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THE LIBERAL ROOTS OF THE EMERGENT CHURCH
Over a century ago spiritual liberalism
swept through the once-sound mainline denominations, wreaking
theological havoc on anyone in its path. Once solid and fundamentally
based seminaries became infested with the liberal teachings of the
so-called "German Enlightenment" and before long heretical
intellectualism, which doubted the authority of the Bible, quickly
spread to the leaders of the denominations, into the pulpits and finally
to those in the pews.
Today, one doesn't have to look far to see
the spiritual disrepair that liberalism has left the denominations in.
Because of the longstanding apostasy of the spiritual liberals, untold
millions have already entered eternity without Jesus Christ - having
previously believed that those entrusted with teaching them the
Christian faith were doing so faithfully and authentically.
Using much the same modus operandi, Satan is
now out to destroy the Evangelicals of our times. It worked well 100-150
years ago in the mainline denominations and it's working again now. So,
with the predicted falling away of the end-times in full swing (2 Thess.
2:3), every truth-seeking Christian needs to be aware of the "new"
liberalism - The Emergent Church.
WHAT IS "THE EMERGENT CHURCH?"
This short piece is not meant to fully
educate on Emergent error. Nor will I go into the secondary issues of
Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" philosophy or the "Seeker Sensitive"
ideas of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. There are many fine resources
from trustworthy apologetics ministries and others that are shedding
light on these troubling teachings as well as on Emergent thought. The
DVD our ministry produced called The Errors of the Emergent Church
is one such tool. (Click
here) However, for the sake of those who may have never heard the
term "Emergent," let me offer a quick definition.
The Emergent Church Movement takes its name
from the idea that the culture has changed, and a new church should
emerge in response. It apparently grew out of discussion groups inside
the Young Leadership Network in the 1990's.
To Emergents, Christianity should be:
* Experience over Reason
* Spirituality over Doctrine and Absolutes
* Images over Words
* Feelings over Truth
* Earthly Justice over Salvation
* Social Action over Eternity
Put bluntly, the Emergent Church Movement is
a complete redefinition of Christianity. It is unquestionably the new
Liberalism. However, don't wait for Emergent teachers to use the term "Emergent." Learn how to spot it for yourself.
HOW TO SPOT THE EMERGENT CHURCH IN
Here is a short list of authors, teachers
and areas of concern that may indicate that the leadership of your
church is being influenced to varying extents by Emergent Church
* Are books or videos by teachers such as
Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt or Tony Jones being recommended or
used in classes, home groups or church services? These men began by
simply questioning the authority of the Bible and the orthodox nature of
Christian doctrine and have now redefined what they call Christianity
into a completely cultic, yet loosely defined and identified, religion.
It is a genuine oxymoron that the wildly
unorthodox ideas taught by these men could be as readily accepted as
they are in supposedly "Evangelical" churches, seminaries and even
* Have biblical doctrines such as salvation
by grace, repentance and the reality of a literal Hell been marginalized
or abandoned? Is there a constant insistence that the Church must
abandon history and orthodox teaching and change our methods in order to
be relevant to the postmodern world?
It is a completely flawed concept to believe
that postmoderns are somehow different than all generations before them
and that if we are to reach them then we must change. Sin in the hearts
of men is still the problem and the Cross is still the antidote! God has
entrusted us with the ONLY message that can cure the sickness of sin.
Who are we to change the message? We must lovingly and
accurately deliver the whole Gospel regardless of how it may be accepted
and remember that it is the Holy Spirit's task to draw men to Jesus -
not ours. To edit the Gospel - regardless of how well-intentioned - is
to thwart the Holy Spirit's work and merely assures the eternal
damnation of those we seek to reach. (Romans 1:16)
* Is Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality being
introduced and practiced? Is there talk of "Spiritual Formation,"
centering prayer and something called "lectio divina" which, in a
nutshell, is leading Evangelicals directly into the mystical and
sometimes occult-based practices of the Roman Church? Have you heard the
term "labyrinth"? (An usually intricate maze to meditate in, with basis
in Greek, Egyptian and Cretan Mythology and used in Tantric Buddhism.)
Mystics contend that utilizing a labyrinth will supposedly bring a
relaxed mental attitude and end the search for life's meaning! In
reality, this road leads to New Age mysticism and even the occult, as
does the popular Emergent practice of Yoga.
A few popular contemplative adherents are
Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Leonard Sweet, Thomas Keating, Richard
Foster and Frank Viola.
* Have buzzword phrases like "Missional
Christianity," "Incarnational Christianity," "Conversational
Christianity" and "Relational Christianity" been attached to the
identity of your church?
* Have the teachings of Open Source, Open
Theism or Process Theology been embraced? (Open Theism teaches that God
knows the past and lives in the present but has no idea of what the
future holds. Obviously, this destroys every prophetic passage in the
Bible - including the blessed hope of the Second Coming of Jesus
* Is there a new, uncanny identification
with saving planet Earth? Has environmentalism become common pulpit
rhetoric? (Emergent author, Brian McLaren contends that it is Earth - and not
unregenerate humans - that Christ came to save.)
* Perhaps the most important question to ask
is about the authority of the Scriptures. In your church, is the Bible
held in utmost regard by those in leadership? Is the inerrancy of the
Bible preached faithfully? Is there a complete and unapologetic
dependence on God's Word by those in leadership? The growth of
liberalism and Emergent ideas is directly proportionate to the value
placed on the Scriptures by individuals and church leaders. Without an
unwavering accountability to the Word of God, every individual
Christian, as well as every local church and national denomination, will
soon find themselves in jeopardy.
WHAT TO DO IF EMERGENT IS IN YOUR
* Prayer (conduct Spiritual Warfare!)
* Dialog (ask questions)
* Confront (Matthew 18)
* Warn Others!
* Flee! (when all else fails)
What we see happening in the Church today is
no shock to those who study prophecy. The Scriptures are replete with
warnings about false teaching and false teachers. Jesus alone warns of
this an amazing 14 times; Paul and Peter, too. A great end-time apostasy
is indeed going to sweep through the Church preceding the return of the
Lord. I believe that before
the spirit of Antichrist is finished, error will be the norm in
allegedly "Christian" circles and orthodoxy will be the oddity.
But as overwhelming as it may seem, I guarantee that you are not alone!
If you are alarmed at even the subtle
Emergent influences at work in your church, so are many others who are
battling for the very life of their local churches and even their
denominations. Many biblical Christians are making the same stands that
you are faced with making. God will indeed lead you as you hold
faithfully to His Word, as you witness and as you pray. Great is the
reward for those who walk with Jesus and follow the command to contend
for the authentic faith (Jude 3). Don't quit!
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Today, in an effort to
redefine Christianity, alarming numbers of popular yet apostate
"evangelical" leaders known as "The Emerging Church Movement" are abandoning
historic and biblical standards.
This unscriptural, even deadly movement is part of the predicted "great
falling away" of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as Emergent leaders now proclaim that
the Church has failed in its mission, that doctrine is irrelevant and that
the very basis of Christian thinking has always been faulty. In this seminar
Eric defines Emergent thinking and terms, concisely exposes the practical
and doctrinal errors of the Emergents and draws the striking parallels to
New Age thought.
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