The name keeps popping up – Lilly Endowment . Huge amounts of money being given in the form of grants to proponents of the emerging church. As Roger Oakland documents in his book, Faith Undone, Lilly gave $691,000 to the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project (Mark Yaconelli) in 2001. Lilly had funded the beginning of that project in 1997 as well. Lilly also funded Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, another emerging-type project with Diane Butler Bass . 1 New Age sympathizer Parker Palmer (friend and inspiration to emerging leader, Len Sweet) also enjoyed the benefits of Lilly Endowment grants.2
In an article titled “Social Change and Communitarian Systems,” it explains:
The Lilly Endowment “a private foundation…that supports community development, education and religion,” has also helped fund the [Peter] Drucker Foundation. But more recently, it has shown its support for Baptist leadership and pastoral training. Strangely enough, the two — Drucker’s communitarian vision for the “social sector” and seminary training in community-building — fit together…. This grant [$300,000] makes all the more sense in light of a new partnership between Golden Gate Seminary and Saddleback Church. The Baptist seminary will build a new branch on the Saddleback campus to train church leaders to use the digital data tracking technology needed to meet and monitor community needs around the world. 3
In 1999, the now emerging/contemplative-promoting Bethel Seminary received $1.5 million from Lilly Endowment in a project created to identify “the next generation of Christian leaders.”4
Now, according to an article by emergent Tony Jones, in a more recent grant called Faithful Practices, Jones reaped benefits.5 And the money just keeps coming in. While many think that the emerging church must be a move of God because of its success and popularity, big funding could have more to do with it than anything else.
Some of the participants of the Faithful Practices project include Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Karen Ward. All four are part of the emergent church and the emerging shift towards the new spirituality that rejects biblical Christianity. Pagitt and Jones are the editors of the new release, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope; McLaren and Ward are contributing writers for the book. That book is reviewed in “Emergent Manifesto: Emerging Church Coming Out of the Closet“ and also in Faith Undone. The Manifesto clearly shows the pantheistic/universalist/New Age element of the emerging church. But while the message of the emerging church is anything but biblical, with a little financial help from its friends, it doesn’t look like the emerging church is going to disappear anytime soon.
Lately, some emergent leaders have been posting articles on the Internet, complaining about their critics. Erwin McManus wrote a recent article titled, “Emerging Angle” where he referred to critics analyses as “violent attacks” and likens them to war violence. Dan Kimball, in a recent blog posting, calls emerging critics “little barking poodles” (showing a photo of a growling poodle with sharp fangs). 6And it is no secret that Rick Warren has done everything from accuse Lighthouse Trails of breaking into Saddleback’s server (telling us Federal agents are investigating us)7 to calling fundamentalist Christians a big enemy of the 21st century and likening them to Islamic terrorists.
What is amazing is that most of the critics of the emerging church/Purpose Driven are small, obscure ministries that have virtually no extra funding and operate on their mere love for the truth and the Gospel message. But in spite of the contrast between emergents (and their funding) and Bible-believing Christians (and their lack of funding), critics have become a sore spot to emerging leaders to the point where they refer to us as “barking poodles,” enemies of society, and violent. Is it possible God is using the foolish things of the world to confound the wise? Is it possible that things are not always as they seem? The critics of the emerging church are no great thing – we could be gone tomorrow, but that does not matter because what is a great thing is the God who has sent His Son as an atonement for sin, and has offered salvation freely to those who received Christ by faith through His grace. That is a great thing, and that is worth defending … and it is a message that can never be snuffed out. No amount of funding can destroy God’s truth.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:9-17)