“Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:17-19)

Emerging From Bad Neo-Orthodox Roots

As I have been researching the origins and the theology of the emerging church movement from their own sources for over a year now a couple of important things have…well, emerged. First I have found this Emergent Church has so deeply penetrated the Southern Baptist Convention where I am pastor that I was led to begin a category SBC/Contemplative/Emergent here at Apprising Ministries. Secondly, and simply: The emerging church “conversation” had a beginning through Leadership Network, with their Youth Leaders Network and what was called the Terra Nova project in the 90’s.

Dan Kimball, an Emergent Church Pastor who has been kind enough to dialogue with me off the record, was involved essentially from its very beginnings. Dan was also nice enough to send me the link to a post he’d written about “The origin of the term “Emerging Church” where he says, “I first heard the term “emerging church.” around 1997 when Leadership Network was using it as their tagline which said ‘advance scouts for the emerging church’.”

What you need to know is that the people who started this emerging church movement were all new evangelicals and neo-orthodox at best. And it is beyond question that contemplative spirituality, which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of the apostate Church of Rome, was a core doctrine at the very inception of this “emerging church.” Some of the men who were there at the start were Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Andrew Jones, and Mark Driscoll.

In his book A Generous Orthodoxy Guru Brian McLaren tells us he was recruited almost at the start through his friend Doug Pagitt:

In the late 1990’s, I was invited to become part of Leadership Network’s Young Leader Networks (YLN), also briefly known as the Terra Nova Project. I was grandfathered in as the network’s “old guy,” having moved beyond 39 in 1996. In 2001, I met with Doug Pagitt to discuss our future plans, YLN having just been launched by leadership Network to continue on its own as an independent entity…

[Pagitt] is pastor of Solomon’s porch ( in Minneapolis, a former leader of YLN, and (then was) still well shy of 40. One of us–I can’t remember which (a sign of good collaboration or an aging memory, or both)–came up with a new name for the group emergent ( (275).

Pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church then himself McLaren served as a “theologian’” to kind of oversee the younger guys and he would involve his friends Leonard Sweet, a theologian in the very liberal United Methodist Church, Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster and Dallas Willard, Foster’s longtime partner in teaching so-called Spiritual Formation. The Emergent-US group, whose National Coordinator is theologian Tony Jones, is by far the dominant force within what’s referred to as “the conversation.”

This Emergent Movement Is The New Cult Of Liberal Theology

While speaking at Westminster Theological Seminary on “What is the Emerging Church?” well known Emergent theologian Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed stated that in his opinion, “There is no such thing as the emerging ‘church.’ It is a movement or a conversation – which is Brian McLaren’s and Tony Jones’s favored term, and they after all are the leaders.” And while McKnight is correct when he says McLaren and Jones are leaders within this movement he is wrong when he says “there is no such thing as the emerging ‘church’.”

Emergent Church leader Dan Kimball, whom I mentioned earlier, just happens to be author of the book The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. This work also features a running commentary throughout by Brian McLaren and another who has involvement with Leadership Network, SBC pastor and religious icon Rick Warren. In addition Warren himself is an advocate and practitioner of this heretical contemplative spirituality which in large part would end up leading to the Reformation.

Kimball now informs us why he became involved in “the emerging church”:

I personally thought it sounded cool and somewhat Indiana Jones-like saying you were “advanced scouts for the emerging church”. Kind of like we were were explorers out there looking to the horizons to see what the Spirit of God was doing missionally in new forms of churches and ministries. Leadership Network also hosted several conferences which were focused on what at that time was called “Gen X” ministry in 1996 in Colorado Springs and another in 1997 at Mt. Hermon, CA.

But no matter what you call it, this convoluted “conversation” is no longer “emerging” it is a fully Emergent neo-liberal cult complete with its own leaders and apostate approach to the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV). And no matter how “diverse” this movement may be now, as you should be able to see, this Emergent tree comes from these original bad roots. And it is from this same bad tree that Rob Bell has sprouted as he is on record as saying McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christian was his “lifeboat.” By this he means it carried him away from the historic orthodox Christian faith he once taught very well.

In Erwin McManus: The Emergent Penetration into the Southern Baptist Convention I showed that while he is himself SBC and “lead pastor and cultural architect” of Mosaic, he is also clearly aligned with this Emergent Church. And it is here I must remind the fools within the leadership of the supposedly “Protestant” evangelical SBC who are now openly embracing this cult that Jesus most clearly says in our opening text:

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18).

As I have previously pointed out in Brian McLaren: The Emergent Cult Leader right in line with other religious cult leaders Brian McLaren shows in his book The Secret Message of Jesus that he doesn’t think the Church has correctly understood the message of Jesus down through the centuries when he writes: “if this reading of the Gospels is accurate, why didn’t scholars see it a hundred or five hundred or eighteen hundred years ago?” (210, emphasis mine)

This book provides even further indication that McLaren has rejected the proper Biblical theology recovered at the Reformation. As to why I have labeled this Emergent Church the new cult of liberalism months ago, despite waffling leaders in the evangelical community who apparently haven’t the guts to do so, you also need to know that on page 12 of The Rise of the Cults Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), a renowned authority on religious cults having their origin in the United States, clearly explains that:

A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith,…

The Emergent Church Is The New Emperor Which Has No Clothes And No Gospel

It is as obvious as modern theology (aka liberal theology) trying to contextualize the gospel for its culture–and woefully failing–that Guru Brian McLaren alone fits the above definition. And while Emergents will mildly protest when one criticizes Brian, just try and express that same criticism about their golden Buddha Rob Bell and see what happens. You seriously need to wake up if you don’t think Bell teaches the same spiritualistic mumbo jumbo that McLaren and Tony Jones teach. The fact is that in order to follow these Emergent vipers the evangelical community itself is now turning its back of the Reformation while embracing the contemplative spirituality of apostate Roman Catholicism.

God condemned it before and through myriad deceptions arriving into your churches faster than we can even expose them for you the Lord is condemning it now. Listen to me; modernism/liberalism was about making the Christian faith more compatible with the so-called modern world of its time. And postmodernism/neo-liberalism is now attempting to take you onto the exact same broad and doomed road to spiritual bankruptcy. Ok, so you erudite “scholars” who’ve been duped by this Emergent cult and its supposed “missional” and “transformational” approach to the “gospel” don’t want to hear the words of a mere high school educated hick from New Hampshire.

Then you’d better listen to a man who had four earned degrees, a professor who taught Christian apologetics at Simon Greenleaf School of Law, someone who was a recognized expert in the field of Comparative Religion and religious cults having their origin in the United States and whose doctorate was in the study of the Church Fathers of the first five hundred years of the Christian Church. Translation: Dr. Walter Martin had just a bit more education into the history of what he would so often call “the historic orthodox Christian faith” than both Brian and Rob combined.

I close with an excerpt from his powerful and spiritually dead on lecture circa 1980’s on what Dr. Martin personally had the guts to label “The Cult of Liberal Theology.” Hear the words of a man who will tell you exactly how the spiritual fathers of Brian and Rob operated. O, and as you read this also consider that Tony Jones is right now studying for his doctorate at the once thoroughly orthodox Princeton Theological Seminary mentioned below. This apostate poser Tony Jones wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds under the great theologian Dr. Charles Hodge.

But also hear this Dr. Frank Page and other leaders within the apostatizing SBC, a denomination that had to battle these very same liberals in the 1980’s and yet now are embracing their evil progeny: If you won’t even listen to fellow SBC minister Dr. Walter Martin, permit me to tell you what the Lord Himself says to you right now – “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.” (Matthew 23:32, NASB):

There is a progression that takes place in liberal theology: It begins with a corrupt bibliology, a corrupt view of the nature and the inspiration of Scripture. They have a corrupt theology because once you are picking and choosing from the Bible what you want, your theology has to suffer from it, because your human reason is corrupt. From the corrupt theology proceeds a corrupt Christology, Jesus Christ loses His position, and the great doctrines of Who He is and what He did are diluted and finally destroyed.

From the corrupt Christology comes a corrupt pneumatology, that is a corrupt view of the Holy Spirit and of what the Spirit does and is doing in the Church. Then from this corrupt bibliology, theology, Christology and pneumatology liberal theology ends up in a complete lack of proper morality, and actually leads people away from what the Gospel says into unchristian and immoral positions.

An inside source tipped a friend of Dr. Martin’s from the inside that Princeton Theological Seminary was about to reject the inerrancy of Scripture. And further that the Presbyterian Church was going to use a new confessional as a means of denying foundational truths of Presbyterian theology. This friend then commissioned Martin to make a study of every major theological seminary in the United States and to document for him what happened to them.

His job at that time was to find out whether these seminaries were orthodox, neo-orthodox, or liberal and then to go on and research how they got that way. Dr. Martin then continues:

So I did, and it was amazing what emerged. Point number one; every major theological seminary that has turned from orthodox Christianity began with disbelief of Biblical doctrine. There wasn’t a single exception. This corrupt Bibliology then lead them to the next step. Their Theology began to be touched by it, their view of the Cross, the Virgin Birth were both immediately questioned; then came the miracles of Christ.

And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content; they were simply using the outward shell so that they go on collecting money from the people and the churches; because they knew that if the people in the pew knew that they were apostate, they’d throw them out. So the strategy was hang on to the trust funds; hang on to the money we’ve got; hang on the properties we control, and we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology.

And then finally we will take control of everything. The gradual process of feeding you theological poison until you become immunized enough so that you don’t know what’s happening to you. And when you wake up to what’s happening to you, it’s too late they’ve got everything.

That is not a baseless charge, I stand prepared to prove that the Cult of Liberal Theology in the United States has deliberately and consistently followed this methodology to entrap, control and dominate the denominations and the churches of the United States and our educational institutions. The study with Mr. Pugh confirmed the fact that once the Theology became corrupt, gradually then the view of Christ Himself underwent change.
(The Cult of Liberalism, CD Rom, side 1, available Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet)

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).


This article also appears at Slice of Laodicea with an open comments section here.