“Christian” leaders that appeared on the church platforms of Saddleback, Willow Creek, Crystal Cathedral and other mega churches told us that a “big shift” was coming in Christianity and it has. This shift has been from following the written word of God to following mystical beliefs. This will eventually split the Evangelicals and their largest denomination.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and other Evangelicals are slowly but surely being led by the seeker friendly gurus toward embracing the postmodern relativistic mystical concepts and leaders of the Emergent Church Movement.
This danger is greater than the division in the ranks of the SBC some years ago when liberals had unduly influenced the SBC leadership. It then took Adrian Rogers and some other conservative leaders to save the denomination from the abyss. This time the division is more insidious because the deception is coming from once strong conservative Bible believing churches that suddenly and subtly are now shifting to conform to the views of the postmodern emergent “Christians” that believe that truth is relative and Eastern and Roman Catholic religious mysticism is knowledge that should be acquired by Evangelicals.
You cannot argue from the scripture with postmodern people because their thoughts and feelings and human rationalizations trump any sound doctrine arguments. In other words, they are the final authority on God or at least humans are. They have in effect made man God because only man can determine what is good and evil. They have fallen into the big lie and the trap of a Devil that they do not even believe in. The concept of any Devil or Hell is not rational to the emergent church. It is just primitive and harmful folklore.
Scripture is no longer the final authority for faith and practice to most that lead the Emergent Movement, and that is why true Christians will have to separate from them. The situation we find ourselves in within the Evangelical Movement happened before on a smaller scale in the Jesus Movement of the 70’s and it will have a similar outcome.
The Jesus Movement was big and growing in California but some wanted esoteric mystical experiences in the services more than the teaching of sound doctrine. The Calvary Chapel Jesus movement split when Chuck Smith insisted that teaching doctrine, the written word of God, be the main focus of their services and not esoteric claims and mystical experiences. Those that disagreed with Smith split off to form the Vineyard movement that became led by John Wimber. The Vineyards are hyper Charismatic/Pentecostal churches and much like Word of Faith churches they went off into esoteric mystical fairyland and produced, laughing, prosperity and healing circuses. TV also spread hyper-Pentecostalism to other Pentecostal denominations. I guess the umbrella name for these hyper-Pentecostals today (if there is one) is now known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Without sound doctrine to guide them, they just get crazier all the time. On the other hand, the Calvary Chapel movement continued to teach through the Bible and most are still very solid biblical churches.
I think there will be a separation from the emergents as well, because once they departed from the word of God, there is no common foundation to stand on. I can’t stand on someone’s feelings, or on the teachings of men who use scripture as only a tool to teach philosophies that came from subjective contemplation and feelings originating in their own mind.
Unfortunately Bible believers are not going to be able to just educate or eradicate the emergents out of the evangelical movement because postmodern relativism has become firmly established; it has gone on too long. Very popular seeker-friendly gurus like Rick Warren, Bill Hybells etc, are endorsing emergent leaders. They are also joining with the NAR leaders.
What the emergents and the NAR have in common is postmodernism, postmillennialism, Dominion Theology and mysticism. They have different views of just how the Church takes over the world for God, but emergents almost all agree that Christendom must unite and take the world for Christ. Depending on the point of view of those that bought into this Dominion Theology, that either means they will once again join with the Roman Catholics, or they will be taking over the Roman Catholic system. That is why some emergent churches have incorporated Roman Catholic type rituals and its mysticism and some even push the writings of Catholic mystics. On the other hand, the NAR disciples think their anointed elite will usurp the Vatican and all leadership within Christendom. All will bow their knee to the anointed spiritual elite and that is how they will unite the Church and the world. They plan on doing it through signs, wonders and conquest (fat chance).
Emergents have already taken over many of our Bible colleges and seminaries and they are now pumping out young ministers made in the emergent image. I would venture to say that most of the young pastor/teachers coming out of Christian schools today are buying into at least some of the writings of emergent church leaders. Any small church getting a pastor today right out of Bible school will probably get someone who leans toward emergent teaching. I would also venture to say that any large church probably already has one or more emergent clerics or lay leaders subverting the church from within. Once solid Bible teaching churches and head pastors have shown little discernment about the Emergent Church Movement. Many seem to now care only about numbers and being relevant to a postmodern generation, or perhaps they are deceived themselves and have actually converted to the emergent philosophy.
For example: there is the case of Dr. Ed Young who endorsed the teachings of Gary Thomas and even hired him as a leader in his mega church. Here is an excerpt about this from Apprising Ministries (links within were removed).
Gary Thomas’ main point of teaching right now, while promoting his latest book Thirsting for God: Spiritual Refreshment for the Sacred Journey, is encouraging people to read what he calls the “Christian classics.” He’ll tell you himself that these include, for example, the emotionally troubled Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila and her disciple John of the Cross. So Thomas has clearly set aside the Protestant Reformers’ assessments of these Roman Catholic mystics; but remember, Teresa and John were living at the same time as were these Reformers. And also keep in mind that they were actually active in the Counter Reformation movement within the RCC.
In fact, precisely in answer to mystics like these, the Protestant Reformers rightly emphasized that the proper way to approach Christian spirituality was to meet God in His Word, the Bible, one of His prescribed means of grace. However, in order to teach his mystic mythology Thomas has to set aside sola Scriptura along with these apostate Roman Catholic nuns and monks; they don’t mix. You really need to understand that this is all vivid evidence of an egregious infection of epidemic proportions because it quite accurately represents the views of more and more younger evangelicals.
Not only that, but from years of using marred materials from teachers in the Emerging Church, this also serves to further illustrate the awful effects Emergent philosophy is now having within the mainstream of the evangelical community. Sadly, desperate for numbers circa 2000 foolish leaders within once conservative evangelical churches would end up using their own young as spiritual guinea pigs in “alternative” worship services and quite literally bring wolves into Young Adult and Youth ministry sheep pens. And the first thing los lobos did was to separate them away from trust in Holy Scripture.
Bottom line: If Roman Catholic mysticism is now being promoted and recommended so openly in megachurches like 2ndBC and Saddleback Church within the SBC, then we really have a huge problem.