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)

Myths Of The Mind Of McManus

Apprising Ministries brings your attention to Christians Challenged to Stop Ignoring Innovators, Early Adopters, which is a puff  piece Christian Post devoted to self-promoter Erwin McManus yesterday.

McManus has been “distinguished lecturer and futurist at Bethel Seminary” and the current bio at tells us that he “also serves as the primary communicator and cultural architect of Mosaic in Los Angeles.”[1] However, according to this CP piece, it seems:

McManus, an innovator, recently made the transition from full-time pastor at the influential Mosaic church in Southern California to starting a company that would engage the world of art and culture. (Online source)

If so, this would be a good thing for the church because McManus has always left much to be desired as a pastor. He’s known for teaching foolish things like the following concerning Soul Cravings, one of his earlier books. You’ll understand the context of McManus’ mythology of “innovators and early adopters” when you realize the the below comes from an interview McManus gave to Matt Comer of Infuse Magazine, which tells us it’s where we can learn “everything spiritual and new age, yoga, meditation, holistic health, crystal healing, reiki and chakra, spiritual healing.”

What McManus will tell us is straight out of classic mystic myth of some supposed “spark of the divine” where God i.e. the universe is thought to already indwell all human beings:

Sure… Soul Cravings isn’t a new idea. This is something I’ve been journeyin [sic] through for 30 years. I’ve been waiting for the day I could write it. Soul Cravings, to me, is very much a human story. It’s the story of finding God inside of yourself… I’m going, “No the real evidence isn’t in the objective world, but it’s in the subjective world… There’s a universe inside of us more powerful and more clarifying than the universe outside of us…

On the last flight my wife and I were on, the stewardess came by and gave me a drink and I walked up to where she was and knew God was saying to me… I’m living this life where God speaks to me about people… Soul Cravings is really an extension of saying that I’ve found if you have honest conversations with people about their search for intimacy and their search for meaning and begin to unwrap that, then people begin to pour out their soul and begin to find God already there.

We Western Christians tend to love “The kingdom of God is near” or “The kingdom of God is among you” but we’re uncomfortable when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Online source)

Since that isn’t the main point of this post, I’ll refer you to Understanding The New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind for a refutation of the divine spark fantasy; for our purposes here the following from Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics by Bob DeWaay, pastor of Twin City Fellowship and director of its Critical Issues Commentary, shall suffice:    

Mystics latch onto the idea of the kingdom within because the idea gives a compelling reason for a “journey inward.” It dovetails nicely with the thinking of people in a culture influenced by New Age ideas and post-modern thought. Go deep inside of your self through an Eastern technique, and there you will meet God, or so they think.

But does the Bible teach that the Kingdom of God is within human beings? The passage they are referencing is Luke 17:20, 21: “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.’”

The phrase “the kingdom of God is within you” is found in the King James and the NIV. I believe that the context favors the NASB translation. Jesus was not telling His enemies, the Pharisees, that the kingdom was within them, but that it was among them in the person of Jesus Christ. If they were going to enter the kingdom, they would have to repent and turn to Christ for salvation (see Mark 1:14, 15). There is nothing in this passage that would suggest that if the Pharisees took an inward journey using meditative techniques they would find God’s kingdom! (Online source, bold his)

It’s not surprising that McManus would believe this myth because his theology has always been in line with the neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church. Earlier in Emergent Church: A Diseased Tree I discussed the origin of what is now the Emergent Church when, according to Mark Driscoll who was part of this, Leadership Network brought together the Terra Nova Project led by Andrew Jones along with what has become the unholy Emergent trinity of heretical universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, his progressive “theologian in residence” Tony Jones, and Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren.

Erwin McManus was initially selected but was quickly dropped, not because his theology was out of line with the rest, but due to his ego clashes with some others there. This isn’t hard to believe when you know some further background information from Interview With Frank Loaiza On Erwin McManus And Mosaic and the links within. Sadly, we’re told that Erwin McManus has been holding court at a leadership forum addressing “seminary students and pastor’s with his usual message of the love of self. McManus mused “all the innovators and early adopters have been filtered out of church leadership.” Really; “all.” Wow, has McManus really done some kind of an exhaustive study?

Students And Pastors Hear Assertions From McManus Not Grounded In Scripture

Not likely; it’s probably just more of his hyperbole, as he continues by telling us “the church has been led by late adopters and nostalgics.” What? Erwin McManus dreams “all the innovators and early adopters” are out so the church is now being run by “late adopters and nostalgics.” Sounds to me like McManus is just making stuff up; where in Scripture do we find any of these artficial categories? Answer: Nowhere; it’s simply more business jargon that has zero to do with preaching the Gospel and the leadership of local churches. But too many of today’s evangelical leaders and teachers believe what McManus tells us next:

And though early adopters make up a small percentage of the population, McManus is convinced that churches will not be able to shape the future of any culture if they don’t reach what he sees as “the top 12 percent.” (Online source)

This is just more man-centered myth because its not the mission of churches “to shape the future of any culture,” our mission as ekklesia, the ones called out of this world to assemble and worship God in Christ, is to preach His Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name. It’s then up to God to call whom He will and shape a given culture as He will; but then again, that wouldn’t make people like Erwin McManus and this glut of “missiologists” and missional church planters as important as they’d like us to think they are, now would it. Here’s an idea; want to make the world a better place boys, drop your conferences and go out into your own communities and actually preach the Gospel for a change.

McManus goes on:

Meaning, story, beauty and community are the four things he is convinced every organization, church and business needs to focus on if they are going to develop the healthiest and most vibrant people. There are many unhealthy Christians out there, he lamented, along with an incredible number of unhealthy companies that are influenced by Christians. (Online source)

Yes, just imagine a world full of McManuses as “the healthiest and most vibrant people”; nothing but creative leaders living and loving “meaning, story, beauty” in their communities. However, in the real world, the precious Christians of Jesus are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). How blessed we are as we walk in them; some of us faithful husbands who rise early each day to do jobs of manual labor providing a living for his family as God intends. And like I used to tell my football players every season, you respect your mom because hers can so often be such a thankless task.

Faithful husbands, I commend you; faithful moms, I thank you. Don’t let dreamers like Erwin McManus make you ashamed of these good works God has given you; and the truth is, you correctly shape culture much more than those like McManus and the missional bunch do right now. Who is Erwin McManus to decide which are “unhealthy Christians; from what I’ve seen, he cannot even correctly handle the word of truth himself. The CP piece then tells us:

The 51-year-old speaker said he meets a lot of people who have a relationship with Christ and yet are still searching for answers to their life. “One of the things you’ll discover … as you listen to your own soul is that you spend a great amount of your life trying to bring meaning to your own life. (Online source)

Why this man is being used to train seminary students and pastors with this drivel is beyond me. People listen to their own soul because of sin; prior to regeneration we are all bent toward pleasing ourselves, these people “trying to bring meaning” to their lives need to hear the Gospel, not be pitched some new company McManus has started. And they sure don’t need to hear the lie that “there is greatness in everyone”; some of us are made to be regular folk, and our “greatness” is in surrendering our lives that Jesus may be glorified. Here’s what a real Biblical leader named John once said — “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

McManus says, “We want to help everyone find meaning in their life and help translate the story that each person actually matters in the world.” Yes, I can hear the applause now; however, it’s better for these people McManus is teaching if he were tell them he wanted everyone to hear the Gospel and leave it for God to bring actual meaning into their lives. O, he does finally get around to mentioning it; sort of:

Christians are called not only to bring meaning to people’s lives but also to bring beauty, he emphasized. But he has found that churches have brushed off the importance of beauty… “Part of what has happened is that we have lost our conviction that beauty is actually important in carrying the Gospel to the world,” he said. (Online source)

It’s sad that people actually buy this snake oil; Christians are not called to “bring meaning to people’s lives,” I just showed you above we are to walk in the good works God has prepared for us. And then as we do so, being ambassadors for Christ (c.f. 2 Corinthians 5:20)—as God presents opportunity—we exercize the ministry of reconciliation (c.f. 2 Corinthians 5:18) and share the Gospel with people; now that is true beauty, and greatness, to be the servant of all. And, of course, emerging Erwin McManus has to try and placate the world while revealing his hate of proper doctrine:

In the church, McManus feels there is an “arrogant misconception” that Christians hold – that because they are people of the book or people of truth, they’re healthy. “The truth of the matter is, even if you’re right in your beliefs, right in your doctrine, you may be actually wrong in your execution,” he pointed out.  (Online source)

First of all, it’s a great exaggeration, not to mention an affront, to say all Christians harbor his straw man “arrogant misconception” about being healthy. Well Erwin, I have news for you; even the unheathiest Christian in the Body of Christ is healthier than those who need to hear the Gospel and are still dead in their sins. And how about this: The truth of the matter is, even if you’re right in your execution of social work, you may actually be wrong in your beliefs, wrong in your doctrine; and sadly, this accurately describes you. Please repent of your love of the self (c.f. 2 Timothy 3:2) and instead focus your attention upon lifting up Jesus Christ.

But tragically, the following is all too true with man-centered teachers like Erwin McManus: “[W]e can tell a story that will pack them in.” Indeed you can; and you do, but how about you get back to sharing that old, old story:

Tell me the old, old story, Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply, As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, And helpless and defiled.

Tell me the story softly, With earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner Whom Jesus came to save;
Tell me the story always, If you would really be,
In any time of trouble, A comforter to me.

Tell me the same old story, When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory Is costing me too dear;
Yes, and when that world’s glory Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

This will at least make it worth the sinner’s time to come in…


End notes:

[1], accessed 9/11/10.

See also: