Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Emerging" Out of Biblical Christianity

Pseudo-Christianity is not Christianity. This is an example of the law of non-contradiction, or A is not equal to non-A. Two things which contradict each other cannot simultaneously be true. Because Christianity is defined by absolute truth claims and requires such to exist, anything which rejects the authority of absolute truth cannot be by its nature, Christian. Please follow this thought: relativism rejects the notion of absolute truth, and Christianity claims to know the absolute truth. Because the emerging church embraces relativism, it has therefore stepped outside of the boundaries laid out by the word of God.

Although I recognize that it is difficult to isolate a consistent definition, the definition which I will use is anything that professes to be Christian while compromising truth for various reasons. While the intentions are to reach more people, and are therefore genuine , it is also a prime example of what happens when Biblical theology becomes an afterthought and "reaching more people" becomes the primary concern. When truth is compromised, the message cannot be trusted. If evangelism is the goal, and Christianity reconciles with its antithesis in the form of the emerging movement, then what, other than the current cultural milieu of postmodernism is being proclaimed? If one is attempting to make the truth more appealing, one must ask if in fact truth changes with the era? The answer is an emphatic no! A Christian must seek to tear down the postmodern "wall"-unstable though it is- because it is a stumbling block to those who would otherwise be receptive to the absolute, objective truth of the Bible. If truth changed from era to era, then we would have no Gospel.

The potential ramifications of sympathising with or embracing the emerging church are great. The EC does not only compromise the integrity of the Christian church, but at its extreme end has no connection to Christianity whatsoever. The inchoate emergent mentality can actually be found within the walls of some conservative evangelical churches. Its influence is small in the community, but far from benign. It is spreading. When I taught an apologetics in evangelism class to junior high students and asked them to define truth, they confidently came to the consensus that truth was what "smart people decide" that it is. The indoctrination is a seemingly passive one, in that the postmodern culture is passively absorbed into the minds of the youth with the most success, but influences anyone who will absorb it. When not trained to out think this mental attack, people tend to (in droves) passively surrender to its control.

The emphasis on our “emotional response” to God instead of emphasizing what He actually says through the Bible is another danger which facilitates the move toward the emerging mentality. Bible studies should focus less on how we “respond” to a passage and more on what it actually says. I am not talking about application of passages, but using our emotional responses to dictate interpretation of the passage. It is commonly thought that if it feels right, then it must be true, and feelings are therefore set loose to join forces with the "nice guys who don't push their views on anyone" over in the emerging camp. The focus on “what feels right” will effectively lay to rest any hope of true evangelism, that is, evangelism deeply rooted in the absolute truth of the Bible. I am able to draw this conclusion by asking the rhetorical question of how can someone become a Christian if there is nothing to become? If being a Christian and a non-Christian are so inherently similar (being based on feelings and subjectivity) that there is little difference seen, what then is the draw? What is keeping one from being absorbed into the other?

The logical progression to this inchoate version of the mindset lies in churches which consider themselves proudly emergent or progressive. They have officially entered the realm of religious pluralism, and have "emerged" themselves right out of Biblical Christianity. The "all views and people are welcome" attitude can be a wonderful thing when they are welcomed into a place where truth is unshakable and stable. Sadly, this is not the case. Truth is what you want it to be, God is who you want Him to be, and Jesus is "just a guy who we like to quote" (incorrectly most often). Even if this is not the intention, this is the reality. The church is making an attempt to “emerge” into dangerous territory where is will render itself obsolete by way of contradiction. Beware.


Anthony said...

In fact, the Bible itself faces this sort of thinking: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" -Jeremiah 17:9.

How often after we lash out emotionally do we regain our composure and wonder 'why did I just do that?' As this verse says, we don't even have the capability to understand what our emotions are moving us to do or think. What an unstable and downright foolish basis to build our faith on!

Certainly the Church should welcome all who would come to it, but never should its identity (read: truth) be sacrificed for the sake of popularity.

Sarah Scott said...

Very true, Anthony! The heart alone should never dictate our actions, but it so often does anyway.


Kevin Winters said...

If the Emergent Church is relativistic (and I don't know if it or many of its followers is), has there been any Evangelicals who have tried to combat this movement by correcting their misunderstandings of their "patron Saints," like Nietzsche, Heidegger (probably the two most important philosophical figures), Derrida, or Foucault? I'll gladly agree that relativism is incoherent and dangerous, but I would also say that Evangelical and Emergent Church figures alike have misunderstood these figures by thinking that they are essentially relativistic.