Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer

Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer

Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer


In the Sixties the counterculture rejected consumerism,
individualism, traditional values and ideas, and protested
against their parent's middle class values. Thus began an all
out assault on what had made America prosperous for two
centuries.

Now a similar assault on historic orthodox Christianity is
underway that's gaining momentum. Some Christians believe a
paradigm shift is taking place in the Church and as a consequence
"everything must change." This is anything but good
news for Christendom, my friends. In a radio interview with
Worldview Network's Brannon Howse, Professor Peter Jones of
Westminster Seminary warned listeners that the Christian theistic
West has been turning back to pagan, pantheistic monism. Many in
contemporary western culture now hold to a pantheistic belief in
the unity of nature and God, of body and spirit -- all is
One.

Pantheism is a major tenet of the New Spirituality Movement
(NSM), once called the New Age movement. Other names used are
Self-spirituality and Mind-body-spirit. The movement is largely
eclectic with inspiration drawn from all the major world
religions, which include Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shamanism,
Wicca, the metaphysical New Thought movement, and Neo-Paganism,
to name a few. The goal of NSM is a shift in "planetary
consciousness." Their focus is not only on the West but also
on the entire planet!

NSM is producing a movie to promote the new paradigm. In an
article on Christian Worldview Weekend [1],
Brannon Howse gives details: "New Spirituality gurus like
Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, alongside leftist
environmentalists like Al Gore and religious figures such as
Archbishop Desmond TuTu. Their message is the same, as though it
was taken from the same script. 'A massive worldwide
phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the
future…We are in the middle of the biggest social
transformation in history, THE SHIFT.'"

In order to move the West away from theism, the shifters must
first reinvent biblical Christianity. Enter Oprah Winfrey. It
would seem Oprah has been planning The Shift for many years. In
1987 she read the late Eric Butterworth's book "Discover
the Power within You." His book changed how Oprah looked at
life and religion. She was convinced that Jesus didn't come
to teach us about His divinity, as the Bible teaches, but to
teach us about our divinity! (Oprah's code word is
"Christ consciousness.") She recommended
Butterworth's book to her audience and sales soon
skyrocketed.

Who was Eric Butterworth? A theologian, lecturer and author who
delivered the message of the Unity School of Christianity (part
of the heretical Metaphysical movement) that "looks
within" to find Christ. "Try telling someone in the
Metaphysical movement…about the wages of sin…and
they will look at you as though you are an anachronism — a
throwback to a less-enlightened age. The ideas of an enslaving
sinful nature, of being alienated from God, and of God's
wrath are, to them, extremely offensive."[2]
He considered sin ''self-inflicted
nonsense.''

In 1987 Forbes magazine summarized Eric Butterworth's message
thus: ''We alone have the power within us to solve our
problems, relieve our anxieties and pain, heal our illnesses,
improve our golf game or get a promotion.''[3]

But this article is not about Oprah's spiritual poison,
it's about spiritual deception that's spreading like
cancer in Christendom. (Oprah's latest attempt to
indoctrinate the masses is through the occult teaching "A
Course in Miracles".)

In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you
are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the
truth will set you free."

There is a growing movement afoot in the postmodern Church that
does not abide in God's Word; hence they do not know the
truth. The movement calls itself "Emergent" or
"Emerging Church" (ECM) and it's emerging away from
orthodox Christianity, spreading its spiritual cancer throughout
the globe. ECM change agents have made inroads into
evangelicalism, big time. What they preach is a counterfeit
social gospel. They say they bring a "message of
peace." Their hope is to make Christianity more palatable to
the world. Sounds altruistic, doesn't it? But don't
believe it! In order to accomplish their lofty goal, the shifters
must first repackage the Church.

So they're touring the country, promoting their social gospel
and message of peace to the masses. Prominent ECM leader Brian
McLaren is spearheading the "Everything Must Change"
tour. According to McLaren's website the planet is in Deep
Shift'

A time of transition – rethinking, re-imagining and
re-envisioning.

But really, it's all about re-shaping the true Gospel of
Jesus Christ into a false gospel and re-imaging Jesus Christ into
the New Age Cosmic Christ!

McLaren created Deep Shift to provide spiritual guidance for
organizations who are open to this. On the DeepShift.org website he states
that he will work with leaders, "inviting them to discover
where the gifts of their people and God's purposes in the
world meet. Deep Shift provides support as leaders make their own
personal deep shift and guide their organizations through the
transition and transformation necessary to ignite the loving
energy of people to work for the good of the world. "As
guides, we provide coaching, consulting, and resources for people
leading in deep shift — faith community and church leaders,
nonprofit leaders, ethical business leaders and
others."

Maharishi McLaren's re-imaging of the modern Church is on
it's way -- whether evangelicals want re-imaging or not. The
transformation, he boasts, "is for the good of the
world."

You may not have heard about The Shift yet, but you will –
soon! Shifters, like pod people, are in our midst. Some of your
friends and acquaintances could be shifters, only you don't
know it yet. Shifters have wormed their way into church
leadership (pastors deacons, elders), worship services, Bible
studies, Sunday school, seminaries, Christian schools, youth
groups, camps. They lecture, write for Christian news sources and
they're all over the Internet. Now they're touring the
country. Many shifters are familiar faces on TV and have become
media darlings. Browse through your local Christian bookstore and
you'll find their names lined up on shelves. Brian McLaren,
Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Leonard
Sweet, Erwin McManus, Phyllis Tickle, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Doug
Pagitt, Tony Jones, Scot McKnight, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger, Jeff
& Sherry Maddock, Peter Rollins, to name a few. Every one of
them are theological liberals!

But shifters are offended when they're labeled liberal. And
besides, liberal is so yesterday! And let's be honest here;
liberal has a negative connotation, thanks largely to vociferous
conservatives (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham,
Joseph Farah, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Brannon
Howse, Don Wildmon, Matt Drudge, Melanie Morgan, Tony Perkins and
Hugh Hewitt – whew!) who are on the front lines of the
culture war exposing liberalism's globalist, big-government,
radical feminist, rabid environmentalist, pro-abortion, anti-gun,
peace at any cost, gay rights, anything goes, sick twisted
agenda. Balking at being called liberal, they hide behind the
trendy term, "progressive." Many "Progressive
Christian" leaders are highly critical of the Christian
Right and their role in politics. (See link 9 below)

ECM's beginnings

In his article, "Understanding the Emergent Church"
Walter Henenger says that while some of ECM's leaders came of
age in the "new paradigm" churches of the Sixties and
Seventies, "the real starting point was the mid-1980s, when
Gen X ministries began catering to youth culture. Often organized
as churches-within-a-church, they adopted cutting-edge ministry
methods but generally retained the structural DNA of their parent
megachurches." But in the late Nineties they came to realize
that they had failed to connect with postmodern people. During a
1997 meeting of the Young Leaders Network, pastor Doug Pagitt
turned the discussion to the subject of postmodernism.
"Light bulbs appeared over heads around the room,"
continues Henenger, "and postmodernism has been the
organization's focus ever since. The Young Leaders Network
soon morphed into the Terra Nova Theological Project, which
eventually became Emergent. Its leaders went from niche marketers
of religious services to global heralds of a massive,
irresistible paradigm shift. Heady stuff."[4]

A brief explanation of modernism and postmodernism is in order.
In his article "Preaching to the Post/Modern
Choir"[5] Shane Lems offers this pithy definition:

"Modernism embraces definite truth, absolutes, foundations,
rationalistic thinking, and certainty, while postmodernism
embraces emotions, authenticity, community, tolerance, and denies
unquestionable foundations. Modern preaching highlights the
propositional, didactic, and intellectual, while postmodern
preaching stresses the narratival, communal, sensual, and
authentic."

What exactly is ECM?

Well for one thing Emergents believe that the monologue of the
Christian Right is over and a new "conversation" (a
term they prefer over movement) is "bringing together a wide
range of committed Christians and those exploring the Christian
faith in wonderful ways," boasts Brian McLaren, "and
many of us sense that God is at work among us. As would be
expected, there have also been criticisms." [6]
I must digress for a moment to pose a question to Pastor McLaren:
If God is now at work in the postliberal ECM as its leaders
contend, was God not at work in the movement to Reclaim America
for Christ for several decades? Just thought I'd ask.

What is ECM's mission?

According to Emergent leader, Tony Jones, "At a basic level,
Emergent's mission is no different from any other group of
Christ-followers: we want to follow Christ and we want to help
others follow Christ. Of course, where it gets tricky is when we
start talking about what it looks like to follow Christ. All
along, Emergent has been about the melding of theory/theology and
praxis, and we want to promote fresh, creative, and imaginative
thinking about each. It seems that many organizations get to
emphasize one side over the other in the theory-praxis equation,
but we really are going to struggle to keep both of those in an
equal, reflective symbiosis. What does it mean to be the church?
What does it mean to follow Christ? We want to serve as a
catalyst for conversations that attempt to answer those two
questions, and to bring together the most creative people we can
find for those conversations. But, conversation alone leads to
paralysis by analysis, which is why we have always made sure that
conversations are led primarily by practitioners rather than
theoreticians and consultants." Huh?

ECM's missional concern

Emergents are concerned about being missional in a postmodern
world. "The word missional emphasizes a return to the
church's identity as existing for the world—to be
God's stewards over creation, to be a light to the nations,
to be witnesses of the inaugurated kingdom of God on
earth." [7] In this regard Emergent leaders have been critical of
evangelicalism. They believe evangelicals have not been
effectively missional in a postmodern world. Naturally, many
evangelicals find this view arrogant and self-righteous. Sadly,
ECM's arrogance has caused division between them and
evangelicals.

What is the ECM protesting?

"Whatever the Emerging Movement is," explains Scot
McKnight, "it is clearly a protest movement. Sometimes it
can appear to be cranky, but there is substance and there is
focus in what the Emerging Movement is protesting. And, though
sometimes the resolutions fall flat or fail to materialize, or
collapse into the unworkable, there are genuine resolutions being
worked out. What is the Emerging Movement protesting? Let me
count the ways," quips McKnight. "That's not an
attempt to be funny," he assures us, "there is a list
of at least ten items the Emerging Movement is protesting, and
most would agree that it has its finger on some hot buttons. And
let it be said that its primary focus in protestation is the
evangelical movement and, sometimes but not always, the
mega-churches that so clearly define and set the tone for the
evangelical movement." [8]

One hot button issue is abortion. Because they're mostly
liberals, many Emergents are pro-aborts. It pains me to do so,
but I'll let this go and move on.

Here's the rundown on some of what ECM believes, from an
article by Joseph Farah posted on WorldNetDaily.com [9]:

Capital punishment is wrong, despite clear, unequivocal biblical
commandment to take life for life.
Most Christians are too war-like and are guilty of "not
loving our enemies"
Universal health care should be provided by government.
Poverty should be eliminated by the U.S. government, not just in
the U.S., but throughout the world.
The minimum wage should be significantly increased.
U.S. should sign the Kyoto Protocol as a step toward solving the
phantom crisis of global warming.
The U.S. should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and address the
real problem of terrorism by creating a Palestinian state and
addressing the root cause – poverty.
We should make condoms available throughout the Third World to
fight AIDS.

Farah lists more of ECM's beliefs but I've got a lot
of ground to cover, so I'll move on. (In the article [9]
he exposes Red Letter Christians, a movement headed by Tony
Campolo and Jim Wright who are trying to "seduce evangelical
Christians into anti-biblical, socialist, tyrannical
politics.")

ECM is also about "rediscovering
spirituality"

"Emerging church practitioners are happy to take elements of
worship from a wide variety of historic traditions, including
Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox church, and Celtic
Christianity. From these and other religious traditions emerging
church groups take, adapt and blend various historic church
practices including liturgy, prayer beads, icons, spiritual
direction, and lectio divina."[10]
In other words, whatever unbiblical practice floats your
boat.

ECM's Quaker influence

"The Religious Society of Friends…although not born
from a conflict with modernism, has nonetheless influenced the
emerging church movement through mystics such as Richard Foster.
This influence is often seen in the mystical tendencies of
emergent worship and devotion. Some emerging churches mirror the
Quaker rejection of church hierarchy while valuing the sacred as
a personal, subjective experience, others utilize their
particular denominational structures for church
leadership." [11]

Bringing God's kingdom to earth

"To Brian McLaren," says Pastor Gary Gilley, "the
most prolific emergent writer, the ultimate goal of Jesus (and
God) is the kingdom of God, brought to earth. Just how is the
kingdom brought to earth? Through our good works. McLaren states,
'I hope that they [his neighbors] and I will become better
people, transformed by God's Spirit, more pleasing to God,
more of a blessing to the world so that God's kingdom (which
I seek, but cannot manipulate) comes on earth as in heaven
(emphasis mine).'" [12]

A new path

Many shifters, like Campolo and Wright, are hard-core leftists
who are doing everything in their power to lead the Church down a
new path, away from Sola Scriptura, into what Pastor Ken Silva
calls the "emerging cult of the new liberal theology"
and a "spiritual cancer." Without Scripture, how is it
possible to establish what is true about God? Oh, I know! To find
answers you must get in touch with your "inner self"
through meditation! To that end, ECM leaders urge believers to
embrace unbiblical contemplative prayer and other occult
practices. (I addressed this topic in Christians are
mixed-up…in mysticism
!)

On the DeepShift.org website, Pastor McLaren points visitors to
the new path:

"We hope this is a beginning for you to be on this new path,
believing in Jesus in a new way, ready to act for change in your
own life, in your community, the public and the world. We hope
this is a beginning for you to connect with new people who are on
this same path and journey for encouragement, support,
relationship and depth." [13]

The part that bothers me the most is "believing in Jesus in
a new way." What does he mean? Could he be referring to the
"Cosmic Christ?"

McLaren makes clear his intentions he says, "Rather than
accepting invitations, I'll join a creative team of friends
to develop and present about ten regional gatherings, half in the
winter/spring and half in the fall. These gatherings will be
called 'Deep Shift." [14]

McLaren's mission? (My comments in
brackets)

"DeepShift will call people to a deep shift in their
thinking about [Jesus Christ], faith, church life, mission,
ministry, art, justice, leadership, community, and worship. It
will emphasize deep personal inner transformation [through
contemplative prayer] integrated with deep organizational
transition as well, in the context of the 'Generous
Orthodoxy' I write and speak about."

McLaren on hell and the cross

In a 2006 interview McLaren calls the doctrine of hell
"false advertising for God." "[T]his is one of the
huge problems with 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 ... or even
the primary or 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 thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice
right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says
no, that's not really true. At the end God gets his way thru
coercion and violence and intimidation and uh 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." [15]

In my research I ran across a panel discussion on You Tube,
"Let's Talk Post-Modernism and the Emergent
Church." [16]
Here highly regarded orthodox theologians R.C. Sproul, Albert
Mohler and Ravi Zacharias had a "conversation" about
postmodernism, modernism, liberalism, and ECM.

The main thrust of ECM, the scholars say, is its rejection of
modernism and its embrace of postmodernism. Why reject orthodoxy?
Because the orthodoxy are absolutists. Absolutists want to
reinsert categories of right and wrong, whereas postmodernists
balk at doctrinal assertions. They gave as an example Brian
McLaren's position on homosexuality in a Time Magazine
interview. Following is the excerpt from Time: "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.' That alienates us from both the liberals
and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should
think." So McLaren suggested a five-year moratorium on
making pronouncements. And what will we do in the meantime? He
went on to say, "[W]e'll practice prayerful Christian
dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When
decisions need to be made, they'll be admittedly provisional.
We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies,
theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related
fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak;
if not, we'll set another five years for ongoing
reflection." [17]

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin, Brian. (Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13, Rom 1:26-28, 1 Cor 6:9-10,)

McLaren's wishy-washy comment on homosexuality obviously
did not go over well with the panel. Near the end of the
discussion Albert Mohler commented that his response to the
homosexual question is the very essence of postmodernism. He then
cautioned, "It is the abdication of Christian
responsibility. It is the abdication of Christian conviction and
it is a cave in of Christian courage. We do have an answer! And
it's not like we don't know what it is!"

As R.C. Sproul said so well, ECM appeals to Christians "who
don't want to have to deal with theological conflict."
These same folks relative doctrine, and that makes Sproul angry.
He then points out that disagreeing doctrinally is a "bad
thing." Looking rather grim-faced he said, "We
can't be satisfied with it. Because truth is too important to
kill it in the streets for the sake of peace! You can't do
it!" Bravo!

Ravi Zaccaris puzzled, "These men and women who were the
progenitors of this [movement]…what brought this about?
Are they bored with God?!" The problem, he explained, is
"Non critical people listening to this stuff absorb
it." After reading McLaren's books, Zaccaris wonders
what he believes at present. "Maybe something on Monday,
something else on Tuesday?" he said grimly. "He's
an anti-doctrinal individual. It's pitiful to see something
like this actually gain currency."

The Emergent movement is most definitely gaining currency,
especially with young people and those who are dissatisfied with
mainline evangelicalism. Which is the reason it's imperative
that committed Christians take a deeper look into the
"conversation." Listen carefully to the language to see
whether or not what a person purports is within the pale of
orthodoxy. In other words, check to see if it's biblical.
Because if the "conversation" doesn't line up with
Scripture, it's not from God. And if it's not from
God…it's from the pit of hell.

In another You Tube video I came across, Todd Wilken, host of
Issues Etc., was interviewing Pastor and author John MacArthur on
his response to ECM. [18] MacArthur believes the problem is that Emergent leaders have a
non-Christian attitude. Moreover, they have a "very worldly,
carnal, unsanctified approach to the Bible." With regard to
truth, he made this comment: "Truth is everything, and the
truth is contained in the Bible." He also mentioned that
progressives "do not accept the authority, inspiration and
inerrancy of the Bible. They do not accept that everything in the
Bible is absolutely true and that it is clear that it can be and
must be understood and applied." And the reason they reject
it? According to MacArthur, "They don't like a lot of
the things it says."

Scott Diekmann, a Christian apologist who believes "segments
of the 'Evangelical' Church are in danger of compromising
the Gospel at crucial points" wrote
an 8-part article
on ECM. In part 8 he states that part of
the problem with Emergents is that "some have substituted
the doctrines derived from the inerrant and inspired Word of God
with a doctrine based on an uninspired melding of Scripture,
experience, mysticism, and imagination. That lack of Scriptural
fidelity has at times led to a redefined Gospel, a message that
is predominantly Law rather than Gospel, and pastors who have
failed to present the whole counsel of God." [19]

What this is really all about is truth. False teachers stare
at Truth but fail to recognize the identity of truth. Jesus
himself said, "I am truth." Thus we know that Truth is
an aspect of God Himself. Christianity is the only truth because
it is anchored in the Person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, truth is
crucial to a realistic worldview. Which is why committed
Christians mustn't buy into the lie that truth is a matter of
preference or opinion. In case you haven't noticed, in our
postmodern culture we are experiencing the death of truth –
and the death of truth could mean the death of civilization! I
wrote this down, but I don't remember who said it.
"Truth is true if no one believes it. A lie is a lie if
everyone believes it." And that's the truth!

Before I wind this up, I want to stress that celebrities like
Oprah Winfrey and "Progressive Christian" leaders are
pressing a large number of believers into apostasy, even into
rank heresy. This is a serious threat to the Church! The threat
shouldn't be taken lightly nor tolerated. So ECM and
"New Spirituality" must be thoroughly understood and
debunked. What's more, committed Christians must expose
shifters for what they are -- occultists!

Footnotes:

1, THE SHIFT
movie trailer—Youtube.com

2,
Addressing the "Positive Gospel" of the Metaphysical
Movement
by Dean C. Halverson

3,
Rev. Eric Butterworth, 86; Preached Positive Attitude
By
Douglas Martin

4, Understanding
the Emergent Church
—Nicene Council website

5, Preaching to the Post/Modern Choir By Shane Lems, Modern
Reformation Magazine; Volume 17; Number 2; March/April 2008; page
14.

6, A Response to
Recent Criticism
By Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke,
Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, Chris Seay

7, Understanding
the Emergent Church
—Nicene Council website

8, What is the
Emerging Church? Protest
—jesuscreed.org, posted by Scot
McKnight

9, What
are Red Letter Christians?
By Joseph Farah

10, Wikipedia.com

11, Wikipedia.com

12,
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology
- Part 1(September 2007 -
Volume 13, Issue 9) By Gary E. Gilley

13, DeepShift.org

14, Everything Must
Change: Why Come--video on Youtube.com
—Brian
McLaren

15, Brian
McLaren Calls Hell and the Cross "False Advertising for
God
"—Lighthouse Trails website

16, Let's
Talk Post-Modernism and the "Emergent Church"
Youtube.com panel
--R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler and Ravi
Zacharias discuss ECM

17,
Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a
"Pastoral Response"
Out of Ur website

18, John
MacArthur on the Emergent Church Part
1—Youtube.com
—Host, Todd Wilkins, inverviews
JohnMcArthur

19, The
Emerging Church, Part 1: An Overview
By Scott Diekmann

Recommended Reading:

1, Christians are
mixed-up…in mysticism
!

© 2008 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved

Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade
News Report, an online news report for conservative people of
faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian
worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com,
Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her
commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org. Marsha
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics
website, On Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a
series of children's books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her
husband reside in historic Jacksonville Oregon.