Emergent Church Movement Tries to Compensate for Societal Changes

John MacArthur for OneNewsNow wrote a column attacking the so-called “Emergent Church Movement” for not adhering to the true “unchanging truth of God’s word.”

According to Wikipedia:

The emerging church is a controversial[1] 21st-century Protestant Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched. To accomplish this, “emerging Christians” seek to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern mold. Proponents of this movement call it a “conversation” to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature. The predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from their own experiences and biblical narratives over propositional, Bible exposition. Emergent methodology includes frequent use of new technologies such as multimedia and the Internet. Their acceptance of diversity and reliance on open dialogue rather than the dogmatic proclamation found in historic Christianity leads emerging church Christians to diverse beliefs and morality.

Critics of the movement are often conservative evangelical theologians and pastors who disagree with the movement’s embrace of postmodernism, believing such a worldview leads emergents to unorthodox theology, relativism, antinomianism, universalism, and syncretism. These critics frequently associate emergent theology with the liberal theology that has historically been at odds with Christian fundamentalism and Evangelicalism.

My take on this is that these folks decided they wanted to be Christians, but didn’t believe a lot of the stuff in the Bible. I mean, it’s hard not to be skeptical about dinosaurs living with men, 800-year old men, talking animals, supernatural beings, miracles, immaculate conception, reincarnation, the condoning of violence, slavery, stoning, unusual death punishments, etc. The book was written a long time ago, and probably most of the stuff in it was sensible at the time. There are two issues here: the contradiction of modern science and the incompatibility of the Bible with our modern society.

Regarding the parts of the Bible that contradict science, well – they just didn’t have all their facts in yet. It’s the same reason my science textbook in Junior High listed Pluto as a planet and the ones now don’t. We try to explain our universe, then we learn things that change our explanation. The more we learn, the more we are able to construct our world. But Christians use this to explain their theories. Their theories start with a unsupported conclusion — that God created the Earth — and then try to collect evidence to build around their conclusion, throwing away any evidence to the contrary. They use the fact that science is always changing and being re-evaluated to say “They’ve been wrong before – they could be wrong again.” Except where we were wrong before was due to lack of information & lack of tools. The tools scientists use only become more powerful, so we’re able to explain the world in more detail. Scientists will never find a tool that will show them they were wrong and the Earth is flat, and they will never find a tool that will show them they were wrong and the Earth was created only several thousand years ago.

Regarding the Bible and modern society, this is probably where the Emerging Church folks are the most lenient in their adherence to the holy book. Look, we all know that it’s not cool to stone people. Nor would we take slaves. Let’s face it – the Bible’s social rules are not good any more. Should we keep the good ones and throw out the bad ones like the Emergent Church is doing? This is what I believe most “moderate” Christians do and how they cope with their religion. If you’re accepting some parts of the rule book and not others, whose job is it to decide what’s good and what’s bad? Who makes the new rules? And is this a new religion? How much can a person change a religion before it becomes a completely new one? If I want to be a Christian, but don’t believe in ghosts, can I still be a Christian? After all, the very precept of Christianity relies on a ghost forgiving me of my sins.

The Emergent Church basically has the right idea: these rules aren’t good for this society. They no longer work. But my argument is – then why do you need the religion at all? What parts of it are you keeping that are necessary?

Angry Christians like John MacArthur think we should adhere to the Bible exactly as it is written. I suppose this is to allow for their hatred of black people and women. MacArthur says:

MacArthur says while the emergent church talks of reaching people by appealing to the culture, emergent church leaders do not have a high regard for the unchanging truth of God’s Word.

However, MacArthur says most Christians are not aware of the problems associated with that. “Most Christians would see the emerging church the way they see a lot of other movements that have come along — as a change in style,” he says, adding, “I think that’s the small subtlety of it. The style is basically an accommodation for the culture — sometimes at its very own level, its worst level.”

MacArthur says the root problem of the emergent church is far beyond style issues, because it actually rejects truth, doctrine, and theology — all of which, he says, are important. “If you have no doctrinal commitment, you’re left with a kind of indescribable ‘spirituality’ — that’s the buzzword; and that’s mysticism,” says the pastor. “That’s essentially paganism; and they’re beginning, of course, to read the mystics. They’re following a flow of sort of historical, quasi-Christian mysticism.”

They have to! Based on the incompatibilities described above, how does one not “question biblical truth?”

Read MacArthur’s article here.

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One Response to Emergent Church Movement Tries to Compensate for Societal Changes

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