…and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:30, ESV)

Doug Pagitt And Emergent Village Come Emerging

Apprising Ministries has been tracking the still developing neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church festering within mainstream evangelicalism for half a decade now. Today I bring to your attention a tweet by universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, part of the Emergent trinity along with his progressive theologian in residence Tony Jones and EC guru Brian McLaren:

My thoughts on John Piper’s “emerging church” comments – a little karma kick-back perhaps. (Online source)

The link above takes us to Pagitt’s post Karma Kick-Back; indeed, he may possibly be more familiar with the concept of Karma, and the gods of Eastern religions, than he is with the sovereignty of the one true and living God of the Bible. What Pagitt is doing in this piece is responding to what Dr. John Piper says in the video below. More on that in a moment; but first, the EC leader begins by reminding us that he is “pastor” of “a church in Minneapolis called Solomon’s Porch.” Then Pagitt tells he “was one of the early ‘conspirators’ in the emergent village network of which I am still part of.”

Well, his role was a bit more in depth than the way he put it above, so I refer you to my post Revealing Interview With Doug Pagitt where you’ll hear him tell Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough:

I was hired [by Leadership Network] to create, what they refered to in internal language there, as the Young Leaders Network…the way I handled the majority of what I did in the Young Leader Network was to travel all over the country, follow up on leads, and meet people, and ask them if they would want to join together with others in these kind of conversations… I almost think that Ken Silva would have no one to write about if we hadn’t created this little network. [1]

In Karma Kick-Back Pagitt also explains:

You might also know that I have never been fond of the “emerging church” language that is often used to describe the kind of Christianity and faith communities many of us are working hard to form. But, the term “emerging church” is the common parlance. And, much of my work and church are seen as quintessentially  emerging church.

So, the fact that we don’t use the term for self identity is not really the point. The point is that when folks like John Piper use the word, he is referring to the likes of me and my friends. I get that. (Online source)

When dealing with this developing EC cult you’re slipping into a spiritual sinkhole of the  Humpty Dumpty language used in doublespeak; so at this point, it’s important for me to point something out to you. Doug Pagitt has always been, is right now, very much involved in the actual leadership of these people he says “are working hard to form” the newer version of Progressive Christianity aka “the kind of Christianity,” which they’re now referring to as Emergence Christianity. As was said well elsewhere: The Motherhood of god and the sisterhood of humanity for the community of beings living on goddess earth.

Pagitt continues by telling us the video below is “a response John Piper gives to a question asking him to comment on the ‘emerging church’”. Before I comment a bit on what Dr. Piper said, it seems to me from Pagitt’s next statements, he was somewhat angered by Dr. Piper’s response:

His unfortunate, but too familiar to my own past, response is something I would like to comment on (oh, how blog-like of me). First, let me suggest that if what you hear in the video makes you more interested in the kind of Christianity John is condemning, let me assure you there are many places to connect with it – and its demise has been greatly exaggerated. (Online source)

Let me fill you in a bit on “the kind of Christianity John is condemning.” In very fact McLaren has now begun laying it out systematically, through the answers to the “10 questions that are transforming the faith,” in his new book A New Kind of Christianity (ANKoC). Of this new progressive Christian theology McLaren’s good friend Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr, and fellow Red Letter Christian, explains:

Now and then gifted people emerge who see the situation from a higher and more helpful level. Brian McLaren is one of those seers. [2]

Next month we’re going to get a further glimpse of what the heretical McLaren sees, and is setting forth in ANKoC, when he appears at Rohr’s conference Emerging Christianity: HOW we get there determines WHERE we arrive along with a couple of other Red Letter Christians in Shane Claiborne and progressive Christian historian Diana Butler Bass. Here’s what they tell us the conference is about:

Continuing on with the exploration begun at last year’s Emerging Church conference, the CAC is thrilled to invite you to another large gathering of Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and other Christians seeking to explore this emergence and convergence together. We hope to inspire and challenge you with the lens of non-dual thinking, a new politics and a new theology rooted in the “third way.” (Online source, bold theirs) 

Now The Emerging Church Is Beginning To Spread Its Emergence Christianity Ideology

The “third way” is a reference to the Hegelian dialectic; Christian apologist Mike Oppenheimer explains:

Traditionally, this dimension of Hegel’s thought has been analyzed in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Although Hegel tended to avoid these terms, they are helpful in understanding his concept of the dialectic. The thesis, then, might be an idea or a historical movement.

Such an idea or movement contains within itself incompleteness that gives rise to opposition, or an antithesis, a conflicting idea or movement. As a result of the conflict a third point of view arises, a synthesis, which overcomes the conflict by reconciling at a higher level the truth contained in both the thesis and antithesis. (Online source)

Emergence Christianity sees itself as the sythesis now being birthed with this purer form of progressive Christianity being cobbled together e.g. by Harvey Cox and progressive/process theologian Dr. Philip Clayton along with his Transforming Theology (TT) project, who just put on the Theology After Google heresy-fest. Lately I’ve begun showing you some of the beliefs now emerging from this new progressive EC ooze of “big tent” Christianity, under which we’ll have people like Living Spiritual Teacher Dr. Marcus Borg who deny the Deity of Christ Jesus, right alongside non-Christian cults like Unitarian Universalists.

In The Emerging Church And The New Progressive Theology On Other Religions I showed you from a book by Dr. R. Scott Thornton, which comes highly recommended by Richard Rohr, that this new kind of Christianity embraces the belief that:

Each major religion has helped a people reach and develop a relationship with God. God’s truth is revealed to people in many different religions. Mother Teresa understood this. She wasn’t interested in proselytizing. She evangelized with her acts of compassion. She never demeaned other religions. At one point she remarked, “We ought to help Jews become better Jews and Hindus become better Hindus.” [3] 

Progressive theologian Delwin Brown, who’s contributing to Clayton’s TT, tells us why as he informs us that: “‘Christ’ is the Christian name for the logos of God in all of creation, including all religions” wherein people are to be encouraged “to consider and to appropriate” the teachings of Jesus “according to the light of the divine in their lives.” [4] And recently in his sermon Wind in the Sail EC mystic Shane Hipps, co-teaching pastor with EC icon Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church, taught the very same thing about “this universal animating life force called the logos” that’s even “in Osama bin Laden.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of heresy that Pagitt tells us Piper “is condemning”; and he personally is urging people “to connect with it.” Pagitt does say he thinks Dr. Piper’s “comments might be a ‘karma kick-back” and “maybe we deserve it” because:

I think 10-15 years ago too many of us, including me, were too quick to suggest that some expressions of Christianity didn’t care about relationship and only truth. And we did so with a look and tone of smug indignation and pride. And, we were foolish to suggest that the moral failure of conservative pastors was due to their bad theology.

And, we were uninformed to suggest that certain expressions of faith were only for a select demographic of elites. And, we were hack futurists in declaring that those expressions of church would be gone in 10 years. We were, of course, wrong. And so is John.  (Online source)

Here I agree with Pagitt; Dr. Piper is wrong, but not for the reasons Pagitt postulates below:

We tell ourselves that we were wrong, in great part, because of being immature, rash and uninformed. “That was the kind of stuff people in their 20’s say” we console ourselves.
Whatever the cause, I am glad to know that we, many of us anyway, have outgrown it. I am sorry for the unnecessary stress we created in people…

I want to blame my youth and ignorance for such behavior.  Maybe that was the reason. But John shows us that there may be other reasons for behaving in such ways. I just hope those reasons don’t find me again. (Online source)

Leaving Pagitt et al aside, for now, Dr. Piper tells us he believes the Emerging Church is a “fading reality” and that he thinks “it has seen its best days.” He goes on:

Its leadership is in shambles; and I could give you horrible specifics from personal lives; that I know about, that aren’t public yet. Um, and that’s not surprising concerning how low their view of truth, and doctrine is.

While I’m glad that John Piper speaks out against the Emergent Church here he does reveal a lack of understanding of it; perhaps his closeness to Mark Driscoll ends up clouding his thinking, I don’t know. You should be able to see from the above, as well as posts of mine e.g. The Emerging Church, Philip Clayton, And New Progressive Theology, Pagitt is right when he says “its demise has been greatly exaggerated.” For example, just today concerning the EC we have A New Reformation? Emerging Theology Shaking Christianity and this tweet from Dr. Al Mohler:

The NPR story on Brian McLaren (with my interview) was most popular on NPR site yesterday. Hope it helps folks understand (Online source)

The fact is that the developing  neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church has all along been following the same methodology to spread their ideology as did their forebears in original cult of liberalism. Circa 1985 the late cult expert Dr. Walter Martin revealed the tactics they employed while infecting the now mortally wounded mainline denominations:

So the strategy was hang on to the trust funds; hang on to the money we’ve got; hang on the properties we control, and we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology. And then finally we will take control of everything.

The gradual process of feeding you theological poison until you become immunized enough so that you don’t know what’s happening to you. And when you wake up to what’s happening to you, it’s too late they’ve got everything. [5]

You do realize that EC adherents like Pagitt, Jones, Hipp, etc. were/are backed by Leadership Network and that they’re still being published by evangelical publishing houses, right. Dr. Piper says EC “leadership” is “in shambles”; not true, I’m afraid. And since late December of 2008 I’ve personally been sitting on the accusation of moral failure and an alleged cover-up of it by leadership within Emergent Village, to which Dr. Piper refers in the video, when someone who was directly involved contacted me concerning it. However those who may, or may not, have been involved with what did, or didn’t happen, just continue on.

The information now seems pretty commonplace so I’d hardly call this leadership being in shambles. The EC is very actively promoting their new form of progressive Christian theology, which was what the Theology After Google conference was, and the current social boot camps run by Pagitt and Jones are, all about. They don’t have a low view of truth at all; and in addition, the EC does have doctrine but they refer to it instead as theology. The emphasis on community isn’t simply about relationship, nor is it to minimize truth itself as Dr. Piper wrongly suggests; it’s actually an integral part of neo-Marxist ideology.

That’s because for those propagating this Emergence Christianity, like Doug Pagitt, one thing certainly is true:  The historic, orthodox, Christian faith is all wrong. Men like Dr. Piper ignore the very real threat of the EC at great risk to the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I’ll say here again; as long as the Lord sustains me, such as these spreading their counterfeit Christianity will never be able to do so quietly. 


1. The aforementioned post has within it the complete Fighting for the Faith broadcast of 1/21/10 on Pirate Christian Radio, which originally aired as The REAL Story About the Birth of the Emergent Church Movement.
2. Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity [New York: Harper One, 2010], back cover.
3. R. Scott Thornton, Inclusive Christianity: A Progressive Look at Faith [Pasadena: Hope Publishing House, 2009], 28
4. Delwin Brown, What Does a Progressive Christian Believe? [New York: Seabury Books, 2008], 38.
5. Walter Martin, (circa 1985) The Cult of Liberalism, CD Rom, available from Walter Martin Religious InfoNet.

See also: