The Emergent Church

The Emerging Church movement philosophers and theologians insist that truth is only known and validated within communities and since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about doctrine.  The mantra “Did God really say…” which is the same words used by Satan to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden echoes throughout the Emerging Church Philosophy.  What do they teach and is it really a new way of talking about God in a Postmodern culture or is it something else?  What can you say to such open ended statements that fly in the face of God’s word?  ie. “Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality.”—Josh Reich

The Emergent Church, “Has God Said?” Errors of Men

The Emergent Church Movement 

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”

(Hosea 8:7)

I can see in the horizon an enormous spiritual storm approaching of biblical proportions. A new breed of Christians has emerged, ones who do not reverence God’s Word and are not afraid to speak their own mind. From years of neglecting God’s Word and following a social gospel… the emergence of a Postmodern Church has arrived.

The Lord our God uttered these words through His servant Jeremiah:

“My people have committed two sins:  They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. “

Jeremiah 2:13

As in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah we are facing today a vast departure from God’s Word and developing a religious system that has no room for God’s Absolute utterance.

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” The Emergent Church Movement at its core is a form of “Christian Agnosticism” the latest version of liberalism with a Christian twist.  And “post-modernism” isn’t really new either.  It’s simply the old philosophy of relativism, re-defined. The teachings of Brian McLaren are a subtle, yet persuasive, and are heretical to the faith once delivered to the saints.

The Emerging Church movement philosophers and theologians insist that truth is only known and validated within communities and since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about doctrine.  The mantra “Did God really say…” which is the same words used by Satan to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden echoes throughout the Emerging Church Philosophy.

The Real Roots Of The Emergent Church Documentary

Here are a few examples of Post Modernism Philosophy:

The world is radically changing and the church must radically change with it Emergent’s believe postmodernity represents a dramatic break with the past and that only an extreme transformation in the church can keep the church relevant and effective in this environment. What is needed, they say, is not just a change in methodology. We need a new kind of Christian.

Since the Church has been culture bound for so long we must reexamine and question every belief and practice in the Church.

Roots of the Emergent Church ExposedWe have no foundation for any beliefs, therefore we cannot know absolute truth Critics of the Emerging Church movement insist that emergent’s misrepresent epistemological foundationalism (the belief that we do possess some knowledge that serves as a basis for further knowledge) Since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about moral standards rejects the basic premises of modern epistemology.  “A belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects, or corresponds to the reality to which it refers. For a statement to be true it must be factual. Facts determine the truth or falsity of a belief or statement.”

Nothing could be clearer from the Bible than God Word being a guiding light in this dark world. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps 119:105)

The New Testament, God has given us universally true doctrinal revelation that can be understood, shared, defended and contextualized. ‘The faith’ has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We are to guard the ‘good deposit’ entrusted to us (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14), instructing in ‘sound doctrine’ and rebuking contrary doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1). False doctrine is associated with conceit and ignorance (1 Tim 6:3-4), and we are commanded not to be tossed to and fro by its winds (Eph. 4:14). God intended real, objective meaning in the Bible. If Scripture has no real value to us beyond subjective moments of “inspiration” if we do not believe its narratives and propositions connect with reality or that each author’s original intent is the ground and goal of our interpretation.

Postmodern epistemology has serious practical consequences as it leaves no foundation for objective beliefs – a position called “post foundationalism.” In spite of the ingenious efforts of skilled, post foundationalist theologians to construct a theology that “has universal implications,” all post foundational thought eventually succumbs to some form of skepticism or relativism. Thus, within postmodern thought no truth or morality can be “normative.” That is, no person or “scripture” can authoritatively tell post moderns what is true or right for them. “Truth” and “morals” are found in the context of a specific society and they vary from one society to another.

A generic “spirituality” is more acceptable to post moderns than it has been to moderns any exclusive claim to revelation-based truth or morals is now thought to be arrogant and philosophically untenable. Post moderns believe espousal of absolutes is an illegitimate attempt to manipulate others and exercise power over them. No one who embraces this epistemology has any room for others.

It is not an oversimplification to say that postmodernism is hostile to the objective and exclusive claims of biblical Christianity. While Christians must be sensitive to the culture they find themselves in, and while we must contextualize our methods to reach those in that culture, we must never alter the Gospel itself to fit the prevalent worldview of any given culture.  Post modernized Christianity is a seriously compromised “Christianity.”

Blind Guides the blind leading the blindI believe that the Emerging Church movement is guilty of this kind of compromise through embracing postmodern epistemology and by shaping theology to suit culture have been every bit as disastrous as liberal scholars’ accommodation to modernism. This accommodation follows the removal of a theological foundation (an objective basis for faith) with no foundation or boundaries it becomes practically impossible to say what is or is not Christian truth or conduct as there are no objective definitions or limits to faith or practice. Culturally arbitrary opinions are all that remain. Any belief or standard may then be questioned or changed. In a post modernized faith all beliefs are valid to those who hold them. Brian McLaren, for example, says:

“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 … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them whoever they are, to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord. “

Any thoughtful consideration of the removal of the foundation and the boundaries for Christian faith must conclude that this post modernization is fatal to biblical faith, stripping the term “faith” of any real meaning and opening the door to substantial change in fundamental beliefs. These changes can be found most prominently in the soteriology and eschatology of emergent’s. After they have undergone emergent accommodation to postmodernism, doctrines such as atonement and judgment no longer resemble the biblical teachings Evangelicals believe are non-negotiable.

The effect of the emergent movement’s presence in the body of Christ is equivalent to AIDS, in which the body lowers its defenses to external pathogens. The Emerging Church movement acts like an autoimmune disease, stripping Christian terminology of its biblical meanings, and it acts like an immune-compromising disease, disarming the body’s defenses against foreign invasion. This movement represents a deadly influence within the Church which requires a decisive response from those who recognize it as such, and if it’s not dealt with soon it will be the end of Biblical Christianity.

The Emergent Church Movement believes that to capture a sacred feeling we should reconnect with ancient worship forms. Trappings such as burning candles and events such as silent retreats are popular in the movement. Embracing these pre-modern forms further breaks their connection with “modern” Christianity.

Since sublime feeling is experienced through outward forms, we should utilize art forms in our worship. Many participants in the movement see appreciating art for art’s sake as a spiritual experience.

Through conversation with them, “outsiders” will become part of our community, and then be able to understand and believe what we teach. The postmodern approach is not to try to persuade people to believe, it is to try to befriend people into joining. People in a postmodern world are not persuaded to faith by reason as much as they are moved to faith by participation in God’s earthly community.

All are welcome to join the “conversation” as long as they behave in a kind and open-minded manner. Emerging believers reject any posture which hints at exclusivism. Dogmatic Evangelicals, however, are not treated as kindly in the conversation as others are (something many emergent’s admit).

Bible teaches us to proclaim the gospel message with reliance upon the Holy Spirit to empower, illuminate, and convict (1 Co 2, 1 Thess 1:9). When such proclamation is absent, as it is in the Emerging Church movement, there is no prophetic voice coming from the church calling sinners to repent and believe the Gospel (Ac 2:38, 16:30-32).

The ultimate goal of the Emerging Church Movement is to make the world a better place. The Emerging Church movement envisions a utopia in which the oppressed of the world are free, the poor are no longer impoverished and the environment is clean. This paradise is achieved through social activism. Many emergent leaders think it is selfish folly to live for the return of Christ.

Here are some quotes from The Emergent Church Leaders:

“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, (from the PBS special on the Emerging Church)

“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 (at the 2005 National Youth Workers Convention)

“Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations.”—Dan Kimball, (from the Vintage Faith)

My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ,” McManus, author of a new book called The Barbarian Way, said in a telephone interview. “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.”—Erwin McManus (from The Barbarian Way)

“Many Christians use “Breath Prayers” throughout their day. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath.” —Rick Warren

“The fact is that contemplative spiritualitywill play a huge part in the Church of the future, and candles are just the beginning.” – Duane Cottrell

“He [Brian McLaren] cites Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, with their emphasis on spiritual disciplines, as key mentors for the emerging church.”—The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today, 11/04

“We should stop to reflect and to treasure the words, to turn them over and over in our minds, repeating them …—Richard Foster, (Renovare)

“Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality.”—Josh Reich (Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church )

“Church Should Be Like a Dance Club”—Josh Reich (Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church)

I stopped reading from the approved evangelical reading list and began to distance myself from the evangelical agenda. I discovered new authors and new voices at the bookstore.” -Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen

Contemplative spirituality  seemed to open up a whole new wayfor me to understand and experience God. I was deeply moved by works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Dark Night of the Soul and the Early Writings of the Desert Fathers.” —Spencer Burke, (The Ooze)

While the emerging church movement is difficult to quantify … they are blending ancient practices like incense and candles with 21st century lifestyles.  There are new technologies (video loops, wonderful sound systems) with ancient chants, candles, and the medieval labyrinths. The practice of pilgrimage is increasingly popular, as is other forms of navigable worship using motion and movement like labyrinths, prayer walks, or Stations of the Cross. Monastic models of church are now a viable option for young people.

Labyrinth:

Upon Walking to the Center of the circle, she immediately sensed a dark spiritual vortex sucking her down.

It’s called A-maze-ing Prayer – The labyrinth offers ancient meditation for today’s hurried souls. Enter a darkened hall lit only by candles and a dimmed chandelier. The room is silent. As your eyes adjust, you’ll several people kneeled in prayer. The setting, spirit, and solemn stillness of the hall told us that we had found something meditative there, something spiritual.

Today’s evangelicals are accustomed to well-choreographed worship services with every minute carefully filled with music, video, and preaching. Postmodern generations are hungering for something more-an unhurried, mystery-filled, meditative experience that doesn’t have to fit into a preplanned time schedule.

The prayer labyrinth offers a feast to fill that hunger as you meet God in the middle.  The theory is that by walking the labyrinth one partakes of a spiritual journey of self examination and enlightenment. The labyrinth is a maze-like path similar to those designed into the floors of European cathedrals during the Middle Ages. Christians of that time would walk the labyrinth to aid their contemplative prayer and reflection. The labyrinths fell into disuse, and most were eventually forgotten or destroyed.

However, the labyrinth is back and given an update. The paths are formed by black lines on a 35-foot square piece of canvas laid on the floor. You are given a CD player with headphones to guide our journey through the 11 stations on the path. As you begin the inward journey-toward the center of the canvas-a gentle female voice with a British accent read a portion of John 1. You are gently told not to rush through the labyrinth, but to slow down, breathe deeply, and fully focus on God.

After thirty minutes you’ll find yourselves at the labyrinth’s center, where, seated on cushions, you’ll be offered the elements of Communion. The narrator read more Scripture and reminded us how near Jesus Christ is to us. There is a Bible if we desired to linger, reading and praying.

The journey outward focused on how we can be used by God in other people’s lives. At one station we made impressions of our hands and feet in a box of sand, reminding us that we leave impressions on the people we touch.

The labyrinth is a tool or device created to bring one into a higher spiritual realm through the use of meditation whether your are a practicing Zen Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a New Age Occultist, a Satanist, an atheist or even  a “Christian.” My question now as it was at the beginning of this article is what is this labyrinth all about and how will it affect the believer in Christ?

Most of the practicing New Age occult world has known and still does, that the introduction of the labyrinth prayer walk is a victory for their cause, bringing the unsuspecting Christians into agreement with the overall plan of the Aquarian Age, where those participating in this practice could be captured or ensnared into the ways of Satan.

Labyrinth meditation is a fairly recent phenomenon. The foremost proponents of it are Jean Houston and Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. It was also used in the National Pastors Conference in San Diego.

If someone were to hand you an Ouija Board telling you that it had been thoroughly redeemed and that other Christians were successfully using this board to bring them to a greater experience of God, would you also begin to entertain the thought of using this well known Occult method to seek God? Would you then use this Occult device, knowing full well that this is a tool or rather a gateway and portal to bring you into communication with “higher” spiritual entities (demons and familiar spirits). The labyrinth is much the same as the Ouija Board in its intent and purpose, to open one up to the influences of the demons of darkness, to supposedly gain wisdom and knowledge of the mysteries of life. Then why even begin to experiment or experience the sacred walk of the labyrinth?

In Deuteronomy 12:1-14 and again in Exodus 34:10-17, God commands us clearly not to participate in anything that has ever been used in pagan ritual for worship or for any other use, for that matter. The labyrinth has been from the very beginning a demonic temple, a Kundalini energy source, a tool of divination, a gateway and a portal to communicating with other spirits and was incorporated into the Roman Catholic experience at a time when there was little understanding of the Bible and little or no discernment.

Glossary to some Emergent Church

and Post Modern Expressions:

  • Bible – A book through which subjective enlightenment comes to us as we live in community.
  • God – A being who is past our figuring out, except that we know he is too loving to be wrathful.
  • Christ – An incredible, outstanding man in the Bible who left behind a valuable story that enables us to make the world a better place. Some people (including some in the emergent conversation) say he is a divine being, but this concept is subject to deconstruction.
  • Heaven – A place self-centered moderns aspire to while we create paradise on earth.
  • Faith – The state of being proud of one’s ignorance and confusion.
  • Kingdom of God – The brave new world we are working to establish that is politically correct and environmentally clean for people of all beliefs.
  • Sin – A word that is sinful to use.
  • Hell – A word we never, never use unless we are swearing.
  • Holiness – The state in which we are zealous for postmodernism.
  • Bounded-Set Theology – Narrow minded, wrong belief system in which some people are so rude as to consider others wrong.
  • Homosexuals – People who Fundamentalists hate and exclude from the community of the faithful.
  • Humility – Emphasizing the flaws of Christians before the world, while we act as if we don’t know what we’re talking about.
  • Grace – The license to be “authentic”  as long as we are kind, charitable, and care about the environment.
  • Absolutes – A concept we must absolutely avoid.
  • Doctrine – 1. Postmodern philosophy (takes primacy over the Bible and creeds). 2. In Evangelical circles, it represents the beliefs of those who have been ruthless enough to win the historical battles for “orthodoxy.”
  • Eschatology – The goal toward which the church is moving – the arrival of the liberal political utopia on earth. Has nothing to do with the afterlife or eternity.
  • Evangelical – 1. Generally annoying, narrow-minded people who are hung up on their rigid doctrines and strange ideas about holiness. 2. Something we sometimes claim to be (depending on the audience addressed). 3. A label we would like to hijack.
  • Judgment – Unpleasant experiences we have in this life. It probably has nothing to do with eternity.
  • Judgmentalism – Other people knowing right from wrong and saying so.
  • Kind – What we are (even when we speak bluntly) and non-emergent types are not when they are mean enough to suggest we are wrong.
  • Truth – Whatever we say it is.
  • Wacko – (a conservative Christian)

The Occult through the Emergent Church Movement has truly gone mainstream Christianity!

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