“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Two Phases Of The Gospel

Unfortunately the Evangelical Protestant church in America fumbled the ball long ago when it came to the second phase of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The historic orthodox Christian Church down through the ages has always taught there were two aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is the primary mission to do as our Master did and to seek and to save that which was lost (see–Luke 19:10), which is what He also commands in the text above. And then there is the social aspect of the Gospel where in our gratitude to God for sending our Savior we are compelled to go into the marketplace and to serve others around us. As we share Christ’s Gospel, just as the Master Himself, the Christian is also to become involved in the world around us as summed up in the classic phrase “be in the world, but not of it” (see–John 17:15-16). Oz Guinness made the rather astute and yet sardonic observation that instead Evangelicals today all too often are, “of the world, while not being in it.”

In fact I’m currently in dialogue with the pastor of a congregation in the Emergent Church movement concerning this subject. Let it be known that I personally have no disagreement whatever with the many admirable activities that churches like these are involved in. No doubt the Apostle James clearly tells us – Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:15-17). And I am also in full agreement with “General” William Booth who founded The Salvation Army when he said:

Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again––until you can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.

And those who are aware of the rich history of this once fine Christian organization will know that The Salvation Army once boldly preached the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, which I might add, led to not just a little very fierce persecution. Ah, but now we have touched on the reason why the Evangelical Christian, so terribly timid after years of “soft lights and even softer sermons,” prefers to be hearers only about the faith of Jesus Christ and His Apostles instead of actually being doers of the Word. However, the Emergent Church has also experienced an equal and opposite reaction away from persecution and have instead become “doers” of the Christian faith, but not “hearers” of the Word. So with the Evangelical Church in American having failed rather miserably in this area the Devil has sent his kingdom of the cults into the breach, just as the Emerging Church movement was raised toward this purpose.

Praxis Dictates To God?

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

In the chapter called “Jesus: Savior of What?” of his book A Generous Orthodoxy Brian McLaren tells us about “Vincent Donovan [who] was a Roman Catholic priest from the U.S. who served as a Spiritan missionary in Tanzania for 17 years in the 1960’s and 1970’s, evangelizing the Masai. He explains that the lack of results led Donovan to question the ways of doing “Christian” mission work. And not only that says McLaren but:

Donovan found himself caught between the “heathen Masai” and a very confident, well-oiled religious machine. That in-betweenment forced him to rethink the whole meaning of what Christians call salvation, much in the same way my experience among “unchurched postmoderns” has affected me (92, emphasis his).

And now I ask the reader to pay close attention here for you are about to read the root reason why the whole Church Growth Movement, which gave birth to the Purpose Driven and the Emerging Church movements, actually derailed itself before it even left the station. McLaren writes:

[Donovan] explains, “I was to learn that any theology or theory that makes no reference to previous missionary experience, which does not take that experience into account, is a dead and useless thing…praxis must be prior to theology…In my work [theology would have to proceed] from practice to theory. If a theology did emerge from my work, it would have to be a theology growing out of life and experience of the pagan peoples of the savannahs of East Africa” (21, emphasis added).

Similarly, I have become convinced that a generous orthodoxy appropriate for our postmodern world will have to grow out of the experience of the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century (ibid., emphasis added).

The Seeker Sensitive Message Is In Reverse

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

The kind of reasoning we’ve just read from Brian McLaren is to put the Christian mission precisely backward as the world belongs to God and it is He Alone Who will decide what His creation shall do. As I’ve covered elsewhere, to put human experience ahead of theology is to make the very same mistake that Peter made when he tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem and going through with being crucified; but our Lord ends up having to tell him – “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23). As unpleasant as this might seem, based on my research into McLaren’s ministry, for his whole “postmodern” mission he has been going around looking for people who will agree with his preconceived bias against, and his hatred toward the historic orthodox Christian faith. In this case McLaren finds Vincent Donovan, a Roman Catholic priest, who has a difficult time as a “missionary” to the Masai people.

The question we will then need to ask is what kind of a “mission” do we have here by this Roman Catholic priest? We may reasonably assess that Donovan is himself not even a Christian by following Christ’s command in John 7:24 – “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” By looking at mere appearances here, we would only see a priest within the Church of Rome who is apparently attempting some kind of a Christian mission. However, for us to make a right judgment is to open our eyes to see the sad truth, which would be that based on Donovan’s being part of the apostate Roman Catholic Church, and more specifically by his choosing to remain in the unbiblical office of priest, instead what we are witnessing here is a religious social work of some kind by someone who does not even know Christ. As such then, even though this endeavor is admirable, it does not have the power of God behind it and was doomed to failure as far as His Kingdom is concerned.

And this is the crux of the matter before us in the nearly impotent Christian Church in America; an apparent lack of “results” with few true converts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the purpose has come emerging that we should now turn to our own methods. Here is yet another area that the Emerging Church movement has slithered into; the theological vacuum of a dead orthodoxy as the Church of our Lord de-emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit, and has instead tried to “win” people to Christ by mere human effort. It just can’t be done no matter how many “crusades” we do, and it still can’t be done no matter how attractive we try and make the Gospel of Jesus Christ appear. You must understand that for a human being to take up his cross (surrendering self to God) and follow Christ (living dead to self) is to be called to a life that is actually impossible to do apart from being regenerated by God the Holy Spirit.

The absolute truth is that as soon as we finally come to our spiritual senses and return to boldly preaching Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (see–1 Corinthians 2:2) regardless of the culture around us, then and only then will we see God empower our witness once again. We must toss away our being “ashamed of the Gospel” as Dr. John MacArthur put it in his fine book of the same name. And the core doctrine of “Christian” mysticism within the Emerging Church movement is there as the Devil’s counterfeit for the true experience with God that should be the normative life for the true Christian. Tozer talks about this when he says:

This is a crude illustration, but let me tell you what we did after planting a field of corn when I was a young fellow in Pennsylvania. To save the field of corn from the crows, we would shoot an old crow and hang him by his heels in the middle of the field. This was supposed to scare off all of the other crows for miles around. The crows would hold a conference and say, “Look, there is a field of corn but don’t go near it. I saw a dead crow over there!”

That’s the same kind of conference that Satan calls, and that is exactly what he has done. He has taken some fanatical, weird, wild-eyed [professed] Christians who do things that they shouldn’t, and he has stationed them in the middle of God’s cornfield, and warns, “Now, don’t you go near that doctrine about the Holy Spirit because if you do, you will act just like these wild-eyed fanatics.” (Tozer On Christian Leadership, February 13)

Make Disciples Of All Nations

Now we have our own reimagined perspective on what we have read by Emergent spiritual director Brian McLaren. In Vincent Donovan, McLaren has simply found an unbeliever with the same humanistic bias he has. He then continues to advance his postmodern theological position based on yet another unsuccessful “mission” by someone who doesn’t know Christ personally. And despite such obvious signs of spiritual danger, amazingly enough McLaren is stilled called in by church groups to be an instructor of Evangelical pastors. However, titles like spiritual director, and the promulgation of pagan practices like meditation have no place in the Church of our Lord. And we have to wonder just how many more young lives will end up twisted by Brian McLaren into a false understanding of the Christian mission before the Evangelical Protestant church publicly distances itself from him, and from the growing cult of the Emergent Church?

We return now to the opening text from Matthew 28:19-20 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The true mission of the Christian Church really can’t be put any more succinctly than the Master Teacher Christ Jesus–Author and Perfecter of our faith–has stated it above. The underlying Greek tells us “as you are going” make disciples of all nations. Well, so much for the humanist man-pleasing argument that the Christian has no right to come into a given culture and then presume to try and change their religious beliefs. Might I remind you of 2 Corinthians 5:20 – We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

Perhaps you will remember how Emergent spiritual director Brian McLaren countermands Jesus Christ, the Lord he claims to follow, and instead tells us in A Generous Orthodoxy (AGO) that “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages” (254). But wait a minute, is that how the Jewish religious leaders perceived Christ’s mission according to what we read in the historic record of the Gospels? Did they really say: “He seems to be a welcome friend, not a threat. It looks as though Jesus of Nazareth has come to protect our heritage; oh yes, all the more reason we had better make sure we engineer His crucifixion.” Christ’s unyielding stand for the Truth would cost Him His life, albeit just temporarily as our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead now insures our own.

However, the counterfeit Christian faith as proposed by Brian McLaren and the Emergent Church should become “a welcome friend” to other religious heritages. Alright then, is McLaren also proposing that this lines up with the actual witness of the ancient Apostolic Christian Church as well? In Acts 7 Stephen’s message wouldn’t appear very friendly to the heritage of Judaism when he tells their religious leaders:

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.” (vv.51-53)

We Must Obey Everything Christ Has Commanded

As I said before, McLaren is hardly alone in not having the spiritual guts to preach like this; but I’d have to say that since God the Holy Spirit had Stephen’s speech preserved in Holy Scripture for our edification, coupled with the absolute fact that it is in perfect accord with Christ’s Own witness and commands, then we are looking at an example God would wish His Church to get back to–and get back to soon! Now let us not get caught up in the wrong issue here; no one is saying that a given people do not have the right to worship in whatever way they choose. No, the crucial issue is that the Christian is commanded by His Master Christ Jesus to make disciples of all nations and then to teach them to obey everything our Lord has commanded – not suggested, but commanded – us to believe and to do. And we must keep in mind that we are not being to told that the country itself will be discipled, but rather some people within all nations.

“Real eyes realize real lies,” anonymous

But Brian McLaren’s Emergent Church, as well as those heretical living spiritual teachers he is so fond of, would have us believe that Jesus has said: “While you are protecting the religious heritages of these other nations, be sure and make friends with their culture in My Name. And ‘in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become [My] followers…and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts’ (AGO, 260, emphasis his). Now, if they happen to want to follow Me that would be fine as well, and then you could teach them whatever I taught that you both might happen to feel comfortable about.” However, the witness from history, not to mention the inspired text of the Bible itself, is diametrically opposed to this false message that McLaren feels “emerges from authentic spirituality.” The Christian witness is not about preserving the religious heritage of a given culture; no, the true follower of Jesus is obedient to His Master and faithfully preaches His Gospel in an attempt to make disciples among the people within the nation.

For you see, among those things that our Lord has commanded us to teach people that they must obey while we make disciples of all nations is that there is a cost to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus says – “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). And further we must also teach that Christ couldn’t care less that your postmodern “culture” doesn’t like the logic inherent in so-called “proof-texting” as He adds almost tersely – “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:38). As you can plainly see, clearly this is definitely not the “Jesus” caricatured by the seeker sensitive Purpose Driven and Emerging Church of the independent and quite pride-filled American culture. Rather these are instead the infallible Words of the real Jesus of the Bible, Almighty God Himself, Who can say – “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I Am you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24, Greek)

Perhaps now you understand that there’s no option here for us to alter this message in our opening text from Christ, which is known as “the Great Commission” to – “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Neither is there any option at all for the people within these nations to escape having to become disciples – “students” – of these commands that the LORD God Almighty in human flesh–the very Creator of this entire universe Himself has said they must follow if they wish to be saved. Can’t you see, if the ancient Christian Church would have been making friends with other religions, if the Church of our Lord actually was protecting Greek and Roman religious heritages in the pluralistic society of their day, then why is it that the Bible tells us that an angry mob shouted – “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,” concerning some of these Christians who were out making disciples and commanding them to obey everything Christ Jesus had taught.

The sad truth is that the message of the Kingdom as taught by Brian McLaren and the Emergent Church is not the same message that Jesus Christ gave to His Church, and therefore it must be rejected. And further I tell you in the Lord that this mythical non-gospel of mystic neo-pagan spiritualism must be publicly denounced immediately, lest we incur even more judgment from our great God and Savior upon His lazy and lukewarm Church here in America. Do you really think that the antichrist Purpose Driven Church and the Emerging Church could have even been pressed forth by Satan unless God allowed him to do so? As I have said before, so I say again; the Christian community in these United States of Arrogance before Almighty God has reached a spiritual crossroad. Will we repent and confess our unwillingness to confront error, then stand for the purity of His Gospel, and once again begin to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints; or will we continue to pay no attention to the Lord’s warnings until He finally spews us out of His mouth.

Know ye that it stands written:

“ ‘So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’ Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:13-15)

And so, now what say ye?