Have you been trying to gather grapes from the thorn-bushes of the Emergent, Purpose-driven, Postmodern, Seeker-friendly Movement?
Jesus told His disciples about His Spirit – “’But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.’” (John 15: 26) He later told them what His Spirit would do – “’Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.’” (John 16: 7-11) God’s Spirit always glorifies Jesus – “’He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.’” (John 16: 14) John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit – “’I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mark 1: 8) Today, God does not dwell in temples made by men’s hands – “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” (Acts 17: 24) After we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we become a temple of God – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6: 19) Even though we are born of God’s Spirit, and His Spirit dwells in us, we still have our fallen nature or our flesh with us – “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Gal. 5: 17) The “works” of our fallen natures or our flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, and revelries (Gal. 5: 19-21). God’s Spirit produces fruit of character within us – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5: 22-23)
Jesus said about false prophets – “’Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn-bushes or figs from thistles?’” (Matthew 7: 15-16) When you study the lives of false teachers, you will often find fruits of the flesh. John wrote of false prophets – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4: 1) We test the spirits by holding their teachings up to the revealed word of God. If a teacher’s or prophet’s teachings contradict the word of God, they are false.
Today you will find many false teachers in the seeker friendly, postmodern, purpose driven, emergent-church movement. The men who are found at the roots of this movement are Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, and Brian McLaren. The emergent movement is a progressive Christian movement that elevates experience and feeling to the same level as doctrine. Many emergents question the existence of a literal hell, and believe that there are many paths to God.
Norm Geisler writes that postmodernism is a key influence on the emergent-church movement. Postmodernism embraces atheism, relativism (no objective truth), pluralism (no exclusive truth), conventionalism (no objective meaning), anti-foundationalism (no logic), deconstructionism (no objective interpretation), and subjectivism (no objective values). Geisler proposes that, in reality, emergents are anti-Protestant, anti-Orthodox, anti-denominational, anti-doctrinal, anti-individual, anti-foundational, anti-creedal, anti-rational, and anti-absolute. Emergents often believe in Catholicism and some believe in pantheism (God is in all).
A former emergent-church participant wrote the following in his book about his emergent experience – “But as my relationship with Emergent progressed, I began to wonder why it was cool and trendy to disregard Paul; pity the fool who believed in real judgment; ignore the cross; and downplay individual participation in sin.” (Boema 2)
If you are following an emergent, purpose-driven, postmodern, or seeker-friendly spiritual leader, you would be wise to hold up their sermons and books to the authoritative word of God. If you do so, you will be able to discern whether their teachings are of God or not. Unfortunately, many believers are being led astray by these teachers today.
Bouma, Jeremy. Understanding Emergent Church Theology: From a Former Emergent Insider. Theoklesia: Grand Rapids, 2014.