What is the Emerging Church Movement?

Chris Rosebrough over at Extreme Theology offered the below concerning the Emergent church over two years ago. His views are as valid now as then.

Technically speaking, the Emerging Church Movement is a re-packaging and re-imagining of liberal and Neo-Orthodox theology and thinking in a post-modern context. Put more simply, it is a reaction by liberal fringe theologians against the mass marketing and commercialization of Christianity by the mega-churches and the church growth movement.

Emerging is a great term for them because in reality they never arrive anywhere. In fact, one of the primary leaders within the movement is Brian McClaren. He is the author of one of the main books in the Emerging Movement called, A Generous Orthodoxy. One of McClaren’s key ‘talking points’ is that certainty and faith are mutually exclusive concepts.

It would not be an overstatement to say that Mclaren is vehemently hostile to the idea that we can claim any degree of certainty about any point of truth. (And this hostility is mirrored by many followers of the Emergent Movement)

McClaren states over and over and over in his books and lectures that he despises every hint of certainty or assurance. He claims that it is arrogant and unspiritual to speak dogmatically about any point of spiritual truth.

I don’t know how anyone can miss the blatant contradiction in McClaren’s position. On the one hand, he despises anyone who seems sure that the doctrines they believe are true. Yet, McClaren is absolutely certain that his doctrine of uncertainty is absolutely true.

It is precisely this principle of uncertainty that makes the Emergent Movement so seductive and dangerous. On the one hand, the Emergents appear loving, tolerant, and open minded to all religious views. On the other hand, this uncertainty robs Emergents of the promises held out to us in the scriptures for our salvation.

The saddest and most dangerous example of this is seen in how the Emerging Church deals with Christ’s Death on the Cross.

Emergent leaders and followers openly attack the doctrine of Christ’s sacrificial atonement for the sins of the world in their writings, lectures and websites. The Emergents argue that, the penal substitionary theory of the atonement is only one of many explanations for Jesus’ death on the cross. Because Emergents value uncertainty, anyone making the exclusive and certain claim that Jesus died for our sins, is rejected and ridiculed.

When I’ve tried to discuss the scriptural support and evidence for Jesus’ death on the cross as a sacrifice and atonement for our sins with Emergent followers, I was told that, “Scripture simply does not propose a theory of cohesive theology of atonement.” That “it’s only one theory and only one aspect of the atonement.” While other Emergent followers were openly hostile to the idea that Jesus died for them by saying things like, “I don’t want to have the guilt of having someone die for me” and, “the idea that God punished Jesus for my sins is repugnant to me because it sounds like cosmic child abuse.”

The Bottom Line: The Emergent Movement claims to be a church movement, but the fruit of this fad is utter uncertainty and an absolute denial of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus death on the cross for our sins.

These two facts alone are enough to brand the Emerging Movement as heretical and anti-Christian. People in the Emerging Movement need a real alternative to the lies and uncertainty that they’re being fed . . .

For those within the Emerging Church, I would assure them that scripture offers humanity a sure and certain faith in Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us plainly and clearly that God is offering all of humanity salvation and peace with Him through the victorious death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. These promises are true, these promises can be believed with certainty and these promises can set you free from the tyranny of uncertainty. In short, Jesus Christ died for YOU. Repent and believe the Gospel!

NOTE: Chris Rosebrough holds a degree in Religious Studies and Biblical Languages from Concordia University, Irvine a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and teaches at Capo Valley Church in San Juan Capistrano, California. He also is a regular contributor to The Christian Worldview Network.

3 responses to “What is the Emerging Church Movement?

  1. Don Carson wrote that MacLaren has largely abandoned the gospel.

    Evidence of that very abandonment has been proliferatively present in the comments of many who have visited this blog.

    When a person reaches a point at which they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge words on a page, when a passage implicitily says, “this is the gospel”, apart from prayer of course, dialog about the matter is hopeless.


  2. Wow! Talk about another gospel. II Corinthians 11:3-4 and I John chapter 4 come to mind where we are admonished to try the spirits to see if they be of God. If they do not confess the Jesus Christ of the bible, we’re to understand that they are not of God. I’ve heard of the “emerging church movement, but never checked into any of their teachings teachings. If they are taking away from the finished work of Calvary, where Jesus shed his innocent blood to pay for our sins, they are clearly in the “other gospel camp.”

    Very informative post that highlights just how perilous these times are. Have a blessed day in Jesus.



  3. Timbob, thanks for stopping by! You reminded me to visit your house, which was good, because I had not been there for some time. ‘Love not the world’ is something gaining ground in Christian blogland.


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