The Emergent Church
(or the “emerging Church”, just what is it?)
MattS AMTM December 2018 Part 17 (heresy and false teachings)
As promised from the AMTM audio program that Tony and I did Warning on the New Apostolic Reformation, Dominionism and the Emergent Church, I am going to provide a basic outline of the “Emergent” or “Emerging Church” movement, and follow up with a series of articles that give greater detail on some of the issues, and false teachings that are arising.
It seems that the “Emergent Church” in some ways is less well known than the NAR movement, however, it is my opinion that the “Emergent Church” have more dangerous, subtle, more easily digested forms of false teachings and false doctrines. In this article I will give a brief overview of the “Emergent Church” as it is a such a huge area to cover in a few pages. As mentioned, I will go into more of the false teachings and personalities involved in this movement in later articles.
The “Emergent Church” is probably much larger and less well defined than NAR, and from the research I have done so far, I could easily write a 500 page book on the “Emergent Church” and still have only exposed the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
So, for the scope of this article I will focus on just the prominent hallmarks, traits and ideas that define this movement.
What is the Emergent Church?
I’m assuming that most of you will be familiar with many of the teachings and practices of the Emergent Church, even if you are unfamiliar with the name. If not, by the time I have concluded this series, you will be.
Let’s look at what the word emergent means; one definition is “in the process of coming into being or becoming prominent“. The word emerging is similar in that it means; “move out of or away from something, become apparent or prominent“. This definition will become more “apparent” as you read more of this article.
From my own observations the “Emergent Church” is hard to define, it is somewhat slippery, mercurial and much less evident than the NAR movement. The inability to define this church movement may well be a key hallmark (more on this later). Because of the nature of the “Emergent Church”, and the vast array of hugely diverse beliefs it incorporates, I will focus on a some of the more commonly held beliefs embraced by many in this movement.
This is not a wholly accurate comparison butif you were to compare the “Emergent Church” with the “NAR” movement, the “Emergent Church” would probably be defined as the Liberals , Democrats or Progressives. “NAR” would be defined as more Conservative, Structured and Religious. NAR does have components of progressive/liberal thinking, as does the “Emergent Church” have religious practices, but they do operate on different aspects of the left/right paradigm, with some commonalities between them.
With my research into the “Emergent Church”, I am yet again astounded by the ability of humans to make things so very complicated, and am very grateful to God for giving us His Son and the Bible to keep things simple.
One of the ideas that is seen as defining the “Emergent Church”, is having a “conversation”, or engaging in dialogue, talking about things, discussing things, being relational, telling stories etc. The “Emergent Church” sees itself as diverse and tolerant, adapting to the needs of current culture. It sees itself as “post modern“, extending beyond the traditional Church movements. In some ways the “Emergent Church” is at odds with the NAR movement in that it rejects the ideas of the Prosperity Gospel and Dominionism as being excessive and authoritarian.
The “Emergent Church” movement embraces Ecumenism,Universalism and Interfaith Dialogue. It embraces tolerance of alternate lifestyles to varying degrees, with many adherents now openly embracing the LBGTQRSTYIHNGPRQS*#@&! (alphabet soup gender) community. The Social Gospel is also actively embraced. Many adherents of the “Emergent Church” engage in practices more akin to New Age teachings. The emphasis on the use of Mysticism and the practices of Christian Mysticism, Contemplative Prayer, Prayer Labyrinths, Meditation,Christian Rituals and Christian Yoga. Although rituals seem to be a part of the “Emergent Church”, it aims to depart from the structures and excesses of traditional Christian religion with less structure, and less formality. Many of the teachings from the “Emergent Church” appear to be following the path of the New Age Gnostic teachings, in this they are like the NAR movement. The “Emergent Church” like to see themselves as Seeker Sensitive and non-confrontational.
With the emphasis on being less formal and structured the “Emergent Church” has adopted forms and ideas that react against the traditional norms (kind of a bit PC really). The “Emergent Church” adherents would focus on Subjectivity as opposed to Objectivity. Feelings may be more important than the Truth. The Bible may be seen as a guideline rather than the “Inerrant Word of God”. Self, and what one feels, thinks and experiences becomes more important than what Paul writes of in Philippians 3:1-11. Discussions around scripture may entail a personal interpretation (eisegesis) rather than exegetical or expository study of the Bible. This focus on reducing the Bible from inerrant truth to a mere guideline has then left things open for people to define their own version of the truth. This has the effect of placing men in charge of spiritual matters instead of God. This then leads to the watering down of the powerful and simple truth of the Gospel and demonic influence.
The “Emergent Church”, has been around for the best part of 2000 years, however it has really started to “emerge” in a much more prominent way in the last 50 years, from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. It has largely come from Protestant,Evangelical,Charismatic and Catholic Charismatic Church movements of western nations. With the breakdown of Judeo/Christian values in the past 60 years, and subsequent decline of the Church many people have sought to find meaning and redefine Christian ideals within the “Emergent Church” movement.
So, who are the main players, personalities and leaders in the “Emergent Church” movement?
You may recognise some of these names, and as per the NAR movement, there will be many more that I have not added for brevities sake. There will be some like Rick Warrenthat float somewhere between the NAR and “Emergent Church” movements, although Rick will probably be more associated with the “Emergent Church” due to his social gospel and ecumenical/interfaith teachings.
Leaders such as Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt,and Dan Kimball are but a few of the more prominent voices of leadership in the “Emergent Church”. Later articles will look at these folk in more detail and discuss some of their teachings.
Like NAR, the “Emergent Church” embodies a huge number of Churches, organisations and ministries. There are many of this number that are in part still teaching sound doctrine, but may have a small aspect of their ministry affected by “Emergent Church” ideas and teachings. There are some that are fully embracing “emergent” ideas and have gone down the wide and easy path. In future articles I will examine in more detail, specific teachings, practices and false doctrines and how these compare with scripture.
My growing concern with the “Emergent Church” is that like the “New Apostolic Reformation” movement, it is quietly moving away from what God wants for us. Although most of it does not look or sound so bad, The “Emergent Church” like NAR is taking the focus away from God, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible as God’s inerrant truth. It is replacing these things with ear tickling doctrines of demons. It is my opinion that these two movements are converging toward the same point, and will ultimately both end serving the Antichrist .
In the books of Timothy, Paul warns Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1” But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” Paul then goes on to say in verse 6” In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus,constantlynourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” adding in verse 10” becausewe have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” In verse 16 the last verse of Chapter 4 Paul finishes with “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.“
Paul goes on to say in 2 Timothy 4:3-4” 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; butwantingto have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.“
From what I see the time has come where people are no longer enduring sound doctrine, they only want to hear those things that make them feel comfortable. They flock to those that speak soothing words and stories, it does not matter if it is the truth or not. That is why I will continue to warn while I still have time.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-29 that the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, that there will be false prophets who will come among us, they will appear in sheep’s clothing but will be ravenous wolves. He also says that there will many who will have claimed to have done many things in His name, but He will say to them “I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness. Jesus concludes by saying that anyone who hears His words and acts on them will be wisely building on a firm foundation.
Thanks for reading this and I will be back soon with another installment on the “Emergent Church”. God bless you and keep reading your Bible.
RESEARCH. (The author of this article may not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the research material)