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Posts Tagged ‘Emergent

What Became of the Emergent Church?

Back about 7 years ago, when I first started blogging, the emegent church was the talk of the blogs.  I even had a friend go down the emergent road.  He was raised in a strong Southern Baptist home, attended an SBC college, and his father was an SBC evangelist.  Sadly, my friend gave in to his “emergent” desires and left the SBC and most of biblical Christianity altogether.  Today he is a shell of the man he use to be.  He has seemingly abandon his faith altogether in favor of a social gospel where Jesus is not even preached (unlesss He is being used as an example).  

The emergent church is where I thought they would end up: in dead denominations.  Most have embraced the far left in theology and practice.  They have given up trying to be “evangelicals” and realize that their dream of being both an evangelical and a liberal simply cannot come to pass.  The few emergent spokesmen left are on the left theologically and no one in the evangleical church is listening to their “conversations” anymore.  It seems since they have abandoned Jesus and His gospel of saving sinners from sin, they have had to find a new cause (which is typically what happened to the old liberal denominations such as the United Church of Christ or the PSUSA).  Their new causes are on humans becoming better.  They want to end poverty (just not poverty of spirit).  They want to end war (just not battle the enemy of Satan).  They want to encouarge socialism (just not the biblical work ethic).  They want to champion the rights of minorities (just not address their sins).  Nearly every emergent I have known has left the biblical church.  They have forsaken sound doctrine.  In fact, the Bible is only used to justify their causes.

Gone are the days when emergents were somewhat taken seriously.  We view them all know as I did then: liberals and apostates.  They have become Jude 8-13.  

In the end, truth always wins.  The Lord Jesus will win (Psalm 110:1).  We have the assurance in the Bible of His complete victory (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Christ Jesus will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).  His truth will defeat lies (John 17:17).  When emergents begin to question the Bible, their downfall was assured.  Today they don’t question the Bible but just rejest it.  The Rob Bells of the world is what you are left with.  Yet God’s truth is still going forth.  Sinners are still being saved.  Why?  Because God’s Word and His ways always will conquer.  

So the emergent voice is gone.  It continues now only among liberal denominations that are dying.  Gone are the days when some people actually bought their books.  Gone are the days when people would watch Rob Bell or Doug Padgitt’s sermons.  Gone are the days when some evangelicals considered emergents as worth hearing out.  Today we just view them as liberlas who offer us nothing and preach nothing.  

For me, I say good riddence. I am happy to see the death of the emergent movement.  Oh I know they will say they live on but they are spiritually dead and offer nothing.  The gospel is still transforming sinners (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel is still freeing sinners from the chains of sin and death (Romans 1:16-17).  The gospel is still focused on the person and work of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:1-4).  I rejoice that that gospel is still bearing fruit in all the earth (Colossians 1:6).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2015 at 4:18 PM

Posted in church, Emergent

Tagged with , , ,

The Seeker Church Lectionary

Its’ February so you know what that means from the seeker/relevant/postmodern churches don’t you?  It means that the lectionary points them to preach goofy sermon series’ on sex and marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, we should address these issues when the Bible does address them.  If you preach verse-by-verse through the Bible, you will no doubt have to deal with the issues of sex and marriage often.  The Bible is full of stories about these issues and much in the New Testament deals with this as disciples of Jesus.  Yet the seeker churches always will be found preaching on these subjects during this month because of Valentine’s day (and to draw a crowd which is the bottom line).

One need not think too hard to figure out the seeker church lectionary.  Typically the lectionary will point to the Christian calendar and will have the Bible teacher teach lessons around the season.  If we are nearing Resurrection Sunday, the lectionary would have you preach on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  If we are nearing Christmas, the lectionary would have you preach on the incarnation of God.  The lectionary was created to keep the focus on the Bible.  While I don’t use a lectionary, I appreciate seeking to keep the church focused on biblical truths throughout the year.  The seeker lectionary, however, doesn’t revolve around the Bible nor the Christian calendar.  It revolves around the culture and around the cultural calendar.  I will grant that the American culture calendar does revolve around many Christian holidays but the seeker lectionary revolves around the culture and especially the worldly-minded culture (notice the John Bunyan reference).  I’m not sure who sets the seeker lectionary anymore.  In the 1990’s it was Willow Creek and Bill Hybels.  In the early 2000’s it was Rick Warren and Purpose-driven Church.  In the mid 2000’s it turned toward the emergent movement but has seen swayed from them (thank the Lord as the emergents are now full-blown liberals and out of the “evangelical” camp).  I would say, if I had to guess, that Andy Stanley plays a big role in the lectionary but he is not the only one.

In our town I have noticed that the seeker churches are preaching on sex this month but using the wicked “Fifty shades of grey” movie to help.  Again, notice that the Bible does not take focus here.  The focus in not the text of Scripture.  The focus is always on the shock value of sex.  Sex sells in our wicked culture.  It’s one of the top reasons that I don’t own nor watch TV.  Sex fills our culture.  If you want to draw a worldly crowd preach on what they want most: sex, money, and pleasure.  The idols of sex and sports are the two biggest I know of among men.  The men at my work live and breathe for sex and sports.  Their lives revolve around those two issues.  Pleasure is in there as well with all their “toys” such as motorcycles and other things (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

What is the faithful disciple to do?  How do we react to the seeker lectionary or our culture?

First, be faithful to God.  Don’t bother trying to make friends with the world (James 4:4).  Don’t bother trying to appease the world.  It will never happen.  If you truly follow Jesus, if you truly preach repentance, if you truly love Jesus above all others and all things, the world will despise you (John 15:18-25; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 1 John 2:15-17).  The world will never love the disciple of Jesus nor the disciple of Jesus loving the world.  The two are at war with each other (Ephesians 6:12).

Secondly, be faithful to preach the Word of God.  Leonard Ravenhill use to tell the young men who came to him for advice on preaching to read 1 and 2 Timothy each month.  Ravenhill believed that we must heed the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 and 2 Timothy in this sinful world that we find ourselves preaching in and to.  I recommend expository teaching.  Expository preaching avoids goofy sermon series’ and is faithful to teach the text.  The focus in expository preaching is on the Word of God and its full authority.  Expository preaching takes very seriously the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:20 and the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2.  I recommend reading this book on expository preaching.

Thirdly, address the issues of sex, money, greed, power, etc. as the text dictates and not the culture.  Don’t allow the culture to determine your Bible teaching.  Remember our focus must be on exalting Christ and His kingdom.  We are here to preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We are to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and our focus is on that one issue.  We are called to be faithful to the One who saved us.  The culture should not drive our Bible teaching.  The text of Scripture should.  If the topics come up in your text, deal with them.  If they don’t, deal with what you have at hand.  Be text driven by the words given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) and not by the culture.

Lastly, the bottom line for me is faithfulness to the King.  Jesus said that He would judge us based on faithfulness or unfaithfulness (Matthew 25:29-30).  Paul told Timothy to appoint faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2).  Faithfulness is the key.  God is not looking for talented men.  He is not looking for culturally relevant men.  He is looking for faithful men to proclaim His Word.  I want to be found faithful.  I don’t care if the world finds me odd.  I don’t care if people make fun of me for preaching on the streets or for calling people to repent.  I don’t care if people bash me for standing in front of abortion clinics to call the women to repentance.  I don’t care if the world ignores me.  I want to be faithful the King.  He is the One who saves sinners in the first place (John 1:12-13; 6:44).  My job is to lift Him up (John 12:32)!

May the Lord help us to be found faithful.

So What Happened To My Emergent Friend?

Back in 2007, the emergent movement was going strong.  While some were beginning to predict its ending, most emergents were crying that this was going to be a mighty movement that would have lasting impact on churches.  

And then the bottom fell out.  

The emergent movement is all but dead now.  The reasons for this are many but mainly the emergents finally confessed to who they really were: liberals.  This led to them leaving evangelical churches or simply making so many liberal statements (such as Brian McLaren) that no one would take them serious anymore but liberals.  Today, emergents still exist but they are not in liberal churches where they belong.  Others still continue to preach their emergentism but no one listens to them but liberals.  For all this, I am thankful.  They did enough damage while claiming to be “progressive evangelicals” so I rejoice that they are now in their liberal churches among liberal folks though I do pray they come to salvation in Christ alone. 

I had a friend who got swept up in the emergent movement.  In fact, it seemed he was heading to the top as one of their leaders.  He was young, intelligent, and yet he had the zeal of a fundamentalist.  He seemed perfect for the emergent movement.  He had grown up in a conservative home with a father who loved the Lord and preached the gospel.  When I became a disciple, he and I became good friends.  We spent many nights praying, talking theology, witnessing, and singing hymns.  Life pulled us apart for a while until we begin to talk through e-mails and he revealed that he was emergent.  He even started an emergent youth camp (the differences was that they had no worship service, no preaching per se but they would paint, burn candles, chant, etc.).  My friend earned his doctorate during this time from a liberal seminary.  

My friend is the picture of the emergent movement.  He is a shell of what he use to be.  He doesn’t pray, doesn’t evangelize, doesn’t enjoy listening to music that honors the Lord, doesn’t read the Bible much at all (though he said he studied a bit for his degree).  He doesn’t rejoice in people repenting of sin.  He doesn’t baptize.  He is not concerned at all with the things of the Lord.  His interest now is beer, women, liberal causes such as homosexual “marriage” and fighting for human rights in the world.  Oddly, he is silent about Christians suffering in the Middle East as a human rights issue.  He uses social media to spur on people not toward godliness (Hebrews 10:24) but toward liberalism.  He never mentions the Lord Jesus (unless it is about a liberal cause that he feels Jesus would be apart of) and he never speaks about God in terms of actually knowing Him.  

My friend is just what the emergent movement was and is: liberal.  He has faith now only in himself.  He rejects the inerrancy of the Bible, rejects that Christ alone is the way to salvation, rejects miracles, rejects the Christian worldview.  My friend is nothing more than a liberal who is here now to just make the world a better place until we pass on to the great unknown.  He and I are complete opposites now on nearly every issue.  

My friend needs Jesus.  I have prayed many times for him to repent.  I have prayed many times that he would see the errors of his ways and submit himself to God.  Satan continues to feed him lie after lie and he keeps accepting them.  My old friend loves his sin and this keeps him from repenting.  He believes he has been liberated but he is now in horrible chains that will bind his soul forever in hell.  I do pray that he repents before it is too late (Hebrews 9:27-28).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/14/2014 at 5:09 PM

One Pragmatic Church Quote I Agree With

“What you win them with is what you win them to.”

This is absolutely true.  So pragmatic church, bear in mind that when you seek to win the people in your community with goofy skits, sermons on movies and television programs that people should not watch anyway, moralistic sermon series’ designed to take people to a new level, rock concerts full of smoke and lights that you call your “worship service,” and other pragmatic schemes of men that you devise to “win” the crowds, that is what you win them to.

But I ask, “Where is Jesus in all this?”  Where is the Bible being preached, proclaimed, and exegeted before the people?  Where is the call to holiness, to repentance, to self-sacrifice in an age of narcism?  Where is the glory of God being manifested?  Where is the labor in prayer, in evangelism (and by that I don’t mean inviting people to your seeker church so that they can get comfortable with God but I am talking about true evangelism where the gospel is proclaimed and people are called to repent)?  Where is the weeping for the lost?  Where is the passion for the gospel to be preached, obeyed, lived, taught, and preached in the world?

Where are the elders in the church of God who will be serious about Christ?  Where are the elders who can faithfully fulfill 1 Timothy 3:1-7?  Where are the elders who obey 1 Peter 5:1-5?  Where are the elders who obey Hebrews 13:7, 17?  Oh God, give us men of God!

What you are winning people to is not the Word of God.  It is not to the Lordship of Christ.  It is not to the glory of God.  It is not to the exaltation of the gospel.  It is pure pragmatism and it is producing countless false converts who do not begin to know the truth of the Word of God nor of God’s salvation in His beloved Son (Matthew 7:21-23; Titus 1:16; 2 John 8-9).

I urge you my seeker, pragmatic lead pastor of such and such community church: repent and cry out to this generation that they must repent or they will face the holy wrath of God (John 3:36; Hebrews 12:29). Rise up and shake off the chains of religion, of man-made traditions that rob God of His glory (Mark 7:1-13).  Rise up and get on your face and cry out to God for Him to be glorified in you even if He takes away all your fame and fortune you have accumulated from your seeker church.  Rise up and pray like never before, like your Master whom you say you love and adore (Luke 11:1).  Rise up and be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Rise up and preach the Word of God verse by verse, line upon line (2 Timothy 4:1-6).  Warn this generation of the coming judgment of God (Hebrews 9:27-28) and warn them that their only hope is not found in this world nor in chasing the flesh but in Jesus Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

May God be glorified in His holy Church (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/12/2014 at 11:00 AM

Losing The Desire To Be Dogmatic

There is no doubt that postmodernism is taking hold of our society.  From the issue of same-sex “marriage” to drugs to almost anything, the cry of the age is to allow for people to have personal freedoms and for no one to say that another person’s personal freedoms are wrong so long as those “freedoms” are viewed as what the culture likes.  Romans 1:32 fulfills this view:

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

What culture views as appropriate is what is being championed today.  The majority wins.

And this is effecting the Church as well.  From the heretical emergent movement (that is thankfully dying) to the seeker church to the evangelical church, we see a move toward postmodern thinking taking hold of the Church.  One way that I see clearly is the loss of desire from Bible teachers to be dogmatic over theological issues.  I have a buddy who is open to Catholics being saved even if they hold to Catholic teachings faithfully.  Perhaps there are Catholics out there who are truly born again of the Spirit (John 3:3-7) but I have witnessed to many Catholics and have never encountered such a person.  When I begin to discuss salvation through faith alone in Christ alone, every Catholic I have evangelized did not understand the gospel.  They always had a works-righteousness view where Jesus is part of their salvation but He and His work are not the finality of their salvation.  Yet my friend believes that simply because a person has confessed Jesus Christ, they perhaps should be viewed as saved.  He believes the society just will not tolerate the dogmatic teachings that a person must hold to the fundamentals of the faith to be rightly called a Christian.

Postmodernism has caused people to ask the question, “Is justification enough?”  Can we make the gospel issue really about the nature of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone (Romans 5:1) or should be broaden our views so that we include Catholics, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.?  Why be dogmatic about doctrine?  Let us unite around our common experience in Christ (or whoever if you are an emergent) but not around doctrine.

The fact is that doctrine does two things.  Doctrine affirms that we are in the faith and allows the Church to pursue the same goal of exalting the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10).  In Acts 2:42 we read that the early Church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.  This is our New Testament.  The early Church devoted themselves to hearing and obeying the Apostles who in turn, through the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gave us the New Testament.  Our duty today is to be devout in studying the New Testament and applying it to our lives.  Paul told Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV).  That should be our passion as well, to remain faithful to God in teaching His truths (Titus 2:1).  Doctrine does matter both now and for eternity (Galatians 1:6-9).

Secondly, doctrine divides in a good way.  Doctrine allows us to see who are the genuine children of God and who are not.  1 Corinthians 11:18-19 says:

18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Notice that Paul the Apostles states that these divisions are good because they force the Church to know the truth.  Doctrinal controversies have been a part of the Church since her beginning.  Yet when we ponder the great doctrines that came out of controversies, we realize that not all doctrinal debates are bad.  Nearly all of the New Testament letters were written over doctrinal issues.  And in all the New Testament letters, Paul spends time at the beginning of them discussing theological issues.  The book of Romans, for example, spends 11 chapters before beginning in chapter 12 with “practical living.”  Yet the modern church today spends 3/4 of her time with “practical living” and very little on doctrine.

We see this affecting the Church in many ways.  False conversions.  Shallow understanding of the gospel.  Lack of passion for God in prayer.  Lack of desire for evangelism.  A careless attitude toward theology, toward holiness, and toward the Bible.  We see people waffling on cultural issues such as same-sex “marriage” because they don’t know what the Bible says.  We see a plethora of topical preachers because they are careless in their handling of God’s Word.  We see theologians rejecting the inerrancy of Scripture because it just doesn’t fit into our modern times.  This lazy attitude toward doctrine and toward holy living has in turn produced a very world, very cultural driven church.

I urge you faithful brethren in Christ to stand firm for the gospel.  Defend the gospel.  Die for the gospel if necessary.  Let Jesus Christ be your passion and your God.  I pray that those who love the truth of God would preach His truth in every city across our nation and around the world.  Our world doesn’t need a compromising church.  Our world needs the truth of God preached through tears and exhortation to repentance.  I pray that every true disciple of Jesus would obey Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20) and be faithful to make disciples and to teach them His Word (John 15:1-11).

May God be exalted.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/11/2013 at 11:56 AM

My Two Friends Dissent Into Liberalism

When I was in high school, we had a Bible study group that would meet several times a week to pray and study the Bible.  Sadly, many of those people who attended our Bible study are no longer seeking God at all.  Most of them are living in sin and rebellion against God and unless they repent, are headed toward the wrath of God.

A few have survived.  I, by God’s grace, am one of those.  I don’t take credit for my salvation.  It is God who saved me.  It is God who keeps me.  I am saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-9).  In my 20 plus years as a disciple of Jesus, I have fallen into sin many times.  I would be foolish to not say so.  I am not advocating living in sin (1 John 3:8) but I am simply acknowledging that, if left to myself, would fall into sin and fall away from Christ.  It is the grace of God alone that has saved me and kept me to this hour.  It will be grace that will lead me home.

I want to tell the sad story of two of our Bible study students.  If I could take you back to 1992-1993, both of these young men would be on fire for God, both hungry for the Word of God, both hungry to share their faith with the lost, both found at our monthly prayer meetings.  Both of these young men would claim to hold to conservative, orthodox faith in Christ.  Both would claim that Jesus was the only way to God, that salvation was found only in Christ.  Both would reject liberalism and the cults.  Both would have gladly defended the Bible as the Word of God.

Today, both of these young men are involved with liberalism.  Both are religious.  One is a United Methodist pastor.  The other has earned his doctorate from Vanderbilt University in religion and is wondering in the emergent movement (or happily what is left of it).  I listened to my old friend who pastors a UMC church tonight as he taught on Genesis 1.  He rejected the idea of creationism and opted for God “using” evolution to create the world.  My old friend was trained at Chandler Seminary which is a very liberal seminary for the UMC at Emory University in Atlanta.  His church is nothing but a social gospel institution that teaches nothing.  I have listened to many of his sermons seeking to hear his heart and I have concluded that he has no basis, no authority by which to speak for God, and he offers nothing.  Nothing.  No substance.  No salvation.  No hope.  He wants religion but rejects true Christianity.

My other friend wanders about in postmodernism.  He has long since rejected the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  He holds to the postmodern mindset of no absolutes.  He does not preach Christ as “the way” (John 14:6) but as “a way” to God.  His latest pondering has been the same as UMC pastor above, social justice and social causes.  In particular, fighting for homosexual rights (despite the fact that he has not a homosexual).

This is what happens when Christ is replaced: we fill our lives with idolatry.  In the UMC pastors life, he has replaced the orthodox Jesus with a Jesus of liberalism, a Jesus who never ever judges sin, who loves, who is pragmatic, who always forgives and in no way is wrathful toward sin (what is sin?).  His idol is a false Jesus.

My other old friend has replaced Jesus with the idolatry of social causes.  The gospel has been replaced with self-help, helping others and in short, good works (at least good as they deem them to be good as a collective).

What could have prevented their falls?  I look back and see that both were very much into “church” as we knew it.  Both came from typical evangelical homes where you are saved by a prayer and church became one youth event after another.  Both were not well discipled at all.  The UMC guy above fell away early on at about the age of 16 or so and didn’t return to “faith” until after 9/11.  The emergent guy was “converted” to postmodernism when he opted to attend a liberal Baptist college, Columbia Seminary, after undergrad work.  Both were discipled by the world.  Both loved the world.  Both gave in to the world.

My hope is that both will be saved.  I am sure both would likely claim to be Christians.  They would avoid being labeled “liberals” or even evangelicals.  Both would not feel comfortable around me or around orthodox Christians.  Ironically, it was the emergent guy who first introduced me to John MacArthur.  Before he deleted his emergent blog, I read, with tears, as he vented toward MacArthur and Al Mohler whom he called “the twin popes of the evangelical church.”  My prayer is that, at some point, both of these men will repent.  Both know the truth.  Like Romans 1:18, they are suppressing the truth of God for their sins.  Both want religion.  Both want respect.  Both are lost without the grace of Christ.

I ask you to pray for my old friends.  Pray for the Spirit of God to convict and convert them (John 16:8-11).  I also urge you to guard your heart and stay focused on Christ and His Word (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-2).  The Christian life is full of temptation, sins, and the allure of the world.  I pray that you resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9).  I pray that you love holiness and fear God (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and I pray that your love for Christ only increases all the more as time goes by (Colossians 1:9-14).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2013 at 12:25 AM

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