I must admit that as I begin this work I feel a bit like Jude may have felt when he wrote in verse 3 – Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. It would appear to me that he started out to write an encouraging letter, but unfortunately for both of us we have to address apostasy in the Lord’s Church.

Sadly The New Downgrade No-Controversy apparently continues on unnoticed by influential Evangelicals. I offer as sadly symptomatic the upcoming event sponsored by the Zondervan “communications company” during which the Emergent Church movement, once on the fringe of the Church, is now going to be a featured attraction in their National Pastor’s Conference 2006 in late February. I must tell you if Evangelical leaders don’t recognize the test from the Lord quickly, then the conference will metastasize as a spiritual cancer and carry these deadly cells right into the very bloodline of the Body of Christ.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4, KJV).

An Emerging Introduction

“Sound doctrine is under siege. In fact, it always has been” – John MacArthur (2 Peter & Jude, p.157)

I must admit that as I begin this work I feel a bit like Jude may have felt when he wrote in verse 3 – Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. It would appear to me that he started out to write an encouraging letter about how amazing it is that by God the Holy Spirit the true born again Christian has the incredible opportunity to have a personal and intimate relationship with God the Father through the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of God the Son–Christ Jesus our Lord.

But wait a minute, we must back up the joy wagon here and remember that because sound doctrine is always under attack we must now instead urge you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (NKJV). And so, sighing deeply, and loading this next small rock into my slingshot, I reluctantly stand ready to hurl forth part two of this examination of the spirit of inclusiveness that has now arrived inside the walls of the Church proper having been unloaded from the Trojan Horse that is the Emergent Church movement.

Originally I had intended to discuss one of their most noted theologian’s aberrant (at best) view of the atonement, by which Brian McLaren would have been saved by His Lord, if he is indeed a Christian. That will have to wait for part three because I am persuaded that a few more things need to be addressed prior to our examination of McLaren’s denial of the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement. I have covered this somewhat already in this article, as well as this one, but I do feel prompted that it is necessary to address the subject one more time in a more typical apologetic contrasting McLaren’s teaching with what the Bible itself says about the atonement, which as I said I will do next time.

And this brings me to a point I felt the Lord wanted me to address concerning my particular “style” of writing. If one wishes to understand why I write as I do it would be important for you to keep in mind that I am also a pastor. It is because of this, and my feeling that there are many, many fine Evangelical scholars writing in a more traditional apologetic manner today, I thought that perhaps I might approach these subjects in more of a sermon-like fashion. This often results in what I’ve seen referred to as a “stream of thought” form of writing, which is more preaching than teaching. So since I am not sure how often you will see me write anymore, it seemed good in the Lord to offer this as a way to correct any misunderstanding of what I had tried to accomplish through these articles I’ve written as time has allowed.

The Emergent Conversation

Now that you know there really has been a method behind my madness, let me remind the reader that in part one of this ongoing conversation about the Emergent Church I mentioned that the Evangelical community here in so-called postmodern America has been busy doing a splendid impression of the Church of Laodicea as The New Downgrade No-Controversy apparently continues on unnoticed. Of the church of Laodicea the Risen Christ had said: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

This is unfortunately also a very accurate description of the “business as usual” mentality, obvious enough for anyone who wishes to see it, that is to be found in the majority of the Christian Church today in this nation. I offer as sadly symptomatic the upcoming event sponsored by the Zondervan “communications company” during which the Emergent Church movement is now going to take center stage in their 2006 NPC next month. For instance, here’s a bit of information about one of the “presenters” you won’t find on that above link. National Coordinator Tony Jones openly advocates somewhat obscure heretical practices originating within the apostate Church of Rome like Lectio Divina, Stations of the Cross, Centering Prayer, and the Labyrinth.

And then there’s Doug Pagitt, who is part of a group of Emergent Church leaders who are meeting this month with “emergent” Jewish Leaders of Synagogue 3000 for what they see as “a genuine spiritual awakening.” These men also feel that this meeting will offer an opportunity…for Jews and Christians to do God’s work together,…in shared witness to our two respective faiths.” One can’t help but wonder why the Apostle Paul hadn’t thought to use this approach in his own witness, it sure seems as if it would have saved him some nasty bruises from the rocks he was pelted with.

Those of us who have been called to study this movement are trying to tell you that what is being missed here is the bigger picture behind this convoluted “conversation.” And because of the lateness of the hour we simply do not have the time anymore to sit around and rehash/redefine/re-imagine, ad infinitum, ad nauseaum, the Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While discussing the liberals attacking the Bible in his day, D.L. Moody put it very well when he said that if someone were to come to him and tell him bad things about his wife, he wouldn’t need to go and investigate every instance because he would know it to be false because of her character.

A Conversation About What?

How this applies in our discussion here is that because of the spirit of inclusiveness within the Emergent Church, with its careless disregard for authority and orthodoxy, we are simply not going to be met with men who wish to change. The Christian Church doesn’t need to be wasting time with more “meetings,” what the Body of Christ needs right now are men with spiritual backbone like Luther and Spurgeon to stand up and speak out about this growing apostasy within Evangelicalism. Doesn’t anyone remember “Athanasius contra mundum”? Well, looking back through the corridors of time, it turns out that he was right after all, wasn’t he.

It is important to understand here that the whole point behind this Emergent Church movement is to “emerge” from the Christian Church as it has been defined through the Protestant Reformation and to then be free to pick and choose at random from the various traditions of “Christianity” what they happen to like; let’s call it “cut and paste Christianity.” Once we know this we are then able to understand that it all starts subtly with people like Tony Jones who would think that that these disparate strains contain spiritual exercises and disciplines that can awaken and develop an inherent spirituality within anyone who claims the name Christian. And the drift begins…

But what we need to see here about this Emergent Church movement is that at its core theology is the seed of the growing deception that will try to tell us that within all the religions of the world is a universal work of God to one degree or another. This is the spirit of inclusivism which is behind the theology of some of their other leaders like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt who already are leaning toward the possibility that there is a divine spark within all religions which can ultimately unite all of mankind itself. This mistaken idea of a global family is exactly where an emerging “generous orthodoxy” will be talking all those foolish enough to follow it.

To Draw Away Disciples After Them

The difficulty presented through articles such as these is the nearly futile attempt to alert the Church to something that is only now in the process of beginning to happen, and as of yet doesn’t necessarily meet the natural eye. This type of serpentine subterfuge has always been the Devil’s devious way, for certain ultimately the Spirit of the Lord will fully reveal it, but for now we are amidst a test from God to see whether we will exercise the faith necessary to protect Christ’s Church from these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Bible knows there are myriad warnings about false prophets and counterfeit teachers virtually from one cover all the way to the other. I personally don’t happen to like that the Lord chose to allow this, but we may all remain thankful that God is wiser than to ask me for my opinion in these matters.

However, we do need to think about a couple of things here: 1) These false prophets and counterfeit teachers are with us now, and 2) The fact that they are then gives us very good reason to question a pet doctrine of this whole seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement that the Emergent Church is part of whether they like it or not. This cherished teaching would be this idea that the Church is to work toward uniting everyone who dares call themselves a Christian in some ecumenical spirit of brotherly love. Unfortunately what flies directly into the face of all the warm fuzzies of this fictitious global family is the indisputable and absolute fact that the LORD God Almighty Himself chose to allow the existence of these false prophets and counterfeit teachers within His Own Church, which would virtually assure this could never happen…that is, at least ‘til the end…

But through careful analysis of the Emergent Church we need to come to see that this confused conversation is actually only yet another reemergence of what God the Holy Spirit has already warned the Church of Christ about through the Apostle Paul:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! (Acts 20:28-31).

Here we must take into consideration our Lord’s double-edged Sword of the Word of God as we realize that in the setting of its historical context this warning was actually spoken to the elders at Ephesus. However, as Paul Harvey used to say: “The Rest of the Story,” is that we must ever be on our guard in the Church until Christ returns. Now many in the Emergent Church would like to try and paint someone like myself as a wild-eyed fanatic on some lunatic fringe of the fundamental camp. For point of clarification I’m not a fundamentalist, nor am I necessarily a member of “Evangelicalism,” preferring rather to continue my being led toward a complete break with any denomination. Christ knows I receive no assistance from the Southern Baptist Convention as it is and am even blacklisted locally preventing any pulpit supply or speaking engagements.

Truth is I’ve never been much of a denominational guy anyway and I am on record as saying I firmly believe most of these organizations, just like Emergent-US, are only man-made divisions empowered by their own human pride anyway. And as far as what I am saying here regarding The New Downgrade No-Controversy as liberalism invades the American Church once again, should the Lord tarry I will be found among those who first sounded warning, and my hands will be clean in His sight. I also remember one of my mentors, Dr. Walter Martin, once said: “Don’t be right too early in the game, because no one will remember.” On a human level he is absolutely correct, but I am content to stand by what I have said in that the Lord is my witness I have done what I can.

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