Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defining The Emergent Church Movement

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

One of the signs of the end times is a great proliferation of false doctrines and teachers (Matt. 24:11,24; 2 Pet. 2:1). And, one of the most growing of these false doctrines today is the Emergent Church Movement. But, many people are scratching their heads trying to figure out just what this movement is all about.

Eric BargerAn explanation of just what the Emergent Church Movement is was taken to one of today's foremost defenders of the faith, Eric Barger, the founder and director of Take a Stand! Ministries headquartered in the Dallas area. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become one of today's greatest defenders of Christianity in America.

Eric, just what is the Emergent Church Movement and what do they believe?

The Emerging Movement came out of the young leadership network about 10 years ago, so it is a very, very new thing. But, it is all about the idea that the post-moderns have been left behind, that group of people, and there needs to be a new church now emerge to meet their needs or to reach them. And, I am all for reaching post-moderns, before-moderns, after-moderns.

Post-modern would be people who are in the post-modern generation. That would be people around my age (57) and younger. The Post-modern Age can be defined by its lack of formally accepted standards, a lack of good doctrine, and a lack of knowing what truth really is. Your reality is what you make it, which in reality is a New Age idea that you create your own reality and do your own thing.

The standard of where truth is has changed or where the anchor of what holds us together and where we can figure out what the word "truth" is. That is called "Epistemology," where we find out where our knowledge comes from and where beliefs and truths intersect.


One of the fellows that came out the Emergent Movement from right in the very beginning said that the conversation about doctrine is what bothered him. They were conversing on whether God really know the future? Does gender come with distinction? Is homosexuality really a sin? Do we have to keep the doctrine of the Trinity? Is there a need for the doctrine of the atonement? They began to check off these things that they were conversing about.

It seems to me like that the whole thing in the Garden of Eden that caused the fall of mankind was a conversation about whether God's truth was God's truth or not. This is the exact same thing again. This is the new liberalism and it is extremely prophetic. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2 to let no one deceive you by any means for that day shall not come until there come a falling away first. A falling away, or rebellion the Greek word there of course is, apostasia, an apostasy. And this is what we see happening.

An Emergent church in the Emergent Movement starts as the youth group of an evangelical church and they emerge out of it. So, I can see why there is a strong feeling that they are conservative because they come out of it. And then the church realizes, "Hey, wait a minute! They are not following what we are doing. They are cutting all ties. They are not listening to leadership." And, they go and spin off and form their own church.

Redefining "Evangelicalism"

The catcher is that those in this new liberalism hide under the guise of conservatism, calling themselves evangelicals. These people claim to be us, and if this is evangelicalism, I am no longer an evangelical.

The word "evangelical" has lost it's meaning. It has been redefined. It used to mean that a person who was an evangelical was a person who relied on the Word of God for everything they believed and all of their actions and attitudes in life. Today, for "evangelical," it just doesn't.

Reinterpreting the Bible

For three days in February this year at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, Brian McLaren, a leader of this movement, redefined Christianity. He said the term "the world" in John 3:16 is not talking about spiritually lost people, but is talking about the Earth. They then showed a film by the Sierra Club.

He says Jesus came to save and die for the Earth? He then said the term "Kingdom of God" is not a spiritual term or a religious term, but it is a political term and that it meant God's eco-system or God's global love economy.

What They Believe

The Emergent Movement is just the same old liberalism. It is the old Social Gospel in new clothes.

The are looking for something different then conservatism or atheism. They want a spiritual experience. Rob Bell, another one of the leaders in this movement from Grandville, Michigan, has 10,000 people in his church. And to paraphrase he said, "This is just not Christianity dressed up. We are discovering Christianity as an Eastern Religion." That is where it is going!

To sum up the Emergence Movement, it teaches:

  1. experience over reason
  2. spirituality over doctrine and absolutes
  3. images over words
  4. feelings over truth
  5. earthly justice more important then salvation
  6. social action that trumps eternity

Brian McLaren

That explains to me how the leader Brian McLaren on the back cover of his book Generous Orthodoxy could make the comment that he is a Buddhist, a Confuscist, a Jew, is in everything, and is also a Pentecostal, non-Pentecostal, charismatic and non-charismatic. In reality, he doesn't believe in anything! Now, his books are being published by major and once reliable Christian publishing houses.

While Brian McLaren is considered a leader of the Emergent Movement, he is more the godfather of it. There really is no leader as these people are all self-styling and do their own thing.

I went to a conference that hosted Brian McLaren and I was of course shocked that this was happening. I wanted to go hear from the horse's mouth. And so, a pastor friend of mine and I went together. We both took a lot of notes. In the Friday night meeting, the songs that were sung any Wiccan priest could have sung along with because they were so morbid. They were all about the earth, that it has been tortured and raped. No glory of God, no worship of God in them could be found. Then they showed a film by the Sierra Club. Next, McLaren went through the redefinition of the terms of Christianity. At the end, we were looking up and front and we couldn't quite tell what it was up there in front on these tables that they had. We were a few yards away from it. McLaren said, "Now if you feel lead, come up and take water out of the vat and rebaptize yourself into the new Christianity." And then he said, "While you are there, make sure you put your hands in the dirt to find out what needs to be saved."

Now, again, this is not a voodoo ritual we are talking about. These are people who claim to be evangelicals, who are sold at Christian Bookstores, and are speaking in our seminaries and Bible colleges around the country.

We must take the churches and seminaries back for God. We should be concerned about it. This has become a problem for all denominations.

For more information on what the Emergent Church believes, check out our article What Does the Emergent Church Movement Believe?.


davidsoncounty said...

Thank you for this blog, I found it very helpful. I had no idea about the Emergent Church movement. It's funny how emergent embraces so many things, it's not emergent at all if it wipes out the Bible. True freedom comes in Christ, His ways are unsearchable. Emergent also sounds to me like pride like it's "my" way of doing things. I consider it an honor to worship God and do things His way.

Anonymous said...

'Christians' celebrating Ramadan?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I found it very informative, as I had no idea what this emergent church is really about. Very scary!
I had one question when reading the statement about the term apostasy in 2 thessalonians 2. I listened to a sermon the other day in which the pastor discussed this term. He said that, biblically speaking, this word apostasia when used in its verb form(as it is in this passage) does not mean falling away, but leaving a place geographically(defecting or departure). In addition, the particle of speech that precedes the term apostasia is "the" and not "a", which points to a specific known event rather than a general occurence. So, he believes that this passage is saying that the rapture or departure will occur first and then the antichrist will be revealed. If anyone else has any insight into this I would be glad to hear it.
Katie H

Anonymous said...

Irony strikes again. All these Emergent Christians "reminding" themselves about the Earth and "finding the truth" are most likely bored university students who never had to hold down a real job.

When you work with your hands until they bleed and feel the seasons shape your livelihood and our life, you see the evidence of the God of the Bible.

I've had more than one unreasonable conversation with this type of so-called Christian when trying to share the gospel. It's sadly funny because all of their arguments contain the statement, "All truths are equal except for the Bible -- we reject that as untruth."

Hank from Arizona

Laura said...

Thanks for posting this! It was very interesting, and I would like to know more about the Emergent Church. I did click the link in the post (which was helpful), but more articles would be good, too.

davidsoncounty said: Emergent also sounds to me like pride like it's "my" way of doing things.

I think that's very true. I remember back when I was at a Calvary Chapel that was going emergent. I kept asking people why are we doing this. They said, "We want to make God more relevant to people?"

I thought: Huh? Make God more RELEVANT? He's ALREADY relevant! So what you're really doing is trying to bring people to God in your own strength. This is man's way (one of many) of trying to make something spiritual happen!

But I see now that this was just the tip of the Emergent iceberg!

Since then, I think most Calvary Chapels have rejected the emergent philosophy. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about this.

Nathan Jones said...

Like Eric Barger said, no denomination has been exempt from the Emergent Church Movement.

I used to go to Calvary Chapel Philadelphia and found them to be very doctrinally sound, while my current Southern Baptist Church which should be very doctrinally sound seems on the edge of falling into the Emergent movement. Hopefully, they won't topple into that quagmire.

son of thunder said...

I hope the SBC doesn't fall into the emergent/apostacy, as well. But I fear it will. I'm afraid that the cancer will spread even into the most fundamental denominations. Maybe not to the same level as it has in the more mainstream, but I'm afraid it will.

That may sound like bad news and a gloom prediction, but A)it makes us dig more deeply into the Word to find out what God says, and B)it means we are that much closer to our redemption.