Does the emergent church movement preach the gospel that saves?
An appeal to pursuers of the new church movements
We have a duty to be keepers, protectors and proclaimers of the gospel, it is to be the same message that was given to the apostles nearly 2,000 years ago. What has saved us is to save others.
This gospel can be changed from applying new innovations. Even Brian McLaren admits the way that emerging church presents the message can be changing the gospel:
“It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, "We're not changing the message; we're only changing the medium." This claim is probably less than honest ... in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that's received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this."
This is one of the rare times I can agree with him. The method of presenting the Gospel can adopt change in its presentation when necessary; but the content of the message cannot, when it does we have another gospel. And if we are not careful the message can be changed by the method. And the message HAS already changed for many inside these progressive type movements, one of them is the emergent church movement. Without the cross as central to our lives and our preaching for salvation, church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross - this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ one is to believe and continue in. We all get saved the same way, by the message of gospel. Yet in the emergent movement they entertain and pursue other religious practices for their spirituality. Why would one do this if they have found what makes peace with God? This proves that they have not personally experienced nor possess the power of the gospel in their personal life. Paul warned about another gospel and preaching a different Jesus in Gal.1:6-9.
What kind of Jesus allows other religions teachings and practices to be taught in his church to those who are to supposed to be following Him as “the way the truth the life.”
"Is our religion the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? ... The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity" (Brian McLaren, An Emergent Manifesto p. 194)
Actually it was introduced by Jesus who happens to be truth incarnate, so the answer is, NO. God has not placed his truth in other religions that worship false gods. Common sense alone should tell people this fact.
This is not to say that everyone in the Emergent church holds to the new views of the gospel but whether it is done purposely or by indifference there are many of its leaders that do, and influence its adherents that seek a church to be real. Using humanistic concepts, worldly business practices, or other religious ways to adjust the gospel to reach the various cultures, they avoid the real intent; exposing the darkness in the human heart. This can only be done by Christ being preached, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
The changing of the gospel message and its application come in many forms, Emergent leader Leonard Sweet explains it “Postmodern missions must have a geomantic imagination and geomantic design. What I am calling a geomantic style of evangelization will ensure harmonious habitation patterns as the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and landforms” (Quantum Spirituality p.168).
This changing the gospel to be relative to the environment has no basis from Scripture and is the imagination of ones heart that is conducive to the trends of our day. Earth based spirituality has nothing to do with the gospel that was preached by Paul and the apostles whose intent was to deal with sin in humanity (1 Cor.15:1-4).
If one does not understand the gospel and the requirement for our sin then they will mock the crucifixion.
Emergent Church leaders consistently, repeatedly denigrate sin, the savior, and salvation via the cross of Christ. “If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus' own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil” (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, pp. 182-183.)
But it was love that brought Jesus to the cross. There was no other way.Christ shows us how God loves his enemies- love is the heart of the gospel. “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, 10). The Bible declares that those who bring the gospel are the ones who bring peace (Rom. 10)
Harry Emerson Fosdick was a famous liberal pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, (1878-1969), who denied the doctrine of the atonement, "Jesus suffered as a substitute for us"
In Fosdick's book Dear Mr. Brown, he states: Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.' Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—'No!" He insists, "These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace."' Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.
‘In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it "false advertising for God":
[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus' teaching then—I won't say, the only, and I certainly won't say even the primary---but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that's not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn't the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)' (quoted in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland p.192)
The Emergent movement wants to a re-imaginine things. the way things are going as they remove words and sayings from books you should not be surprised by a company removing the crucifixion from the Bible because it is offensive. After all the book of Urantia (which I suspect some may be reading) says it was not God’s plan for Jesus.
Brian McLaren endorsed Alan Jones' book, “Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind.” McLaren had this to say: "Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply."
If this is authentic spirituality then the Bible has become obsolete in his view. Jones, an Episcopal priest, holds a a similar view to the outspoken liberal Fosdick.
Jones is the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco that promotes the labyrinth. He is a promoter of inter-spirituality, He is also a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project which is a group of about twenty-five that include Zen and Buddhist monks, New Agers and even Marianne Williamson (who promotes a Course in Miracles, a book that denies almost every authentic Bible teaching of Jesus Christ.)
Jones rejects the Gospel message in no uncertain terms. "The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution [Christ’s death on the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005 p. 168)
"The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it."(ibid. p. 132)
Jones goes on to say, "Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine." Alan Jones, p. 168
The apostle Paul said “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”(1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23). The book of Acts tells us that the apostles preached Christ crucified. Jesus even told us to pick our cross to follow him. McLaren is recommending a book that holds this to scorn. The very core of Christianity is Christ crucified by which we have our salvation.
What we are seeing are men without the Spirit of Christ leading people into an pseudo intellectual - philosophical movement that offers a new spiritual openness in the place of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Without the preaching of the cross it neglects the true spiritual condition and need of mankind. This is not leading people to the truth of their sin by a confrontation of the gospel for salvation but instead offering a substitute without the purpose of God becoming man as Jesus. It is opening the door to thousands to go another way. This new message is integrated in the church to reach the post- modern generation that does not see any one way more valid than another. All this leads to is interfaith - accompanied with universalism.
Brian McLaren, “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat” (A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren, p.254)
The concept of syncretism is offered to have us unite with the various different religions. When we combine two belief systems we are committing spiritual adultery. Paul was greatly encouraged of his new converts “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Jesus wants us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. This means we do not mix other religions practices with our worship.
A Generous Orthodoxy is overly generous as it departs from orthodoxy. It sounds more like “As men approach me, so I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to me. Hinduism” (Bhagavad Gita 4.11)
This takes the foundation of Christianity away. As Christians, we are not to present ourselves as having common ground with other religions, we are supposed to avoid this confusion. We are not to give any impression of our acceptance of these foreign concepts, we are to preach the gospel and contend for the faith with others who openly OPPOSE what we believe. We have every right, even an obligation by the commands in Scripture to challenge other belief systems by God’s word.
In an interview with Christianity Today McLaren said “I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer." "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)
If McLaren does not have the gospel right, then he lacks the power of God which first and foremost brings salvation which gives us the ability to live the Christian life. The whole Christian message is that mankind is sinful, God came to earth as a man to die for our sins, for you personally - to bring us into a relationship with our maker.
So how is it he is so unsure of this? Its all very clearly written down. 1 Pet 1:25 “But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
McLaren questions nearly everything in the Bible so how can one preach the gospel of salvation if they do not know the gospel as the truth and exercise faith in it. The Bible says if we doubt, we are double-minded and will receive nothing. This attitude is not faith but musing of the carnal nature. Then no one can really know if they are saved or anything the Scripture promises for that matter. This is the very opposite of what John wrote in his first epistle, I Jn. 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Having eternal life means going to heaven - Jesus said “I give them eternal life”, we should have the assurance of what He said “where I am they may be also.”
This is not just out of the box thinking but thinking outside the Bible, McLaren is not no longer theologically based but he has become a philosopher; one who is searching for answers instead of one who has found the answer.
Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 2:4-5: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak.”
1 Cor 2:5 “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Rom. 1:16 tells us the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”
Rom. 10:16-17: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith comes by believing the word found in the Bible, not just any “holy” book.
Yet Rob Bell writes in his book Velvet Elvis, that the Bible is a “human product... rather than the product of divine fiat.” (Quote in Christianity Today, Nov. 2004, p. 38.) So how can He receive faith from the word?
Rom. 16:25-26 Paul says the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, has now has been made manifest, by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”
Is this true or not? Those who were saved by the word; “to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
(John 12:38) will agree, but not those who lead the emergent movement.
What they do not understand is Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and His work done for us on the cross.
The Gospel is focused on two specific areas: who Jesus is and what He has done. It is centered on the person and work of Christ for us. The person is the who - which the gospel is focused on-God who came in the flesh
He died for you Col 1:14: “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”
Col 1:23 One day we will stand before the Lord, holy and blameless “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard”
liberalism always leads to inter-spirituality- which is what we are seeing taking place today.
Do not let any man remove you by enticing words and eloquent speech or unusual dictionary words.
Luke 6:43-44: "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. "For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.
How can one bear fruit if you are not in the vine? (Jn.15:1-2).
Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
When you do not have a basic understanding of the gospel as it is presented in the emergent church then you are cannot be saved by it.