Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20, ESV)

Tolerance But For Their Own Beliefs

As one who is a pastor-teacher I’m presenting this piece here at the online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries for your edification. There isn’t much I haven’t seen or heard considering that I’m a former morning drive air personality, stand-up comic, as well as having performed as a solo-acoustic singer-songwriter all around the Los Angeles area. I really don’t take this kind of stuff personally; and my hope here is that you’ll also learn not to let this kind of thing bother you while you contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, ESV). 

Unfortunately, mainstream evangelicalism has chosen to embrace the developing neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church; and you will see below that standing for the historic, orthodox, Christian faith will bring you up against people who claim Christ, but hold to a new form of Gnosticism. More on that in a moment; but first, you may recall a recent article I wrote called Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation, As Is The Emerging Church. Therein I set the record straight concerning a HuffPost from PCUSA pastrix Carol Howard Merritt, which then brought me into conflict with her husband. Fair enough.

In Fruit Of The New Progressive Theology Advanced By The Emerging Church I told you that BrianMerritt is pastor of Palisades Community Church, which is itself “a progressive Christian church dedicated to religious inclusiveness,” [1] meaning they “recognize many paths to spirituality, connection to God and community.” [2] You may recall that after my article concerning pastrix Carol Howard Merritt pastor Brian Merritt would tweet the link to the video below:  

For some reason this makes me think of Ken Silva: http://youtu.be/kMozp01yfXs (Online source

Actually, I liked most of the work the late Don Knotts did; I can also tell you that I was certainly not in his class as a comedic actor, though I did do some TV work. That said, it seems pastor Merritt has taken exception to something else I’ve done as yesterday he tweeted: 

I guess there are conservative leaders who compare the “covenant of civility” to the non-agression pact Hitler signed with USSR. Paranoia? (Online source)

Which would prompt Merritt’s friend, Red Letter Christian and progressive Christian historian Diana Butler Bass, to ask:

@BrianMerritt Are you kidding me? (Online source)

Pastor Merritt then assures Bass that, no, he isn’t kidding:

@dianabutlerbass Nope. (cont) http://tl.gd/qa4ab (Online source)

That link above takes us to Emergent Leaders, Evangelicals Sign ‘Covenant for Civility’, which contains the Crosstalk radio program, airing on VCY America, in which I appeared back on March 29. Along with host Ingrid Schlueter and Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough, host of Fighting for the Faith on Pirate Christian Radio, I discussed the issues surrounding—as well as the implications of—A Covenant for Civility. Diana Butler Bass, who’s in fact one of the initial signers of the Covenant, would then tweet:

@BrianMerritt It must be a sad thing to see darkness everywhere one looks. Isn’t it a sign of sin to call good “evil”? (Online source)

Pastor Merritt agreeing:

@dianabutlerbass yes I do believe that is in the Holy writ (Online source)

“Holy writ” meaning the Bible, which such as these give mere lip service to believing, and specifically comprising my opening text above from God’s prophet Isaiah. So in effect Bass is saying that the signers of the Covenant are doing good in God’s eyes and therefore, since “Woe” is a Hebrew curse, those of us on the radio program are in sin for suggesting otherwise. It’s not clear if Bass actually listened to the program in question; but if she did, Bass may be referring to what Ingrid says below:

A Covenant for Civility, this is important, because all of us want to biblical in how we conduct ourselves—we should want to be biblical in how we conduct ourselves. However, something evil is afoot.

And the reason I say that is because whenever I see the name Brian McLaren, and I understand what exactly that man is about, what he teaches, where he is leading people, and I see him signing a document—with a man like Chuck Colson, followed by millions and millions of supposedly conservative evangelicals—I am tremendously concerned as to what kind of covenant this exactly is.

It’s important at this point to understand the following: Both Diana Butler Bass and Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren are signers of the document in question, and as of this writing,  these friends were both scheduled to be teaching at the Emerging Christianity: HOW we get there determines WHERE we arrive conference being put on by fellow Red Letter Christian, and Roman Catholic mystic, Richard Rohr. A death in the family is what prevented Bass from attending. However, you need to realize that all of these people adhere to the new version of Progressive Christianity right now being advanced by the EC.

Bass even tells us herself that she’s recently been:

Reflecting on how much I’m a child of Schleiermacher & Raschenbusch rather than Billy Graham & JG Machen. (Online source)

As I told you, e.g. in Brian McLaren Asks Why Don’t Evangelicals Like Me?, this “big tent” version of progressive Christian theology [read: universalism] is still being cobbled together by McLaren’s friends like uber-liberal Harvey Cox along with his friend panentheist progressive/liberal theologian Dr. Philip Clayton. And this is what McLaren has now begun laying out systematically in his new book A New Kind of Christianity through the answers to the “10 questions that are transforming the faith.” But it’s not old liberalism; rather, it’s a postmodern upgrade—Liberalism 2.0—incorporating much more than modernism did.

Professing Christians Are Now Openly Attacking The Gospel From Inside The Church

The new kind of progressive/liberal Christianity retains the same basic idea of universalism with a Father/Motherhood of God and the Brother/Sisterhood of Man forming a Global Family but also incorporates e.g. things like panentheism, emergence theory, neo-Gnostic mysticism, and integral theory. Once you understand this, then you’ll know why Ingrid said of that foolish Covenant: Something evil is afoot; well, because it is. Here’s what the website of the aforementioned EC conference by Rohr tells us it’s 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)   

I’ve already told you that this “third way” refers to a way in between capitalism and socialism, as well as, to the Hegelian dialectic. Below Christian apologist Mike Oppenheimer offers a concise definition of Hegel’s dialectic as he 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

Those touting this allegedly purer form of progressive Christianity, which they sometimes refer to as Emergence Christianity, such as Bass, McLaren, Rohr, and the Merritts, see it as the sythesis now being birthed as mankind prepares to be “transformed” through mysticism and evolution into a higher level of consciousness. As I explained in The Coalescing Of The Christian Right With Apostolic Dominionism Rohr’s part is to advance mind-numbing neo-Gnostic  mysticism, which is designed by seducing spirits, to get people to bypass their already fallen critical reasoning skills.

Rohr teaches in his latest book that “faith is not blind assent, or even reasoned assent, but an essential part of spiritual transformation.” [3] Translation: What you receive in mystic practices is much more important than what you read in Scripture; all of which then leads to clouding the issues concerning hermeneutics i.e. proper biblical interpretation. That’s why Roshi Rohr has told us, “We need to move from a belief-based religion to a practice-based religion, or little will change.” [4] Now he continues explaining this myth: 

What sets us on the wrong path was making the object of religious faith “ideas” or doctrines instead of a person. Our faith is not a faith that dogmas or moral opinions are true, but a faith that Ultimate Reality/God/Jesus is accessible to us — and even on our side. [5] 

Without wrestling with the serpent here: No one’s saying ideas i.e. doctrines are the object of the historic, orthodox, Christian faith; rather, said doctrine expresses what we believe about God, Who is the Object of our faith. But again, seducing spirits follow their father Satan to try and obfuscate proper understanding of what God has said in the Bible. It’s bad enough that, from the Fall, we are left with a corrupted reasoning process in the first place; but then, enemy forces try and get us to stop thinking at all. Rohr concludes: 

contemplative thinking and acting [read: practicing mysticism] last longs enough (hopefully) for some form of mutuality, presence, or mystery to be “tasted”… You cannot be present or meet new reality — and let it be truly new or itself — with the judging, dualistic mind [read: rational]. 

On this point I wholeheartedly agree with Eckhart Tolle in his groundbreaking The Power of Now, which puts in contemporary language the older tradition sometimes called “The Sacrament of the Present.” [6]  

That’s right; Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Rohr is now in agreement with a New Age mystic. You may also find it interesting to note that in his endorsement of the book by Rohr, from which I quote above, fellow Red Letter Christian Jim Wallis calls this kind of mystic gibberish within it: “a deep breath of fresh air.” Yet again we see the “interlocking concentric circles” Ingrid speaks of in our radio program concerning A Covenant of Civility, which Jim Wallis is behind. Still not far enough out yet for you to recognize that these people, if they truly do believe this stuff, are not Christians?

Well then, consider how these circles now lock up in the following endorsements of the latest book by the aformentioned progressive/liberal theologian Harvey Cox:

This important book has not only helped me understand the past, present, future of this amazing phenomenon called Christianity . . . it has also motivated me to keep working to help make actual the possible future Cox envisions.
—Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian

The Future of Faith is a tour de force. As passionate and challenging as his classic, The Secular City, Cox’s new book invites the faithful, the skeptical, and the fearful intp a spirit-filled version of Christianity that can renew a hurting world.
—Diana Butler Bass, author of A People’s History of Christianity

Cox brings the eye of an historian and the heart of a theologian to explain where we’ve come from and where we’re going. The Future of Faith is an essential guide to that future.
—Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and author of The Great Awakening

Harvey Cox has been a voice of both reason and faith in our cynical times. Now, he offers a fresh vision for the resurrection of a new global Christianity that will restore our faith both in ourselves and in the divine.
—Deepak Chopra, author of Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment [7]

Here’s the central issue: Such as these have now created a such a “missional” shift in the Christian faith so broad that even a pantheistic mystic like Deepak Chopra can sign onto this supposedly resurrected new global Christianity; as such, it’s now safe to say they’ve clearly departed from anything even remotely resembling the historic, orthodox, Christian faith. And so, in discharging my duty as a minster of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I now say to Brian Merritt and Diana Butler Bass, right back at you:

 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!


1. http://www.palisadescommunitychurch.org/identity.html, accessed 4/10/10. 
2. http://www.palisadescommunitychurch.org/identity2.html, accessed 4/10/10.
3. Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See [New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2009], 116. 
4. Ibid., 108.
5. Ibid., 117.
6. Ibid., 117, 118, emphasis his.
7. Harvey Cox, The Future Of Faith [New York: HarperOne, 2010], back cover.

See also: