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The Emerging Church

 

A video clip of a Emerging Church worship service Church

 

Emerging Church Defined

The emerging church or emergent church is a diverse movement within Christianity that arose in the late 20th century as a reaction to the influence of modernism in Western Christianity. The movement is usually called a "conversation" by its proponents to emphasize its diffuse nature with contributions from many people and no explicitly defined leadership or direction. The emerging church seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as its mainly Western members live in a postmodern culture. While practices and even core doctrine vary, most emergents can be recognized by the following values (Wikipedia the online Encyclopedia).

Emerging Church groups are typically observed to emphasize the following elements:
From Answers.com

  • Highly creative approaches to worship and spiritual reflection. This can involve everything from the use of contemporary music and films to liturgy, as well as more ancient customs, with a goal of making the church more appealing to the unchurched, and those within the church.
  • A minimalist and decentralized organizational structure.
  • A flexible approach to theology wherein individual differences in belief and morality are accepted within reason.
  • A holistic view of the role of the church in society. This can mean anything from greater emphasis on fellowship in the structure of the group to a higher degree of emphasis on social action, community building or Christian outreach.
  • A desire to reanalyze the Bible within varying contexts with the goal of revealing a multiplicity of valid perspectives rather than a single valid interpretation.
  • A continual re-examination of theology.
  • A high value placed on creating communities built out of the creativity of those who are a part of each local body.
  • A belief in the journey of faith, both as individual and community.

 

What do they believe?
From http://members.tripod.com/carla_b/emergentmovement/beliefs.html

Friendship
They believe that friendships change the world. We believe that Jesus welcomed the original disciples into a warm friendship with himself and one another, and we believe that the church through the centuries has, at its best, been an extension of this friendship through space, time, and transition.
While I have nothing negative to say about friendships, how does the Bible define a friend? Does our friendship with a lost person become jeopardized when we share the gospel with them? Do we risk losing that friendship in order to proclaim the truth of the Bible to them, that they are dead in their trespasses and sins, and if they die that way, they will be eternally condemned, and the only true way to forgiveness and eternal life is through believing on the finished work of the cross of Christ? Do we value friendships with the lost, more than we have a passion for proclaiming the gospel? Does the Bible tell us go and make friends, or go and make disciples? Just some things to think about.

Growing

The spirit of emergent is inclusive. We seek to welcome all those who wish to journey with us and enter into a friendship around our shared mission and vision and voice, expressed in our rule. Emergent is intentionally cross-confessional. We hope to bring together Christians from varied confessions and traditions (Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox). In addition, emergent seeks to grow in diversity in terms of race, class, gender, culture, language, nationality, and ministry setting. Believing as we do that national boundaries are becoming less significant, and that global realities are becoming increasingly important to all local faith communities, we believe that our relationships must increasingly bring people together from around the world.
This should be a red flag, for Christians. This movement is intentionally cross-confessional, aka, 100% ecumenical. Which church is correct? Which confession is Biblical? If you are aligning yourself with an emergent church, you are lending credibility to, the ecumenical teaching that it doesn’t matter what church you’re in, as long as they call themselves Christians. I do not address this lightly, nor should it be considered a small matter by any true believer. While we shouldn’t be seeking to intentionally divide, or be divisive for the sake of being divisive, the Bible is our standard for what is correct, and what isn’t. Biblical doctrine divides &emdash; it always has. There is one way to the Father, and it is by Christ alone. If any church teaches any other doctrine, they are teaching a false doctrine, a false way.

 Generative

The growing friendship that constitutes emergent is more than a matter of valuable interpersonal relationships. This friendship is intended to be generative: to generate new thinking, new art, new dreams, new conversations, new discoveries, new action &emdash; in many places and forms, among many people inside of emergent and beyond.
There is certainly nothing wrong with generating new friendships and fresh creativity. At the same time, there is something very wrong with intending to use that approach when it comes to sound Biblical teaching, and preaching. The word of God does not change. The gospel does not change. The way to eternal life, does not change. GOD does not change. Cultures may change, but the message to reach them never has, and never will.  Indeed this is part of the problem with rampant false teachings in such abundance today. The idea that God is doing a new thing, or has a new message or method that only THIS group of people can understand and grab hold of, is the very thing that many cults are built upon!

 Ecc.1: 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Missional

The leaders brought together in emergent are missional leaders. The term missional is significant for two reasons. First, it expresses our belief that God intends Christianity to be more than a system of belief or even a way of life. As we understand it, our beliefs are intended to foster a way of life that in turn sends us into the world to serve God and our neighbors, so that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and so that God’s kingdom may come. This missional focus on God’s kingdom tells us that the church is never to be the withdrawn or isolated end user of the gospel; rather, we receive the gospel so that we may be equipped and sent into the world to love our neighbors and serve "the least of these." Second, the term missional implies a narrative way of looking at the Scriptures. In other words, for us, the Bible is not primarily the repository of abstractions or propositions which need to be extracted and systematized from its stories and poetry; rather, we see the Bible as the record of the story of God’s emerging mission in human history. This record conveys the trajectory of God’s work with which we seek to align and into which we seek to invest our lives.
No true believer would have any issue with part 1 of this missional statement. Part 2 however, should trouble any serious student of the Word. I submit a highly respected source definition for what the Scriptures are, and what they are not:

Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.

In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word "evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority

Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church's life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God. Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.

Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church's understanding, nurture and discipline.

Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliches, promises and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God's truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God's provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preacher's opinions or the ideas of the age. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.

The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God's grace in Christ. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.

From: The Cambridge Declaration - A Statement by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Christian Emergent draws leaders together around the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are beginners ourselves &emdash; imperfect but growing men and women who are learning to live life with God in the way of Jesus. As our rule makes clear, we represent a generous orthodoxy, rooted in the Scriptures and consistent with the ancient creeds of the church.

Ecumenicism & unity at the cost of truth, for the sake of unity.  There is a valid and Biblical reason for the reformation and Protestantism.  There is a valid and Biblical reason for the existence of Baptist churches that never had any part of Rome to begin with. No true believer should desire to have any part of Ecumenicism.

 

Emerging Churches vs. The Bible Driven Church Core values
http://members.tripod.com/carla_b/emergentmovement/compare.html

 

Emergent Church

 

Bible

 

Man adds to the church daily as should be saved through relational methods...

 

Churches are taking into consideration what the unsaved and/or unchurched dislike about the church, then applying the results and statistics to determine how the church should be run.

 

"...And the LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved" Acts 2:47.

 

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another..." 1 John 1:7.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat -- for he grants sleep to those he loves" Psalm 127:1-2.

 

The Church needs a new purpose (outward focus) and must change (adapt to modern culture).

 

The Church already has a purpose since its beginning 2000 years ago. The Great Commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" Mark <16:15>.

 

"Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" Jude 1:3.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" Mark <16:15>-16.

 

Conform the Church to the image of the world and modern cultural trends in order to make the church comfortable place for the unsaved.

 

"Know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God?" James 4:4.

 

"And be not conformed to this world..." Romans 12:2.

"The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness..." Romans 1:17-18.

 

Do not offend seekers with "religious" words.

 

"And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, [even to them] which stumble at the word," 1 Peter 2:8.

 

Focus on manmade multi-step programs toward psychological healing and deliverance.

 

One-step deliverance program: Being Born Again in Christ. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" John 8:36.

 

At the most, we could also acknowledge a second "step": Sanctification, which is the process of perfecting the saints until we are resurrected in our glorified bodies.

 

Scriptures are insufficient for perfecting the saints. Psychology and sociology help the church where the Bible seems to lack.

 

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

 

Entertain the world into the <<Kingdom> of <God>>. Focus on the things that make church more "real" to the sinner.

 

Convict the world unto salvation: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" 1 Corinthians 12:3.

 

Caters to the flesh. Engage all the senses in worship through scents (candles, incense), sounds (modern worship music, culturally relevant music), sight (interpretive dance, visually stimulating artwork, icons)

 

Crucifies the flesh: "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" Romans <8:13>.

 

Pleasers of men.

 

Pleasers of God: "We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts" 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

 

The answer to low self-esteem is high self-esteem.

 

Concept of self-esteem is nonexistent in Scripture. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" Psalm 51:17.

 

Christians need to be pleasing savor to the world.

 

"For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one (we are) the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life" 2 Corinthians <2:15>-16.

 

Be loved by the world.

 

"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you (from their company), and shall reproach (you), and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake" Luke <6:22>. "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" I John 3:13.

 

Reach out and relate to the lost and generate friendships and conversations - and the Kingdom shall be added unto you.

 

"But seek ye first the <<kingdom> of <God>>, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" Matthew 6:33.

 

Unchurched or dechurch have rejected church but not necessarily God.

 

All unsaved are in rebellion and have rejected God: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" 1 Corinthians <1:18>.

 

The unchurched will come to church via a good experience. Man-centered focus, appeals to the carnal rather than the spiritual.

 

They will come to church only by God's sovereign work of grace: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8.

 

Man-centered.

 

Christ-centered.

 

This generation is different from all past generations.

 

This generation's spiritual condition is IDENTICAL to all generations before it.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

 

 

 

Seeks personal fulfillment.

 

Seeks obedience to Christ.

 

Integrates secular psychology & philosphy with the teachings of the Bible.

 

"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" 1 Timothy 6:20. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" Isaiah 8:20. "Beware lest anyone spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" Colossians 2:8. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies" 2 Peter 2:1.

 

Unconditional acceptance.

 

Requires repentance; God is not tolerant of evil. Sets in place Elders in church discipline to judge and restore those in the church.

 

You set boundaries.

 

God sets the boundaries.

 

Supports ecumenical endeavors.

 

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" 2 Corinthians 6:17. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" Romans 16:17. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14.

 

Principle of Pragmatism: If it works, it must be good!

 

Be faithful to the same message whether they respond or not: "And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear" Ezekiel 3:11.

 

All truth is God's Truth.

 

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth" John <14:17>; <16:13>.

 

Respecter of persons.

 

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, In truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" Acts 10:34.

 

Makes the Highway to Heaven as wide as possible.

 

"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" Matthew 7:14.

 

Thinks men seek after God.

 

"There is no one who seeks God" Romans 3:11. God seeks after men: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" Romans <10:17>.

 

Preach only "positive" messages from the pulpit.

 

Preach publicly the full counsel of God which includes both the love of God and the wrath of God.

 

Based on principles of this world and "universal truths."

 

Church governed by Word of God, based on nothing but the person of Christ and him crucified. "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" 1 Corinthians 2:2.

How should bible driven Christians respond to the Emerging Church?

 In an effort to warn fellow believers of the lies in the Emerging Church I wrote an article on the subject once in a Christian newspaper. You may read it below.

I have been in many Emerging Churches in my day and have interacted with many of these types of people. I have even interacted with a well known Emerging leader named Dan Kimball. While in my mind I think its unfair and incorrect to assume that Emerging leaders are unsaved, one must boldly confront their errors to help the deceived sheep that they are leading down the wrong path.

The bible says the following

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (NKJV) 2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

The time has come when men will not endure sound doctrine, and this passage of scripture is being fulfilled today in the Emerging Church. Sadly many of these churches do not boldly teach nor preach the gospel. I can tell you from my experience and research alone that many of these churches lack Sunday School or any form of Church Education. Many would rather spend their money on their worship centers, than on a good bible study curriculum. Studying the bible is very boring for people not interested in God’s word. Despite what the scriptures have said in these passages.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Colossians 3:16 (KJV) 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Joshua 1:8-9 (NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

In many Fundamentalist churches bible study and the deep interaction with God’s word is a high priority. Its one reason why I am choosing to finish up my schooling at a Fundamentalist seminary. I want a place where the bible will be taught, and an environment that challenges me to learn the Word. Few Emerging Churches emphasize deep bible study, since most are so obsessed with their worship and their carnal felt needs sermons. The Emerging Church preachers often create environments where thee sinner is comfortable. They almost never speak on hot and controversial issues such as Homosexuality, Abortion, The Role of Women In Ministry, Discipline, Hell, etc.

I challenge fellow Christians already attending Emerging Churches at this time to confront their leaders with the scriptures. Test them, and test everyword that comes out of their mouths with the bible.

This is what the Bureans did to Paul in Acts 17:11

Acts 17:11 (NIV) Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

However you will probably find from experience (as I have) that most Emerging Church type leaders are unacceptable to anykind of biblical criticism. Most view the bible as A AUTHORITY but not THE AUTHORITY.

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