The Emergent Church ‘Leaders’... What They Say/Believe and Who They Endorse

by Carol Brooks

Rick Warren  obviously approves of the Emerging Church movement, although Saddleback is not a direct participant in the  movement...

Brian McLaren
: Warren’s web site  features the Innovative Church Conference saying "The 2003 Innovative Church Conference will feature Brian McLaren, founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in the Washington, D.C. area. Brian is a prominent voice on postmodern thinking and church growth. He is also the author of several books including The Church on the Other Side and the revolutionary book, A New Kind of Christian”. [1]

One has to assume from that the fact that Warren favorably mentions Brian McLaren and his books on his site, that he he has actually read these books, and that he is actually familiar with McLaren’s beliefs.

Dan Kimball: Rick Warren was a contributing writer to Dan Kimball’s book The Emerging Church and says the following on his web site.

This book is a wonderful detailed example of what a Purpose-Driven church can look like in a postmodern world. My friend, Dan Kimball, writes passionately from his heart, with a deep desire to reach emerging generations and culture. While my book the Purpose-Driven Church, explained what the church is called to do, Dan's book explains how to do it with the cultural-creatives who think and feel in postmodern terms. You need to pay attention to him because times are changing. [2]

Therefore one assumes, in light of Rick Warren’s written endorsements of Dan Kimball’s books, that he has actually read (over and above the parts he authored) The Emerging Church by Kimball and is also familiar with his beliefs.


Dan Kimball

Dan Kimball has a Graduate Certificate in Bible from Multnomah Biblical Seminary, a MA from Western Seminary and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from George Fox Evangelical Seminary where he also serves as Adjunct Faculty and is one of the pastors of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA. He speaks extensively around the country on emerging church and culture issues as well as using the arts in worship. He serves on the editorial advisory boards for Youthworker Journal, Outreach Magazine and REV! Magazine and is several books including The Emerging Church.  On Dan Kimball's blog in a "Catch up post" dated March 22, 2007, he says this:

"Next week, some folks and friends from Zondervan are coming to Santa Cruz where we are filming a DVD project for the They Like Jesus but not the Church book. In prep for that, I spent a couple hours today with my friend Gary, who is in the band The Chop Tops and is in the book and going to be interviewed next week for the video..”

So who is Gary of the Chop Tops? Surely a ‘Christian pastor’ is not talking about a guy who recently stated (07.05.2007) in the Arizona Daily Star that his influences are...
“God, the devil and Johnny Cash. "Those are three massive influences on our music. God for obvious reasons, the devil for similar obvious reasons, and Johnny Cash because he is a badass. The guy lived a hard life and dedicated it to rock 'n' roll. You've got to respect that." [4]

Dan Kimball, Labyrinths and Mysticism
If the above isn’t bad enough, Dan Kimball says..
"We have neglected so many of the disciplines of the historical church [Desert Fathers], including weekly fasting, practicing the silence, and lectio divina." [5]

He promotes Labyrinths saying:

“We made our own prayer path.  After the convention we knew we couldn't keep this experience to ourselves. A few months later we featured a labyrinth as part of Graceland's annual art event at Santa Cruz Bible Church. Graceland artists recreated the labyrinth with a kit we purchased (The Prayer Path, Group Publishing), transforming one of the church's multipurpose rooms into a medieval prayer sanctuary. The team hung art on the walls, draped fabric, and lit candles all around the room to create a visual sense of sacred space. Over two nights we saw more than 100 people go through the labyrinth. It was a joy to see so many people on their knees communing with God through the experiential prayer elements.

Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations. If we had the room, we would set up a permanent labyrinth to promote deeper prayer. Until then, however, Graceland will continue to incorporate experiential prayer and encourage our people to stop, quiet themselves, and pray” 
"Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations." [6]

Dan Kimball and Little Richard

As of August 2008 Dan Kimball’s web site features “Current Happy Music”. Among which is listed Little Richard’s Very Best Of Little Richard. Here are a couple of comments by Little Richard:

"My true belief about Rock ‘n’ Roll — is this: I believe this kind of music is demonic . . . A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums." (Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 197)

“I was directed and commanded by another power. The power of darkness ... that a lot of people don’t believe exists. The power of the Devil. Satan” (Little Richard, cited by Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 206).


Brian McLaren

"The church has been preoccupied with the question, "What happens to your soul after you die?" As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, "Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die." I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don't think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line." —Brian McLaren, from the PBS special on the Emerging Church. [11]

And In his book A New Kind Of Christian, McLaren says [Emphasis Added]
“My knowledge of Buddhism is rudimentary, but I have to tell you that much of what I understand strikes me as wonderful and insightful, and the same can be said of the teachings of Muhammad, though of course I have my disagreements. ... I’d have to say that the world is better off for having these religions than having no religions at all, or just one, even if it were ours. ... They aren’t the enemy of the gospel, in my mind...” [12].

Additionally A New Kind of Christian teaches that it is right for Christians to use pagan practices such as the Native American sweat lodge, peace pipe, dance, dream catcher, and smoke (A New Kind of Christian pp. 26, 74-78. Quoted in Beware of A New Kind of Christian: by David Cloud ) and that unbelievers and pagans can possibly be saved without personal faith in Christ (ibid. p. 92).

That the postmodern Christian is one who “relativizes your own modern viewpoint,” thus understanding that everything he believes about the Bible and Christianity is only relative and uncertain (ibid. p. 35).  

It teaches that ecumenism is good and that all “denominations,” including Roman Catholicism, can contribute to a proper type of Christianity. We are informed that “there are good Catholics, good Greek Orthodox, good Pentecostals, and good Episcopalians” (ibid. p. 73).

It teaches that labels such as Catholic, Protestant, liberal, evangelical “are about to become inconsequential” in a postmodern Christianity (ibid. p. 41).

It teaches that mystical Catholic practices are authentic and desirable (ibid. p. 58).

Quotes from McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy (See  Review)
“meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer.

“The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat” (Brian McLaren A Generous Orthodoxy p.254.)

"I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts”- McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy.

McLaren: “This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.” (Brian McLaren A Generous Orthodoxy p. 113.)

“I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer." (interview with Christianity Today)


Tony Jones

"Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question." Tony Jones at the 2005 National Youth Workers Convention.

In The Sacred Way Tony Jones, the National Coordinator for Emergent-US, provides us with a list of what he refers to as "Contemplative Approaches to Spirituality." [1] These "spiritual disciplines" would be: "Silence and Solitude, Sacred Reading, The Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditation, The Ignatian Examen, Icons, Spiritual Direction, and The Daily Office."

In Why is the Emerging Church drawn to deconstructive theology?" March 26, 2007, Tony Jones says the following …

I am quite convinced that the Bible is a subversive text, that it constantly undermines our assumptions, transgresses our boundaries, and subverts our comforts.  This may sound like academic mumbo-jumbo, but I really mean it. I think the Bible is a f***ing scary book (pardon my French, but that's the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this). [http://churchandpomo.typepad.com/conversation/2007/03/why_is_the_emer.html]

Marcus Borg

In the summer of 2006 McLaren will be speaking in Portland, Oregon at the Center for Spiritual Development with interspiritualist Marcus Borg. Marcus Borg, author of eleven books [whose work has been translated into seven languages], is described by The New York Times as "a leading figure among the new generation of Jesus scholars,". Describing himself as both a historical Jesus scholar and a Christian, Borg is a member of the infamous Jesus Seminar who focuses on the gospels as a “developing tradition”. The conference, titled The Church in the 21st Century, will take place at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on June 14th - 16th.

McLaren reveals his admiration for Borg in his recent interview and on his website (www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000487.html) says he has "high regard" for Borg and finds find his work “helpful and important in many ways”. He adds that Borg’s “newest book, The Last Week (with Dominic Crossan) is very informative and useful, and shows that so-called liberals do indeed take the Bible very seriously, contrary to what many of my evangelical friends think”.
This word from Lighthouse Trails Research..

…And yet, Borg is clearly against the Atonement and the doctrine of the Cross. In Borg's book, The God We Never Knew, he states he is "a Christian of a nonliteralistic and nonexclusivistic kind" (p. viii). In plain terms, this means he does not believe the Bible should be taken literally nor does he believe that Jesus Christ is the only avenue through which man can obtain salvation. Of contemplative prayer, Borg says,"I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into the silence" (p. 125). Borg goes so far as to say that Jesus Himself "would have been shocked at the suggestion that he was divine" and puts Him in a category with Buddha and Mohammed.” 

A second book by Marcus Borg is entitled Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally. An Editorial Review by Michael Joseph Gross on amazon.com says the book is…

“…written for lay people whose faith has been frustrated by their misapprehension that fundamentalism's claim to be the one true faith is valid. Borg, a professor of religion at Oregon State University, describes an alternative to fundamentalists' so-called "literal" readings of scripture. (He believes that such "literal-factual" readings do not live up to that description, and that the limitations of such readings have alienated many people who would otherwise remain part of the church.) Borg calls his alternative "historical-metaphorical" reading, a way of "taking the Bible seriously without taking it literally."


Alan Jones

On the back cover of Reimagining Christianity Brian McLaren says:
“… Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimaging Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply” []
Which is interesting in light of McLarens claims to uphold historic creeds and Alan Jones’ mindset regarding key issues of the church.  On pages 167-168 of the book Alan Jones says:

“To some, the cross is an unwelcome symbol of where Christians have gone off track… The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine. I don’t doubt for one moment the power of sin and evil in the world or the power of sacrificial love as their antidote and the peculiar power of the cross of forgiveness and restoration, but making God vengeful, all in the name of justice, has left thousands of souls deeply wounded and lost to the church forever.

He goes on to say:
“What does the image of the cross mean to me? It is a sign of the necessary crucifixion of idealogies in the face of concrete human experience- the crucifixion of power plays, the crucifixion of a god we think we can conceptually control. It is also a sign of humanity’s need to find someone to blame or it’s ills. When we suffer or are threatened we look for scapegoats… The cross speaks directly to this dark issue of scapegoating... In calling the victim Lord, Christianity is weird, and we have lost touch with the strangeness of it”.

These are some more excerpts from  Reimagining Christianity.

"The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 132)

"The image of the child Jesus sitting on the Buddha's lap appeals to me and captures the spirit of this book. It is an image of the Kingdom. "The Kingdom" is a sort of shorthand signifying an inclusive community of faith, love and justice." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 12)

"The phrase, 'I am a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian' is extraordinarily wise." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 16 )

"Christianity as a set of beliefs doesn't work for me. At the same time, I acknowledge the need for ritual and celebration in my life and find fulfillment and joy in many traditional practices. I light candles and ask for the prayers of the saints.... These disciplines ... do not require me to believe literally in angels and the Virgin Birth." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 31).

“The Roman Catholic writer James Carroll certainly thinks so. He believes that we have made the sacred mistake of putting the cross at the center of Christianity in the wrong way. Carroll insists that Catholics must not only "reverently and silently" remove the cross from Auschwitz but, far more fundamentally, must remove the cross from the center of Christianity. The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.” (Alan Jones, p. 132 Reimagining Christianity).

"The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution [the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine."—p. 168 (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity  p. 132)

“Such writing disturbs our inherited certainties and, for some, seems to mean the total dismantling of traditional Christianity. It also invites us to learn a new language. Many Christians have come to see that the very foundational documents of Christianity are polluted (St. John's gospel in particular, with its insistent mantra of the Jews, the Jews, the Jews as responsible for opposing and killing Jesus). This language must go. Believers are being challenged in their understanding of who and what Jesus thought he was. This is good. This doesn't mean that I agree with Carroll in every particular, but I do think that basic beliefs should always be open to reimagining” (Alan Jones, p. 132 Reimagining Christianity).

“Duffy is right when he insists: The cross is not some arbitrary demand of God imposed on a hapless victim. . . but a marker where human beings find them- selves, at the intersection of justice and mercy, time and eternity, death and life. All of which, of course, is the language of myth: but myth is the coin of religion, which makes sense of our world by telling such stories.” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 133 ).

“The goal of the converted life is to find God in all things and is based on the conviction of the unity of reality. Everything is connected” (p. 200). “Jesus and Buddha have this in common with all great spiritual teachers-- to make human beings more conscious of themselves” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 194).

So who is Alan Jones? The short answer is that he is an interspiritualist and a mystic… Also the dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  Grace Cathedral reminds me of a hornets nest… chock a block full of dangerous little creatures that you need to stay well away from, or suffer the consequences. Apart from Alan Jones, Grace Cathedral also promotes…

Labyrinths: Grace Cathedral is home to The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, founder of Veriditas …the Voice of the Labyrinth Movement. Artress, who does not disguise her contempt for “fundamentalism” and the “religious right,” whose “literal interpretation of the Bible...  breeds small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness.”

United Religions Initiative (URI): Rev. William Swing of Grace Episcopal Cathedral relates how the UN first contacted him in 1993 about heading up a worship celebration on its behalf: “Three and a half years ago, a telephone call arrived in San Francisco from the United Nations asking if we, at Grace Cathedral, would host a great interfaith worship service honoring the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter in our city.” This request is allegedly what prompted Swing to become involved in the United Religions Initiative (URI). He continues, “I got out of bed the next day determined to commit the rest of my life to an initiative that would create a United Religions which would, in appropriately spiritual ways, parallel the United Nations.”

Living Spiritual Teachers Project
Alan Jones is a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project along with [the group consists of some 80 individuals]

Marianne Williamson (See critique of her book A Return To Love)

Marcus J. Borg (Jesus scholar and fellow of The Jesus Seminar)

Brother David Steindl-Rast: (Benedictine monk and hospitable pioneer in Christian-Buddhist dialogue)

Sharon Salzberg (Buddhist cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society)

Andrew Harvey ( persuasive presenter of the nurturing presence of the Sacred Feminine)

Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese monk, poet, scholar, and retreat leader)

Lawrence Kushner (Jewish rabbi, scholar, and commentator and wise and witty teacher of the spiritual practice of mystery

Thomas Keating: (Catholic abbot and participant in multifaith dialogues and co-founder of the Centering Prayer movement)
Neil Douglas-Klotz (Sufi Founder of the worldwide network of the Dances of Universal Peace, now based in Seattle, WA)

Quaker and Evangelical leader, Richard Foster, has recently been added to the list.


Thomas Keating


“... is a significant voice in the dialogue in our time. Keating has met and spoken with the Dalai Lama on at least six or seven occasions. He has grasped the subtleties of Buddhist spirituality, and has entered into long and fruitful dialogues with Buddhist teachers at the Naropa Institute, a Tibetan Buddhist graduate school in Boulder, Colorado. Some years ago, he established the Snowmass Conference, composed of fifteen members, each of whom is a spiritual teacher in one of the world religions. They have been engaged in significant conversations since the early eighties, and produced what they call The Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding, the fruit of their long deliberations and mutual sharings”. (www.consciouschoice.com/1995-98/cc116/bridginginfinite1106.html)


Richard Foster

One of the pioneers of the Emerging Church movement is perhaps the best known Quaker in the world today.
“In 1978, Quaker Richard J. Foster authored the very popular Celebration of Discipline (New York: Harper and Row, 1978). The book, together with the film series, was widely popularized. In the book, Foster promotes the inner healing experience, claiming that he learned it from Agnes Sanford (p. 137). He also encouraged the visualization of Bible stories and becoming active participants in the biblical events. In so doing, as he put it:

"you can actually encounter the living Christ in this event, be addressed by his voice and be touched by his healing power. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you (p. 26)”. (Don Matzat Source)

Also:

"[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. They tell us of exciting possibilities for new life and freedom. They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit." (Celebration of Discipline, 1980, p. 13.)

However In his book Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, he said:

"I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance," he explains. "While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection."
Which is extremely strange. Why in the world would I put myself in a position to have to fend for myself in an unknown spiritual realm surrounded by spiritual beings that are “not in cooperation with God and his way”? What good are “prayers of protection” when we are disobeying God by venturing into the spiritual realm.

Those who practice the occultism of the East also warn of its dangers. This is why those who seek the so-called "wisdom from the East" frequently get more than they bargained for.

Richard Foster and Renovaré

Foster is the founder of Renovaré, which "is committed to working for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions."

However:

“Renovaré is an international, New Age, ecumenical organization that emanates from the religious traditions of Quakerism, whose message is that today's Church is missing out on some wonderful spiritual experiences that can only be found by studying and practicing the "meditative" and "contemplative" lifestyle "of early Christianity." In actuality, Renovaré espouses the use of the early pagan traditions of guided imagery and visualization, astral projection,

"Zen" prayer techniques for meditation (i.e., Buddhism), and Jungian psychology (i.e., a blend of Eastern mysticism and Roman Catholic mystical spiritual tradition, which nicely fits the New Age model), all as means of obtaining "personal spiritual renewal" in the lives of believers”.
The Renovaré Bible includes the Apocrypha and declares that “Most of the Church throughout much of history has accepted the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture….”

The Renovaré Bible introduces what it calls “Spiritual Disciplines” to help one’s “spiritual formation.” Neither term is found in the Bible.

The Renovaré Bible honors Catholic heretics and occultists as “saints” and their writings as a framework within which to understand Scripture. The Spiritual

Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are endorsed even though they involve occult techniques that have caused many to be demonized.

The Renovaré explanatory notes deny the Divine authorship of much of Scripture—even that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.


Richard Foster and Thomas Merton


Richard Foster cites and/or quotes Thomas Merton on at least nine separate occasions in his 1998 book Celebration of Discipline and considers Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer as being:


“priceless wisdom for all Christians who long to go deeper in the spiritual life.”

"Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood ... his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion ...[he is] a gifted teacher ..." (Spiritual Classics - p.17)

“A must book,” Spiritual Classics, p. 17.

Yet Merton was not a Christian. He was a twentieth-century Roman Catholic who claimed he saw no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. Even Henry Nouwen  describes Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks. (Pray to Live page 19 – 28). [More on Thomas Merton]

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/emerging_church_leaders.html