“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Emergent Leaders Themselves Broke Fellowship

Recently Tony Jones was interviewed by Relevant Magazine which I talked a little bit about in Tony Jones Says. At the foot of the page carrying this interview was a link to an interview with Brian McLaren, a major leader in the growing Emergent Cult, where we he is asked:

RELEVANT Magazine: A lot of your critics use the issues of hell and absolute truth as reasons to, as Tony Jones said, “break fellowship” with you. What would you say to people who are concerned with those issues?

Brian McLaren: I (sic) lot of people have said that I don’t believe in hell. That’s a really gross distortion of what I try to do in the book that I wrote about hell, which is called The Last Word and the Word After That. One of the major things that I tried to do in that book is raise questions so that there can be honest dialogue about these questions. I’m not raising them to be troublesome. Although some people have been critical of what I’ve said in the book, I haven’t read any substantive accounting for the issues that I raised in the book.

Men and women, please open your eyes and see that Brian McLaren is the epitome of this verse from God’s Word – The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17, NASB) While no one is arguing that I am personally flying under the radar as far as visibility, no doubt I am among those who would be considered one of McLaren’s “critics.” But I can also tell you that the interviewer here is setting up a straw man for him because those of us who are “critics” did not “break fellowship” with either Jones nor McLaren. They are the ones who have come “emerging” away from the historic orthodox Christian faith in the first place with their scathing criticisms of Reformed theology.

Not only that but those of us highly critical of these divisive men have an over-riding area of concern which is much more important than what their particular doctrine concerning Hell may or may not be, though what disturbs us about each of them is related to their concept of absolute truth. Our main concern is that they have rejected the proper Reformed view of the final and absolute authority of the inerrant and infallible Word of God in the Bible. These men simply refuse to place themselves under the absolute Truth of Holy Scripture. This is what many of us are concerned with in regard to McLaren and Jones who, following the false neo-orthodox view of Karl Barth (at best), they have instead set up their own corrupt human reasoning as the criterion for deciding what God has said. And once any of us do this, we have already grieved God the Holy Spirit Who wrote the Bible.

It’s All Been Said Before

More specifically to what McLaren has said above, the most revealing part of this quote is when he says, “I haven’t read any substantive accounting for the issues that I raised in the book.” Well, of course you haven’t Brian because no matter what anyone says you seem to go right on your merry way down the path you have chosen for yourself and simply ignore the “substantive accounting” by people like John MacArthur, David Wells and a growing number of others concerning many of these non-issues that you have raised. You see, what young people who end up duped by McLaren and Jones’ pseudo-intellectual philoso-theological “questions” being raised is that they are not actually bringing up anything new at all.

On my book shelf I have a two volume set called The Fundamentals edited by Dr. R.A. Torrey (1856-1928), which was originally released in 1917 during the rise of what Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) would label “The Cult of Liberal Theology.” All of the very same so-called “new” issues and questions raised by Brian McLaren and his friend Tony Jones are thoroughly covered within its pages. McLaren and Jones should know that, but the poor young people attending neo-liberal Bible colleges and seminaries clearly don’t. So when the Emergent Guru, right in line with other cult leaders, plays his “misunderstood martyr” card to close in his circle of followers around him it is quite effective to these young minds he is currently warping. It is also infecting the huge numbers of professing Christians who are just plain ignorant of their own beliefs as well. But the absolute truth is that while McLaren whines about there being nothing substantive in criticisms of his work he is really only fulfilling an old adage: There are none so blind as those who just will not see.

Next McLaren brings us to the heart of the matter as to why he has a growing number of critics, for which I personally thank God. The Emergent Cult leader never misses an opportunity to push aside actual Biblical discussions of his work, which should form the basis of any theological discussion, as he uses circular reasoning in order to set himself up as the authority for what he teaches:

People can certainly quote Bible verses back and forth; that’s been done for a long time. What I’m suggesting is a historical narrative or a context for which Jesus made certain statements. I think we need to take a fresh look at the Scriptures. I’m just trying to raise questions. I know that upsets some people; they don’t think those questions should be raised. But that’s in the tradition of being a good evangelical and a good Protestant. We believe that we should continually go back to Scripture and be willing to adjust our beliefs based on what we actually find in Scripture.

“Based of what we actually find?” We’re with you there Brian, but then he treads upon the same ground as his friend Jones and begins to sow his doubts as to whether one can even come to know what the Scriptures he would have us examine above truly mean. However, once you know that McLaren’s “fresh look” at Scriptures regarding the doctrine of Hell actually means he wants to rehash old liberal inclusive views of the Bible and then couple this with his neo-orthodoxy in order to elevate his own human reasoning alongside the text of Scripture we are able to see through his “postmodern” smokescreen of subjective interpretation of the Bible. Again we see McLaren set up a straw man, as he so often does, in order to play to the sympathy of his Emergent following by saying, “they don’t think those questions should be raised.” Just who is this mythical “they” Brian?

However, notice here that Guru McLaren then goes on to refute himself when he points out: “they don’t think those questions should be raised. But that’s in the tradition of being a good evangelical and a good Protestant.“ But if “good” evangelicals and “good” Protestants agree that “questions should be raised” then what is he whining about when people engage him in discussing these questions he keeps raising? Clearly what McLaren doesn’t like is the “good” grammatical-historical Reformed Protestant approach to interpreting these “Scriptures” he allegedly wants us to take a “fresh” (read: neo-liberal) approach to. Now can you see why the contemplative spirituality that McLaren and Jones and Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster push is so dangerous? It ends up shutting down critical reasoning skills which prevents one from seeing the things that I have just pointed out to you.

Truth Defined By The Beholder

As we get set to wrap up our initial look at this recent McLaren interview you may recall the classic phrase: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What the Emergent Church leaders would have us believe about the subject of truth is actually similar: “Truth is in the eye of the beholder.” Guru McLaren says:

The other issue is absolute truth. To me, it’s a shame that people latch on to this. I have a background in higher education, and I’m not a professional philosopher, but I have a better understanding of the philosophical issues than the average person. The levels of complexity are so deep that a lot of people have no ideas what they’re talking about. If someone like me tries to bring up some of the philosophical baggage that comes along with absolute truth, they assume I’m a relativist—that I don’t believe in truth. Again and again in my books, I say that relativism isn’t the answer, that relativism is a poison of its own, but that there are some dangers with absolute truth.

You might have had a bit of difficulty in hearing what McLaren was saying there over the sound of him tooting his own horn. I’m not sure this qualifies as the humility we should expect to see from a mature Christian who is engaged in the business now of instructing other pastors in the Christian faith: “I have a background in higher education,… I have a better understanding of the philosophical issues than the average person.” Again, following the pattern of a cult leader McLaren lets his flock know here that they just don’t have the education to understand these issues the way he can. And you mean to seriously tell me people can’t see that Brian McLaren is acting the role of a cult leader as he downplays the authority of the Bible, sets himself up as a sympathetic figure and then elevates his own knowledge above those who would be influenced by him?

When I conclude we’ll examine this interview with Brian McLaren a bit further and look more specifically at the issue of “absolute” truth. Above McLaren whines about how thinking people will question his views about “absolute truth” and to the Guru “it’s a shame that people latch on to this.” Well, there’s very good reason for this Brian and the great professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary Dr. Charles Hodge put it well when he said: “The truth of God, therefore, is the foundation of all religion” (Systematic Theology, Vol.I, 487)

But for now I ask you to consider this: When have you ever seen a real minister argue against the ability of those he is speaking to for the Lord to come to an understanding of what it is that he is saying to them? Men and women, this is how ridiculous the Emergent Cult leader Brian McLaren’s work has now become.

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