Friday, February 05, 2010

A Short Critique of Emergent Heresy of Tim King That "Oozes" Forth

One should read this update/caveat to these posts for the whole story.

(For More Discussion, See: Emergents Claim We Don't Need to Convert People to Christianity)

It is interesting that they come out of the shoot with eschatology. This is one of the big ones for emergents. In this video, Tim King talks about "ego" and marrying it to theology. I would agree, however, the ego is placing man as a "co-creator" of this "kingdom-now" theology. For instance, in a book I read on the subject (The Emergent Church, by Bob DeWaay; and/or A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World Religions, by Ray Yungen) they quoted in part from another heretical book entitled, A Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church. In it we find this brash definition which I impart to the reader in its entirety from my copy: 
E is for Eschaton
The end of entropy.
In the postmodern matrix there is a good chance that the world will reverse its chronological polarity for us. Instead of being bound to the past by chains of cause and effect, we will feel ourselves being pulled into the future by the magnet of God's will, God's dream, God's desire. This magnetic "future-natural" orientation differs wildly from the mechanistic modern view of the world set in motion by a Prime Mover who made and wound up the clock long ago and ever since has let it unwind naturally, occasionally intervening with a small correction.
This new vision sees the universe as only partially created, an unfinished symphony, a masterpiece in progress. In this eschatology we are invited to be part of God's creative team working to see God's dream for the universe come true (in other words, working to see God's will be done on earth as in heaven). In this way our relationship with God is more than interactive; it is collaborative. It is more than just a matter of God interacting with us; it is a matter of God inviting us to be creative partners (subcontractors, if you will) in the construction of a world as it could be from the world as it is so far.
In the new eschatology, modern charts, bizarre predictions (a tired and tiring game for anyone who knows church history), and apocalyptic novels pretending to something more than purely fictional status will be left behind. (See Hope.)
As people who are being pulled toward an "all-things-new" world to come, we bear the fresh scent of the approaching spring, not the stale cologne of the fading winter.
  • Leonard Sweet, Brian D. McLaren, and Jerry Haselmayer, A Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), cf. Eschaton, 113-114.
Yes, you read that right, they think they can stop entropy. I do not have the time or will to explain all that is above (get Bob Dewaay's book if you want to see a more in-depth overview of this topic), however, much of the home-church movement and the rash of videos put out about home church movements believe the above in a "postmodern matrix." I consider it a miracle in my mind's eye that God, for the entire history of mankind, has made Himself eminent and coming. We are to be like the servant who watches for the return of his master (Luke 12:30). The Apostles did it, the Church Fathers acted like it, the Reformers knew it, I practice it. Again, it is truly a miracle that God puts on man's heart the idea that the end is near and that man's life is not in control by himself, that something outside of man truly controls it (James 4:13-15).
The men in the video raise themselves up to the level of God and live in their "creative" moment rather than give to God what is God's because they are giving all to Caesar. Which brings me to world religions, another aspect of this "new" movement that is all the rage.
Popular books such as the Ragamuffin Gospel, Celebrating Discipline, Velvet Elvis, Irresistible Revolution (see my critique), or DVDs like Be Still -- you have these "contemplative stars" up and coming that mention that these various beliefs share a grand-story. Many of these books mentioned promote the idea that salvation can be found in these other constructs. I had one pastor drop off an armful of books to me (yes, I said a pastor), some of them being the above, and if you take them as a whole, you get the following:
1.     that the first three miracles in John were inserted by writers to “woo in pagans,” as they are themselves adopted from pagan stories (so John lied to save souls... the "greater good" thing, or, the church at a later date corrupted Scripture in order to save souls, so which parts of Scripture are not corrupted?);
2.     the Virgin Birth was also a deep seated fear of sexuality and not really a miracle;
3.     books that teach that penal substitution as a vile doctrine;
4.     that Hell is not a place for persons to be placed after a future judgment, and that Hell is actually here now and that we must bring in God’s Kingdom (separate from that future judgment);
5.     these books say we do not have the Gospel right yet;
6.     they teach that travelling to Buddhist temples and practicing meditative techniques in these temples is Christian;
7.     they show that many of the practices rejected by the Reformers are in fact useful to the Christian;
8.     they show that Yoga can make one closer to God and to realize and experience the “divine;”
9.    they teach that the doctrines of the Trinity, nature of Christ, nature of Scripture, and the nature of marriage are “still on the table,” doctrinally;
10.  teach that Paul was really communicating Platonism and not bringing us Scripture;
11.  on-and-on.

If that is not an attack on the essentials, then I don't know what is. In The Ragamuffin Gospel for instance, the author, Brennan Manning recommends or practices the following:
1.       that he attends Mass regularly,
2.       that he believes it is wrong for churches to require that homosexuals repent before they can be members,
3.       that he promotes the use of mantras to create a thoughtless state of silent meditation,
4.       that he spent six months in isolation in a cave and spends eight days each year in silent retreat under the direction of a Dominican nun,
5.       that he promotes the dangerous practice of visualization,
6.       that he quotes very approvingly from New Agers such as Beatrice Bruteau (who says, “We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM ... unlimited, absolute I AM”) and Matthew Fox (who says all religions lead to the same God),
7.       and that he believes in universal salvation, that everyone including Hitler will go to heaven.

(I must quickly note that I do not believe that Catholics are not saved  or damned for merely being Catholic. A Catholic is saved by whom he or she believes Christ is in comparison to say, the co-redemptrix or co-mediatrix of the Virgin Mary. That being said, what the emergent's are doing is rejecting what the Reformation stood for and relegating our "protests" - where we get Protestant from - to a non-essential in their "postmodern matrix." Catholics have a similar "kingdom now" theology that infects their theology and places the Church as a body politic into a very ego-centered co-creator mode where the church will, in one sense, reverse entropy as they do not have a proper understanding of Daniel's last week, as do the Word of Faith movement. // I must also point out that for a church that has its people studying Beth Moore, this is a great opportunity to deal with her unhealthy view of generational sin and taking Scripture out of its intended historical, theological expression and personalizing it or twisting it to the degree she does. I know, opening your Bible a few more times is sooo horrible [17:10-15])  
In her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (2002), Beth Moore recommends contemplative Roman Catholic Brennan Manning, to wit., she says of Manning that his contribution to our generation “may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and calls Ragamuffin Gospel “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290). So one can see how close to home this entire movement is hitting. I laughed when the interviewer brought up Thomas Merton! Here I must post a portion of my chapter for a proposed book on the subject, enjoy:

In a November 2004 Christianity Today article written by Andy Crouch, titled “Emergent Mystique,” Bell said, “We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life” (emphasis added). Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, predated Bell in his popularizing of interspirituality by “[opening] the door for Christians to explore other traditions, notably Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Hinduism and Buddhism.”[1] In fact, Merton said that he saw “no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity,” saying that he intended “to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can.”[2], [3] It seems at first glance that the emergent movement is missing a theological focal point. Unfortunately, Brian McLaren does not believe that we, as a church body politic, have even reached a consensus of what orthodoxy is.

In that same Christianity Today article, Brian McLaren is quoted as saying that he does not “think we’ve got the gospel right yet.... I don’t think the liberals have it right.[4] But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.”[5], [6] Agreeing apparently with Brian McLaren that we have yet to get the gospel right is David G. Benner, who says that the “spiritual climate is ripe... [for]... Jesus seekers across the world are being prepared to abandon the old way of the written code for the new way of the Spirit. Paul told us long ago we've been freed by the gospel to live a new way, but we've not known what it is or how to do it.”[7] McLaren says we do not have the Gospel right yet... Benner says we do not have it right either, yet, we should look to Eastern mysticism to get it correct? I don’t think so. Not only do these authors deny that the Gospel has been known or lived in the past, they teach that orthodoxy has yet to be formulated. Yet in a self-refuting manner they seem to accept universalism as an orthodox doctrine. Universalism is the idea that every “act of worship is accepted by the divine regardless of the theological cloak in which it is hidden[,] since all persons posses divinity within, all deserve the love of the Supreme.”[8] This universalism is pointed out in an excellent book entitled, Reforming or Conforming? Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church:[9]

The gospel, according to the emergent thinkers, is not about individual conversation. It is not about how people get “in.” It is about “how the world will be saved from human sin and all that goes with it....”[10] This sounds close to the mark until we examine more thoroughly what is meant by the terminology. Their concept of “world” does not simply involve humans who don’t believe in Christ. The emergent gospel is not just bringing unbelievers to the Savior for the forgiveness of sin and the imputation of God’s righteousness. There is more, as Rob Bell informs us:
Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with is maker. This has huge implications for how people present the message of Jesus. Yes, Jesus can come into our hearts. But we can join a movement that is as wide and as big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems. God’s desire is to restore all of it.[11], [12]

McLaren continues the thought: “Is getting individual souls into heaven the focal point of the gospel?” I’d have to say no, for any number of reasons. Don’t you think that God is concerned about saving the whole world?... It is the redemption of the world, the stars, the animals, the planets, the whole show.”[13] According to McLaren, “The church exists for the world - to be God’s catalyst so that the world can receive and enter God’s kingdom more and more.”[14]

When asked to define the gospel, Neo (the main philosophical character in McLaren’s novels) replies that it could not be reduced to a little formula, other than “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”[15] Narrowing this definition is not easy, but McLaren gives some insight when he writes,
I am a Christian because I believe that, in all these ways, Jesus is saving the world. By the “world” I mean planet Earth and all life on it, because left to ourselves, un-judged, un-forgiven, and un-taught, we will certainly destroy this planet and its residents.[16]

In Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones’ book, The Emergent Manifesto of Hope, we find an emphasis on this universalism:
In summary, we give the following statement of our understanding about the widening scope of salvation:
Not only soul, whole body!

Not only whole body, all of the faithful community!

Not only all of the faithful community, all of humanity!

Not only all of humanity, all of God's creation![17]

In order to accomplish their understanding of the above, much must change in Christian theology, are these emergent leaders up for the task? It seems so:
And as a part of this tradition, I embrace the need to keep painting, to keep reforming. By this I do not mean cosmetic, superficial changes like better lights and music, sharper graphics, and new methods with easy-to-follow steps. I mean theology: the beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, the future. We must keep reforming the way the Christian faith is defined, lived, and explained.[18]

Brian McLaren declares his allegiance to this change as well:
...believing that our message and methodology have changed, do change, and must change if we are faithful to the ongoing and unchanging mission of Jesus Christ. In other words, I believe that we must be always reforming, not because we've got it wrong and we're closer and closer to finally “getting it right,” but because our mission is ongoing and our context is dynamic. From this viewpoint “getting it right” is beside the point; the point is “being and doing good” as followers of Jesus in our unique time and place, fitting in with the ongoing story of God's saving love for planet Earth.[19]  

Similarly, at a 2004 seminar entitled, “A New Theology for a New World,” at the Emergent Convention
in San Diego, Tony Jones said:
We do not think this is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about... how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. It’s not just the method that changes.[20]

[1] Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions (Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999), 39.
[2] Patrick Hart, ed., Thomas Merton Monk: A Monastic Tribute (Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2005), 88. Full quote:
There were so many points of contact with Zen Buddhist teaching in all this that I couldn't help asking whether he thought he could have conic to these insights if he had never come across Zen. "I'm not sure," he answered pensively, "but I don't think so. I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. The future of Zen is in the Nest. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can."
[3] “New Agers ‘see themselves as advanced in consciousness, rejecting Judeo-Christian values and the Bible in favor of Oriental philosophies and religion.’ Walter Martin, The New Age Cult,” Mark Water, World Religions Made Simple: Tough Questions, Clear Answers (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 173.
[4] While these authors and pastors try not to be labeled as “liberal,” that is exactly what they are. In an interview with Rob Bell (audio of which can be found at Fighting for the Faith... right around forty minutes into the program) where he is praising the TNIV -- a gender neutered Bible -- Rob himself says he is in the middle of the progressive movement: “My name is Rob Bell, I’m a pastor in Grand Rapids Michigan, the epicenter of progressive culture.”

This can also be found as well under iTunes free podcasts under Fighting for the Faith, dated at 9-1-09, the podcast is titled, “What is Rob Bell Going To Do Now That The TNIV is Going to Be Discontinued?” One of the founders of the emergent movement, Mark Driscoll notes as much as well:
Emergent liberals range from those on the theological fringe of orthodoxy to those caught up in heresy that critiques key evangelical doctrines, such as the Bible as authoritative divine revelation; God as Trinity; the sinfulness of human nature; the deity of Jesus Christ; Jesus' death in our place to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross; the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation; the sinfulness of homosexuality and other sex outside of heterosexual marriage; and the conscious, eternal torments of hell. Some emerging house churches are also emergent liberal in their doctrine. Emergent liberals are networked by organizations such as the Emergent Village, which is led by author and theologian Tony Jones (Jones is no longer a youth pastor but is involved at Doug Pagitt's church), along with other prominent emergent leaders such as Pagitt, Karen Ward, and Tim Keel. The most visible emergent liberal leaders are Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. Emergent liberals are commonly critiqued as those who are merely recycling the liberal doctrinal debates of a previous generation without seeing significant conversion growth; they are merely gathering disgruntled Christians and people intrigued by false doctrine. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers this critique:
  • When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the identity of Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully divine, the authoritative character of Scripture as written revelation, and the clear teachings of Scripture concerning issues such as homosexuality, this [emergent liberal] movement simply refuses to answer the questions."
Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions, 217.
[5] Andy Crouch, “Emergent Mystique,” 37-38.
[6] A caveat here: if he does not think liberals have it right, and then says he does not have it right either... is he then saying he is on the conservative side of the issue? If he is on the right, then where does that leave people like D. A. Carson, Millard Erickson, or myself for that matter? I guess I do not fit within what he considers orthodox... maybe we’re “fascists” of sorts?
[7] David G. Benner, Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 9 (emphasis added).
[8] David K. Clark and Norman L. Geisler, Apologetics in the New Age: A Christian Critique of Pantheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 70-71.
[9] Gary L. W. Johnson and Ronald N. Gleason, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 285.
[10] Brian McLaren, The Last Word After That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 69.
[11] Bell, Velvet Elvis, 109-110.
[12] A humorous aside: could you imagine bickering back-and-forth with God if Job co-opted everything God created? As God would point out how small Job was in comparison to His creation, Job would respond, “no, I am part of this wide and big universe, I am not tiny! I am bigger, in fact, than that Behemoth you just showed me.
[13] Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001), 184.
[14] Ibid., 121.
[15] Ibid., 151.
[16] Brian Mclaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004), 106.
[17] Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 82-83 (emphasis added).
[18] Bell, Velvet Elvis, 12 (emphasis added).
[19] McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 214. I should point out that we can never really be good, this humanistic goal is not Biblical.
[20] Charlie H. Campbell, The Emerging Church & the Battle for Truth, DVD (can be found at:, 26:50 into the presentation.

I guess, upon reviewing the above, if you don't think that there will be a great falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3), and you believe that doctrine is ever reforming and changing, and that there is no solidity to Christian culture throughout the ages, then you can simply reject all of these critique and say that we are all "heresy hunters," similar to the leaders in the Word Faith movement simply labeling their objectors and therefore not dealing with their arguments. I regret that I can say this, but I had a pastor defend (straight faced) the conservative nature of the following "theologian" when I pointed out that he had said the following: 
...Anyway, my point in all this is that the doctrine of the Trinity is still on the table. Some people, it seems to me, would like for us to no longer debate certain "sacred" doctrines -- the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the nature of scripture, the nature of marriage etc. And these persons tend to get very jumpy when emergent-types discuss these sacrae doctrinae, especially in books and at conferences that are being taped. "This is dangerous," they say.

I say it's dangerous to stop talking about these things, and it leads to a hegemony among those who already control the seminaries, colleges, magazines, radio stations, conferences, publishing houses, and magazines. We will continue to debate such things.

And furthermore, didn't some famous theologian once say, "None of us is truly orthodox"? Who was that, anyway?
(Tony Jones - Theoblogy)
(I am happy to say however, that this pastor is on the road to orthodoxy.) This zeitgeist is behind much of these "teachers," and it is infecting many churches as I speak. Unity in the name of ecumenical progressiveness. I prefer Scripture where we are told in Jude 3 by the Apostle that he "felt [he] had to write and urge you [us] to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." This seems vastly different the the anthropogenic fundamentalism (ego-centric) we find in the emergent thinking. King talks about not "drawing lines" and not feeling like you need to convert the "Sufi, or whatever religion we are dealing with." However, Jesus drew lines in the sand, literally (John 8:1-11), making people turn in apparent shame, not to mention Jesus mentioning that even homes will be split over this "once and for all delivered faith" (Luke 12:49-56). Right after this mentioning of this hyper ecumenism King describes God in a pantheistic way. Pathetic!

Ahhh, King says at the end that they are bringing a "new earth." I didn't listen to the whole video, I listened to a short bit, stopped it, wrote, and then proceeded in this manner. Here at the very end we find this idea of "co-creators" ("little gods" in Word of Faith jingo) bringing a "new earth," or, utopia of sorts, to mankind. And Tim King applies "egoism" to us? Again, as I watch this video series from time-to-time I have a reoccurring feeling that God uses irony (or the persuading demons that the OT and NT talk about), because the "Ooze" seems a fitting name for what "oozes" forth from this video channel.

The Big Three