I had been attending a very popular multi-campus church in Georgia whose leader is Andy Stanley. When I told this to two older Christian women who I trust and love, the reaction was the same in a nutshell: “Be careful, Andy’s emergent.”
At the time, I didn’t know what that meant so I decided to do some research. I googled “Andy Stanley emergent” and got a better taste for what this whole Emerging Church thing is, but didn’t really grasp it in clear and simple terms until this morning.
Apparently, many Emerging Church leaders identify with “post-modernism,” another term I didn’t know much about until this morning:
“Modernism was a bad philosophy. Post-modernism is another bad philosophy. But in both cases, they assault the Scripture. Modernism made reason, human reason, the king. Reason was supreme in modernism. Thomas Payne, The Age of Reason, The Enlightenment…the Renaissance. Out of that came the worship of the human mind and the mind trumps God. Now, mystery trumps the Bible. The human mind trumps the Bible in modernism, mystery trumps the Bible in post-modernism. It is at the foundation an unwillingness to accept the clear teaching of Scripture…God holds us responsible for a right understanding of Scripture. We are liable before God for what we do with a true and right understanding of Scripture.
“These people, like the liberals, deny the clear teaching of Scripture. And I’m convinced that the reason they deny it is not because it can’t be understood, not because it’s unclear, but because they don’t like what it clearly says. And that takes you back to John 3, “Men love darkness rather than light.” The light is there, they hate the light, they run from the light. The issue is not that Scripture is not clear, it is crystal clear…
So I think the motive behind this whole Emerging Church thing, whether it’s a conscious or unconscious motive, is discomfort over what the Bible really says, whether it’s about the gospel or whether it’s about sin, virtue…they don’t like it and so the out is…Well, it’s not clear. This is just another way to set the Bible aside…”-John MacArthur
In a radio show, John goes even more in-depth on this topic, and I’ll just add one more snippet of the conversation because I think it’s powerful:
“What is so interesting about this movement is the Emerging Church sanctifies the culture. The Emerging church sanctifies the post-modern culture as if it is legitimate and says, ‘if we’re going to reach these people, we’ve got to become like these people.’ That’s never been the biblical way…never. The Bible does not change. It’s not a chameleon; it doesn’t shift and change and adapt to culture. It confronts culture. It confronts an aboriginal culture. It confronts an ancient culture. It confronts a modern culture. It confronts every trend with fixed unchanging truth in every situation. And the Emerging Church not only is unwilling to believe the clear statement of Scripture, but it’s unwilling to take the clear statement of Scripture and confront the culture. It wants to let the culture define what Christianity should be.”
To hear the whole talk visit Grace To You.
So the Emerging Church, often subtly, downplays the Bible and strips it of its superiority and authority. Using the excuse that it cannot possibly be understood, they make allowance for sins that the Bible clearly condemns, and makes God a more “accepting” God, which truly, the Emergents just want their churches to be more widely accepted because the bigger the building, the more seats it can fill, and the more seats it can fill, the more money they can make.
And also, simply put, they want to enjoy sinning without the guilt trip. They want to watch porn, or fornicate, or cheat on their spouses, or indulge in greed without being judged by a Holy God for it.
Sounds a lot like the folks the Apostle Paul warned about:
“And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.”-Romans 3:8 NLT
“And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus —if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”-1 Corinthians 15:32-34 NLT
So are you apart of an Emerging Church? I think one of the clearest indicators is their avoidance on agreeing with Scripture’s clear stances on topics such as sex before marriage or living together before marriage (i.e. fornication), homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion. Since these are big hot-topics in our day, many Emerging Church leaders will cower away from stating what the Bible says about these things and make some excuse for, or evade the topics altogether. Why? Because they’re more concerned with keeping those large numbers/pew sitters than they are about teaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at the cost of possibly becoming attacked, fined, imprisoned, or impoverished. They love their money and comfort more than they love Jesus and others.
Because at the end of the day, the old saying is often true, “The truth hurts,” or as the Bible puts it, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”-Proverbs 27:6 NLT
I’m gonna tell someone what I know and am 100% convinced of is unadulterated, divinely inspired truth. If I genuinely believe this incredibly prophetic, historically accurate, scientifically sound, ancient written record of how God revealed Himself to man and what He has to say to us, and I love Him more than I do my own reputation and relationships with others besides Him, then I’ll tell them what it says because I am genuinely concerned for the consequences they’ll face if they don’t know and believe these divine, eternal truths.
Many people have wrong desires: they’re married but they’re desiring to have sex with another person. Just because they have that desire, albeit it can be deemed a natural one, doesn’t make that desire justifiable or good. The same is true for premarital sex and homosexuality. Just because someone has the desire to be with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean that behavior is justifiable.
A lot of people enjoy wrong desires; indulge in adulterous relationships, in drugs, in premarital sex and homosexual relationships, but it doesn’t mean that it’s right or good in the sight of God. And who on this earth has the authority or revelation to determine what God deems good and what He deems evil? God Himself! But how do we know which God is the true God and which teachings accurately reflect His opinions and commands???
I say, with 100% confidence, there is no other book in all the history of mankind, in all the millions of documents ever written, as prophetically accurate as the Bible, and as geographically, historically, and scientifically sound as the Bible. Even secular expert scribes agree: no ancient work holds more manuscript authority than the Bible, which simply means it is a completely reliable ancient record; what it says now is what it said thousands of years ago.
And again, no book or prophet comes an INKLING as close to as incredibly accurately prophetic as Jesus Christ and the Old and New Testament prophecies. If someone were to research the thousands of prophecies fulfilled in history that the Bible prophesied centuries and even millennia before the events occurred, they’d probably begin to doubt their doubts and start to hold the Bible in a much higher light than its religious peers. There’s no getting around it unless you avoid it.
So, are you apart of a church who downplays the Bible or reinterprets, or condemns its clear stances on sin? And if so, do you agree with your leaders that the Bible can’t be understood and that truth is thus subjective?
Who is right? The prophetically proven Bible, or these smart sounding, passionate men who’ve existed for fifty years or less on this earth and have never prophesied anything that came true to perfect detail?
I hope this makes you think and take stock as to the pastors you’re listening to and consider if they uphold the Bible as the ultimate truth, or downplay it as an ancient book that is only partially relevant now. Because, as the historically accurate ancient record holds, God has once said about mankind:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.”-Hosea 4:6
With sincere love and concern,