Faith Undone by Roger Oakland is back from press in its 8th printing. The book was released in 2007, and we believe it is still the most powerful and truthful book about the emerging church and the “new” spirituality that has overtaken much of the Christian church. Below is a chapter by chapter synopsis of this book. If you have not read Faith Undone yet, we urge you to do so. And make sure your high school and college age children have read it. After you read this synopsis, you will understand why we say this. Some leaders of the emerging spirituality have tried to convince others that this movement is dead. But this emerging spirituality is anything but dead. Figures like Rick Warren, Dallas Willard, Philip Yancey, Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Tony Campolo, and many others are helping to keep it alive.1
Faith Undone by Roger Oakland- Chapter by Chapter Synopsis:
1/A New Kind of Church
Leaders of the emerging church say drastic changes must take place because the church can no longer be effective with old ways and an old church. We need a new kind of Christianity if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives and the world around us. But just what is this new kind of Christianity?
Quote from chapter 1: A common technique to changing society (or the church) is to repeat an assertion over and over as fact; once people have heard a statement enough times, they come to believe it is true without questioning. They even parrot the statement in their own conversations, eager to appear in the know. Oh how we need to answer every assertion with, “Says who?” This book examines the underlying spiritual substance of the emerging church movement as Scripture tells us to do: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).
2/The Birth of the Emerging Church
Contrary to what many believe, the current emerging church movement was not initiated by a group of disillusioned young people. In reality, the movement was largely the inspiration of a successful business guru whose ideas on an emerging church were catapulted into existence by other successful businessmen, and thus it became the influential religious force it is today. Backed by multi-million dollar corporations and entities, its very core has been influenced dramatically by those with mystical affinities.
Quote from chapter 2: While this chapter will lay out the origins of the emerging church, I do not wish to give the impression that this is merely a human endeavor. A distinct spiritual component to it implies a guiding force from the supernatural realm. This movement is very complex, and all of the underlying factors that played a role in its inception cannot be explained completely by just a short synopsis like this chapter. But my intent is that I can describe the framework in which this movement sprang and was able to gain the momentum it now enjoys.
3/A “New” Faith for the 21st Century
The Word of God is under attack. According to emerging church leaders, the Bible is not so much for truth and doctrine as it is for hopes, ideas, and participation. In other words, don’t use the Bible as a means of theology or absolute truth and standards by which to live; rather than the Bible molding the Christian’s life, let the Christian’s life mold the Bible.
Quote from chapter 3: In An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, [Will] Sampson writes:
A rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation was sola scriptura, Scripture alone. And while this doctrine may have arisen as a necessary corrective to abuses of church leadership in the Reformation period, it is in full effect today. Preachers speak of the Bible as an instruction book or as the only data necessary for spiritual living. But this diminishes some critical elements of theological knowledge. … Sola scriptura also tends to downplay the role of God’s Spirit in shaping the direction of the church.
Sampson says that people who fall into this category “do not take into account the subjectivity of human interpreters.” In other words, those men who penned Scripture may not have been that inspired after all. It could have been more a case of their point of view based on their own life experiences.
4/Riding the Emerging Church Wave
How far is this new kind of church willing to go to reach its objective? Emerging church proponents say there is a new wave taking place and we have to hop on. The wave is a Vintage Christianity, which in reality is an experience-based religion. Experiences must be implemented in order to attract both Christians and non-Christians alike; we must appeal to this postmodern generation with its hunger for experience, rituals, and mysticism.
Quote from chapter 4:The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [i.e., an intellectual or cognitive approach]” (Romans 10:17). Not so in the emerging church. Faith comes by seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations; then the “word” follows. Leonard Sweet calls it “EPIC culture: Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven, Connected.” Post-moderns require such stimulation to experience God. Images of Jesus hanging on the cross are very common. So are icons of Mary and baby Jesus.
The emerging church embraces multi-sensory worship. Leaders of the emerging church say the ideas and beliefs of the early church fathers (100 AD to 600AD) are important and these teachings from the past will bring spiritual transformation and success to churches in the 21st century.
Quote from chapter 5: Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense and icons, the promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Fellowship explains:
Everything in the service needs to preach-architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell-it all preaches. All five senses must be engaged to experience God.
Often, Christians who have been attending church all their lives find the changes their pastors are implementing disconcerting. They see the trend away from Bible teaching to multi-sensory stimulation.
6/When West Meets East
Contemplative spirituality (i.e., mysticism) is to the emerging church what the wind is to a sail boat. Without it, there is no momentum, and it is woven into the very fabric of the emerging church. In order to understand why this is so important, we must first understand the dynamics of contemplative spirituality.
Quote from chapter 6:Contemplative spirituality* is a vital element of the emerging church. One proponent defines it like this:
To help the mind become quiet, we can follow our breathing. Or we can repeat silently a chosen prayer phrase or a word.
That may sound beneficial at first glance, to quiet ourselves in the midst of a busy and hectic world. What Christian doesn’t want to be find rest and peace?
7/Monks, Mystics, and the Ancient Wisdom
The emerging church is embracing contemplative spirituality and what is called the ancient wisdom. While appearing to be Christian because of the altered terminology, in actuality, it is occult based and New Age.
Quote from chapter 7: Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology of Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania, is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. His own testimony is an example of someone who has not only embraced mysticism, it is the avenue through which he considers himself born again. Campolo states:
In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time-sometimes as much as a half hour-to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.
8/The Second Coming of the Eucharistic Christ
The Roman Catholic Church has a plan to establish the Kingdom of God here on Earth and win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus-the Eucharistic Christ. It is believed the “triumph of the Eucharist” will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren) come under the rule and reign of Rome and the Eucharistic Jesus. The presence of “Christ” in the Eucharist is the second coming, Roman Catholic style. The emerging church is a bridge to Rome.
Quote from chapter 8: To those who traditionally haven’t had much ritual in their lives (i.e., Protestants), the ambiance of the [Catholic] Mass would have great appeal because of it’s religious novelty-thus the interest in the Eucharist [Catholic communion service where the elements are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus] by those who promote contemplative spirituality. And for many Catholics, the Mass (where the Eucharist is presented), in and of itself, is not a mystical experience. However if the contemplative dimension is added, one actually can enter the mystical realm. On the surface this phenomenon seems complex, but once we begin to understand mysticism, it all makes sense. Within the contemplative prayer realm, the meditator is actually getting in touch with a spiritual power or force. Combining the tradition of the Eucharist, which appeals to many who are raised in the Catholic Church, with the relatively recent explosion of contemplative practice, the Catholic Church sees this as a way to recover its robust state it had in previous decades.
9/The Kingdom of God on Earth
The Bible says that Jesus Christ will establish His kingdom when He returns to Earth. But today a theology called Kingdom Now or Dominionism is permeating the walls of Christianity, and the emerging church movement is taking this heretical belief full speed into the next generation. With the idea that the church can establish the Kingdom of God before Christ returns and essentially turn our world into a Christian world, this belief system has literally changed the way countless Christians view the world and go about their Christian living. What most of them don’t realize is this Kingdom of God on Earth mindset is an all out effort by Satan to merge the religions of the world and thus negate the gospel message.
Quote from chapter 9: Most people, with any common sense and compassion, would like to see a planet without poverty, disease, and illiteracy. I thank God for all the organizations that are working to help the suffering, the sick, and the poor. Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for and reach out to those in need. However, working to bring about utopia on Earth through global and religious unity is futile. My saying that might make some people angry, and they may accuse me of being fatalistic. But nowhere in Scripture is the notion supported that there will be a kingdom without tears, pain, poverty, and suffering until Jesus Christ physically returns and establishes it Himself.
There is another question that needs to be considered: Can the kingdom of God be established by those who don’t know the King? In other words, can people of all religions and faiths who donâ€™t know Jesus as King and Lord be members of His kingdom?
Rick Warren believes that God has shown him not only the boundaries (or lack of them) of this coming global kingdom, but also the strategy to bring it about. Before Warren came up with the plan, he says he asked Jesus to show him how to reach the world.
10/The Undoing of Faith
The fruit of the emerging church includes: changes in views on sexuality, the desire by emerging leaders to stop identifying with Christianity, eradicating the gap between good and evil (the very goal of Satan’s religion, the New Age), and developing a new missiology which says keep your own religion, just add Jesus. This truly is the undoing of Christian faith.
Quote from chapter 10: It should be apparent what is occurring as the emerging church evangelization program unfolds. Walls that once separated biblical Christianity from pagan religious belief systems are being demolished. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners from hell, a new kind of gospel is being preached, and its preachers are wearing interspiritual robes of deception. Jesus proclaimed it is a narrow pathway that leads to heaven, and He is the only door through which to enter-but now the supposed pathway to God has been broadened to permit open access for the sake of establishing the kingdom.
11/A Slaughterhouse Religion?
If someone said that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross, many would cry out, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and the Cross.” But while this may be true, there is an underlying theme building momentum in the emerging church that says, “Jesus going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and service that we should follow. But the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind-well that is not who God is. He would never do that!” This mindset negates the very atonement on which biblical Christianity rests.
Quote from chapter 11: In [Harry Emerson] Fosdick’s book, Dear Mr. Brown, he states:
Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.
Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced-“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgement a theological disgrace.”
12/A New Reformation?
Faith Undone shows that the nature of the emerging church’s new reformation is anything but new, and when it comes to pass could bear violence and persecution on those who defend the Bible as the true and literal Word of God. This is a heavy chapter that will zero in on what this new emerging reformation will look like.
Quote from chapter 12: Most likely, you have heard the term new reformation, or as some refer to it, postmodern reformation. Rick Warren talks about it, emerging church leaders discuss it, and New Agers for a long time have been saying, “We need a new reformation.” Referring often to the reformation that took place in the 16th century, these current reformation advocates believe that something as radically different as the early reformation must happen again. In fact, they believe that the church (and the world) will not survive without it. Statements like “We’ll do whatever it takes,” or “reinvent or die” often leave the lips of the new reformation evangelists. The passion and zeal to bring about the new reformation equals that of the early reformers.
13/Or An End-Time Deception
The Bible says that in the last days Satan will deceive the whole world with doctrines of demons and seducing spirits. The question must be asked, is the emerging church spirituality part of this great falling away? And just what are the earmarks of a church that has become part of this end-time deception?
Quote from chapter 13: There is no question about it, the world is in serious chaos, with poverty, sickness, and disease inflicting millions and millions of people. Suffering seems to be at an all time high level. Understandably, the world is looking for answers. Many religious leaders (including New Agers) believe we need a new reformation. Neale Donald Walsch, a prominent leader in the New Age, is one of those who has new reformation on his mind. He states:
We are suggesting that people become modern day Martin Luther’â€™s and take the five steps to peace and tack them up on church house doors, as Martin Luther did with his 95 theses in 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany, which started of course, the first Reformation. Our intention is to stimulate the second great Reformation of world religion. That is our intention, our goal and our purpose. We intend to, in fact, inspire the second great Reformation of world religion.
Comments like the one above are quite interesting because Walsch is not a Christian, but he speaks of a religious reformation that he is hoping to witness. But Walsch’s reformation does not include Jesus Christ. On his website Group of 1000, a statement explains what Walsch calls “the new spirituality”:
The New Spirituality is a global movement to create the space for humanity to experience its natural impulse toward the divine in a way which makes no one else wrong for the way in which they are doing it.
I realize that most Christians would probably laugh incredulously if someone told them they were heading toward the spirituality of Neale Donald Walsch. Most of them would see themselves as orthodox and biblically-based and certainly not as New Agers going toward some kind of new reformation that says everyone is God. But as I have tried to convey in this book, I believe the emerging church is the bridge between Christianity and this “new spirituality.” And the question that every Christian must ask themselves is, is this a bridge on which I am willing to walk and eventually cross?
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