For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. (Psalm 59:12)

A Christianity To Please The World

This serves as the second part of the Apprising Ministries article Big Tent Christianity Pretending To Be The Church where I began to take you through Big Tent conference in Raleigh hopes to bridge political divide, which is a short story byYonat Shimronm, staff writer for  The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC.

As you probably know this Big Tent Christianity: Being and Becoming the Church (BTC), getting underway tomorrow, is the lastest apostasia-palooza of the Emerging Church and is being thrown by the Transforming Theology network team of Dr. Philip Clayton, whom I’ve introduced you to e.g. in Philip Clayton With “Big Tent” Christianity In The Emerging Church.

Below you can see that the heretical quasi-universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, who heads the Emergent Solomon’s Porch where his equally heretical friend Tony Jones is “theologian in residence,” is already on his way:

(Online source)

The other member of the unholy Emergent Church trinity, Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren, will also be on hand as well; in fact, BTC will feature an all star roster of these rebels against Sola Scriptura. You’ll find both Clayton and McLaren, Red Letter Christian and mainline progressive historian Diana Butler Bass, along with Empress of Emergent Phyllis Tickle, Christian universalist of the EC OOZE Spencer Burke, as well as Greg Boyd, a leading proponent of the heresy Open Theism. In addition there’s Wesley Granberg-Michaelson,  general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and proponent of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, and gay-affirming EC “pastor” Jay Bakker, who heads up a rather rapscallion, and largely Biblically illiterate, bunch in the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church crowning themselves Outlaw Preachers.

One more notable among this spiritually motley crew would be uber-liberal theologian Harvey Cox, who’s very instrumental in assisting progressive Christian theologian Philip Clayton while they continue cobbling together their new postmodern form of “big tent” Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—sometimes referred to as Emergence Christianity. Sadly, so deluded they are by their practice of transcendental meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), these neo-Gnostics really can’t see that they’re actually involved in the same doomed venture as their evil forebears in what the late cult expert Walter Martin branded, “The Cult of Liberalism” circa 1985. In just the same way as was tried earlier by fools with their modern theology, such as these are attempting to make a Christianity compatable with the capricious postmodern culture around them.

Right from the opening of Shimronm’s Big Tent conference in Raleigh hopes to bridge political divide, which I mentioned earlier, this becomes patently obvious as we’re told, “Clayton is among a group of theologians eager to move beyond the culture wars that have pitted the Christian right and left for so long.” Shimronm then informs us:

That polarization is turn-off to a younger generation not as invested in the old battles. “Generation X and the Millennials are fed up with the disputes that define American church today,” Clayton said. “They want to talk about the Gospels; what Jesus taught and did.” (Online source)

But as I pointed out last time, as good as Clayton sounds at first the question is: Which Jesus will we be talking about? You see, many of these disputes actually involve cardinal doctrines of the Christian Church and thereby it casts their shadow over these conflicts; and God told us this would be so e.g. — For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized (1 Corinthians 11:18-19). As the great Bible commentator Matthew Henry brings out:

No marvel there should be breaches of Christian love in the churches, when such offences will come as shall make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Such offences must come. Note that men are necessitated to be guilty of them; but the event is certain, and God permits them, that those who are approved (such honest hearts as will bear the trial) may be set to view, and appear faithful by their constant adherence to the truths and ways of God, notwithstanding the temptations of seducers.

Note, The wisdom of God can make the wickedness and errors of others a foil to the piety and integrity of the saints. (Online source)

How one responds to factions, and those who cause them, reveals whether they adhere “to the truths and ways of God,” or not; as Bible Consultant Paul Marsh puts it, “The self-willed by their differences reveal those who are genuine (dokimoi—those who have been tried and stood the test).”[1] As this pertains to the new big tent postmodern form of progressive Christianity, Shimronm next reminds us about Clayton’s “part stunt, part provocation” You Tube video below where he asks Pat Robertson and John Shelby Spong to put aside their differences, end their dispute, and embrace as brothers in Christ. This is what I meant before when I said that these disputes actually involve cardinal doctrines of the Christian Church; for someone like me who professes the full Deity of Jesus Christ to make conflict go away with John Shelby Spong, someone who vehemently denies it, I would have to surrender a non-negotiable doctrine.

But as a pastor-teacher I am instructed by God to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught—by the way, this also assumes that I can know—the trustworthy word as taught so that—I—may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine—again, this presumes that I actually can know what it is, because I’m—also to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). So, being that my dispute with people like Spong or Living Spiritual Teacher and Progessive Christian scholar Marcus Borg—both of whom claim to be part of the church—concerns the trustworthy word as taught, then I have no choice but to divide from them as I continue to give instruction in sound doctrine to those who are like the Bereans and receive the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things [are] so (Acts 17:11), while I also [continue] to rebuke those who contradict it like these Emerging Church rebels with their universalism.

Big Tent Christianity Levels Attacks Upon Cardinal Doctrines Of The Christian Faith

Please understand that what I’m going on to discuss should in no way be thought of as an attack upon Yonat Shimronm, of whom I know nothing; it is directed to men like Clayton and Tripp who definitely should know better. With that understood, and with this proper Biblical perspective in mind, Shimronm tells us “[t]he genesis” of BTC “is a new movement in American Christianity”; actually the Emerging/ent Church has been around since at least 1997. Next we’re told this movement consists “of people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s who are far more willing to ask respectful questions of their faith and grapple with new interpretations.” That’s rubbish; but Shimronm’s subheading does lead us toward the truth of what’s actually going on: Erasing battle lines. Close; but instead, try erasing doctrinal lines, because this is what these rebels are actually after as Shimronm goes on:

These Christians want to live out their faith in a more authentic way. For them, the old battle lines – whether the Bible is error-free, or whether gays and lesbians can be a part of the church – no longer matter. (Online source)

More “authentic” than what; “the old battle lines” now “no longer matter,” says who? Whether “the Bible is error-free” is of paramount importance concerning “whether gays and lesbians can be a part of the church” because it tells us:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

I don’t know about you but my love for Jesus, and for the LGBT people for whom He died, constrains me to tell them this truth; as lovingly, gently, and patiently, as I can, however tell them I must. Shimronm then says:

Among this group of Christians, denominations don’t matter much. Nor do the traditional divisions among evangelicals, mainstream Protestants and Roman Catholics. 
(Online source)

Not being a “denominational” guy myself, just a Christian who happens to be a Southern Baptist (for now), I would see as a good thing that denominations “don’t matter much”; however the next sentence, “traditional divisions among evangelicals, mainstream Protestants and Roman Catholics,” now takes us right back again to cardinal doctrines, which are non-negotiable. Mainline Protestant is short-hand for churches poisoned by the cult of liberal theology and who largely deny these cardinal doctrines I’m talking about i.e. the Deity of Christ, His Virgin Birth, His vicarious substitutionary atonement, etc.; and as a result, Jesus tells His Christians that we show ourselves approved if we obey what He’s told us:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

Because these liberals in spiritually dead mainline churches deny the Savior, then I have no basis for Christian fellowship with them, no matter how nice a person each may be on a human level. And when it comes to apostate Roman Catholicism, the heart of the difference involves the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself: Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross by Christ alone. Dr. R. C. Sproul is helpful here:

nobody who went to the Council of Trent, as a delegate, went there with the intention of condemning the gospel. The theologians of Rome really believed that they were defending the gospel and that the Protestants had in fact committed apostasy. And I admire the Church, the Roman communion of the 16th century for at least understanding what apparently people don’t understand today, and that is what is at stake here. That they understood that somebody is under the anathema of God!

And we can be as nice, and as pleasant, and as gentle, and as loving, and as charitable, and tolerant as we can possibly be, but it’s not going to change that folks. Somebody is preaching a different gospel! (Online source)

Again, we show ourselves approved of Jesus if we obey His Word; do you not remember what He said — “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). Regarding the Gospel itself God instructs His children through His inspired Apostle Paul:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Those who don’t preach the Gospel of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name, as I outlined it above, are preaching a different gospel and are accursed of God; therefore as unbelievers, again I have no basis for Christian fellowship with them. Now because we don’t know their final state, and because we don’t know if they’ll repent, as ambassadors of Christ—Who’s entrusted to us the message of reconciliation (c.f. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20)—we pray for these people and preach the Gospel to them; but we do not affirm them in their sins as if they are in right standing with God. Next Shimronm points out:

This younger generation has grown up in a more urban environment filled with people from across the globe. (Online source)

So, without a doubt, this has now made it more difficult to hold to the exclusivity of the Christian Gospel in our postmodern world. However, the increasing exposure to people of other religions doesn’t somehow now negate it; but those perpetrating this new Progressive Christianity 2.0 want it to, which becomes evident with crystaline clarity when Shimronm tells us:

“You can’t know Muslims and Buddhists up close and think God saves people in one tradition but not the next,” Clayton said. “It’s a lot harder to be exclusive and provincial in the way it was.” (Online source)

In closing this, for now, I tell you in the Lord that it’s well past time to wake up regarding where these progressive/liberals like Philip Clayton, with his big tent Christianity, and Doug Pagitt, with his Christianity worth believing, and Brian McLaren, with a new kind of Christianity, are trying to take the church visible. As a matter of fact, it’s actually summed up well in the following endorsement for the latest book by progressive/liberal theologian Harvey Cox who, with Tony Jones, is teaching Frontier Thinking of Big Tent at the Big Tent Christianity conference beginning tomorrow. Cox et al espouse:

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 [2]

And as I’ve said before, when a pantheist proponent of New Spirituality like Deepak Chopra can sign on to your “big tent” supposed “resurrection of a new global Christianity,” then it’s safe to say that you’ve now departed from anything even remotely resembling that historic, orthodox, Christian faith. 


[1] F.E. Bruce, Gen. Ed., New International Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979], 1372.

[2] Harvey Cox, The Future Of Faith [New York: HarperOne, 2010], back cover.

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