|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
As we continue our series, we examine the movement's "new Reformation" in the light of the fifth rallying cry of the 16th century Protestant Reformation: Soli Deo Gloria - the glory belongs to God alone.
Once again, we shall let Emergent spokesmen answer for themselves.
This article is part four. Read part three.
The Emergent Church movement is all about the pride and glory of man, not the glory of God. Before we move on to consider further evidence, let us briefly review what we have already observed.
We have already seen this pride and glorification of man in place of God in the Emergents' essential approach to what they falsely call "Christianity." The central focus of the Emergent religion is not the Christ of the Bible, but an all-inclusive assembly of people from all sorts of "faith traditions." We have also seen the same pride in the reaction of Emergents who are insulted by the doctrine of salvation from sin and Hell by God's grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. They reject such a doctrine because it means that true Christianity is an exclusive rather than an inclusive faith.
We have also seen that the Emergent Church movement is all about prideful man's embrace of mystery and paradox as the keys to "higher knowledge." The Emergent focus is not on Biblical orthodoxy, but on "a generous orthodoxy" - "orthoparadoxy". Emergent leader Rob Bell boasts, "This is not just the same old message with new methods. We're rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion..."1
Emergent Theology: Stone Soup
The true taste of this theological soup is bitter irony: While Emergent theology claims to be generously inclusive, it is fatally exclusive of anything that really matters. While it welcomes any and every idea the sinful mind of man can imagine, it rejects anything from the mind of God. Certain ideas are forbidden - or if they are introduced into the conversation, they will be ridiculed and quickly rejected. Those ideas are the Bible's propositional truths.
The Emergent "God" is not the God of the Bible, but whatever Emergents make him/her/it out to be (and you will find Emergents referring to "God" as any of the three).
The Bible is not the inspired, infallible, inerrant, uniquely authoritative Word of God, but a collection of literary artifacts whose value and usefulness is determined not by any objective standard, but by Emergents' subjective agendas.
"Grace" is not the gift of God that brings about salvation from sin and Hell, but Emergents' gift of inclusiveness to everyone of all religions as long as they can agree on a common socio-economic-ecological agenda.
Jesus Christ may be many things, but He is not the God of the Bible. He may be a moral example. He may be a social revolutionary. He may be a religious iconoclast. He may be a radical environmentalist.
Or "Jesus" may be other, darker things. Emergent spokeswoman Heather Kirk-Davidoff writes a chapter in The Emergent Manifesto of Hope called "Meeting Jesus at the Bar: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Evangelism." She begins thus:
I first began to understand "relational evangelism" the night that a woman in a bar told me that she had seen Jesus dressed as a homeless cross-dressing man in an elf costume.
I had gone to the bar after attending a workshop on GenX ministry.
To which Kirk-Davidoff says she responded: "You know, some people say Angel is a Christ figure.What do you think?"2
The Emergent "Jesus" can be just about anything, even an insane sexual pervert, so long as he is not God - Jesus of the Bible who is seated at the right hand of the Father in power and glory.
It's All About Them
Emergents reject the Bible as the only authoritative, propositional truth because it reins in their prideful ambitions. The Emergent Church movement is, in their own phrases, all about "our community" - "building our tradition" - "telling our story." Emergents see themselves as carrying out "God's agenda to remake and restore all of creation." And that, they say, is the "good news."3
Emergent spokesman Mark Scandrette is a self-styled "spiritual teacher" and executive director of ReIMAGINE, an organization in San Francisco that among other things sponsors a program called "The Jesus Dojo". Dojo is a Japanese term meaning "place of the way" and embodies meditational concepts found in Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. In a chapter called "Growing Pains: The Messy and Fertile Process of Becoming" in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Scandrette summarizes the Emergent agenda:
significant interest in "community," communal living, and renewed monastic practices
an open-source [inclusive] approach to community, theology, and leadership that encourages flatter structures, networks, and more personal and collective participation
revitalized interest in the social dimensions of the gospel of Jesus, including community development, earth-keeping, global justice, and advocacy - with a particular emphasis on a relationally engaged approach to these issues
renewed interest in contemplative and bodily spiritual formation disciplines that have, historically, been important Christian practices [e.g., Medieval Catholic meditative practices such as "centering prayer"]
a renewed emphasis on creation theology that celebrates earth, humanity, cultures, and the sensuous and esthetic as good gifts of the Creator to be enjoyed in their proper contexts
cultivation and appreciation of the arts, creativity, artful living, and provocative storytelling
reexamination of vocation, livelihood, and sustainable economics4
That, not salvation from Hell, is the "good news" according to Scandrette and his cohorts.
Too Busy Having "Conversations" to Listen to God
Emergents are all about "conversation." Emergent cohorts (groups) meet regularly around the country to have, as their website emergentvillage.org puts it, conversations about what they think is important. There is no touch-stone, no authoritative body of proposition truth. Truth is what they make it.
Emergents are far too pridefully busy talking endlessly about being "generative" and "missional" (their two favorite words), and about remaking man and the world in their image - to simply shut up, sit down at Jesus' feet, and listen submissively to the One who made all things, sustains all things, will judge all things, and will make all things new by His glorious power.
The Proper Evangelical Response
British preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones' words from the early 1960s are a timeless indictment of movements such as the Emergent Church, and a Biblical warning to Christians who claim to be true to God's Word but are merely "concerned" about the Emergent movement:
Christ's kingdom has no place for "a generous orthodoxy."
1 Rob Bell, as quoted in "The Emergent Mystique" by Andy Crouch, Christianity Today, November 1, 2004, as viewed at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/november/12.36.html in April 2009.
2 Heather Kirk-Davidoff, "Meeting Jesus at the Bar: Or How I Learned to Stop Worring and Love Evangelism" in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 34-35.
3 Mark Scandrette, "Growing Pains: The Messy and Fertile Process of Becoming" in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 26. The "messy and fertile" reference comes from Scandrette's comment elsewhere in the book (22): "The emerging church is like junior high students and sex - a lot of people are talking about it, but not a lot of people are actually doing it - and those that are doing it are messy - and fertile as hell."
4 Mark Scandrette, "Growing Pains: The Messy and Fertile Process of Becoming" in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 34.
5 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "The Basis of Christian Unity," in Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions 1942-1977 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 162-163
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