Kay Warren, wife of Purpose Driven pastor Rick Warren, will join several heavy-weight emergent leaders at the upcoming Envision 08 event this June. Kay Warren will share a platform with Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis (Sojourners magazine), Shane Claiborne, Jay Bakker (son of PTL Jim Bakker), Doug Pagitt, and several other speakers who share emerging church proclivities.
In saying “heavy-weight,” we mean those whose theologies incorporate the essence of the emerging church: mysticism, ecumenism, panentheism, interspirituality, down-playing the authority of Scripture, a non-biblical view of the atonement, and a kingdom-now eschatology. Kay Warren promotes contemplative mystic Henri Nouwen, while her husband has been a major promoter of both contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation) and the emerging church for some time. Recently, Kay Warren participated at Robert Schuller’s Rethink Conference.
One of the speakers at the Envision 08 is Samir Selmanovic, a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor-turned- emergent leader and director of Faith House Manhattan, an interfaith organization in New York. Selmanovic is one of the co-authors of An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Roger Oakland discusses Selmanovic’s beliefs in his book, Faith Undone:
Samir Selmanovic … has some interesting and alarming views on Christianity. He states:
The emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity but rather the kingdom of God…. to believe that God is limited to it [Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign. Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian, one is liable to idolatry.1
On Selmanovic’s website, Faith House project, he presents an interfaith vision that will “…seek to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the good of the world. We have one world and one God.”2
While Selmanovic says he includes Christians in this interspiritual dream for the world, he makes it clear that while they might be included, they are in no way beholders of an exclusive truth. He states:
Is our religion [Christianity] the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? Well, God decides, and not us. The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity.3
While it is true that God is the One who decides where He is going to place truth, He has already made that decision. And the answer to that is found in the Bible. When Selmanovic asks if Christianity is the only religion that understands the true meaning of life, the answer is yes. How can a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim fully understand truth when their religions omit a Savior who died for their sins?
Though world religions may share some moral precepts (don’t lie, steal, etc), the core essence of Christianity (redemption) is radically different from all of them. Interspirituality may sound noble on the surface, but in actuality, Selmanovic and the other emerging church leaders are facilitating occultist Alice Bailey’s rejuvenation of the churches. In her rejuvenation, everyone remains diverse (staying in their own religion), yet united in perspective, with no one religion claiming a unique corner on the truth. In other words all religions lead to the same destination and emanate from the same source. And of course, Bailey believed that a “coming one” whom she called Christ would appear on the scene in order to lead united humanity into an era of global peace. However, you can be sure that if such a scenario were to take place as Bailey predicted, there would be no room for those who cling to biblical truth.
As is the case with so many emergent leaders, Selmanovic’s confusing language dances obscurely around his theology, whether he realizes it or not. Sadly, for those who are lost and who are trying to find the way, the emerging church movement offers confusion in place of clarity. It blurs if not obliterates the walls of distinction between good and evil, truth and falsehood, leaving people to stumble along a broken path, hoping to find light. (from Faith Undone, pp. 187-189)
What Selmanovic has expressed is emerging spirituality. And McLaren, Claiborne, Pagitt, and the other emerging speakers at Envision 08 resonate with him. This global, universal, mystical, interspiritual paradigm shift that Selmanovic and the others are propagating lines up with the same spirituality that Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and a myriad of other New Age leaders are presenting to the world today. The emerging church should really be called the merging church, for it is a merging together of all beliefs, all faiths, and all gods.
The question must be asked, why are Rick and Kay Warren continually promoting this emerging church and its New Age type gurus rather than warning others about it? The answer to that can be partly found in the Warrens’ admiration and promotion of Henri Nouwen, for you see, Nouwen, if he were alive today, would align himself with the emerging church. We can say that because of so many statements Nouwen made to that effect, such as when he said that Christian leaders must move from the “moral to the mystical” (In the Name of Jesus). And when he said, in the last book he ever wrote: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Sabbatical Journey, hardcover edition, p. 51).
1. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Samir Selmanovic section, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness,” pp. 192-193.
2. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic. typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
3. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 194.