As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12)

But What Did God Say

“God loves you so much and He has created you for the wonderful purpose of being a follower of Jesus and caring for the needs of your fellow travelers in the great conversation as the Story of God’s dreams and desires for this world unfold.” I’m sure you recognize it: The seeker sensitive mantra of postevangelicalism and the Emergent Church. But what is the conversation God is trying to have with us regarding our real purpose and what’s the message about sin according to the Lord which is outlined in our text? As it is written — in the Old Testament — There is no one righteous, not even one. If you check this reference you will see that it appears as an identical parallel passage in both Psalm 14 and 53. Do you think God’s trying to get a point across here?

Verse one in both of those Psalms ends with there is no one who does good. And then verse 3 in each Psalm also ends the same, but with the added phrase not even one. Ecclesiastes 7:20 then reinforces the point as we are informed – There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. The reasonable person must therefore come away with the understanding that according to God’s perspective—which is the only one that is going to matter when each of us stands before His dreadful and awesome Presence—there is no such thing as a “good person.” Nor is there any such thing as mankind being born with some kind of innate “goodness” he reforms with the grace of God.

I have pointed this out before, but it certainly bears repeating in this backward man-pleasing generation in which we live, Christ Jesus—the LORD God, and the very Creator Himself conversing upon His planet—most certainly taught us this exact same view of mankind. The Bible rightly tells us God is love, which means Jesus of Nazareth was Love in human form. The Master clearly tells us — “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” (Mark 7:21-23) This teaching from our Lord is repeated almost verbatim by Matthew in chapter 15 of His Gospel as well.

Men Will Be Lovers Of Self

So contrary to this new spirituality of counterfeit contemplative mystic experience-oriented Christianity taught by the emerging church of postevangelicalism—which is centered on the self—the message of the classic historic orthodox Christian Church has always been the total depravity of man. What else could you possibly get from actually reading the above verses? Now, it’s important to understand the argument here. The little Warren-ites, McLaren-ites, and Bell-ites will say: The reference “total depravity” is not in the Bible; it comes from the Reformation, and more specifically Calvinism. If you don’t expect this, and if you’re not careful, you will end up “wrestling with the serpent” at this point. There is an element of truth here. No, the phrase “total depravity of man” isn’t in the Bible; and yes, it does come from the Reformers.

However what is overlooked by this argument is that, as you can plainly see above, the Bible most assuredly does teach the concept of the total depravity of mankind. Therefore we don’t need to see these exact words in Scripture, and the Reformers were simply returning the Church to what the Bible says, as opposed to what the Roman Catholic Magisterium had decided it would teach about what the Scripture said. And you know, what humanistic Roman Catholicism once did is actually not too unlike the seeker sensitive neo-pagan spirituality in postevangelical Emergent Church of our corrupt day. They told the people what they wanted to hear and hoped that maybe they’d like Jesus more. When the truth is, unwilling to follow Christ outside the camp and to bear the reproach He bore, they are really telling people mankind is basically good in order that people will like them more.

Without a doubt this is the residual traces of the Gnostic metaphysical teachings of the Devil’s deadly double play combination of Peale to Schuller to Warren — “Sin; you’re out!” And in walks Brian McLaren and Rob Bell of the emerging church for the younger set, and sin—if discussed at all simply becomes “weakness” or “mistakes.” In the book Adventures In Missing The Point (resisting the obvious joke here) by McLaren and Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tony Campolo, McLaren writes a chapter on “Sin.” The first “discussion question” at the end of the chapter asks: “What is sin?” As near as I can tell, McLaren defines sin—or as close as he seems to ever define anything—as weakness. But the problem with a definition like this is that it also implies that one can then not sin by being “strong.” And this would be right in line with Pelagius. However, it also happens to flatly contradict what we have seen here from Holy Scripture.

The Christian System Of Metaphysics

This kind of thinking is actually to do away with accountability for sin; it is to excuse oneself from the responsibility of sin because it was only a moment of weakness, a bad choice, a mistake. And that fantasy is right in line with the view of classic Mind Science metaphysics espoused by Norman Vincent Peale in which sin is but the result of wrong thinking. In The Power Of Positive Thinking Peale, echoing Mary Baker Eddy, tells us “Christianity may also be thought of as a science.” Further Peale says it “is a philosophy, a system of theology, a system of metaphysics, and a system of worship.” And what is more he explains, Christianity “also works itself out in moral and ethical codes” (220). Then Peale describes the typical scenario when someone “comes to our clinic,” he informs us, “the first counselor is perhaps a psychiatrist who in a kindly and careful manner studies the problem and tells the patient ‘why he does what he does’” (ibid).

Quite obviously this is not consistent with what Jesus Himself taught, nor is it consistent with the messages of God’s true prophets in the Old Testament. When they spoke out about sin on behalf of the Lord they always stated the case as people are being held morally accountable for their sin—which is missing the mark of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. As we have seen thus far the Bible teaches that, rather than people having to be taught to love themselves, the root cause for our sin is actually self-worship—the love of self. And yet Peale contradicts this truth as he asks:

Why have you been haunted by fear, or, again, why do you nurse resentment…why do you do stupid things or make inept statements? These phenomena of you human nature do not just happen. There is a reason why you do what you do and it is an important day in your life experience when at last you discover the reason. Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-correction.

Following the self-knowledge process the psychiatrist turns the patient over to the pastor who tells him how to do what he ought to do. The pastor applies to the case, in scientific and systematic form, the therapies of prayer, faith, and love. The psychiatrist and the minister pool their knowledge and combine their therapies with the result that many people have found a new life and happiness (221).

What An A-Peale-ing Delusion

No doubt they find “a new life”; a new life of rationalizing their sin, and then along with it comes the delusion of the self that there will be no ultimate consequence for sin. And finally, says Peale, the “Christianity” he is advocating here “in this procedure is the undiluted teachings of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour [sic] of man’s life” (ibid.) However, because a universal atonement of the cosmos is at the root of Peale’s theology—not unlike the mystic musings of Rob Bell—individual persons need not necessarily encounter the living Christ personally; for Peale they are “saved” as they become followers of Jesus and His pretty slick metaphysical principles. It is here that we begin to see the faulty foundation of sand that Robert Schuller would come and build upon, as well as that which two of his best-known disciples, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, would also erect their own humanistic philosophies carefully wrapped in Christian terminology.

Please understand that I am not saying here that Emergent Guru Brian McLaren et al are necessarily consciously following Norman Vincent Peale or Robert Schuller. What I am saying is that the mystic neopagan spiritualism inherent within postevangelicalism and the Emergent Church—with its contemplative spirituality [i.e. transcendental meditation]—finds its own source in the Gnosticism of the first century; and, it has already resurfaced in American Christianity in the teachings of Norman Vincent Peale. Peale himself was also a practitioner of meditation, as is his main disciple Robert Schuller, and the effects of Peale’s teachings in the evangelical camp today are readily apparent. Having turned the message of sin into weakness and/or a mere “disease” we have certainly made the Christian message much more palatable to self-centered mankind; but in the process, we have also succeeded in making the Lord even more nauseous (see—Revelation 3:16).

And therein we now see the roots of the seeker sensitive mantra which has come emerging: “God loves you and He has a wonderful purpose for your life.” Consider this from Peale partner Robert Schuller, who has arguably done more to cripple the Christian witness in the United States than anyone else, says in his daily devotional Living Positively One Day At A Time:

How can you be sure that there are great treasures within you? You can know it because you yourself are a treasure! You are of great worth to God. He sent Jesus Christ to die to redeem you. Why? So that you would realize your value. God wants every man to feel like a king, and every woman to feel like a queen because we are created in His image. We are descended from God Himself (142, emphasis his).

God Is In Everyone

Again we have the universal atonement because God loves these “great treasures” (mankind) who are of such “great worth to God” because “we are created in His image.” Indeed we were originally created in God’s image, but after the fall this image has been horribly marred as we have been told by Christ our Creator here earlier. This however, is the prevalent teaching within seeker sensitive postevangelicalism and the mystic emerging church. And now we can begin to see that we are heading toward openly teaching the doctrine of panentheism, which has only been hinted at up until this time. Satan has been using the Emerging Church, a parallel track to the Purpose Driven Church, in an attempt to establish the legitimacy of the new contemplative mysticism—a repainted version of his neo-pagan spiritual practice of transcendental meditation within the very heart of the evangelical community itself.

As we warned you a couple of years ago Zondervan’s National Pastors Conference 2006—with its legitimizing the emerging church—metastasized this spiritual cancer throughout the Body of Christ and the Devil has now firmly established his new postevangelicalism. As this has been taking root people have become emboldened to teach apostate and heretical doctrines even within the Church itself. The inability/unwillingness of effete evangelical leaders to stand for what the Bible says, combined with apathy/laziness on the part of the average Christian has brought the lack of discernment in the Body of Christ here in America to a near fatal level. As such seducing spirits have run to teach their doctrines of devils, which has now set the stage for the heretical doctrines of open theism and panentheism to be taught without fear of confrontation.

As we get set to wrap this piece up we turn once again to America’s Pastor and Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren and his book The Purpose-Driven Life. Not long ago, to give you an illustration of how spiritually obtuse evangelical leaders have become, the Southern Baptist Director of Missions for the state association of my local church sent an email encouraging us to take a look at the “Purpose-Driven Model.” Well, as we turn to The Purpose-Driven Life we read:

Because God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God then the place you are right now. The Bible says, He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything (88, emphasis added).

This is the doctrine of panentheism more than hinted at; but you will soon see the leaders of postevangelicalism and particularly the Emergent Church coming “out of the closet” and beginning to teach this pan [all] en [in] theism [God] openly. There are huge problems with this doctrine. Arguably the most important one is that if God is in everything, then it logically follows He must also be in Satan. If God is in Satan, then the Devil also shares the nature of God. And if the Devil possesses deity, then Satan will have made good on his boast in Isaiah 14:14 — “I will make myself like the Most High.” Satan will have done just that. And further, if God is in all things, then He is also in man. If He is already in man, there would be no need for the Cross. And if there was no real need for the Cross, then the Devil would not have been defeated by it.

Can you see it yet? The doctrine of panentheism can never be reconciled with the majestic and holy LORD God Almighty Who said — “I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). It cannot be reconciled with what Jesus teaches us now about His Gift of the indwelling Presence of God the Holy Spirit. Our Lord says — “The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you(John 14:17). Remember also that Jesus said of the born again believer — “If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).

Obviously if the Devil possessed the nature of Deity he would be sharing imago Dei as well as God’s glory. But in John 14:17 we see that the world does not know the Holy Spirit even though He lives with the world; however Christ tells the believers that He will be in you. Therefore God was not already in people prior to this moment. And finally the Lord teaches us in John 14:23 that if anyone loves Him (believes in Him) he will obey Me (commit his life to Christ). Then says Jesus — My Father will love him, and We will come to him —which can only mean They were not with this person before, and therefore could not have been in them. The Bible is very clear that prior to a personal decision to commit one’s life to Christ — whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:18).

This could hardly be said of someone in whom God already dwells. And for those who seem to see some kind of dichotomy between the Apostle Paul and Christ Jesus we further point out that Paul informs us:

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:5-10)

If is conditional; as in, this is not necessarily the case being considered. And all of this now brings us full circle to our opening text, which is also applied by Paul — As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Men and women, the doctrine of panentheism must be denounced as blasphemy because in the end this does not describe the one true and living God of Biblical revelation. And as such, it is clearly a violation of Exodus 20:3 where our Creator, the LORD God Almighty said with crystalline clarity — “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

And most especially you are not to worship your-self