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.

From Truth to a New Spirituality – Berit Kjos

There is an absolutely outstanding chart of how core beliefs of our Christian faith transition from Biblical Christianity through a Transition stage to the New Spiritually, courtesy of Kjos Ministries, located here, that begins with this introduction:

“The hope of the New Age faith, or New Spirituality, is that when this One Humanity has achieved its ‘divine potential’ and all separation has been purged from the world, then world problems such as ‘tribalism’ and poverty and hatred and violence will be left behind. The world will then be transformed by this New Humanity into a divine new world of peace, love, good will, and sharing where everyone can be free to worship his own inner (immanent) ‘God’ of his own understanding in his own way.

      “The call for this New Age ‘kingdom of God’ is now being so widely heeded, even in today’s Christianity, that the building of humanity’s Ark of Oneness is suddenly nearing completion.” Tamara Hartzell

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception….” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

“The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” Jeremiah 14:14

The belief topics presented include Truth, Jesus, Incarnation, Salvation, Faith, Sin, Gospel, Fellowship, Service, Separation, Persecution, and the Kingdom of God. To pique your interest, here is the entry for the Gospel:

Biblical Christianity:

The “good news” about the suffering, redeeming death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus — that we might be saved from sin and joined to Christ. Those who deny His Gospel will face His judgment.


The old Gospel is replaced by a more “positive” gospel: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you. Just agree and accept in His love. Don’t dwell on sin.

New Spirituality:

“…this message is the only message that can save the world.… That message is The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE.”

The links in this post will lead you to additional sites/articles well worth reading.

What is ‘New Age’ Religion, and Why Can’t Christians Get on Board?

What is ‘New Age’ Religion, and Why Can’t Christians Get on Board?

Barbara Curtis

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

If you haven’t run into it before, it would be hard to avoid it now. Oprah’s rolling out the red carpet for the New Age: a weekly online class with New York Times bestselling guru Eckhart Tolle and a daily broadcast with Marianne Williamson, whose Course in Miracles was beckoning seekers thirty years ago when I was tripping through the wonderland of discovering my own divinity and wielding the powers of the universe to create my own reality.

Ah, but I didn’t know Jesus back then – that is, I didn’t know him as the Son of God. I knew him only through my guru, who taught that Jesus was a great spiritual master and who blended quotes from the New Testament with quotes from the Bhagavad-Gita to produce a spiritual foundation for people like me – too hip, too cool, too sophisticated to tie themselves to the narrow-minded thinking of Christianity.

As someone plucked out miraculously from the New Age, I can only hope that Christians who love and trust Oprah will not blur the lines of their faith. Oprah has stated that though she was raised as a Baptist, she no longer believes that Jesus is the only way to reach God. It sounds so much more rational and compassionate, doesn’t it?

Why can’t we all just get along?

There are questions we don’t have the answers to. And there are questions that are not seeking an answer, but rather opening a door leading to “a wider path” – questions like the one posed long ago: “Hasn’t God said that you could eat of every tree of the garden?”

The New Age is based on concepts that sound almost irresistible. Like Eve, some hear the spiels of modern gurus like Tolle and Willamson and begin to think the faith of their fathers is too rigid, too narrow – that God would never impose an “irrational” boundary between us and “full knowledge of the spiritual realm.”

Sometimes the lie creeps in subtly as Christians begin to research natural or holistic medicine – alternatives which can be very God-honoring but for years were shunned by Christians, thus becoming New Age territory by default. Or a doctor may recommend yoga or meditation to reduce stress. No matter how uplifting and innocent some New Age practices appear, Christians need discernment in these areas, just as at the seashore they need to know where the undertow begins.

The more we understand the distinctions between New Age religion and Christianity, the less vulnerable we are ourselves and the better able to address the confusion of people who may be – as I once was – earnestly seeking the truth.

What exactly is the New Age? Impossible to narrow down, the New Age is actually a vast smorgasbord of beliefs and practices. Each New Ager fills his tray with whatever assortment fits his appetite. All is liberally seasoned with self-centeredness. It’s really a Have-It-Your-Way religion – thus its modern appeal.

Although there are many branches of New Age thought – ranging from meditation to firewalking – they stem from an ancient stock. The roots of the New Age tree spread around the globe to India. One might think that the desperate, degraded human condition of a land dominated by Hinduism would speak louder than words about the truth of the religion. But New Agers seem blind to the contradiction.

Instead the typical New Ager believes: 

  • God is in everything (pantheism)
  • All things are one (monism)
  • Man is God
  • Mind creates reality
  • One’s own experience validates the truth

New Agers do not believe in evil. Therefore, they do not accept man’s problem as separation by sin from God. Instead, they believe that each of us has forgotten his or her own divinity. Therefore, the New Age solution is to seek “higher consciousness” through meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, diet, crystals, channeling. spirit guides, and more. Each of these diverse practices has the same purpose: to awaken the god in man.

While these practices may seem too far out to pose much of a threat to those abiding in the truth, Christians need to be on guard. In the past twenty years, New Age influence has been steadily creeping into our culture in schools, corporations, and doctors’ offices. Since Star Wars, movies have become dominated by New Age spirituality. Reincarnation, karma, the cosmic consciousness – all these once obscure ideas have become commonplace.

A true understanding of New Age practices makes one thing clear: Eastern practices cannot be blended into Christianity to produce something better. New Agers are Universalists, believing that all paths lead to God. They fault Christians for being intolerant and narrow-minded. But God’s word anticipates this: “Enter the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13, NIV)

The good news is that, in a way, the New Ager’s broad acceptance holds the key to getting him back on the straight and narrow. Most New Agers hold Jesus in high regard, believing Him to be a great spiritual teacher, or guru. Many study the words He spoke, although they put a different spin on them.

How can we reach those under such subtle deception? The answer is Jesus Himself. Since Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He Himself can be the common ground on which the New Ager and the Christian can meet, though one stands in darkness and one in light.

Here is a five-step approach to discussing Jesus with new Agers:

1. Whom do you believe Jesus is?

2. Whom did Jesus say He is?

3. What did Jesus say about other spiritual paths?

  • “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

4. Jesus was either who he said He was or He was a fraud. Given His claims, we can’t logically believe he was only a great teacher, for He would have been teaching falsehood rather than truth (this is an argument by C. S. Lewis).

5. Jesus alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

New Agers are in a lot of confusion. That’s because they haven’t found the Truth, but only what fits into the spiritual perspective they have constructed. As in the Garden of Eden, the lie has never changed.

But neither has the Truth. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results from sharing with New Agers. In many cases – like my own – when they finally come to Christ, it’s because God had been planting seeds and watering for a long time. Just keep praying and loving and sharing the words of  Jesus (from experience, I’d say they really won’t hear much else).

And remember, God loves New Age seekers too!

Barbara Curtis, now a prolific Christian writer, was a New Age seeker for seven years before learning the truth about Jesus Christ in 1987. She lives with her husband Tripp in a rapidly-dwindling nest with 6 of their 12 children in Waterford, Virginia

Live from Denver, Colorado . . .is it coming to your town?

The article below was sent to me by a friend of mine who lives in Denver. It demonstrates the ‘many paths to God’ heresy common to New Age and is becoming accepted by some who call themselves ‘evangelical Christians’.

TORKELSON: New Mile Hi sanctuary: Idea becomes reality
By Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News
Monday, April 7, 2008

A vision, dressed head-to-toe in blazing, squint-your-eyes-white, glided up the steps of Mile Hi Church in Lakewood. Barbara McGhee was trying to match the energy of the new $10 million sanctuary. It opened Sunday, six years to the day the idea was launched.

“I just had a thing this morning – I felt new and clean and white,” said McGhee, 60. She wore a white crochet cap over her shaved head, a beaded Indian pendant on her chest, giant hoop earrings and a long, white cotton dress. The ensemble reflected her American Indian heritage and her rapport with “Wiccan” nature religions.

McGhee might have looked less conventional than everybody else, but she still reflected the eclectic spirit of Mile Hi. It draws from the teachings of many religions and mixes in the possibility-thinking of the self-help movement. At its core is religious science, which champions the mind as the manifestation of the divine.

You could say Sunday celebrated the victory of the mind over what mattered – turning the “vision” of 2002 into reality.

“My heart is so full today it’s almost beyond words – but don’t worry, I’ll find some,” said the senior minister, the Rev. Roger Teel, drawing laughs from the packed auditorium. The church has 1,500 newly-minted seats that were filled for three services.

Teel attended this church as a kid and became its leader in 1993. Under his guidance it’s become the largest U.S. church in the 80-year-old religious science movement, which is now called the United Centers for Spiritual Living. This July, Denver will become the center of the entire organization when the church moves its headquarters here from Los Angeles.

“This God of ours,” Teel boomed, “is not a passionless God but throws itself into creation with mighty abandon!”

A fitting description, that, of Mile Hi’s success. It opened in 1959, holding its first services in a vacuum cleaner store. In 1973 it built the distinctive landmark at Alameda and Garrison, often called “the flying saucer.” That’s now dwarfed by the new, pantheon-shaped, state-of-the-art sanctuary, which will welcome regular guest speakers and self-help icons such as Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson.

“I tried some conventional churches where the church was lovely, but the message wasn’t,” said Tom Cauch, a house-flipper, who came with his 9-year-old grandson, Shean. “There, they talked about guilt and fear. Here, they talk about our endless possibilities.”

“The first time I ever walked into this church I felt I was loved,” said longtime member Janet Day.

Ditto for McGhee, a former hospice worker who, years ago, shaved her head to show solidarity with a cancer patient. She then dropped 158 pounds and mustered the courage to be herself:

“It’s all about this church,” she said. “You can do whatever you set your mind to.”

I pray it does not. – B4B