Communism, Islam, and… The Emergent Church??

It’s a bit embarrassing. The Family Research Council is about 6 years or some would say about a decade late.

Announcing at it’s Values Voter Summit that the Emergent Church is one of the most “urgent threats to America”.

4 years ago as the Emergent Church peaked and then faded into the sunset I wrote this piece “The Emergent Need For Christ” An Article that got a decent amount of attention, including a personal rebuke from Emergent church leader Tony Jones and him blocking me from every form of social media he has. Sort of a badge of honor for me.

Tony Jones

After much research, and a conversation on the phone with Tony himself, I was convinced that he was at the very least a wolf preying on Christians.

However his influence is nominal. The Emergent Church isn’t influencing America. The Emergent Church was riding the wave of cultural change and taking credit for being good surfers, not wave generators.

The Emergent Church has since disbanded.

Talking about them being a threat now is a kin to those announcing that Marilyn Manson plays dark evil music and kids should watch out. A great warning… a decade ago.

Lets stop sniffing out threats, and stand for something instead. Lets stop having gatherings worrying about threats, even though some be real, and utilize the power we’ve been given by the Gospel and Holy Spirit to make an actual impact. This is a time in history to be occupied by gut wrenching prayer, and extravagant love toward a society that needs the love of Christ and the Gospel.

Article: Top Three Adversaries of Christian Conservatives: Communism, Islam … and the Emergent Church?

(RNS) Christian conservatives who think Satan is using communism and Islam to bring down America can add a new “adversary” to the list: the Emergent Church movement.

A portion of the upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington will stray from its usual focus on politics and consider the Emergent Church as one of three “channels the adversary is using to bring America down.” Art Ally, president of The Timothy Plan, a Florida-based mutual fund company devoted to “biblically responsible investing,” will lead the breakout session.

“Why would Satan use Communism? It’s a godless form of government,” said Ally. “Why would Satan use Islam? Same reason. It’s not a religion. It’s a movement to dominate the world under the guise of religion. The Emergent Church plays right into that by weakening further our church community.”

The Emergent Church was a hot topic a decade ago as authors and pastors likeBrian McLaren and Tony Jones challenged churches to adapt to a postmodern culture, but the movement never organized itself well, and the debate surrounding it eventually died down.

“The Emerging Church was founded to get the evangelical church to take art, social justice and other what might be considered progressive issues more seriously. It was also founded to get the Mainline church to loosen their neckties a little bit,” Jones said.

The Emergent need for Christ

“Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, the God’s wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.” (Tony Jones “Why Jesus Died,” 4-10-09, http://www.beliefnet.com)

The Emergent church has received much warranted and unwarranted criticism over its inaugural decade. Because the Emergent doctrine is intentionally nebulous in definition one cannot speak generally about the movement as a whole. Therefore in order to gain any sort of pulse as to what is being said by this group, we are left with no choice but to look to the individual leaders who are driving it through books, conferences, and social mediums of every kind. This leaves us with quotes like the one above to help piece together the mosaic of the Emergent movement.

The above quote is emergent church guru Tony Jones, author of the book The New Christians. Though he is clear to state that he does not speak for everyone in the movement, I’ve been hard-pressed to find an author/ “leader”/ Emerging “ethos” contributor within the movement that has a differing opinion with Mr. Jones concerning relative/absolute truths. Hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t make Christianity a philosophical, humanistic understanding rather than about Jesus. I’ve read somewhere near 45 of the main books driving the movement, talked to different leaders like Mr. Jones, and was once a part of the movement or at least the “vibe” of it for many years.

The goal of this post is to be merely an introduction to some of the concerns within the Emergent church. My fight is to see that the truth of Jesus Christ be forefront in a place where people like Brian McLaren, Doug Padgitt, Peter Rollins, Phyllis Tickle, Spencer Burke and many others are diminishing His value

For the un-initiated, allow me to try to add a little definition to the movement that they do not to define. The Emergent church is a group or collection of people who are seeking to make a form of Christianity that is more relevant to our present Western Culture. In theory, it’s a way for Christians to join the ranks of the society around them and be Christians within their environment. Whether that’s hanging out with the fray at the local bar or joining a local bowling league. The premise is that Christians should not separate themselves from society into sheltered Christian circles, but they join society as Christians. They call this being “missional”; missionaries to our communities. Here is how Mr. Jones puts it:

“The emergent church is a way for us to figure out how to be Christians in a globalised, pluralized environment. Making the church reflective of the society that is around it… The push is for the church to become more participatory. In other words your opinion about the Bible becomes part of your churches orthodoxy”

This statement is where the Emerging/ Emergent “ethos” gets fuzzy and is translated into an unnecessary dichotomy between Faith and Practice. This point is also where the average person shrugs their shoulders and where most theologians throw up in their mouths. Being that my aim isn’t to help theology students but the average “Joe” better understand the Emergent church, I’ll leave the comparison/ contrasts for those capable theologians who have books out on the matter. (see- D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll John McArthur etc.) I’ll state the problem as plainly as I see it:

To make Christianity reflective of a society and culture that hates God and has made sexual immorality, self gratification, and greed idols of worship isn’t a new way to do Christianity, it’s a way to depart from Christianity. Scripturally, I believe a lot of what is being said is what the Apostle Paul warns us to stay away from in I Timothy 6 when he says:“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of Jesus Christ and the teaching of godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.

Adele Sakler, who heads up the Gay, Lesbian, Trans, and Questioning side of the Emergent church called “Queermergent” is one of many whose life has been led away from Christ and into sin because of the teachings of the Emergent church. On her site Why Queermergent? She describes her transition in the following statement:

“I began to read Brian McLaren and found him writing things I had felt inside but was very afraid to express outwardly to anyone. In 2002 I went to Northern Ireland to do a DTS with YWAM.I met the great Peter Rollins and we developed a great friendship. His teachings and writings on postmodernism and Christianity radically shaped how I viewed my faith. I could no longer hang onto certaintywith regards to interpreting scripture… There were more important things in kingdom living than where we go after we pass from this world to the next, like poverty, AIDS, the environment, etc. About 2.5 years ago I FINALLY came to terms with my sexuality. I found peace with myself and with God. Coming out was fairly painless with the exception of a few people who still think I am in sin and going to hell. I no longer hold this view and I am ok if people think that about me.” (Adele Sakler, Why Queermergent?” queermergent.wordpress.com)

I Timothy 1:15 “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Again, my fight is not against Adele Sakler, Peter Rollins or Brian McLaren. My fight is for people to know the truth about Christ before it’s too late. I want them to know that there is reprieve from suffering for the next 40-60 years of their lives and to know that they were created for so much more than simply trying to survive life without pain. Humans were created for so much more than coming to grips with their sin. They were created to experience the Divine pleasures of a loving God. We were made to communicate with Heaven, and live lives of peace and joy that only comes from life in the Holy Spirit. My fight, my cry is that people know that they can answer the question “Why do I exist”. We can have real freedom from the one thing humanity has been longing to be free from since Adam and Eve took a bite of that apple; sin.

I agree that the church in our culture is failing. Newsweek estimates that 25% of nationwide congregants have left the church in the last 10 years. The church has failed to love its fellow man as secular organizations out give and out serve the church worldwide. Yet, that lack of innovation is not our greatest peril.

The problem in the church is that it has wavered from making Christ the center and adopted a humanistic deism that puts the responsibility on the church to be inviting instead of Christ to be impacting.

The solution is simple and found in Luke 18:1-9, Col. 3:1-4, and Matt 5, 6, & 7. “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the Earth?”

He won’t if we are found putting more faith in our intellect, schemes, and ministry models. The answer is knee wrecking, ear straining, eye squinting, heart wrenching prayer. The answer is a people with faces set like flint, stumbling in a dark world with only the light of His face to guide them. (Is. 50:7-11) In our misunderstanding of prayer, we have cheapened our primary tool to seeing God’s power break in to our lives, and we have been found bankrupt in our attempts to impact society.

My desire is to expose lie of the Emergent church so that Jesus can have His glory. My prayer is that those perpetrating such lies would be set free by the power of Christ that they have so wrongly ignored and misinterpreted.

in all thy getting, get unction: Emerging Post 2

The title line is admittedly stolen from one of my favorite books of all time: Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill. If you haven’t read it- stop reading this post, click over to Amazon and order it. It’s that good.

In the ever brewing conversations about Emerging methodologies, practices, and new ways to do church, we can’t lose sight of reality in our present situation.

No matter whether you have people sitting at tables, in pews, or on the floor. No Matter if you have church in small groups, houses, small buildings, or mega church sites. No matter if you have a more open mind and heart toward people of different walks of life, or if you choose to exclude people of different walks of life. No Matter if you have a old church organ singing hymns, are a kick’n worship band with rock’n worship originals. No Matter if your sermons are relevant to the current culture, or are completely out of touch: Unless Christ is preached with love and conviction it’s vanity.

For the last month I’ve been researching and in conversations with people in the Emergent/ Emerging church. I have ripped through about 15 books, talked to some of the authors of those books, and conversed with many peeps here on the net waves, and pulled from my “post-modern” background.  As “sexy” as the emerging ideas are, at the end of the day they are trite.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the ideas of intellectual ways to have church. I have enjoyed on many occasions melding and contrasting existentialism with common Theology; finding where things fit and don’t. I greatly enjoy artistic expression in the church, poetry, art, good music. I think a few Godly poetry readings could indeed help loosen up the dull culture of the church.

However the problem with the church isn’t that it’s dull and boring. It isn’t that 18-30 year olds can’t relate, and feel like puking at the sight of the avocado green drapes still hanging in some churches almost as a reminder that the Jesus Movement was in the 70’s and they are awaiting a new movement to change the decor. The problem isn’t that the pastor doesn’t listen to Coldplay, or socialize with congregants at the local pub. The problem is unction.

Christ is relevant. He is upholding all thing by the word of his power.(Heb. 1) He lives to forever make intercession for us. (Heb 7:25) He is the expressed image of the invisable God (col.1) and He is returning to the Earth to restore all things. The problem in the church is that it has waivered from Christocentric, and adopted a humanistic diesm that puts the onus on the church to be inviting, instead of Christ to be impacting.

Yo Z, We know the problem, what’s the solution?

Luke 18:1-9, Col. 3:1-4, Matt 5, 6, & 7. When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the Earth? Not if we are found putting more faith in our intellect, schemes, and ministry models. The answer is knee wrecking, ear straining, eye squinting, heart wretching prayer. The answer is a people with faces set like flint, stumbling in a dark world with only the light of His face to guide them. (Is. 50:7-11) In our misunderstanding of prayer we have cheapened our primary tool to seeing God’s power break in when we preach.

Prayer is not us reminding God of things that need to change as if He forgot. Prayer is not telling God what to do, or how to act. Prayer is our answer to the crisis in the church. Pastors, teachers, saints, and stay at home moms; people who claim the name of Christ who value their prayer lives before anything else will have an ability to articulate the Heart of God in a way that changes lives, becase prayer is the truest seminary.

As Jesus, our Great High Priest, makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25) before the throne of God we join him in His heavenly petition. When we pray we are not presenting things that he hasn’t already thought to pray, instead our prayers are an agreement with what he is asking the Father. When we cry out for mercy on the poor in Sudan, His cry before the Father has already been thus. When we ask for healing or power He is faithful to give it. He often waits for us to join Him before he answers the prayer. This way when the prayers are answered, the greater praise His name receives.

Prayer then teaches us about God. It reveals scripture in a way that intellectual reasoning is found wanting. Prayer ailigns our hearts with His. Yes the Church lacks in humanitarian aid. But the solution is not just potlucks with poor people in the nighborhood. We touch the heart of God and the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5), the mercy and grace that we have been given are then recipicated through us to everyone around us. Mankind is then transformed internally through a revival of the soul that can in turn effect thier communities. The hungry get more than a full belly, they get the power of God to change a generation to the truth of Christ.

Their is indeed a new Christianity Emerging. But it isn’t a change to something new, but a returning to something old. It’s not a changing of church methodology, but of surrender to a plan already in progress. Jesus Christ is returning to the Earth. Relevancy belongs to him, not the church. When we begin to proclaim the message of Christ with divine unction and not just human sentiment, then the culture changes to  the only thing that was ever truly relevant; Jesus Christ.

Pray therefore.