For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

 Be Careful Who You Listen To Because You Just Might Come To Believe Them 

Apprising Ministries wants you to know there’s a piece out there right now that’s really got gay affirming “pastor” Jay Bakker, whom you’ll recall heads up a rather rapscallion bunch spiritually who call themselves Outlaw Preachers, as well as others around the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church de-formation of the Christian faith, all a-twitter. For example more than once Bakker has tweeted lately: 

via @huffingtonpost: Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation (Online source

And the other day BrianMerritt, a member of the Emerging Church network called TransFORM, would also tweet out this same information:   

via @huffingtonpost: Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation http://huff.to/cjybc6 (Online source

Following that link we come to the April 1 piece (and no it isn’t an April Fool’s joke) Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation by “Pastor, Author, Podcast Host” Carol Howard Merritt at the liberal Internet Newspaper called Huffington Post run by Arriana Huffington. Like her husband Brian, who’s pastor of Palisades Community Church, pastrix Carol is also a member of TransFORM; and both Merritts are also part of the aforementioned Outlaw Preachers with Jay Bakker. You know, interlocking concentric circles of apostasy which always circle right back into the same spiritual cesspool. 

We’ll look at the article itself by pastrix Carol Howard Merrit in a bit, but for now, her HuffPost bio tells us she:   

is a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., the award-winning author of Tribal Church (Alban Institute, 2007) and Reframing Hope (Alban Institute, forthcoming), and the Co-Host of the God Complex Radio podcast. Carol leads conferences nationally and internationally on cultural shifts and religion. (Online source)

You’ll notice Merritt’s book was published by The Alban Institute, which is an ecumenical interfaith spiritual blackhole whose theological approach would be consistent with foolishness like this 2010 Interfaith Understanding Conference, which is supposedly: “A groundbreaking moment in the global interfaith movement.” In fact, pastrix Merritt’s own views would also appear to be right in line based upon her post in a series called Plurality 2.0 at the Pomomusings blog of our ol’ friend Adam Walker Cleaveland. There she tells us about “a crisis of faith” she had “standing in a Hindu Temple in Chicago.”

She was “was on a field trip with my fundamentalist Bible college” [she means Moody Bible Institute] in which they “were taught to proselytize freely.” Christians usually refer to this particular activity as sharing the Gospel, but I digress; pastrix Merritt then informs us that “[a]ccording to those rules in my head” the Hindu man she was observing “was clearly going to hell.” So she wondered:

But why would God send him to a place where the torture never ceased? He grew up in a particular context, in India, learning a different path. Did it make sense that God would send him to an eternity of weeping and teeth gnashing, along with the billion of other people from India, because he never repeated a prayer after me to ask Jesus into his heart? I know that I wouldn’t send him to hell

I found that these particular Hindus were as good at proselytizing as I was. Better, really. They spoke of different paths, and how they all led to God… I didn’t become Hindu, but I’m pretty sure that it was at that moment that I realized that I could not hold to such a narrow view of God’s grace. I began to appreciate how people found paths to God outside of our particular cultural context. (Online source)

Pastrix Merritt fleshes out the above a bit with her later comment to a reader who had asked her why she didn’t become a Hindu:

For three reasons. The first and foremost is that my devotion to Christianity has always been strong. I pray to Jesus regularly and persistently. My crisis of faith had to do with the narrowness of the fundamental/evangelical movement that I was a part of… Thankfully, though, Moody Bible Institute had a wonderful library… So Barth, Schleiermacher and Gutierrez got me through, and taught me a much broader and grace-filled theology.

Second, I was also having great difficulty with the sexism that was inherent in my tradition, and I didn’t see that Hinduism would be much of a cure for that… Third was the cultural chasm. I just knew that there would be huge portions of the faith that I would never understand because I wasn’t a part of the culture. (Online source)

Choosing To Believe What You Already Wanted To Believe

So by finding teachers to tickle her ears pastrix Merritt was able to ditch the biblical doctrine of hell for the universalism of Progressive Christianity and was then able to remain a Christian despite “great difficulty” with the actual doctrine of the historic, orthodox, Christian faith. This is the proper backdrop against which to read Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation because Merritt is herself an adherent to the new version of “big tent” progressive Christian theology—Liberalism 2.0—which heretical Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren has begun laying out in his book A New Kind of Christianity.

Pouty postmodern me-ism allows such as these to simply pick and choose from whatever “Christian” tradition they wish to and then cobble together in their spiritual basements a “Christianity” they like. After attending the apostasia-palooza Christianity 21 last fall Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough said we’re not dealing with a new form of Christianity, but rather, new forms of individual Christianities. Such as it is in the postmodern Wonderland of Humpty Dumpty language at the core of the overarching Emergence Christianity which envelopes all of these various nebulous Christianities they’re creating.

Essentially spiritual versions of know-it-all teenagers who are adamant that no one’s going to tell them what to believe. This is what you need to understand as I tell you that in her HuffPost pastrix Merrit, who’s already in rebellion against the word of God by pretending to be a pastor in the first place, begins by telling us that we’re “in the midst of a shift in American Christianity, as Evangelicalism is failing to reach a new generation.” She is right about one thing; apostatizing evangelicalism is in the midst of a shift away from the all-sufficiency of Holy Scripture i.e. Sola Scriptura into subjective existentialism.

And this spiritually empty EC movement, swallowing up its young, is the terrible 1 Peter 4:17 judgment Jesus has levied against this foolish community with its embrace of the same corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism—a core doctrine of the EC—which would eventually cause the Protestant Reformation in the first place. Merrit continues now painting with a brush the size of the Grand Canyon:

For the last couple of decades, Christians looked to the Evangelical movement to show us how to gain new members and keep our churches relevant. They showed us how to attract young members. Even stodgy denominational congregations could not hide their curiosity when megachurches took root in our nation’s religious landscape. (Online source)

Knowing Merritt’s background from the above information we understand her utter disdain for everything evangelicalism; except the Emerging Church, of course. I do sympathize here with her as I stopped calling myself an evangelical a couple of years ago, but not because historic evangelicalism was wrong; rather, I don’t want to be associated in the same movement as people like Brian McLaren. I’ll say it again; he is no brother of mine. That said, being that Leadership Network launched both the Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven and the Emerging Church movements, Merritt herself actually belongs to the same Church Growth Movement from which those megachurches she’s so down on would later descend.

Look into it and you’ll find many of the same man-centered “missiologists” [see below] flitting around within both of these seeker-sensitive sectors; all with same goal to make “church” relevant, but with slightly different methodologies. Putting it in their pragmatic business language: It’s the same product; but with different target audiences. The issue isn’t megachurches in and of themselves; rather, the problem is the same in both camps: By listening so long to these church growth gurus they’ve gotten so wrapped up in trying to tailor an orthopraxy (what we do) to a given culture that they have sacrificed orthodoxy (correct belief) in the process, which then shuts off the real power Source of the Church.

In other words, God will always honor His Word; He may, or may not, choose to work through our our ideas concerning church programs. Merritt is right, if not a little over-the-top, in her basic criticism of megachurches. Where she jumps the track though is laying this at the feet of “evangelicalism.” She apparently doesn’t realize that she herself is part of the evangelicalism she’s s criticizing; the problem is, this version of evangelicalism isn’t in line with the historic, orthodox, Christian faith. In fact, it’s really an “evangelical” form of deism as Alan Kurschner recently discussed in his piece Rick Warren: Evangelical Deist over at Triablogue; essentially people living as if God is somehow not sovereign.

The fact is, whether she knows it or not, in her article Merritt is actually talking about what has developed from fundamentalism and neo-evangelicalism; and this as opposed to historic evangelicalism, which leading authority on fundamentalism George Marsden tells us merely contained fundamentalism as but “one subtype.” [1] And considering her job we do understand why Merritt would moan about how:

women began to wonder, “Why can’t we be pastors? Why aren’t there more women in our church leadership? Why would all the rules change once we stepped inside of the church walls?” Men and women alike began to long for gender equality in church leadership. (Online source)

However, her problem is that Jesus didn’t call women to be pastors; and if you look closely at what God teaches us through His inspired Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12-14, then you’ll be able to see that the argument against women in leadership over men in the local church is rooted in the created order of God itself. The point being that our Creator Himself, for whatever His reasons may be, is the One Who has deemed this to be so; and those who wish to argue over this issue will find immediately themselves in conflict with Jesus. Actually, the fact that women pastors are accepted today within the mainstream of evangelicalism is yet another sign that we’re not at all dealing with historic evangelicalism here.

Merritt then goes on to tell us that people like her, who have already rejected historic biblical Christianity, didn’t like “the religious intolerance that many Evangelicals preached,” and further, felt it “no longer made sense in our changing neighborhoods.” Well, I personally don’t happen to like that the vast majority of mankind remains headed for hell because they refuse to accept God’s Gospel of repentance for the forgivness of sins in Jesus Christ. However, the Lord’s not interested in my fallen reasoning and Matthew’s eyewitness account informs us that it was Jesus Himself Who told us that would be the case:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NASB)

We are not responsible that there are spiritual knuckleheads running around looking as if they actually relish this idea; nor do we have the right to change what Jesus said. Our mission as the Body of Christ is to follow Jesus as He seeks to save that which is lost; and if you personally don’t believe that these people outside of Christ are lost, then why are you even bothering to call yourself a Christian? As I teach my own local church: Let’s preach the Gospel to any one, any where, and at any time; let’s share it as gently, lovingly, patiently, and as often as we can; because if we truly love our neighbor, then preach it we must.

I really do somewhat empathize with Merritt concerning what she calls “Evangelical talking heads” within that ever favorite Emerging Church target, “the Christian Right.” They sure don’t speak for me; however, finally we get to the heart of the matter when she asks:

Where are all of the young Evangelicals going? That’s hard to say. I found a home in the Presbyterian Church, but most of them probably aren’t going anywhere for now. Nevertheless, this is an important moment for progressive Christians. (Online source)

And there you go; as a former Southern Baptist, Carol Howard Merritt would walk away and then find a home in an innovative, intergenerational congregation within the liberal/progressive PCUSA. Merritt said above that “this is an important moment for progressive Christians”; that’s where the Emerging Church is headed, toward a new form of progressive Christianity with its lie of universalism. So I counter that this is instead a very critical moment in time for actual evangelicals; do you now have the spiritual intestinal fortitude to expel such as these—who are spiritually immoral—from among your midst?

Because if you do not, you’d best know this; their spiritual cancer will also kill the mainstream of the visible church in just the same way as that of their evil forebears once mortally wounded the mainline denominations.


1. George Marsden, Understanding Fundmentalism and Evangelicalism [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmanns Publishing Co., 1991], 104.

Ed Stetzer and David Fitch – a missional conversation Part One from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

See also: