For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.

I will have to admit that I find it a little odd looking around at the various writings about Brian McLaren where his non-stand about homosexuality (or about anything else for that matter) actually has surprised people. There is little chance that McLaren is ever going to come down on the side of what the Bible says about this forbidden lifestyle because of his own views on Scripture. In fact, this becomes near impossible now through his involvement with “living spiritual teachers” like Alan Jones and Marcus Borg. You see their warped view of Christian spirituality, twisted as it is by the practice of neo-pagan mysticism only figures to draw McLaren further away from believing what Holy Scripture says. This is also tied to how McLaren approaches the Bible because the Emergent spiritual director follows a very allegorical “Alexandrian School” approach to Holy Scripture so he would not readily see what it clearly appears to be saying when read at face value.

Space allows just one quick example concerning what the text of the Bible coveys as to the Creator’s position about the practice of homosexuality where allegory has no place. We turn to Romans chapter one where the inspired Apostle Paul is talking about God’s wrath against sinful conduct, which is being progressively revealed throughout this Age of Grace, but will one day be fully poured forth in judgment. The Lord tells us He feels mankind has no excuse to claim he does not know what His Creator expects of His creatures. The original Greek itself speaks of a willful suppression of the Truth about God, a conscious effort to “hold down” what is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (v.19). If one is to rightly comprehend what is being said here in the Bible it is critical to understand that Paul is writing about mankind in general and not simply to a first century culture.

So in context we will have been reading about the Lord’s growing anger with a rebellious mankind who willfully refuses to obey his Creator. Then as we reach verse 24 we find – Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. We see God gives the unrepentant over in the sinful desires of their hearts. This is why it is so dangerous to follow the dead wrong teaching so prevalent today to “follow your heart,” which is to act on what you feel is right. As you can see this false philosophy is at the core of McLaren’s own misunderstanding of the Bible and serves to illustrate the grave spiritual danger of subjective mystic experiences. Since Jeremiah 17:9 has been more than amply quoted in this regard let me remind you the Bible also tells us in Psalm 64 – Surely the mind and heart of man are cunning. (v. 6)

The Evil Within

The verse in Jeremiah, the heart [of man] is deceitful, is far from an isolated principle latched onto by rabid fundamentalists. It is a sad fact concerning the horrific corruption to the image of God in mankind that happened because of the Fall. Why we can even see this indicated as far back as Genesis 8:21 where the LORD God plainly tells us about mankind’s true nature – every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. So much for our secular psychiatrists and sociologists with their bankrupt theories about people being products of their environments. Without a doubt this factor exacerbates our inherent sinful natures, but Christ Himself even told us that – For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside. (Mark 7:21-23)

It isn’t a pretty picture; it isn’t seeker sensitive, and unfortunately those of us who teach the Truth won’t come emerging with much of a following. But this is the backdrop against which the Apostle Paul is writing as he explains how God has chosen to be patient about mankind’s sin. However as we return to Romans 1 we are being informed that our Creator’s patience will (and possibly now has) run out. This brings us to verse 26, and more specifically back to the issue of homosexuality. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. It should be obvious enough we are being told here that what we will read next would be considered shameful lusts by the Creator. And notice this has nothing to do whatsoever with a particular culture, but with what God Himself judges universally to be shameful lusts.

Now the b part of verse 26 – Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. The logical question that arises is: “What are these natural relations women exchange here for unnatural ones. God the Holy Spirit anticipates this question and provides our answer in Verse 27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. We see then – In the same way as the women the men also abandoned – or exchangednational relations with women for unnatural ones. So now we can understand that according to the created order, the LORD God Almighty–the Creator Himself, has defined “natural” sexual relations to be that which occurs between a man with a woman. As a result therefore, Scripture then defines sexual activity between members of the same sex as being “unnatural.”

And this is reinforced in the b part of verse 27 – Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Now we can put this all together and come to the realization that according to the Bible God refers to sexual relations between members of the same sex as shameful lusts. Homosexuality is also said to be abandoning natural relations and being inflamed with lust (a sin in itself) for a member of one’s own sex. Verse 27 lists this among indecent acts and clearly refers to homosexuality as perversion. There is just no way around what these texts are saying because this passage of the Bible concerns proper sexual conduct for men and women that would be regardless of cultural mores of any generation. However, the fact that Christians might show more concern for those trapped in this immoral lifestyle still doesn’t change what the Scripture itself says.

The Subjective Spiritual Seeker

This issue being what it is, we return now to Brian McLaren as he turns aside to allegorical myths. We can see why this is happening when one looks at his low view of Scripture, and this follows for many other “postmodern” Emergent Church leaders as well. Upon examination you will find McLaren’s approach to the text of the Bible has far more in common with early Church fathers Clement and Origen than it does with Church Reformers Luther and Calvin. Therein lies your key to understanding McLaren’s reluctance to take stands on doctrinal issues even ones that would certainly seem to be pretty well spelled out in the text of the Bible itself. This will also shed light on the mortal disease contracted within the Emergent Church itself. When you have these two elements, an allegorical mindset where we spiritualize into the text what we “feel” it’s saying, combined with an experience-oriented mysticism, you have the perfect recipe for spiritual disaster.

I don’t know what exactly caused Brian McLaren to leave the historic orthodox Christian faith, but we seem to have an indication of the drift beginning at least as far back as his 1999 book Finding Faith. In the Introduction the spiritual director is talking about intelligent people seeking faith, “since faith is the doorway into spirituality and the primary means of connecting with God.” (13) Here’s where the problem begins to surface when McLaren then tells the reader:

Like you, I am a spiritual seeker, and I have many friends who are spiritual seekers at varying stages in their journeys. Obviously, my work as a pastor keeps me in a community of such people every day, so the struggles of spiritual seeking are always on my mind. (18)

I think you will recognize that these are not words consistent with a Christian pastor. Those who are in Christ are no longer “spiritual seekers” (though I wouldn’t use that term myself) because they have already found a relationship with God. Of course our Creator is the One Who was seeking us in the first place. A large part of the job description for the pastor-teacher is that he must be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:24) and further He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9) Anyone who has read much by McLaren will have seen him say things like he does while discussing “doubts about” his own opinions in A Generous Orthodoxy:

I don’t mind if you think I’m wrong. I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about. I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about in at least some cases. So wherever you think I’m wrong, you could be right. (20)

In our emasculated society this might make those you speak to more comfortable, but it hardly inspires confidence to follow someone like this into spiritual battle, and it certainly doesn’t meet the Biblical qualifications to be a pastor-teacher. Can’t you just imagine the following strategic session the night before the big battle:

“Alright troops, now we’re going to have to take this objective; ah, er…but maybe it’s the other one. Well, I’m not sure exactly which thing I could be wrong about, so I guess we’ll take um, the first one after-all…that is, ah, if you don’t mind. Anyway, we’ll attack by–oh, I think maybe we should use a flanking maneuver; or not, because I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about…at least I’m sure that is what I think…ah, I think…unless of course you think I’m wrong, you could be right.”

This kind of spiritual subjectivity we have been discussing also reveals another glaring defect in McLaren’s skeptical “postmodern” approach to the Christian faith, and one we see is also consistent with those who are involved with transcendental meditation. And this would be the conflict with the Bible over this whole issue of “seeking” God in the first place. There is little doubt that pagan America after years of dead secular humanist evolutionary theory is finally becoming fed up with its lack of answers to the problems of the world and is becoming more open to the idea of a spiritual realm. The increase of interest in mysticism–just look at the professing Evangelical community itself–is a good indication that people are “seeking” something more than just a physical existence.

However, the problem comes when we assume this means they are seeking the LORD God Almighty Who is revealed in Holy Scripture. Clearly they are not. In fact, the Bible itself tells us they are not – As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) But when we leave ourselves open to subjective approaches to the Scriptures we end up with today’s ecumenical seeker sensitive purpose driven emerging church and fall victim to fulfilling the prophesy found in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

A New False Kind Of Christian

And this is the clear and present danger with the a-biblical approach to the Christian faith by Brian McLaren. For someone who professes he’s “not sure exactly which thing” he could be wrong about McLaren sure does an awful lot of pontification to the contrary as well. So the question becomes which Brian McLaren do we believe? To be honest it seems to me that in McLaren we have a near perfect example of a “political” Christian. A man who has an incredible ability to say conflicting things but somehow still not really leave a bad impression with most people. I offer this would be a great gift indeed if he was running for some kind of political office, but he is not. Brian McLaren is affecting people’s decisions that touch on an eternity with no second chance to undo bad choices.

Today I urge those of you who have come under McLaren’s spell in the Emergent Church to stop playing spiritual Russian Roulette with your eternal destiny and to turn away from following this new false kind of Christian. When will men with real spiritual backbone arise and tell the world that someone like Brian McLaren is not our brother? Here is a man who is actually working to undermine people’s faith in the Bible at a time when we need to hear God the most. Put these men out of Christian fellowship that they might repent. Let the world go follow them on the broad road to destruction if that’s where they want to go, but no more should they be allowed to do it in Christ’s Name.

And yes, it is great to see Dr. John MacArthur speaking out against the Emerging Church, and now I pray he might also contact his friend Dr. John Ankerberg to set up a debate on the issue of homosexuality with Brian McLaren. Sure McLaren might sound impressive when he’s playing to the Emergent crowd, but how will he sound next to someone who knows what the Bible really says? Men and women at this late hour we’ve no time left for the straw men arguments from counterfeit Christians like McLaren and Campolo that only impress people who don’t know any better. The time has arrived where the true Body of Christ must tell the world that it was written long ago about such men as these:

Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

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