Monday, August 25, 2008

Emergent Church

The cover story of our newest issue of the Christian Research Journal is titled Navigating the Emerging Church Highway and this is one of the most chilling articles that I’ve come across in the entirety of my Christian ministry.

It is absolutely chilling to read what some of the liberal emergent church leaders like Rob Bell are saying. Bell says, “This is not just the same old message with new methods. We’re rediscovering Christianity.” Brian McLaren echoes this sentiment and says, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it meant to be ‘saved’…I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us have arrived at orthodoxy. “

Many other chilling things in this new article, including this notion by Rob Bell, again one of the liberal emergent church leaders, he speculates that if “Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing” that we would not lose any significant part of our faith because it more about how we live. To be fair, Bell does not overtly deny the virgin conception of Jesus, but he does deny that it is of any notable theological importance.

What’s the alternative, if this is not significant you’re saying that infallible Scriptures are not significant, that it wouldn’t be a big deal if Mark was mythologizing a little bit. It wouldn’t be a big deal if we discovered that Mary was a sexually sinful woman who conceived Jesus illegitimately. But that is the conclusion, but it gets so much worse you have to read the article to believe it.

I you would like to know more about this topic and the Christian Research Journal see our website


Jonathan DeCollbus said...

Thank you so much for doing what you do. This information is vital to many young people in our day. The effects of the dilution process the emergent Church has on the trustworthiness of the gospel is detrimental.
I know one young man who told me recently, "it doesn't matter if the Bible is just stories, it's the moral behind the stories that matters." And yet, if the resurrection was fiction, we are of all men most pitiable, as Paul put it.

jasonc65 said...

I remember perusing one of N.T. Wright's books, and what I read was scary enough: the suggestion that Jesus probably didn't know that he was God, that Jesus was likely not conscious of being the Second Person of the Trinity.

Anonymous said...

I always find it interesting when any "leaders" start off with the contention that they have found a "new" way of doing an "old" thing. In this instance, there seems to be an implied (if not explicit) suggestion that Christianity has had it wrong for seemingly over 2000 years. Despite numerous towering Christian thinkers and years of painstaking consideration by many scholars, we are lead to believe that virtually all of our historical Christian fathers got it "wrong". That there is a better way to Worship that is less encumbered by the irritating constraints of doctrine. Well, although many among the Emergent leadership would have us chart a different path for the Church, the question is to what degree does the path they chart conform to fundamental Christian doctrinal? To the extent that this proposed path deviates from such doctrine, it would serve the rest of the Christian community well to view this movement with care and discernment. Sadly, however, when we look at the prosperity and word of faith movements and the impact and penetration they have on the North American Christian community, our ability to discern wheat from chaff is very much in question. So, we must place our trust in the Lord but also prepare ourselves to answer with truth and humility the questions that are brought before us. In the end it all comes back to the Bible (for it is here that answers are found) and the degree to which we are fluent in the Scripture, by the Grace of God, and through our own diligent efforts.

Anonymous said...

The emergent/emerging church movement is a response to some real problems. Like all reform/renewal movements in their early days, the EC are liable to make many mistakes.

The real problems are that traditional churches and Christians are perceived by the younger generation as being intolerant, ignorant, and uninvolved in real problems. I would like to say that this perception is false, but sadly, that is not always the case.

EC folks are trying to be authentic followers of Christ. They realize that Jesus was not crucified for being too conservative or traditional.

More mature Christians could help them by saying, "You know, you might be right about some of your concerns, let's sit down and talk about it"--instead of just shunning them.

N.T Wright is not the enemy--he is the best Christian apologist alive today.

Hank, you have set down and talked with people before--the local church, the worldwide church of God--with positive results. Why not invite Rob Bell for a conversation on your program?

Philip A. Guzman, Esq. said...

I first heard of Rob Bell when I attended an "Everyman's Battle" workshop sponsored by New Life Ministries. It was a weekend where men who were suffering from issues of lust, porn, etc could come together and seek the help of our Lord to beat this dreaded addiction. The workshop began with a viewing of one of Pastor Bell's Nooma tapes whose message was essentially that there is nothing that we men could do that would cause God to love us less. It was a powerful way to begin the weekend and show us that there was no need to be ashamed and that we all needed to turn to God for help.

Since then I have viewed many of Pastor Bell's Nooma tapes, read his two books, and am a frequent listener to his sermons on line. I find him to to fundamanentally sound and faithful to the creeds. You took his quote waaay out of context and I'm just happy that you at least pointed out that he has never said that he believed what was said. It was a teaching tool, a hypothesis from which he went on to another point. Many pastors use that technique.

I certainly hope that you spoken with him at some level (as you say you do with many of the people that you disagree with, i.e. Benny Hinn), watched the Nooma tapes and/or listened to his sermons (you do not say) before you went out your way to criticize him. If not, then I would say that your views on his ministry do not carry much weight.

BTW: I do contribute to your ministry and am a subscriber to the Christian Reseacher Journal.

M. R. Burgos said...

"I find him to to fundamanentally sound and faithful to the creeds. "

Oh how things have changed. The guy is pushing heretical doctrine all the time. Seek out some of the "Mar's Hill talks" hosted by Bell. The proof is in the pudding, don't be mislead.

Anonymous said...

I am really wondering more about the emerging church. How far does it reach into churches? Does it include purpose driven churches? Someone I read used an analogy of a gobstopper with layers of meaning. The deeper you get, the closer to the center, the more is revealed. Some churches seem to fit into the outside of this, maybe not even valued by deeper emergents. They might be the "seeker friendly" churches that are hoping for something more, and are going through a pattern of change. Then you go deeper, maybe even into the "missional" movement...look at Allelon for this. Then it's even further, more of this emergent movement...where it's not claiming to be new age, but it's an exact copy. Then the center is the true new age movement. Where does this begin to enter regular, ordinary churches?


Lynn said...

Thanks to Mark for his comments. Members of emergent churches are simply brothers and sisters in Christ who are using new methods to tell the "old story." Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" was instrumental in stretching my view of God and His kingdom to be SO much bigger than I had thought - and yet nowhere near as big as they really are, I'm sure! You don't have to agree with everything that Rob says, but you can still find some real gems of truth in his book. Sometimes I feel as though Christians are afraid that they will somehow be contaminated by reading books and thinking thoughts that are "outside the box." Come on! God is more powerful than that! As Rob says, his book is just another voice in the conversation - and having conversations and turning these things around and around in our minds is a good thing!

John said...

Really lost some respect from me here Hank. Most of your stuff is good, but I really think you missed the mark on this one. You've taken his stuff way out of context and misunderstood it's intentions.

Anonymous said...

Jason, N.T. Wright never said that. You should read the man a bit more thoroughly, all the way through, and perhaps with the assistance of a dictionary. I'm appalled -- it appears to me that you are slandering a great Christian teacher.