by Roger Oakland
The serpent’s temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, that we can be like God, remains with mankind to this very day. Satan’s plan is to lessen or eliminate (he hopes) the gap between himself and God. The following explanation puts it well:
It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all–nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.”1
When those in the emerging church try to persuade people that we need to bridge the gap between Christians (or Christ-followers as they put it) and non-Christians, they aren’t really talking about reaching out to the unsaved in order to share the Gospel with them. They are talking about coming to a consensus, a common ground. Leonard Sweet explains:
The key to navigating postmodernity’s choppy, crazy waters is not to seek some balance or “safe middle ground,” but to ride the waves and bridge the opposites, especially where they converge in reconciliation and illumination.2
It takes a little thinking to figure out what Sweet is saying by this statement, but when he talks about bridging the opposites, he’s referring to a chasm that exists between good and evil. This tension between the two is called dualism, and at the heart of occultism is the effort to eradicate it. If that gap could truly be closed, then Satan and God would be equal. The Bible clearly states this will never happen, but it also says that it is Satan’s desire:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.(Isaiah 14:12-15)
This misguided effort to unite all things, to give people the option of maintaining their own religious practices, suggesting they do not have to call themselves Christians is a spiritually slippery slope and an undoing of the Christian faith.
Samir Selmanovic was raised in a European Muslim home, then served as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor in the US. More cecently, he has helped to develop the emerging church through his role in the Coordinating Group at Emergent Village and his leadership in Re-church Network. 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.3
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.4
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.5
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”6 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. In sharp contrast, Jesus commanded believers to stand out as beacon lights in this dark world, bearing the Word of God to a lost and dying generation. In such times as these, in which we live, let us not be quickly deceived, but let us heed the words that give life and true peace:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)
From chapter 10, Faith Undone by Roger Oakland
1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, p. 108.
2. Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, p. 163.
3. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Samir Selmanovic section, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness,” pp. 192-193.
4. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
5. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 194.
6. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy.