The Emerging Church

by Pastor Jannie Viljoen

The “Emerging Church,” by definition of her doctrines and re-defining of Christianity, and her subtle influence and impact she is having in just about every major Christian denomination, marks her as the “great falling away” factor in the end times church.


INTRODUCTION


Jesus warned that just before His return for His Bride, to rapture Her to heaven, there will first come a great falling away from true Christianity (Matt. 24:5,11; 1 Thess. 2:3). The “Emerging Church,” by definition of her doctrines and re-defining of Christianity, and her subtle influence and impact she is having in just about every major Christian denomination, marks her as the “great falling away” factor in the end times church.

“[The Emerging Church] … is a movement that will have an impact on all churches in the United States.” (1)
But this movement is not only impacting churches in the United States. Its teachings and practices are also coming across into many churches in the rest of the Western world.

The Emerging Church is not easy to define because it is not a “new” Church being established by new spiritual leaders in opposition to existing established churches. Rather, it is existing spiritual leaders, in existing Christian churches, calling for a need to establish a “new” or more “modern approach” for the modern world that we live in. They say that modern man has outgrown the old established ideas of Christianity and there is a need to redefine Christianity in order to reach the 21st century, or post-modern man, and that:

“… the old ways and old church are no longer effective. We need a new kind of Christianity if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives and the world around us.” (2)

The new Emergent Christian leaders, who have become very prominent in Christian circles through their writings and through their mega-churches, are not only insisting that to effectively reach this 21st century generation, a new kind of faith and a new kind of church must be established, but that they have also found the “formula” to make this possible.

Brian McLaren, one of the leading voices in the Emerging Church movement, says the following:

You see, if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We don’t need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Christian. Not a new denomination, but a new kind of church in every denomination.” (3)
But Brian Mclaren is not honest in this statement. He is using “double speak” to lull unsuspecting Christians to sleep. As we shall see, the Emerging Church religion IS a new religion! The “spirit” in the Emerging Church IS a different spirit than the Holy Spirit! And the “Jesus” of the Emerging Church IS a different Jesus than the One found in the Scriptures!

The Word of God warns in 2 Corinthians 11:4, “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different  gospel which you have not accepted – you may well put up with it!”


THE ROOTS OF THE EMERGING CHURCH


A number of different spiritual influences from the past form the basis for the modern Emerging church. Although they are different in their origin, their underlying spiritual affinity and goals are the same.

The Emerging church has its roots in the 1950’s through the writings and ideas of a man called Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker was born in 1909 in Australia and died in 2005 at the age of 95. During his lifetime he not only had a tremendous impact on the business world, but also on the religious world.

Drucker’s religious outlook and beliefs were heavily influenced by mysticism, especially the philosopher and mystic, Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard’s religious experiences were heavily influenced by Eastern philosophies, mysticism, and meditation techniques. In 1990, Drucker established the Leader to Leader Institute, an Interspiritual thought forum, which today includes Buddhist sympathizers, globalists, evangelicals, and New Age sympathizers. Drucker also believed that society’s immediate needs should be the determining factor for forming spiritual doctrine.

This meant that it was not the Bible that determined doctrine, but rather that society’s needs should dictate Biblical interpretation and doctrine. Drucker therefore also incorporated marketing skills, business techniques, and an experience based faith in his religious outlook. This view of minimizing Biblical doctrine would become one of the major strategies in the Emerging Church.

In 1984, a man by the name of Bob Buford, who was the owner of a successful cable television company in Texas, established the “Leadership Network” with the aim of helping leaders of new young churches to “connect” with each other. Bob Buford in turn had a great affinity for the teachings and writings of Drucker. Buford acknowledged that Drucker was “the man who formed my mind.” (4)

During the mid-1990’s a group of young pastors became involved in the Leadership Network of Bob Buford with the aim of implementing strategies to reach the post-modern new generation with the Gospel. This young team of Christian leaders by the names of Doug Pagitt, Brian McClarin, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll and Andrew Jones formed, what they called, the “Young Leaders Network.”

“The term ‘emergent’ was first used by the group (McClarin, Jones, Kimball, Driscoll, etc.) originally called Young Leaders Network. When they left Leadership Network to go on their own, they became ‘Emergent.’” (5)

While Leadership Network was the initial force in the establishment of the Emergent church, there were other like-minded ministries and organizations that helped it to grow into the major influence it is in many churches today. One of the major figures in the Emergent church is a man called Rick Warren (Author of “The Purpose Driven Church”).

Warren had a long standing affinity with both Bob Buford and Peter Drucker. Warren called Buford a “rare individual” (6) and says of Drucker, “… he’s my mentor. I’ve spent 20 years under his tutelage learning about leadership …” (7).

Another interesting connection in the theological make-up of the Emerging church is the connection between Warren and a man called Leonard Sweet. Sweet is Professor of Evangelism at Drew University. In 1995 Warren joined with Sweet to host an audio series called “Tides of Change.”  In this series Warren and Sweet talked about “a new spirituality” that would soon come in the church and “letting go of traditions and old ways of doing things.”

What is Sweet’s outlook on faith? Sweet states that his faith was influenced by a group of people he calls “New Light leaders.” Some of these New Light leaders that formed Sweet’s faith are people like Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck and Morton Kelsey. These are all people who are proponents of New Age spirituality.

Matthew Fox is an Episcopal priest and the author of a New Age book called, “The Coming of the Cosmic Christ.” Fox does not believe in the historical person of Jesus Christ, but believes that a Christ-consciousness was residing in Jesus just as it resided in Ghandi, Moses, Buddha, and in anyone who is willing to attain to it through certain spiritual exercises.

Not only are all the Emergent Church leaders connected to mysticism and New Age Spirituality, but there is also a strong connection to the Roman Catholic Church and especially to Catholic mysticism. Rupert Murdock is the owner of Fox News. In 1988 the Christian publishers, Zondervan, became the property of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Rupert Murdoch’s Corporation has been a major promoter of Warren’s book “The Purpose driven Life,” through its Zondervan Publishers.

During 2004 Rupert Murdoch received a “papal knighthood” from Pope John Paul II for his donation of large sums of money to the Catholic Church. Not only is there a strong connection to the Roman Catholic church financially, but as we shall see later, there is also a strong connection with its teachings, especially the teachings of the Roman catholic “Mystic Desert Fathers” who were heavily steeped in Eastern meditation practices.


THE TEACHINGS OF THE EMERGING CHURCH: A NEW “OLD” FAITH


Emergent Churchleaders are saying, that because people and cultures change, so too must the way of presenting the Gospel change. Emergent leaders say that post-modern man needs to “experience” the Gospel if they are to be won to Christianity. They say that preaching and sermons and Bible teaching is not what would attract post-modern man to Christianity. The 21st century man needs to “experience” Christianity.

Post-moderns want something more than new products; they want new experiences, especially new experiences of the divine.” (8)

In the Emergent church the Bible is being replaced by all kinds of experience-based religious rituals and paraphernalia. God needs to be “experienced” during the worship service. Therefore the Emerging worship “experience” becomes the focus during a church service. To enhance the “experience,” the use of icons, candles, incense, liturgy, and sacraments are being utilized.

Doug Pagitt, an “evangelical” pastor whose church claims to be Emergent, says the following of implementing a “new” ritual in their services:
“… we introduced the act of making the sign of the cross on ourselves. This gesture has become a very powerful experience for me.” (9)

The era of the “seeker friendly” church, introduced by Rick Warren and implemented by Purpose Driven churches (“Seeker friendly” meaning not being offensive to the unsaved by not preaching the doctrines of salvation and eternal condemnation), are now moving up to the next level of the “new” spirituality towards a mystical experienced based religion.

In order to accommodate believers and unbelievers alike, and to make them feel comfortable, a number of “ideas” are being implemented in the Emerging church services. Some of them are as follows:

* Overcoming the fear of Multi-sensory worship and teaching.
* Creating a sacred space for Vintage worship.
* Expecting the Spiritual.
* Creating Experiential Multi-sensory worship gatherings.

What do these terms “multi-sensory, sacred space, vintage worship” mean in the Emergent church?

Multi-sensory:

One Emergent church article states that post-moderns prefer to encounter Christ by using all of their senses through incense, candles, making the sign of the cross, the taste and smell of the bread and wine, touching icons and being anointed with oil (10)

In the Emerging church faith is brought about, not by hearing the Word of God, but by seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations. Some of the Emerging churches display icons of Jesus hanging on the cross and even of Mary and the baby Jesus.
Leonard Sweet, an Emergent pastor, says it this way:

“Post-moderns want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell – a full sensoryimmersion in the divine.” (11)
(Although Sweet doesn’t state it outright, the God that he is referring to that can be “felt, tasted and touched”, is the eucharistic wafer “god” of the Roman Catholic Mass.)

In the Emergent church the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God must be replaced by multi-sensory mystical worship.
Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered as to why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense and icons, promoters of the Emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing.” (11)

And what they are doing is leading people into ancient vintage worship and mysticism!

Vintage worship:

Robert Webber, an Emergent pastor stated that Christianity needed to be revised for the 21st century. In order to do that, he said we must go back to the ancient mystics (meaning the Catholic Desert mystics) and learn from them. Webber had a great appreciation for the writings of the Catholic mystics:
The value of all these books (of the Catholic Mystics) … are indispensable to spirituality. Those who neglect these works do so to their harm, and those who read them do so for their inspiration and spiritual growth.” (12)

Dale Dirksen is Associate Professor of Worship and Church Ministry at Briercrest Seminary in Seskatchewan. He suggests that to reach and evangelize the post-modern society of today, we need to look back much further than the twentieth century or even the reformation. He finds the answer in the third century teachings and practices of the Catholic mystics of the Middle ages.

Sacred space:

According to Emergent leaders, one of the ways to create the right atmosphere for worship is to create a sacred space. A prominent feature of this so-called sacred space is a “labyrinth.” Roger Oakland describes what a “labyrinth is:

“The labyrinth is a maize-like structure used during times of contemplative prayer. The participant walks though this structure until he comes to the centre, then back out again. Unlike a maize, which has several paths, the labyrinth has one path. Often ‘prayer stations’ (with candles, icons, pictures, etc.) can be visited along the way. The labyrinth originated in early pagan societies. The usual scenario calls for the pray-er to do some sort of meditation practice, enabling him or her to ‘center down’ (i.e., reach God’s presence), while reaching the centre of the labyrinth.” (13)

Pastor Dan Kimball describes how he and his wife created such a “sacred space” in their church when they hung art on the walls, draped fabric, and lit candles all around the room to create a visual sense of a sacred space. These Emerging church pastors are leading unsuspecting Christians into ancient pagan rituals and practices. The labyrinth is an ancient occult tool that was used by its spiritual followers to “connect” with the “Light within,” also called the “Divine self.” The labyrinth also plays a prominent role in the New Age movement.

Contemplative Prayer

In the description of the “labyrinth” above, Roger Oakland mentions that it is used in conjunction with “contemplative prayer.” Contemplative prayer plays a major role in the Emerging church. In short, Contemplative Spirituality is essentially an Eastern belief system that uses ancient mystical meditation practices through the emptying of the mind to bring about altered states of consciousness whereby the devotee connects with the Universal Mind, or the Inner Self, or the Inner Light. Emergent teachers try to soften its Eastern Hindu roots by calling it “The Silence.”

This type of meditative prayer was used during the Middle Ages by the Desert Monks of the Roman Catholic Church. Daniel Goldman, a practitioner of Eastern-style meditation, says the mystical practices of these desert monks strongly resembled the mystical practices of their Hindu and Buddhist counterparts in the East.

After being an obscure practice in the Roman Catholic church for centuries, a Catholic monk called Thomas Merton and a Catholic priest and mystic called Henri Nouwen, has now brought this Eastern Spirituality out in the open to Protestant and even evangelical circles under the guise of Christian Meditative prayer, or Contemplative Prayer. Rick Warren speaks very favorably of Henri Nouwen’s writings and teachings. In Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life,” on Day Eleven, he encourages people to practice “breath prayers” by repeating words and phrases over and over in a mantra-style prayer, a practice used centuries ago by these mystical monks known as the Desert Fathers. This so-called “prayer” is identical to that found in Hinduism and Buddhism.

To realize the dangers of so-called “Christian” Contemplative prayer, one needs to understand its Eastern or Buddhist counterpart. Buddhists and Hindus practice the repetition of a word (usually the name of one of their deities), or a religious phrase in their attempt to empty their minds. Eventually they would enter into an hypnotic state called a “higher state of consciousness,” where they would experience a “one-ness” with all things. Because they believe that God is in all things and therefore all is God (Pantheism and Panantheism), they now become one with God, experiencing their own divinity. Many of these Eastern devotees experience negative results from these meditation sessions by their contact with benign spirit beings and sometimes even becoming possessed by these spirits (demons).

In writing about the “easternizing” of Western culture and religion, Douglas R. Groothuis says that:

“The classic Western spirituality of prayer, faith and obedience to an external God must be replaced by monistic meditation, personal experience and the God within. Eastern meditative practices emphasize emptying the mind … A holy word (mantra) may be repeated in order to change one’s consciousness … The goal is an experience of unity with all things, the dissolution of the individual self and the discovery of the ‘divine’ within” (14)

So-called “Christian” contemplative prayer or meditation is where the pray-er repeats the name of Jesus or a Biblical verse over and over until the mind becomes empty and a “connection” is made with God’s spiritual realm. Now, when Christians are encouraged to become “still” in the presence of God by using the name of Jesus as a mantra in “Christian” meditation, the dangers can be just as real! Roger Oakland mentions this when he writes under a heading called “Contemplative Prayer or Terror?”:

“Proponents of contemplative prayer say the purpose of contemplative prayer is to tune in with God and hear His voice. However, Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer ‘we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm’ and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is ‘supernatural.’ He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand … Where in Scripture do we find such a prayer?

I wonder if all these Christians who now practice contemplative prayer are following Foster’s advice. Whether they are or not, they have put themselves in harms way … The fact that Foster recognizes contemplative prayer is dangerous and opens the door to the fallen spirit world is very revealing.” (15)

Roger Oakland continues to warn that, “No contemplative prayer is Biblical or safe – even the most mature of the Christian mystical leaders proved susceptible to its demonic pull. Thomas Merton at the end of his life said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could be. Henri Nouwen at the end of his life said all paths lead to God.” (16)


THE EMERGENT ROAD – ALL PATHS LEAD TO GOD?



When one looks at the teachings of the Emergent leaders, one finds that the Biblical Jesus – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6)– is not the same Jesus of the Emergent church. The “Jesus” of the Emergent church welcomes just about any-one into his fold, except those who see Christ as the only Way.

Erwin McManus, an Emerging Church leader, says that his goal is “to destroy Christianity as a world religion,” that “the greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity” and that he wants to be a “recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ.” (17)

What do Emergent teachers mean by statements like these? They are teaching that to be a follower of Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a Christian (born-again). They teach that Jesus’ mission was to show us how to live. They do not see Him as the unique Son of God who came to die for us and be our savior, but like Buddha and other religious world teachers, He is seen as One who had the Christ-spirit in Him. Thus, through meditation and other spiritual disciplines man can attain to the same spiritual level that Jesus manifested in His life. This is what Emergent teachers mean when they say one can be a Christ-follower.

“… being born again, receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and Master is not a pre-requisite to being a Christ-follower. Richard Foster teaches that anyone, not just believers, can practice these spiritual disciplines and become like Christ.” (18)

Dan Kimball, another Emergent pastor, teaches that non believers will readily accept Jesus as an example to follow, but they do not want anything to do with going to church or with Christians who take the Bible literally. Kimball accuses Christians of keeping non believers away from the Christian faith by being “different.” In his new book, “They like Jesus But Not the Church,” Kimball says that the distorted view that the non believer has of Christianity is the fault of Christians who take the Bible literally. Kimball accuses fundamental Christians of keeping non believers away from Christ by acting and living differently from those who are not Christians. But the Bible tells us that, as Christians, we are to live differently after salvation from the old way of living in the world (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:19-24). Kimball’s viewpoint is exactly the opposite from what Jesus was teaching.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, … the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

In his book Kimball describes the Christians, who he sees as being a hindrance to people becoming followers of Christ, as follows:
“People who are always saying negative things about the world, are anti gay, take the whole Bible literally, … are pro Israel, read end-time novels, and endorse … fire-and-brimstone preaching … “ (19)

The Emergent church is not preaching a Biblical Jesus, but a Jesus that the world can feel comfortable with. It is not a Jesus that confronts them with sin and judgment (so that they can be saved), but it is a Jesusthat will not interfere with their way of living. It is a Jesus that is non-confrontational and allows anyone, regardless of religious affiliation and without having to let go of their allegiance to false gods, to follow this “Christ.”

An Emergent church article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” claims that there are many who have become “Christians” yet continue their religious practices as Hindus. They worship Jesus along with their Hindu gods in their homes. Leonard Sweet said:

“One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.” (20)
Spencer Burke, another Emergent church leader, whose “community” (church) have been visiting different “Christian” traditions every few weeks, says the following:

“(We) hold to an inclusive model, not an exclusive one … We read other sacred writings, then get back to the Scriptures and decide together how to interpret what we have read from the literature that other religions hold to be sacred … (We) celebrate other traditions … and see them as beloved children of God. With a focus on kingdom rather than on church, people find that their relationship with other faiths change.” (21)

But Jesus emphatically states in the Word that He is the only way to the Father and that there is no other way (John 14:6). The Emergent church is teaching a “broad way” to reach God. And this “broad way” will eventually lead multitudes, who will think that they are right with God, into everlasting condemnation away from the presence of God!


THE EMERGING “JESUS”



The very essence of the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus shed His Blood for our sins on the cross of Calvary. The Bible is very clear that without the shedding of Jesus’ Blood there is no forgiveness of sin:

“… it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).
“… shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
“… but with His own blood He … obtained eternal redemption (for us)…” (Hebr. 9:12).
How much more shall the blood of Christ … cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebr. 9:14).

Although the Scriptures are very clear that Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s way to make it possible for man to be saved, the Emerging church says that such a way would make God a blood-thirsty murderer. They see the Biblical message of the atonement and the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross as a “pre-civilized barbarity.” The Emergent church leaders teach that Jesus’ going to the cross should only be seen as an example of a life of service and sacrifice, and should not be construed as a high priestly act of self-sacrifice to save mankind.

Emergent church leaders feel that those who take the death of Christ on the cross for the atonement of sin literally, pose the greatest threat to their heretical teachings.

“Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the ‘substitutionary’ theory of atonement – namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us, carrying the punishment due us for our sins … only in belated theories it (is) retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death … Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented.” (22)

This is also the teaching of the Kingdom Now theology of George Otis Junior’s Transformation movement in which most churches in South Africa are participating in through the Global Day of Prayer. In his book, “The God They Never Knew,” George Otis Junior states:

“If we accept the premise that Jesus literally purchased our salvation with His blood, it portrays God as vindictive and bloodthirsty and totally incompatible with Biblical forgiveness … The assertion that Jesus paid for our sins has caused immeasurable damage to the body of Christ.” (23)

Although the Jesus of the Emergent church is seen as a historical person, he was, according to their theology, only a human who, through his self-sacrificial life, became “the Christ”, or the “Christos,” an “eternal transpersonal condition of being,” which can be achieved by anyone who is willing to apply the spiritual disciplines necessary for this attainment. They do not believe that Jesus calls us to worship Him, but rather to follow Him – to follow His example.

This “Jesus” of the Emergent church is radically different from the Biblical Jesus.

The “Jesus” of the Emergent church is not “God in the flesh” and is not able to save anyone from their sins. The “Jesus” of the Emergent church is “another Jesus whom we have not preached” (2 Cor. 11:4).

The “Jesus” of the Emergent church acknowledges that there are many ways to God and that spiritual truth can be found in all the religions of the world. The “Jesus” of the Emergent church is the ecumenical “Jesus” that will eventually unite all religions into the end-time world church of the Anti-Christ!

The preachers and teachers of the Emergent church are described by Peter as “false teachers … who will secretly bring destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them …” (2 Pet. 2:1). The sad thing is that the Bible further declares that “many will follow their destructive ways …” (verse 2). Jesus warned of them:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Anti-christ, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).


“THE SHACK”


“The Shack” is a Christian fiction book written by William Paul Young. You may well now ask, what has a Christian book of fiction have to do with Emergent spirituality? This book has been on the New York Best Seller List for 15 weeks, and over 5 million copies have been sold. It is currently in the number one position for Fiction books.

This book is being widely applauded and distributed in Christian circles. It is being promoted by popular Christian figures such as Eugene Peterson and many Christian publishers have been endorsing the book. It is being heralded as one of the best Christian books ever. Churches are studying and discussing it at Bible studies and small group meetings, and its writer has been invited to speak at many evangelical churches.

In short, “The Shack” is a fictional story about a man called McKenzie Allen Phillip, or Mac, whose youngest daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she was brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of great sadness, Mac receives a note, apparently from God, inviting him back to the shack for a weekend.

Here, at the shack he is confronted by God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who helps him understand and work through his grief. This encounter changes his life forever. God is portrayed as a large black women named Louisa, Jesus is pictured as a young Middle Eastern man, and the Holy Spirit appears as an Asian woman named Sarayu.

Although William Paul Young is the author of this book, one of its editors, a man by the name of Wayne Jacobsen, according to a New York Times article, had spent 16 months helping the author to rewrite the first draft. Jacobson acknowledges that a man named Jim Palmer was one of the authors who most shaped his spiritual outlook. Jim Palmer is linked to a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest Paul Coutinho who believes that people of all religions (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians) worship the same God.

It is therefore not surprising that The Shack’s “Jesus” states: “God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things” (24). This is pure Hinduism (pantheism and panantheism) that teaches that God is in all things and that all things are God. The Bible tells us that God is not IN everything, but that He is Omnipresent apart from His creation and that He upholds everything in His creation. One of the pillars of Emerging or contemplative spirituality is the teaching that “God is the ground of all being” (Pantheism and New Age Spirituality).

On page 182 The Shack’s “Jesus” further states: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims … I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.” The Shack very subtly teaches Universalism – that all people are sons and daughters of God. This is in line with the teachings of the Emerging church.

The Shack also resonates with the Emerging church’s desire to destroy the Biblical concept that only Christians have access to God. In The Shack, when Mac asks “Jesus” what it “means to be a Christian,” he answers: “Who said anything about being a Christian? I am not a Christian” (25).Of course the Biblical Jesus was not a Christian, but His followers are! (Acts 11:26).

In another subtle attack on Biblical Christianity the “God” of The Shack tells Mac: “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors” (26). Here we are introduced to the New Age concept of God as a Mother/Father God. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and also a proponent of New Age beliefs, defines God as “… the one Father-Mother God” (27)

This Mother-father God of The Shack then continues and tells Mac that this revelation is “… to help you to keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning”(28). Here is an attack on long-held traditional Biblical Christianity, called “religious conditioning.” by this father-Mother God.This is in line with Emergent leader’s reasoning that the “old ways” (meaning traditional Biblical Christianity) is no longer effective and that there is a need of a “new spirituality.” And this “new emergent spirituality” is very subtly introduced throughout this book.

In line with Emergent leader’s downplaying of the infallibility of the Bible, The Shack’s author, referring to the Bible, states that “God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects” (29).

The Purpose Driven church, or Seeker Friendly church of Rick Warren and other Emerging church pastors do not seek to confront people with the Biblical “taboos” that they are sinners, that they are on their way to hell and that they are in need of repentance and salvation. That seems “unfriendly” and too negative. This is also the message of The Shack when it states that the Bible was “… bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges” (30).

The Father-Mother God of The Shack also reveals her disdain for the Church of Christianity. She tells Mac, “You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m pretty sure I haven’t met her … she’s not the place I go to on Sundays”(31).
In his favourable review of The Shack, pastor Brad Bailey gives the following insight:

“What I sensed that surprised me most, was how notably the author was clearly incorporating many of the common fresh theological thoughts (new emerging teachings) that others (new emerging pastors) have been reflecting on in order to overcome the religious ‘barriers’ (fundamental Biblical theology) infused into modern Christian form and thought. Each chapter’s dialogue seemed to infold as a taking up of one of the theological issues that many have been trying to re-think (i.e. the emerging changing or re-thinking of vital fundamental Biblical truths) in the recent years of post modern emergent reflections” (32) [Explanations in brackets added].

Tim Challies has a different outlook on this book:

That The Shack is a dangerous book should be obvious …. The book’s subversive undertones seek to dismantle many aspects of the faith and these are subsequently replaced with doctrine that is just plain wrong. Error abound.” (33).

It seems, from investigation, that the author of The Shack has used a deep emotional fictional story as a basis for subtly changing the fundamental Biblical Christian perspective towards the contemplative “new spirituality” of the Emerging church and its Eastern meditative philosophies. Is it any wonder then that the “Holy Spirit” in The Shack is an Indian woman called “Sarayo.” Sarayo is related to Hinduism and is a Sanskrit word for “air” or “wind.”


INTERSPIRITUALITY – THE OUTCOME OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER


The following article under the above heading, will give us a clear picture of where all this is going. This article comes from the Lighthouse Trails website:
“While the majority of Christendom has been seduced and mesmerized by Purpose Driven, mysticism, the emerging church and a watered down gospel, inter-spirituality is on the move. Evangelical leaders as well as New Age gurus and other religious leaders across the world are joining in this effort to find common ground, thus they hope, peace and unity.

Wayne Teasdale, a monk who coined the term interspirituality, said, ‘Interspirituality: a crossing-over bounderies that mysticism makes possible and concrete. The spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions will be identified, and its theological implications suggested.’ In other words, mysticism (i.e. contemplative prayer) is the common element that unites all religions. According to Teasdale, who believed truth and God can be found outside of the Christian faith, that it is the bridge which unites all.

Tony Campolo, a leading evangelical author and speaker says in his book, “Speaking My Mind:” [M]ysticism [contemplative prayer] provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” And we must not forget the words of Tildon Edwards, founder of the very contemplative Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation who said contemplative prayer is the bridge between Christianity and Far Eastern religions.

Why do these men say this? Do they know something that many others don’t? Yes, they do. They know that going into the silence, into the altered state of consciousness takes the practitioner into a spiritual realm. They believe this realm is God, Divinity. And they believe anyone can enter this realm. That is why Campolo said mysticism is the link between Christianity and Islam. He believes the same God is reached.

While the push for interspirituality grows at alarming speeds throughout the world, born-again believers are going to be pushed outside of the organized evangelical church and considered to be the main obstacle from bringing the world into unity and peace.”


EMERGENT LEADERS – REJECTING THE RETURN OF CHRIST



The Emergent teaching that the Church must establish the Kingdom of God here on earth has turned many away from the Biblical revelation of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church, to take her to heaven. There is a growing antagonism against fundamental Bible believers from within the ranks of these emergent leaders and teachers. The Bible makes it clear that in the Last days just before the return of Christ for His Church there will be those who will mock the idea of Christ’s return.

“… scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

The following article from the Lighthouse Trails website reveals the growing antagonism from within evangelical circles against Christians who believe in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“A growing number of well-known evangelical leaders today are teaching thousands of people that the world has a serious problem. The problem they describe is not what you might expect to hear, especially from evangelical leaders. They believe that those who claim Jesus is coming back soon and that the earth will face a horrible Armageddon or judgment are actually the cause of the world’s major problems and are prohibiting a time of great revival from taking place. Talk of Biblical end-time prophecy is considered by these men to be unnecessary and downright dangerous.

Tony Campolo, in his recent book, “Speaking My Mind” suggests that these types of end-time thinkers are even the cause of wars. He says, “Their doctrines are a major factor in determining a far-ranging set of consequences that include American policies regarding militarism, the emergence of evangelical Zionism, attitudes toward Palestinians and the role of American geopolitics” (p. 207). He later says their “impact on geopolitics can only lead to war” (p. 215).

Rick Warren suggests that Jesus doesn’t want us to even think about prophecy or His return. Warren tells us that it is none of our business. He tells us that thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted (Purpose Driven Life, p. 285,286).

Richard Abanes, author and speaker, in his book “End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon,” criticizes many Christians who believe we should discuss prophecy and that there is indeed a coming Armageddon. He puts solid, Bible-based Christian leaders in the same category as cult leaders such as David Koresh, who led his group to an untimely end.

Are these evangelicals the first ones to hate the idea of Armageddon and the disaster that is coming to the world before Christ returns? In his book, “Reinventing Jesus Christ,” he quotes Barbara Marx Hubbard [A New Age author and spiritist medium], who says that those who believe in an Armageddon are self-centered people who if not stopped will actually cause a self-fulfilling prophecy to take place – the destruction of the world.

Barbara Marx Hubbard tells us of a global peace plan and she calls it an “Armageddon Alternative.” This alternative can actually save the world from Armageddon, she says, but only if enough people believe it and only if the world can be rid of these self-centered doomsdayers. “The species known as self-centered humanity will become extinct. The species known as whole-centered humanity will evolve … Those who choose this version of the future will be there.

Those who do not choose it will not be there. “ Marx Hubbard’s own book of “Revelation” describes a message she received from the “Christ”: “You are to prepare the way for the alternative to Armageddon, which is the Planetary Pentecost, the great Instant of co-operation which can transform enough, en masse, to avoid the necessity of the seventh seal being broken.” She continues: “Tell them to recognize the God within themselves, and to follow that light through the darkness of tribulations to the dawn of the Universal Age, when only the God-conscious continue to exist, and everyone is like Christ … Those with the seal of the living God on their foreheads will be with Christ at the time of the Transformation. I [‘Christ’] cannot return until enough of you are attracted and linked.” According to Marx Hubbard it is these self-centered believers [fundamental Bible believing Christians] that are standing in the way.

In his book “Reinventing Jesus Christ,” Abanes quotes Alice Bailey [New Age author and spiritist medium] who was “told by her spirit guide over fifty years ago that the ‘Forces of Darkness’ [Bible-believing Christians] would oppose the ‘new gospel’ and the ‘New Age.’” Is this new gospel and transformation one and the same as Brian McLaren’s New Kind of Christian and Emerging Church? Is it the same as Rick Warren’s spiritual awakening and global Transformation? With so many similarities, one can only surmise that they may indeed be so. And if that is the case, will there be a growing hostility and anger towards those of us who say,

Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus?” (1 Cor. 16:22)



CONCLUSION


Having Biblically “tested” the Emerging church, her leaders and teachers, and her theology, and the fact that so many churches are being drawn into these false teachings, we have to come to the conclusion that this is part of the great falling away that is predicted by the Word of God just prior to the rapture of the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first …” (2 Thess. 2:3).

In speaking of the Anti-christ, God’s Word warns that his coming will be “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thess. 2:9-11).

Of those who do not want to hear the truth of the Gospel and who align themselves with the teachings and teachers of the Emergent church, the Word of God says:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap            up  for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

If you, the reader, recognize that some of the things described in this booklet are being introduced into your church or being preached or taught by leaders in your church, then realize that your church is becoming Emergent! The Word of God is clear concerning false teaching and false churches:

Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins” (Rev. 18:4)



BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Antonio Mora, “New Faithful Practice Away from Churches” Chicago News, CBS Broadcasting, July 10, 2006.2. Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone,” Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Oregon, 2007, P. 14.
3. Brian McLarin, “Reinventing Your Church” Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998, P. 13.
4. Bob Buford, “Halftime” Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1994, P. 35-36
5. Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone” Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Oregon, 2007, P. 23.6. Bob Buford, “Halftime” Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1994, (Rick Warren’s endorsement in front of book).
7. Rick Warren, “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church” (Event hosted by the Pew Forum on Religion, 2005), www.pewforum.org
8. Doug Pagitt, “Church Re-Imagined” Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2005, P. 17,19.
9. Ibid. P. 102.
10. Julie B. Sevig, “Ancient New” (The Lutheran, Sept. 2001).
11. Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone” Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Oregon, 2007, P. 65.
12. Robert Webber, “Ancient-Future Faith” Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1999, P. 135.

13. Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone” Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Oregon, 2007, P. 67.
14. Douglas R. Groothuis, “Unmasking the New Age” InterVarsity Press, Illinois, 1986. P. 142.
15. Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone” Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Oregon, 2007, P. 99.
16. Ibid. P. 100.
17. Statement from Mosaic Website (www.mosaic.org).
18 Roger Oakland, “Faith Undone” Lighthouse Trails Publishers, Oregon, 2007, P. 168.
19. Dan Kimball, “They Like Jesus But Not the Church” op.cit. P. 191.
20. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality” op.cit. P.30
21. E. Gibbs and R. Bolger, “Emerging Churches, Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures” Grand Rapids, Baker Publishing Group, 2005, P. 132.
22. H.M. Fosdick, “Dear Mrs. Brown” N.Y. Harper and Row Publ. 1961, P. 136.
23. George Otis Junior, “The God They Never Knew” Bible Voice Publishers, Van Nuys, 1978, P. 109.
24. William Paul Young, "The Shack” Windblown Media, USA, P. 112.
25. Ibid. P. 182.
26. Ibid. P. 93.
27. Irvine Robertson, “What The Cults Believe” Pickering & Inglis, London, P.117.
28. William Paul Young, “The Shack” Windblown Media, USA, P. 93.
29. Ibid. P. 65-66.
30. Ibid. P. 66.
31. Ibid. P. 177.
32. Pastor Brad Bailey, “Review of The Shack” vfv.westside.org.
33. Tim Challies, Article on Boundless.org. July 8, 2008.