EMERGING/ EMERGENT CHURCHES: RELEVANT OR IRRELEVANT?
The Emergent Church movement, led and promoted by such men as Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, to name a few, is garnering much attention in Evangelical circles. Its leaders are boldly claiming that their new approach will save the church from irrelevance and dissolution.
For those unfamiliar with this movement, it blossomed in the closing years of the 20th and the opening of the 21st century. Being strongly influenced by Postmodernism, its members tend to reflect disillusionment with traditional "Christian" bodies, their teaching and practices. They are dedicated to "deconstructing" or breaking down the traditional forms of worship and replacing them with their own ideas of "lite" worship. The same approach is applied to the doctrine and polity of the church. They think of themselves as open to change and seeking for alternative ways to worship and serve God. Especially in their worship can be seen their desire and determination to try new things and new ways, as they like to say, "of doing church." The Athenians shared this mentality (Acts 17:21). They like to say they are not part of an organized, institutional church. Given the great variety observed in their meetings and their teachers, it seems that each leader creates a congregation suited to his personal tastes and proceeds to gather a following of impressionable believers.
Those who have closely studied the writings of their proponents have concluded the Emergent Movement is a reactionary response, by unhappy and unfulfilled disciples, against their conservative Christian history and traditions. They show themselves willing to try almost anything in their worship and spiritual activities as long as it is not the old way followed by their parents and certainly not based on teachings 2,000 years old. Liberal teachers who have weakened and enervated their congregations by their shallow teaching, neglect of the fundamentals of the faith and failure to evangelize by preaching the gospel, now seek to revive and reinvigorate their jaded members with these foolish practices.
The Emergent Movement is a mosaic of beliefs and practices borrowed from a wide variety of sources and declared to be a better way of worshiping and serving God. This approach is as old as the race and was a problem confronted by the ancient prophets of Israel. The Hebrews clung to Jehovah's worship and teaching in those areas that pleased them and added to it the practices of pagan baalism which they desired (II Kings 23:4-9). In the Emergent's practice and message, one can see traces of Judaism, mediaeval Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism, and New Ageism. This practice is known as syncretism. This is seen in their use of candles, liturgy, prayer-beads, icons, labyrinths and their embrace of mystical rites such as Lectio Divina, none of which were ordained by Christ or his Apostles..
This mosaic aspect is further seen in the theological adjectives used to describe it. Among them are charismatic, post-charismatic, neo-charismatic, evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal and post-liberal. To those who love the Lord's church and take the Bible seriously, it is better described as a false system that is corrupting the faith and worship of the church (II John 9). One thing you can be sure of, the Emergent Church movement cannot be rightfully likened to the true, called out people of God, described in the New Testament. Its leaders are drawing away large numbers of young, uninformed disciples and submerging them in the murky waters of Postmodern semi-paganism, not in the pure faith and worship of Christ.
Among the many areas in which their message and practice discredit their claim to be "reforming or recovering Christianity" are the following:
<ol>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]They have traded objective truth for the uncertainty of subjectivism. God's unchanging truth can be known (John 8:32). [/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]They have mingled the gospel with pagan thought and practices. Against this Paul warned (Col. 2:8). [/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]They are claiming to help, even to save the church while pursuing a course that will promote disintegration of congregations as people leave their churches to follow the pseudo-spirituality of the Emergents (Acts 20:30). [/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]They have sacrificed the Christian world view for that of Postmodernism, one of a long line of faulty and failed human philosophical systems. Christ's teaching will be the standard of judgment on the last day, not Postmodern philosophy (John 12:48). [/color]
</li>[/list][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]When people who want to please God understand what is inside the Emergent package, they will reject it as the worthless drivel it is. In a generation, it, like Existentialism, will be found on the ash heap of humanisms that people have tried, found to be worthless and irrelevant and cast aside. [/color]
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now