Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long. Your Commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your Statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your Precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your Word.

I have not departed from Your Laws, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from Your Precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalm 119:98-104)

The Age Old Story Of Following Feelings And Ending Up In Deception

Erwin McManus, an influential voice within the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church as well as lead vocalist pastor, cultural architect and distinguished futurist of Mosaic, tells us that:

the Scriptures are essential. God speaks through the cosmos, God speaks through creation, God speaks through human experience and conscience, God speaks through everything, yes—but I do see the Scriptures as the primary access, a portal into God’s presence. I began to have a clear sense of God’s voice in my life through reading the Scriptures and hearing God’s voice through the Scriptures…

I build my life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God. The Scriptures are to me the instrument that God has placed in history for me to learn the voice of God. I treasure the Scriptures. (Online source)

Now if you are familiar with the neo-orthodox view of Scripture then you will see an immediate red flag–regardless of the patronizing “I treasure the Scriptures”–raised by the statement: “I build my life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God.” For a more in-depth look at this issue I refer the interested reader to Rob Bell and Karl Barth. But for our purposes here Dr. Francis Schaeffer gives us a concise understanding of the neo-orthodox approach to the Bible when he points out that Barth:

held the higher critical views concerning the Bible. That is, that the Bible has many mistakes but he taught that a religious word could break through from them. This was the theological form of existentialism after existentialism had been accepted in its secular form. (How Should We Then Live?, DVD, Disc Two)

The reason why you will see so many leaders within the emerging church so unwilling to commit to the inerrancy of Scripture is their own adherence to Barth’s essentially higher critical i.e. near liberal approach to Holy Scripture. And for those who have not been taken in with McManus’ more mystic bent it then becomes clear that McManus interprets the Bible according to his own feelings about what he thinks God is saying, which is my main point in the piece Erwin McManus: Building His Life Not on the Word of God but on Subjective Experience.

McManus himself is telling you as much above when he says: “I began to have a clear sense of God’s voice in my life through reading the Scriptures and hearing God’s voice through the Scriptures.” If McManus is building his “life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God,” then he is doing the exact opposite from what the Psalmist is doing in the opening text. In that portion of His Word the LORD God Almighty is telling us through His inspired writer that we are to build our life on God’s Commands; upon His Statutes, i.e. we build on what the Lord has actually said in order that we might obey Your Word and not some subjective “voice” that we think we hear.

The Voice of God, The Voice Of The Flesh, Or Worse…

But the truth is that for McManus and the Emergent Church, where existential and highly subjective contemplative mysticism always has been a core doctrine, it is their idea of what they feel “the voice of God” is saying that actually determines how they will then approach the Scripture–the Word of God. And right here is where the words of arch-heretic John Shelby Spong, author of the book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture become revealing. You see Spong has a good twenty years head start on “repainting” Christianity and his comments below will prove quite illuminating as to the direction mystic dreamers like Rob Bell, McManus and the emerging church are headed.

The following from Spong comes from the transcript of a debate he had with Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) on The John Ankerberg Show:

Part of the Evangelical Christian tradition that you [Ankerberg and Martin] represent is that the first, foremost and primary thing is the individual experience that a person has with the living God in the person of Jesus Christ. I think we need to get that experience back into our understanding of the Scriptures. (2)

The above concerning worshipping God “my way” is actually pretty accurate as to why the evangelical community in ruggedly individualistic [read: proud] America went off the rails, not to mention being exactly what McManus himself is currently doing. What Spong and McManus have in common is they are each interpreting the Bible by what they feel God is saying (His “Voice”), and not strictly by what the text tells us God is saying (His “Word”). But to do so is to commit spiritual suicide because our nature is corrupt, degenerate and sinful so we absolutely cannot rely on our feelings. And keep in mind that this is a similar argument I would put forth in attempting to reach a skeptic. Yet here I’m using it to expose the man-centered rubbish spewed by one of the most popular teachers in the emerging church.

As we close this for now, remember above that McManus has told us: “I cherish the Scriptures.” Interesting; now listen to John Shelby Spong, who like McManus says he cherishes the Scriptures, and yet is a Christ-denying apostate. Spong has told us in numerous writings that he hears God’s voice telling him to use these same Scriptures to deny both the Deity of Jesus Christ and His literal Resurrection from the dead. And yet Spong, like any good apostate, knows all the right language to use as he says:

But you don’t get to that simply by taking the Scripture of John and looking at it. I’m quite convinced, and I don’t mind saying, “Jesus Christ is my personal Savior.” I was raised in a Fundamentalist tradition. I understand that. I have no problem with that. (ibid.)

…I read the Bible every day of my life. It is the most important book in my life. But I think it’s important that we understand it… I’m not a biblical “literalist,” and if we define biblical “fundamentalism” to be literal belief in every word of the Scripture being without error, I would say I’m not – neither is the [Episcopal] church that I represent. But I do take the Bible seriously, and I believe that I meet the living Word of God in the words of Holy Scripture – that’s why I study this book every day of my life. (3, emphasis theirs)

Above Spong is telling us that he treasures the Scriptures as well and that he also is not building his life on the Word of God but rather on the voice of God. But you need to know that the root reason why we are currently witnessing the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church swallowing whole the entire American Christian Church is precisely because of this liberal and neo-orthodox highly subjective and existential approach to the Bible:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, KJV)