Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 3)

Bad News

Yesterday Christian Post ran Emergent Christians Mull Theology in Google Era, a report by Lillian Kwon on the recent heresy-fest Theology After Google (TAG) put on by by progressive/process theologian Dr. Philip Clayton. Apprising Ministries has been covering issues associated with TAG e.g. in Tony Jones, The Emerging Church And Progressive Christianity and Philip Clayton With “Big Tent” Christianity In The Emerging Church.

Kwon begins by telling us “progressive Christians” are encouraging “its cohorts” to learn to better make use of “today’s technology and social media” in order to further their “theological conversations.” Tony Jones, progressive theologian in residence for the Emerging Church of universalist pastor Doug Pagitt—one third of the Emergent Church trinity along with Jones and EC leader Brian McLaren—opened up the TAG conference.

Jones had those in attendance do a “thought experiment” where he had them close their eyes and imagine that they “went online” and “at random” looked at the websites of “ten evangelical churches” and then went and looked at the “websites of ten progressive churches.” After a very short pause Jones said they could open their eyes and then he told them:

If you’re like me, the result of this thought experiment is the macrocosm, progressives tend to s**k at social media and technology; and evangelicals tend to kick our a**at that. This event, this gathering is about us starting to turn the corner on that. [1]

The key point here is we’re clearly talking about “progressives” doing theology as opposed to “evangelicals,” and “how theology will be changing” as TAG speaker and Quaker mystic Callid Keefe-Perry puts it in the video below.  What I’ve been drawing out has to do with this newer postmodern form of Progressive Christianity—Liberalism 2.0—being cobbled together by Clayton et al; which McLaren has begin to lay out systematically in his new book A New Kind of Christianity, and that the Emerging Church 2.0 will be advancing through this “technology” into mainstream evangelicalism.

Returning to Kwon’s CP piece, now we’ll begin to see the category shift as she quotes the TAG party line:

In this Google-shaped world, theological conversations are no longer limited to Ph.D. holders, seminary presidents and church heads, says the group, but they’re open to all Christians. Unfortunately, progressives are way behind their evangelical brethren when it comes to making effective use of new technologies and social networking and making their voices heard, it laments. (Online source)

The Use Of Technology Has Never Been The Issue; It’s The Spread Of Corrupt Theology

1) This wasn’t limited to such before; rather the spread of “theological conversations” was somewhat limited, but theology (means study of God) has always been “open to all Christians”; and 2) quite obviously “evangelicals” are not opposed when it “comes to making effective use of new technologies and social networking,” or “progressives” wouldn’t allegedly be “way behind” evangelicals. Now I don’t call myself an evangelical or a fundamentalist, though I am funadmental in my theology; that said, the fact that I’m personally quoted in Kwon’s piece again proves I’m not against using social media:

The progressive Christians leading the conference have been associated with the emergent church movement, which conservatives have been highly critical of. The conference was labeled by at least one Christian as a “heresy fest.”

Ken Silva, a conservative minister who regularly comments on his blog, Apprising Ministries, on what he finds to be apostasy, cautions that “progressive Christianity aka liberal theology will be showing up more and more around the circles of the sinfully ecumenical emerging church aka emergent church.” And the Theology After Google event, he argued, is evidence of that. (Online source)

This isn’t about Lillian Kwon, because she’d have no way to know the networks of ministers that I’m involved with in using this new media ; however, this is not strictly about the Emerging Church and it’s Emergence Christianity. The overarching issue is the newer version of progressive liberalism Philip Clayton and cohorts are currently pushing as they make their attempt at transforming Christian theology, to use his term. Of course they’re welcome to their beliefs; but, Lord willing, they may also rest assured of our continued opposition.

As Kwon continues she exposes who the primary ring-master is behind this “big tent” Christianity:

Organizers of last week’s event were mainly from Transforming Theology, which is a nationwide movement of people who say they are working to transform and renew the Christian Church in and for the twenty-first century.

Clayton, who is leading the movement, says while theology was read, preached and taught by a select few in the Age of Gutenberg, today, “in the Age of Google, theology is what you do when you’re responding to blogs, contributing to a wiki doc or google doc, marking up a Word doc on your computer, participating in worship, inventing new forms of ‘ministry,’ or talking about God with your friends in a pub.” (Online source)

You can see from Ken Silva Answers Philip Clayton, where he speaks specifically of me as a critic in a recent post at his personal blog, Clayton is well aware of who I am. When Jesus gave me these media outlets five years ago I was led, as one He’s called as pastor-teacher, to use the Internet as a mission field to do online apologetics and discernment ministry while defending the historic, orthodox, Christian faith. This isn’t something I have ever taken lightly because I have a James 3:1 judgment awaiting me one day.

So since I function on defense somewhat as a middle linebacker on this playing field of ideas, as such, if men like Clayton want to run the ball of corrupt doctrine up the middle of my Lord’s visible church, then he can expect I’ll be doing whatever I can within Biblical rules to try and discourage him from doing so. And Kwon shows us where Clayton’s jumped the track onto the wrong team:

There are no strict criteria for what is acceptable or unacceptable theology, adds Clayton, professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology.  (Online source)

I’m afraid “no strict criteria” for theology is merely wishful thinking from those like Clayton who seek the approval of the world with this big tent [read: universal] pragmatic postmodern upgrade of old modern theology. The only criteria for proper theology is the Holy Scriptures inspired by the one true and living God, Whom we meet in the Person of God the Son—Christ Jesus of Nazareth. As I close this, for now, I’ll point you now to a question that I personally asked Dr. Philip Clayton on his blog; he chose not to respond.

The issue came up because one of Clayton’s followers addressed me about “dominant emphases in evangelical vs. progressive theological reflection.” So I did my best to go to the heart of why there can never be agreement between a Bible-believing Christian minister like myself and a progressive/liberal one like Clayton. In showing the contrast, I used Marcus Borg, whom I do respect for his willingness to go on record with his beliefs where so many others holding similar views choose instead to use Humpty Dumpty Language.

As I pointed out at Clayton’s blog:

I guess what I’m trying to say is, a progressive e.g. like Marcus Borg, and one such as I who holds to the historic Christian faith I alluded to before, can never have unity. We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a “big tent” Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.

That said, there’s nothing even in Reformation theology that precludes caring for the good of our fellow man. Without arguing I’m simply stating that my point is, as I see it, we don’t need to jettison proper Christian doctrine even in an “after Google world.” (Online source)

Later, while speaking to another commenter, Clayton addresses my comment but doesn’t speak directly to me as he says:

In a sense, it’s MORE valuable because we are wrestling together with hard questions of what it means to be Christlike today, even though we don’t agree on all the details.

For this reason, it makes me sad to read above, “We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a ‘big tent’ Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.” I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site. (Online source)

This is when I asked Clayton the following question, to which he’s never responded:

To be clear, I said of a liberal/progressive like Marcus Borg: “We don’t believe in the same Jesus.” And you said, “I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site.”

So this neutral observer would think that someone like myself who holds to the full Deity of Jesus Christ, in addition to His full humanity, and Marcus Borg who believes Jesus was simply a man, believe in the same Jesus? (Online source)

For you see, what’s at issue with the new version of progressive Christian theology now being advanced by Clayton along with his friend Brian McLaren as well as the Emerging Church 2.0 will ultimately be the same as it was with their forebears in what the late cult expert Dr. Walter Martin called circa 1985 the Cult of Liberalism: Can you even be a Christian if you don’t believe in Who Jesus claimed He is?


1. From video in Tony Jones And Tripp Fuller On Theology After Google.

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