Posts Tagged ‘doug pagitt’

Letter to the Editor: “Christian” Homosexual Singer Vicky Beeching Thanks Contemplative Spirituality For Helping Her “Come Out”

Dear Lighthouse Friends,

Vicky Beeching (source: http://www.diva250awards.com/campaigner.html)

When I searched your blog, I did not find information on “Vicky Beeching.”  She is apparently a big figure in Christian pop music.  So you might want to put her on your blog list.

I did not know about Vicky Beeching until yesterday: claiming to be an evangelical Christian, she revises Scripture to justify her homosexuality.  (The current Archbishop of Canterbury for the Anglican Church of England, Justin Welby has given her an award for her praise/worship music. http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-lesbian-rock-star-vicky-beeching-given-award-by-archbishop-of-canterbury-187689/)

But here is the major point I want to make: she connects justification for biblical revision with contemplative spirituality.

This 2015 video address to the Gay Christian Network (GCN) is to the point about contemplative spirituality:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zlZLYZxyg4

Unless you want to listen to Beeching’s entire talk, you can fast forward to minute 52: here she quotes Rob Bell, then less than a minute and a half later–WOW–she brings contemplative spirituality to the discussion for justification of homosexuality.

And one of her songs–“Breath of God” certainly resonates with contemplative practices.

Regards,

Linda

** LTRP Note: In this video clip of this popular “Christian” singer, she says that it was through practicing contemplative prayer that she gained the courage to reveal that she was homosexual. This makes sense because once a person begins meditating, their spiritual outlook begins to change, away from biblical truths and toward universalism, panentheism, evolution, and yes, even homosexuality. Also if you listen to Beeching’s talk, starting at the 52 minute mark, you will hear her talk about the importance of “doubt.” This is a key in understanding the emergent church, of which Beeching is obviously a part. Emergents, such as Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, teach that it is wrong to be certain about anything (including the Bible and the biblical Gospel). You can see this played out very clearly in the movie Doubt with Meryl Streep). Beeching, and these others, are part of a movement to completely undermine and destroy true Christianity (which is the faith defined in the Bible). Sadly, millions, of young people searching for truth will be led into the arms of these emergents and will ultimately reject the Jesus Christ of the Bible. If you are a grandparent or parent, are you doing EVERYTHING you can do to protect the young people in your lives? The consequences for being apathetic are eternal.

Related Booklet/Article:

6 Questions Every Gay Person Should Ask

 

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” (http://www.jopaproductions.com/moltmann-conversation-0) where Jurgen Moltmann was a guest speaker. This substantiated DeWaay’s findings regarding Moltmann’s significant influence in the emerging church.

Notes:
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. http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue87.htm
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.

 

Letter to the Editor: What To Do When Christian Charities, Such as Compassion, Turn Contemplative/Emergent

Hi Lighthouse Trails!

Thank you so much for your ministry! My family has been learning about apostasy for a little while now, and we stumbled across your website recently. . . We read your article about VOM and Michael Wurmbrand and were deeply saddened by it.  We have supported VOM for many years so it made us do even more research on it.  I e-mailed Michael, and he responded very kindly; and my family has decided not to support VOM anymore.  Thank you for the information that you have provided.

I have a question about Compassion International now.  I am truly concerned that Compassion lists Doug Pagitt as one of their speakers.  I also read about an upcoming event in which some Compassion Advocacy Coaches will be able to learn how to do contemplative prayer at a retreat  in Nebraska.  You can read about it here:

http://gravitycenter.com/event/compassion-international-contemplative-retreat-in-schuyler-nebraska/

I sponsor a child from  _________, and I received a letter today from their Child Development Center and they mentioned that the teenage students study themes that require “a deeper reflection, self-discipline and formation…” (underline mine).  I have learned enough lately to know that spiritual formation is another term for contemplative prayer.  I was not sure if that is exactly what they meant by formation, but I definitely want to know.  I called Compassion today and the person did not really answer my question very well, I don’t think they really knew what contemplative prayer was.  I want to continue supporting my child since I truly care for him, but I do not want to support a ministry that will teach him New Age spirituality!!!!!!  I was wondering if you could give me more information on Compassion, and what should I do about sponsoring my child?

My family is having trouble finding ministries to support since we stopped supporting Samaritan’s Purse, VOM, and others due to their teachings.  We are looking for similar ministries to support.  We love Ray Comfort and Living Waters; we also love Ken Ham and AIG.  Do you have a list of similar ministries to VOM/Samaritan’s Purse that we could support?  Michael Wurmbrand told us about a ministry he started in the 70s called Help for Refugees that we are thinking about supporting.

Thanks again for your ministry and all that you do!

R.

LTRP Comment:

While Lighthouse Trails does not make recommendations for churches and organizations (largely because we do not have the manpower to follow up on such recommendations to confirm whether a particular church or organization is still biblically based), we do bring warnings to the body of Christ about groups that have strayed from a biblical viewpoint and become ecumenical, contemplative, emerging, and a part of the liberal social justice movement. Tragically, most of the larger, more known organizations have already taken this spiritual plunge. While we realize that these organizations do help with the physical needs of many around the world, they have come to misrepresent true Christianity and have set aside the Gospel (all together in some cases) in exchange for a powerless substitute. So while they are conduits for helping with poverty, they have become neglectful in the most important thing any human being needs – rich or poor – and that is to have the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be given the opportunity to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. And as long as Bible-believing Christians continue financially supporting such groups, the groups will see no need to change (not that they will change – but at least if support is withdrawn and explanation is given as to why, then the organizations will know why they are losing support and some, perhaps, may examine the issues and have their eyes opened).

While we know there are no perfect churches and organizations (because imperfect humans operate them), we do know by Scripture that the gauge which we can set for ourselves while living in this world is the Gospel (that man is sinful and in need of a Savior and that Jesus Christ died to pay the price for our sins and rose taking victory over death and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life). The contemplative/emerging belief system rejects this. The contemplative/emerging view is that God is in all people (regardless of acceptance of and belief in Jesus Christ as Savior), that man can save himself and the earth by his own means (bringing about the Kingdom of God), and that Jesus was a good role model and example but did not suffer a painful death for the purpose of atonement (a loving God would never do that, they say). This is why Lighthouse Trails is so determined to warn about the contemplative prayer movement and the “new” emerging spirituality. Where contemplative prayer comes in is as a vehicle. As Ray Yungen has shown in his book A Time of Departing, when a person begins practicing contemplative meditation, over time, his or her spiritual outlook changes (just as Thomas Merton’s and Henri Nouwen’s did), and it begins to resemble one that looks more Buddhist or Hindu than Christian.

When we consider that Doug Pagitt is listed on the Compassion International website as one of their regular speakers (see link above), it is difficult to fathom how Compassion can say on their website that “God’s Word must have the final authority in regulating compassionate treatment of every human being, including children.”  Doug Pagitt, who is one of the founders of the new Brian McLaren CANA Initiative—a liberal, emerging think-tank—has consistently promoted contemplative spirituality and the emerging church for many years. Compassion also lists Tony and Bart Campolo (Tony is a leader in the Christian Palestinianism movement), Mark Scandrette (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope), mantra-meditation advocate Gary Thomas, emergent writer Ann VosKamp (One Thousand Gifts), and a number of other emergent-type figures. Their speaker list is actually transforming into a contemplative/emergent who’s who. In our minds, Compassion’s partnering with Doug Pagitt and other emergents sends a loud message that they do NOT consider God’s Word as a final authority. How could they and still lock arms with emergent leaders?

In Doug Pagitt’s book A Christianity Worth Believing, Pagitt denounces the idea that the Bible is our final authority. The following is a short book review on Pagitt’s book done by one of our free-lance writers. Please read this as it will help show where the “new” emerging “Christianity” is going (and sadly, taking lots of Christian organizations, like Compassion, VOM, and World Vision, with it):

“Doug Pagitt’s New Book – A Christianity Worth Believing – NOT Worth Believing”

by Ezra McGill
Free-lance writer

In his book, A Christianity Worth Believing, emergent leader Doug Pagitt presents a theology that is worth exposing, because it is neither biblical nor Christian. This is the unfortunate power of media-savvy emergent leaders–errant theology is couched in Christian terms, and the undiscerning are drawn in.

As others have noted, Doug Pagitt undoubtedly cares about his flock, the homeless, coffee farmers in Guatemala, and the environment. Yet, if the emergent movement could be summed up in one phrase, perhaps it is this: “Tiny men shaking tiny fists at the biblical God.”

The Bible tells us, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.(Psalm 2: 2-4)

The author of A Christianity Worth Believing vigorously disputes the authority of the Word of God. He writes, “The inerrancy debate is based on the belief that the Bible is the word of God, that the Bible is true because God made it and gave it to us as a guide to truth. But that’s not what the Bible says” (p. 65).

He further explains, “This is how it works. We are characters in the stories we hear. The living Bible invites us to step into the stories, not as observers, but as participants in the faith that is alive and well and still being created” (p.67).

That’s right. Pagitt believes Christianity is still in the process of being created. Obviously, this theology that is being created is in total opposition to biblical Truth. Like the author of The Shack, Pagitt categorically denies the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

He states, “the early evangelists recognized they could help the Jesus story make sense if Jesus was seen as someone who was chosen to appease the wrath of God—hence, the ‘anointed one’ who could do what no one else could do” (p. 181).

So, minus our Savior, how does this emergent leader view receiving forgiveness for sins? Before we get to this, let us understand that he spends a good deal of time making the artificial distinction between Christians’ alleged Greco-Roman understanding of God (Pagitt sees this as a distant God), and the Old Testament Hebrew God (always present, understanding, and intimate).

Incredibly, the author presents the Old Testament as his “proof” that there has always been accessible forgiveness for sin. He notes that his wife was raised in a Jewish family, and she “tells [the congregation] each year that the Jews would celebrate the Day of Atonement by gathering lint from their pockets, every little corner of them. She invites us to do the same. Then we write confessions on pieces of paper or pick up leaves to represent each sin and walk to the edge of a stream. As we drop our leaves and papers into the stream, we read from the Psalms” (pp.163-164).

Psalm 103:11-13 is then read to Pagitt’s congregation: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

Following this, he writes, his wife, “reminds us that just as the water carries our words away, God takes our sins from us. As far as can be, sin is removed, taken, gone. Yes, sin exists, and when we find it, we should get rid of it” (p. 164).

But what defines “sin” if the Bible is not really the authoritative Word of God? If Christ is not Savior? Pagitt never really gives a satisfactory answer to this.

“Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment”(Lamentations 2:14). Pagitt assures us he understands this new theology can be upsetting. “This can come as a shock to those Christians who are so used to hearing that Jesus is the solution to sin that they assume that the remedy started with the death of Jesus. The Jewish Tradition tells us otherwise” (p. 163).

A Christianity Worth Believing is the presentation of a distorted version of our faith. It is the tepid celebration of a powerless, false “christ.” It is textbook emergent heresy. Those reading this book who do know and love Christ may feel disgust, disbelief, even scorn. Well and good. But may we also be very afraid for those who are exposed to such teaching.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

One gets the sense that Doug Pagitt seems compelled to deny the Truth–he simply cannot see it. He is the angry blind man striking out with his cane. He swings, he slashes; he jabs and stabs. Unfortunately, that sharpened cane has poked out many an eye.

And seems poised to pierce many, many more.

“And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?’” (Luke 6:39)

 

Brian McLaren’s Mystery Project Out of the Bag – CANA Initiative – A Gathering of Emergents

National Cathedral in Washington DC

Recently, a reader brought to our attention a new development within the emerging church – the Cana Initiative, a think tank comprised of “faith-engaged organizations, individuals, institutions and networks.” On the Cana Initiative website, it states:

The CANA Initiative seeks to create a healthy ecosystem for connection among existing and emerging individuals, organizations, and networks and will serve as an influential “network of networks.” The CANA Initiative is comprised of Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians who believe the future for Christian life and mission will be different in many ways from the past and present. . . . The CANA Initiative seeks to support and encourage what is often called Emergence Christianity.

Interestingly, the first meeting that the CANA Initiative is holding is actually wrapping up today, November 21st, and is being held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. (an Episcopal church). We posted an unrelated (but maybe actually related) article this past October titled “National Cathedral Leader: ‘Homophobia’ a Sin; Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Performed.”  

On the CANA website (started and managed by Doug Pagitt according to Domain Tools.com), it talks about how the last two decades have brought out many “emerging expressions of Christian faith across the entire religious landscape” (translated, that means interspiritual). It was just about 15 years ago that Leadership Network (under Peter Drucker’s protégée, Bob Buford) gathered together a group of young Christian men (first calling them the Young Leaders Network) and began the Terra Nova project (see chapter 2 of Faith Undone for more about Terra Nova). Some of those men were: Mark Driscoll, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Chris Seay, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. Eventually, the group broke away from Leadership Network and became what is known as Emergent. While they did not all stay together as the years past, today, they are all advocates for contemplative spirituality (worth noting).

According to CANA Initiative, “A number of innovative leaders have emerged over recent decades. They have taken big risks and made big sacrifices. Around them, Progressive, Emergence, and Missional networks have taken shape.”  CANA has a pretty hefty list of these leaders, and CANA may be the first time they have made such a major effort to come together in a more organized fashion. We’re quite confident that atonement rejector Brian McLaren is at a top level of this organizing. In May of 2013, we posted an article titled “Brian McLaren ask for significant cash for mystery project.” That article stated:

On his blog [on May 22, 2013], Brian McLaren is making a mysterious appeal for money. Not just a few dollars, but big, bodacious financial support from those with deep pockets. What’s it for? Brian won’t say, but if you want to contribute, you could email him at a special “happy to help” address.

On McLaren’s blog, he stated with regard to this request for money: “Grace [his wife] and I recently decided to make a significant financial investment in building some behind-the-scenes support structures for this movement to take its next steps. I think the time is ripe. I’m looking for some people to join in this initiative.” Later, in another posting, McLaren stated: “We’re considering the name CANA . . . (Potential Name: CANA Initiative).”2

When you think of the negative impact (from a biblical point of view) Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and a number of other emergent figures have had, it’s scary to think of the further impact this new CANA initiative could have on many, especially many young people. Thanks to the big bucks, the huge media attention, an early endorsement and promotion by big name figures like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, and publishing companies whose support they have enjoyed, the Emergent pioneers are “alive and well.” We knew they had not gone away. That is why we have always disputed the notion that the emerging church was a passing fad that has dissipated. A case in point, two years ago when John MacArthur said the emerging church was in “disarray and decline,” we were compelled to speak up in our article,  “John MacArthur Says Emerging Church in “Disarray and Decline” – Evidence Shows Differently.” We’re not really sure why MacArthur and others have thought that the emerging church was dead. It made no sense. For one thing, the main driving force behind the emerging church is contemplative mystical prayer. And sadly, that is NOT in disarray and decline. On the contrary, contemplative spirituality has, for the most part, entered almost every evangelical Protestant denomination and almost every Christian seminary and college (Richard Foster and Dallas Willard having been at the forefront of bringing it in).

The emerging church may have a greater end they are seeking than contemplative prayer (that greater end being total unity and oneness among all of humanity), but they cannot get there without getting a critical mass of people to have a change of consciousness, which can come speedily through meditative experiences (altered states). Unbeknownst to these emerging change agents (perhaps some of them do know), they have fallen prey to the devil’s end-time plan to bring total unity and oneness among all humanity for one purpose – so he can be worshipped by the world as God: ” that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9).

If you want to understand where the emerging/emergent/contemplative/progressive church is heading and how they are going to get there, just read the chapter by chapter synopsis of Faith Undone. Pay attention to the sections that talk about the denial of the atonement of Jesus Christ for our sins and the kingdom of God on earth now (prior to Christ’s return) being established. We don’t know how much money Brian McLaren and his wife donated to kick off the new initiative, but we do know he and the others means business.  Watch in the future to see how many books are published by CANA initiators. In the past decade, numerous publishers have provided ample platform for McLaren and the others. Some of the more outstanding publishers catering to emergent have been: Wiley & Sons, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Baker (Emersion Books), Intervarsity Press, and NavPress. McLaren’s most recent book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World  and his 2014 upcoming book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation are examples of what we have to look forward to from these CANA Initiators.

Here are some of the names and photos of “Initiators” of the CANA Initiative. If you type in any of these names in our search engine at the top right of this blog, you can find background information on most of them:

Rob Bell Spencer Burke Diana Butler Bass Ian Cron Tony Jones Brian McLaren Doug Pagitt Mark Scandrette Samir Selmanović Phyllis Tickle

Conference Alert: Philip Yancey and InterVarsity Press Join Emergents McLaren and Tickle at Wildgoose Festival

This year, from August 8th through 11th, the Wildgoose Festival will take place in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The festival is an emergent “church” event, which since its inception has included on the speaker list names like Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Jim Wallis, Richard Rohr, and Tony Jones. This year, Christianity Today editor and popular evangelical author Philip Yancey will join McLaren, Tickle, and a number of other hardcore emergent at the festival. Intervarsity Press, a long-standing evangelical publisher, is one of the sponsors helping to finance the event.

The Wildgoose Festival began in 2011, started by a group of North Americans who had been attending a festival in the UK called Greenbelt1 and were “inspired” to begin a similar event in the U.S. A history statement reads:

A place to meet each other in a renewed moment – a space for change. In the spirit of vibrant, category-defying Celtic Christianity, we saw our desire embodied in the Celtic Church’s way of speaking about the enigmatic Holy Spirit: The Wild Goose, who wanders where she will. Who can tame her? No one. Far better it is to embark on a Wild Goose Chase, and see the terrain of our faith be transformed.

Translated, what that means is that Christianity cannot be defined, or confined, to one particular set of beliefs (doctrine), that it is always changing, always transforming (thus the Bible, as Phyllis Tickles says, is a nice poetic book of beautiful stories, but not an authority from God). This has been the mantra-cry of the emergent church (see Faith Undone for a history of the current emergent church). Today, the emergent church has evolved into a full-blown Eastern-style mysticism-energized, quasi-Marxist, liberal, anti-atonement, pro-homosexual marriage “community.”

Joining Yancey, McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and Intervarsity Press will be Richard Cizik (formerly in leadership at the National Association of Evangelicals but left after showing support for homosexual marriage), Troy Bronsink, Mark Scandrette (see Faith Undone on Bronsink and Scandrette), Ian Morgan Cron,  and a fairly large number of other emergent-embracing speakers. Past speakers have included Lynne Hybels, the now late Richard Twiss (Indigenous People’s Movement), and Doug Pagitt.

The point we want to make in this brief conference alert is that when you have one of the most prolific evangelical authors and an editor of THE Christian magazine – Philip Yancey – along with a formerly traditional evangelical publishing company – Intervarsity Press – participating in an event like the Wildgoose Festival, you can see how much the emergent church has influenced and infiltrated evangelical Christianity. And even still, Christian leaders and most pastors remain silent.

 

A Utopian Kingdom and Global Healing?

by Roger Oakland

 The emerging church talks a lot about the kingdom of God on earth, but in language and philosophy much different from the Bible. One emergent writer hopes the emerging church will handle the problems of this world in a manner that is “smarter” and “more effective” than those who have gone before. With “integrative means of participating in the healing of our world,” he believes:

 The Spirit of God that hovered over creation is still present in our world, inviting us to collaborate with our Maker in the fulfillment of God’s reign on earth.1

The same writer, Mark Scandrette, expresses his communal vision for a utopian world:

The kingdom of God is a generative people who believe that a more beautiful and sustainable way of life is possible.2

Doug Pagitt explains that the emerging church is looking for this perfect kingdom on earth that will:

… really be good news for the people of the world and not just the promise of a world to come. Many find good news in the call of Jesus to join the kingdom of God. And let me tell you “Kingdom of God” language is really big in the emerging church.3

When we think of the poor in Africa, or the homeless in America, or a child dying of AIDS, we want a world that has no suffering like this. But is the message of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached one that promises global healing and a world without pain and suffering? No, it isn’t. Not now anyway. In our human thinking, we can’t imagine that God would really want or allow all this suffering, so we decide that the goal for humanity should be unity, peace, no pain, or sorrow. And in an effort to accomplish this, the most important thing is forgotten. Jesus came to save lost sinners and give them utopia, so to speak, within their hearts. So, while we as Christians should do what we can to help the needy, our greatest responsibility is getting the Gospel to them.

Mark Scandrette goes so far as to say that the “interest in theologies of the kingdom of God is related” to a “sense of interconnection.”4 Leonard Sweet calls this interconnection the TOE theory (theories of everything), in which all creation is connected together through a spiritual force he calls New Light. Sweet states:

If the church is to dance, however, it must first get its flabby self back into shape. A good place to begin is the stretching exercise of touching its TOEs [which he also refers to as Grand Unified Theory]…. Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of “world-making” faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning of these words, some of the last words … Thomas Merton uttered: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not.”5

The Kingdom Now theology and the emerging church’s utopian kingdom are all about what the natural, carnal man views as significant. Jesus came to give peace and rest to the suffering, to the poor and those in need. It’s a peace that passes all earthly understanding, and it’s a kingdom, as Jesus said, not of this world. In our earthly minds we cannot understand this, especially when we think about the often horrific suffering all around us.

If Rick Warren or Brian McLaren were to take their message of the kingdom of God here and now (and don’t think about that eternal home too much) to a poor man in a hut in Africa, what will it do for him? Supposing he can never leave that hut, how will their message help him? But with Jesus Christ’s message, that man can be born again and by faith, through God’s grace, have Jesus living inside him every day of his remaining life. Jesus promised that if anyone invited Him in, He would come in and sup with him (Revelation 3:20).

Jesus told His disciples the world would always have suffering and there would always be poor people. He didn’t say this to give allowance to ignore or avoid the poor and suffering. But He wanted His followers to know that this earth is not the final destination for those whose names are found in the Book of Life (those who belong to Christ). That is why in the Book of Revelation, the apostle John said:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea…. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:1,4)

The true kingdom of God makes no sense to the unbelieving, unsaved person. The very idea of it is foolishness to him. Thus, human schemes and theologies are created to fit his way of thinking. But the Bible says what is wisdom to man is foolishness to God:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (I Corinthians 1:18-21) (from chapter 9, Faith Undone)

Notes:

1. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Mark Scandrette section, “Growing Pains,” p. 30.
2. Doug Pagitt, “Unraveling Emergent,” op. cit.
3. Ibid.
4. Mark Scandrette, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 27.
5. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 13.

“Contextualization” of the Gospel – A Free-Falling Catastrophe

By Roger Oakland

You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology(1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:

…a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.1

In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”2 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.

Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:

Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. 3

These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:

Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth … we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.4

There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God’s Word must change. But, on the contrary, it’s people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.

While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as Doug Pagitt and Phyllis Tickle suggest), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered—rather it alters the reader’s heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people’s experiences as emergents suggest.

The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one’s spiritual life—the results can lead to terrible deception.

Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn’t just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change … it’s the message itself they are changing:

It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naïveté or denial about this.5

The Woman at the Well

If you listen to the emergent conversation long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God. We should instead lay aside our desire to preach or share the truths from the Word and spend more time developing relationships and friendships with the unchurched (a politically correct name for unsaved). They often use Jesus as an example, saying He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were.

One example is in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. In his chapter titled “The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions are Wrong,” Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself (the disciples have gone to the nearby town), and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying:

He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman (John 4) and didn’t just jump in and say, “Samaritans are all wrong.”6

But Kimball is wrong. Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn’t ask her any questions, and He confronted her straight on—something Kimball says (throughout his book) is a terrible thing to do to an unbeliever. Listen to Jesus’ words to the woman:

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:21-26)

Kimball largely bases his premise on the reasoning that Christians should not do or say anything that might offend unbelievers, even if that anything is truth and Scripture.

The fact is, Jesus did confront people with the truth, as did His disciples (as well as the Old Testament prophets). And why did He? He told the woman at the well the reason:

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

There is no question about it, the Word of God is offensive to the unbeliever just as I Corinthians 1:18 states:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

And again in II Corinthians 2:15-16, when Paul explains the attitude he encountered when witnessing to unbelievers:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

If Paul had been adjusting (contextualizing) the Word of God to fit the culture and context of the lives of those he spoke to, he would not have said “the aroma of death leading to death.” He took the spiritual state of these people very seriously, and he had full confidence that God’s Word, unaltered and unchanged, could reach into the heart and soul of any person who would receive Christ by faith. Whether a person is young, mentally challenged, or of a different culture or ethnic group, the Gospel is God’s Gospel, and He made it so that all who receive it by faith will understand His love and forgiveness and have eternal life. . . .

While reaching today’s generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ. Reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic. (For more information on the emerging church, read Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)

Notes:
1. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000, http://www.cca.org.hk/resources/ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.
2. Paul L. Lehmann, “Contextual Theology” (Theology Today, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1972, http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-editorial2.htm).
3. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.
4. Ibid, pp. 14-15.
5. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side, p. 68.
6. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 167.


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