Thursday, February 15, 2007

More misinformation on the emerging church.

As I cruise around the Internet I come across articles

This person claims to be some sort of authority on the emerging church yet once again I come away asking “Who is he talking about?” I can see some reference to one person or another, yet the core issue is that really his point is lost…
I added my comments below his “warning signs”.

The #1 issue I have with this article is the denial that the King has yet to come... thus denying that the mission of Jesus was to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom of God... He claims:

One of the main indicators that something has changed can be seen in the way the future is perceived. Rather than urgently proclaiming the gospel according to the Scriptures and believing the time to do so is short, the emphasis has now shifted. No longer are “signs of the times” significant. The battle cry is very different. A major emphasis among evangelicals is the idea that the world can be radically improved through social programs.
This concept, while on the surface may sound very good, has some serious biblical implications. According to the Scriptures, there will be no kingdom of God until the King arrives. All the human effort man can muster up will fall short of bringing utopia. In fact, according to the Scriptures, fallen man will lead us further down the road to a society of despair and lawlessness just like it was in the days of Noah.

" Luke 4:43: But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." (Jesus' own words as to why He was sent). I think I will adhere to the scripture's actual teaching than to this man's interpretation through his doctrine. This is one of many scriptures that Jesus proclaims the Kingdom... in which the Gospel and Kingdom are interchangeable.

Here are some of the warning signs:
Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

Iggy: The bible teaches that all authority has been given to Christ and that without knowing Jesus we cannot understand the bible… mostly I have found that the bible is held in great respect and is referred to as “authoritative” but it is not “worshiped”.

The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by Humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

Iggy: I have never seen this at all. I have seen that the Gospel has been expanded to a proper biblical understanding, moving away from the “me” centered gospel to the full gospel of the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus and Apostles… this is biblical while the “me” centered gospel falls short of the true story and truth of the fullness of the Gospel in the Scripture.
I see “Humanistic methods promoting church growth” as more true in most modern churches today than the emerging church. I see that the modern church bases much of its understanding on the Platonist/dual/rationalist teachings that the early church fathers stood against and called heresy. Also we are to interact with society and spread the gospel, this means feeding the poor and helping those in need… which are all very biblical teachings.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

Iggy: Part of the “building the Kingdom is a direct command from Jesus Himself and it is so that we are His ambassadors until His return… I am not sure what the author here is against… the Bible's own teachings and Jesus’ commands?

The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.

Iggy: I have never heard that this view is “heretical” I think that there will be a literal reign of Christ and I do believe many if not most look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus “literally”. I think that the author does not realize that to not believe in the Rapture is not the same thing as heresy. Most emerging churches believe in the Resurrection and hope in that. Again, this is in the bible clearly as opposed to pulling out of texts (often by stretching the text far beyond what it is saying) to prove the rapture is true. It is better to believe in what is taught clearly tightly and hold to teaching that are not loosely.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

Iggy: I learned this in almost all the “modern churches” I attended. Yet I find that Israel is most often taught as the pivot point, and that Church is Israel… as the gentile believer is engrafted onto Israel… again, I have no idea where this author got this idea as it is very far from true.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past

Iggy: the preterit view is considered orthodox. I think it is often that the person such as this author has never looked into the history or Ephesus… and the relationship of Emperor Worship and that to even engage in commerce one had to take the number of the beast (Caesar). There is so much coloration between the Emperor worship of the day in which John wrote the book of Revelation that it is easy to see that all has happened already… the point of the book is revealing that Jesus is God and Domitian is not. I hold to the view that though it seems to have been fulfilled, I see the possibility of “near/far” that is through out scripture. That though much has happened; it was a foretelling of what is to come. I think again the author needs to get a grasp of history.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Iggy: again, I see this as often more semantics than the idea promoted by the anti mystic promoters. Though I do not agree with all the ideas of the mystics I see that many were godly men who truly loved Jesus… it is the case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

Iggy: I don’t see this at all… it is more the idea of returning to the core values and belief…

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

Iggy: I guess this person is against teaching history of the church as this is most often the case. He also misses that the one church that is most noted for this was doing it as a response to the local WICCANs who stated that Christianity is not an ancient religion and theirs dated earlier… so to show that is not true, the idea of ancient/future or vintage Christianity was developed.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

Iggy: This is just a blatantly false statement born of ignorance.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Iggy: so candles are of the devil and liturgy like the Lord’s Prayer are wrong? Not to mention experiencing taking communion?

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Iggy: If one is anti Catholic I can understand. Yet, Jesus prayed for unity of the faith… so I wonder why someone fights against Jesus’ prayer for this?

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

Iggy: I think many of us think the reformation did not go far enough. I think we need to constantly go back to the early church fathers and gain from their wisdom… as many walked with the Apostles and learned as disciples from them. I think they have much to tell us if we listen. Also, the author is implying that many Reformed denominations such as the Lutherans are then heretical... again, this man has no grasp of history.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Iggy: Blessed are the peacemakers. As far as other religions I see that yes there are those who do think there is validity, yet many like myself see all religions as what is wrong with the world… even Christianity if it is a “religion”. That is why one must have a relationship with Jesus to transcend religion.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Iggy: this is true of the modern churches I attended for years… even worse this was often done in a manner that harmed the body and often split the church out of the struggle for power. I think that if one is against the direction of the church then they should remove themselves and not stir up divisiveness and contempt, which Paul speaks against. I even just read where one person misused a passage to teach others to throw out unbelievers (emergents) from local churches... so i really see this as a "modern" issue (warning) over a emerging church issue.

In the end I see this person as ill informed as can be. I again acknowledge the emerging church is not perfect and has some major issues to be addressed, but to add false accusations and lies against us does not help matters.

So what is the bottom line and real motive of this person... to make money selling his DVD of misinformation...

the bigger issue is this... if there is a real threat of a "cult" and the research of these "anti emerging church" discernment groups is so poorly done, how can we be sure they are really telling the truth about non Christian religions... How can one tell for sure it Mormons are not really "Christian" if a discernment groups condemns other legitimate Christian groups... how can one tell it there is a real issue with the "word of faith" movement if they can't get the "emerging church" right? If one truly has integrity and is discerning, I think that do discredit with lies and innuendo... and not use true biblical arguments... and if one only uses their own denomination or pet doctrines as "proof" (instead of the Bible), then they are not a legitimate discernment group, but rather a divisive organisation that is doing harm to the Body of Christ. It discredits these groups when they at times may actually be right in an assessment... but a little yeast (lie) works through the whole loaf of bread... it corrupts the dough. (1 Cor 5:6, Matt 16)



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rick said...

Thanks Iggy - as you know, I have issues with the emergent point of view as I understand it from Bolger and Gibbs' "Emergent Churches". BUT - I have even greater issue with the so many venomous writers that (1) don't seem to make any attempt to understand and (2) don't seem to have any first-hand, in context examples of their charges.

So while you and I may have differing conclusions, I highly value your interest in at least talking about the truth in love rather than joining the ranks of those speculating in hate.

iggy said...


The interesting thing is my journey in the emerging church is what lead me to Vineyard.

It seemed that God was grooming me in my "deconstruction" of my faith and as I rebuilt it (not really me rebuilding it), I came in contact with the local Vineyard pastor who as also planting a church... we talked a bit and there seemed so much in common with what Vineyard was doing in the early days and the emerging church is doing now.

Of course certain dynamics are different yet there is a return to a relational model that Vineyard has come to be known for.

Believe me I have almost left certain online groups that were "emerging" because I felt I was the only "christian" there....
Yet, as i speak there many are agreeing with me... and many have emailed me privately about the ones that seem to speak most loudly letting me know they these are not really "emerging" folk. Most of these are Gnostics or some other hybrid... So, if they are in emerging discussion groups, I would imagine them being in emerging churches...

I know the biggest critique against the EC is that we do not believe in truth... yet I find very few that do not... mostly we just do not see that Truth needs a qualifier to be truth... such as "absolute truth". It is more in line with let your yes be yes and your no be no... if truth is anything less than absolute it really is not "truth"... don't you think? Also we hold Truth to be the Person of Jesus... as I stated before on your blog.

Again, I fully acknowledge there are aspects of the EC that I am not comfortable with and that in a way I am working at setting right... and there are many of us. Interestingly some of the people the critics attack the most are doing the most to get things on track... but the critics miss this and assume they are just defacing truth and doctrines without rhyme of reason. I think we need to really look at what we believe and make sure what we hold to is actually truth and not man made... which is what most of the criticism against me is about... they just don't get that I am for sound doctrine and against man made doctrine. But oh well... that's there issue I guess.

Really other than you being a Calvinist, we are not that far apart... (grin). I have really tried to be a Calvinist, but I just don't don't see it as I study... really I have tried! LOL!
I am not a very good Armenian either! It is like the Rapture... the more I studied it the less I found it... and the more question I had... it got frustrating.. so I decided to believe in what I do understand and wait on God for the rest.