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)

A Wonderland Of Humpty Dumpty Language

Apprising Ministries is an online apologetics and discernment work specializing in analyzing current trends in the visible church, apprising you as to what they are, and informing you as to how you can deal with them. One trend we’ve watched very carefully since 2005 was the rise of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church; now a full-blown neo-liberal cult operating within mainstream evangelicalism, which also proved to be a Trojan Horse unloading critical-thinking skills numbing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation.

You may recall from articles like Contemplative Law, The Gospel Of Grace, And Frank Viola that I told you essentially this sinfully ecumenical Emerging Church and its Emergence Christianity is a really a new postmodern form of Progessive Christianity, which Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren had begun laying out in his recent book A New Kind of Christianity. Quite similarly to earlier neo-orthodoxy ala Karl Barth postmodernism is “anti-logical” and “embraces Paradox” [1] while deconstructionists viciously attack rational thought with what’s commonly known as irrational philosophy:

Irrational philosophies accordingly stress the will at the expense of reason, as exemplified in the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre or Karl Jaspers. (Online source)

Roughly put, its influence in our culture is why you’ll so often hear people say things like: “With all my heart I feel that’s a good thing”; in other words, truth is being decided by how someone feels as opposed to what can be objectively known. To help you further understand what it is we’re now up against as this emerging cult continues swallowing up apostatizing evangelicalism consider the following from Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, which I first cited almost three years ago now in Neo-Orthodoxy: An Emergent Overview:

Most church historians see the founding father of neo-orthodoxy as Karl Barth… Barth taught universal election, and that the Word of God only becomes the Word of God through the work of the Holy Spirit to each individual in a subjective way… [For neo-orthodoxy t]he ultimate revelation of God is found in the person of Jesus Christ and the Bible is where Christ meets the reader. The Bible, then is not the infallible or inerrant word of God, but an “opportunity” to meet the reader as he reads.

Other important neo-orthodox figures include Reinhold Niebuhr and Dietrich Bonhoffer… Neo-orthodox theology teaches that the Bible is not the Word of God in that it is a series of true verbal propositions to be believed. Rather, it is an existential encounter with Jesus. There is no standard of truth and no absolutes. Jesus is God and Jesus is not God are equally true.

God is represented as wholly other. He is completely transcendent and unknowable. Neo-orthodoxy teaches universalism, and sees Jesus as God’s divine messenger of love to the masses. Neo-orthodoxy also rejects the Fall (following Pelagius) demonstrating that people are not sinners when they are born. Rather, they become sinful when they sin. (Online source)

Dr. John MacArthur’s insight from his oft-overlooked 1994 book Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern will prove very valuable here in helping you see why it is in this postmodern time that these neo-Gnostics in the Emerging Church, who’re neo-orthodox in their theology (at best), would run to the CSM of “key mentors” Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, and his spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard:

Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity… Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually.

In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism… Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they affirming traditional beliefs, their actual system differs radically from the historic understanding of the Christian faith. By denying the objectivity of truth, they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism.

It is a theology perfectly suited for the age in which we live. And that is precisely why it is so deadly… [Contemplative Spirituality aka] Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, of other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous.

Mysticial experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means… Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith.[2]

As I beging to close this out, for now, let me assist you in understanding why postmoderns like the Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell love to hide in the shadows of ambiguity and talk so much about supposed mystery. Dr. Gene Veith, Culture Editor of World Magazine and former Associate Professor of English at Concordia University-Wisconsin, tells us this all results in “postmodernism assum[ing] that there is no objective truth, that moral values are relative, and that reality is socially constructed” by various “communities.”

Veith then explains:

Whereas modernism sought to rid the world of religion, postmodernism spawns new ones. Unconstrained by objectivity, tradition, reason, or morality, these new faiths differ radically from Christianity. They draw on strains of the most ancient and primitive paganism. Even the deconstructionists speak in mystical terms…

The deconstructionists dissolve every positive statement, every rational argument, every truth claim—destroying form, they say, so as to open up what lies beyond the possibilities of representation… The inadequacies of language will be left behind,… Postmodernism, in its rejection of objective truth, have clear affinities with Hinduism and Buddhism, which teach that the external world is only an illusion spun by the human mind. [3]

Because of this, in his excellent sermon A Beginner’s Guide to Postmodernism Phil Johnson, executive director of the aforementioned John MacArthur’s fine Grace to You ministry—and who blogs at the popular Pyromaniacs blog—would say:

I am convinced that postmodernism is inherently incompatible with biblical Christianity; and in fact, the most essential elements of postmodernism are hostile to the fundamental truth claims of Scripture. And for that reason, I would argue that a postmodern mindset involves some positively sinful ways of thinking. [4]

The question then becomes: Why has evangelicalism exposed its younger sectors to these Emerging fools?


[1] Gordon Clark, In Defense of Theology [Milford: Mott Media, 1984], 58, 61.

[2] John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When The Church Loses Its Will To Discern [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994], 27, 28.

[3] Gene Veith, Jr., Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture [Wheaton: Crossway, 1994] , 193, 198, 199.

[4], accessed 5/14/11.

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