“O son of man, I HAVE SET THEE A WATCHMAN unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me… IF THOU DOST NOT SPEAK TO WARN THE WICKED from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND… IF THOU WARN THE WICKED of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but THOU HAST DELIVERED THY SOUL…” – Ezekiel 33:7-15
The Emergent Church Movement is a serious problem for the Christian church. It threatens practically all Christians regardless of denomination. I’ve been a Nazarene all my life, but if you are reading this and are anything but Nazarene, it probably makes no difference. Whether you are Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Calvary Chapel, or one of many other evangelical denominations, chances are you are either facing this danger, or you will be soon. The third horrible option is that you either embrace this heretical ideology, or that you are a Christian who knows of this danger and have even seen it, but you have chosen to ignore the danger or warning signs, and have “stuck your head in the sand.” The Bible speaks of a great falling away in the last days. We certainly have been warned, and false movements and teachings have been with us since the days of the apostles.
Who are these emergents? Very briefly, among most emergents today, you will find: an incorporation of Roman Catholic practices and embracing of books by many heretical mystics; the use of contemplative spirituality (mysticism), including but not limited to, prayer labyrinths, centering prayer, breath prayers, mantra-type prayers, and “practicing the silence”; the embracing of false ideologies such as open theism, process theology; the equating of evolution as being compatible with scripture; an unhealthy over-emphasis on social justice to the diminishing of preaching the plain gospel of salvation; an unbiblical focus on environmental concerns; a belief that after 2,000 years we have not gotten it right. And there’s more, but here is its crowning jewel of “unbelief”: the Bible is NOT the inspired, infallible word of God, therefore man can use his reasoning to come up with different ways to read the Bible, all of which are equally valid (post-modernism, relativism). Woe to to any Christian who dares to stand on the whole truth of scripture, and be ready for ridicule, scorn, and intellectually superior condescension!
I see the battle against this movement playing out in several major fronts. I believe all of these fronts will play a key role in how any denomination will fare in dealing with the emergent church, or any other false movement for that matter. First, and perhaps most critical, there is the university battleground.
At the Christian universities, there are two major concerns I see. I think of the many young students coming into our Christian universities today, and it is painful to think that some of them are probably safer from apostasy and false teaching if they attend a secular school. If a young person goes to a secular university, at least he might have a fighting chance, and have his guard up, because secular schools are not in the habit of touting or upholding high Christian standards, and that’s not what a secular school does or is expected to do. But when a young man attends a Christian school, the natural assumption is that the school will not only state that they have high Christian values and teachings, but that they will consistently teach the student to recognize that which is bad, and will not bring any poison into the school that would mislead such young people who might not be solidly grounded in scripture. At least that is my expectation as a parent of a future student. The proper way to bring in this “poison”, in my opinion, is to bring it in as an example of what to avoid, not as something to embrace.
So I fear for those young people at our Nazarene (and other Christian) universities who are at this very moment being fed, very subtly at times, this poison, while at the same time that school is carrying the name Nazarene high up for all to see. “Hey, its Nazarene, so it must be teaching and defending the same things we learned back home in our local church, right?” Maybe. That is not the case with all of our universities, and I fear that there are students who may, and might have already, walked away from the faith, because of what is happening in some of our universities. And the usual reasoning from the leadership of these schools is, “let’s let them be exposed to everything, and let them decide what is good for them.” Can you see how fraught with danger that is, and do you really want your child to be exposed to anything and anyone out there, without the strong guidance from godly professors who can clearly refute that which is bad, and explain why?
For those of you who are parents of kids who may go to a Christian school someday, would it worry you a little if I told you your child could be in danger of walking away from the faith, giving up because his theology professor told him that Adam and Eve probably were not real, or that the flood account was a myth, or that the creation account was just an allegory? Does it frighten you to think that your child may come home someday and start telling you about his wonderful experience with the prayer labyrinth that is on campus? Or is that just another good old Nazarene practice in the holiness tradition? Would you tolerate it, or would you pick up the phone and call the school to ask what’s going on?
Or maybe he will tell you that he spent 30 minutes each morning doing a mantra-like prayer, just because Tony Campolo said he does it? After all, since he spoke to the kids in chapel, was never confronted (in front of of the students) in anything he said, so everything he says or teaches must be good. Right? Why, your son even likes Campolo’s idea that perhaps the Muslim mystics have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism? (Of course, I never knew of this Christian mysticism as something that we have missed for so many generations, but since Tony Campolo teaches it, it must be okay now.) Right?
Or how about this: your son comes home, and argues with you that perhaps his Hindu friend can go to heaven also, because a professor by the name of Jay McDaniel at Northwest Nazarene gave a lecture where he suggested that it was so, and there was NOT ONE Nazarene professor in that lecture hall that defended biblical truth and refuted him. At least not that I know of, from listening to the whole video, start to finish including questions and answers. Perhaps someone can correct me and show us where he was vigorously refuted for his blatant false teaching to our Nazarene youth. I can tell you right now, it is hard to sit through this thing for any biblically sound Christian.
Perhaps your daughter came home and told you that she learned something new from the local Nazarene pastor near the school; that the bread and wine of communion actually becomes the body and blood of Christ! And what would you think if your child came home and talked about his Ash Wednesday experience, when at evening service, he received the ashes on his forehand from the Nazarene pastor? No problem? Is that okay now in our Nazarene holiness and Wesleyan tradition?
There are more scenarios I can give you, and it is not a joke or laughing matter. What about yearly trips to a monastery to practice the silence and pray and commune with the monks. What about blatant advertising of Roman Catholic churches as options for students, knowing that the RCC teaches a whole list of heretical teachings. We may as well advertise Mormon churches also, and perhaps Jehovah’s Witness churches. What’s the difference? Is not their theology in line with what Nazarenes believe? Have we forgotten about the doctrine of separation? (2 Cor 6:14-18) Are all who proclaim Christ as Savior truly our brothers and sisters in the Lord, in spite of everything else they teach? Are we inching every so slowly down that very wide ecumenical road?
Or how about the selling of books by such false teachers as Brian McLaren, who likened Christ’s death on the cross to “cosmic child abuse.” Or Rob Bell, who does not believe in biblical inerrancy, and who distorts Bible passages, and has no problem sharing a world platform with leaders from many false religions. I recall scripture that commands us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. yet we allow this stuff to be peddled to our vulnerable children in a Christian school? Rest assured, my child will not be caught in such situations when he is ready to go to college. But the good news, is that there are still good alternatives for Christian schools, you just have to do your homework and ask a lot of questions.
I know that for some of you, I am “preaching to the choir.” You know what I am talking about, and you are involved in this fight for the faith as seriously as I am. But if one more “undecided” person out there today realizes that what I am saying here is deadly serious, and God’s Spirit moves that person to action, to cry out to those in authority, that “enough is enough”, I will praise God for that. To Him all the glory if someone else today sees that this is not a phony reality show; rather, it is a true reality show that is being produced by Satan. But I keep wondering every night, and asking God, why are so many still not seeing this? And even worst, why are so many SEEING this and NOT speaking out? I do realize that there are scriptural answers to these questions, but I still ask them.
I almost forgot the second battleground. It’s our local churches of course, where emergent pastors are coming to, after being mass produced at our seminaries and elsewhere, and then being shipped to the local churches to spread the emergent poison ever so subtly and slowly. And many of them follow the Rick Warren model of “let’s just let them either die out, or force them to leave, if they don’t get with the program. Yet it is hard to find one emergent pastor, who proudly proclaims what he truly believes to his congregation. Oh no, that is the danger, friends. They don’t dare shout it out, lest they be exposed immediately. Have you really, really listened carefully like a Berean to your pastor’s sermons lately? You may want to, because an emergent pastor must feed you the poison in very small portions.
The good news is that the faithful pastors who stand true to God’s infallible word are defending their flock. The bad news is, there is no guarantee that they will be replaced someday by someone who actually believes the Bible is totally trustworthy.
Just remember, we are equally responsible to God for our actions or non-actions.
“…Be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. FOR THERE ARE MANY unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: WHOSE MOUTHS MUST BE STOPPED… TEACHING THINGS WHICH THEY OUGHT NOT… This witness is true. WHEREFORE REBUKE THEM SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith…” -Titus 1:9-13