Emergent Church leaders denigrate sin, the savior, and salvation via the cross of Christ. Read with horror the following Emergent leader: “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.) John says of such people that we should not bid them God speed yet many sit under their nefarious teachings. Moreover, those who buy their books, have them preach, or listen to them preach are partakers of their evil deeds according to II John 1:10-11.
Chalke defends his above position thusly: “In my view, the real problem with penal substitution (a theory rooted in violence and retributive notions of justice) is its incompatibility, at least as currently taught and understood, with any authentically Christian understanding of the character of God or genuinely Christocentric worldview — given, for instance, Jesus own non-violent, ‘do not return evil for evil’, approach to life.” He added, “Hence my comment, in The Lost Message of Jesus, about the tragedy of reducing God to a ‘cosmic child abuser’. Though the sheer bluntness of my imagery might shock some, in truth, it is only because it is a stark ‘unmasking’ of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology.” (News from ekklesia, “Evangelicals debate inadequacy of penal substitution,” 7-23-2004.) God is a “child abuser”!
I didn’t know I had been preaching “pre-Christian thinking” all my adult life when I preached Christ crucified! Paul declared in I Cor. 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” If I must choose between Paul and EC leaders, I choose Paul! We must not make the cross a holy horseshoe but we are to be men of the cross with the message of the cross bearing the mark of the cross. Moreover, to call the death of Christ an indication that God is a “child abuser” should awaken, alarm, and anger every genuine Christian. In my opinion, no informed Christian should patronize Christian bookstores that carry books by Emergent leaders.
Brian McLaren praises Chalke’s treatment of the Cross of Christ: “Steve Chalke’s new book could help save Jesus from Christianity. That’s a strange way of putting it, I know. Not that the real Jesus needs saving. But when one contrasts the vital portrait of Jesus painted by Steve with the tense caricature drawn so often by modern Christianity, one can’t help but feeling the ‘Jesus’ of modern Christianity is in trouble. The Jesus introduced by Steve in these pages sounds like someone who can truly save us from our trouble.” (Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, “Brian McLaren: Speaking for Satan,” Quoted on Apprising Ministries’ website.) Evidently, Brian, doesn’t know that Jesus did not come to “save us from our trouble,” but from our sins according to Matthew 1:21.
EC leaders affirm that their various books are based on solid scholarship! You can decide what the books and articles are based on. I think it is the old Gnostic heresy that the early churches had to combat and we are still combating today. At least some of us are.
Gnostics (“knowledge” or “to know”) taught that Christ was not divine, did not have a fleshly body but was a spiritual phantom. Our human bodies are evil so they must be punished, starved, and kept under by asceticism. Other Gnostics said that since the body was evil, (and only the spirit mattered) any kind of immorality was acceptable. Gnostics considered themselves “Cool” since they had knowledge that normal, everyday people did not possess, making them “special” because of their inside information. To learn truth, they had to have spiritual experiences, apart from any authoritative word, so they got that “truth” from mysticism. Sounds as if Greek Gnosticism has emerged into our day.
EC people tell us we are living in changing times that demand a new approach to the Christian life. What worked in the past will not work today (unless it is mysticism, Gnosticism, paganism, etc!). We must change with the times so new questions are asked and new experiences are experienced! Hence, the justification for all the weird practices of the EC. However, Christians are not required to sit around humming, repeating the same word or phrase for long periods, or punishing their bodies to find God’s will. Jesus said in Matt. 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” We can’t trust in various pagan and Roman Catholic practices but in the authoritative Word of God.
EC leader, Alan Jones (an Episcopal priest who does not believe in an “objective authority”) declared that the substitutionary death of Christ to appease an angry God was a “vile doctrine”! He wrote, “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, p. 168.) Jones wrote on page 132, “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.”
It seems the Emergent Church has emerged into paganism. Note that Jones has gone on the offensive dragging around the rotting corpse of Gnosticism with all its decay, noxious odor, and deadly infection; and with it hanging on his back, he calls Bible-believers a “cult”! A cult leader calling Christians a cult! What gall.
Furthermore, the leader of EC, Brian McLaren, recommending Jones’ book writes, “His work stimulates and encourages me deeply”! (McLaren’s recommendation on the back flap of Reimagining Christianity.) Have you noticed how these EC dudes quid quo pro each other’s books? (That’s Latin for “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”) McLaren never saw a heretic he didn’t like!
The following convoluted statement is an example of EC confusion: “Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 146.)
Paul warns about such men in Acts 20:28-30: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
In my opinion, that passage is prophetic of the Emergent Church and their leaders are modern-day Gnostics leading non-thinking, gullible Christians away from light into utter darkness.
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It would appear that you and others who revere HIS WORD and are Watchmen, are voices crying in the wilderness. You are providing knowledge for the ignorant and the misinformed, but the vast majority of our fellow citizens are victims of “My people parish for lack of knowledge”. I really will try to remember to pray for you as your task is enormous and fraught with spiritual and soon physical danger. You are not alone. Our Church, Big Valley Bible Church, Lodi, CA is having a “Watchman on the Wall Bible Conference” next weekend and the “EC” and the “New Age” are the main topics of teaching and discussion. We had a conference on the “Islamic Invasion”, a few weeks ago, and the local mosque is on the other end of the block from our church. There are others out there raising HIS banner and marching as to war.
It wasn’t about a violent act, or repaying violence with violence. It was about a payment for sin that requires blood. This is why God killed an animal to make coats of skins for Adam and Eve. “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. These Emergence Gnostics are clearly perverting God’s word and teaching a false gospel.