This is the second installment of “profiles in emergent”, and this week it is youth speaker Tony Jones. As mentioned before, this will not be extensive, but serves as some brief highlights of his theology and some of his more “interesting” quotes, some of which are heretical in nature.
I encourage you to do more research and find out more information on Tony’s theology and involvement with mystical practices.
(I have an earlier post regarding his rejection of the doctrine of original sin- just check the Tony Jones category)
Tony Jones is a big name when it comes to the Emergent church. He is one of the so-called originals in the movement. He is a well-known youth speaker who also founded the Emergent Village, which is like an organized version of the Emergent church. Our previous emergent celebrity, Brian McLaren, was also a co-founder of Emergent Village. Tony is also the resident theologian at Solomon’s Porch, Doug Pagitt’s church. Doug is also a top high priest of the movement who is into “Christian” yoga, and will earn his own profile here soon.
Some of Tony’s books are: The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier; An Emergent Manifesto of Hope; The Sacred Way.
Tony openly acknowledges in The Sacred Way his fascination with mysticism. He has written chapters on labyrinths, stations of the cross, the silence, centering (mantric) prayer, and much more.
This from Lighthouse Trails Research:
In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, he takes it to the next level. The thesis of that book could be described as:
The Kingdom of God is already here on earth, includes all people, all faiths, and in fact is in all people and all of creation and can be felt or realized through mysticism which connects everything together as ONE.
Those who have come to understand mantra meditation know that the usual outcome of going into altered states is a new spiritual consciousness that is open to both panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all religions lead to God).
Jones emphasizes the role philosophy and reasoning must play in determining whether the Bible is true and God is real.
And this from thinkerup.blogspot.com:
- “In neither of his two books, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality And Contemplative Practices In Youth Ministry (2003) and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (2005), does Jones present the Gospel.
- Like so many leaders in the Emergent Church, his personal testimony is not of being a convicted sinner without hope before the all Holy God and in that conviction coming to Christ as the only Savior. Rather, in Chapter 1, “The Quest for God”, Jones’ testimony shows that in 2005 he is still fumbling in the darkness of unbelief, quote:
“[Some of us] have this nagging feeling that God is following us around, nudging us to live justly, and expecting us to talk to him every once in a while…Every time I leave God’s side, as it were, it’s not too long until I feel God tagging right along beside me, I can’t seem to shake him. Yet having this sense of God’s company doesn’t necessarily translate to a meaningful spiritual life. I know this because despite my awareness of God’s presence, I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what to do about it”.
So here are some more sample quotes from Tony Jones (youth leader, remember). Take some time to read through and let me know if you agree with me that Tony Jones is, like Brian McLaren, a false teacher:
ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE
“For the conservative, the sacred text of Christianity is indubitable, established by an internal and circular reasoning: “The Bible claims to be God’s truth, so therefore it’s true.”
“I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.”
ON ABSOLUTE TRUTH
“Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, ‘What’s this dinner party’s position on absolute truth?’ No, you don’t, because it’s a non-sensical question.”
ON THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN
“When I was growing up in a moderate, centrist church — somewhere between mainline Christianity and evangelicalism– Original Sin was a given. I first learned about it in youth group, and we regularly talked about it. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we talked about a life with Christ, and the notion of Original Sin was in the background. It was assumed. And I cannot remember that it was ever debated.
In other words, I assumed that the doctrine of Original Sin was a biblical notion, and that all Christians accepted it as gospel truth. Of course, neither is true.” (from Tony’s blog)
ON WHAT IT IS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
“For years I’d been told that to be a Christian meant I had to do three things: (1) read the Bible, (2) pray, and (3) go to church. But I had come to the realization that there must be something more. And indeed there is. There is a long tradition of searching among the followers of Jesus — it’s a quest, really, for ways to connect with God…The quest is to know Jesus better, to follow him more closely, to become — in some mysterious way — wrapped into his presence. And I thank God that some of these brilliant and spiritual persons wrote down what they learned”. (The Sacred Way, p16-17)
No testimony of any kind followed or went before this, about conviction and repentance from sin.
Essentially, Tony Jones is just like most of the major emergent leaders, as well as the majority of their misguided followers, and rejects an essential foundation on which Christians stand:
He does not believe in the absolute authority and reliability of scripture, or in its inerrancy; rather, he believes in a Bible that is flexible and can change meaning based on one’s cultural influences and setting. This in and of itself is all I need to know. Again, this theology is prevalent amongst those such as Brian McLaren and other major influential emergents, meaning most of those who follow them tend to believe the same thing.
His dabbling with mysticism is also unbiblical. There is nothing in the Bible that supports the practices of prayer labyrinths and any of the other contemplative practices. They may have been done for hundreds of years as a tradition, but it still does not make them biblical! One of their biggest excuses for practices that encourage “the silence” is Psalm 46:10, which is completely taken out of context by contemplatives.
I have several suggestions regarding Tony Jones:
1. Please pray for him to repent from his rejection of biblical truth.
2. Pray for the youth who hear his messages and read his books, that they may not be deceived.
3. Pray that Christian universities and churches will stop inviting him to speak!
4. Speak out against his teachings whenever you get the chance. The Bible commands us to do this. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Sadly, he has spoken at at least one Nazarene university that I am aware of, including at student chapels. He spoke at a Youth Ministry Conference at Mid America Nazarene University, co-sponsored, sadly, by Nazarene Theological Seminary. He also spoke at a student chapel in September of 2007 at MNU.
I pray that this and other universities acquire more discernment and not allow Mr. Jones any more future speaking opportunities to spread his heretical views. Perhaps they were simply mistaken and did not know what his theology was about, but would they not find out what the person is about before inviting them? In any case, sorry to be harsh, but sometimes, that is required. A lot of you know me by now, and so far, no has been able to show me that I am not biblically justified in “judging” Tony Jones and others. I am not doing this for any reason but to do what is commanded to ALL of us in scripture:
- Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
- 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
- Titus 1:9-2:1 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. . . . Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.
Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt talking about the Emergent Church. Watch as they say nothing about nothing. It’s all about them.
Part 1, Eric Barger on What Is The Emergent Church?: an excerpt from his DVD.