Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Emerging Church - Warning!

The last widespread cultural threat to Biblical Xianity I recall was "seeker sensitive" churches/services in the 80's and 90's--popularized by Bill Hybels. What that gave us was churches willing and eager to "morph" themselves into something that appealed to unbelievers. It went something like this, "You want the preacher to tone down his proclamation of the Biblical gospel? Okay, we'll have him teach on popular topics to help you feel good about yourself." "Oh, you don't care to waste your day in church? Okay, we'll give you a smorgasbord of service days and times that you can pick and choose from." "And, yes, we'll tone down the doctrinally rich and solid hymn singing for you, too!" "You say your kids won't like coming and listening to Bible stories during Sunday School? Well, we're installing a state-of-the-art video and audio auditorium that will wow them, and for your younger kids we have a real-live carousel they can ride on!" Get the picture? We have effectively created a "church" environment that appeals to and feeds the flesh, and not the spirit.

Naturally, it was only a matter of time until those external gimmicks gave way to the intellectual gimmicks.

About two or three years ago I first began hearing the term, "emerging church". First through, a casual acquaintance with a fellow-homeschool mother. Then just days later, my husband came home from a meeting with the president of a large international missions organization who warned of the emerging church. Naturally, I began to listen and watch for more evidence of this coming "trend" inside and outside of the church.

Here are a few names of people in the EC movement that you should be aware (and beware!) of: Rob Bell, Brian McLaran, Mark Driscoll, and Dan Kimball.

Because God always protects His sheep, He has equipped a good number of reputable Xian men and women who are watching this present trend, talking with the leaders (and followers) within the movement, and subsequently providing necessary warnings to Believers. One of those men is John MacArthur, here's what he had to say recently:

"If you haven't heard of the Emerging Church, you will. The Emerging Church movement is wildly popular with people who are dissatisfied with orthodox doctrine, dogmatic preaching, and traditional worship.

People who are drawn to the EC generally place high value on ambiguity and mystery. They reject the notion that God's Word is clear, and that anyone can really understand its meaning. That means every doctrine you and I find precious is subject to new interpretation, doubt, and even wholesale rejection. Everything is being questioned and deconstructed. Unlike the noble Bereans who used Scripture to test what they were taught and refine their understanding of the truth, people associated with the EC regard God's Word as too full of mystery to warrant handling any truth in a definitive way.

The result is a movement that thrives on disorganization, lends itself to mysticism, distrusts authority and dislikes preaching, feeds intellectual pride, and recognizes few (if any) doctrinal or moral boundaries. You can see why they movement is so appealing to college-age young people--it is fleshly rebellion dressed in ecclesiastical robes...

The EC's frontal assault on the clarity of Scripture makes it the most dangerous attack I've seen. If the Bible isn't clear and its meaning can't be understood, what do Christians have left to say to anyone? No doctrine is sure enough to declare; everything is subject to debate and discussion. No text really offers hope and comfort. No truth can definitively correct error. There is no standard by which to measure a minister and his ministry. There is no clear gospel to communicate to the lost--in fact, it's not even clear whether there's such a thing as lost or saved.

While not all the EC leaders and authors pursue their belief system to the same extreme, the movement's core is radical and dangerous. You can understand why a Christ-professing movement built on such shifting sand so deeply concerns me..."

Ladies (that's who I primarily blog for), we need to be watching for this--in our own churches, Bible studies, fellowship groups, homeschool groups, etc. We need to be ready in season and out of season to stand firm for the truth of Scripture, not the whims of man or the gimmicks of the world. Not only are we commanded to guard our very souls, we are charged with the care and training of those around us--family, friends, neighbors, etc.

Here are a few resources I've come to trust on the topic of the EC:

The Pyromaniacs have a lot to say about the EC, just do a search for Emergent, or Postmodern.

Carla Rolfe is a homeschooling mom who has been studying and interacting with the EC people through a blog she created for that sole purpose, EmergentNo.

Frank Turk minces no words on the ECM (Emerging Church Movement) on HIS BLOG. Frank is also one of the TeamPyro members at Pyromaniacs .

D.A. Carson has written THIS BOOK that is considered "THE" book on the topic. I'm hoping to read it after my husband finishes.

Well, I'm sure there are plenty of others worth our time and consideration, but these have kept me busy enough!


Kim said...

I am growing more and more disgusted with the whole emerging thing as I see its subversive effects all around me.

I read Carson's book in the summer. It is an excellent read. MacArthur's new book, The Truth War is proving to be just as good.

Emerging church thinking appeals a lot to young people who bristle at the fact that the Bible says things they don't particularly like, and who are loathe to embrace their "parent's religion."

Terri said...

Connie, when I popped over to your blog this morning and saw the title of today's post. I jumped up from my desk got a piece of toast, re-heated my coffee and sat down with great anticipation to read what you had written. Like you, when I first heard of this movement I was very alarmed. I became even more alarmed while reading Mac Arthur's series about it at Pulpit Magazine. I immediately recognized many of these trends infiltrating churches and missions organizations. I recently received a flyer in the mail informing me of a new local church in our area. I was so disturbed by what it said. Here’s part of what was written on the flyer.
What You Can Expect:
The ___Church is a life-giving church where you will experience
a casual atmosphere of upbeat worship, excellent children’s ministry,
friendly people, and an encouraging message. Be sure to grab some
Starbucks coffee and doughnuts in our lobby. All we ask is that you
come as you are, and that you come thirsty!
First 100 visitors will receive a free Starbucks gift card!
What is most concerning to me about the EC movement is the subtlety in which it is creeping in. A little doctrinal conforming here, a little entertainment tolerance there, equals in my mind an alarming situation. Equally concerning to me is the lack of willingness I see in fellow believers to “stand for the truth.” This one is especially personal to me as I have undergone persecution and character assaults as a result of standing up for the truth in such issues. But we must speak, we must not be silent!
Your warning and exhortation for us ladies to be ready to care for and answer those who are falling prey to the EC trend encouraged me greatly! Sorry, for such a long comment, this is such an important issue.
May He alone be worshiped, honored, and praised!

Terri said...

Now that I’m breathing again and oxygen has returned to my brain. I just want to clarify a bit on one comment I made earlier on my first post. when I said;
“Equally concerning to me is the lack of willingness I see in fellow believers to “stand for the truth.””
I didn’t mean to imply I was surrounded by a bunch of believers who were not standing up for the truth. I only meant to imply that in a very narrow sense. I am very fortunate to be a part of a sound church doctrinally as you know, and to know ‘more’ people who are willing to stand up for the truth than not. Am I just digging myself in deeper. Maybe I should just borrow Calvin's ‘man bag ’ and hit myself in the head with it =)

Connie said...

Kim: You touched on something that is constantly before me--"young people...who are loathe to embrace their 'parents' religion'". I'm grateful for the way God has moved and is moving in the life of our oldest, but I won't let myself rest since college is just two years away for her. Our youngest is just now beginning to mentally process deeper thinking and consequences--I pray daily for God's saving mercy.

Terri: I'm not sure Brother Calvin would approve of using his "man purse" in such a manner!!

I completely understood--probably cause we fellowship in the same church--but am sure your clarification might prove helpful to other readers. :-) I get those ads too--I usually chuckle, share them with my husband, and then file them in the round file. We used to mail them to our former pastor in Dallas--he enjoys a good laugh, too!

Pam said...

I am a silent reader to your blog but had to speak up today. I have been watching the evolving of the EC for a number of years and have left a church/fellowship heading in the direction of the EC and 'Warrenism.' Are you familiar with this site I have gained so much information from them and I receive their email newsletters. The books on their site are tremendous and worth the money if you want to be informed. In all honesty I personally feel we will be hard pressed to find a church in the coming years that does not follow this mindset. I never ever ever thought mine would go this route but they did. Beware of prayer rooms, contemplative prayer practices, labyrinths (the big draw at Bed and Breakfasts now, too, labyrinth gardens!), youth groups are making prayer beads which are no different than a rosary, all coming from the teachings of the Desert Fathers who were derelict in their time. We all need to discern the times and be bereans of the Truth. Thanks for your post.

Connie said...

pam: Thanks so much for "de-lurking"! I just enjoyed a nice tour of your blog and look forward to visiting more often.

Thanks too for your comments and insights regarding the ECM--I'm delighted to meet other Xian women who are eager to sift and think through these things.

Kim said...

Thank you for this post! Yes,we have been warned of this trend(movement) as well. I am still learning exactly what it is. Thank you for the beware sign. : ) My husband just bought John MacArthur's *The Truth War*,so we will be reading that soon.

Thanks for the insight.


Kim from Hiraeth said...


I laughed out loud when I saw JCalvin with his bouquet of tulips and pink plaid purse! That is so funny! I LOVE IT!!

(oh, and I agree with the post and the commenters' comments)

Shannon Lewis said...

It's important to note that the "Emerging Church" should be better called the "Emerging Reformation", as it's not a unified movement - it entails 3 different responses to the public acceptance of post-modernism, and like the original 'reformation', which had the Reformation (with two resulting expressions of Lutheranism and Calvinism), the Counter-Reformation (of the Roman Catholic Church), and the Radical Reformation (focused more on personal experience and social justice) the 'Emerging Church Conversation' has it's Luther/Calvins (Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Rick McKinley, and the entire Acts 29 Network), it's Radical Reformation (Rob Bell & Brian McLaren) and it's own counter-reformation. The fact is, some movements within the 'Emerging Church' are responsible for the incredible upsurge of Reformed Theology, and others are responsible for the growth of liberalism. It's not a 'movement', as in a denomination - it's response to a paradigm shift in how the world thinks about truth.

Anonymous said...

I can't get the link for the "Emergent No" blog to show anything... are there posts there?


Connie said...

anonymous/Byn: Unfortunately, the originator of that blog, Carla Rolfe, decided earlier this year to take it down! She has done an excellent job of not only highlighting the problems of the movement, but as a woman challenges other women to think carefully as we minister to and encourage others!

She still blogs at "Reflections of the Times" (in my side bar) and has a few ECM posts there.

She's also VERY open to email discussions and a very capable communicator!