifest because of Wallis. Weeks before, she and her husband wanted their young daughters to remember the dangers of false teachers, so they made brownies together. After all of the ingredients were added, she told them there was one more ingredient to add. The girls were shocked when their Mom added a small piece of dog poop to the batter! She told them not to worry and that they might not even taste it. Admittedly, this was a disgustingly effective lesson I bet they’ll never forget! Jesus warned His disciples to avoid the teachings (yeast) of the Pharisees, but He didn’t have a brownie recipe handy for visual effects.

According to Time Magazine (so take this with a grain of salt), Brian McLaren is one of the 25 most influential people in the evangelical church. This makes me believe our culture is confused about what ‘evangelical’ means. It is a serious issue because his teachings seem to reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work on the cross, and dilutes what the Bible says about Heaven and eternal life. McLaren is changing Biblical doctrine to fit his own ‘We Are the World’ type of theology, which stomps out the reality of Hell and the fact that Jesus became our substitute on the cross in order to redeem us. He doubts the reliability of the Bible and I’m confused as to why he is not more of a red flag to Christians. Please read for yourself what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 about those who preach another Gospel.

Many of today’s youth have been raised in a culture (and sadly in some churches) where feelings and sensitivity matter but sound doctrine and the truth of God’s word aren’t a priority. This invites the justification of sinful behaviors and tolerance for sin. Our culture has redefined the word ‘tolerance’ to mean love, unconditional grace, warm fuzzies, and the acceptance of not only the sinner but the sin as well. When the Holy Spirit isn’t invited, by the preaching of Scripture, to come in and work in our hearts, there can be no conviction. Without revelation of sin and conviction, there can be no repentance leading to forgiveness. We shouldn’t be surprised that many young Christians have their spiritual foundations built on the sand. The Lord Jesus Christ said something very serious about those who cause little ones to stumble. He said in Luke 17:2 that it would be better that a millstone would be tied around the neck of the one who caused them to sin. These guys have no business teaching Christian theology and it’s amazing that so many ‘believing’ consumers buy into their feel-good, motivational doctrine. Part of their gospel is one of a social worker putting their faith in man (humanism) and government.

Dr. Walter MartinDr. Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, sternly warned about liberal theology and the emergent church saying, “It is a cult because it follows every outlined structure of cultism; its own revelations; its own gurus, and its denial—systematically—of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult because it passes its leadership on to the next group that takes over—either modifying, expanding or contracting—the same heresies; dressing them up in different language, and passing them on…it denies the authority of Scripture, it ruins its own theology. And it ends in immorality; because the only way you could have gotten to this homosexual, morally relativistic, garbage—which is today in our denominational structures—is if the leadership of those denominations denied the authority of the Scriptures and Jesus Christ as Lord…Test all things; make sure of what is true (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21). I’m not being harsh; I’m not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly, consistently, Christian; in the light of historic theology, and the holy Bible.”

So what should we do? Since not enough Christians know the dangers and the extent of the emergent church movement and their radical teachings, we need to promote awareness of these deceptions. We need to dig deeper in to the Word of God than ever before and know it so well that if we hear a counterfeit message, we’ll recognize it immediately! We need to talk to our Pastors and Christian friends. You have a choice to make and I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and take a stand for Christ. The spiritual battle rages all around us and the enemy is on our doorstep. Satan has been at work at a church near you spreading his deceptions. The good news is that we are on to his schemes. Mature believers know that the emergent church teachings are contrary to the gospel of Christ. So suit up in the full armor of God and pray for discernment. Revelation 3:11 says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Light dispels the darkness, so share the truth, stand your ground, and shine your light!

Dave Fiorazo is an evangelical Christian, actor, blogger and on-air radio personality at Q90 90.1FM WORQ in De Pere, WI.

References:
1a CarpeDiem: Seize the Day, 1994 page 85;
1b “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch” page 117;
1c Beliefnet.com/faith/Christianity 08/2004;
1d MSNBC 2008 interview;
1e MSNBC 2008 interview;
1f Charlie Rose show 1/24/97

2a A Generous Orthodoxy, page 260;
2b A New Kind of Christianity, 98;
2c Site no longer available;
2d A New Kind of Christianity,109;

3a ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3b ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3c Worldview Weekend.com 8/3/2010 #1597;

4a Velvet Elvis pp. 26-27;

5a Beliefnet.com 11/19/08 blog;
5b The church and postmodern culture: conversation 3-26-07;
5c Beliefnet.com ‘Why Jesus Died’ 4/09;

6a From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6b From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6c From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne

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(revised 11/29/13)

As a lover of books – particularly Christian books – I am always fascinated by the goings-on in the world of Christian publishers. Unfortunately, in recent years it seems many Christian publishers have become anything but truly born again Christian.

Below I have reposted a 2009 article by Jim Fletcher, exposing many Emerging/Emergent heresies of “Christian” publishers. Click here for the original source of this article. (I realize this article is outdated – I am looking for more recent articles on “Christian” publishers.)

Tales from the Christian dark side

Posted: 19 Sep, 2009 By: Jim Fletcher

Last week I opined that the Christian book industry should overlay its business model with the Spirit of God – an unusual topic for a column on publishing, but it is my conviction. The industry’s failure to do so is a prime reason it’s floundering.

When the Christian book world allows authors and publishers into the mix, even when they espouse heretical concepts, it is sowing the seeds for the Christian publishing industry’s collapse. In other words, if theological integrity is not maintained, failure is sure to follow.

For many years, the Christian Booksellers’ Association has allowed vendors who do not have a Christian worldview to display at conventions. Many dozens of books with heretical themes have now flooded into the stores around the country. Few in power seem to care, because if “The Shack” is being sold down the street at a big-box retailer, then, well, we have to sell it, too.

The resulting change at CBA events is astonishing.

For example, two weeks ago at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Zondervan had its usual, large presence. The Grand Rapids-based publisher produces a large number of mainstream titles each year and is perhaps best known for its Bibles. What many “average” Christians do not know is that for 20 years, Zondervan has been owned by the gigantic New York house, Harper Collins.

When a Christian publisher is bought out by a large secular company, it is not possible for the formerly Christian-owned entity to decide for itself just how Christian it will be. Profit and loss become the all-consuming drivers.

At Zondervan, for every Anne Graham Lotz, there are 10 others who practice a center-left Christianity. Gary Burge, the Wheaton professor who routinely criticizes Israel and champions the allegedly downtrodden Palestinians, has little in common with conservative readers.

The same issue is at stake with other Zondervan authors like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, both of whom seek to redefine Christianity away from its biblically orthodox foundation.

At ICRS, I happened by the large Zondervan booth and noticed that HarperOne, an imprint of Harper Collins, was connected to the Zondervan space. HarperOne publishes a wide range of books on spirituality. They are as comfortable publishing the Dalai Lama as they are Billy Graham.

HarperOne has a richly pluralistic stable of authors, including the mystic Thomas Merton, John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong and Omid Safi (“Memories of Muhammad”).

Let me show you an example of a connection between unorthodox Christians and the evangelical world:

Several years ago, Zondervan published the “NIV Men’s Study Bible.” In that book, editors had inserted some remarks of Merton’s as a “devotional.”

Merton, the Catholic-Buddhist who died in 1968, stated: “Sin is the refusal of spiritual life.”

No, it isn’t.

If sin is the refusal of spiritual life, then there have been billions of sinless people throughout history, an idea completely at odds with Christianity.

Another example of the business model directing Christian publishers is the runaway success of Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life.” When a book hits those kinds of numbers (what is it now, 30 million sold?), there is no possibility that author will never write another book. What actually happens is that editorial boards sit around and come up with new themes, new gimmicks. That’s why you see “journals” and “workbooks” that spin off hot sellers like “Your Best Life Now.”

The new ancillary products aren’t released necessarily because they are useful to consumers. They are merely product, something to be sold. The publishers latch onto a hot theme and then milk more profits from consumers.

Profit and revenue become the agenda. But do we worship God or mammon?

This syncretic approach is diluting biblical truth in America.

Unfortunately, another element in the pipeline, the bookstores, are just as guilty.

It fascinates me that Christian book stores are struggling mightily to stay open, yet they almost contemptuously sideline large markets. For example, a few days ago, I visited with the head of a large ministry focused on apologetics.

This person told me, “Our constituency doesn’t want books on marriage relationships, or how to raise kids – those things that fill the shelves of stores today. Instead, they want what we are offering.”

This ministry has 150,000 names on its database.

It is interesting to me, then, that many stores do not cater to these people. The question is, why? Why would stores marginalize a large affinity group out there? The answer must be that there is a general dislike of truly conservative biblical views among the mainstream in the Christian book industry.

For many stores, if a publisher makes an effort to promote conservative books and comes up with initiatives to really help the store push that product, the reply is more often than not a polite “drop dead.” Instead, the goal is to put another floor display of Rick Warren books in the store.

And speaking again of Warren, he is a prime example of where mainstream Christianity is heading: pluralism. Warren, who chatted cheerily with the Syrian killer Bashar Assad a few years ago and recently spoke at an Islamic conference, is part of the new breed of Christian leaders who freely fellowship with unbelievers.

Several years ago at a convention, I was talking with a salesman for a CBA publisher. He told me that a few weeks before, he had presented product to buyers at two separate Christian store chains.

One buyer told him she thought the Bible was nothing more than myth; the other openly challenged the idea that Adam and Eve were real people.

Needless to say, people are free to believe what they want to believe. But Christian buyers, one would think, should reflect traditional Christian views.

These are some of the reasons that Christian retail stands on the brink of real heartbreak, as stores close and publishers downsize.

Because CBA has no mechanism to research the motives of authors and publishers – and not only has no desire to do so, but is colluding with syncretic elements – it is losing its power.

As I’ve said before, as these outlets try to pay the light bill and prepare to shiver in the dark void, there are alternate book sources ready and eager to supply the millions of American Christians who revere the Word of God. WND and Lighthouse Trails, for example, are growing by leaps and bounds, as God-fearing Americans prepare to face profound changes in our culture.

FOR FURTHER READING

Joel, We Support Christian Publishing Houses but Whom do They Support? (10/02/09)

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Below I’ve reposted Ken Silva’s blog re: a great testimony by an Episcopalian. I especially like the expose of Dallas Willard, who was once an Evangelical Friends (EFCI) co-pastor with Richard Foster – and Foster’s mentor in heretical, occultish Spiritual Formation. Willard downplays and criticizes the gospel of salvation, of “the Blood and the Cross.” Check out this excerpt, in which Brian McLaren refers to Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy:

Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, [Willard] says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. – Brian McLaren (Online source)[emphasis mine]

[For some anti-Cross views of Brian McLaren’s, an Evangelical Friends adjunct professor, see the Endnotes below.]

Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo, and other Emergents have been making the rounds of the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) as well as many other evangelical denominations. (Richard Foster is retired I think.)

For years, pastors in the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations have been New Evangelical/Emerging – often DOWNPLAYING/OMITTING the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross” (except perhaps during Easter time) so they don’t turn off unsaved “seekers” and send them scurrying off to “less offensive” churches.

Willard, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, and other Emergents seem to be drawing New Evangelical/Emerging pastors (in the EFCI and elsewhere) further into apostacy, to become mainline/liberal/Emergent, to actually CRITICIZE the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Scary – and blasphemous.

Back to Ken Silva’s blog. The testimony giver proceeds to describe Episcopalian coworkers as follows:

I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college… I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

This teaching sounds almost identical to the teaching of the various non-evangelical Quaker denominations. Interesting.

I have reposted Ken Silva’s entire blog below. Click here for the original site of this blog.

AM TESTIMONY RE. CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM

By on Sep 13, 2012 in AM Missives, Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Features

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.(Galatians 6:6)

In the interest of showing that things are not all bad, may the Lord be praised as a reader of Apprising Ministries shares the following encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness:

Thank you for your website. I have been using it to further my personal study for some time now. It has truly been a blessing.

I was raised in a Bible-believing church and home, saved as a child and a missionary as a teenager, so I was first exposed to this sort of emerging spirituality when I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college. The lead priest there (along with several others) routinely teaches courses covering all kinds of mysticism and contemplative spirituality. He invited me to attend one of his classes, so I did.

Nothing he taught in that class made me feel comfortable, although I couldn’t put my finger on a reason. Several times in my notes, I wrote, “What about the cross?” Nearly two years have passed and I still couldn’t figure out why this place, my workplace, makes my spirit uneasy. The people here are loving and kind, they do great acts of service in the community. Yet there is something missing.

Today I read your article Brian McLaren and Evangelical Panentheism and this quote you referenced made it all begin to click:

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in The Divine Conspiracy. Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God.

I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

It follows, then, that the only “sins” we commit are those that do harm to others (ergo, to God), which is why they can, without so much as a flinch, condone homosexuality but at the same time condemn those (like me) who fail to practice “tolerance” because we insist that there are such thing as moral absolutes. It is also why they can place acts of service (e.g. to the poor – extremely important here) above acts of evangelism (which display intolerance of others’ belief systems).

Contrast this with my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that we are born sinners, are separated from God, and are in need of a Savior to reconcile us to Him. I do believe in a “Punitive Father” but one who only punishes when rejected after repeated attempts to redeem us – and even then it is less punishment than letting us have our own way. To those that call out to Him, He is merciful and loving and wants to show us the boundlessness of His grace – but only to those who accept His gift of salvation.

As I said, I’d been searching for nearly two years for a way to wrap my mind around what seems to be a warped – but strangely appealing – theological view. Your article made it fall into place for me. Thank you so much for your faithful service to God through your website.

Further reading

ENDNOTES

Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren both have Evangelical Friends connections. And both have an anti-Cross theology. Check out this excerpt regarding McLaren, in this blog by Ken Silva. Silva writes:

… This would then be a credible explanation for McLaren’s own personal hedging whenever he’s asked about the Gospel:

Theory of Atonement

Could you elaborate on your personal theory of atonement? If God wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Why did torturing Jesus make things better?

This is such an important and difficult question. I’d recommend, for starters, you read “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” (by Baker and Green). There will be a sequel to this book in the next year or so, and I’ve contributed a chapter to it.

Short answer: I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet.

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in “The Divine Conspiracy.” Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. (Online source)

 

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(revised 10/13/14)

I’ve thought a great deal about the message every church should be preaching regularly, that relatively few do nowadays: the “bloody” message of salvation through Christ’s atonement on the cross of Calvary.

In the early 1960s we sang gospel hymns like this in Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches in Ohio, at every service:

“The Old Rugged Cross”
“Power in the Blood”
“There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”

… and so on. No longer – now EFCI churches in Ohio and elsewhere (like churches in many other evangelical denominations) are becoming more and more postmodern (Emerging/ Emergent).

Below is a very revealing article on how Emergents present a message vastly different than the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Click here for the original source of this article, at the Let Us Reason Ministries website. Note – two of the heretical Emergents quoted below are Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet. McLaren and Sweet have taught at George Fox University (GFU) and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary (GFES),  in Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), the most liberal Region in the EFCI. Other Emerging/Emergents who have taught at GFU and GFES are Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, etc. (some as adjunct professors.)

Now on to the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]…

“Does the Emergent Church movement preach the gospel that saves?”
by Let Us Reason Ministries

An appeal to pursuers of the new church movements

We have a duty to be keepers, protectors and proclaimers of the gospel, it is to be the same message that was given to the apostles nearly 2,000 years ago. What has saved us is to save others.

This gospel can be changed from applying new innovations. Even Brian McLaren admits the way that emerging church presents the message can be changing the gospel:

“It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this.”

This is one of the rare times I can agree with him. The method of presenting the Gospel can adopt change in its presentation when necessary; but the content of the message cannot, when it does we have another gospel. And if we are not careful the message can be changed by the method. And the message HAS already changed for many inside these progressive type movements, one of them is the emergent church movement. Without the cross as central to our lives and our preaching for salvation, church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross – this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ one is to believe and continue in. We all get saved the same way, by the message of gospel. Yet in the emergent movement they entertain and pursue other religious practices for their spirituality. Why would one do this if they have found what makes peace with God? This proves that they have not personally experienced nor possess the power of the gospel in their personal life. Paul warned about another gospel and preaching a different Jesus in Gal.1:6-9.

What kind of Jesus allows other religions teachings and practices to be taught in his church to those who are to supposed to be following Him as “the way the truth the life.”

“Is our religion the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? … The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity” (Brian McLaren, An Emergent Manifesto p. 194)

Actually it was introduced by Jesus who happens to be truth incarnate, so the answer is, NO. God has not placed his truth in other religions that worship false gods. Common sense alone should tell people this fact.

This is not to say that everyone in the Emergent church holds to the new views of the gospel but whether it is done purposely or by indifference there are many of its leaders that do, and influence its adherents that seek a church to be real. Using humanistic concepts, worldly business practices, or other religious ways to adjust the gospel to reach the various cultures, they avoid the real intent; exposing the darkness in the human heart. This can only be done by Christ being preached, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

The changing of the gospel message and its application come in many forms, Emergent leader Leonard Sweet explains it “Postmodern missions must have a geomantic imagination and geomantic design. What I am calling a geomantic style of evangelization will ensure harmonious habitation patterns as the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and landforms” (Quantum Spirituality p.168).

This changing the gospel to be relative to the environment has no basis from Scripture and is the imagination of ones heart that is conducive to the trends of our day. Earth based spirituality has nothing to do with the gospel that was preached by Paul and the apostles whose intent was to deal with sin in humanity (1 Cor.15:1-4).

If one does not understand the gospel and the requirement for our sin then they will mock the crucifixion.

Emergent Church leaders consistently, repeatedly denigrate sin, the savior, and salvation via the cross of Christ. “If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil” (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, pp. 182-183.)

But it was love that brought Jesus to the cross. There was no other way. Christ shows us how God loves his enemies- love is the heart of the gospel. “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, 10). The Bible declares that those who bring the gospel are the ones who bring peace (Rom. 10)

Harry Emerson Fosdick was a famous liberal pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, (1878-1969), who denied the doctrine of the atonement, “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us”

In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states: Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.’ Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—’No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”‘ Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.

‘In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:

[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)’ (quoted in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland p.192)

The Emergent movement wants to a re-imaginine [sic] things. the way things are going as they remove words and sayings from books you should not be surprised by a company removing the crucifixion from the Bible because it is offensive. After all the book of Urantia [see this link](which I suspect some may be reading) says it was not God’s plan for Jesus.

Brian McLaren endorsed Alan Jones’ book, “Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind.” McLaren had this to say: “Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.”

If this is authentic spirituality then the Bible has become obsolete in his view. Jones, an Episcopal priest,  holds a a similar view to the outspoken liberal Fosdick.

 Jones is the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco that promotes the labyrinth. He is a promoter of inter-spirituality, He is also a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project which is a group of about twenty-five that include Zen and Buddhist monks, New Agers and even Marianne Williamson (who promotes a Course in Miracles, a book that denies almost every authentic Bible teaching of Jesus Christ.)

Jones rejects the Gospel message in no uncertain terms. “The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution [Christ’s death on the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005 p. 168)

The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.”(ibid. p. 132)

Jones goes on to say, “Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.” Alan Jones, p. 168

The apostle Paul said “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”(1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23). The book of Acts tells us that the apostles preached Christ crucified. Jesus even told us to pick our cross to follow him. McLaren is recommending a book that holds this to scorn. The very core of Christianity is Christ crucified by which we have our salvation.

What we are seeing are men without the Spirit of Christ leading people into an pseudo intellectual – philosophical movement that offers a new spiritual openness in the place of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Without the preaching of the cross it neglects the true spiritual condition and need of mankind. This is not leading people to the truth of their sin by a confrontation of the gospel for salvation but instead offering a substitute without the purpose of God becoming man as Jesus. It is opening the door to thousands to go another way. This new message is integrated in the church to reach the post- modern generation that does not see any one way more valid than another. All this leads to is interfaith – accompanied with universalism.

Brian McLaren, “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat” (A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren, p.254)

The concept of syncretism is offered to have us unite with the various different religions. When we combine two belief systems we are committing spiritual adultery. Paul was greatly encouraged of his new converts “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Jesus wants us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. This means we do not mix other religions practices with our worship.

A Generous Orthodoxy is overly generous as it departs from orthodoxy. It sounds more like “As men approach me, so I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to me. Hinduism” (Bhagavad Gita 4.11)

This takes the foundation of Christianity away. As Christians, we are not to present ourselves as having common ground with other religions, we are supposed to avoid this confusion. We are not to give any impression of our acceptance of these foreign concepts, we are to preach the gospel and contend for the faith with others who openly OPPOSE what we believe. We have every right, even an obligation by the commands in Scripture to challenge other belief systems by God’s word.

In an interview with Christianity Today McLaren said “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be ‘saved’? When I read the Bible, I don’t see it meaning, ‘I’m going to heaven after I die.’ Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner’s prayer.” “I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy” (The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today Nov.2004)

If McLaren does not have the gospel right, then he lacks the power of God which first and foremost brings salvation which gives us the ability to live the Christian life. The whole Christian message is that mankind is sinful, God came to earth as a man to die for our sins, for you personally – to bring us into a relationship with our maker.

So how is it he is so unsure of this? Its all very clearly written down. 1 Pet 1:25 “But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

McLaren questions nearly everything in the Bible so how can one preach the gospel of salvation if they do not know the gospel as the truth and exercise faith in it. The Bible says if we doubt, we are double-minded and will receive nothing. This attitude is not faith but musing of the carnal nature. Then no one can really know if they are saved or anything the Scripture promises for that matter. This is the very opposite of what John wrote in his first epistle, I Jn. 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Having eternal life means going to heaven – Jesus said “I give them eternal life”, we should have the assurance of what He said “where I am they may be also.”

This is not just out of the box thinking but thinking outside the Bible, McLaren is not no longer theologically based but he has become a philosopher; one who is searching for answers instead of one who has found the answer.

Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 2:4-5: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak.”

1 Cor 2:5 “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Rom. 1:16 tells us the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”

Rom. 10:16-17: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith comes by believing the word found in the Bible, not just any “holy” book.

Yet Rob Bell writes in his book Velvet Elvis, that the Bible is a “human product… rather than the product of divine fiat.” (Quote in Christianity Today, Nov. 2004, p. 38.) So how can He receive faith from the word?

Rom. 16:25-26 Paul says the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, has now has been made manifest, by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”

Is this true or not? Those who were saved by the word; “to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

(John 12:38) will agree, but not those who lead the emergent movement.

What they do not understand is Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and His work done for us on the cross.

The Gospel is focused on two specific areas: who Jesus is and what He has done. It is centered on the person and work of Christ for us. The person is the who – which the gospel is focused on-God who came in the flesh

He died for you Col 1:14: “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”

Col 1:23 One day we will stand before the Lord, holy and blameless “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard

liberalism always leads to inter-spirituality- which is what we are seeing taking place today.

Do not let any man remove you by enticing words and eloquent speech or unusual dictionary words.

Luke 6:43-44: “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.

How can one bear fruit if you are not in the vine? (Jn.15:1-2).

Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When you do not have a basic understanding of the gospel as it is presented in the emergent church then you are cannot be saved by it.

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Note – In the above repost I underlined titles of books and magazines – DM

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Three Years Later: Nazarene Foundations Still Crumbling

Posted on January 5, 2012 by reformednazarene

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:3

The Church of the Nazarene is caught in a serious crisis, even though those in leadership may not think so.  The foundations are slowly being destroyed, and many leaders are ignoring the warnings; some are part of the problem; and only a few are sounding the alarm.  I often see reports and updates that tell us that the church is healthy.  Surely in some places things are going well, but there is a cancer slowly running through the church and eating away at its spiritual health, and that is being ignored too much.  How foolish if a sick patient ignores the warning signs of a deadly disease!  The following items of apostasy have been welcomed into our universities (in varying degrees of severity depending on the school) and many of our churches and districts:

Emergent church ideology (now more often dressed up as “missional”); contemplative spirituality or mysticism; spiritual formation; ecumenicalism and interfaith collaborations; Roman Catholic practices; environmental movement; social justice “gospel”; open theism; process theology; theistic evolution; and finally, what has led to all these things, which is the rejection of the inerrancy and authority of God’s word.

I believe that the Church of the Nazarene is moving in a direction that will at some point, perhaps in the not too distant future, put it on the same level as apostate mainline denominations such as the ELCA, the Episcopal Church, and the PCUSA.  Those denominations have shared, amongst other meltdowns, an affinity for watering down the biblical message against homosexual sin, and accepting the LGBT lifestyle as a normal part of Christian living.  We already are seeing signs of this viewpoint coming into some of our universities such as Point Loma and Southern Nazarene University, and even some weakness in official denomination papers (Pastoral Perspective on Homosexuality).

For those who are new to much of this, in December of 2008 I made my first contact with Tim Wirth.  Tim and his friends Sue and Don Butler were instrumental in putting together the Emergent Church DVD, which was passed out to over 6,000 people at General Assembly 2009 in Orlando.  Sometime during the early months of 2009, I had met other Nazarenes or former Nazarenes who were concerned about the direction the denomination was going due to the influence of the emerging church movement and unbiblical teachings in our universities.  We organized ourselves and “invaded” the General Assembly to warn our fellow Nazarenes.  It has been a real battle as we have been joined by many other Nazarenes, and even non-Nazarene friends, in sounding the warning and educating others to the dangers we all are facing throughout all denominations.

I believe that now after almost three years there has come a new turning point, from what I have seen, and what I am planning as far as my ministry goes.  I may not necessarily be speaking for all concerned Nazarenes, and will not be presumptuous to think so.  Most of what I will say here is shared by many others, although I do not claim to be “the voice” of the Concerned Nazarenes.  And I also am taking the risk of losing more friends with what needs to be said today.  I accept that risk, as long as I am being truthful in my assessment.  From all I have seen, the Church of the Nazarene is near or at the forefront of all other traditionally orthodox denominations in bringing emergent ideology and other unbiblical practices and teachings to its people.

Response From Our National Leadership Has Failed

This to me has been the biggest red flag and the most troublesome indicator that the Nazarene denomination is headed for even more difficult times.  And when I speak of difficult times, I only speak of one thing: that of spiritual matters.  It has nothing to do with membership, or finances, or status in the world.  Therefore, I have come to two main conclusions at this time regarding the Board of General Superintendents:

1. General Superintendent Dr. Jesse Middendorf is an active perhaps the most influential supporter of the emergent church agenda within the denomination.  His son Jon Middendorf has also been a big influence, with his embrace of emergent ideology and ecumenical fellowship with the Roman Catholic church.  From his support of Jon’s presentation at the 2009 General Assembly, to his collaboration with emergent church leaders such as New Age sympathesizer Leonard Sweet, it is clear that Dr. Middendorf has been one of the major catalysts in fostering the growth of emergent ideology, contemplative spirituality, and acceptance of Roman Catholic practices within the denomination.  Some university leaders I have communicated with are also helping to usher in Roman Catholic practices, mysticism, and emergent ideology.  Their oftentimes ambiguous or evasive answers, and their staunch defense of false teachers such as Tony Campolo and Mike King, reveals that they have little discernment and have been deceived, and even worse are now spreading that deception to others.

2. The Other General Superintendents.  I do not have hard evidence of any of the other Generals being directly involved in promoting the emergent agenda, because they do not reveal much in their answers to me and others.  However, there is another indicator, which is the apparent lack of leadership from them, and lack of meaningful, clear answers to specific questions.  There are two possibilities, neither of which are good: the current leadership is either complicit with the emergent movement as Dr. Middendorf is, or at best they are aware of the problems and have made a conscious decision to ignore these serious threats to our church for the sake of, perhaps… staying united in one voice?  If so, that does not match up with biblical principles, because staying united as leaders at the expense of ignoring biblical truth, and at the expense of shirking their responsibility to lead the church and give guidance and direction, is unacceptable.

Throughout the past two years, the Generals have written several official statements, including The Emergent Church.  I have personally received responses from them.  Others have received individual responses.  All the words in these statements at best translate to a very generic, “we are against false teachings” position, but lacking substantive comments on anything or anyone specifically.  The current editor of Holiness Today also has shown signs of being sympathetic to the emergent movement, and is known for having attacked Concerned Nazarenes more than once, but like the others, never being specific in his accusations (Ill Informed Critics? Part 1, and Part 2.  So in effect, both the “silent” treatment tactic, and the attempts to attack our motives instead of biblically correcting us, seems to be the primary strategy of not only the leadership, but of those at the universities, as well as many at the District level.  I have had personal disappointments with some of the top leaders in my district, who have not even so much as responded to my emails seeking to have a meeting to discuss my concerns.  In my opinion, they too have shirked their responsibilities as leaders.  There were promises to meet with me, but never followed up.  Yet this “ignore them and they’ll go away” strategy simply exacerbates the situation, not just for me, but for others who at best have received polite form letters that are empty in substance.

The Universities Are Falling Apart

Some university presidents are either fully involved in spreading emergent heresy, or like some of the Generals, are not willing or are powerless to take serious action or speak out.  Universities that have been severely compromised include:
Northwest Nazarene University , led by the open theism of Dr. Tom Oord (see also Open Theism and Christian Evolution at ENC), as well as its welcoming of heretical speakers such as Brian McLaren and Jay McDaniel, and the embracing of The Shack author William Paul Young recently.

Point Loma Nazarene University
, with its promotion of contemplative spirituality and Richard Foster’s Renovaré seminars, compromising the biblical view of homosexuality (Homosexuality At Point Loma); inviting an Eastern Orthodox speaker to teach praying to icons, and welcoming false teachers such as Rob Bell to speak on campus and to pastors;

Trevecca Nazarene University , which has been promoting prayer labyrinths and contemplative mysticism for years, as well as retreats to a Roman Catholic monastery to teach contemplative mysticism to students.  Their president, Dan Boone, changed the name of prayer labyrinth to prayer walk when this was exposed, but it does not matter.  It is still an unbiblical practice.  (See Are There Fundamentalist Nazarenes, And Are They Jihadists?, and Conversation With University President).

Nazarene Theological Seminary openly promotes contemplative mysticism; has a required course for pastors called Celtic Spirituality, an occultic version of “Christianity”; apparently is unapologetically involved in the interfaith movement; has a professor, Mike King, who spoke at the blasphemous Wildgoose Festival (Mike King and Friends Leading Youth To Spiritual Death).  New president David Busic quoted heretical emergence Christianity proponent, Phylis Tickle, extensively in his inauguration message.  There is more, as I have documented, but this is the school responsible for preparing our future pastors!  This is shameful.

The other Nazarene schools have been compromised also in one way or another.  Nazarene Bible College is teaching lectio divina, which is apparently standard fare now with books on that practice at the Nazarene Publishing House, which is sorely lacking in discernment with its promotion of the Catholic ritual of ashes to the forehead.  At the very least they must be seriously scrutinized before sending your children there.  The ones that I have mentioned, I would strongly recommend to stay away from at the moment, and do not send money to them until they repent of what they are doing.

District Leaders

There have been district superintendents who have shown the same display of politically correct responses to letters from concerned Nazarenes, and pastors who simply want to talk about “love” and maintaining “unity.”   Yet, some of them could do something, they could speak out, and yet they choose to remain silent, some of it due to the fact that they have bought into the false teachings.  Yet I thank God for those few pastors (including my own) and district leaders who have boldly taken a stand and rejected these false movements, and have declared it publicly and to their congregations.  There are still pastors who are defending their flock at great cost at times and rejecting the emergent agenda of their districts.  Some have been persecuted and lost their job, because of speaking out against emergent heresy.

People Are Leaving- Because of The Emergent Church

The leaders at some point will have to decide to be on one side or the other- and not walk the fence.  Nazarenes are leaving the denomination because of its liberal attitude and welcoming embrace of emergent thinking and rejection of the Bible’s full authority.  Of course, many are being attracted to the church because of its new emergent, post-modern thought- but at what cost?  How many of those who have come into the church are truly born again?  You will not have types of Nazarenes for too long.  Make up your mind, state your position clearly, and let Nazarenes decided whether they will put up with the emergent (missional) church or not.  But stop leading people on and making them wonder where you stand.  The fact is, if you don’t speak against it, you ARE for it.  If you want us to look like the Roman Catholic Church, you’ll see more of this, which was posted today:

“I can’t do it anymore, I am going to have to leave my church, when the associate pastor and others condone the teachings of the Catholic church it is time to leave!!!  I just can’t take the associate pastor and others supporting the doctrine of the catholic church. How do I witness to a Catholic and then turn around and accept their false teaching?  Pray for us.”

No More Letters

At this point, I will no longer be sending letters to the General Superintendents pleading with them for an answer to serious questions.  Their “answers” from the past two years have been inadequate and cryptic at best, and now I see them as part of the problem unless proven otherwise, not part of any solution to the problems in the church.  If the Lord moves them to action, and the Holy Spirit convicts them, they will finally start showing the leadership that seems to be lacking now, and provide badly needed spiritual guidance to several million Nazarenes.   They have the potential to send a loud and clear message to the apostates that have taken over our churches, our universities, and that are deceiving so many young people today.  But the days of asking them questions are over, and from now on I will be exposing them for their silence until they give us a straight answer.  If they cannot do their job, perhaps they need to resign, and find another occupation with less responsibility.  Here’s some food for thought expressed recently by a Nazarene pastor:
“I wonder how much of the emergent church stuff in our leaders and local congregations comes from the fact that we have failed to “guard the doctrine” (study the Scriptures) and are living in a “fly by the seat of our pants” theology. How much of it is because we have innocently tried to be “all things to all people” and there is really a heart to win the lost for Christ, but we no longer know how to or feel comfortable with the mission because we’re not IN THE LIVING WORD. So all sorts of other avenues are presented to be an attraction to people. How many of our leaders have just been running a giant organization too long to even be aware of what is happening or willing to put a face on it and call it for what it is? Maybe they’re still reeling from the fact that satan has shoved his foot in the door right under their noses and they don’t want to scare people away by pointing him out.”

Some may say, you are not being fair, Manny.  Who are you to question leaders of such stature?  Perhaps they are working diligently “behind the scenes” to fix the problems.  But that’s not how strong leadership works.  Strong leadership will instill confidence and trust from the people.  The fruits of their actions, or perhaps “non-actions”, have borne nothing but more uncertainty for Bible believers, while allowing the apostates to continue solidifying their foothold on our institutions and many of our churches and districts around the world.  If the great apostle Paul demanded accountability and commended the Bereans for verifying his teachings, why should we not hold our General Superintendents, college presidents, district superintendents, and pastors to the same high biblical standards?

Follow Our Example

One of my biggest disappointments has been seeing so many longtime Christians, many of them close family and friends, ignore what is going on, as if it will go away.  It is time now for pastors and laypeople alike who are sitting on the sidelines and do not agree with the false teachings, to stand up and be counted.  I do not claim to come close to emulating the apostle Paul, yet I am compelled to ask many of you to now do something.  I ask that you do as I do, just as Paul asked many years ago, simply because what we are doing here is biblically justified and even mandated- no exceptions.  Admitting that we are imperfect, I ask those who have been on the sidelines to follow my example and that of many Nazarenes who have put themselves on the line, risking reputation and even years of friendships, all for the sake of Jesus Christ and the truth of His word.  Perhaps you can do some research and educate others.  Perhaps you can write or call your district superintendents and ask where they stand, and then continue to pressure them for answers.  Perhaps you will need to confront your own pastor, or a friend in your church.  Perhaps you as a pastor must teach your congregation to be better Bereans.  It will not be easy.  That’s what I had to do.  It cost us plenty, but honoring Christ is the only honest option for us.

Manny Silva

For those who are feeling the threat of false teachings coming into your church, you are not alone.  Need advice and support, a free DVD, or other resources?  Please contact me or join us at our Concerned Nazarene FaceBook page.)


Addendum: Things To Prayerfully Consider

1. Consider specifically assigning your tithe ONLY to certain local church expenses, so that there is less chance it will be sent to the General Church budget.

2. If you are in a church that is promoting emergent ideology, withhold your tithe in some type of escrow until leadership is removed or repentance comes about.

3. Write to one or more of the General Superintendents and express your concerns about the direction of the denomination.

4. Write or call your District Superintendent, and ask him as to where he stands on the emergent church movement.

5. Talk to your pastor and find out exactly what he believes, especially if you suspect he may be trying to bring in “strange” practices, or if his sermons sound different and “odd” lately.  You may want to start by asking if he believes in the full inerrancy of scripture, not “only in matters of salvation.”

6. If your pastor is firmly against the emergent church, give him your unwavering support; pray for him and his spouse; encourage the congregation to stand with him 100%.

7. Write to one or more of the universities or seminaries, especially if you are an alumnus, and express your concerns and ask for the leadership to explain where they stand.  Do not settle for generalities, but press for specific responses to specific issues.

8. If you donate regularly to one of our universities, consider stopping the sending of any money to them, and write and let them know they will no longer get any funds until they get their act together and clean house.

9. Pray daily, especially for the safety and protection of our students at the schools, who are being exposed to dangerous heretical teachings, or who are being ridiculed by theology professors for standing for biblical truth

10.  Consider the possibility that you may have to be divorced from your church.  But is there any price that cannot be paid for standing for God’s truth, and being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ?

11.  Flee.  If all else fails, and you and your family are threatened by unbiblical teachings, you must protect them.  Leave, and find a good solid Bible believing Nazarene church, and if that fails, find a good Bible believing church.  Your allegiance is to Jesus Christ, not any denomination.

12.  Ultimately, you may have to leave the denomination.  That is your call, in your time, based on your circumstances, and only through prayerful consideration.

Manny Silva

(How Do We Discern?- Michael Youssef)

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5 Responses

  1. Lige Jeter, on January 6, 2012 at 11:41 am said:

    Twice Solomon wrote In Proverbs [14:12] and [16:25] “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Solomon is saying that man is capable of having his own view of religion apart from Scripture that leads to a false faith and supports a false creed or set of beliefs. It is obvious that Solomon was writing about his earlier life when he followed his own set of beliefs rather than trust in those of his father David as David followed the Creator. I believe this sums up the emergents basic ideology and the effect it is having on the Christian Community at large and the COTN.

    Jesus expressed it another way found in Matthew [7:21-23] “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” The warning here is to know that we are doing things Christ’s way and not as the false prophets were doing in their own strength and wisdom, without Jesus knowledge or blessings. They mimic miracles done by Jesus, and then tried to present themselves to Jesus as one of His. There is only one gospel whereby man can be saved, and that is Jesus Christ, and why the Church fools around with less than this truth goes beyond reason.

    I must ask the question, as I did to the BGS, are we like Solomon doing that which seems right in our own sight, and ignoring God’s Word? I truly hope this is not so, and only the leadership can answer according to his or her own conscience. I can’t help but wonder how much Jesus approves of what we as a denomination are doing in His name. No one wants to hear “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

  2. reformednazarene, on January 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm said:

    Hello Dennis,

    The following response to you is from my wife. My only answer to you is, I am reaching people with the truth, and part of that truth is that there are wolves among us Nazarenes. The question is, are you one of them also?
    You had maybe your first and only chance to show me and my concerned friends where specifically we are wrong. You did not.
    Your response is the same type of response I have gotten from the Generals over the last year or two: vague, and never answering any question, or pointing out any specific error. My immediate conclusion is that you have fallen for the deception also, and I pray that your sphere of influence grows much smaller with our youth, if my conclusion is correct, since I know you work closely with the youth in the Nazarene church. Here is my wife’s thoughts after she read your words:

    Dennis,
    I will try to be practical, as a matter of fact practical is what I have been all this time, but my brothers and sisters are missing the message. I am not attacking generals or anyone. This is not a human battle but a spiritual warfare, against principalities and the rulers of the darkness. (Eph. 6:12) I am trying to be as practical as I can using one weapon only, the Word of God. I believe you would do the same to protect the Kingdom of God and your sheep, and your family against false teachers and false messages, if you truly believe in God’s word. As a Berean and watchman you and I should be aware of what is coming by the book of Revelations and be prepared to defend the Word of God. The apostle Paul said: Gal. 1: 9 “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you received, let him be eternally condemned” It does not say, take what is good and discard the rest. Make the best of it, or what some like to say “you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,…” Well. if it is not the true Gospel than throw it out, ALL of it.

    Remember what happened with Joshua when he said to burn everything and not keep anything to themselves, (Jos. 6 :24) what happened later, God told Joshua in Jos. 7: 11 “Israel has sinned, they have violated my command… they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.” God does not want anything that it is half true, half right, half good, half ok, He wants it as the whole, complete truth. I always say like the apostle, do not take my word for it, do your own study and investigate, analyze, use your discernment. This is not a game, and it is not an attack, it is a call to open your eyes. Yes people are being saved, yes the church is growing, but at what cost, ‘false message’ ‘numbers only’ we as Christians should be worried about saving lives saving souls. A lot of what is being preached in churches today, is for saving the earth, recycling, joining forces with what we have been separated for centuries, i.e. Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, and many eastern practices.

    This is ALL condemned in the word of God, but our leaders seem to have found something good about all of this; notice “something good”. Remember, it is not something good we are looking for if it is not the TRUE GOSPEL, it must be condemned. I pray that you will look deeper into what is being done in the Church of God and take a stand and defend. I will pray that you will ask for God to show you what is really being done and He will show you. It is souls that we are talking about, and I don’t want to play games. I have told only what I have seen and heard and it has been a battle, it is not my battle is it our battle as Christians to defend God’s Kingdom and if we are not vigilant, we will fall for all this. The emergent church is promoting an environmental religion, a one religion, homosexuality, acceptance of all, worshiping the Virgin Mary, usage of rosary (prayer beads), labyrinths, emptying your mind (not knowing what spirit will come to possess you), practicing “the silence”, yoga and other kinds of meditation (prohibited in the Bible) and so much more. As I say, do your own investigation and ask for God’s guidance and He will give what you ask. I say all this with a praying heart, a hurting heart for your soul and many others. May God bless you and guide you.
    Monica

  3. Clumsy Sword Bearer, on January 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm said:

    “Take what is good and discard the rest”

    A test that never applies to scripture.

    It can, however, lead you on a “wild goose” chase.

  4. Clumsy Sword Bearer, on January 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm said:

    “Take what is good and discard the rest” seems to be the stock answer I’ve heard from more than one person regarding the use of ideas and materials that are out there. So let’s go with that. Let’s take what is good and discard the rest.

    First question: What is good? How is that determined? What is the plumb line?

    Second question: What is discarded? For every teaching and every practice you hold to that has both good and not good please lay out exactly what they are so that the rest of us may know. What are you keeping and what are you discarding and why?

    It appears that the line between good and not good with a lot of the old rejected practices being revived is how they make the practitioner feel. No one is advocating kneeling and whipping yourself with chains until you bleed or isolating yourself in a tiny little room living on starvation rations or having yourself nailed to a cross (though these things are still practiced). Walking a labyrinth, lectio divina, and contemplative prayer (all methods of emptying the mind and entering an altered state of consciousness aka finding the “spark of the divine within”) are advocated because of the so called benefits of the experience. The feeling of being close to god.

    Social Justice and Environmentalism have a veneer of respectability in our culture and, as Christians, we are to care for the widowed and the orphaned and be good stewards of the earth so they sound right; at first. But look closer and tell me if they really are the same thing. Social Justice and Environmentalism have their own underlying philosophies that run counter to what is taught in scripture.

    Open Theism and Evolution completely fly in the face of the clear teaching of scripture that what God purposes he brings about. Open Theism can not co-exist with prophecy being 100% accurate. The test for a true prophet of God is that everything he says happens. If there is one thing prophesied that does not happen then you need not fear or heed that prophet. Open theism allows for God not knowing everything leaving open the possibility that prophecy may not come true. Genesis (whether you believe it is a poetic telling or a narrative) clearly states that all things were created according to their kind and reproduce after their own kind. To hold to either of these ideas, Open Theism or Evolution, is to reject portions of scripture. If you are rejecting portions of scripture then what foundation are you building your faith on?

    All we ask is that you be honest. And all we ask of those in positions of leadership who allow these teachings, knowing what they are, is that they be honest as to why they do. I believe that those who teach these things are being forthright. It is the leadership who allow this without comment other than a general statement of support for the schools that leave us wondering. Please….What do you believe? And are you willing to defend it?

  5. I’m currently an MDiv student at NTS and the Celtic Religions course is not required for that degree…the structure at NTS is a self-guided degree program (outside of the COSAC Mdiv)…I don’t believe the celtic course is required for any degree but it is offered

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(revised 02/03/15)

Many wonderful discernment individuals are exposing the heresies of postmoderns (the Emerging/Emergent/Emergence church movements). One of these discernment individuals is Don Boys, Ph.D., who has written an excellent 12-part series of articles exposing the Emergent Church Movement.

A brief bio of Dr. Boys can be found here, at the bottom of the article. Check out the following excerpt:

Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 13 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. His most recent book is ISLAM: America’s Trojan Horse! These columns go to over 11,000 newspapers, television, and radio stations. His websites are www.cstnews.com and www.Muslimfact.com.

Another web page provides additional info:

Don Boys, Ph.D. is an Independent Baptist evangelist now living in Ringgold, Georgia. He spent 30 years in Indianapolis as an evangelist, Administrator of the Baptist Academy, author, and member of the Indiana House of Representatives. He and his wife, Ellen (who sings in his meetings) do family conferences, revival meetings, child rearing conferences, creation conferences across the nation and in many foreign countries.

And click here for a much longer biography of Dr. Boys.

It is refreshing to read such thorough exposes by Dr. Boys, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB). Like IFB David Cloud, Dr. Boys seems to be very knowledgeable of postmoderns (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence) and their heresies.  (I’m looking for additional IFB discernment ministries that have written about postmoderns.)

Now on to the 12-part series of articles.  (Click here for the original link listing these 12 articles.)

SERIES BY DR. DON BOYS

1) What is Emerging From the Emergent Church?
The Emergent Church heavily promotes many pagan and heretical practices although its adherents profess to be “evangelical.” They may possess a desire to move the world but they are moving it in the wrong direction.

2) Scriptural Truth is Unimportant to Emergent Churches!
Some of the Emergent leaders… …have led the nebulous movement into deep, stagnant waters of heresy; but then that has always happened when a person, church, college, or a movement gets away from the Bible.

3) The Emergent Church Runs Away from the Bible!
Emergent Church leaders ask the same question Satan asked in the Garden, “Hath God said?” They have no confidence in the Word so they have no compass, chart, or anchor. In my opinion, they are not even on the Boat!

4) Emergent Churches Are Kingdom Builders!
Brian McLaren refers to the kingdom incessantly in his book and someone needs to remind him what Jesus said in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

5) Emergent Church Leaders are Modern Gnostics!
Emergent Church leaders denigrate sin, the savior, and salvation via the cross of Christ.

6) Emergent Church Teaches Everyone Goes to Heaven!
Emergent Church leaders’ distaste for absolute truth and their desire for embracing everyone have led many of them into the heresy of universalism—everyone will go to Heaven.

7) Pagan Practices Taught by Emergent Church!
God warns us in Jer. 10:2, “Learn not the way of the heathen,” but heathenism is exactly what EC leaders are teaching.

8) Top Agenda of the Emergent Church: Social Gospel!
Emergent Church leaders are into the social gospel of the early 1920s, a failure and departure from the Word now as then. One of the EC leaders admitted that the EC is a protest movement, so what do they protest?

9) Emergent Church: Wacko Environmentalism Not Evangelism!
There can be no argument the EC leaders emphasize the environment over eternity.

10) The Emergent Church Teaches One World Religion!
Brian McLaren, recognized as the major leader of the Emergent Church, …characterizes himself as “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.”

11) Emergent Church Leaders: Wolves in Shepherds’ Clothing!
Ken Blanchard, an Emergent Church leader wrote, “Does Buddha have anything to offer non-Buddhists in the work place? My answer is a wholehearted, ‘Yes.’”

12) Emergent Church: Top Evangelicals Like Dr. Dobson Huddle with the Hares and Hunt with the Hounds!
It is obvious that many evangelical leaders do not want to be “put on the spot” especially when they are asked to take a position that embarrasses their friends or supporters.

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