Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Emerging Deception

by Donna Martin and Kathy Niehaus

 "If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no truth in them."  Isaiah 8:20

There is danger afoot in the Evangelical church, and it is happening right under our noses. The Emergent/Emerging Church movement is heading towards a collision with the New Age movement. False doctrines, a different gospel and even doctrines of demons have been introduced into many churches through books, music, videos, teachers and movements, that all claim to be of God. Some say the "Emergent Church" is the next step beyond the "seeker movement." Leaders of the movement say they have answers for our generation, even though it focuses on experience much more than the Bible. But leaders of the movement insist that in our fast-changing culture, something is happening. What was once a Christian nation with a Judeo-Christian worldview is becoming a post-Christian, un-churched, un-reached nation.

Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries said in an article, “Defining the Emerging Church (EC) is a little bit like nailing Jell-O to the wall.” And she was right about that. The more websites I have looked at on the movement, the more confused I got about their beliefs. Jan says, “It relies heavily on mysticism, which is a great danger to believers of all denominations. Some leaders will tell you that you cannot know truth. An EC service will often meet in homes and will rely on extra-biblical paraphernalia, extra-sensory images, sounds, smells of candles and incense, silence, mystical meditation, making the sign of the cross, touching icons, statues of saints, rosary beads for Protestants, liturgy, yoga-like deep breathing, contemplative prayer and sacraments--all for a full sensory immersion with the divine. In other words, they are looking for an encounter with the Lord using all their senses. Worship is stressed, but some would say more than the Word.”[1]

The most visible leader is Brian McLaren. He has been recognized as one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America." McLaren calls the movement a “post-protestant, pro-catholic, contemplative-mystical form of Christianity.” His book, "A Generous Orthodox," states, "The Christian faith should become a welcome friend to other religions of the world, and not a threat.” That sounds cozy, until he was a speaker at the Kentucky Baptist Convention when leaders learned McLaren suggested that people could be saved without being Christians.

Well, that’s not the only dirty little secret. According to Linda Harvey, a speaker and the owner of the website, McLaren has a bag full of goodies he’s not telling his followers. He and his supporters also believe that heaven and hell aren't real places, sin is disharmony with others and with creation, there is no absolute truth, and they reject the wrath of God in the end time eschatology. They also believe that the Bible is not divine - rather manmade, and there is no final return of Jesus Christ.

Who are these followers of the Emerging/Emergent Church? 
They can be identified as the evangelical left, who are against the evangelical right, and they endorse abortion and homosexuality.

Supporters of the Emerging/Emergent Church include Robert Schuller, Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, Dan Kimball, Dallas Willard, Bruce Wilkinson, Rob Bell, Eugene Peterson, John Ortberg, John EldredgeTony Campolo, and dozens of lesser-known people. Others such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels give credibility to the EC movement, although their churches cannot be classified as “Emergent.”

Rick Warren and others say that we need to pay attention to the Emergent Church.  Things are changing, they say, and the Emergent Church has the answers for our generation.  But what will the Emergent Church emerge into?

It should be apparent by now that the Emergent Church is more experience-based, rather than Bible-based.  Further, the Word of God takes a secondary position to the worship of God.

While promoters of the church may be sincere in their efforts to evangelize the postmodern generation and believe they are genuinely representing the Scriptures, there are some real concerns that need to be addressed.  Deviating from the Word of God for extra-biblical experience can open the door to deception.  While worshiping God is a very important part of the Christian faith, there are problems that can occur if worship supersedes the Word.

Supporters of the Emergent Church write and speak passionately about evangelism.  They are committed to reaching the postmodern generation.  They say their goal is to communicate the truths of Christianity in a way that can be understood by this generation.  They are willing to adapt or change whatever needs to be changed in order to be relevant evangelists.

While purpose-driven evangelists removed crosses and other Christian symbols from Church services to be seeker friendly, the post modern generation is attracted to crosses, candles, stained glass, liturgy and sacraments. Does this sound familiar? Their goal is to re-introduce an "Ancient-Future" faith, based on the ideas, dogmas, traditions and views of the Roman Catholic Church fathers. Many of their ideas come from Ignatius Loyola, a founder of the Jesuit order. Tony Campolo practices many of Loyola’s mystical practices that he developed to get closer to God. The mystical New Age practices he promotes are more closely tied to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism, than to biblical Christianity.

The Bible makes it clear the only way to be born again is to repent of your sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The doctrines of demons that Paul warned Timothy would be promoted in the name of Christianity in the last days are underway.

How can you recognize if this purpose-driven emergent global utopia?
     Here are some of the characteristics:

  1. Sound biblical doctrine is considered as dangerous and divisive, and the experiential (i.e., mystical) is given a greater role than doctrine.
  2. Bible prophecy is no longer taught and is considered a waste of time.
  3. Israel becomes less and less important and has no biblical significance.
  4. Eventually the promises for Israel are applied to the Church and not Israel (Replacement Theology).  
  5. Bible study is replaced by studying someone’s book and his methods.
  6. Church health is evaluated on the quantity of people who attend.
  7. The truth of God’s Word becomes less and less important.
  8.  God’s Word, especially concepts like hell, sin and repentance, is eventually downplayed so the unbeliever is not offended. 

The Emergent Church supporters tell us that we are out-of-touch with the times, the culture and the consciousness of change. All these sentiments are echoed by Mystic Universalist Matthew Fox who has said, "Christianity has been out-of-touch with its "core," its center, its sense of mystical practice and cosmic awareness."

Rick Warren participated in a National Pastors Conference where yoga, labyrinths, and contemplative prayer were promoted.  These are the same practices found in the Emergent Church. Their focus is marginalizing those who hold fundamental or traditional religious beliefs for the greater good of the faith community, and to break down theological boundaries to build community and harmony with all groups of people.


While Brian McLaren and Rick Warren may be excited about the Emergent Church and the direction it is presently headed, the goal of the movement is to unify the Christian Church - into one single church. But this is only the first step to their agenda. Their unification plans sinks its roots of involvement with the interfaith movement being headed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.             

The Church is presently going through a transition, which will eventually result in a single government-approved church. It will cut across denominational and world religion boundaries. What we are presently seeing in the Emergent Church is a precursor for the one-world religion.

You may ask, how can the Church go along with this when so many know we’re living in the last days? They are taking the interfaith movement by hook, line, and sinker! Some of the top Christian universities and Christian publications are endorsing the interfaith movement and giving credence to what McLaren and Warren say. I believe it is, because they don’t believe we’re living in the last days, and naively make no connection with the one-world religion.

Please be cautious if you are a part of a church that is teaching the Emergent Church or the Purpose Driven Church ideas. If you aren't certain, stop by your church library. If you are, then do your own study on the subject, and decide then if it’s worth the risk of staying. Maranatha

~This article was originally written for the 
Kindred Spirits Journal, Issue #44, October 2009.

One of the popular pastors of an Emergent church movement has gained much popularity over the past couple of weeks. There has been some controversy over Rob Bell's recent book, Love Wins. It hit the book store shelves and bloggers haven't been able to stop talking about him. His critics call him an Universalist, which he denies. 

As you listen to these recent clips, you will find that he clearly is. You will also gain some perspective on why young people are so attracted to a church like this, even though it teaches false doctrine.

(CNN link)

(YouTube link)

An excellent recent interview with Martin Bashir, where he nails Rob Bell's feet to the floor for answers. What's with those black clothes?

(NBC News link)

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8

 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears..." 2 Timothy 4:3