Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Church Dystopia
... what's driving the emerging/emergent movement?

Ecclesiastical negativity; biblical uncertainty; theological infidelity; spiritual unrest; and the thirst for cultural relevancy.

Point of Clarification: dystopia is an imagined place or state where everything is considered unpleasant or bad.  I chose that word because it seems to really typify the sentiment of most ECM leadership about the local church today.  Therefore, it seems that the ECM adherents are desperately looking to invoke change to accommodate their pomo-sensibilities.  After all, postmodernism has become the new hermeneutic by which the ECM interprets Scripture rather than Scripture being the true hermeneutic which clearly interprets postmodern culture.


junkyardboyz said...

is it proper for the church to post armed guards during their worship service?

Hayden said...


Random post? How about watching the video and commenting?


Good video and good warning. The men that were profiled in the video were the most liberal in the movement for sure. (Padgitt, MaClaren, Jones) I would also throw in Bell as one who I think has gone down this path.

I must admit the most frustrating thing for me as I have researched this movement is the lack of categories I can put them in. I have found that I really have to evaluate them on a case by case basis. I know that is intentional by them. Let's be sure that we do that in this discussion.


calvinistbychoice said...


I have appreciated the series you have done on the emergent/emerging movement. It is a clear and present danger that needs to be addressed, so thank you for that. I'd like your feedback however on one issue... would you not make a distinction between the emergent church and the emerging church. I have heard Doug Padgit speak on a number of issues and his teaching is poison- it is clear that his belief and those of the emergent village are contrary to historic Christian orthodoxy. HOWEVER, often times guy like Mark Driscoll of Mas Hill and the Acts 29 Ntwork are limped into the same category. I understand that Mark Driscoll is immature and misinformed in a number of areas: swearing while preaching, book titles, faulty typology (Jack Bauer and Jesus), the sin imputed to Christ, etc. But he seems to be orthodox! Would you not agree? Shouldn't a distinction be made between emergent and emerging? The Acts 29 Network has said they are not emergent- see this link http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/seven-misrepresentations-of-acts-29/

Caland said...


I often see comments such as this: "There is a difference between emerging and emergent, just look at Mark Driscoll and Acts 29." Is there anyone else who is orthodox who could be described as emerg*ing* besides Driscoll? To me, the whole emerging/emergent distinction is unhelpful because Driscoll and his ministry seem to be the only ones that fit the emerging category when distinguishing it from the emergent group. I'll admit that I'm not terribly informed on this issue so I'd be greatful if you could share with us some resources from orthodox men who are part of the emerging movement. Thanks.

Luke Milam said...


We did a whole study on the emerging church at our church. We also showed a video to our college and career group a few weeks ago. It is a very dangerous fad.
I do believe that we have to take it at a case by case basis. It is very hard to place all "emerging" churches into a "one-category" movement.
The Word of God gives detailed instruction on how He wants the church to be run. If we fall from these instructions, then we are not following the Word of God.

Luke Milam

Hayden said...


Many churches in the Acts 29 network would be considered in the emerging circles. The Journey in St. Louis has taken some flak recently from the Missouri branch of the SBC.

All that to say, Mark Driscoll hass definitely broken away from the root. It seems as time goes on he is growing closer to men like Piper, Mahaney, and Dever than he is to men like Padgitt, Jones, etc.

To me, the best sermon on this distinction is one that is on the SEBTS website by Mark Driscoll. Go to their website and look up his name. This is in my mind one of the best 'primers' on the distinction.

I have heard it described as Emergent being more unorthodox in doctrine and much like theological liberalism. Emerging is more about methodology and is more orthodox in doctrine. Hope that helps a little.

Realize the distinction is fuzzy because that is the way it is meant to be.These are not like denominations which are based around doctrinal statements. This is unfortunate because it is often hard to categorize, which is why a case by case basis is needed.

john said...

"Emerging" is NOT a movement as much as it is a conversation. Think of it like this: At my baptist church, people are often afraid to really openly discuss things. "Why do we spend so much on buildings and salaries when the people around us have so much need we could help address?" "If the bible is totally literal and perfect, why don't we follow any of the Levitical laws?" "Could certain aspects of our faith be cultural and not apply to all believers at all times?"

So - I find people who WILL discuss these things. They're open. They're accepting. They don't believe they have everything figured out. And I'm allowed to "work through my salvation with fear and trembling".

I may never leave my church. My conversations may be confined to the internet - reading blogs or corresponding via email. Or I might go hang out with some people over a coke or beer. It's not rigid or conformist. I don't have to believe anything particular to have a discussion with them. I may leave and join another church - but maybe not.

It's not about a new denomination. It's about humble people coming together to share our lives as we try to figure out how to be followers of Christ in our post-modern culture.

Christinewjc said...

Thank you for sharing this video. It shows that the "Emergent church movement" is even more dangerous than I had first thought!

I have done several blogposts about this growing heresy, including this one.

The book of Jude warns us that false Christs will be presented and "worshipped" the closer we get to the end times. Heresies will increase and deceive many...even the elect if that were possible. In other words, there will always be a remnant of the faithful who will not be fooled by such "movements" that are blatant errors disguised as Christianity.

Keep up the good work here, Steve, sharing the truth of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter how many heretics try to change such truth; they will be found out and exposed - first through the efforts of the faithful; and, even more importantly, by the plumbline of Scripture that will always refute their errors.

God bless you!

SJ Camp said...

It's about humble people coming together to share our lives as we try to figure out how to be followers of Christ in our post-modern culture.

I understand this John and I do thank you for sharing it with us here. But, here is the good news: you don't have to reinvent the wheel. The Lord has equipped you through His Word and His Spirit for all things pertaining to life and godliness. The issue is not postmodern culture; the issue is living for Christ. It doesn't matter the culture you are in--and people have made way too much a thing about postmodernism.

Let's pray for each other that we would be faithful men of God to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word; and by His grace, regardless of the culture or community we find ourselves in, that we would humbly, lovingly, and yet boldly compel others to be followers of our Lord.

Keep your eyes on Him my brother; not on the times. I want to encourage you to read through 1 & 2 Peter this week when you have time. It is the biblical handbook for what you are suggesting.

2 Cor. 3:5

Morris Brooks said...

Most SBC churches' statement of faith would be the BFM 2000, which would allow someone to preach the doctrines of grace. But, echoing what Tom said, most SBC churches would not be scripturally grounded enough to understand the tenets of basic doctrine.

I think that the goal for every pastor should be as Paul's in Colossians 1:28 and that is to present every man complete in Christ, not make every man Calvinistic. If we as pastors are preaching expositionally through the Scriptures then the Scripture itself will make the case for the doctrines of grace in most every book we preach through. But I do think that every church should require from every potential staff candidate a doctrinal statement. To me that is certainly more important than him sending some CDs of his better sermons.

Regarding Dr. Pages comment that the search committes making it clear what they would allow to be preached on is a little high handed, and, in essence, is giving the church the right to muzzle the pastor. I doubt anyone or any group in his church tells him what he can and can't preach on.

thank you for loving Jesus said...

Steve you can file all of this emerging/emergent under deception.

I learned all this though researching the links to a PBS series from 2 years ago

To understand the Emergent/ Emerging, Purpose-Driven models you have to research Peter Drucker, Bob Buford, Leadership Network, & TQM. It's the three legged stool... the economic, political, and "spiritual."

Now research dominionism, Kingdom-Now Theology, Apostolic Reformation,and C. Peter Wagner.

Much of it is the New Age occult repackaged as New Age Spirituality. Know the teachings of Barbara Marx Hubbard, Agnes Sanford, Marilyn Ferguson, and theosophist Alice Bailey.

It may include Ancient-Future Worship, Spiritual Formation, the "silence and the solitude", works-based Spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer,Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Christian mysticism, the Desert Fathers, Thomas Merton, & Brother Lawrence.

Know who is on the board of Allelon and the meaning of the term "missional". Know Leonard Sweet and the term contextualization, Eugene Petersen, and the Message bible

Research all the Emergent leaders and their theology.

Then go to the UN's push for "healthy churches" along with "healthy families", "healthy communities". Study Rick Warren's UN global P.E.A.C.E. plan.

Add in "transformational leadership", LeadNet, Bill Hull's velcro ministries, coaching, and bridging.

Realize too that the Catholic church and the Pope are pushing for all religions to worship the Eucharistic "christ". We have a President that recently stated that we all worship the same god. It is the ecumenical movement and the soon-to-be? One World church.

It's deceptively brought into many youth groups through Youth Specialties and Rob Bell. Christian colleges teach it. Youth Conferences are flooded with it.

Churches sometimes push covenant discipleship where you sign a contract to not complain and leave quietly. If you do ask too many questions, you are labeled "divisive". Beware of the words transitional and transformational and books like, Transitioning Church.

This is interdenominational and global. It is as old as Genesis 3.

Christian publishers are being bought up and the Christian music industry is too. Remove the words sin, blood, repent, and Jesus Christ Lord and Savior. Introduce the cosmic christ.Take away true Bible studies and bring in "stories."

Beware of Reconstruction, de-construction, Rethink, Re-imagine, vision-casting, and the word Shift.

Much of this is follow the $$$.

Acts 29 has ties to Leadership Network. Look into the bootcamp training program.

Always read the index of a book so that you know who influenced the writer.

Be in God's word. Learn to discern.

A Life with Purpose by George Mair
is a pro Rick Warren book that includes many of the names above.

Faith Undone by Roger Oakland, the emerging church... a new reformation or an end-time deception.... is a well footnoted book. Read it.

Those pushing for this new spirituality are serious.

What is deception?

The Bible warns of false teaching and that perilous times would come. The Lord is faithful to uphold His church.

Are you awake? or asleep?

If you are into this repent.

Jude 17-25

Hayden said...


I hope that you will enforce the rules that you have set for blogging on your site with thankyouforlovingjesus. Lots of claims, and it seems rather cospiratorial.

Morris Brooks said...

The post on the SBC was made on another blogsite after I came here. Don't know why it posted here. Sorry.


Terry Rayburn said...

thank you for loving jesus,

You have obviously done a lot of homework in several areas.

The Business/Church connection is a huge one, and has brought in much error through the back [business] door.

Around 1973, as a new Realtor, I attended a sales conference with a speaker from Nightingale-Conant. The speaker pounded on the podium and pointed out to us that what looked like solid wood was really not solid at all, but a swirl of electrons, protons and neutrons separated by huge distances from each other (true, so far).

He then added that what separated them was what we call "energy" (sort of true), and that this thing we call "energy" WAS GOD!

I was unsaved at the time, and so impressed by this astounding "wisdom and knowledge"! I repeated the lie to others, and had no idea that I was seeing one strand of the thread of Eastern Mysticism permeating the business world, spanning from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich to today's The Secret and hundreds of products from that same Nightingale-Conant company which thrives today.

Thankfully I was saved in 1976 and was able to reverse Eastern Mystical thinking that had gripped my life.

As a businessman, I have read Peter Drucker's management materials since the early 1980's. Only in the last couple of years did I come to know how intertwined he was with Dominionist theology guys like Rick Warren and the "Apostle's Apostle" C. Peter Wagner.

And few realize that the Emerging/Emergent Church came out of the Leadership Network that you mentioned, founded by Bob Buford.

Mark Driscoll tells how this came to be in an article in the Criswell Theological Review (March 2006 Issue). It was out of a Leadership Network conference that the original "team" was formed with Pagitt, McClaren, Driscoll, Kimball, etc.

There are far too many connected threads for the average Christian to ever be able to fully ferret out and research.

Therefore, your finest point is when you said, "Be in God's word. Learn to discern." Knowing the Word, and fellowshiping with Christ is the "offense" which is the best "defense" against what is nothing less than a global conspiracy of "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).

Thankfully, as "christinewjc" commented:

"...there will always be a remnant of the faithful who will not be fooled by such 'movements' that are blatant errors disguised as Christianity."

But as it is, many are being fooled, and that is why the Bible instructs us to warn others about these false teachers.

Christinewjc said...

To Thank you for loving Jesus,

I found your comment most educational, informative and accurate! Hope you don't mind that I "cut and pasted" it to my comment section on this issue at my blog.

It appears that commenter "hayden" didn't like what you wrote. I don't know what the "comment rules" are on this blog, but just in case your excellent comment was deleted for some reason, I wanted to keep a copy of it so that I can read about the "leaders" of the emergent movement and books you have suggested.

My first moment of awareness about this movement was when the church I was attending did a "Purpose-driven bible study." I volunteered to be a leader. When the training video included a prayer that did not instruct people to repent, the alarm bells went off. If you would like to read more, please see my post about it at TalkWisdom.

My own individual research on the Emergent church movement (and it's branches of cults) has informed me of some of the information you have listed here. Thankfully, you have included a lot more comprehensive information than I was previously aware of.

One sentence especially grabbed my attention.

"It's the three legged stool... the economic, political, and "spiritual."

No wonder the Cross of Christ is being pushed to the side or, in some cases blatantly ignored by this movement!

I have a blogging friend, Pastor DL Foster, who created a blog pointing out the heresies of the gay "christian" movement. GCMWatch Similarly, that movement could be labeled as an off-shoot of the emergent one.

What do such "movements" have in common? The fact that repentance at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ is not preached!

It appears to me that the "crossless gospel" is the common thread within each of these heresies!

Why do they deliberately ignore Christ's Cross? Because it convicts them of their sin...sin that they refuse to acknowledge as sin and/or simply refuse to repent of. Therefore, it is their "stumbling block."

"but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." -1 Corinthians 1:23-25

SJ Camp said...

thank you for loving Jesus
I agree with Terry here that you best line out of all you presented was: Be in God's word. Learn to discern. That is at the heart of 1 Thess. 5:21 where Paul encourages us to "test all things; cling to what is good."

However, I do agree with Hayden here as well. Though you meant well, please refrain from such long posts with quite a bit information without links or bookmarks to verify. I am disputing the veracity of your conclusions and agree with many of them, but be sure to verify as well so that all may benefit from you research as well. It is borderline drive-by if we don't and which is prohibited here.

Lastly, could you please out the blogger profile so that I have a better idea of who you are? That is helpful for all here.

This is a very good discussion so far... Let's keep going further into this topic and keep driving the discussion to the Word of God for that is our final authority.

Grace and peace to you all,

PS - I will get to some of the other questions today as time allows. Campi.

SJ Camp said...

I had answered your question earlier in some detail and just saw that it is no longer on here. I am not sure what happened short of some emergent geek hacking our system and deleting it :-).

I will try to remember the content as best as possible though it will not be as thorough. My sincere apologies.

The emerging church label was one that was initially created to act as an umbrella banner for pastors who desperately wanting to know how to do ministry within a postmodern culture. From the ashes of that original group, a strain called The Emergent Church evolved which has been crystalized by the leadership of McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, Ward, Burke, T. Jones, Sweet, etc. They have created two key websites that really typify their convictions and conversation: THE OOZE and Emergent Village.

Currently, the emergent designator represents the liberal and unorthodox of this movement; the emerging designator represents the more biblically orthodox views on the essentials of the faith. The conservative leadership of this movement would be considered Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Scott McKnight, A. Jones, Ed Stetzer, and Tim Keller.

The concerns for me with this movement are two sides of the same coin: heterodoxy and heteropraxy. Message and methods; truth and techniques. One group might be mostly orthodox in their doctrinal assertions, but their methods and manners by which they carry out orthodox teaching is concerning (Driscoll). The other group believes in mostly heretical areas of doctrine and their practice in regards to the absence of truth is also skewed.

Understand something, most in this movement like to live in ambiguity. There terms are not easily defined (and is by design) and they like it that way. Truth, though, is clear, lucid, straightforward absent of these kinds of gimmicks and language gymnastics.

Both are important... though aren't they?

Lastly, I would hope that eventually men like Driscoll and Kimball would completely leave the emerging label entirely because of the irreversible stigma now associated with that term.

Hope this helps a bit more and thank you for your question.

Yours for the Master's use,

Michele Rayburn said...


Good point you made that some in these Movements are pushing the cross aside because of this three-legged stool. You said that it's because the cross convicts of sin.

But I would take it a step further and say that the reason why they do not want to preach the cross so that it convicts of sin is often because it would affect the number of followers, and thus affect the three-legged stool.

It would interefere with the "economic leg", because there would be less followers and they are often (whether it be "from false motives or true") very much interested in attracting "numbers", and gaining power through wealth.

And as for the "political leg", they need to be attractive to *all* people in order to further their political agenda.

The "spiritual leg" almost goes without explanation. Ecumenicalism is so popular among these Movements, because once again they do not want to alienate anyone.

They are praised for being inclusive, when it's not usually about that. It's often about power, money and politics.

john said...

I do pray for you and other bloggers I visit as well - including Ingrid at Slice and the guys at Old Truth. One of the reasons I blog on your sites is so you can hear the other side - not from people who don't have a clue (John MacAurthur), but from someone who is a part of the conversation.

It's not that I care about being "culturally relevant". I just want to have impact into our society. I believe that the Church is virtually irrelevant in American culture today. Look at our churches. They're filled with people who are no different from the world around them to a large extent.

Divorce? Abortion? Teen pregnancy? All the same demographics inside the church as in the culture at large. I believe that the generally accepted way of "doing" church works only to build up big organizations. The old strategy does not change lives. It's broken. It's not working. It's pushing up daisies. It's gone to meet it's maker. It's shed it's mortal coil. The old guard can hole up in their churches for the next 20 years and keep singing cantatas and preaching fire-n-brimstone and never questioning any of it's foundations. I refuse to stay there. (I will point out that I'm still a member at a pretty conservative bapti-costal church, so I'm speaking figuratively about leaving - not literally. I'm sorry for the extreme confusion this may cause some of your more fundamental readers ;)

I want to see God change lives. I could care less if I only have 5 kids in my youth group. I want to have 5 sincere kids who are on fire for God - who want to live out the teachings of Christ!

There are things about the Bible that don't make sense. I'm not going to turn a blind eye to that. When someone asks me why we're supposed to shun homosexuality but totally ignore virtually every other old testament law, I'm not gonna read them some crud from somebody's commentary.

I have to consider and decide for myself how to read and interpret scripture. I may get it wrong, but at least I'll be wrong with integrity! I won't just be taking somebody else's opinion and making it my own! And luckily, we're not judged on whether we can get everything right - but on our love and devotion to God through Jesus Christ.

john said...

More to the point, we're saved not by anything we do. But by what God has done for us. So I have confidence that if I seek God with all my heart, I will find Him. I must do it in Spirit and Truth - through Christ who made a way.