Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies… I hate and abhor falsehood but I love Your Law.
(Psalm 108:12-13; 119:163)

Salient Questions Now Have Become Emergent

The following quote is from the 2003 book The Church In Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives where Emergent theologian and panentheistic futurist Leonard Sweet serves as General Editor. This book also features Andy Crouch, Michael Horton, Eastern Orthodox panentheist Frederica Matthewes-Green, Sweet’s good friend Emergent Guru Brian McLaren and Southern Baptist Pastor, cultural architect and distinguished futurist Erwin McManus.

In the beginning each contributor offers a dedication and McManus offers his:

To my brother, Alex

So few are men of dreams, fewer still men of passion.
Yet those who change the world it seems, are both thus men of action.

I tell you in the Lord that the time has now arrived to open fire on the elevation of a love centered on man; a twisted version of Arminianism, not only in the Southern Baptist Convention, but also within the whole of evangelicalism as well as the new evangelicalism. And so here I stand. Those with eyes to see should notice the praise above for “men of dreams” who are “men of passion.” It’s far past time that someone begins to ask these Emergent architects and futurists: What exactly is it that you guys are dreaming so passionately about?

It looks to me as if we’re exalting men “who change the world” and who are “thus men of action.” But where is Jesus Christ in the above? This same bent bravado of human potential is found throughout the focused on the self work of Erwin McManus. Take for example the December 2006 issue of HOMELIFE from Lifeway Church Resources (SBC) and an article by Tobin Perry on McManus called On Mission. I’ll come back to this another time but right in the headline we’re told “Erwin McManus and his family…share a passion for God, for people, and for changing the course of human history” (19).

However as admirable a goal as this may be, considering we aren’t sure exactly what course the McManus family might have planned for this world, I’m afraid “changing the course of human history” is not what Jesus has sent His true Christians to do. I have pointed out before that the Master tells His Church – “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). And after His glorious Resurrection from the dead Jesus then gives this most important mission to the Body of Christ when He says – “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

These self-anointed “leaders” like Erwin McManus, Rob Bell and Brian McLaren of the Emergent Church are free to wax on about their perceptions of what they think the Church should be doing but it isn’t going to change the primary mission that it was given by our Lord Himself. Above I have just shown you what God the Father’s plan is for His Church, which is then further confirmed by God the Holy Spirit through His chosen vessel the inspired Apostle Paul when we are told:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

The Barbarian Way Of An Emergent SBC Pastor

As we turn to Erwin McManus’ book The Barbarian Way (TBW) we will soon see that such a mundane task as simply preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ most surely isn’t big enough for the “founder of Awaken.” For it is here that “futurist and distinguished professor” McManus partners “with a team of dreamers and innovators who specialize in the field of developing and unleashing personal and organizational creativity” (back flap). Why doesn’t this almost appear to be a flashback to what could have been the autobiography of the Apostle Paul who told us:

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Truly uncanny how much these megachurch pastors and Emergent futurists remind one of Christ’s Apostles isn’t it? TBW also tells us that McManus is “lead pastor” of Mosaic, which “emerges as a reference point for the future” and that he is also known as “a national and international consultant, his expertise focuses on culture, change, leadership, and creativity.” Whew, one mighty impressive man this McManus is. Also author of four books I find myself wondering just where this cultural architect and futurist SBC pastor ever has time to preach the Gospel.

But this is just the point isn’t it? Exactly where is the good news of Jesus Christ in all of this ballyhoo of the self? In TBW Erwin McManus himself then asks, “So what is this good news?” Our futurist informs us:

The refined and civilized version goes something like this: Jesus died and rose from the dead so that you can live a life of endless comfort, security, and indulgence (32).

Those with any knowledge of American Christianity will recognize the basic outline of the non-gospel of the cult of the Word Faith Church as taught by false teachers and prophets like Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland. Then McManus says, “But really this is a bit too developed.” However, isn’t that just a bit disingenuous of our distinguished lecturer here when part of his own “expertise focuses on culture, change, leadership, and creativity”? Isn’t the above actually a bit like what we’d expect from McManus and his awakened “company of dreamers and innovators who specialize in the field of developing and unleashing personal and organizational creativity”?

I mean surely we wouldn’t suppose this dynamic leader and “national and international consultant” is going to come in and teach us how we can suffer and fail. McManus then goes on in TBW to tell us about another version of the good news:

Usually it’s more like this: if you’ll simply confess you that you’re a sinner and believe in Jesus you’ll be saved from the torment of eternal hellfire, then go to heaven when you die (ibid).

One can almost hear “the freakishly tall” Todd Friel of Way of the Master say: “Well, yeah. If you actually do this sincerely this is exactly what will happen to you.” And here consistent with other Emergent leaders McManus attacks the simplicity of Christ’s Gospel as apparently not being exciting enough for him. Even if we give McManus the benefit of the doubt that he is actually mocking the “easy-believism” of the old “with heads bowed and every eye closed, just raise your hand” profession of faith we still have a problem because in typical fashion for McManus he goes over the top to forge his Emergent agenda:

Either case results in our domestication. One holds out for life to begin in eternity, and the other makes a mockery of life. The call of Jesus is far more barbaric than either of these. It is a call to live in this world as citizens of an entirely different kingdom. In its primitive state the good news could never be separated from the invitation of Jesus to “come, follow Me.” He never lied about the danger or cost associated with becoming His follower (ibid.).

RePainted Emergent Liberation Theology And Its Reimagined Social Gospel

We stop now and look a few things. The way McManus talks here of “an entirely different kingdom” and “becoming His follower” is also consistent with the Emergent Church understanding of being “Christ followers” as they live in the “kingdom of God” here on earth. Remember the Devil’s lies are very subtle and there is a truth to these statements but not in the way this new cult of liberal theology defines them with their repainted liberation theology and reimagined social gospel. But at this point I also want to draw your attention to a false dichotomy McManus sets up which is also typical of Emergent leaders when he says Christians are called “to live in this world as citizens of an entirely different kingdom.”

Whoever said they weren’t? The Bible very clearly tells us – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11). So as you can see the truth is there’s absolutely nothing in historic orthodox Christian theology recaptured during the Protestant Reformation which teaches that we aren’t supposed “to live in this world as citizens of an entirely different kingdom.” Nor is anyone saying “the good news could never be separated from the invitation of Jesus to ‘come, follow Me.’ ” If people don’t truly get converted, and if they are not filled with the Spirit of God, and if they just sit there on their spiritual rears and do nothing, we don’t need to then abandon proper doctrine.

No, what we need to do is to continue to preach the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ and let God the Holy Spirit convict them of their sin until they get converted or they get out of the Church (e.g.–Isaiah 6:8-10). But instead the Emergent Church has created their own man-centered–appeal to the flesh–social non-gospel because we want to sell more books and to lauded as cultural architects and futurists as we write twaddle like The Barbarian Way. Oh, and we also massively strive to become involved in “impressive” fanfare from the National Religious Broadcasters like Reach 2007 . At the website for NRB we are told that “REACH 2007 is a unique opportunity to connect with visionaries, futurists, media strategists, and producers who understand the next generation of media and recognize how it will change the world.”

So here we are once again with our mighty “visionaries,” and “futurists,” men who are going to “change the world.” O yeah for, “These are the people defining media in a postmodern culture … the ones who are making Christian media relevant to today’s generation.” And not only that but we’ll even have the honor of being able to:

Interact with renowned media revolutionaries:

Ralph Winter – legendary producer of Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, X-Men, and Fantastic Four
Erwin McManus – visionary pastor of Mosaic, filmmaker, and best-selling author
Leonard Sweet – futurist writer who leads the church in encountering the next generation of ministry

And if all this promotion of the self isn’t enough Erwin McManus is also partnering up with Ken Blanchard in On Target Evangelism a few days after Reach 2007. But as you’ll see, “This conference [that] will give you both the motivation and tools to develop ‘On Target’ believers in your church,” is simply more man-centered hogwash. If this was actually what Gospel is all about then the Church would be filled with nothing but dreamers, innovators, leaders, futurists etc., etc., ad infinitum ad nauseaum…

See it for what it is; just the same tired old message of positive mind-over-matter possibility thinking made popular in evangelical circles through Norman Vincent Peale. This Emergent non-gospel of the egotism of Erwin McManus is nothing more than rehashed Leadership Network Church Growth rhetoric; some reimagined Robert Schuller, and a little dose of Rick Warren and Leonard Sweet mixed in for bad measure.

As a matter of fact both Warren and Sweet give glowing endorsements for McManus’ book An Unstoppable Force, as does Bill McCartney, Founder and President of Promise Keepers and Brad Smith, President of Leadership Network. This same Leadership Network which launched the Emergent Church in the first place. So much for Erwin Raphael Mcmanus not being Emergent. I’ve said it before: If it looks Emergent, and it does; if it acts like Emergent, and it does; and if it sounds like Emergent, and it does…then it’s as Emergent as Tony Jones.

No; the truth is that Erwin McManus, who has now become the SBC’s golden poster boy for “reaching” a younger audience, is actually a leading proponent of the Emergent love of man now slithering to the surface within the SBC and McManus’ message is little more than Joel Osteen for the CEO-types on their petty “Christian” ego trips.