The following are very short groupings of quotes by some of the more high profile emergent church leaders. It is far from comprehensive, and I suggest you followup with additional research, at such sources as Lighthouse Trails Research, and Apprising Ministries.
[This list currently highlights: Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, Dallas Willard, Rick Warren). Other leaders listed after, have or will have links to articles on them.
Known by many as the godfather of the emergent church movement, Brian McLaren has authored such book titles as: “Everything Must Change”, “The Secret Message of Jesus”, “A Generous Orthodoxy”, and “A New Kind of Christian”.
McLaren was listed in Time Magazine’s Top 25 Evangelicals in America. Yet, there are several definitive statements that he has made which leads many to question whether he is a Christian at all. McLaren is very popular on college campuses, and in 2007 he held a seminar at Northwest Nazarene University as part of his “Everything Must Change” tour. It turned out to be a very controversial seminar which is described by Eric Barger on the DVD in this packet called “Emergent Church: Clear and Present Danger”. He, like most emergents, questions the authority of scripture and has made statements that undermine several essential doctrinal truths, including the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the existence of a real hell, and the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation.
ON AN UNDERSTANDING OF HELL:
“Tony [Campolo] and I might disagree on the details, but I think we are both trying to find an alternative to both traditional Universalism and the narrow, exclusivist understanding of hell [that unless you explicitly accept and follow Jesus, you are excluded from eternal life with God and destined for hell].”
ON DETERMINING WHAT IS TRUE:
“How do you know if something is true?…First, you engage in spiritual practices like prayer, Bible reading, forgiveness, and service. Then you see what happens; you remain open to experience. Finally, you report your experience to others in the field of spirituality for their discernment, to see if they confirm your findings or not.”
ON ORIGINAL SIN:
“The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.”
ON WHO IS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS:
“I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.”
ON WHO GOES TO HEAVEN:
“This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.”
Rob Bell is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Church (not to be confused with Mark Driscoll’s church). He is author of such books as the very popular Velvet Elvis, and the creator of a popular series of videos geared especially for youth, called NOOMA. He is very popular with youth, and therefore is of great concern because of young impressionable minds which are not necessarily mature in their knowledge of the scriptures. Many of his NOOMA videos tend to twist scripture and casts doubts on the reliability of scripture.
WHOSE FAITH SHOULD WE PUT OUR TRUST IN?
(Regarding when Peter tries to walk on water to Jesus) “Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing…. They don’t realize what they are capable of….God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me….God has faith in me.”
ON THE WORD OF GOD:
The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not.
“the Bible is a product of human work, not divine fiat”.
ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL:
Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust.
“When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, despair, loneliness, death, slaughter-they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now. I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth.”
ON THE RELIABILITY OF SCRIPTURE:
This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true.
Tony Jones is a youth leader and resident theologian at Solomon’s Porch, whose pastor is Doug Pagitt, another original emergent leader. Tony Jones is just like most of the major emergent leaders, 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.
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.
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.”
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…
(William Bennett discusses Tony Jones- 13 min)
If there is one person who could be considered the “father” of the present evangelical “spiritual formation” movement, that person is Richard Foster. And in spite of the non-biblical, mystical-promoting foundation of the spiritual formation movement, Foster continues to be touted, promoted, and looked up to by evangelical leaders, pastors, and professors. (Lighthouse Trails Research)
Just one of his books, his very popular “Celebration of Discipline”, is riddled with errors, such as: faulty views on the subjective leading of God (pp. 10, 16-17, 18, 50, 95, 98, 108-109, 128, 139-140, 149-150, 162, 167, 182); approval of New Age teachers (see Thomas Merton below); occultic use of imagination (pp. 25-26, 40-43, 163, 198); open theism (p. 35); misunderstanding of the will of God in prayer (p. 37); promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts (pp. 108, 165, 168-169, 171, 193); endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); misunderstanding of the Old Testament Law for today (pp. 82, 87); mystical journaling (p. 108); embracing pop-psychology (pp. 113-120); promoting Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185); and affirming of aberrant charismatic practices (pp. 158-174, 198). (Pastor Ken Silva, Apprising Ministries)
In “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home”.
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance…. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection.
“At the outset I need to give a word of warning, a little like the warning labels on medicine bottles. Contemplative prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer…”
“You’ve heard me say many times that the greatest thing you can do with your life is tell somebody about Jesus … if you help somebody secure their eternal destiny, that they spend the rest of their life in Heaven not Hell …your life counts, your life matters because nothing matters more than helping get a person and their eternal destiny settled. They will be forever eternally grateful….And I’ve always said that that was the greatest thing you can do with your life. I was wrong. There is one thing you can do greater than share Jesus Christ with somebody, and it is help start a church.”
“I’m not talking about a religion this morning. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish – or you may have no religion at all. I’m not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion.”-Rick Warren, 2005, United Nations interfaith prayer breakfast
Rick Warren and The Emerging Church (Lighthouse Trails Research)
UCLA professor, proponent of contemplative spirituality.
“What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say ‘he can’t save them.’ I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”
Tony Campolo has been a frequent speaker at various Nazarene universities, which should be troubling.
Tony Campolo has authored 28 books, his most recent is Revolution and Renewal: How Churches Are Saving Our Cities. He speaks hundreds of times a year to crowds of high school and universities, conferences and retreats all over the country.
In “Speaking My Mind” , Campolo says mysticism [contemplative prayer] is the “common ground” between Christianity and Islam
I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics… What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?”
Campolo’s most obvious base for errors is the The “kingdom now” theology he upholds and many charismatics hold to. According to his thinking, Campolo places the Bible promises for a future earthly kingdom right now in this world. Campolo challenges Christians to go into the world and to transform society. While this may come from the result of a changed life, to change the surroundings of where one works is not the mandate for Christians.
In a television interview with Charlie Rose, January 24, 1997, speaking in the context of a Buddhist monk’s claim to know Jesus Christ, Campolo says, “I am saying that there is no salvation apart from Jesus, that’s my evangelical mindset. However, I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.”
‘Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who is saved by Him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving,’
Other Notable Teachers/Authors/Organizations That Should Make You Very Concerned
Doug Pagitt pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minnesota, promotes “Christian” yoga
Phyllis Tickle: Who Is Phyllis Tickle? It’s Not If Sola Scriptura Ends But When
Donald Miller (Book: Blue Like Jazz)
Neal Donald Walsch (New Age Author) (Book: Conversations With God)
Alan Jones (Book: Reimagining Christianity) Believes the Cross of Jesus Christ is a vile doctrine!
Dan Kimball and the Emerging Church
Brennan Manning and contemplative prayer
Beth Moore gives thumbs up to Be Still DVD
Eugene Peterson, the Message and Contemplative Prayer
Leonard Sweet Quantum Spirituality and Christ Consciousness
William Paul Young (author of The Shack) See Review from gotquestions
Ken Wilbur New Age Meditation Proponent
Marianne Williamson (A Course in Miracles- promoted heavily by Oprah)
Mark Yaconelli and his Youth Spirituality Project
Ruth Haley Barton and Contemplative Prayer
Tilden Edwards and the Shalem Prayer Institute
Henri Nouwen (Roman Catholic monk, mystic; universalist)
Thomas Merton ((Roman Catholic contemplative, mystic, panentheist)
Thomas Keating (co-father of the modern day contemplative movement)
Basil Pennington (contemplative who has written major books promoting it)
Sue Monk Kidd (former Baptist Sunday School teacher; now worships the Goddess)