Reflections on the Emerging Church - Part 2


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This is part two of a presentation on the Emerging Church. This part examines how postmodernism's philosophy has infected

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Reflections on the Emerging Church - Part 2

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  2. 2. Review of Postmodernism‘s Spiritual Death Spiral Relative Truth Relative Language Loss of Discernment Philosophical Pluralism
  3. 3. The Emerging Church and Postmodernism The Emerging Church says it understands Postmodernism and the despair that its generation feels. It wants to offer something real to those suffering from the bad philosophy that has marched forward since the Renaissance. But, now let‘s look at how the Emerging Church has turned out to be a victim of Postmodernism rather than a victor.
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  5. 5. ―We can‘t know that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; the best we can do is believe. Why? Because to know would mean being certain. But this isn‘t a bad thing: quite the contrary, it is liberating and just‖ -James Smith Who‘s Afraid of Postmodernism
  6. 6. But God‘s Word says… ―for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.‖ (1 Thessalonians 1:5) The term ―conviction‖ is the Greek term ―plerophoria‖ and is found in only three other places in the New Testament (once in Colossians 2:2 and twice in Hebrews: 6:11, 10:22). In all cases, according to Danker‘s Lexicon it means ‗A state of complete certainty‘ (Danker, 2000).
  7. 7. "Certainty is overrated . . . History teaches us that a lot of people thought they were certain and we found out they weren't. . . . When we talk about the word 'faith' and the word 'certainty,' we've got a whole lot of problems there. What do we mean by 'certainty'? . . . Certainty can be dangerous. What we need is a proper confidence that's always seeking the truth and that's seeking to live in the way God wants us to live, but that also has the proper degree of self-critical and self-questioning passion.‖ - Brian McLaren
  8. 8. But God‘s Word says… ―These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. ‖ (1 John 5:13) ―So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? ‖ (Galatians 4:16)
  9. 9. ―She [Karen Ward] affirmed the physical resurrection of Christ but added "It's okay if you don't want to believe it." This was rather shocking since the physical resurrection of Christ is one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and it is absolutely not okay if someone doesn't want to believe it. Ignorance is one thing; denial is another. So, I politely told her that it was an essential doctrine taught in the Bible and that you can't be a Christian if you openly deny it. She said that "The Church gave us the Bible and the Bible was written by men." I'm sure she saw my eyebrows shoot up at this point since that is a typical comment given by people who don't believe in the inspiration of Scripture. I told her that the church didn't give us the Bible. The Church recognized the inspired word of God, that the Bible tells us what is and is not essential in Christianity, and the physical resurrection was not an optional belief. I told her a person could not be a Christian if he denied it. Karen said, "The self-righteous won't inherit the kingdom of God." She then turned away and walked off.‖ - Christian Apologetics Research Ministry interview with Karen Ward
  10. 10. But God‘s Word says… ―But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. ‖ (1 Corinthians 15:13–18)
  11. 11. But God‘s Word says… ―But what does it say? ―The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart‖—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.‖ (Romans 10:8–10)
  12. 12. ―A move away from intellectual Christianity is essential. We must move to the mystical." – Spencer Burke
  13. 13. But God‘s Word says… ―And He said to him, ― ‗You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.‘ ‖ (Matthew 22:37) ―And according to Paul‘s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead‖ (Acts 17:2–3) "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ‖ (Acts 9:22). Paul’s evangelistic engagements with the Jews resulted in them being “confounded” (from syncheō – literally ‘pour together’ or trouble the mind), because the Apostle was ‘proving’ the Messiahship of Jesus – a word (symbibazō) that means to draw a conclusion in the face of evidence or to present a logical conclusion
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  15. 15. "The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can't be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not." -Rob Bell Velvet Elvis, p. 32
  16. 16. But God‘s Word says… "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Cor. 2:12-14). Paul makes a very fascinating point above with respect to the infinite God and language: with the help of the Spirit, one is able to translate spiritual thoughts into language and words that are capable of accurately representing the thoughts of God, and which may be communicated and understood by finite human beings.
  17. 17. ―The Bible is still in the center for us‖, Rob says, ―but it‘s a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it.‖ ―I grew up thinking that we‘ve figured out the Bible,‖ Kristen says, ―that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet, I feel like life is big again – like life used to be black and white, and now it‘s in color.‖ -Interview in Christianity Today Rob & Kristen Bell
  18. 18. ―Eric Barger, one of Christendom's leading defenders of the faith, told me recently about a worship service in the Seattle area that featured Brian McLaren, the leader of the apostate Emergent Church Movement. McLaren challenged the Church's traditional interpretation of John 3:16 as applying to personal salvation. Instead, he applied it to the earth, arguing that when it says, "God so loved the world," that it was talking about the cosmos and the environment! His altar call consisted of inviting people to come forward and stick their hands in barrels of dirt and make a commitment to save the planet.‖ - Dave Reagan
  19. 19. But God‘s Word says… ―For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ―This is My beloved Son with whom I am well- pleased‖— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. ‖ (2 Peter 1:17–19) Peter says that the words written in Scripture are more reliable than even our own first-hand experiences
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  21. 21. ―Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us." That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren't sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.‖ - Brian McLaren
  22. 22. But God‘s Word says… ―Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. ‖ (Romans 1:24–27) ―Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. ‖ (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)
  23. 23. P-E-R-S-P-I-C-U-I-T-Y Latin perspicuus: ‘transparent’ Plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation
  24. 24. ―If someone were to ask me whether the Bible teaches that Jesus went to Capernaum, I would say yes, it does. I would not be in agony over the question. It is not the most important question, but it is clear. If someone were to ask if the apostle Paul taught that homosexual behavior (both male and female forms) is the dead end result of idolatry, I would say yes again. No agony in the exegesis whatever. There is only agony if you are lusting after respect from the world, which they will not give to you unless you are busy making plenty of room for their lusts. And that is what the emergent movement is doing‖ - Doug Wilson
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  26. 26. ―John is the ultimate unifier and integrator of two religious systems that have nothing in common; the Jews and the Greeks…So here‘s what‘s so stunning: at a time when it was unthinkable to try and unify religions, John is basically saying your religion totally valid…I love it…I‘m even using your language…and your religion…I love it…it‘s beautiful, totally valid, but I just want you both to know that there‘s something bigger than what you‘ve got. So these…these external things…religion is about making these distinctions…and guess what? That isn‘t a bad thing. Having a distinct religious identity marked by some boundaries, knowing how you‘re different from other religions isn‘t a problem. John isn‘t trying to get rid of that, he‘s trying to point beyond it. Keep it, but move beyond it.‖ - Shane Hipps, co-teacher with Rob Bell, Mars Hill
  27. 27. "John Shepherd, the dean of St. George's Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, invited the abbot of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery to preach at the service, which was a Eucharist -- the central Christian sacrament. The abbot accepted in full knowledge of this. Aboriginal dancers led the procession into the cathedral and later led the offertory procession to the altar. During communion, representatives of the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Baha'i faiths read passages from their sacred writings, and after communion an aboriginal leader offered a dream-time reflection. Was this Christian? The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is 'Of course'" - Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity
  28. 28. But God‘s Word says… ―Elijah came near to all the people and said, ―How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.‖ But the people did not answer him a word.‖ (1 Kings 18:21) ―Jesus said to him, ―I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ‖ (John 14:6) ―And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.‖ (Acts 4:12)
  29. 29. ―The emergent church is the latest version of liberalism. The only difference is that old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity.‖ Mark Driscoll
  30. 30. In their book 20th-Century Theology, Grenz and Olson, no rabid fundamentalists they, describe classic liberalism in five points: 1. Liberals believe doctrine needs to develop to meet the needs of contemporary thought. 2. Liberals emphasize the need to reconstruct traditional beliefs and reject the authority of tradition and church hierarchy. 3. Liberals focus on the practical and ethical dimensions of Christianity. 4. Liberals seek to base theology on something other than the absolute authority of the Bible. 5. Liberals drift toward divine immanence at the expense of transcendence.
  31. 31. ―Christ and Buddha are not antithetical‖ - Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity
  32. 32. But God‘s Word says… ―What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?‖ (2 Corinthians 6:15) Buddha‘s teachings in some areas of morality may be similar to Christ‘s, however his foundational teachings were not. Buddhism is basically atheism; there is no God. Man‘s problem is not sin in Buddhism, but desire. Salvation is by works in Buddhism, but grace in Christianity. The end goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, which means extinction.
  33. 33. "I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it's not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many "Christian" religious contexts, either.― - Brian McLaren
  34. 34. But God‘s Word says… ―What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.‖ (1 Corinthians 10:19–21) Hindu god Ganesha
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  36. 36. How the Emerging Church‘s Positions are Self-Defeating • The Claim of Relativism: “We cannot know absolute truth.” • Self-Refutation: We know that we cannot know absolute truth. • The Claim of Pluralism: “No view is exclusively true.” • Self-Refutation: It claims that its view (that no view is exclusively true) is exclusively true. • The Claim of Anti-Objectivism: “There are no objectively true statements.” • Self-Refutation: It is an objectively true statement that there are no objectively true statements. • The Claim of Conventionalism: “There is no objective meaning.” • The Self-Refutation: It is objectively meaningful to assert that there is no objective meaning. • The Claim of Agnosticism: “Knowledge is a luxury beyond our means.” • The Self-Refutation: We have the luxury of knowing that we can’t have the luxury of knowing.
  37. 37. How the Emerging Church‘s Positions are Self-Defeating • The Claim of Relative Doctrine: “We should not insist on being right about doctrine.” • The Self-Refutation: We insist on being right in our doctrine that we should not insist on being right in our doctrine. • The Claim of Anti-Propositionalism: “Our view of the Christian faith must not be fixed on propositional truth (doctrine).” • The Self-Refutation: We must be fixed on the propositional truth that we should not be fixed on propositional truth. • The Claim of Fideism: “There are no reasons for what we believe.” • Self-Refutation: There are good reasons for believing there are no good reasons for what we believe.
  38. 38. So is the Emerging Church a Victim of Postmodernism? • Does it embrace relative truth…? Yes. • Does it embrace relative language…? Yes. • Has it lost spiritual discernment… Yes. • Has it embraced philosophical pluralism…? Yes.
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  40. 40. Some Litmus Tests for ―Emergent‖ Behavior i. Rejection of the clarity of Scripture ii. Re/misinterpretation of Scripture iii. Dismissal of doctrinal priority iv.Rejection of the exclusivity of the Gospel v. Embracing of Mystery over knowledge vi.Emphasis on feelings over absolutes vii.An immersion into the postmodern culture rather than a separation from it viii.No talk of God‘s judgment
  41. 41. ―If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.‖ - Augustine
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