The Shadow Mountain pastor draws from Erwin McManus’ book, The Barbarian Way
If you attended Shadow Mountain Community Church this weekend, then according to an email we received, you would have heard the second part of Pastor David Jeremiah’s series called Journey with Jesus. But the title of this series is a bit misleading – Jeremiah isn’t just talking about Jesus; he is discussing a book called The Barbarian Way. The book is written by Erwin McManus, who is pastor of Mosaic Church in California. In Friday’s email, Jeremiah stated:
This weekend, I will be sharing the second message in our Fall Journey With Jesus. The title of the message is “The Manliness of Jesus.” I am praying that it will fire you up as much as it has me. It’s a major paradigm shift from our normal thoughts about Jesus. This week, I have read a book by Erwin McManus called THE BARBARIAN WAY. In it, he says something that should prepare our hearts for the weekend message.
While the quote from the book is benign, the book is not, and if any mention of the book is made by Jeremiah, it should be one of warning. If you have been following Jeremiah’s slip toward what we might call contemplative/emerging Christianity, his promotion of McManus’ book probably won’t be too surprising. Last year, we mentioned on a radio program that Jeremiah was going to be speaking at the Lead Like Jesus conference with Ken Blanchard (whose conference it was). Shortly after this airing, Jeremiah pulled out of the conference and then Blanchard canceled the conference all together. Jeremiah then wrote a letter to Lighthouse Trails and made it public. He defended Ken Blanchard who had been and still is promoting the New Age, particularly New Age mysticism. After researching Jeremiah’s 2003/2005 book, Life Wide Open, it made a little more sense why he would have no trouble with Blanchard’s New Age proclivities. A special report on that book said:
David Jeremiah’s 2003 book, Life Wide Open, has a subtitle of “Unleashing the Power of a Passionate Life.” In the introduction of the book, Jeremiah tells readers that “A Small handful among us have discovered what the rest of us would pay dearly to know: How can we bring real, living excitement into this life?” Jeremiah goes on to tell readers that “This book is a map to the life of passion and purpose, the life wide open…” Who are these small handful of people who have discovered the secret? Well according to Jeremiah’s book, his list includes Rick Warren, contemplative, feminine spiritualist Sue Monk Kidd (When the Heart Waits), contemplative Calvin Miller (Into the Depths of God), Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline), emerging church leader Erwin McManus, contemplative Michael Card, and Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God).
Jeremiah had also written an endorsement on the back cover of Erwin McManus’ book, Seizing Your Divine Moment. We contacted the publisher (Thomas Nelson) of that book after we learned that Jeremiah’s name was going to be removed (because of negative publicity). An editor at TN told us that the book would be repackaged and re-titled, which it was (now called Chasing Daylight). Although Jeremiah has made no public statement renouncing his previous endorsements of contemplative and New Age authors, and never had his book Life Wide Open pulled from the market, it seemed like his endorsement removal of McManus’ book was a good sign. But now it has become very confusing. Why was his name removed from one book of McManus’ only to have him endorse another McManus book to his church family this weekend?
So what exactly is this latest book Jeremiah endorsed about? In The Barbarian Way, McManus tells readers that the story of the Crusades “awakens within me a primal longing that I am convinced waits to be unleashed within everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ.” But McManus has an unusual definition of “follower of Jesus Christ.” He says: “When asked if they [Barbarians] are Christians, their answer might surprisingly be no, they are passionate followers of Jesus Christ.” This might sound OK on the surface, but it is part of the new missiology and the new evangelicalism that Rick Warren and others proclaim, “God doesn’t care what religion you are, just add Jesus to what you already have.” Thus you can be a Buddhist with Jesus, a Hindu with Jesus – that’s OK. McManus clarifies this when he states: “The greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity.” He elaborates more:
They [Barbarians – who he tries to convince readers they should be] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago (p.6).
While some may think McManus is talking about some kind of true revival, he’s not, not a revival towards the Jesus of the Bible anyway. McManus’ Jesus is all together different. And using the same lingo that most contemplatives use (and New Agers for that matter), he tells readers that they have been “recreated to live in a raw and primal spirituality” that listens “to the voice of the Spirit… Barbarians are not welcome among the civilized and are feared among the domesticated.” The book reads more like a primer to prepare for an anarchist war than instruction and exhortation on how to live the Christian life according to the Bible. He says: “The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities (those who are “civilized”)… Why a reckless call to awaken the barbarian faith within us at the risk of endangering this great civilization we have come to know as Christianity? … It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. Let the invasion begin.”
The book is hard to read because the theology alone is so poor. McManus continually twists things around such as saying that John the Baptist’s message of repentance (and Hell) was only for the religious leaders of the day, which isn’t true. Or when he suggests that Jesus didn’t like Israel, when Scripture tells us He wept for Jerusalem. This revolution that McManus would like to see is one that would eradicate Christianity off the face of the earth. He, like Rick Warren, insists that Christianity is thoroughly corrupt, and that a new movement is needed. McManus states: “Two thousand years ago, God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name.” Here he erroneously states that God revolted against Judaism, which simply isn’t true. In reality, God established the Law and the Prophets through the Jew whom He refers to as the apple of His eye. Jesus came as a sacrificial Lamb to save, and He informed his followers that the time is fulfilled – he wasn’t overthrowing a religion – He came to fulfill prophecy. And now McManus’ confused thinking extends to Christianity, suggesting now God will revolt against it as well.
McManus’ use of words like barbarian, savage and other warlike terms are strange. Trying to make this look like a book on living radically for Jesus, while belittling anything that calls itself Christian, McManus wraps the book up by telling readers: “We need to find the courage and freedom to be ourselves. We need to let ourselves become the unique individuals that God created us to be. His exhortation is, ‘When an opponent beheads one barbarian, he better be prepared, for we will return in force….We need to move together as God’s people, a barbarian tribe …. There’s a future to be created.'”
So just what does McManus mean by all this talk of barbarians and beheadings and a complete rejection of Christianity? Is he really talking about living radically for Jesus Christ? The Jesus of the Bible? The answers to these questions can be found throughout McManus’ writings as well as his various ministries. For example, at Bethel Theological Seminary, McManus is a professor for the Doctor of Ministry of Emerging Leaders program. He teaches with his brother Alex McManus (Into the Mystic), who promotes mysticism. Erwin McManus makes his own claim for mysticism in The Barbarian Way when he says we need to exchange reason (doctrine) for mysticism and suggests we need to be “Mystic Warriors.” This sounds more like something out out of Star Wars or Shamanism. In an interview with Relevant Magazine, McManus explains what is the “core” of The Barbarian Way:
The Barbarian Way was, in some sense, trying to create a volatile fuel to get people to step out and act. It’s pretty hard to get a whole group of people moving together as individuals who are stepping into a more mystical, faith-oriented, dynamic kind of experience with Christ. So, I think Barbarian Way was my attempt to say, ‘Look, underneath what looks like invention, innovation and creativity is really a core mysticism that hears from God, and what is fueling this is something really ancient.’ That’s what was really the core of The Barbarian Way.
His website Mosaic Alliance features some of his other works, including Awaken Humanity and International Mentoring Network (both registered under McManus’ church, Mosaic). One of the events McManus hosts is “yelo: an awakening of the human spirit,” which “focuses on unleashing your creativity, elevating your influence, challenging your character, and maximizing your leadership potential.” The Origins Project is another Mosaic creation, with “Wind, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth.” McManus uses a lot of earthy sounding words in his writings such as ethos, organic, and cultural architect (his title for pastor). He is quick to devalue anything that looks too traditionally Christian for the sake of promoting his “revolution,” a revolution that is not called Christian. As Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries points out:
On McManus’ web site [it says]: “McManus offers a vision of the church taking its rightful place as an unstoppable force created to change the world . . . a church that is active and engaged with its community … An apostolic ethos is the key to a New Testament movement … To lead a church with movement requires the ability to create and shape ethos…” Erwin declares, “When we awaken the apostolic ethos, the heart of God begins to pulsate through the church of Jesus Christ.” Considering that ethos means culture, they are wanting to change the culture, something Jesus NEVER told us to do. He said his kingdom is not of this world. We are supposed to be preparing people for the kingdom … by being separate from the world while we are in it. (This book has a new apostolic and Dominionist view.) – Community Connections
The concept McManus uses in his book, Seizing Your Divine Moment (and throughout his writings) is not a new one. The idea, seize the day (carpe diem) or the moment, was popular in 16th and 17th century poetry and has the connotation that life is short and you need to get all you can out of it. The cardinal sin would be to live an ordinary life. Rick Warren shares this concept throughout his teachings, as does Bruce Wilkinson in his teaching on “God’s Dream for Your Life.” In reality, this concept is anything but biblical and virtuous. Jesus taught that we are to lay down our lives in this world, knowing we will receive our rewards in heaven. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” ( John 12:25). McManus’ and Warren’s theology might work to some degree with affluent young middle to upper class single emerging “Jesus seekers.” But how is it going to work for an African man in Rwanda who has several children (some dying with AIDS or malaria), and he lives in a small hut? Won’t he be considered a Purpose Driven failure if he doesn’t rise above his earthly barriers and find his purpose? And won’t he be considered a failure in not becoming a McManus barbarian because he lives an ordinary life? And how about when Bruce Wilkinson teaches that if we believe hard enough we can achieve our dreams if we will just dream big enough? This earthy, sensual spirituality that Rick Warren, Erwin McManus and Bruce Wilkinson proclaim from the rooftops is exactly that.
These Christian leaders have missed the point. While they are selling their ideas to an unsuspecting church, and convincing multitudes that this new awakening is from God, believers in Christ, yes I’ll call them Christians, are serving their Lord in ministries, as missionaries, as neighbors, as parents – and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, and remembering what He said:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
“My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
This past Friday, David Jeremiah said he read Erwin McManus’ book, and he is going to use that book to help his congregation transition toward a “major paradigm shift.” In the meantime, countless Christian leaders, publishers, seminaries and ministries are racing towards this shift as well. It is a shift that is indeed earthly, mystical, demonic and sensual, and it is going to deceive a lot of people. Is this really what David Jeremiah wants to offer his church and those who read his books? We hope the answer is a resounding no!
Christendom is being hijacked right before our very eyes. But while this is taking place, God is opening the eyes of discerning believers around the world. The Bible says the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church. As this paradigm shift unfolds, let us cling to that which we know to be good and true, the biblical message of the One who is the only way to God, Jesus Christ. And in doing so, may those who have not yet heard this message be able to hear and be saved. The time is short – let us work while it is yet day.