In the Apprising Ministries post Philip Clayton With “Big Tent” Christianity In The Emerging Church I reminded you that the Emerging Church (EC) was a Trojan Horse taken inside mainstream evangelicalism; and further, at its corrupt core the EC has always been an existential rebellion against the final authority of the Bible i.e. a rejection of the proper Christian spirituality of Sola Scriptura. I also told you I fully realize that what I’m covering here concerning the EC, as well as the Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven camp, very likely appears to be a theological maze.

Again, you’re quite correct; it is. That is precisely a major strategy right now of these seducing spirits sowing their doctrines of demons; they are weaving them into a veritable spiritual labyrinth. As I said before, Jesus does warn us — “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:10). That has zero to do with the Left Behind series; regardless of eschatological beliefs, I am warning you that Satan’s goal right now is to unleash a tsunami of heresies, which are very fine-tuned, and then aimed precisely at areas where the visible church can be easily divided.

This is because he knows very well that in this time of timid tolerance the church visible really has no structures in place to definitively deal with them. Until you can see these issues against that backdrop you’ll struggle to understand why the foolish embrace of the Emerging Church with its Emergence Christianity is now proving to be so detrimental to a mainstream evangelicalism that never fully renounced humanism. If evangelicalism had purged the leaven of liberalism from its midst initially it wouldn’t have had to deal with this neo-liberal cult slithering around within its own walls.

Men like the Emergent trinity—Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones—and their friends like progressive/process theologian Philip Clayton would never had been able to sow the seeds of their Liberalism 2.0 within the mainstream of the visible church in the first place. And as I explained in Brian McLaren With A New Kind Of Liberal Theology the EC is not simply rehashing old liberal theology; no rather, we’re dealing here with a new postmodern form of liberal/progressive theology complete with an upgrade which allows more for the spiritual dimension than did the old modern form of liberal theology.

However as I pointed out previously, just as it’s predecessor, this newer postmodern form of Progressive Christianity is also a doomed attempt to make what they think is the Christian faith palatable to this postmodern culture and with the latest supposed advances in scientific knowledge. I also told you the term Emergence Christianity itself, which such as Phyllis Tickle see as the new reformation, incorporates emergence theory of evolutionary science; and I explained that many in the EC believe that, right now, mankind is evolving upward into a higher state of consciousness.

And now you know why their practice of neo-Gnostic Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism [1] is key for them; this is where they think they’ll actually be receiving this “transformation” from God. That’s why, in their minds, the meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer is so critical. As I’ve been telling you, this is where someone like Brian McLaren is coming from; and what he’s trying to do with his new book is essentially Brian McLaren Making Up A “God” The Emerging Church Likes, because the one true and living God of the Bible just won’t do for the EC.

Now with this all in mind, let me tell you that the recently concluded Theology After Google (TAG) conference, which featured McLaren’s friend Dr. Philip Clayton, was about much more than simply training people in the EC concerning the importance, and use, of the latest social media in our world of rapidly advancing technology. TAG was also a networking conference designed to link up those who’d be interested in using this new social media to advance the Liberalism 2.0 of what Dr. Clayton calls in his book Transforming Christian Theology (TCT) “big tent” [read: inclusive] Christianity. [2]

As I now bring to your attention Clayton’s post today SHOULD the church adapt to a post-Google world?, over at his personal blog Clayton’s Emergings, you’ll really need to have this background in order to recognize the category errors in Clayton’s piece. He begins by telling us “the big ‘Theology After Google’ event” has come to an end; but says Clayton, “this major conference wasn’t really about Google” nor in “one sense” was TAG “even about technology.” He saw it being “about two questions: should the church adapt to the rapidly changing world around us? And, if so, what precisely should we do?”

Clayton continues:

Well, imagine the alternative. Indeed, there’s an easy way to see it up close and personal: just go to the websites of the critics of the Theology After Google (TAG) conference. Ken Silva called the TAG conference a “heresy fest” and, later, “nothing more than a warped and toxic twisting of the actual Christian faith.” You — each of you, each reader — has to decide for himself or herself. I encourage you to go to Ken’s blog and read it with an open mind.

In the same vein, I’d encourage you to watch the professors at Southern Baptist Theology Seminary tear apart Brian McLaren’s newest book, A New Kind of Christianity, in a panel discussion. Decide for yourself whether adapting to the world (and the people!) around us amounts to selling Christianity down the river. (Online source)

A couple of things come *ahem* emerging here: 1) I’ve never said using new social medium and technology was bad. Um, after-all, the only way Philip Clayton would ever have become aware of me is a direct result of my using said mediums; and 2) I say that the following from Clayton just might preclude his followers and students from really reading what I write “with an open mind” when he says:

You may agree with Ken and the irrate professors. Or you may even think that our TransformingTheology project — the call for the church to adapt to an emerging world and emerging technologies — is even worse than Ken thinks. Perhaps the TAG conference, and the present writer, should be put on his sidebar of dangerous leaders, alongside Rick Warren (and, if you follow the links on Rick, alongside “radical Roman Catholic apostates such as Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the militantly pro-Roman Catholic Church spiritual Gestapo Unit known as the Jesuits”). (Online source)

I’m not sure I’d refer to the SBTS panel as “irate”; but for the sake of argument, we’ll just agree to disagree agreeably on this point. However, as you’ll see in a moment, the Transforming Theology project is clearly about more than the church adapting “to an emerging world and emerging technologies.” On one hand Clayton seems like he wants honest dialogue, but then he would also appear to be trying to paint me in a negative light by using my quote concerning Ignatius of Loyola; a man who devoted his life Counter Reformation spirituality and to the defense of the Church of Rome who’d anathematized the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

And finally Clayton then goes on to conclude:

On the other hand, you may endorse the motif that ran through every speaker and every workshop at the Theology After Google event: we best follow Jesus by attempting to be Christ-like to the people around us … by attempting to meet them where they are. Using new technologies, and thinking in new ways about our faith are part of that. The central Christian questions and concerns are still our concerns, but the answers can be affected by the new things we’re learning and the new conversations we’re having.

It really is a choice. Ken Silva and the Southern Baptist seminary professors really do embody a different attitude toward the world “after Google” than we do. Which way will you choose? (Online source)

However, as I said in my initial comment at his blog, the heart of the matter here is that it would be more accurate to say that, along with the SBTS seminary professors, I’m employing a different attitude toward what the late Christian apologist Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), interestingly enough SBC himself, so often called “the historic, orthodox, Christian faith” than those who believe as Clayton does would do. As I explained to Clayton the differences aren’t over “the world” because no one’s arguing that the Gospel doesn’t have a secondary phase, which certainly involves caring for our fellow man, etc. 

Instead these differences concern theological fundmentals i.e. cardinal doctrines of Christianity itself. Perhaps the main problem we run into is with Clayton’s definition of theology in his book TCT where he writes, “Theology means moving from Scripture and tradition, by means of reason and experience, to application in the contemporary world” (89). But here we receive some indication that this wrong view concerning theology, which by its very definition is the “study of God,” in Clayton’s “Transforming Theology” is actually rather similar to the neo-evangelical liberalism of Robert Schuller.

You may recall Schuller turned theology backward (toward the self) in his 1982 book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation where he said, “classic theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God- centered,’ not  ‘man-centered.’” [3] Clayton’s statement about “moving from Scripture and tradition by means of reason and experience,” then shows a neo-orthodoxy ala Karl Barth (at best); and at worst, is the same ill-fated strategy of the original liberal, or modern theology, which is also known as Progressive Christianity. In fact, the dying mainline denominations are the sad testament to its spiritual bankruptcy.

Clayton goes on in TCT to give us the subheading of “Viewing Theologies as Complementary, Not Mutually Exclusive”; a nice sentiment, but there are differences that end up exclusive when it comes to the Person and work of God the Son—Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Clayton tells us in his TCT that he feels it’s “time to start building bridges” instead of “staking out one hostile terrain or another.” He then gives four examples as to “what happens,” in his opinion, when we look at theologies “as complimentary resources for richer Christian response to today’s world.”

The first example Clayton gives is that of “evangelicals and conservatives” whom he sees as having “a deep commitment to a close reading of Scripture” and a “high view of biblical inspiration” which would give them “the grounds for a systematic presentation of Christian belief” (92).  The second group Clayton tells us about takes “these strengths” and combines them with “high respect for and close study of” what he essentially lines out as church tradition. Clayton then informs us that he’s learned much from “the Eastern Orthodox churches” whom he’s speaking about here.

Being a former Roman Catholic, I can tell you that one could just as easily include the Church of Rome in that group as well. Next Clayton praises those whom he calls “liberals or progressives,” which he sees as the ones who’re specializing “in the language and concern’s of today’s world.” And because they are the (only?) ones who truly “understand contemporary social and political issues at a very deep level” supposedly such as these are allegedly prophetically calling us to “Christian action.” Well, that is, if we accept that one can be Christian while denying virtually everything that Christians believe.

And lastly come “the scholars” whom Clayton says are those “skilled at expressing the distinctive features of modern thought” or “the challenges” of “science or the world-and-life-views of other religious traditions.” Clayton then goes on to conclude:

When they are presented in this way, without negative rhetoric, it’s easy to see that the four categories can be viewed as complimentary. Can you imagine the church that could emerge when all these strengths are honored and used? (93)

Yes, actually I can; it would look a lot like what I have called the sinfully ecumenical Emergent Church with her neo-liberal form of progressive Christian theology being cobbled together by Clayton et al and as laid out e.g. by his friend Brian McLaren in his book A New Kind of Christianity. The reason I say sinfully ecumenical is because such as these would have us merely dismiss doctrinal differences as deep as the full Deity of Jesus Christ in favor of working together advancing a reimagined version of the social gospel. But as noble as this Transforming Theology may be, this Christians cannot do.

For you see, the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ—repentance for the forgiveness of sins by God’s grace alone; through faith alone, in the finished sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and His resurrection from the dead for justification before the Father—is anchored in the fact that Jesus is God Himself in human flesh.


1. CSM is a romanticized Roman Catholic mysticism; a so-called Spiritual Formation (SF) advanced by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his friend and spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard.
2. For more detail see Philip Clayton With “Big Tent” Christianity In The Emerging Church
3. Robert Schuller, Self Esteem: The New Reformation, (Waco: Word, 1982), 64.

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