Exposing the Emerging Church (Part 1)
Why we seek to expose the errors within the Emerging Church
The editors of B.A.N.A.S.H. believe that it is essential for God’s people to be well informed concerning the false teachings that are currently infiltrating the Church at an unprecedented rate. Sadly many Believers have little or no desire to gain knowledge about the many ‘isms’ that are confronting us at the end of this age. If the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles thought it worthwhile to have a knowledge of false teachings with the purpose of reproving them, then we too need to be equally well informed regarding error in order to effectively fulfil the scriptural command to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11)
However, error is often difficult to identify because it frequently has some resemblance of truth within its teachings. Henry (Harry) Ironside was very accurate when he said the following: “Error is like leaven, of which we read, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone [or ignore] such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperilled souls for whom Christ died.”
Due to the Emerging Church’s cunning ability to mix truth with error, God’s people need to be extremely discerning and well equipped in order to identify, expose and reprove the false teaching within the Emerging Church or within any other false religious system. There is no better way to sharpen one’s spiritual discernment than a thorough knowledge of God’s Word combined with the power of the Holy Spirit to facilitate a gracious and effective application of ....the Sword of Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 3:17.
The Source of Emergent Teaching & all False Doctrine
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.Proverbs 14:12.
Despite all of the clear biblical teaching regarding the futility of man attempting to find acceptance with God on his own terms, countless fools have sought to do so since the dawn of time. Multitudes in their puffed up pride and rebelliousness have repeatedly rejected God’s gracious way of salvation through repentance and faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people’s sin on Calvary (substitutionary atonement). Consequently multitudes of man-made religions have evolved, which advocate good works in place of or in conjunction with God’s way of salvation. Any false religion can easily be identified by undertaking an assessment of its teaching on the substitutionary atonement; where Christ and His atoning work is rejected or not fully depended upon for salvation, works are always inserted as a replacement or as an add on. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.
The Emerging Church is a modern example of such a man-made religion. Although it is a professing Christian movement of relatively recent years, in reality its commencement can be traced to Cain’s vain attempts to find acceptance with God through the development of a more ‘contemporary’ way to worship and find forgiveness of sin.
It must be pointed out that not everyone associated with the emergent movement would be in agreement with all of the traits highlighted within this article. However, anyone professing allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ must by necessity love His Word because Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14. If such a love for God’s Word exists it will always be accompanied by a submissive obedience to its teaching and an abhorrence of the liberal teachings of the Emerging Church will naturally ensue. This abhorrence in turn would necessitate a separation from this apostate movement and prompt a condemnation of its pernicious teachings....something emergent associates who claim adherence to Reformed teaching have failed to do. (eg. New Calvinists like Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Tim Kellar etc).
An absence of organised structure or doctrinal statements can present difficulties when attempting to scrutinize the make-up and belief traits within the Emerging Church. However, there is sufficient information available from the prominent proponents of emergent teachings to facilitate an analysis. Much of the following information has been gleaned from a website entitled ‘Building a Church without Walls’, which belongs to one of Northern Ireland’s foremost supporters of the emergent movement, Gladys Ganiel. http://www.gladysganiel.com/category/emerging-church/
Traits within the Emerging Church
A Conversation?: Advocates of the Emerging Church prefer to describe this movement as a ‘conversation’ to emphasise its flexibility and willingness to embrace new ideologies as they arise; thus it is enabled to evolve alongside cultural changes within society as they occur; however, the authority of God’s immutable (unchangeable) and eternal Word is inevitably set aside in the process.
Social Justice: According to Ganiel, the Emerging Church has gained popularity in America because evangelicalism in America has become politicised and contrary to the gospel. Perhaps in an effort to justify the necessity for the Emerging Church in Northern Ireland, Ganiel appeals to what Pete Rollins (formerly of IKON in Belfast) disparagingly describes as Ulster’s ‘Paisleyism’ (presumably this refers to the Free Presbyterian Church (FPC) since Dr Paisley was the founding member of this denomination!), which he claims is moralistic and focussed on sexual sin! This of course is untruthful and anyone wishing to find out exactly what this church teaches may do so by visiting any of the websites of the FPC.
A church focussed on social justice has been tried by many before and has never yet had a favourable outcome. For example The Salvation Army, which started off being thoroughly evangelical, became so taken up with social activity that it has largely forsaken the preaching and defence of the gospel and has now become another victim of compromise and apostasy! http://www.salvationarmy.org/thegeneral/vatican
What proponents of a social gospel fail to recognise is that sin is at the core of every social evil; therefore attempting to address the consequences of sin without addressing the root cause, is as useful as applying a sticking plaster to a gaping, infected wound. When the Church fulfils its God given commission to preach the gospel and to feed the lambs/sheep, individuals are converted and sanctified; by the grace of God these individuals become the agents of change within society by sharing the gospel with others and through the undertaking of good works, their motivation being a delight in God’s Word and a desire to obey its every command, including the command to love ones neighbour and enemy alike:
Doubt Welcomed: Emergent teaching welcomes doubt and views faith and doubt as two sides of one coin! Ganiel again quotes Peter Rollins who refers to doubt as a normal state; Rollins erroneously claims that Christ experienced doubt when he felt abandonment by God on the cross! But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6.
Doubt and unbelief is sinful and to accuse Christ of this sin is blasphemy and an unmerited attack on The Lord Jesus Christ’s sinless perfection, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. 1 Peter 2:22.
Substitutionary Atonement Denied: According to Ganiel substitutionary atonement is wrong. She expresses agreement with Steve Chalks’ opinion that the traditional evangelical understanding of the crucifixion, which believes that God punishes an innocent victim in place of guilty, fallen, humanity, as a form of "cosmic child abuse". Ganiel also refers to Brian McLaren’s belief that there are a number of ways to look at atonement and being rigid on one way leads churches in different ways. (This is exactly what the absolute truth of God’s Word is intended to do!) This statement by McLaren betrays the true intention of the Emerging Church, which is strongly inclined towards the development of an all inclusive and united church; in the absence of any firm teaching combined and a very strong propensity to embrace different belief systems, this will be all the more achievable: undoubtedly the Emerging Church is contributing extensively to the end time apostasy prior to Christ’s second coming when there will be a merging of all (false) faiths in one world religion! Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
How vitally important it is for the members of the truly united Church (i.e. the invisible church) to adhere unswervingly to the absolute truth of God’s Word! Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13.
Evangelism: According to Ganiel there should be no attempt to win converts as it is not the job of a Christian to convert other religions. This of course is a serious contradiction of the Lord’s Great Commission to His Church: And he [The Lord Jesus Christ] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15.
New Monasticism: This is a so called ‘Protestant’ movement that is attempting to mimic aspects of the Roman Catholic monastic way of life within communities of lay people. It is strange that this is acceptable to the ‘anti-institutional’ Emerging Church given that monasticism is in essence institutional! However, it is not so surprising given the Emerging Church’s strong tendency to embrace the Roman Catholic mystical forms of worship associated monasticism which include contemplative practices (Lectio Divina), use of candles, icons, incense and images.
Emphasis on Personal Experience and Feelings: The Emerging Church places great emphasis on subjective experience as opposed to objective truth. Therefore, it is not surprising that many emergent adherents are greatly attracted to the mystical New Age teachings that are becoming increasingly popular within professing Christendom and the major global religions. (e.g. Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina, yoga etc). Placing personal human experience and feelings above the teaching of the Bible is nothing new; ancient Gnosticism and its modern counterpart, New Ageism, do this by teaching that God is everywhere and within everyone revealing Himself directly to the individual’s spirit; therefore the intellect does not need to be involved and the Word of God is rendered redundant! The following scripture verses are just a few among many that place immense value on the Word of God:
To reject or undermine the authority of God’s word is equivalent to denying the person and Lordship of Jesus Christ who is the Word incarnate (made flesh)!