November 27, 2008
This is a older article but still a good one. Gary Gilley will be one of the speakers on a new DVD I am involved with exposing the Emergent Church a church that Rick Warren is promoting.
Please stop by Garys website for some great biblically solid information.
The Gospel According to Warren
(July 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 7)
No one has exemplified the market-driven approach better than Rick Warren, pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. While Warren is open and up-front about his philosophy, strategy and methods, nevertheless things are not always as they appear. For example, “purpose-driven” sounds better than “market-driven” but it is basically the same thing. In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, his opening statement is, “It is not about you,” then turns around and writes a whole book about “you.” He belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable.
This brings us to his most disturbing alteration, the gospel itself. To charge Warren with modification of the gospel is an ugly accusation, one that should not be made lightly. What is the evidence for such an indictment? Consider the following:
In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:
“Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don’t want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for.” Warren goes on to say: “Now if you’ve just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”
Warren would be hard-pressed to find biblical backing for this presentation of the gospel. We find nothing here about sin, grace, repentance, the person of Christ, Calvary, faith, judgment, or the resurrection. This is the ultimate in a mutilated, seeker-sensitive gospel: the seeker comes to Christ in order to find his purpose in life, not to receive forgiveness from sin and the righteousness of God. Then, to pronounce someone a full-fledged member of the family of God because he has prayed such a prayer (based on minimal, if any, understanding of the person and work of Christ), is beyond tragic.
Does Warren do any better in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life? A little, but not much. Concerning eternity he tells his readers, “If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him. On the other hand, if you reject his life, forgiveness, and salvation, you will spend eternity apart forever” (p. 37). There is just enough truth here to be confusing, but the New Testament never tells us to learn to love and trust Christ in order to be saved. We are told to repent (Acts 17:30) and place our faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), not “learn to love and trust.” Just how does the unbeliever go about learning to love and trust Jesus? These are fruits of regeneration, not means to regeneration.
On page 58 Warren gives perhaps his most complete gospel presentation found in The Purpose-Driven Life. There he tells his readers that they must first believe God loves them and has chosen them to have a relationship with his Son who died on the cross for them. Warren writes, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ.” I would not argue with that, but how are we to commit ourselves to Christ? Warren states, “Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for… all you need to do is receive and believe…. Will you accept God’s offer?” Then he again offers a sample prayer, “I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’” He then promises, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life.” It is worth noting that this gospel presentation is found on Day 7 (of the 40-day journey). We are to assume that the content of Days 1-6 have led up to this invitation to receive Christ. What Warren believes a sinner needs to know to become part of the family of God has presumably been presented in the first week of the journey. But Warren has said nothing about who Jesus is, why He died on the cross, in what manner He is their Savior, the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, repentance or confession of sin, the consequences of sin, or again, the resurrection of Christ. In a biblically illiterate, post-Christian era, it cannot be assumed that the unbeliever has any concept of any of these things. This is especially disturbing in light of Warren’s central message: find God and you will find yourself (purpose). When this is undeniably the thesis of The Purpose-Driven Life, and the “Forty Days of Purpose” campaign, the unbeliever would naturally conclude that he is praying a prayer that will enable him to solve the problem of lack of purpose in his life. Where in the Scriptures is the gospel ever presented as Warren presents it? We are hopeful that Warren does not personally deny any of the essential elements of the gospel, but he certainly does not give them proper weight and he leaves much to the imagination of his readers.
John MacArthur is on target when he writes, “Listening to a seeker-sensitive evangelical preacher today, we’re likely to think it’s easy to be a Christian. Just say these little words, pray this little prayer, and poof! you’re in the club.” [i] Admittedly, salvation is received by faith alone in Christ alone, but it is not received by mouthing a little prayer lacking in biblical content and understanding, with the hopes that you will find purpose in life. As a matter of fact, one evangelical leader is reported to have entitled a sermon in response to the seeker-sensitive gospel, “How to Fill Your Church with Tares.“
MacArthur warns, “People are breezing through those wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction. And the most horrible thing about it is they think they’re going to heaven.” [ii]
Ladies Home Journal
Warren’s popularity with the masses has risen to such levels that he has now been asked to write a monthly column for the Ladies Home Journal. While some may question why a secular magazine would be interested in what an evangelical pastor has to say, certainly we can rejoice that Warren has been handed a worldwide forum (readership estimated at 14.5 million) in which to proclaim God’s truth, including the gospel, to a largely unbelieving audience. What a privilege. He has been given a platform from which he can herald the excellencies of Christ. But, unfortunately, Warren has not done that. Rather than preach Christ, Warren’s message, as reflected in the title of his article is, “Learn to Love Yourself.” In his March, 2005 article the man who opened his book with the words, “It’s not about you,” shows that he really thinks it is. He tells his readership, “To truly love yourself, you need to know the five truths that form the basis of a healthy self-image.” What are they? (All the following are direct quotes from Warren’s article)
God accepts us unconditionally, and in his view we are all precious and priceless. Focus on this and you will not waste any time and effort trying to be someone you’re not.
[Warren’s wife affirms], “God really does love me without strings attached.” [On this basis we apparently have been given the freedom to love ourselves]
Be True To Yourself
Discover, accept and enjoy our unique “shape” [which refers to Warren’s S.H.A.P.E. program] ….Be content with them [our weaknesses].
God doesn’t expect perfection but He does insist on honesty. When I honestly admit my errors and ask forgiveness in faith, He doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t get even, and doesn’t bring it up again. We should practice such a forgiving attitude with ourselves.
Believe in Yourself
Start affirming the truth about yourself! The truth is God has created you with talents, abilities, personality and background in a combination that is uniquely you. It’s your choice. You can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself as God does, who says you are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable.
What a disappointment! Not only does Warren not share the gospel, the glory of Christ or any theological truth, he muddies the waters by offering anemic pop-psychology none of which is supportable from Scripture. Briefly, remember that Warren is not writing to believers but to the general populace, which he would have to assume is largely unsaved. With that in mind consider:
To this audience he tells them that God accepts them unconditionally. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are unacceptable to God in our natural state. It would take the death of the Son of God to provide the means whereby we could be accepted by God and only those who are in Christ are acceptable to the Father (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Nowhere in Scripture are we ever told to love ourselves. We are told to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We are also told to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Some jump on this phrase, “as yourself,” as proof that God commands us to love ourselves. That is not true. The Scriptures tell us we already love ourselves (Ephesians 5:28-29); we do not need to be encouraged to an inordinate self-love that amounts to self-centeredness. As a matter of fact, the only passage in the New Testament that actually speaks of self-love considers it a sinful sign of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2). Christ calls us to deny self (Luke 9:23) not love self.
To tell the unbeliever to accept and be true to himself is to condemn him eternally. Should one who is dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) be told to be content with his weaknesses? Warren may be attempting to soothe the troubled hearts of his readers, but he is not pointing them to the Savior.
Not a word can be found in Scripture about forgiving ourselves. This is a modern psychological invention, not a biblical principle. God calls us to confess our sins to Him and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). We lack the ability and authority to forgive ourselves; that is God’s prerogative.
Rather than believe in self we are told to “believe on the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31). Rather than believe in self Paul confirmed that we are inadequate in ourselves (2 Corinthians 3:5), being mere earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). Rather than believe in self we are told that anything we accomplish is through God’s strength (Philippians 4:13). Rather than believe in self Paul said that he “boasted in his weaknesses, that the power of God may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
How can this evangelical pastor, who has emerged as the most recognized Protestant leader in the world, one who is looked to for spiritual insight and guidance by millions, miss the mark so widely? Perhaps the key is in his view of doctrine. In The Purpose Driven Life Warren wants us to have no doubt that, when we stand before the Lord, “God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him” (p. 34)? On the contrary, what we believe is of utmost importance. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the Bible for us to ignore what it teaches? Are the words of Jesus insignificant? Are the doctrinal truths of the New Testament epistles nothing more than filler? Concerning salvation, it does matter what you believe about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, sin, judgment, the gospel and so forth. Warren is doing a great disservice to the church of God. As he minimizes the content of the gospel, trivializes Scripture, belittles doctrine and replaces them with psychology, mysticism and worldly wisdom we are reminded of Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
An Alternative to Warren’s Methods and Message
My wife and I recently attended that worship service of an evangelical church which has adopted the purpose-driven model popularized by Warren. The service was disturbing on a number of fronts, including irreverent worship, unbiblical musical selections and a general attitude of apathy. But what was most troubling was the sermon. The pastor, surely a well-meaning and sincere servant of God, had no clue how to exegete the Scriptures. In his topical message he pointed the congregation, by means of PowerPoint slides, to dozens of passages. But in astounding fashion he managed to misinterpret, either through spiritualizing, missing the context, reading a poor translation, etc., every single passage. Not once did he provide the correct interpretation of any verse of Scripture, yet as far as I could observe no one seemed to notice or care. This provided for me further insight into what I have been suspecting and observing. Warren’s philosophy of ministry, misuse of Scripture, weak gospel message, infiltration of psychology and disregard for theology is being embraced by evangelicalism because that is where much of evangelicalism is already residing. Warren is not so much an initiator as he is a product of his time. I believe he has caught the wave of what was already happening in evangelicalism. What he has done successfully is connect the dots – develop methods, programs and a message that seems to work. Pragmatism has become the final arbitrator in our society and increasingly in our churches. “If it works it must be of God,” so goes the common wisdom. But pragmatism is an unreliable trailblazer. In our more reflective moments few of us are willing to believe that success can always have the final word. For example, Mormonism is the most successful “church” in the world today. Yet, none of us is willing to believe that God is blessing the Mormon Church. If pragmatism is our guide, we will be hopelessly tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14). We need something more stable – a true foundation.
Back to the Bible
I Timothy 3:15 describes the mission of the church as being the pillar and support of the truth. Whatever else the church does, it must take this commission from God seriously. No one but God’s church is interested in such a project – it falls on God’s people, the true church, to be the one place where truth is believed, upheld, and gloriously proclaimed. Of course, the truth that the church has to offer has a source – the Word of God. All the church does must emerge from the Scriptures. Every method, program, evangelistic effort, and message the church declares must find its roots firmly planted in biblical truth.
This leads us to Warren’s, and his imitators’, Achilles’ heal: Warren does not begin with the Bible. At first glance “The Purpose-driven” programs and message are quite attractive. They seem to speak the language of the people; they are successful; they are saturated with Scripture, much of its teaching is on the mark, and many promoting and involved in The Purpose-driven Life are sincere and well-meaning. But upon close examination there is a fly in the soup. It is no ordinary fly either – it is a huge, quarter-pounder filled with deadly poison. We can attempt to ignore the fly, hoping all will be well, but ultimately we must either deal with the fly or allow it to alter our soup to something altogether different.
What is the fly? It is this – Warren does not begin with Scripture, he begins with people. His church was started on the basis of a survey asking people what they wanted in a church. He quizzes the congregation on the kind of secular music they like and provides that kind of music. He starts with the felt-needs of people and then crafts a message to meet those needs. He determines what he believes people need to hear and then goes to Scripture to find support for his philosoph y of ministry.
It is right here that we need to step back and carefully examine the Purpose-driven philosophy. I have found if you skip the foundation undergirding any system that the superstructure can appear beautiful – for a time. Again take Mormonism. Its outward emphasis on family values and morals is certainly winsome. It is its foundation which is faulty. By the same token we need to examine The Purpose-driven Life’s foundation. Has it been laid after careful study of the Scriptures? Or are its building blocks made of secular fads, philosophies and pragmatism, mortared together with careless use of Scripture? If the latter is your conclusion, as it is mine, what are we to do?
Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God’s stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself. In our local church we have dropped all commercial Sunday school curriculum — which has been watered down to the point of uselessness – and simply teach the Bible. Our 4-5 years old are being taught selected biblical stories. Ages 6-7 will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in those 2 years. Ages 8-9 will go through the Bible yet again. Ages 10-11 are being taught hermeneutics and Bible study methods and applying those methods to the study of the epistles. Ages 12-13 are taught Bible-college-level courses on systematic theology. High schoolers are taught straight Scripture with emphasis on biblical discernment. At this level many of them begin to teach children as well as their peers. All adult courses are focused on the study of Scripture, along with classes on church history, theology, and biblical living. All sermons are verse-by-verse expositions of the Word. Certainly our teachers use commentaries and Bible study aids but it is the Scriptures themselves that are studied.
I have found an amazing thing – when people are fed a steady diet of biblical truth they have little craving for cotton candy fads. Why would anyone trade in the fountain of life for cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13)? Of course many have and do, but the solution is not to crawl into the cistern, it is to showcase the fountain.
But this “return to the Bible” approach has one fatal problem – we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. If we do not believe that God’s Word is sufficient, then we will not showcase it. If we do not believe in the final authority of the Word then we will look for alternatives. What the church and the world need today are men and women of God who believe with all of their hearts in the sufficiency of His Word. We need a church that is not ashamed of Christ “and His Word” (Luke 9:26); and who will boldly proclaim it from the housetops. It is reported that Charles Spurgeon once said, “There is no need for you to defend a lion when he’s being attacked. All you need to do is open the gate and let him out.” With Spurgeon I believe it is time to once again open the gate and let the Word do its work.
[i] John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), p. 12.
[ii] Ibid., p. 13.
by Gary E. Gilley
November 18, 2008
This is one of the best proclamation of the whole gospel I have ever heard from a musician. Got this from U Tube
November 16, 2008
As of late I had a person comment how they were puzzled about my passionate fear of the emergent church.
In want to state that I have no fear of a false movement or false teachings. We have the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth through the scriptures. I fear for people who do not believe in a absolute truth. I fear for people who are being deceived by the false emergent church movement as well as the other false movements in the Body of Christ such as the health and wealth gospel and false leaders such as Len Sweet, Rick Warren or Todd Bentley.
There are thousands being lead astray by not searching the scriptures daily to see if what is being said is true.
As well as we have many leaders in the Body of Christ who seem to have zero discernement and concern for the flocks they are supposed to be guarding.
My concern is not just for the Nazarene Church which is the church I attend.
I am not even a official Nazarene just a concerned Christian concerned what is happening to the Body of Christ.
I also know from Eph 5:11 that we do not need to dialog with a false movement and its false teachers rather we need to expose them.
The Nazarene church is not the only one welcoming this false movement with open arms.
Leaders such as Rick Warren have made sure this false movement is getting plenty of exposure.
We will continue to contend for the faith.
Here is a article by Gary Gilley who will be speaking on our DVD about Emergent theology and ancient faith.
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 1
(September 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 9)
|It has been claimed that Sigmund Freud enjoyed telling his followers a story of a pastor who visited an atheist insurance agent who was on his death bed. The family had asked the pastor to share the gospel with their dying loved one as they waited in another room. As the conversation continued longer than expected there was hope that the pastor was being successful in his mission. When the pastor finally emerged from the bedroom it was discovered that the agent had not converted to Christ but he had been able to sell the pastor an insurance policy.
While Freud used the illustration to warn his fellow psychoanalysts to stay true to their beliefs, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, from whom I obtained this account, has another application to offer. While a most unlikely source (in my opinion) to offer the following warning, Mouw writes,
This is a most thought-worthy question in light of the emergent church movement’s recent inroads into evangelicalism, and in some cases even fundamentalism. The emergent church is a movement deeply concerned with impacting the culture. But evidence is mounting to the effect that culture is having more impact on the emergent movement than the other way around. As a matter of fact emergent seems to be chasing culture, even imitating culture, rather than changing it. The reason this is true has to do with its understanding of the kingdom of God.
Mark Driscoll defines the emerging church as “a growing, loosely-connected movement of primarily young pastors who are glad to see the end of modernity and are seeking to function as missionaries who bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to emerging and postmodern cultures.”
Thus defined, the emergent church sounds like a welcome addition to the Christian community. However, all is not as it seems. Whatever the intentions of the original founders of the movement (or conversation, as they call it), it has rapidly morphed into a serious threat to the faith. Today, while the emergent community is barely a decade old it has permeated churches, Bible colleges, seminaries, and parachurch organizations throughout the world. It is a movement that is difficult to define because it is not monolithic or static. However, at least two basic wings have become discernable. One wing calls itself “emerging,” claiming to have solid theological credentials, having only adopted methods more in tune with postmodern mindsets. The other wing is termed “emergent” and is composed of those who not only are adopting new methodologies but who also challenge the most sacred of doctrines. This wing is obviously the most concerning to us and is even under fire from the emerging wing. For example, Driscoll, who was one of the originators of the conversation, but has since distanced himself from emergent leaders such as Brian McLaren, writes,
I have written extensively on the emergent church movement in other venues and will not rehash that information here. I would mention that, while the “emergent” movement is far more disturbing, the “emerging” element is not without its doctrinal and philosophical problems. Both, for instance, embrace errant views of the kingdom of God which in turn lead to a misunderstanding of the role of the church (a role emerging leaders call missional), which in turn has a distorting affect on the gospel message. Since both emerging and emergent camps have the same view of the kingdom, I will be using the term “emergent” throughout this discussion to refer to both wings.
Emergent and emerging leaders may differ over any number of issues but they present a united front when it comes to the kingdom of God—and the kingdom of God plays the pivotal role in their theology and purpose. At a recent conference in Baltimore – The Big Event 2007, Imagine a World…a New Vision for God’s Kingdom on Earth – the PowerPoint presentation assures us “the kingdom of God is here now.” 
The idea that the kingdom is here now is the one doctrinally unifying factor in emergent theology, yet some in the “conversation” have been honest enough to admit that even they are not always sure what is meant by the term. Mark Scandrette confesses,
Nevertheless a consensus by both emerging and emergent leaders is expressed by Sherry and Geoff Maddock: “Our principle (sic) desire is to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. We believe this happens when God’s people are renewed around God’s mission of love and justice in the world.” The conversation apparently views the kingdom as being on earth now but progressively becoming like the kingdom in heaven as Christians live missionally on earth.
Such an understanding of the kingdom of God is obviously at odds with premillennialism, yet the Maddocks’ view is reflected by many in or on the fringes of the movement. Tony Campolo represents many emergent thinkers as he contrasts dispensationalism with emergent theology,
N. T. Wright, the primary link between the “New Perspective on Paul” (which claims we have misunderstood Paul and, in turn, the gospel, since the foundation of the church) and evangelicalism, has the same eschatological underpinnings, “[Paul] was to declare to the pagan world that YHWH, the God of Israel, was the one true God of the whole world, and that in Jesus of Nazareth he had overcome evil and was creating a new world in which justice and peace would reign supreme (emphasis mine).”
Jim Henderson, co-author of Jim and Casper Go to Church, is also interested in bringing the kingdom of God to earth. “I want to make this world a better place. I want to see Jesus’ prayer answered that his Kingdom would come on Earth as it is in heaven. I want to see kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ.”
To Brian McLaren, the most prolific emergent writer, the ultimate goal of Jesus (and God) is the kingdom of God, brought to earth. Just how is the kingdom brought to earth? Through our good works. McLaren states, “I hope that they [his neighbors] and I will become better people, transformed by God’s Spirit, more pleasing to God, more of a blessing to the world so that God’s kingdom (which I seek, but cannot manipulate) comes on earth as in heaven (emphasis mine).”
What does this kingdom that we are to bring through our good works look like? Rob Bell has some thoughts:
Emergent theology sees the kingdom of God as present now with future culmination as we (the subjects of the kingdom) restore justice, eliminate poverty, clean up the ecosystem, tame global warming and the like. Of course the issue is not whether Christians ought to be involved in finding solutions to these earth-related concerns (we should be and have been and are), but whether this is the mission of the church and whether doing so will more quickly bring in the kingdom.
I do not believe Scripture teaches either, but Robert Webber, in his very influential book Ancient-Future Faith,differs, “[The] result of the cosmic work of Christ is that the kingdom of God, God’s rule over all things, is now manifest.” By Christ’s “cosmic work” Webber means, among other things, that “Christ has bound Satan and all demonic powers.” While Webber admits to a future in which a more complete binding of demonic forces will prevail, demons are limited enough at this time to allow for a “secular salvation” (that is the salvation of the planet and culture) within society. Webber is confident that due to the present binding of demonic forces, and God’s kingdom rule now, believers can and should expedite massive social and cultural changes. As a matter of fact it is the mandate of the followers of Christ to be focused on this “secular salvation.” He writes,
The church, given this paradigm, becomes the change agent in society. “The church,” writes Webber, “as a transforming presence in the world stands in the tradition of those Scripture passages that emphasize the power of the gospel to change not only the life of an individual but also the life of culture.”
It is thought within emergent circles that when the church operates as this type of change agent the world can’t help but get better. Carla Barnhill, former editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine, assures us that emergent style parenting, a style in which it is more important to teach creativity than obedience, “is about celebrating the goodness of life with God, a life that looks more like the kingdom with every generation.” Prominent emergent leader Tony Jones, in the process of poking fun at the dispensational understanding of this age and the one to come, states, “But those of us represented in this book take the contrary view. God’s promised future is good, and it awaits us, beckoning us forward.” To both Barnhill and Jones the world is becoming a better place to live as time goes by, and it is our job to hasten its rejuvenation.
If there is one thing the emergent conversation has closed ranks around it is that the kingdom of God is on earth now, but it will progressively resemble God’s kingdom in heaven as Christians understand their true mission,which is to make this world a better place for all. The emerging movement sees itself as a wakeup call to those who would follow Jesus. It is our task to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven by aggressively challenging injustice, fighting poverty, aiding the sick, working on ecological concerns and, in general, saving this planet and everything on it. Emergent leaders believe that people are catching on to this new vision of the kingdom, and as a result, are optimistic about the future. No doomsday tribulation period is on their radar screen nor is Jesus coming in judgment upon the wicked. The kingdom, while already here, will progressively become like heaven as we attend to the social ills and needs around us. Tomorrow looks bright and the day after that looks brighter still.
We Have Heard This Before
All of this stirs hope within our hearts. Maybe the emergent leaders are right, maybe the world is getting better and better and, if we Christians would just get more involved, eventually earth will be like heaven. Sounds great, but is it biblical?
It is helpful to know that the Christian community has been down this trail before. Emergent eschatology is by-and-large identical to liberal postmillennialism which flourished prior to the mid-twentieth century. In general postmillennialism is the view that Christ will return after the millennium, or the kingdom age, which is presently on earth. Conservative postmillennialists believe that “through the proclamation of the gospel in the present age, an unprecedented number of people in the world – in fact, the vast majority – will turn to Christ and be saved.” The focus of God’s people in this kingdom age then is to expand the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. As the world is increasingly evangelized it will become a place of “spiritual prosperity, universal peace and righteousness, and economic well-being.” In conjunction with the spread of the gospel is the progressive binding of Satan. As the world is Christianized Satan will gradually lose his hold over its inhabitants. Loraine Boettner, a postmillennial theologian, summarizes,
Theological liberal postmillennialism shares some of the same optimism as its conservative counterparts but directs its attention to social enhancement of the planet.
The similarity between liberal postmillennialism and emergent philosophy is striking. It is worth noting that the postmillennial system, which was nonexistent in the early days of church history, was originally systematized by liberal Unitarian minister Daniel Whitby (1638-1726). His system grew legs due partly to the optimism of the age, but lost steam when the two world wars of the twentieth century shattered dreams of the world progressively improving. Since that time a more realistic understanding of human development has set in and most recognize that the earth is not only not moving toward utopia but is more likely closer to annihilation.
Emergent kingdom theology, like its liberal postmillennial predecessor, is based not so much on the observation of an improving world but on feelings of desperation. McLaren admits that many might see his kingdom views as a mere pipe dream, but if that is so, “what do [we] have to look forward to if they are right? Simply more of the same in human history…”
But truth does not emerge from groundless optimism or “what if” desperation; it emerges from the Scriptures. What God says about life now, the future and the kingdom is what matters. In answer to McLaren’s question, we have much to look forward to, for Christ will one day bring His kingdom to earth, at which time the very social and earthly issues that concern emergent people will be corrected and made right. But this kingdom will come through the power of Christ, not the good deeds of men. It will come when He returns, not as a prelude to it. It will not only remedy societal wrongs it will usher in the world-wide righteousness and justice of Christ. We have much to look forward to when the kingdom comes, but it will come about because of God’s actions, not ours. It is right that we seek to correct social ills, but our actions do not usher in Christ’s kingdom.
Next issue we will discuss the effect of emergent theology on the gospel.
 Richard J. Mouw, The Smell of Sawdust ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), p. 64.
 Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), p. 22.
 Ibid., p. 21.
 See Gary E. Gilley, This Little Church Stayed Home ( Darlington, England : Evangelical Press, 2006).
 Mark Scandrette, “Growing Pains” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, ed. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones ( Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007) pp. 26, 29.
 Sherry Maddock and Geoff Maddock, “An Ever-Renewed Adventure of Faith, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 80.
 Tony Campolo, in Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point ( El Cajon, Calif,: Youth Specialties, 2003), p. 59.
 N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997), p. 37.
 Jim Henderson and Matt Casper, Jim and Casper Go to Church (2007), p. 168.
 Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy,( Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties Books, 2004), p. 267.
 Ibid., p. 263.
 Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), pp.109-110.
 Ibid., pp. 147,150.
 Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith, ( Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004) p. 53.
 Ibid., p. 49.
 Ibid., p. 51.
 Ibid., p. 169.
 Carla Barnhill, “The Postmodern Parent,” An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 58.
 Tony Jones, “A Hopeful Faith,” An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 130.
 Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate ( TheWoodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 4.
 Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, ed. R. Clouse (Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity, 1977), p. 117.
 Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy ( Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006), p. 144.
 Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus p. 128.
|by Gary E. Gilley|
November 12, 2008
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November 6, 2008
The Mindset of Mockers in the Last Days
The Bible speaks a lot about scoffers and mockers in the last days, those who question the word because they have departed from the faith.
You can call it a transition- transformation- paradigm shift- or the dialectic process at work: it does not matter what term used is, what matters is that it brings one to new viewpoint that changes their whole perspective. This is what the emergent church’s influence (the “new spirituality”) has on its hearers – changing ones perspective. Certainly there are those who have good intentions that are misconstrued and then there are those who do not have good intentions at all.
Brian McLaren invites and encourages people to rethink the way we tell the Biblical story, and invites us to imagine a new kind of story for our future. McClaren postulates that anyone cannot have hope based on knowing the truth of the gospel; or the hope of knowing anything. What does the Bible say about doubt, its obvious that this state of mind is the opposite of faith.
McLaren In his interview with Christianity Today “I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy” (The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today Nov. 2004)
None of us? This means after nearly 2,000 years of church history, scholars and students that have studied and preached is are dismissed on his own opinion. Is his opinion is more important or authoritative than God’s book? Incidentally, his point also includes him, which does put a damper on his contrary statement.
McLaren states, “This God-given thirst for emergence…is causing new forms of Christian spirituality, community, and mission to emerge from modern Western Christianity…a generous orthodoxy is an emerging orthodoxy”
Are new forms of Christianity being developed? Indeed they are – but their source is not from God but from men, those who do not believe in the Word of God. They do not believe the Holy Spirit moved men, the prophets to write, so the Bible does not find its inspiration or origin with God but with man.
Bible believing Christians hold the Bible alone to be the Word of God revealed to men and written by men. Jesus did, and the Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…. Not just the red ink portions and not what one feels comfortable with. ALL of it.
Inventing new ways to interpret Scripture discovering new definitions to change words from what they used to mean to be more relative to our modern times is reshaping doctrines by emergent church practices and it is confusing people and ruining their faith.
Leanard Sweet writes: “With the crooked lines of our lives God is wanting to write “a new account of everything old,” a Third Testament. This book has been breathed forth with the prayer that the crooked lines and cracks of New Light ministries, whatever they maybe, will become openings through which God’s light can shine. (p.259 Quantum spirituality.)
This new light certainly is not the light the Bible refers to as the word, for he tell us that his new light is directly influenced by new agers that he quotes profusely throughout his book.
Erwin McManus tells us “The Christian faith grew through story - not text. Only later did the stories become Scripture. While the Scripture must be held in the highest regard, we must not neglect the power of story” (Erwin McManus, “An Unstoppable Force,” p. 118)
God spoke to the prophets and gave them the future – prophecy, are we now going to call these stories? By doing this it diminishes the source and their importance, inferring that they are like any other story, religious or secular. Does McManus think they sat around the campfire telling stories and then voted for it to be written down in a book called the Bible? Or maybe by consensus they thought a story would be good for others to hear. Well some may just as well take this position considering how they put the word of God down.
2 Pet 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Many times the “prophets” did not fully understand what God spoke, but they certainly did not make up the words or guess, they had a fear of God to do and write exactly what He communicated.
McManus states “The church must acclimate to a changing world, or she will destine herself to irrelevance or even extinction. …One of those dramatic changes in our environment is the shift from words to images. To do church in a way that is entirely text driven is the kiss of death’ (Erwin McManus, “An Unstoppable Force”, p. 18)
That’s an interesting opinion- the apostles taught the very opposite Titus 1:9 “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught” Rom.16:17-18 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Paul writes in Titus 3:10 “Reject a divisive (heretic) man after the first and second admonition.” Who is divisive? Those who do not hold to the doctrine in the bible and teach something else as true.
“One of the arts that leaders must craft is the selection of great stories.” (Erwin McManus, “An Unstoppable Force, p. 118)
McManus’ makes this plain by his symbol for water, shaped in the symbol of the Yin and Yang, a Chinese symbol associated with Tai Chi, symbolizing opposites and oneness. His mosaic is synthesizing other religious symbols with Christianity. On the website http://theoriginsproject.org five elements are illustrated:
WIND: Commission: Mission is why the church exists: People matter most.
These five categories (elements) are attached by Christian interpretations which mean nothing. They have no resemblance to the Bible but instead to other religions, Taoism- Yin and Yang, This is neo-Christianity- bringing a synthesis of other religious ideas into the Church which corrupts the doctrine of Christ.
McManus states: “Two thousand years ago, God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name.”
Here is a prefect example of teachers that have no basis of history or the Jewish culture Jesus lived in God did not revolted against the Judaism of Moses (whom he inspired and gave directly) , he came against the leaders that added their human traditions and made the word of God of no effect, Exactly what McManus and McLaren and so many others are doing.
This is why McManus can state without equivocation: “My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ,” (said in a telephone interview) “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right”
Can these men lead others to trust God by his word when they speak in this manner?
But there are many others that are following in these men’s footsteps.
Jon Middendorf is a pastor at Oklahoma City First City of the Nazarene, who oversees the Kaleo Community congregation there. he seems to have absorbed the emergent viewpoint to its full.
Dialogue between Greg Horton Jon Middendorf http://www.wiredparish.com/hosts.php?hid=51
Leadership buzz.com digital coaching for ministry impact
This conversation, they call dialog begins with him referring to A.J. Jacobs has written a book called ‘the year of living biblically,” Horton: “what he decided to do was to go through those 660 odd laws in the Pentateuch and to start living by them. Greg Horton: “It is study in absurdity…He finally decided if this is biblical and these people actually believe this is biblical, then lets see what happens if you actually live that way.”So it becomes a study of absurd the Mosaic law can be when actually applied.”
Maybe he had a problem because he added 47 laws of his own to the 613 laws of God that he does not believe in. This shows he is arguing against something that is not based on the Bible but his own biased version of the Bible, what he thinks it says. Ask the orthodox Jews that keep the law today, they do not think it is impossible.
Middendorf asks- why did he do this?” Horton: ”I’m guessing to make money” Middendorf: “Did he do it to mock it?” Greg Horton: “Oh yeah, absolutely, he absolutely did it to mock it. … its maybe one of those things that need to be mocked” Horton “The errant literal interpretation of the law and these things? Middendorf Comments “Christians are guilty of the notion that there was a time when people were required to live by the mosaic law, I just don’t know that ever was the case.”
So then God lied, and according to their view you can throw out nearly all the Old Testament, it never happened the way it was written, why trust any of it. Instead we should trust these men who are scoffing and mocking it. This is equivalent to saying in an absolute manner man never used the horse and buggy because I don’t see anyone do this today and I tried to and was unable.
Middendorf comments “Well, I think we try to, I think we do damage to Scripture, I think we force it to read to say what we want it to say, as opposed to, as opposed to the people of God being this historically embodied culturally extended; right; historically –yea, that’s what I mean to say”
Horton: This does address a large percentage of the evangelical church who believe that – y’know Jesus came to die and fulfill the law so we would not have to live by the law…and prior to Jesus you had to live by the law no, (Middendorf-no ) that’s because many of them have this notion and when you get into the whole inerrancy discussion have this notion that Moses took down the words of God” Dictation theory Horton: there’s no redaction there’s not many changes to it and y’know y if you read -I want to real scholars, but that’s not fair because some people who believe this stuff are real scholars
Not only would it not be fair but it would be inaccurate. What they have just done is question Jesus (whom they may claim to believe and follow in) who does say the law came through Moses.
Jesus refers to the book of Moses in various places. Mark 12:26 referring to the resurrection
Matt 19:7 refers to Moses on divorce.
Mark 1:44 show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 7:10 “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’;
Jesus said “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? John 7:19
So Jesus equates not believing Moses as not believing him, so the questions these men bring up shows that they are in unbelief.
In fact Paul specifically writes a whole book on the law of Moses :
Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
But these men say this is not true!
This is the whole point of the law and why Jesus came Gal 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
And what do they think James 2:10 is about? “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Of course I have quoted the Bible of which they question as being accurate. If one cannot refer to the Bible of which they question then why even say anything about Jesus at all, for it is through the Bible he is revealed accurately to us.
The first 5 books of Old Testament claim to have been written by Moses (Ex. 17:14, 24:4,7; 34:27-28; Lev.1-2; Num. 33:2; Deut.1:1-5; 4:4-5; 31:9,24-26). If Moses did not write the Pentateuch, who did? It shows Moses is the author of the books over and over again. God told Moses what to write- Exod. 24:4: “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD…” God gave revelation to him up on the Mountain. The book of the law written by Moses was handed to the priests, it ends at Deut. 31:23; (except the song and blessing which is Moses’ own composition). The rest of the book of Deuteronomy is an appendix obviously added after Moses’ death by another’s hand.
Exod. 24:12 the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”
Exod. 31:18 He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Horton: “ I still don’t know how this entire group of Scholars got together for the Chicago statement on inerrancy a lot of really really smart people saying something really really stupid.”
So what You are saying God gave us these absurd laws to follow so that we wouldn’t be able to follow them so that we would need Jesus, how insane is that system”(Middendorf is entertained by his cleverness laughing along with his mockery). Middendorf: Well that’s the particular view of the atonement” Horton:“Oh I know it is” Its also a particular view of humanity, in terms of, moral depravity and original sin and all that” Middendorf: “no, I agree I just, I’m just amazed…”
Maybe it is he that does not understand how ignorant he sounds? The law is given to show us the holiness of God and what is required to not sin.
This echoes other Emergent’s. In Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, he tells us that the Bible is a “human product… rather than the product of divine fiat.” (Quote inChristianity Today, November, 2004, p. 38.)
Again you cannot believe Jesus if you do not believe Moses- he refers to Moses numerous times
John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?
And no truer words were spoken “ there is one who accuses you– Moses, in whom you trust. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:45-6:1)
If the Bible is not your spiritual and moral authority then you do not have God as master over your life or in your life. Then you are your own authority- self is master and you will live by your own opinions.
Jesus said in Luke 11:28: “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!“
If we are not conducting our spirituality from “The Word” but from other ways we are not living the Christian life. We cannot mix opinions with Christ’s teachings. Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Middendorf says this is a particular view of atonement and depravity- original sin
I think what these men are saying proves their state of sinfulness, these men are truculent and Jude addresses people like this.
Mittnedorf- “and so we rob the story of its transformational power by Idolizing the words instead of the testimony”
They do not care what the Bible instructs, showing their unbelief and disrespect in the word which is God’s testimony to man. And whose testimony would they would like us to idolize? We are to respect Gods word, He did communicate truth to us and it is preserved to all generations. If you do not believe this – don’t call yourself a believer or a Christian because YOU ARE NOT!
The Bible is called “the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), Daniel called it “the Scripture of Truth” (Dan.10:21), Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth.” Prov.30:5 “Every word of God is pure.” Psalm 138:2 states that His Word is exalted above His name. God honors His Word in greater ways than He honors His own name.
Horton mentions his own senior pastor jumped up and down on the Bible, “look this is not, this is not, an I. were not going to worship this, in fact this is what he said were not going to worship this to make this some sort of an idol it would be just as wrong to making a golden calf an idol.” This is the testimony, this is actually mans testimony about God and we believe the Holy Spirit has been involved in it… but don’t make the mistake of etching this out of gold.”
God said his word is more precious than what is in the world and it produces faith in Him.
1Peter 1:7: “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes”
Where is faith found? In his WORD. Rom. 10:17 “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Proverbs 3:13-16: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.”
Jesus said in John 17:17: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
2 Pet 1:4 We have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises- Where is this found? In the word.
1 Pet 2:7 “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious”
These men are prophesied in the Bible that they do want not to believe is accurate?
Middendorf commenting on the presidential forum and being asked a question on the Bible “I’m not sure that you are supposed to believe every word of the Bible.”
Of course not, you can pick and choose what you want to believe as longs it’s not all of it.
These men do not understand how God used men to write his word to communicate to man. Jesus said unless one understands the word they cannot bear fruit for his kingdom (Mt.13).
Horton- “The problem is that there are people who really believe the Bible is both, is somehow holds authority over them, based on the words that are written down on the page and its like; I don’t even know how you function – there is no way you can make a synthesis of everything Scripture says as this kind of living document that would have authority over your life.”
Spoken like a man who has no relationship with the God of Scripture, a man who does not believe what Jesus said.
2 Pet 3:3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts”
Jude 1:17-19 “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
Here are just a few statements about scoffers and how they react when they are shown their waywardness.
Prov 9:8: “Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
Prov. 13:1: “a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Prov. 14:6 ‘A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it.”
Prov. 15:12 “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise”
Middendorf then speaks of “Christ is the lens by which we read all the Scripture.” If this is true then why do you deny what Jesus said- he quoted from the Old Testament to prove what He was saying is true.’ Its hard to believe Middendorf is a senior pastor in this church when their own articles of faith states: “ We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith. (Luke 24:44-47; John 10:35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
Like Brian McLaren that describes the new kind of Christian as a critic of God and his word. These are those who are willing to ignore history, the manuscript evidence, the prophecies contained in the Old Testament that were fulfilled and still will be fulfilled.
Jesus taught that every part of the Old Testament is inspired and authoritative: the law, the writings, and the Psalms (Lk. 24:44). He taught the men spoken of in the books wrote them, that the Old Testament writers were inspired by God to write the Scriptures. According to the Son of God, Moses wrote the books of the law (Lk. 24:44; Jn. 5:45-47); David wrote the Psalms bearing his name (Lk. 20:42); Daniel wrote the book bearing his name (Mt. 24:15).
Jesus taught that the Old Testament is perfect to the letter (Mt. 5:17-18). It cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35). It is authoritative to every detail. No statement in the Bible can be broken, all will be proven true. This is the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility.
Jesus taught that the Old Testament is a book written in advance on the coming of Christ (Lk. 24:44). That the Old Testament characters, events, and miracles are true and historical. Some of the Old Testament people and events Christ referred to are: the creation (Mk. 13:19), Adam and Eve (Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-7), Cain and Abel (Mt. 23:35; Lk. 11:50-51), Noah and the flood (Mt. 24:37-39), Abraham (Jn. 8:39-40), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Lk. 17:28-29), Lot’s wife turning to salt (Lk. 17:32), Jonah and the whale (Mt. 12:39-41; Lk. 11:29-32), Nineveh repenting at Jonah’s preaching (Lk. 11:32), The queen of Sheba visiting Solomon (Lk. 11:31). And Yes -Moses and the burning bush (Mk. 12:26) and his giving the law, Jesus said “Did not Moses give you the law (John 7:19)
These men speak of a testimony- Here’s a testimony –from Moses.
Exodus 34:29: “Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.” (The very laws these men say God did not give Man.)
The ark they built is called the ark of the testimony- why? Because the two tablets that contained the 10 laws were put inside it. All the 613 laws were written down together and put on its side for the priests to have access to them and the sacrifice would be put on its mercy seat. The same glory that Moses reflected on his face showed up on the ark in between the angels on the mercy seat.
Testimony of two or three witnesses.
Ps 119:88-89: “Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth. Forever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.”
Obviously it is not settled in the heart of the scoffers on earth.
Jesus made it clear John 12:48 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him– the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
John 15:7-8: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Matt 24:35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Mark 8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
What these men said is shameful and ignorant of what the Bible is and who God is, and they are spreading it to others in the church.
Jn.14:23: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word.” This is his commandment to show our devotion. One cannot keep it if they doubt and question its validity. On the other hand in v.24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Since Jesus said His word is the Father’s this becomes an essential to know and have have a relationship to God. if you mock his word as truth you are mocking God. I hope either of this men will come to their senses and faith and stop spreading opinions that is contrary to God.
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