Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I know you have posted some things regarding the EFCA back in 2013-2014 and contemplative spirituality, but I haven’t seen anything more current so I thought I would share some things with you that I see. As a member (Technically) of an EFCA church, I accidentally stumbled across some things that, if correct, should be concerning to anyone who is attached to the EFCA.
So, as you probably know, in June 2019, the EFCA removed “premillennial” [belief in a thousand year reign of Christ after the tribulation] from their SOF and replaced it with “glorious return.” I wondered why, and this past Fall, I found the answer. There is a Vimeo video online of the President of the EFCA sharing why he wanted people to vote yes to the language change from premillennial to glorious return. What was his reason? A group of young pastors who wanted to credential under the EFCA but they couldn’t say they agreed with the premillennial view. I could be wrong, but that sounds like compromise. On June 19, 2019, the amendment was approved.
Then, in a search about the “Emerging Missional” movement, a blog post showed up on the EFCA website titled “Understanding the Missional Church” dated May 2012. The EFCA is going in the direction of the Missional Church movement or at least part of it is. Inside the EFCA is a grass roots group of pastors and leaders who desire to live and be “missional”*— that group is known as Creo Collective. Now, might this be the group of pastors who weren’t sure they could agree with the “premillennial” view? You have to Google Creo Collective (www.creocollective.org) to find them as they don’t just show up on the EFCA website.
I should mention that it is my understanding that not all EFCA pastors agree with the direction the EFCA is headed. From what I can tell, this movement is actually a part of the Emerging Church or at least it would appear that way. Why? Well, in 2018 Creo Collective trained EFCA pastors and leaders on the APEST model as taught by Alan Hirsch and his book Forgotten Ways. Alan Hirsch, as I believe you know, is an emerging church leader, and he is endorsed by many other EMC leaders. When you look at people Hirsch quotes, they are not people most Christians would be quoting. He tends to quote contemplative spiritualists, social-justice teachers, progressives, Catholic priests, etc. When I looked on the Creo Collective FB page for 2020, the first thing that comes up for training (coaching) is spiritual formation and later in the schedule is more training (coaching) on the APEST.
What’s my concern? Is the EFCA in fact lining up with the Emerging Church movement? What do you at Lighthouse Trails see happening?
LTRP Comments: We agree that there are some EFCA leaders and pastors who are not promoting or embracing emergent church teachings or heading in that direction. However, we also share your concerns about EFCA as a whole and about their present leadership and direction. What we were observing in 2013 and 2014 regarding the EFCA has now borne its emergent “fruit.” As you can see in this 2011 recommend resources list, EFCA had made the decision to go down the contemplative mystical path. And now today, as you have pointed out, partly through EFCA groups like Creo Collective, they have followed the “natural” course that contemplative leads to—emergent, “progressive,” social justice; and based on what has happened to so many other denominations, we predict it will only get worse for the EFCA. Once a group starts down the contemplative path, only a determined and committed effort and desire to stop will keep that group from going full-blown emergent, socialist, and ultimately anti-Gospel.
While EFCA doctrines of belief statements still adhere to biblical principles, there are definite indications they are compromsing in order to keep everyone happy. We must remember that doctrines of belief statements are not enough to show an accurate gauge to how biblically healthy a denomination is. What must also be looked at are the various movements, recommendations, groups, pastors, churches, and offshoots of a denomination because those are what give a far more accurate glimpse into the future of that denomination. Creo Collective, plus the EFCA connections to emergent leaders such as Alan Hirsch are two examples of where EFCA is going.
One of several examples we saw of EFCA’s apparent compromising in order to keep everyone happy is a statement made about Replacement Theology** where they make allowance within their denominational structure to accept it or reject it. And coupled with their recent vote to remove the word “premillennial” (a word that would generally include Israel’s role in the last days scenario), our concerns that EFCA is indeed becoming emergent are only heightened.
*Missional: Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.
**See our article/booklet that explains what Replacement Theology is and why we believe it is a dangerous and anti-biblical teaching.
(Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.)