Exposing the Emerging Church (Part 2)
Places and Forms of Worship:
Within the ranks of the Emergent Church there is a widespread rejection of organised religion and a dislike of doctrinal statements of faith, which are viewed as institutional, restrictive and moralistically absolute; these elements would of course hinder the open dialogue deemed necessary for the progression of this movement. This inclusive ideology has given rise to a most liberal interpretation of the Bible and such open-endedness can produce only one outcome - a denial of the absolute truths and contained within God’s Word and consequently an undermining its authority!
Traditional church buildings and formal forms of worship are often shunned in favour of informal meetings in pubs, cafes, old abandoned churches for atmospheric effect, rented accommodation or urban spaces like the Titanic Quarter in Belfast where the ecumenical/emergent organisation called ‘The Dock’ meets once a month. Sadly many traditional churches are beginning to adopt elements of emergent practices and it is becoming popular in otherwise sound evangelical churches to replace the pulpit with a stage from where a speaker seeks to ‘entertain’ their audience under the guise of preaching the gospel; thus a personality or even a drama group becomes the focus of the congregation’s attention and the centrality God’s Word is set aside - all in an effort to provide people with a more relevant and up to date presentation of the ‘gospel’! What an affront to God’s appointed way of reaching and saving sinners: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21.
Irreverent contemporary music (rock, hip hop, rap, country etc) and ‘worship’ songs with meaningless and repetitive/hypnotic lyrics are often adopted within emergent worship. Psalms and hymns based upon the Word of God with the capacity to engage the intellect and spirit in reverent worship of the Lord are regarded as old fashioned and have no welcome within most Emergent Churches.
Casual/informal and often immodest dress is adopted by many churches with emergent tendencies; orthodox forms of worship are shunned in favour of a relaxed and irreverent approach to ‘worship’. Open ended discussions are favoured as opposed to a single man teaching ministry; it is therefore unsurprising that the heretical ‘Alpha Course’ is very popular in churches with emergent tendencies; dancing and drama as a means to deliver the ‘gospel’ are also common place.
Engagement in worldly or casual methods of worship are not supported by the scriptures and have more in common with the shameful pagan worship engaged in by the children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai: And when Moses heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, it is not the noise of them that cry for being overcome; but the noise of them that sing do I hear. And it came to pass, as soon as he came he nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: .....And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Exodus 32: 17-18 & 25.
Moses’ response to the departure from true religion and worship that he witnessed is a good example on how Believers should respond when unscriptural forms of worship are employed within churches: Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me. Exodus 32:26.
May the Lord give His people the grace to respond Moses’ ultimatum like the sons of Levi by taking their stand outside the camp of apostasy along with the Lord Jesus Christ! (Hebrews 13:12-13)
The traditions of men have little value and are invariably unscriptural (like the vain traditions of the Pharisees, Roman Catholicism and other false religions); worship of God must always be in agreement with God’s Word. Therefore, scriptural worship will be traditional in nature if it is undertaken in accordance with the principles set forth in God’s Word. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
Missional, not Missionaries:
The emerging term ‘missional’ is based on the mistaken belief that Jesus Christ was incarnated into the culture of this world and therefore each Christian is commissioned to do likewise. For that reason it is not surprising that emergent ‘Christians’ are very often partakers of the many sinful pleasures that our modern Western culture offers like imbibing alcohol, night clubbing, rock/pop concerts, immodest fashions, fornication, and other equally sinful pursuits!
Mark Driscoll gives his interpretation of ‘missional’: “Jesus’ incarnation is in itself missional. God the Father sent God the Son into culture on a mission to redeem the elect by the power of God the Holy Ghost. After his resurrection, Jesus also sent his disciples into culture, on a mission to proclaim the success of his mission, and commissioned all Christians to likewise be missionaries to the cultures of the world (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:7-8). Emerging and missional Christians have wonderfully rediscovered the significance of Jesus’ incarnational example of being a missionary immersed in a culture” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Page 26).
The Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and to save sinners out of their sinful cultural settings; indeed He often challenged and rebuked the vain cultural traditions of the Pharisees and Samaritans. (Matthew 15:1-9; Luke 6:1-9; John 4:9 & 20-23). Christ lived a sinless life in complete conformity to the Law of God; to immerse himself in the cultures of this world would have required Him to commit sin, something He could never do! For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26.
The cultures of this world, having been developed by men who are sinful and rebellious by nature, are more than often worldly, pagan and idolatrous; the Lord Jesus Christ never commissioned His followers to immerse themselves in them; to do so would require Christians to participate in the very things which the Bible clearly commands them to avoid:
· Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.1 John 2:15.
· And be not conformed to this world: but be yet transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2.
The unconverted have little or no respect for those who profess allegiance to Christ yet present with an outward appearance and lifestyle that makes them appear to be every bit as much the child of Satan as they are!
No Biblical Separation Practised:
Since the Emerging Church encourages its members to immerse themselves in the cultures of this world, it is hardly surprising that it does not teach biblical separation and tends to view those who practice it with contempt! Rejection of biblical moral absolutes combined with a liberal ‘all inclusive’ philosophy, removes the requirement for the emergent ‘Christian’ to practice separation from anything or anyone!
Separation as taught in the scriptures is not only intended to expose error and compromise within the church, but it also sets forth God’s desire for His redeemed people to be separated unto Him for His glory:
· Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Pet 1:16.
· ....that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear. In holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. Luke 1: 74-75.
The Second Coming and The Nation of Israel:
Many emergent teachers are scornful regarding those who obey the biblical teaching to wait, watch and pray for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following quotes by emergent adherents Rick Warren and Tony Campolo indicate their opinions on such people:
“If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” (Rick Warren, PDL, pp. 285-286)
“Tony Campolo says that Christians who “make a big thing of their claim that we are now living in the final stage of church history prior to the second coming of Christ” have been the cause of “extremely detrimental” consequences. They “discount the Sermon on the Mount,” they don’t care about the needy, and they have had such a negative “impact on geopolitics,” which Campolo says “can lead only to war.” (Faith Undone, p. 160, quoting Campolo, Speaking My Mind)
Both quotes taken from an article by Roger Oakland in the Lighthouse Trails Research Website.
Roger Oakland accurately describes the deceptive role of the Emerging Church at the end of this age:
“In the Bible in the Book of Revelation, it says that Satan will deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). The emerging church movement has three essential elements that are consistent throughout the movement that may help this great deception to occur:
1. The embracing of mysticism.
2. The belief that the kingdom of God will be established on earth BEFORE Christ returns.
3. The rejection of eschatology (the study of the end-times and Bible prophecy relating to it).”
Pre-millennial teaching is particularly despised by emergents and the teachings associated with the ‘Reconstructionism’, ‘Dominionism’ and ‘Kingdom Now’ movements are commonly accepted; all of these heretical teachings on the second coming give assent to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth prior to Christ’s return, where social order, peace and harmony will prevail. Such teachings have much in common with the New Age movement’s expectation of a future period of enlightenment for mankind, known as the ‘Age of Aquarius’. These false perspectives contradict the explicit teaching of scripture, which foretells a falling away (apostasy) prior to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; the ‘utopia’ anticipated by false emergent eschatology will indeed occur under the reign of the Antichrist, who will usher in an unprecedented, albeit short reign of wickedness. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Replacement Theology (RT) is also greatly favoured within emergent circles. This false teaching emanates mainly from post-millennialism, which regards Israel as disinherited from the Covenant that God undertook with Abraham because of the Jew’s disobedience and rejection of the Messiah; RT teaches that the New Testament Church has now replaced Israel and inherited its blessings. It is impossible for the immutable God of heaven to renege on His Word, although it is true that blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." Romans 11:26. If it were possible for the Lord to break His Covenant and cast off Israel, how could anyone who has trusted in Christ for salvation have assurance that they would not be cast off?
· Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. Romans 11:1.
· And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins....For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Roman 11: 26-27 & 29.
This article has provided just a few of the trends currently manifested within the Emerging Church and this list is by no means exhaustive. We trust that our readers will be motivated to scrutinise the subject in greater depth. May the Lord in His mercy awaken His slumbering Church and alert them to what is going on around them.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. II Timothy 4:1-5.