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THE DUTY AND DANGER OF OPPOSING THE “EMERGENT” MOVEMENT

The duty is simple. The gurus and leaders of this emergent movement, conversation, dialogue—call it what they will—do not base their teachings and writings upon Scripture but upon their own opinions. They do not submit to the authority of the Bible but seek to impose their authority upon the Bible. They dismiss the clear witness of the Bible to itself as the inspired Word of God. When this has been done the witness of the Bible to God, to Jesus Christ and to salvation from sin is rejected outright or dangerously distorted.

As a consequence, to them Jesus is no longer “the Way.” He is “a Way,” and all ways lead ultimately to God and heaven. Devotees of other religions are not to be converted to Christ. Instead, we should encourage them to blossom fully in the soil of religious beliefs they have already chosen. Our goal is not to make them Christians, but to encourage them to be the best they can be within the structures of belief and behavior of their ancestral faith. That is unscriptural and untrue, whoever says it.

It is true that some who form the listening audience when these emergent leaders are paid (by our institutions with our tithes and offerings) to expatiate upon their concept of truth do not accept all they offer. They insist that they are putting an orthodox spin upon it all, and clinging to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, insisting upon salvation through Jesus alone, and giving lip service to the unique authority of Scripture for faith and life. Why in the world should we pay someone to voice opinions we then have to caution against and recast in order to use?

These who listen to the emergent gurus claim to be mining the emergent movement for structures of thought and strategies of engagement that will help them reach increasing numbers of people for Christ. If you keep tabs on them, however, you will find that the longer they preach and teach the closer they come to the beliefs of those gurus who want to dismantle historic, Bible-based Christian doctrines.

Leaders of the emergent movement claim to have no interest in theology or doctrine. They try to sell themselves as men and women concerned only, or at least mainly, with discovering ways and means of gaining attention to and involvement in genuine Christianity. Despite their disclaimers the emergent movement is creating theology and disseminating doctrines and making converts to their re-interpreted and inoffensive Christ.

The duty of opposing them arises out of their rejection of the authority of the Bible.

The danger in opposing them is more subtle. I’ve spent over 30 years as a pastor and another nine as a college teacher. I know that in our denomination there is a strong and stubborn streak of anti-intellectualism. Some of our people, including some of our preachers, seem to think that ignorance is a fruit of the Spirit.

The same God who created us as emotional beings also created us as rational beings. To go to church and unscrew your head in order to have some acute feel-good experience is to slander true worship.

The danger is that we shall allow our opposition to heresy to be voiced only or chiefly by leather-lunged fanatics instead of informed and reasonable proponents of what John Wesley called “good old Bible religion.” We cannot effectively oppose false teaching by merely turning up the volume. Noise level, even happy noise level, is no substitute for “reasonable service.”

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