Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Opus 2011-21, Discernment Watch: The Emergent Church

Two qualifiers.  First, I am not an expert on the Emergent Church.  In a very real sense, no one can be an expert because like most pseudo-Christian movements the Emergent Church refuses to be tied down to any statement.  Their post-modern philosophy rejects absolute truth and allows them to change meanings and nuance truth until no one can have an intelligent argument with them.  They have a term for it:  Deconstruction.  This allows them to change the meaning of a word based on what they view is the context.  Everyone does this kind of thing to some degree.  For instance take the word “read”.  Is it present tense or past tense?  It depends on the context.  But the Emergents tend to change things deliberately to change the truth.  Here is an example:
“The grandeur of this vision is what makes me want to avoid getting stuck in intramural debates about epistemology and the word postmodern.” p. 151
Quotes in this post are from :

Pagitt, Doug and Jones, Tony, ed.  An Emergent Manifesto of Hope.  Grand Rapids:  Baker Books, 2007.

Second, as in any movement there are people within who are on a tangent that is not dangerous or heretical.  Do not confuse innovation and creativity with heresy.  Many people who consider themselves to be part of the Emergent Church are simply using candles and changing the furniture, not pursuing heresy.  By that measure, John Wesley would have been emergent because he preached out in the fields.  Always use loving discernment with people who claim to be part of the Emergent Church.  They may just be excited, sincere and naive.

In another sense I am an expert compared to most people for two reasons.  First, I am aware that the Emergent Church exists, and Second, I have done some reading on it both from their authors and people evaluating them.

I have read three books by leaders in the Emergent Church.  Two of them were borrowed and I had not yet begun taking written notes:  The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and a book by Brian McLaren.  I can’t remember the title of the second.  I have also read An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. 

I have read two other books that touch on the topic.  The first, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, by D.A. Carson was a sympathetic, well balanced evaluation from an orthodox perspective.  The second, A Primer on Postmodernism, by Stanley J. Grenz is not about the Emergent Church per se, but lays a foundation for their world view.

The first two by Chalke and McLaren I cannot quote directly but the impression I got was blatant heresy.  They are outside the fold of Orthodox Christianity.  Anyone who has read the Bible can see that they are really twisting what it teaches.

The Manifesto of Hope had a similar feel.  What was so disturbing was that it was from many different authors and was published by Baker Books which used to be a trusted publisher to me.  There were 25 essays and I only found one that seemed to admit that there was any value to the teachings and beliefs the church has held for 2000 years. 

For instance,
“...our relationships with others gives us the most insight into who God is and where God is leading us.” p. 38.
What happened to the teachings of the Bible about who God is and where He is leading us?  I really get tired of hearing the word “relationship” used so often by Christians.  It is not a Biblical term, it is out of psychology.  That does not mean it is worthless, but it is hardly on the level of the sacred.

Or how about this statement:
“This, coupled with a careful reading of Scripture leads us to see that the individual soul alone is too small a target for God’s love and justice.” p. 82
The place they are going is a kind of green gospel that is concerned about our carbon footprint and the redistribution of income more than saving people from their sins.  This is more the worship of Gaia than the worship of Jesus.  Later you find these words:
“God’s single mission - restoring Creation.” p. 133
And here is what communion is all about:
“The Eucharist creates a context of abundance, and economic abundance, and economic help is given to those who need it.” p. 139,
All those millions of people who thought they were celebrating His death until He comes find out it is just a chance to redistribute wealth.

How do you feel about this analysis of why Jesus became man:
“As important as both right beliefs and right practices might be, neither was Jesus Christ’s primary mission,...In the incarnation, God became human as a continuation of God’s hope for creation.”  p. 204
Shades of Gaia worship!

If you know your Bible well enough to know truth from fantasy, read some of their stuff but keep your baloney detector turned on.  If you don’t know your Bible then stay away because you are an accident waiting to happen.  If you are already a pagan Gaia worshiper then you will feel right at home.

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.