EMERGENT CHURCH SPREADING SPIRITUAL CANCER
By Marsha West
April 18, 2008
NSM is producing a movie to promote the new paradigm. In an article on Christian Worldview Weekend 
There is a growing movement afoot in the postmodern Church that does not abide in God’s Word; hence they do not know the truth. The movement calls itself “Emergent” or “Emerging Church” (ECM) and it’s emerging away from orthodox Christianity, spreading its spiritual cancer throughout the globe. ECM change agents have made inroads into evangelicalism, big time. What they preach is a counterfeit social gospel. They say they bring a “message of peace.” Their hope is to make Christianity more palatable to the world. Sounds altruistic, doesn’t it? But don’t believe it! In order to accomplish their lofty goal, the shifters must first repackage the Church.
So they’re touring the country, promoting their social gospel and message of peace to the masses. Prominent ECM leader Brian McLaren is spearheading the “Everything Must Change” tour. According to McLaren’s website the planet is in Deep Shift’
A time of transition
But really, it’s all about re-shaping the true Gospel of Jesus Christ into a false gospel and re-imaging Jesus Christ into the New Age Cosmic Christ!
McLaren created Deep Shift to provide spiritual guidance for organizations who are open to this. On the DeepShift.org website he states that he will work with leaders, “inviting them to discover where the gifts of their people and God’s purposes in the world meet. Deep Shift provides support as leaders make their own personal deep shift and guide their organizations through the transition and transformation necessary to ignite the loving energy of people to work for the good of the world. As guides, we provide coaching, consulting, and resources for people leading in deep shift — faith community and church leaders, nonprofit leaders, ethical business leaders and others.”
Maharishi McLaren’s re-imaging of the modern Church is on it’s way — whether evangelicals want re-imaging or not. The transformation, he boasts, “is for the good of the world.”
You may not have heard about The Shift yet, but you will – soon! Shifters, like pod people, are in our midst. Some of your friends and acquaintances could be shifters, only you don’t know it yet. Shifters have wormed their way into church leadership (pastors deacons, elders), worship services, Bible studies, Sunday school, seminaries, Christian schools, youth groups, camps. They lecture, write for Christian news sources and they’re all over the Internet. Now they’re touring the country. Many shifters are familiar faces on TV and have become media darlings. Browse through your local Christian bookstore and you’ll find their names lined up on shelves. Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Leonard Sweet, Erwin McManus, Phyllis Tickle, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Scot McKnight, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger, Jeff & Sherry Maddock, Peter Rollins, to name a few. Every one of them are theological liberals!
But shifters are offended when they’re labeled liberal. And besides, liberal is so yesterday! And let’s be honest here; liberal has a negative connotation, thanks largely to vociferous conservatives (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Joseph Farah, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Brannon Howse, Don Wildmon, Matt Drudge, Melanie Morgan, Tony Perkins and Hugh Hewitt – whew!) who are on the front lines of the culture war exposing liberalism’s globalist, big-government, radical feminist, rabid environmentalist, pro-abortion, anti-gun, peace at any cost, gay rights, anything goes, sick twisted agenda. Balking at being called liberal, they hide behind the trendy term, “progressive.” Many “Progressive Christian” leaders are highly critical of the Christian Right and their role in politics. (See link 9 below)
In his article, “Understanding the Emergent Church” Walter Henenger says that while some of ECM’s leaders came of age in the “new paradigm” churches of the Sixties and Seventies, “the real starting point was the mid-1980s, when Gen X ministries began catering to youth culture. Often organized as churches-within-a-church, they adopted cutting-edge ministry methods but generally retained the structural DNA of their parent megachurches.” But in the late Nineties they came to realize that they had failed to connect with postmodern people. During a 1997 meeting of the Young Leaders Network, pastor Doug Pagitt turned the discussion to the subject of postmodernism. “Light bulbs appeared over heads around the room,” continues Henenger, “and postmodernism has been the organization’s focus ever since. The Young Leaders Network soon morphed into the Terra Nova Theological Project, which eventually became Emergent. Its leaders went from niche marketers of religious services to global heralds of a massive, irresistible paradigm shift. Heady stuff.”
Well for one thing Emergents believe that the monologue of the Christian Right is over and a new “conversation” (a term they prefer over movement) is “bringing together a wide range of committed Christians and those exploring the Christian faith in wonderful ways,” boasts Brian McLaren, “and many of us sense that God is at work among us. As would be expected, there have also been criticisms.”
ECM’s missional concern
Emergents are concerned about being missional in a postmodern world. “The word missional emphasizes a return to the church’s identity as existing for the world—tto be God’s stewards over creation, to be a light to the nations, to be witnesses of the inaugurated kingdom of God on earth.”
Universal health care should be provided by government.
Poverty should be eliminated by the U.S. government, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world.
The minimum wage should be significantly increased.
The U.S. should sign the Kyoto Protocol as a step toward solving the phantom crisis of global warming.
The U.S. should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and address the real problem of terrorism by creating a Palestinian state and addressing the root cause – poverty.
We should make condoms available throughout the Third World to fight AIDS.
Farah lists more of ECM’s beliefs but I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll move on. (In the article 
On the DeepShift.org website, Pastor McLaren points visitors to the new path:
“We hope this is a beginning for you to be on this new path, believing in Jesus in a new way, ready to act for change in your own life, in your community, the public and the world. We hope this is a beginning for you to connect with new people who are on this same path and journey for encouragement, support, relationship and depth.”
McLaren on hell and the cross
In a 2006 interview McLaren calls the doctrine of hell “false advertising for God.” “[T]his is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching, then I won’t say the only and I certainly won’t say … or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross … is that the Kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that’s not really true. At the end God get’s his way thru coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn’t the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.”
McLaren’s wishy-washy comment on homosexuality obviously did not go over well with the panel. Near the end of the discussion Albert Mohler commented that his response to the homosexual question is the very essence of postmodernism. He then cautioned, “It is the abdication of Christian responsibility. It is the abdication of Christian conviction and it is a cave in of Christian courage. We do have an answer! And it’s not like we don’t know what it is!”
As R.C. Sproul said so well, ECM appeals to Christians “who don’t want to have to deal with theological conflict.” These same folks relativize doctrine, and that makes Sproul angry. He then points out that disagreeing doctrinally is a “bad thing.” Looking rather grim-faced he said, “We can’t be satisfied with it. Because truth is too important to kill it in the streets for the sake of peace! You can’t do it!” Bravo!
Ravi Zaccaris puzzled, “These men and women who were the progenitors of this [movement]…what brought this about? Are they bored with God?!” The problem, he explained, is “Non critical people listening to this stuff absorb it.” After reading McLaren’s books, Zaccaris wonders what he believes at present. “Maybe something on Monday, something else on Tuesday?” he said grimly. “He’s an anti-doctrinal individual. It’s pitiful to see something like this actually gain currency.”
The Emergent movement is most definitely gaining currency, especially with young people and those who are dissatisfied with mainline evangelicalism. Which is the reason it’s imperative that committed Christians take a deeper look into the “conversation.” Listen carefully to the language to see whether or not what a person purports is within the pale of orthodoxy. In other words, check to see if it’s biblical. Because if the “conversation” doesn’t line up with Scripture, it’s not from God. And if it’s not from God…it’s ffrom the pit of hell.
In another You Tube video I came across, Todd Wilken, host of Issues Etc., was interviewing Pastor and author John MacArthur on his response to ECM. MacArthur believes the problem is that Emergent leaders have a non-Christian attitude. Moreover, they have a “very worldly, carnal, unsanctified approach to the Bible.” With regard to truth, he made this comment: “Truth is everything, and the truth is contained in the Bible.” He also mentioned that progressives “do not accept the authority, inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. They do not accept that everything in the Bible is absolutely true and that it is clear that it can be and must be understood and applied.” And the reason they reject it? According to MacArthur, “They don’t like a lot of the things it says.”
Scott Diekmann, a Christian apologist who believes “segments of the ‘Evangelical’ Church are in danger of compromising the Gospel at crucial points” wrote an 8-part article on ECM. In part 8 he states that part of the problem with Emergents is that “some have substituted the doctrines derived from the inerrant and inspired Word of God with a doctrine based on an uninspired melding of Scripture, experience, mysticism, and imagination. That lack of Scriptural fidelity has at times led to a redefined Gospel, a message that is predominantly Law rather than Gospel, and pastors who have failed to present the whole counsel of God.”
What this is really all about is truth. False teachers stare at Truth but fail to recognize the identity of truth. Jesus himself said, “I am truth.” Thus we know that Truth is an aspect of God Himself. Christianity is the only truth because it is anchored in the Person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, truth is crucial to a realistic worldview. Which is why committed Christians mustn’t buy into the lie that truth is a matter of preference or opinion. In case you haven’t notices, in our postmodern culture we are experiencing the death of truth – and the death of truth could mean the death of civilizzation! I wrote this down, but I don’t remember who said it. “Truth is true if no one believes it. A lie is a lie if everyone believes it.” And that’s the truth!
1, THE SHIFT movie trailer—Youtube.com
2, Addressing the “Positive Gospel” of the Metaphysical Movement by Dean C. Halverson
3, Rev. Eric Butterworth, 86; Preached Positive Attitude By Douglas Martin
4, Understanding the Emergent Church—Nicene Council website
5, Preaching to the Post/Modern Choir By Shane Lems, Modern Reformation Magazine; Volume 17; Number 2; March/April 2008; page 14.
6, A Response to Recent Criticism By Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, Chris Seay
7, Understanding the Emergent Church—Nicene Council website
8, What is the Emerging Church? Protest—jesuscreed.org, posted by Scot McKnight
9, What are Red Letter Christians? By Joseph Farah
12, The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 1(September 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 9) By Gary E. Gilley
14, Everything Must Change: Why Come–video on Youtube.com—Brian McLaren
15, Brian McLaren Calls Hell and the Cross “False Advertising for God“—Lighthouse Trails website
16, Let’s Talk Post-Modernism and the “Emergent Church” Youtube.com panel–R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler and Ravi Zacharias discuss ECM
17, Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a “Pastoral Response” Out of Ur website
18, John MacArthur on the Emergent Church Part 1—Youtube.com—Host, Todd Wilkins, inverviews JohnMcArthur
19, The Emerging Church, Part 1: An Overview By Scott Diekmann
© 2008 Marsha West – All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
Marsha is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville Oregon.