Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

A “Heretic” Opens The Door To Universalism

You knew it was only a matter of time before the doctrine of universalism came emerging from leaders within the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church. Spencer Burke, of the quite prominent Emergent blog TheOoze has written a new book with an apparently apt title The Heretic’s Guide to Heaven (HGH) which opens the door to universalism. This is not just my impression either because I was first made aware of this by my ol’ pal Dr. Andrew Jackson of SmartChristian.com who writes “Scot McKnight starts a book review series on Spencer Burke’s (creator the TheOoze) new book that provides a new twist to universalism called The Heretic’s Guide to Heaven.” (emphasis mine)

Those of us who have been reporting on this Emergent rebellion against the absolute Truth and authority of the inerrant and infallible Word of the one true and living God of the Bible in His Holy Scripture with its heavy involvement in the new age/eastern mysticism of Contemplative Spirituality (CS) have been telling you all along that this is exactly where so-called “Christian” mysticism will always lead. Now it would seem we have influential Emergent Spencer Burke himself peeking out from the “closet” of universalism. It is my firm conviction that this is also where Emergent Guru Brian McLaren is headed, following closely behind his inclusivist friend Doug Pagitt, only as far as I’m concerned McLaren just doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude or the scholastic integrity to just come right out and admit it. For the interested reader I have covered the subject of universalism in Everyone’s Going To Be Saved Eventually…Aren’t They?

And lest you think that Burke hasn’t much real influence outside Emergent circles you’d best think again. A while back he and David Trotter conducted an Interview with Sally Morgenthaler for TheOoze. Morgenthaler “is a worship consultant, speaker, and writer.” This interview was also carried by Pastors.com “a division of Purpose Driven Ministries” which is obviously associated with religious icon Rick Warren. So you should be able to see that with the spread of this deadly infection of CS within the new evangelical Ecumenical Church of Deceit, daughter of the apostate Church of Rome, Emergent seducing spirits like Burke no longer must hide in the shadows at the edge of the Church. Rather they are now being ushered right on into the Body of Christ by spiritually obtuse Christian leaders like Warren himself just the same way his predecessor Billy Graham once used his own influence to open the door to the Church for liberal heretic Robert Schuller.

Some Heretical Background

Here is a bit of what Burke’s bio on The Ooze tells us about this “heretic” and his mission:

Spencer is a man of metaphors. “KINDLING” describes his approach to speaking and consulting. He sparks new thought and conversation in his… “CAVEPAINTING” is an ancient tool used to express the stories of the soul. Spencer has always been fascinated with individual and collective spiritual stories… In the 1990s, he created TheOOZE.com, a safe online community for a diverse faith-based population to connect through articles, message boards and social networking… Spencer is author of Making Sense of Church, in which he contrasted his twenty-two years as a pastor in a traditional church with eight years of exploring emerging, non-traditional metaphors.

Spencer has been described as a “HERETIC”. After achieving more than he dreamed as a teaching pastor at a mega-church, Spencer refocused on his original desires to love, serve, and live a grace-filled life. Spencer lives out his faith with what the Los Angeles Times called “a church with no name”… Spencers (sic) next book entitled A Heretics Guide to Eternity will be released July 2006 by Jossy-Bass. SpencerBurke.com is his latest adventure, where he is looking for new ways to evolve.

Though he does deny this, the above use of “heretic” would appear to be something Burke might see as a positive, almost for “shock value,” because in true Emergent pouty postmodern fashion we simply stomp our feet, ignore what standard textbooks and dictionaries have to say, and then just redefine words any which way we wish. At this point in our discussion let’s turn our attention to Emergent theologian Scot McKnight, who having spoken personally with Burke, is in somewhat a better position than anyone else to understand what Burke is talking about in HGH. McKnight has just begun what will be a series entitled Heretic’s Guide To Eternity where he will be posting an ongoing review Burke’s book of “heresy.”

An Emergent Analysis

McKnight starts off by informing us that a “while back” he and Burke had a “brief visit.” Previously McKnight had covered their visit on his blog and so he reminds his readers that he “mentioned that Spencer had written a new book that gives a twist to universalism called The Heretic’s Guide to Heaven.” In this particular piece McKnight begins with the “first section of Heretic’s Guide” which is “Questioning Grace: The Future of Faith.” McKnight says further that he likes Burke and “he has my respect for his website and for the energy and kindness he has brought to the world around him.” And then to McKnight’s credit he makes the following admission regarding HGH, “I stand on the other side of the fence when it comes to the central issues of [Burke’s] book.”

For those who may not know Dr. Scot McKnight, who is no lightweight when it comes to theology, “is a widely-recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. He is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois), where he is also the Department Chair and the Director of the College of Christian Life and Thought.” As he begins his review of HGH McKnight first shows us:

Here are Spencer’s central theses:

1. We need to get beyond religion.
2. We need to get beyond religion to find spirituality.
3. We need to discover that Jesus can get us beyond religion to find spirituality.
4. What we find beyond religion is grace.
5. People who will take us into that grace, where we find the “sacred beyond religion,” are heretics.

One of the huge problems with the Gnosticism that is inherent in the Emergent Church is that when the uninitiated read these writers they don’t realize they have become entangled in a labyrinth of conflicting terminology not unlike what Dr. Walter Martin once called “the maze of Mormonism.” Then what so often happens is that while someone is reading Brian McLaren or Tony Jones or Doug Pagitt they are defining the terms according to the historic orthodox Christian faith never realizing that they have indeed entered Emergent Wonderland where words mean whatever they wish them to mean. History, context, standard definitions all thrown down the “Rabbit Hole” of their emerging reimagination.

Even McKnight himself ends up alluding to this when he writes of Burke:

Some important points:

Spencer doesn’t define his terms very well; and he has an annoying habit of using a category (say “heretic” or “religion” or “spirituality” or “grace”) and only later defining it, and then when he does he might define it in more than one way. Part of the struggle of reading Heretic’s Guide is the need to hang on because eventually Spencer will come to terms with his favorite words — religion, spirituality, and grace. But, if you do hang on, you’ll see what he means with his terms.

The Matrix Of Emerging Terminology

Men and women, whether McKnight intended it or not this is one of the clearest admissions of the methodology of Emergent leaders and writers yet on record and by a respected theologian who is highly sympathetic to this neo-liberal cult no less! This modern brood of vipers has been playing fast and loose with Christian terminology since its very serpentine inception through Leadership Network. I’ll have more on this issue of Burke and his opening the door “to universalism” later, but for now you need to understand that men like this made of cooked spiritual spaghetti have already taught these things Burke would then regurgetate. All we are seeing in a reimagined Cult of Liberal Theology with its things taught by demons come re-emerging from its hole in Hell.

However, it isn’t really all that surprising that new evangelical leaders in the ECoD are so readily embracing this lunacy in the Lord’s Name, steeped as they are in the Gnostic mysticism of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (i.e. transcendental meditation for the Christian). No, what is so pathetic is that this reprehensible rubbish turning people away from our Lord’s Reformation of His precious Church and back toward Rome is now being embraced by more and more so-called Protestant Evangelical leaders.

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