Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Some bloggers within the Emergent Church movement are reporting that the Emergent Movement is dying and will soon go the way of the Dodo bird. Rumor has it that one of the main publishing houses is planning on phasing out the Emergent label from their line-up. If this is Zondervan Publishing (owned by Harper Collins) and is true, it will cause a huge blow to the Emergent Church movement's marketing effort. There is already an effort underway to change the "Emergent Church Movement" label because of it's over use and the growing negative connotation it carries. Much of this is caused by the controversial and sometimes heretical views expressed by it's leading voices.
I would not be too quick to count them out. False teachers attacking Christian Orthodoxy have always had a way of reinventing themselves and are forever morphing into something else. I seriously doubt we have seen the end of the Emergent Church Movement. We must stay vigil and be prepared to defend the truth and preeminence of the Bible. These movements only gain a toe hold when the Bible is relegated to something less then the only authority in all matters of faith and practice for the Church. Contrary to what skeptics and false teachers would say, the bible is not subject to personal or subjective interpretation! There are basic literary principles by which we interpret the Bible. When these basic reading principles are followed, the vast majority of essential doctrine becomes clear and incontrovertible. It is important to remember, thousands were martyred, giving their lives in defense of the truth and orthodoxy of the Bible. I am not ready to dismiss it so easily and neither should you!
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Below is a small sampling of quotes by emerging church leaders that we find troubling...
“We do not think this [Emerging Church Movement] is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about…how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.” –Tony Jones
“I must add, though, that 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.” –Brian McLaren
"I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state." –Tony Jones
“I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet….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.” –Brian McLaren
“The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not"–Rob Bell
“Ultimately, I hope Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam and every other religion, including the Christian religion, which often seems to need saving about as much as any other religion does.” –Brian McLaren
“Our message and methodology have changed, do change, and must change if we are faithful to the ongoing and unchanging mission of Jesus Christ.” –Brian McLaren
“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?” –Rob Bell
“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.’….Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements.” –Brian McLaren, http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html
“The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching.” –Dan Kimball
“A lot of arguments happen among religious and non religious people about the question of who’s going to hell and who’s going to heaven and uh, a lot of times Christians get into this argument by saying ‘we have the only way to heaven.’ And uh, people often ask me what do I think is the way to heaven. I have a problem when they ask me this question because it assumes that the primary purpose of Jesus’ coming and the primary message of Jesus was a message about how to get to heaven.” –Brian McLaren
"God has an incredibly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I have been told that I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I am learning is that Jesus believes in me. I have been told that I need to have faith in God. Which is a good thing. But what I am learning is that God has faith in me." –Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, p. 134)
“Stop looking for some objective Truth that is available when we delve into the text of the Bible.” –Tony Jones
"What we know means nothing. What we live means everything." –Barry Taylor (from a talk at Capo Beach Calvary). Contrast this with John 8:32
“The church has been preoccupied with the question, "What happens to your soul after you die?" As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, "Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die." I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don't think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line.” –Brian McLaren
“Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question." –Tony Jones
"Well, for our community, this [living an environmentally conscious life] isn’t rooted in the fact that it’s gaining steam in popular culture. It’s always been rooted in the very nature of God. The central Hebrew prayer, Deuteronomy 6, says, “Hear O Israel the Lord your God, the Lord is One,” so we live with awareness that all of reality is one. [How does he get that from this passage? He sounds like a pantheist.] We are connected with all things everywhere, and I would argue that in the last couple hundred years, disconnection has been the dominant way people have understood reality. And the Church has contributed to that disconnection by preaching horrible messages about being left behind and that this place is going to burn [Uh, yeah read 2 Peter 3:7ff Rob.]–absolutely toxic messages that are against the teachings of Scripture, which state that we are connected to God, we are connected to the earth, we are connected to each other. When any of those connections fracture, the whole thing starts to fall apart. Your relationship with God is tied into your relationship with the soil. Go back to Genesis." –Rob Bell (Relevant Magazine, “Rob Bell Tells it Like It Is”, January/February 2008)
“Let me offer 10 suggestions for reclaiming the Bible for contemporary readers…Drop Any Affair You May Have with Certainty” –Brian McLaren
“We should consider the possibility that many, and perhaps even all of Jesus’ hell-fire or end-of-the-universe statements refer not to postmortem [after death] judgment but to the very historic consequences of rejecting his kingdom message of reconciliation and peacemaking. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 67-70 seems to many people to fulfill much of what we have traditionally understood as hell.” –Brian McLaren
“For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. Ways of living we can enter into here and now. He talked very little of the life beyond this one…” –Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 147.
“I’m writing with the assumption that most of you who are reading this book have concluded what I have: Preaching doesn’t work…preaching, as we know it, is a tragically broken endeavor…. The value of our practices—including preaching—ought to be judged by their effects on our communities and the ways in which they help us move toward life with God.” –Doug Pagitt
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
A NEW BEGINNING
'The Emergent Church':
A dangerous counterfeit
Exclusive: Greg Laurie also takes on Barack Obama
over theology, those preoccupied with global warming
Posted: April 12, 2008
1:00 am Eastern
By Greg Laurie
As a 17-year-old boy, I had looked for truth and answers in this world and found none. Then, to my own amazement, I found myself completely won over by the bold, unashamed witness of a group of committed Christians on my high school campus.
People could have tried to be cool and win me over, but it would have never worked. I'd had enough of "cool" in the crazy home I was raised in to make me choke. I had pretty much seen it all, and nothing to me was lamer than people trying too hard to be cool.
The Christian kids I encountered in high school weren't working overtime to be cool – and didn't even seem to care about such things. They cared about knowing and following Jesus, and that deeply impressed me. There was an authenticity about their lives that drew me to them, then to Jesus Himself.
I had been looking for something to believe in, something worth living or dying for, something that was genuine, real and authentic. But most of all, I was looking for something that was true.
By the way, young people are still looking for this today. I have seen generations with names like Boomers, Busters, X, Y and Z come and go. At Harvest Christian Fellowship, the church where I pastor, music and worship styles have changed over the years. But our message has not changed, and will not! In fact, it cannot, because the Gospel is the Gospel.
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I have the privilege of sharing this transforming message with thousands of people every year in the large-scale events we hold around the country. This year I will be speaking at Angel Stadium in Southern California, Madison Square Garden in New York City and also in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The Gospel message, Paul reminds us, is "the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes" (Romans 1:16, NKJV). I believe this message with all of my heart, and that is why it grieves me to see it under attack from some unlikely places.
The church has always had its minor disagreements. But this isn't about music, style of worship, the order of prophetic events, or even the never-ending debate concerning the sovereignty of God and freewill of man.
This is serious. This is life and death.
What I refer to is a debate among a growing number in the church as to whether or not Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Or whether or not "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. …" (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV).
One of the candidates who professes to be a Christian running for the presidency recently said in a speech, "There are a lot of Jewish people who are just as moral, or even more moral than I am. There are a lot of Muslims who are decent, good, kind people. I don't think they are any less children of God."
Now, that sounds very inclusive and kind, but I have to tell you it goes against the very core of the essential Gospel message. Yes, it is certainly true that people of faiths other than Christianity – or even no faith at all – can be "decent, good and kind." But the simple fact is, a man or woman does not come into a relationship with God by being "kind and good," but rather by admitting that he or she is a sinner who needs forgiveness from God.
This is why Jesus died on the cross. He was paying the price for our sins, because as the Bible says, "All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:12, NLT).
That verse isn't saying there are no "good" people, but rather that no one is "good enough" to please God on his or her own. Jesus took care of that for us, dying in our place, paying the full penalty for our sins.
Now, I don't expect every talking head on cable news to necessarily understand the Gospel message. But I do expect other ministers to. This latest attack on the Gospel, however, seems to be coming from within the church itself. I refer to a rapidly growing movement known as "The Emergent Church." It is very popular, especially among young people raised in the evangelical church who are looking for a fresh expression of their faith. There is certainly nothing wrong with that! They want to "be real," "authentic" and "honest," just as my generation did.
That's fine, but in the final analysis, "being real" is not the most important thing. Being right with God is. Quite frankly, you can be "real" wrong! And there are some pied pipers out there who are leading many young people down the wrong road.
One of these leaders made this statement: "I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherence 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."
This sounds very inclusive and loving, but it is flat-out wrong and unscriptural! We want people to become followers of Jesus in a biblical context! The Bible teaches that you become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly tells us, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NKJV).
Jesus plainly said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the life. …" (John 14:6, NKJV) Yet despite this clear biblical teaching, another "emergent" leader says, "I see the world through the images of Christianity, which teaches me that I encounter God in everyone I meet, regardless of what they believe."
This is New Age mysticism, not New Testament Christianity. The truth is, you will only find Christ living in those who have put their faith in Him. Scripture reminds us, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12, NKJV). The doctrines of the "Emergent Church" do not represent the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. In fact, it is a dangerous counterfeit.
At the same time, I see other churches becoming distracted from the proclamation of the Gospel and instead focusing their primary energies on issues like "global warming." I'll tell you about global warming; it's when people spend eternity separated from Jesus Christ in hell! Jesus said of hell, "The fire never goes out" (Mark 9:48, NLT).
I know some of you just cringed when you read the word "hell." A couple generations ago, you would hear churches criticized for preaching "too much hellfire and brimstone." Honestly, when is the last time you actually heard or read such a message? Many pastors don't even use the "H-word" anymore.
Well, I do. But not because I take any pleasure in it. Please know this: The last thing God wants for any man or woman, created uniquely in His image, is to spend eternity in a place called hell. Jesus wants you in heaven with Him!
So, while some are wrapped up in the global warming panic, I would like to issue a global warning today. We in the Church of Jesus Christ had better get back to basics, or we will lose what little influence we have left in our culture. To those who do not yet know the Lord, I urge you, believe in Him. Find complete forgiveness for all your sins, and have your eternal address changed from hell to a place called heaven!
That's not just a warning – it's a promise.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
TESTING THE FAITH
Emergent church leader: 'Gay' OK biblical lifestyle
Cutting-edge Christianity debates: Should we accept homosexuality?
Posted: November 23, 2008
1:00 am Eastern
By Drew Zahn
One of the key leaders of today's most cutting-edge church movement has opened an Internet discussion on the issue of same-sex marriage with the bold proclamation that he believes "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer" individuals can and should live out their sexuality in – and blessed by – the Christian church.
"I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!)," writes author and church leader Tony Jones, "and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."
Jones is an author and former youth pastor who holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also the national coordinator of Emergent Village, a loosely-formed friendship of churches that derive their descriptive name from having "emerged" from postmodernism to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into a post-Christian culture.
The "Emergent Church," as these mostly young, community- and mission-driven congregations are collectively known, is criticized by some for being "theologically liberal," praised by others as the best hope for passing the torch of Christianity to future generations.
In his "The New Christians" blog, Jones opens up a discussion and debate on the issue of homosexuality with his readers and with a fellow theologian/blogger, a self-described political conservative, Rod Dreher.
Jones quotes a former professor of his, who Jones says was active in the civil rights movement:
"Civil rights and abortion will be nothing compared to how the church has to deal with homosexuality," his professor said. "I'm glad it's your generation and not mine who'll have to figure that out."
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In Jones' blog, he tells his personal story as a straight man trying to understand homosexuality: from his mother's assurance that she will love him "no matter whom he loves," to a high school friend who was likely a closet homosexual and who died of AIDS.
Despite recounting his earlier days of arguing that "biblical prohibitions to homosexual sex should be taken seriously," Jones admits his experiences and feelings led him toward a different conclusion.
"And yet," Jones writes, "all the time I could feel myself drifting toward acceptance that gay persons are fully human persons and should be afforded all of the cultural and ecclesial benefits that I am."
Jones acknowledges that detractors against the somewhat nebulous and hard-to-define Emergent churches will pick up on his statement and repeat a common refrain of criticism.
"'Aha!' my critics will laugh derisively, 'I knew he and his ilk were on a continuous leftward slide!'" Jones admits.
Some of the comments show he was correct in his prediction.
"So, your statement is that you believe this. ... Why do you believe it? Because it seems right to you?" asks a respondent identified as Michael C.
"I suppose if you re-define Biblical Christianity to mean: whatever I believe is biblical Christianity, and there is no outside authority to judge it – then yes it can be in accord. If however you mean biblical Christianity as judged by the Bible, then no it cannot be in accord," Michael C. writes. "I'm sorry to say but these arguments that I've heard from the Emergent movement seem to rely a whole lot more pleading and a lot less on Biblical exegesis (our rule and faith – especially when you say 'biblical' Christianity)."
Other comments, naturally, supported same-sex marriage.
"Gay people exist," writes Public Defender. "Gay families exist. Society cannot stop gay people from having sex or raising families. Why do you want to discourage monogamy and stable homes for these children?"
Fellow blogger and theologian Rod Dreher, whom Jones invited into a "blogalogue" on the subject, summed up his argument this way:
"Emotionally, I'd just as soon say, 'Let everybody marry, it's nothing to me.' I want my gay friends to be happy," writes Dreher. "But truth is not determined by emotion, as I see it, and certainly I find it epistemologically arrogant to assume that an early 21st-century white American bourgeois male can stand in judgment of Scripture and the Church, and the long, long experience of humankind on marriage."