Author Archive

Lynne Hybels’ “God”

By Jim Fletcher
Prophecy Matters

Lynne Hybels is a woman of vast influence in the evangelical world. She and her husband, Bill, founded Willow Creek Community Church in 1975; today the Willow Creek Association (9,000 member churches worldwide) is one of the most influential groups in Christendom. Willow Creek’s annual “Leadership Summit” often hosts speakers well outside of evangelicalism’s mainstream. Even a cursory examination of the Hybels’ worldview reveals a strong lean toward so-called “Progressive Christianity” (example: hosting speakers like Bill Clinton and Tony Campolo).

In the past few years, Lynne Hybels has become an activist for all sorts of causes, including the crisis in Congo, Christian persecution in the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . .

Since the ‘70s, Lynne Hybels and her husband have been mentored by people sympathetic to the Palestinian Narrative, including Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. In October 2008 she attended a conference in Amman, Jordan, led by Arab Christians from “Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and the West Bank.”

Since that time, Lynne Hybels has been very active in promoting the so-called “Palestinian Narrative,” which points to Israel as an occupier of Arabs. The narrative is classic PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) propaganda, but Hybels’ networks allow her the luxury of promoting this worldview—couched in the language of “non-violent resistance”—which is also shared by Millennial influencers such as Donald Miller and Cameron Strang.

(Both Miller and Strang have accused Israel, in print, of virtual war-crimes, including the harvesting of organs from Palestinians, and outright murder of Palestinian women and children by the IDF. To date, Miller in particular offers no documentation for his allegations.)  Click here to continue reading.

An Update From Caryl Matrisciana

LTRP Note: This past week, we asked author and filmmaker Caryl Matrisciana if she could give us an update on her critical health condition that we could pass on to our readers, many of whom are concerned and are praying for her. Caryl gave us the following update:

From Caryl Matrisciana:

Thanks for wanting an health update – difficult to say this early after only 6 weeks of cancer treatment if there’s any improvement after taking my cancer meds. I go monthly for a report from my Pulminary doc and Oncologist.

The former gave a wonderfully glowing report last week about the absence, at last, of every trace of pneumonia. Praise God!

I still have small cancer nodules in my lungs, BUT he said I had 98% oxygen coming through my blood & lungs, which showed a brilliantly strong immune system that he was happy to see was building up so well!! Praise my Loving God for His Kind Provision in this!

I also believe this improvement is due to my well-disciplined naturopathic system of green diet, which is basically no acidic content, only alkaline and no sugar! I’m also trying to have no stress, which causes inflammation, and I’m forcing myself to be involved in lots of exercise!

The stress comes through pain, which has been horrible! As of Friday, after a month without it, I’m back to using an opioid  narcotic pain patch for bike accident residues of left side body aches in my back, knee and groin! With the pain patch  I’m thrilled to report I’ve had two days of no pain but horrible side effects of vomiting all yesterday, nausea, headache, dizziness etc. Today I’ve woken up to new beginnings and a fresh start with none of the GHASTLY side effects and still am enjoying the removal of pain for which I’m truly grateful and appreciative to God!

The past month I’ve  tried several ways of doing natural pain management but nothing worked SO back to the narcotic patch for a month of pain relief!!

About the other cancer drugs I’m using, the insurance company and grants are covering the expense of them, which is a wonderful answer to prayer, but I have no report of good results yet from the use of them!

Weekly blood tests don’t show any improvement through use of the cancer drugs; indeed instead of there being evidence of suppression of the growth of the cancer actually there is a 2/3rds increase which the doctor says is normal!! Apparently the meds force a spiking of the cancer growth in the first months which doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll know more when I return to the oncologist in three weeks!

I have an infusion monthly to strengthen my bones and don’t know if that med is working yet either in strengthening my bones!

But my naturopathic results are VERY encouraging!  I’m able to afford this regime through dozens of kind people who are sending me generous donations  through my Donations Plea. These donations cover what my insurance company won’t, and I’m very grateful to my kind supporters’ prayers, financial gifts, helpful materials, and supplements. I’m truly overwhelmed by so much loving concern, which blesses me mightily!

My Naturopathic doc reports my antioxidants I’ve gone from an F rating to B+ A- showing my immune system is responding to all the supplements, minerals, and herbs I’m taking along with a very disciplined diet of greens, veg, fruits and nuts! No meat, wheat, acidic based foods or sugar!

My exercise regime includes therapy after my knee surgery which has improved the mobility of my left knee enormously – a gym work out twice a week to build up my muscles and strengthen my core etc after the pneumonia, which I’m responding to well. And tennis twice a week for 2-2 1/2 hrs which I’m also coping with VERY WELL!!

carylpicI’m including about 3 – 5 miles of bike riding on in between days which is good! My energy level is slowly increasing all though I get fatigued and tired easily so take naps which are helpful!!

I think that’s it for my health update!!

Thanks for your kind support and prayers.

With much appreciation,



Bryce Homes In Kenya: New House, New Businesses, New Road, and the Strength and Joy of the Lord

We hope you enjoy the following new slideshow from the Bryce Homes in Kenya where Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers support 24 Christian families. Roger Oakland, director and founder of UTT, has launched several programs with the Bryce Homes including the monthly food support program and the Small Business Opportunity program (helping the families to become self-sufficient so we can bring in new Bryce Home families). If you would like more information or would like to help support this missions effort, click here.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Letter to the Editor: ConvergePacWest Using Contemplative Books and Authors to “Grow Spiritually”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

After reading Seduction of Christianity by Dave Hunt years ago, I have watched the insidious encroachment of mysticism into the evangelical Christian church.  When I discovered you several years ago, I used some of your resources to help inform the small part of the flick that I have contact with.

There is a church in our city that changed affiliation several years ago from Baptist General Conference to ConvergePacWest.   The name alone made me suspicious, so I researched it and, sure enough, if you click on to “Grow Spiritually,” then “Resources,” they have a list of books for “Personal Spiritual Formation” that includes Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and John Ortberg.

Since I hadn’t seen any reference to ConvergePacWest on your website, just thought I would mention it.

Your Friend in Christ,


LTRP Note: ConvergePacWest is also recommending books by contemplative proponents Philip Yancey, John Piper, and Tim Keller and lists Discipleship Journal under their “Grow Spiritually” resource list (although that link is broken). Discipleship Journal, is a publication put out by NavPress that uses a wide array of New Spirituality authors such as Ruth Haley Barton and has regularly promoted contemplative spirituality and the emerging church.

Tantric (i.e., Contemplative) Sex and Christianity—A Match NOT Made in Heaven

photo by; used with permission.

photo by; used with permission.

The Bible says we live in a “crooked and perverse” world and that as believers we are to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). The closer we move toward the “end of the age” (Matthew 24), the darker and more perverse the world becomes. Global peace plans, inter-faith movements, emergent spiritualities, and other carnal-induced plots will not help the world’s woes. Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46). As the world moves further away from Jesus Christ, the darkness only grows. A person can never escape that darkness without Jesus Christ living in him or her … all these other attempts are futile.

The New Age movement has now permeated all areas of our society: the business world, healthcare, education, religion, and entertainment. Virtually nothing has been untouched by the tentacles of this occultic, meditation-driven spirituality, and it has entered the Christian church through contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation). But there is another area that mysticism has united with … and that is the sexual realm. The marriage of the two is referred to as tantra (or tantric sex), and before you stop reading this article, thinking “What has sex got to do with exposing contemplative and the New Age?” we must tell you will all soberness, this mystical sexuality is growing faster by the day, and it may ultimately affect the lives of countless Christians. Why? Because Christianity at large is going in a mystical direction, thanks to countless Christian leaders and authors, and within the realms of these mystical states, many will be introduced to tantra.

We decided to write this article on tantra after a Christian woman contacted us and told us (after seeing tantra mentioned in a description of For Many Shall Come in My Name) that her Christian husband (who is in leadership in a large Christian movement) was being enticed with tantric sex.

Ray Yungen explains about tantra and its relevance today:

Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.

Once completely off-limits to the masses of humanity, tantra, like all other New Age methodologies, is now starting to gain increasing popularity. A google search on the Internet shows 6,600,000 entries for the word tantra! This union of sexuality and Eastern spirituality is a perfect example to illustrate just how much the New Age has permeated our society as it has affected even the most intimate areas of people’s lives.

The potential to impact a very great number of people, especially men, was brought out in an article by a sex worker who incorporates “Tantric Bodywork” into her services. She paints a very sad portrait of the dynamics of the “enormous sex industry” in which millions of stressed and unhappy men seek out “erotic release” from women who are just as unhappy and stressed as their clients. She observes that there is a “culturally rampant phenomenon that spouses are disconnected from each other.”

To remedy this tragic interplay of exploitation, she has turned to Tantric Union to give her clients what she feels is not just sex but “union with the divine.” After she read a book called Women of the Light: The New Sacred Prostitute, she turned her erotic business
into a “temple.” Of this temple, she says it is:

…dedicated to being a haven of the sacred, a home for the embodiment of spirit, filled with altars, sacred objects, plants, art, dreamy sensual music, blissful scents. My space is home to Quan Yin [a Buddhist goddess], crystals blessed by the Entities of John of God [a Brazilian spirit channeler].

Now the “multitudes of men” who come to her get much more than they bargained for. In the past, wives and girlfriends needed only to worry about sexually transmitted diseases from cheating husbands and boyfriends, but now their men may instead bring home spiritual entities!

Most readers might think that tantra is something exceedingly obscure that would never attract average people. But the movie industry thinks otherwise. In a 2003 movie, Hollywood Homicide (starring Harrison Ford, one of the industry’s leading men), viewers were presented with a brief snippet of tantric sex in one scene where fellow police officers opened the locker of Ford’s rookie detective partner and out falls a book (which the camera focuses on) about tantra, revealing the side-kick’s spiritual/sexual affinities (incidentally, he also teaches yoga in the film). (For Many Shall Come in My Name, 2nd ed., pp. 115-116)

If Christians begin to incorporate their contemplative proclivities with their sexual lives (a Christian version of tantric sex), the results will be devastating to the church, and we predict sexual perversion will be more rampant than ever. Why? Because if the altered states of consciousness are truly demonic realms (as we believe they are) then tantric sex is another venue of the hidden darkness that Jesus spoke of.

These assertions may sound absurd and far-fetched to some readers, but evidence of the truth of this does exist. For instance, Henri Nouwen (who along with Thomas Merton is one of the top icons of the contemplative prayer movement), in his last book The Sabbatical Journey, favorably revealed how he listened to audio tapes on the seven chakras which is the basis for tantric sex (p. 20). Also in Nouwen’s book, he makes mention of his encounter with a homosexual mystic named Andrew Harvey, whom Nouwen referred to as his soul friend (spiritual mentor) and how much Harvey’s mysticism had touched him (p. 149). And yet Harvey’s mysticism includes the tantric element. In a 2007 conference (The International Conference on Sacred Sexuality), Harvey led a workshop called “Sexual Liberation, Tantra, and Sacred Activism” in which Harvey:

… show[s] that sexual liberation and Tantra are vital parts of the Divine Mother’s plan for the birth of a new humanity, since they make possible a profound and ecstatic contact with what Andrew calls Divine Eros – a tender passionate dynamic love-connection. True Tantric sexuality gives its’ practitioners access to extraordinary and unified energies which will form the base of a commitment to Sacred Activism.

Most Christians would have a hard time believing that tantric sex could enter the church. But it’s “closer to home” than most think. One of the most popular evangelical authors is promoting an author who wrote a book on tantric sex. Gary Thomas is a contemplative advocate. In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas instructs readers:

It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing. (p. 185)

In Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage, Thomas introduces readers to a woman named Mary Anne McPherson Oliver and to her book Conjugal Spirituality. Thomas favorably references or quotes Oliver several times throughout Sacred Marriage. Who is Mary Anne McPherson Oliver and why should Christians be concerned about Gary Thomas’ promotion of this woman’s book, Conjugal Spirituality?

On the back of Oliver’s book, it states that “[r]eligious practice as we know it today remains, in effect, ‘celibate.’ Mary Anne Oliver proposes an alternative … she examines the spiritual dynamics of long-term relationship.”

You may be wondering, “What does that all mean?” To put it simply, Oliver believes that sexuality and spirituality go together and that couples are missing out because they have not incorporated the two but rather have practiced what she calls a celibate spirituality. But she is not just talking about spirituality – she is talking about mystical spirituality!

Oliver received her doctorate in mystical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and her book permeates with her mystical persuasions. She describes her “discomfort” regarding present views on sexuality and religion and says she hunted for answers by talking to monks, going on retreats and even spending an entire (“liturgical”) year at Taize, an ecumenical, meditation-promoting community in France. Eventually, she came to identify what she termed “conjugal spirituality” (p. 1).

Oliver says that “negative attitudes” and “walls” toward sex have inhibited people and says: “Although the walls are coming down, the separation of sex and spirituality which has been operative since the 4th century has yet to be completely eliminated” (p. 16).

What exactly is Oliver proposing couples do to remove these “walls”? Very clearly, her message to couples is to turn to mysticism. In dismay, she says that “spiritual counsellors and writers” have not begun to teach the “Upanishads [Hindu scriptures] and Tantric writings as the basis for moral theology for couples” and that “[s]ome still refuse to grant that mystical experience can be associated with erotic love” (p. 18). Oliver says that changes in mainstream theology have prepared the way for “the emergence of conjugal spirituality.” She adds: “An upsurge of interest in the spiritual life and a renaissance in mystical studies have widened the domain of spirituality” (p. 27).

This mysticism that Oliver encourages is experienced through “bodily exercises” that the couple practice together, “creating one’s spiritual space.” Listen to some of her instructions in what she describes as “intercourse on all levels of consciousness”:

1. “Center ‘that whole human reality which some people are beginning to call bodymind’” (p.85).
2. “Two basic movements in which each can contact the core energy of the other and experience the enlarging of the oval inhabited by the divine presence” (p. 91).
3. Yin and Yang movements
4. “Concentrate in the stillness and silence” (p. 93).
5. “Center yourselves.”
6. “Meditate using the five senses. Experience the circuit of energy circling slowly through the joined bodies” (p. 93).
7. “Focus a few minutes on the breath as a sign of the Spirit’s activity within yourself” (p.102).
8. “Repeat name or “I love you” as a mantra” (p. 102).

In Conjugal Spirituality, Oliver talks favorably about mystic Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point and the “Indian Tantric Yoga tradition … spoken of as kundalini potential energy” (p. 97). She describes public sexual ceremonies in which couples practice “Taoist visualizations and meditations, accompanied by breathing exercises” and talks of “[i]nvoking the gods and goddesses.” Oliver says that society may frown on such public displays of sexual mysticism at this time and couples may have to improvise until restrictions are lifted. She says that “sexual union celebrated [is] an eschatological sign of God’s kingdom where all will be one” (p. 101).

When Gary Thomas read Oliver’s book, he must have resonated with it. Otherwise he would not have referred to or quoted from it so many times (over a dozen times) in Sacred Marriage. This is not guilt by association, but rather guilt by promotion. Sacred Marriage has sold over 500,000 copies according to Gary Thomas’ website. This means that countless readers have been introduced to a tantric sex advocate!  This is a primary example of how tantric sex is coming into the church.

As believers who are to “shine as lights in the world,” we must flee the deeds of darkness and “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” We cannot do this in our own strength, but Jesus Christ living inside us will enable us through His mercy and grace: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). (this article originally from our 2007 newsletter archive)

Further information on this topic:

Hindus critical & dismayed of “Hollywood types” describing Tantra as just sex

Trinity Western University Professor Promotes Tantric-like Spirituality – Serious Implications for Christianity

A Pastor Speaks Up: Mark Driscoll and the New “Sexual Spirituality”

Letter to the Editor: False Unity Growing Among U.S. Pastors – Say “Unity” is Key to Revival

Sacramento, California

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am writing because of my great concern for what seems to be a false “unity” growing amongst pastors in Sacramento, CA.  The concern I have is not only on the local level but on a national level as well. My concern is that this “unity” is being propagated as the key to “revival” in the rest of the nation . . . Some of the pastors are well known, such as Sam Rodriguez (Lead Pastor, New Season Christian Worship Center, also Spanish pastor at Jesus Culture* Sacramento Church Plant) and Banning Liebscher (Lead pastor, Jesus Culture Church plant (note: the Jesus Culture band has almost 2,200,000 Facebook followers and now has concerts in Europe as well as South America, and has recently released a Spanish album).

These Sacramento pastors are convinced that this amazing “unity” that God is supposedly bringing in Sacramento is a model/prototype for how the next great “awakening” will come about for the rest of the nation . . . through what they believe to be “unity” in their city . . .  These Sacramento pastors recently posted a 7 minute video (posted by the church Rock of Roseville, which is pastored by Francis Anfuso) with the following title:


There’s a secret in every city, placed by our Heavenly Father. It’s the Body of Christ, His children. Once they’re found and flow together as one, they fulfill their Father’s perfect will. The Church is God’s gift to their city. But, if the enemy can keep them separated, they’ll never fulfill their individual or corporate destinies. Yet, something unprecedented is happening in Sacramento, California, America’s Most Integrated City. God is Healing Breaches, Uniting Believers and Building Bridges. May this fledgling revival of unity and love in Sacramento spread across our nation, and even around the world!

Here is the link to the video [note Francis Chan and John Ortberg in the video]:, or see it below:

The video starts out with Sam Rodriguez (Lead Pastor, New Season Christian Worship Center, Spanish pastor at Jesus Culture Sacramento Church Plant) narrating with these words: “Why is Sacramento strategic? Because the next awakening may very well be an awakening of unity . . . what if this is it? What if we will see within our lifetime the church of Jesus Christ coming together?”

Sam Rodriguez is an NAR apostle, and:

In December of 2014, Sam was flown to Washington D.C. to consult with President Obama to discuss Obama’s immigration reform strategy. Rodriguez is also a member of ICAL (International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders) and also part of the NAR [New Apostolic] movement.1 His wife Eva Rodriguez and Sam’s sister were part of Roma Downey’s “Women of the Bible” television 2-hour event in December 2014. (source:

Sam R. also spoke at the January 2015 Jesus Culture Conference in Sacramento. where he “prophesied” concerning the future “revival”: “So goes Sacramento, so goes California . . . so goes California, so goes the U.S. . . . so goes the U.S., so goes the world!!”

Most pastors talk about this amazing “unity” by making statements like: “I believe there is going to be a great awakening that will flood this city, that we have never seen before.” Another pastor talks of the “truly God-sent revival” that is coming . . . Banning Liebscher (Jesus Culture Sacramento Church plant) says: “As I talk to leaders around the nation, they don’t really fully believe what I’m saying about what’s happening in Sacramento . . . that those leading in the city are for one another (i.e. the strong unity).”

Another pastor talks about the decreasing violence and murder rate in Sacramento and gives the credit to the Sacramento pastors who are working with the police and working for this “unity.”

The video has a cross-section of a wide variety of pastors from Sacramento talking about this amazing “unity.” Most of the pastors in this eclectic group are lead pastors of churches that are non-denominational. The only notable denomination represented in the video was a pastor from a Presbyterian church.

Other notable participants in the video included: Bryce Jessup (President Emeritus, William Jessup University [recently place on the Lighthouse Trails list of contemplative-promoting colleges]) and John Jackson (President of William Jessup University) saying: “This region (Sacramento region) is a model for other regions.”

Another notable pastor was Francis Anfuso (Co-Senior Pastor, The Rock of Roseville) who says: “This is divinely inspired . . . so pervasive . . . it’s so widely diverse that it would have a great shot at spilling over to the rest of the nation.”

THE QUESTION I MUST ASK IS, IS THERE REALLY A “SECRET” IN EVERY CITY?  Is this “secret” the key to revival in the the rest of the nation?

1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV): ” Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

This Sacramento “unity” movement sounds more like the apostasy the Bible predicts—not some exciting next “great awakening/revival” that will flood our nation.

* LTRP Note: Jesus Culture formed out of the youth group at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, California.

In Christ,

Related Articles:

Persecution and Revival in the Soviet Union in the 1960s

FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion? by Warren B. Smith

Is “The Church is the Hope of the World”? by Paul Proctor


The “Kingdom of God” in the Emerging Church: A Theology of Despair and Hopelessness

By Bob DeWaay

Imagine a world where the polarity of time is reversed so that history moves backward toward Paradise rather than forward toward judgment. Consider a world in which God is so immanently involved in the creation that He is undoing entropy1 and recreating the world now through processes already at work. Think of a world where the future is leading to God Himself in a saving way for all people and all of creation. This imaginary world is our world viewed through the lens of Emergent eschatology.

Several acts of God’s providence brought me to know the nature of Emergent theology and its unique eschatology. The first happened in 1999 during my final year in seminary when the seminary hired a new professor, LeRon Shults. Shults, a theological disciple of the German Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, became my professor for a logic class. Shults often described his beliefs with this simple statement: “God is the future drawing everything into Himself.”

Some years later, several people suggested that I consider writing an article examining a new movement called “The Emerging Church.” For my study I carefully read Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy.2 What baffled me about his theology was that his views were nearly identical to those refuted 40 years earlier by Francis Schaeffer, who had called it “the new theology.” But as Schaeffer so clearly showed, the result of this theology is despair because under it there is no hope of knowing the truth. But the Emerging writers describe their theology as one of hope. If there is no hope of knowing the truth about God, man, and the universe we live in (as they claim), then how is hope the result? It turns out that a theology from the 1960s, first articulated in Germany when Schaeffer was writing his books, is the answer.

That leads to a second providential event. A woman in our church handed me a book that she thought might be of interest in my research: A is for Abductive – The Language of the Emerging Church.3 Under the entry “Eschaton,” the heading “The end of entropy”4 appears. It then says, “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.”5 Reading this brought my mind back to 1999 and Shults’ interpretation of Pannenberg: “God is the future drawing everything into Himself.” Could this be the ground of Emergent “hope”?

The third providential event was the debate with Doug Pagitt, the 2006 event on the topic of The Emergent Church and Postmodern Spirituality. That event gave me the opportunity to ask Pagitt, a nationally recognized leader in the Emergent movement, whether or not he believed in a literal future judgment. He would not answer either way but did state that judgment happens now through consequences in history. His refusal to answer that question convinced me that the Pannenberg/Shults eschatology was behind the movement!

The fourth providential event was a meeting with Tony Jones with the goal of setting up another debate. It turned out that they did not want another debate, but Jones offered to answer any of my questions about Emergent. I responded by e-mail asking about Stanley Grenz, Wolfhart Pannenberg, LeRon Shults, and Jürgen Moltmann and their influence on Emergent theology. Jones replied that Grenz (who, as I will later show, praises the theologies of both Pannenberg and Moltmann) was influential and that Jones himself was studying under a professor named Miroslav Volf who had studied under Moltmann. Also, he helped me with his comment that their hope-filled belief generally leads them to reject eschatologies that “preach a disastrous end to the cosmos.”

The fifth providential event was when I fell and fractured my ankle while trimming trees. The broken ankle required that I sit with my leg elevated for a full week in order to get the swelling down. I had found a copy of Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope that I knew I had to read to prove my thesis. Reading Moltmann was so laborious that finishing the book was not likely to be completed quickly. But because of my immobility I finished Moltmann, taking notes on the contents of every page. The same week I read Moltmann, I obtained the just-published An Emergent Manifesto of Hope with Pagitt and Jones as the editors. I read that as well and found Moltmann cited favorably by two emergent writers.6 In that same book, Jones describes why this theology is so hopeful for them: “God’s promised future is good, and it awaits us, beckoning us forward. We’re caught in the tractor beam of redemption and re-creation, and there’s no sense fighting it, so we might as well cooperate.”7 Or as professor Shults always said, “God is the future drawing everything into Himself.”

All of this leads me to my thesis: That the worldview represented by the theology of Grenz, Pannenberg, Moltmann, and Shults is the bedrock foundation of the Emergent Church movement. Their language and ideas present themselves on the pages of many Emergent books. For example, McLaren writes, “In this way of seeing, God stands ahead of us in time, at the end of the journey, sending to us in waves, as it were, the gift of the present, an inrush of the future that pushes the past behind us and washes over us with a ceaseless flow of new possibilities, new options, new chances to rethink and receive new direction, new empowerment.”8 Here is Pagitt’s version of it:

God is constantly creating anew. And God also, invites us to be re-created and join the work of God as co-(re)creators. . . . Imagine the Kingdom of God as the creative process of God reengaging in all that we know and experience. . . . When we employ creativity to make this world better, we participate with God in the recreation of the world.9

These writers often refer to “God’s dream.” Apparently they mean that God imagines an ideal future for the world that we can join and help actualize. When this dream becomes reality in the future, it will be the Kingdom of God.

This series of providential events in my life worked together to help me accurately understand a movement that works very hard to stay undefined. Definitions draw boundaries. Definitions are static. But definitions are necessary in order for us to understand anything. With no defined categories we would be hopeless human beings because, for example, we need our rational minds and valid categories to distinguish between food and poison. Definitions are valid, and no amount of philosophical legerdemain can change that reality. Definitions, to their way of thinking, impede the process of the “tractor beam” of redemption they are experiencing. They consider definitions too “foundationalist,” as we will discuss in a later chapter. I believe that I can now define the Emergent Church movement more accurately because I understand what they believe.

The Emergent Church movement is an association of individuals linked by one very important, key idea: that God is bringing history toward a glorious kingdom of God on earth without future judgment. They loathe dispensationalism more than any other theology because it claims just the opposite: that the world is getting ever more sinful and is sliding toward cataclysmic judgment.10 Both of these ideas cannot be true. Either there is a literal future judgment, or there is not. This is not a matter left to one’s own preference.

(Used with permission.)

 Note: In September 2009, Bob DeWaay attended the “2009 Emergent Theological Conversation” where Jurgen Moltmann was a guest speaker. This substantiated DeWaay’s findings regarding Moltmann’s significant influence in the emerging church.

1. Entropy is the principle by which physicists describe heat loss in a closed system. The existence of entropy is a proof that the universe is not eternal because if it were infinitely old it would have already died of heat death.
2. CIC Issue 87, March/April 2005.
3. Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren, and Jerry Haselmayer, A is for Abductive – The Language of the Emerging Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003).
4. Ibid. 113.
5. Ibid.
6. In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope,Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones editors (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007); Moltmann is cited favorably by Dwight Friesen on page 203 and Troy Bronsink page 73 n. 24.
7. Ibid. Tony Jones, 130.
8. Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy; (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004) 283.
9. Doug Pagitt, Church Re-imagined(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003/2005) 185.
10. Please note that classical amillennialism also believes that the world is facing future judgment. Emergent is not merely opposed to dispensationalism, but any version of eschatology that asserts that God will bring cataclysmic judgment at the end of the age.


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