Friday, March 16, 2007

Emerging Church Confusion-What Does it Really Mean?

When it comes to the emerging church, Christian leaders seem to lack understanding and discernment. Some books and several articles have now been written about the emerging church, and interestingly, nearly all of them lack the most important element -the emerging church (which incorporates the teachings of the Emergent leaders: McLaren, Pagitt, Kimball, etc.) is a conduit for mysticism and is heading right into the arms of Catholicism and eventually a universal interfaith church.

Many feel that the real problems with the emerging church are centered around methodology (e.g., how much lighting to have, where to hold church services, and what to wear while attending them, etc.) Such distraction from the true concerns is like telling a neighbor that his dog is tearing up the garden when his house is burning down and his children are inside.

The emerging church is fundamentally mystical as can easily be seen by the leaders who feed the emerging movement a steady diet of contemplative spirituality. Leonard Sweet, one of the emerging church movement's most prolific leaders explains the role of mysticism in the emerging church:

Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center.... In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, "The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing." [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology. (p. 160, ATOD)

Another influential emerging church leader is Spencer Burke, director of The Ooze. He explains his views on mysticism as well:

I was struck by the incredible wisdom that could be found apart from the "approved" evangelical reading list. A Trappist monk, [Thomas] Merton gave me a new appreciation for the meaning of community. His New Man and New Seeds of Contemplation touched my heart in ways other religious books had not. Not long afterward my thinking was stretched again, this time by Thich Nhat Hanh--a Buddhist monk ... Hanh's Living Buddha, Living Christ gave me insight into Jesus from an Eastern perspective. (p. 157. ATOD)

While many try to minimize the seriousness of the emerging church movement, we hope you can see where this is all going. Some say that Emergent has some problems, but emerging church is ok for the most part. But here is how it works. Emerging spirituality (which ultimately proclaims the divinity of man) has been around since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, ye shall be as gods, and later when Lucifer said, I will be like the most High God. Emergent came on the scene when some business men (i.e., Leadership Network) launched Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll and some others and capsulated emerging spirituality within the confines of these young leaders. Leadership Network teamed up with business guru Peter Drucker and a successful publishing house, and wham, a formula for success - the Emergent movement was birthed. These new young leaders (then called the Young Leaders Network) in turn produced books, seminars, websites, blogs, and "conversations" that bore the fruit of the current emerging church movement. And because the true premise of this movement is grounded in mysticism and Ancient Wisdom, many are grasping hold of something that has been here all along.

Emergent or emerging, whatever term you want to use ... it's heading in the same direction, and that is away from the Cross.

Some may say, "But there are positive attributes to the emerging church movement." Yet would you drink a glass of mountain spring water if it had only a drop or two of cyanide? Not if you didn't want to get very, very sick.

Jesus Christ made it clear in Scripture that we are to cling to truth. HE is truth, and He is the only way to salvation. Divination (doing a ritual or performing some method in order to gain some information or "hear God"), which is the same premise as contemplative mysticism, is forbidden by God in the Bible. Salvation, and a relationship with Jesus Christ, is free. He already paid the price for us with His blood. When we accept His gift, we will have eternal life. If we reject it, we will not. And that is something to think about.

Source: Lighthouse Trails

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Emerging" and "Emergent," though similar in spelling, are worlds apart theologically. Driscoll is on the 'emerging side', while McLaren, Piagett, et al, fall on the 'emergent' side. But don't take my word for it. Read http://www.amazon.com/Listening-Beliefs-Emerging-Churches-Perspectives/dp/0310271355/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/104-4338011-5998322?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174044051&sr=8-3.

7:28 AM  
Blogger DennisS said...

"Some may say, "But there are positive attributes to the emerging church movement." Yet would you drink a glass of mountain spring water if it had only a drop or two of cyanide? Not if you didn't want to get very, very sick."

That's an interesting quote - one that can be taken in various ways, since we are to seek the Living Water, and we are to die to self.

Meditation and Lectio are considered "Divination"? That's a far stretch of the imagination! People draw closer to God by various means, and contemplation is one of the ways.

Hey, when I see beauty in nature, I think of the Creator! It could be something as simple as a bee making it's rounds, or the color of the sky. When I read Scripture, and think about a word or phrase, am I guilty of divination since I paused there in a mysterious sort of way to behold its beauty?

Note to self: "Don't do weather forcasting - or even listen to such a one, as it is divination." Don't think ahead as to which plants to put in the garden - it might be construed as mystical garbage and divination which would certainly be anathema.

Are we going to deny people the experience of contemplation and mystery just because there are some abuses? If so, then I think God should remove the experience of sex since there have been abuses. Yet by God's grace, we were each born. And hey, if you hold a newborn in your arms, I hope you have joy and a tremendously rewarding mystical experience.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

Anonymous,

I understand the distictions between the two. My concern is how close these two are in reality.

11:55 AM  

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