THE EMERGENT CHURCH MOVEMENT, Part IV
THE LEADING VOICES AND HOW SHOULD WE ADDRESS THEM
January 31, 2010
In the last three articles I have introduced you to an extremely popular movement in church growth circles and the Postmodernist world as a whole. It's called the Emergent Church. In a phrase, this is the increasingly popular way of making the church relevant in this world. It is really a "whatever it takes" approach to doing church.
The end result is a watered-down gospel (actually the gospel is not even recognized in its teachings) and reshaping theology to suit the demands of culture.
In this week's article I want to introduce you to the leading adherents and teachers of the Emergent Church Movement. Following the introductions I would like to offer an Biblical alternative to their teachings and present a proper way for the Church to be the Light of the World. Here are the major players in the Emergent Church:
As you may have noted, most of these Emergent leaders are professors in major Bible Colleges and Seminaries around the country. They have published many books and articles on the subject and a large number of popular preachers have bought into the system. Among them are Joel Osteen (who rarely preaches from the Gospels and never mentions the word "sin," and Robert Schuler. Schuler has been preaching a water-down gospel since the early seventies and is seen as the Father of the Emergent Church Movement in practice!
There are other preachers and church leaders who fall dangerously close to aligning with the Emergent Church Movement and you will know their names: Rick Warren (who is on record as saying that "there is no place for expository preaching in discipleship and evangelism, so we don't do it."), and Bill Hybels of the Willow Church in South Barrington, IL. Osteen's Church is Lakewood Church in Houston, TX and is considered the largest with over 38,000 active attendees each week, while Warren and Hybels have the third and fourth largest church in America totaling over 55,000 worshipers weekly.
But how does one respond to these most popular teachers and preachers who have energized a movement which is considered the most successful church "revival" in the last 200 years? What do the Scriptures say and what is the true responsibility of the Christian in this utterly secular culture?
First of all, the Bible's teachings are in contrast to the emergent approach to witness and ministry. This can be seen, for example, in the Bible’s insistence that the world is in darkness.
“And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” – Acts 26:15-20
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:8
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” – John 4:23
“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” – John 8:31-32
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” – Romans 13:12-13
“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” – Ephesians 5:3-13
“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” – Acts 2:38
“And after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” – Acts 16:30-32
“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” – 2 John 9-11
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
And I will welcome you.
And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’
Says the Lord Almighty’” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
Many years ago, while vacationing in the mountains of Vermont, my wife and I found ourselves on a rough path in the woods with no flashlight and not enough time to get back to the road before nightfall. A pair of helpful young men joined us on the path, going before us with their flashlights. They were not ashamed of the fact that they had light which we did not, nor were they timid in showing us the way. Thankfully, they did not extinguish their lights in a misguided effort to avoid embarrassing us or to identify with our condition. Being the light of the world requires us to be unashamed of the gospel and bold in our witness. Others’ lives depend on our faithfulness to these principles.
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