It is obvious that many evangelical leaders do not want to be “put on the spot” especially when they are asked to take a position that embarrasses their friends or supporters.
It is obvious that many evangelical leaders do not want to be “put on the spot” especially when they are asked to take a position that embarrasses their friends or supporters. Many evangelical leaders often criticize political cronyism in the political arena but often refuse to deal with religious cronyism when their friends are involved. Many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will not compromise for their enemies but will for their friends!
Too many evangelical leaders preach convictions but practice compromise. They are quick to point out dangerous error in the political arena but are very reluctant to see dangerous error in some of their own connections. On many controversial issues their favorite color is grey. Not black or white. They try to huddle with the hares and hunt with the hounds! Such is the relationship of leading Evangelicals with the Emergent Church.
There is no question that the Emergent Church is a departure from historic Christianity. Their many leaders are unabashed universalists, mystics, and kingdom builders. Leaders make it very clear that they are not too concerned with your final destination as long as your journey is kingdom oriented—and you vote Democrat! As with all movements, there would be some who do not take extremist positions; however, I cannot be rightly accused of distortion, dishonesty, or even disingenuousness. EC leaders are prolific authors and have made their positions clear.
I contacted leading Evangelicals to see where they stand on this clearly unorthodox movement and found it very revealing. I am aware that interdenominational ministries must appeal to all segments of Christians to pay their bills; however, the Scripture is clear that all of us have an obligation to stand for truth and against error. We all make mistakes, take wrong positions from time to time but to remain in error is without excuse. To make errors is really human but to remain in error is really dumb!
Furthermore, all Christians are obligated to contend for the faith and to exhort, rebuke, etc., but when some of us try to carry out such clear commands, we are accused of being haters, heresy hunters, grenade throwers, bigots, etc., and those are the kind things they call us!
I informed many leading evangelical leaders that I was writing a series on the Emergent Church that would go to over 11,000 newspapers, television and radio stations and would appreciate a response so my readers can assess where they stand. I had some surprises.
My first response was from Moody and they were very definite. “Moody Bible Institute does not endorse the emerging/emergent church.” There it is, very precise with no dodging. Moody is to be commended. They went on to say, “Scripture is our sole authoritative source of revelation and insight into the God whom we serve. Therefore, Moody rejects an overemphasis on spiritual experience as a reliable teacher of spiritual truth and on cultural relevance as the highest goal of ministry.”
My response from Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) here in the Chattanooga area was from Diane Hitt who was very kind, helpful, and informed. She said, “Kay has spoken at some conferences where EC people also were although she disagreed with many of them especially leading authors.” She said, “Kay believes, ‘If I don’t go out with the truth how will they hear?’” Diane was informed about some of the leaders and their books along with their false teaching.
I don’t question Kay’s sincerity and good motives to get out the truth; however, it is the same justification Billy Graham has used for 50 years in his yoking up with unbelieving preachers, and I believe all of us must be careful about our associations and ministries we silently approve by our alliances with those in doctrinal error. After all, if we really love those in error are we not obligated to tell them the truth?
I received a message from Ravi Zechariahs’ assistant who wrote, “Ravi has not written or spoken directly on the emergent church. He feels they are asking good questions, but he has concerns over the answers they are providing. I can give you some resources that we have sent to others regarding these topics.” As she continued, she seemed to be uncomfortably straddling a very thin fence. A website she provided was really a defense by the main spokesmen for the Emergent Church! Ravi is known as a Christian apologist and I expected better of him.
Moreover, I disagree about the EC leaders asking “good” questions. I have noted that their questions usually elicit left wing, radical, kingdom building, responses. Furthermore, Zechariah appeared on Robert Schuller’s television program in April 2004 without any caution, correction, or condemnation of Schuller’s many flaky theological errors. It seems Ravi the watchdog has become a lapdog! How tragic.
Chuck Swindoll responded with a pitch for me to spend time on his website. He never responded to my question. I replied to him that he ignored my question as to his stand on the EC. Much later, I received another message from an assistant who said, “The movement does not place proper emphasis on theology, the doctrines of the faith, the great truths that have come down through the centuries.” Then he added, “We are not a party to or participant in the Emergent Church movement.” That is good to know, however Swindoll has recommended “Mother” Teresa, Robert Schuller, and other radical Evangelicals.
Word of Life responded with, “We are not impressed with the emerging nor the emergent church due to the basis on postmodernism.” They recommend D.A. Carson’s book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church .
An assistant at Crystal Cathedral wrote, “The Crystal Cathedral does not hold a stands (sic) on the issue you have brought to our attention. Please know that as we gather for prayer we will pray for you.” Of course, that is religious babble. Robert Schuller has taken a stand on the issue. He is part of the problem! He has compounded his sin of compromise with the sin of lying.
Charles Stanley’s representative told me that Stanley “has not taken a position for or against the EC.” That statement was, if not dishonest, at the least, devious and disingenuous. Stanley has recommend books by EC leaders without disclaimers.
Campus Crusade responded by saying, “We work with all kinds of churches so we would not have a position against any group.” I asked “What about Mormons, JW, etc.?” “Well, no, we don’t work with them.” She told me, “Our ministry is one of evangelism.” However, Christian preachers have far more responsibilities than that. Billy Graham used that on Larry King Live when he said, “My message is one of love.” That is an incomplete and innocuous message to preach. Who could get offended by that?
I did not get a reply from American Family Association (Don Wildmon), Jonathan Falwell, Back to the Bible, Jack Van Impe, Christian Working Woman, Beth Moore, or David Jeremiah.
I received a reply from Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family informing me via his top assistant that Dobson was at a mountain retreat writing a book about rearing girls. I responded to him thusly:
“You are absolutely correct in stating that churches and movements must ‘be measured by its adherence to and reverence for the Scriptures and its fidelity to an historic, orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. Deviance in that regard should always be cause for concern.’ I only wish that other groups would use that as their criteria.
“Using your own criteria, does Dr. Dobson agree with his wife’s assessment of Robert Schuller’s ministry when she said on his television program that he was doing a ‘good work’? Doesn’t Dr. Dobson know Schuller is a universalist? Was her statement only an off-the-cuff remark that most people make especially under the stress of a television or radio show or does she actually believe her statement? If so, does Dr. Dobson believe that?”
Since Schuller does not believe the New Birth is necessary to go to Heaven, how can Dr. Dobson use his endorsements and why would he declare that Schuller’s ‘message is still very Christian in nature’?
“Furthermore does Dr. Dobson agree with his son’s statement that Rod Bell is ‘an exemplary man of God’ in light of the information I have included?” After many weeks, I have not received an answer.
I appreciate those who took a clear stand against the EC and am embarrassed that Christian ministries like Stanley, Dobson, Campus Crusade, Schuller, and others have chosen to huddle with the hares and hunt with the hounds. Each reader will make his or her own assessment as to the reason I received no response from Falwell, Christian Working Woman, Don Wildmon, David Jeremiah, Beth Moore, Van Impe, Back to the Bible and Concerned Women of America. If preachers had courage, character, commitment, and convictions they would provide better examples of biblical obedience to Christian laymen who support such ministries. Their supporters deserve better.
It’s time to decide: Will evangelical leaders huddle with the hares or hunt with the hounds—or attempt to do both? I have tried to be helpful to ministry leaders who are pressed for time to accomplish their tasks, but some are not willing to be helped or are so arrogant that they don’t recognize a need of help.
My philosophy has been “He who is honestly mistaken, when he hears or sees the truth, will either cease to be mistaken, or cease to be honest.” Many leading ministries are on the wrong side of this issue. What a tragedy.