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The Emerging Church‏
Sent: Wed 10/31/07 9:32 PM

     The Emerging Church

The emerging church is being thrust upon unsuspecting believers. It is gathering momentum, crossing denominational lines and pressing us unwittingly into its fold without our direct cooperation. I’ll be as brief as possible in answering the three following questions:

1 ~ Why is the emerging church attractive?

2 ~ What is the emerging church’s foundation?

3 ~ How do you view the emerging church

First, why is the emerging church attractive? Why are, according to some estimates, twenty million people involved, under the influence of a few dedicated leaders?

Following are some of the reasons, some positive, some negative: The present church’s worship is lifeless; it does not relate to where people are at. The Bible is no longer relevant for postmodern society where everyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s, and everyone’s religion is as valid as mine or yours. The present-day church is no longer reaching the hearts of the youth; young people can no longer relate to Bible truth. The church’s presentation is too doctrinal; and what teen or college student likes doctrine?

Denominationalism, which really started with Luther and Calvin and the 16th Century Reformation, has created too many divisions in the church. We need to become one again: This is what the emerging church movement offers. Ancient worship is being brought back. Practices the Reformation abandoned are being resurrected again, such as meditative prayer, pictures, icons, prayer stations, the labyrinth, candles, incense and the teachings of the ancient mystics. Some suggest that it matters not the source of these customs or traditions ~ they might come from the Dalai Lama or Buddha or Hinduism. The issue is, it is argued, that the 21st Century demands a new faith for a new day ~ and the emerging church movement is providing that new faith.

Second, what is the emerging church’s foundation? Society is no longer considered “modern” where truth and religion were explained in simple terms. We are now, they tell us, living in a postmodern world. Briefly, the world “postmodern” can best be explained as embracing moral relativism, and having a pluralistic approach to religion and spirituality. In other words, there are no absolutes and, as far as society is concerned, even God has no right to lay down absolutes, such as the Ten Commandments.

Now, how is the church going to minister to such a society? Many in the emerging church, rather than ministering from the outside of postmodernity, have yielded to the world’s moral relativistic approach to truth. This moves the church off of the Bible as a foundation and leaves everyone fending for themselves in the world of ideas. In one sense the emerging church has left absolute truth as its foundation and replaced it with moral relativity. This leaves the movement without a foundation, for relativism is no foundation!

It is not possible to understand the emerging church without naming those who lend it their inspiration. For example, Peter Drucker [1909-2005], the man who gave Rick Warren his support, was also a guiding light in the emerging church. As early as 1959 Drucker, who relished the mystics, wrote about the modern world being replaced by the postmodern which. Drucker said, “effectively controls our actions . . .” He spoke of a “new view” that would replace the traditional. Because of his great business mind, Drucker had great influence in helping lay the foundations of the emerging church.

Drucker also embraced the mystic and self-exalting views of Martin Buber [1878-1965] and attended his course. Buber said, “God does not say, ‘This way leads to me and that one does not,’ but he says, ‘Whatever you do may be a way to me.’” Buber further said: “In the highest mystical ecstasy the Ego experiences that it has become God . . .”

Without mysticism, there is no emerging church! In fact, Roger Oakland in his revealing book, Faith Undone, states clearly that “mysticism . . . is the emerging church.”

Another guiding light in the emerging church movement is Brian McLaren who belittles the coming of Jesus Christ and sees it as a “skyhook Second Coming, wrapping up the whole creation like an empty candy wrapper and throwing it in the cosmic dumpster so God can finally bring our souls to heaven.” Of course, the emerging church is consumed, not with interest in heaven but in establishing a church here on earth, a view very similar to that of the theological liberal. It is also in tune with another solid supporter of the emerging church ~ Rick Warren ~ who is himself sold on a church that effectively solves the world’s ills and bests the “global goliaths.” Warren said that he used to think the most important thing one could do was lead a soul to Christ. But not any more: He said he now believes it is more important to start a church than lead a soul to Jesus. And why? To help him build an effective mega-church composed to millions of churches to defeat the goliaths!

Inasmuch as the foundation, or the essence, of the emerging church is mysticism, it is no marvel that Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and other Roman Catholic monks gave direction to the movement. Another is Rob Bell, who the Chicago Sun-Times labeled “The Next Billy Graham.” Bell said in a 2004 Christianity Today article that, “We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion . . .” Bell, the pastor of a church called Mars Hill, invited a Catholic nun to speak at his church. During the service Bell and the nun led the congregation in various meditative exercises. Still another is Tony Campolo, Bill Clinton’s spiritual advisor and popular evangelical author. Campolo claims to have found God, not through repentance and conversion, but through meditative techniques. He further calls Henri Nouwen “one of the great Christians of our time.” Campolo also said, regarding the Reformation, he was convinced that “we left too much behind.” He added, “The methods of praying employed by the likes of Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some Catholic saints, my prayer life has deepened.”

More could be said of many others who add their voices and influence to the emerging church movement, such as Sweet and Manning and Foster and Pagitt and others. However, before closing our answer to question two on the foundation of the emerging church, we must add a word regarding the Bible itself. Several things happened as Bible translations and versions proliferated, not many of them helpful. And not many of them were true to the truth. Postmodernism liked it however, for it went right along with the idea that one man’s opinion is as good as another’s. Every new translation tried to make the mind of God clearer than the last translation, no one ever thinking that the mind of God is only known by the spiritually minded, Paul tells the Corinthians. In the process, that which was intended by God to be life to the believer became stale. We left our Bibles home; the re was one in the pew ~ a new translation at that. Or, it was all shown on the screen, electronically! Why should we carry a Bible to church?  As the Bible became more and more superfluous, the church became more and more open to faulty teachings, and people became subject to the questionable leadings of devious or ignorant men. Before the Reformation the Bible was a closed book. The emerging church movement is again making the Bible a non-essential. No longer do men place the teachings they hear alongside the Word of God to see if the Foundation is firm. The same temptation faced by Eve in the Garden is being repeated: “Hath God said?” The church is no longer sure if God hath said anything!

Third, how do you view the emerging church? Each of us is left to answer that question for ourselves.

If unconverted ~ we like the idea of entering the Kingdom without repentance or conversion or a new birth!

If we are Roman Catholic ~ we like the idea of the Protestants, the “separated brethren,” returning to the mother church, uniting in the adoration and worship of a mystical “Eucharistic Christ” who is held up before the congregation by the priest following the “transubstantiation” process used to supposedly change the bread and wine, we are told, into the actual body and blood of the Lord.

If we have a Unity spirit ~ we like the idea of not only crossing denominational lines, but eliminating those lines altogether. Haven’t we asked for many years now: “Are denominations of God?” So here is the chance to unite with every church ~ in fact, with every religion, Eastern, Western or otherwise!

If, on the other hand, we are Biblical literalists ~ we see the emerging church movement as a denial of the Bible. We see it as a denial of redemption and reconciliation with God through His only Son Jesus Christ. We see it as a faulty alternative offered to a lost world, an alternative that cannot save. We see it as a denial of Jesus Christ Himself, whom Paul says “is before all things, and by Him all things consist [Col.1:17].” We see it as a denial of the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. We see it as a denial of the whole redeeming work of our beloved Redeemer. We see it as a denial of the Authority of Jesus Christ. We see it as a denial of the very Fundamentals of the Faith. We see it promising to bring in the Second Reformation, something it is powerless to do, leaning as it does on false religions and mystical gods. We see the emerging church returning to 2nd and 3rd Century mystics who brought with them Greek mysticism. On the other hand, Paul tells us that the mystery hidden from past generations is wrapped up totally on One Person, “Christ in you, the hope of glory [Col.1:27]!” We see this new emerging church taking us back ~ not to Paul or John or Peter or Jesus ~ but to a defective mysticism that took the world into the dark ages until the dawn of the Reformation. We see it as taking us again into a world where the Bible is antiquated and useless, where the true saints of God are belittled, and where hope is placed in the flawed opinions of men leading us to devastation and hell.

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Note: For more information regarding Roger Oakland's ministry, Understand The Times International, call 714-957-3898 or write to P.O. Box 27239, Santa Ana, CA, 92799.  His email address is His book, FAITH UNDONE, inspired this CEMail, and may be purchased from  

If you want a name added to our CEMail list, or your name removed, or have questions, comments or corrections, write me at Pastor David Pett




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