For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (Philippians 3:18)

Emergent Men Who Deny The Substitutionary Atonement

From the Emergent Village website we read:

“Affiliates” also support Emergent Village; those are organizations that stand in partnership with us. Below is a list of organizations who have voiced their support of Emergent Village and supported us financially in 2006. They are our “organizational friends,” if you will. If your organization would like to contribute to Emergent Village, you can do so here or contact us.

Abingdon Press
Baker Publishing House
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
InterVarsity Press
Jossey-Bass Publishers
The Journal of Student Ministries
Journey Community Church, Dallas
NCCUSA Faith & Order Commission
Wesley Theological Seminary
Zondervan Publishing House

And Emergent Village tells us in Commitment to the Church in all its Forms that:

We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Anabaptist. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned (2 Peter 2:1-2, NASB)

Denying The Master

It should be noted that Zondervan is the publisher of Velvet Elvis by the “Elvis of Emergent” Rob Bell as well as of his forthcoming book Sex God. And unquestionably one of the most noted leaders of the Emergent Church movement itself is the “new kind of Christian” Brian McLaren, who is himself published by Zondervan and also serves as Chair of the Emergent Village Board of Directors. As an illustration which demonstrates his denial of the Lord he says he serves and the Jesus he says he follows I present this brief excerpt from the article Interview with Brian McLaren about previous “A letter to Friends of Emergent” which is taken from McLaren’s own site. The anonymous interviewer asks spiritual director McLaren:

Q: You wrote, “Which reminds us that none of us has a complete grasp of the gospel…. It’s very dangerous to assume you’ve perfectly contained the gospel in your little formula.” I think with all the other change going on, one thing we’ve got to hold firm on is the gospel.
A: What do you mean when you say “the gospel?”

Q: You know, justification by grace through faith in the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross.
A: Are you sure that’s the gospel?

Q: Of course. Aren’t you?
A: I’m sure that’s a facet of the gospel, and it’s the facet that modern evangelical protestants have assumed is the whole gospel, the heart of the gospel. But what’s the point of that gospel?

Now what we are likely to hear from Brian McLaren–if some evangelical leader could grow a backbone long enough to press him to actually answer–is something along the lines of I didn’t say I personally deny the penal substitutionary atonement. If so, this would only be in keeping with the kind of pseudo-philosophical word games that we have come to expect from these cult-like leaders and here is one of the ways we can witness McLaren’s heresies beginning to blossom regarding the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ Jesus our Lord on the cross.

A couple of the books that McLaren has endorsed were written by men who are a bit more bold in their denial of our Lord’s great sacrifice on the Cross than he would seem to be. I discuss Alan Jones’ book Reimagining Christianity more fully in “Emergent Church: Guru Brian McLaren”, so here I will briefly show those who may not have seen this other work exactly what McLaren says in his endorsement:

“It used to be that Christian institutions and systems of dogma sustained the spiritual life of Christians. Increasingly spirituality itself is what sustains everything else Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.” (back flap, emphasis mine)

And on page 168 of Reimagining Christianity, where Alan Jones is “reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality,” a spirituality that McLaren tells us “stimulates and encourages” him “deeply,” we read a crystal clear denial of the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, a cardinal doctrine of the historic orthodox Christian Church. Jones writes: “implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.”

Saving Jesus From Christianity

It is beyond question that Jones is in denial of this cardinal doctrine, which is the heart of the Gospel and the very reason our Lord condescended to leave the glory of Heaven and come to live upon this squalid sin-infected planet in the first place. And this brings me to the other book I wish to mention that also features an endorsement from Brian McLaren. This one is called The Lost Message Of Jesus and was written by Steve Chalke (w/Alan Mann) who happens to be the senior minister of Church.co.uk Waterloo, at Christ Church & Upton. Of this particular book, also published by Zondervan, McLaren says:

“Steve Chalke’s new book could help save Jesus from Christianity. That’s a strange way of putting it, I know. Not that the real Jesus needs saving. But when one contrasts the vital portrait of Jesus painted by Steve with the tense caricature drawn so often by modern Christianity, one can’t help but feeling the ‘Jesus’ of modern Christianity is in trouble. The Jesus introduced by Steve in these pages sounds like someone who can truly save us from our trouble” Brian McLaren, author of The Church on the Other Side

Within this work by Chalke we receive yet another denial of the penal substitutionary atonement. And as Dr. Albert Mohler points out in his article Has the Message of Jesus Been Lost?

According to Chalke and Mann, the cross simply serves as a profound demonstration of the love of God. On the cross, Christ “absorbed all the pain, all the suffering caused by the breakdown in our relationship with God and in doing so demonstrated the lengths to which a God who is love will go to restore it.”

The doctrine of penal substitution–the understanding that, on the cross, Christ died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sin–is described as “a form of cosmic child abuse.” In their words: “The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse–a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed.” They go further to suggest that “such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement ‘God is love’.”

The penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement–the doctrine that has stood at the very center of evangelical faith–is rejected as based on a misunderstanding of the cross, described as a “twisted version of events” that is “morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.”

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ

The above mentioned evangelical organizations are giving money and support to, as well as publishing the books of, men reversing the Reformation and openly denying the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ before the world. Men and women, I ask you: What else could we possibly call these but enemies of the Cross? It truly is as my dear friend and brother in arms Cecil Andrews of Take Heed Ministries has keenly observed:

I have found over the years that what I would call the “shoots and buds” of someone’s “heresies” have a tendency to develop and strengthen over time until they eventually “blossom fully.”

…No one who denies the Son has the Father…

see also: