See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
(Colossians 2:8)

There’s No Big Tent By The Narrow Gate

Apprising Ministries told you in posts such as Pretending That Big Tent Christianity Is The Church and Big Tent Christianity Is A Postmodern Progressive Liberalism about something called Big Tent Christianity: Being and Becoming the Church (BTC), which was the lastest apostasia-palooza of the Emerging Church; and if you don’t know, BTC was put on 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.

 BTC was essentially the coming out party for the upgraded Emerging Church 2.0 and featured a veritable who’s who of heresy headed by the unholy Emergent Church trinity of apostates, Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren, universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, and his friend Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch. One more notable heretic among this spiritually motley crew was the uber-liberal theologian Harvey Cox, who’s very instrumental in assisting progressive Christian theologian Philip Clayton as they continue cobbling together this new postmodern form of “big tent” Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—sometimes referred to by these rebels against the final authority of God’s Word as Emergence Christianity.

I’ve told you before that you’d best realize this progressive/liberal Emerging Church 2.0 is now going to marshal an open, and all-out, advance of its new Liberalism 2.0—Rodney King on steriods—theology against the mainstream of the evangelical community; sadly, through evangelicalism’s ominous embrace of the sinfully ecumenical Emerging Church, its poison was long ago injected into their Young Adult and Youth ministries. Here I also remind you of one who kind of floats under the radar, Shane Claiborne; well, his participation at BTC should finally give you a fix upon him, as it is written — “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet” (Amos 3:3)? Only deep into the postmodern Wonderland of Humpty Dumpty language is the answer anything other than: No, they do not.

It’s really been quite obvious all along anyway; especially considering Claiborne is one of the progressive Red Letter Christians like Living Spiritual Teacher and Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr, Sojourner’s Jim Wallis, and Claiborne’s mentor Tony Campolo. In addition, his fellow RLC’s McLaren, Jones, and Diana Butler Bass were all there with Claiborne at heresy fest BTC. Another familiar name at BTC was gay-affirming EC “pastor” Jay Bakker, who heads up a section of the EC 2.0 who’ve dubbed themselves Outlaw Preachers. You might recall from Meet Outlaw Preachers this rather rapscallion, and largely Biblically illiterate bunch, even includes self-professed “queer inclusive” ELCA pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Fresh off preaching at the celebration of sin you’ll see in Emerging Church ELCA Pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber Bolder In Apostasy, in Correcting Tony Jones I told you Bolz-Weber herself was at BTC to air out her foul mouth with her *cough* theo-poem “Garrison Keillor can kiss my a**”; yes, a  progressive/liberal big tent—down at the docks—Christianity even a longshoreman can &!$#@ love. Another who was at BTC was Hugh Hollowell, whose Twitter bio says he’s, “Founder of Love Wins Ministries, Friend of the Marginalized. Writer, Speaker, Bootleg Preacher.” Now Hollowell gives us one of the first glimpses of the man-centered group hug theology espoused at BTC as he tweets:

(Online source)

It’s been said elsewhere that many, if not most, of the people who gravitate into the neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church are reacting to hurt they experienced in “fundamentalist, legalistic” churches and denominations. I would have no trouble granting that, but with the following caveats: 1) not everything these people label fundamentalist actually is; for example, this writer, and 2) a significant number are simply rebels against the authority of the Word of God who find community among like-minded to stir up division within the church visible by misrepresenting what the late cult expert Dr. Walter Martin would often call “the historic, orthodox Christian faith.” The main thing I wish to bring out here is that Jesus knows I don’t hate these people at all; quite the contrary, I love them enough to tell them the truth.

With this in mind then, I’ll also say that from what I’ve seen Hugh Hollowell appears to be a sincere and caring man; that said, he’s mighty misinformed, and definitely hanging with the wrong crowd. The link above takes us to his post What I Said at Big Tent Christianity where he tells us, “Thursday, I was on stage with Shane Claiborne and Johnathan Wilson-Hartgrove at Big Tent Christianity.” According to Hollowell many people “asked if I would post my speech” so this post is comprised of “the manuscript”; and unfortunately, Hollowell errs right off the bat as he says:

According to Jesus, loving your neighbor is half of the greatest commandment. Pretty much everyone agrees that, if taken seriously, it’s a radical idea that could change the world. (Online source)

The Greatest Commandment Is Through Christ To Love God With Our Whole Heart

No, loving our neighbor is not at all “half of the greatest commandment”; Hollowell needs to pay closer attention to what the text says. By the way, this isn’t a light side matter; in fact, it’s the very root as to why their “Big Tent Justice” is man-centered. Admirable; yes, but the Emerging Church has turned Jesus into a 21st century progressive/liberal social reformer, which is why Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough has referred to their Jesus as “Gandhi with a beard.” He looks like…well, them; it’s happened before, and so, God has said — you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you (Psalm 50:21). What’s happened is through the love of self[1] this BTC of the Emerging Church 2.0—and for that matter most of evangelicalism—has succeeded in turning the following from Jesus exactly backward:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 
(Mark 12:28-31)

One quick side note as it pertains to “arguing doctrine” with someone; we actually know the above teaching from Jesus because He was arguing doctrine, which becomes evident as Mark tells us this scribe heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” We specifically note the end of the b part of verse 28 in the above text where Jesus is asked — “Which commandment is the most important of all?” The Greek for most important is prōtē, which carries the meaning “before all” as in the “first, greatest.” This would mean that Christ—the LORD God Almighty in human flesh—has just been asked by one of His Own creations to explain to him, “in all of Your Word, what is the most important thing a man can possibly do while he is here on this cursed earth.” 

In the Master’s cogent response comes the revelation that so many in the visible church have actually reversed concerning what is most important for us as Christians to be doing. Look at verse 29 of the text:

 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Can you see that; “The most important [Commandment],” says Jesus, is to “Love the Lord your God.” And then we get to verse 31 — “ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” We must come to understand that while there are no greater commandments than these, they are simply not equal to each other. Verse 31 again — The second is this”; meaning, quite obviously, that it is not the first, nor is it the greatest. You can see now that tied up in our very commission as the Body of Christ, His Church, is our Lord’s clear command in John 20:21 — “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Therefore, our allegiance as ambassadors for Christ (c.f. 2 Corinthians 5:20), following Jesus before us, is to be fiercely loyal to the LORD our God; remember, He said — I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me (John 5:30). Dr. John MacArthur put it well when he taught:

The distinguishing mark of any believer is that he loves God with all his heart and therefore obeys Him. God commands believers to love Him as much as they possibly can. Regardless of one’s religious activity, no one is ever right with God until his heart, soul, mind, and strength manifest a love for God. A person does not prove he is a Christian simply because he believes in God. He demonstrates the validity of his faith when as a result of his belief, he displays a consuming love for God.

Even though the apostle Paul struggled in his Christian life, he loved God and hated sin. In Romans 7:18 he says, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Paul was saying he loved God with all his heart, even though he didn’t always do the right thing. Even though he sometimes sinned, he nonetheless hated his sin. That is the mark of any Christian…

The second commandment is like the first in that it is of the same nature and character. When you rightly love God, you will rightly love people. The Pharisees didn’t love people. They bound heavy burdens on them (Matt. 23:4), and abused them. Their ancestors killed the prophets and they were attempting to have Christ Himself killed. They actually hated men because they stole their money and took bribes against people. They loved themselves more than they loved others…

To love your neighbor as yourself means to love all people with your whole heart. The love spoken of here is the same as the first commandment. It is the love of the will, intention, and action. The second commandment means to take care of someone else the same way you would take care of yourself.

We are all very concerned with our comfort and meeting our own needs. But are we as concerned with the comforts and needs of others? When you are hungry, you feed yourself, but when someone else is hungry, do you take care of them with the same concern? When you are uncomfortable, you find comfort. Do you have the same feeling for someone else who is in of comfort? We need to care about others the same way we care about ourselves. (Online source)

So much for liars in the Emerging Church trying to give the evil impression that those of us who are Bible-believing Christians adhering to the aforementioned historic, orthodox Christian faith don’t care about others. We just know that God tells us — We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19) i.e. through what Christ did for us on the Cross we can begin loving God with all our heart, from which His love extends through us as we then love our neighbors with our whole heart. So I agree, in principle, with much of what Hollowell says in his piece; like a physician he has correctly diagnosed a problem:

most Christians don’t really love their neighbor. They love the idea of their neighbor. (Online source)

However, he doesn’t offer the right prescription: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead we’re given emerging false doctrine: “[W]e have lost our sense of mission as co-creators of the Kingdom of God.” No, we haven’t; we never have been co-creators of the Kingdom of God. As I showed above, like Jesus, we are to do the will of him who sent us and preach His Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name just as we were commanded; all we say is, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10). But instead of the Gospel, and telling us what Jesus has already done for us, Hollowell lays down the Law; what we have to do:

The justice of Jesus is brought about by sacrifice, love and suffering. And to the extent that we do not exercise sacrificial love, suffering and proclaim the Reign of God, we are far from the way of Jesus. (Online source)

Sadly, this whole centered on the self big tent postmodern form of Progressive Christianity, with its spiritually vapid universalism, is areadyfar from the way of Jesus” and actually tying up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay[ing] them on people’s shoulders (Matthew 23:4) with no Good News of the power available through the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hollowell also gives the typical Emerging Church mythology of Hell, consistent with that of EC rock star pastor Rob Bell, that we find it in this world in suffering and injustice. No, as bad as those things are, there’s nothing upon this earth which could possibly compare with the full wrath of the glorious, majestic, and dreadful, LORD God Almighty:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

And in the end, Hollowell would do well to make the time to read, with an open Bible and a repentant heart, the articles contained on Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality before ever uttering this again:

“I pray I will see you in hell.”


End notes:

[1] C.f. 2 Timothy 3:2.

See also: