Saturday, October 24, 2009

Evangelicalism, Neo-Gnosticism and churches of Christ

The picture to your left is that of the "Meloncoly Dane," Soren Kierkegraard who turned his manic-depression into a self-defined normative philosophy and became the father of what we today call "Existentialism." [1] Existentialism is at the root of our our current crisis that is the "Emerging Church." “Emerging Theology” among churches of Christ, like its denominational cousins, is Post-Modern in thinking, Evangelical in practice and has “reconstructed a new reality” from our common faith and biblical roots. The fully emerged church does not look like, act like, believe like or sound like the faithful church she has left behind. She is so radical as to cause the faithful to wonder if we have more in common with some of our denominational friends than we do with these erring souls who are “going out from us.” Sadly that assessment may be correct, though being “similar” and being “identical” are not the same thing.[2] The church of Christ is not a denomination, it is the singularly established body of called out believers of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18-20)! A head cannot have more than one body and a body more than one head. Denominationalism is a lie and condemned in Scripture in the the strongest of terms (I Corinthians 1, Galatians 1, et. al.).

Evangelicalism, out from which is flowing the so-called "emerging church," is itself existential, chaotic and contradictory. Reformed purists such as John MacArthur find themselves lumped in with "Sinner's Prayer" proponets such as Franklin Graham, Episcopalians who have "priests" rather than pastors and "name it and claim it" proponents of the so-called "Faith Movement." Jesus said that there is ONE WAY to the Father, Paul said that there is ONE Lord, ONE FAITH and ONE baptism. Evangelicalism in paticular, and denominationalism in general, contradict the Word of God claiming MANY ways to God, though there is but one. Such chaos prepared fertile ground for the even more chaotic teachings of "emerging theology." Since the first century, the church of Christ has called people away from denominating themselves in the doctrines of ment back to the Bible only which makes Christians only. Unfortunately, there are some among us who are turning away from the singular revealed gospel to the "myths" and "fables" of extant denominationalism, Evangelicalism, and "emerging theology."

As with other departures since the 1st Century, "Emergent Theology" among churches of Christ is being copied from the outside. As noted earlier, "Emergent Theology" first showed up ca.1992 among Evangelicals who felt disenfranchised by their various denominations. [3] The most noted denominational Emergent activist is a man by the name of Brian McLaren, recently named by Time Magazine as one of the top twenty five Evangelicals in the United States. He has a web site that touts the Emergent view called The Emergent Village. ® [4] In March, 2006, McLaren attended a United Methodist Church conference in Nashville, Tennessee, where he stated the essence of Emergent Theology. He said regarding the movement:
“It feels like the church community in our society today is about a lot of things, but it feels like we’re too often far away from the essential message of Jesus, of compassion for yourself and your fellow neighbor”. [5]
We must grasp the significance of McLaren’s statement in the light of Scripture. Jesus said that the Greatest Commandment is to; “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV) Note that McLaren says the essential message of Jesus is to have compassion (self-love [RM]) for YOURSELF first and your neighbor second. JESUS says that we should love GOD first and our neighbor second. Who’s right? I humbly assert to you that Jesus is. McLaren’s view is so brazen regarding the "essential message of Jesus" as to leave God COMPLETELY OUT!

An excellent review on denominational emergent thinking and practices (provided in part by McLaren himself) can be found on a recent PBS ® broadcast on the subject. The reference will allow you to either read or view by link the entire story. [6] [Compare what you find on the PBS ® broadcast with the public statements from the Kinetic Christian Church of Charlotte found in the final chapter of this book..]

From here, things deteriorate further. “IF” McLaren does not promote a neo-Gnosticism, his most recent books are as close to such teachings as one can get. For the first time in 1900 years, significant portions of Gnostic teaching have seen a revival. Since a good portion of ancient Gnosticism is not found in McLaren’s theology, we cannot in good conscience actually call him a Gnostic. However, the Gnostic notion of a “secret gospel” is very much a central part of McLaren’s theology.

In fact, a book I will reference below is entitled The Secret Message of Jesus – Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. [7] Both the title and the contents articulate manifestly this clear Gnostic premise. There is much written about Gnosticism but for the most part it is very technical and difficult to understand. However in May, 2006, the usually Emergent leaning Christianity Today published an editorial entitled “A Faith Tailored Just for You” in which a not so favorable picture of Gnosticism is painted.
Gnosticism taught that some people were special, with the potential to understand spiritual secrets that common folk lacked. Once you were let in on the secrets, it became clear that you were among the special ones. Before an evil demiurge (fancy lingo for "second-rate god") created the material world, a select few were endowed with a unique spark of divinity. This spark could now be fanned into a flame that could be liberated from the flesh and rejoined with all the other sparks to reconstitute the true God.
Gnosticism's attention to the little-G god in the human self feeds the egoism of the American temperament. This sort of thing has long been growing on our soil. Blame Ralph Waldo Emerson for watering the seed. Now, Dan Brown (author of The Divinci Code) and those who hype the Gnostic gospels are packaging it for people who haven't read Emerson. This popularized neo-Gnosticism, says New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, "declares that the only real moral imperative is that you should then be true to what you find when you engage in that deep inward search." The message appeals "to the pride that says, 'I'm really quite an exciting person, deep down, whatever I may look like outwardly.” This endless exploration of the self, says Wright, is in stark contrast to the very Jewish message of Jesus, which focused on God's kingdom. [8]
In The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything, McLaren teaches his brand of “plug and play Gnosticism,” something we used to call “universalism,” i.e. there will be people in heaven from all religions, not just “Christians," and that in even the most general definition of “Christian.” Here’s what denominationalist Dr. Gary Gilley had to say regarding McLaren’s “ecumenicalism” in a recent book review:
McLaren is sure the kingdom is populated by people from all religions, not just Christianity. It is open to all but those who actively oppose it (pp. 163, 167). As a matter of fact it is possible that some Muslims, Buddhist and Hindus might “begin to ‘take their places at the feast,’ discovering the secret message of Jesus in ways that many Christians have not” (p. 217). Of course, “there is always hope that we Christians will not be the last to rediscover the truth that could change everything” (p. 217). [9]
If salvation from sin is not the message of the kingdom, just what IS? According, again to Dr. Gilley, McLaren’s idea of the message of the kingdom is vastly different from that found in the Scriptures:
This secret message of the kingdom—what does it look like? In a word, “missional.” It is a kingdom focused on injustice, poverty, education, integrity, the environment, hospitality, medical care, the healing of the earth, pollution, exploitation, greed, etc (pp. 84-89, 111, 141, 222-225). In McLaren’s view this is what the kingdom is all about, not the redemption of souls….In McLaren’s program the spiritual barely gets a nod—the kingdom is all about saving the planet (p. 128). McLaren believes that if enough people catch on to Jesus’ secret message this planet might just be rescued (p. 128) and even war will be no more (p. 160). [10]
The ancient Gnostic heresy taught a “secret gospel.” This “secret gospel” was obtainable by only a few people who had somehow achieved “superior knowledge.” The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us that, “…He has given us [ALL of us!] all things pertaining to life and godliness.” (II Peter 1:3) In addition to his neo-Gnostic leanings, here is what McLaren asserts in his own words regarding other doctrinal concerns:

On Our Ability to Find Truth: “None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.” [11]

On the Final Judgment Day:
The phrase “the Second Coming of Christ” never actually appears in the Bible. Whether or not the doctrine to which the phrase refers deserves re-thinking, a popular abuse of it certainly needs to be named and rejected. If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn’t his “real” and decisive coming - it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing - then we leave the door open to envisioning a second coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture. This vision reflects a diversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight...
If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the first coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent second coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatology’s, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral. [12]
Please don’t miss noting that McLaren considers you and I…should we believe that Jesus Christ is coming again to judge the world…as intoxicated, as dubious, as ignorant, as wrong, as dangerous, and as immoral. More importantly, he blasphemes by referring to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a jihadist. [13] As we point out in other passages in this book, this is the SAME Brian McLaren who lectures at Pepperdine University, who writes regularly for New Wineskins magazine, who often appears at various ZOE conferences and who was honored with marquis lecture slots at the September, 2008 “Summit Lectureship” at Abilene Christian University and the October, 2008 Lipscomb University “Preachers Conference.” As I am writing these words, I remain mortified at even contemplating these watershed events. Peter, John and Jude would weep openly at such an event and so should we! Here are some disturbing McLaren quotes:

Salvation Quote #1: “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be “saved?” When I read the Bible, I don’t [emphasis mine, RM] see it meaning, “I’m going to heaven after I die.” [14]

Salvation Quote #2: “Most people think about the Gospel as "how to go to heaven after you die." But, is that really the Gospel?” [15]

Salvation Quote #3: When asked “how a salvation experience” looked to him, McLaren replied;
Very, very rarely does someone have the date-and-time experience of conversion. Typically, a person comes to us because they're spiritually searching. They participate in our services, they get to know some people, build relationships, join a small group or maybe even start volunteering. And at some point, they connect with God. The Gospel makes sense to them. They know that God loves them, and they just say, "I'm in.” [16]

Salvation Quote #4: In 2003, New Wineskins editor Greg Taylor (also at that time employed by the Garnett church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma along with Wade Hodges) interviewed Brian McLaren and asked him to discuss the “salvation experience.” Here is what he had to say:
The fact that there are thousands and thousands of people who can point to an exact moment when they were saved, I wouldn't deny that for a minute. There are millions of people like that. But there are also many, many people who cannot. They either had so many different moments that were significant that they can't pick which one really marked them as regenerated or whatever. I'm just trying to acknowledge that you have both categories. Now in the New Testament, what's interesting, to me, is that the moment that seems to be very, very significant is baptism. So, very often when people talk about accepting Christ or being born again that's always based on an approach to evangelism--that really is pretty hard to find in Scripture. For example, the phrase "praying to receive Christ--I'm not against those at all, but I think we sometimes take an experience that really comes out of nineteenth century revivalism in America and then read it back into Scripture. And I don't think we should restrict the Holy Spirit to our own practices. I think we should just be glad for however the Holy Spirit chooses to interact with people and bring them to Christ. [17]

Note how McLaren in true existential and Post-Modern form can be FOR baptism and AGAINST baptism in the same quote! Not only that, he is PRO Sinners’ Prayer and ANTI Sinners’ Prayer in the very same quote.

We must pause here for a moment and note that such “double mindedness” did not originate with Brian McLaren! The thought process of Brian McLaren is very similar to that of the agnostic educator, John Dewey, of whom Breese has this observation:
The frustration of attempting to categorize Dewey is compounded by the fact that in the large number of books, essays, and magazines he wrote over the course of his life he dealt with topics in such a fashion that he could be quoted on either side of most of the current arguments. For him, nothing was constant, given, or finally true, but rather all things were pragmatic, adaptable, and subject to whatever interpretation seemed appropriate for the day and hour. [18]
Having said that, Dewey did not originate the idea of embracing the darkness of contradiction as truth…that dubious honor goes to a man we have already observed - Soren Kierkegaard.
There is no doubt that Kierkegaard confirmed and denied many of the same things. On one page, he seems to contradict what he has said on the preceding page. One reads Kierkegaard with compelling interest, but the frustrations of attempting to understand him go on and on. [19]

At best, Emergent theology turns ambiguity into an art form, at worst we realize that Brian McLaren has embraced the dark teachings of Kierkegaard and his disciple, John Dewey.
In the July/August 2005 edition of Modern Reformation Magazine, denominational theologian D. A. Carson summarizes McLaren’s points made in his Generous Orthodoxy manifesto, explaining his theological presuppositions:
Accept co-existence with different faiths gladly, not begrudgingly. It is not their fault if they are alive.
• Dialogue presupposes commitment to one’s position, so it is surely not a bad thing to listen well. Dialogue should be congruent with confidence in the gospel.
• We assume that the dialogue takes place in the presence of God, the unseen Presence. In such dialogue we may learn things, as Peter does in Acts 10–11. Similarly, Jesus learns from his interchange with the Syrophoenician woman.
• Missional dialogue requires humility and vulnerability. But that should not frighten us, for when we are weak, we are strong. It is surely right, for instance, to acknowledge earlier atrocities committed by Christians, even as we remain careful not to disparage those earlier Christians.
• Each religion operates in its own world and therefore demands different responses from Christians. Christian witness does not preclude dialogue.
• The “old, old story” may not be the true, true story, for as we continue to grow, and even our discussion and dialogues contribute to such growth. In other words, the questions raised by postmodernism helps us to grow.
• Live with the paradox: we know no way of salvation apart from Jesus Christ, but we do not prejudge what God may do with others. We must simply live with the tension.
The “co-existence,” the “dialogue,” the “paradox” and the “tension” that McLaren mentions is nothing less than the embrace of the dark teachings of Soren Kierkegaard…contradiction is truth. [20]
Brethren, this is nothing short of madness!

You may wonder why I have spent so much time speaking of Brian McLaren and his theology. Here it is:

Brian McLaren has had, and continues to have, expanding influence among “some” members of the church of Christ and he wants to extend that influence even further. He is bringing the dark teachings of the madman Kierkegaard to your congregation and mine unless he is opposed…and opposed now!

[1] Picture courtesy of:
[2] See David R. Pharr, “What it Means to be Distinctive,” The Spiritual Sword 39 (January 2008): pg. 31
[3] For a full discussion of denominational "Emergent church" theories see a book: Ryan Bolger & Eddie Gibbs, Emerging Churches – Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005)
[4] See
[5] From
[6] See NOTE: To view either clip, you must have RealPlayer ®
[7] Brian McLaren and Anne Ortlund, The Secret Message of Jesus – Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything, (W Publishing Group, Waco, TX, 2006)
[8] From; “A Faith Tailored Just for You” [9] Dr. Gary Gilley:
[10] Ibid.
[11] Andy Crouch, op cit. previous post
[12] See quoting: Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change – Jesus, Global Crises and the Revolution of Hope, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007), pg. 144 (Emphasis added – RM)
[13] Please join me in prayer: Our Father in Heaven; We thank You and praise You for Your great mercy and patience with us. We pray, Lord, that Brian McLaren will have time and opportunity to reconsider these words, repent of his sins, confess the Name of Jesus Christ and be immersed for the remission of his sins. In Jesus Name, AMEN
[14] Andy Crouch, op cit. previous post
[15] Lynne Marian; “Conversations Count: An Interview with Brian McLaren,” Outreach Magazine,, July/August 2005. See
[16] Ibid.
[17] From Greg Taylor interview with Brian McLaren in 2003.
[18] Dave Breese, op cit, pg. 157, previous post
[19] Dave Breese, op cit, pg. 215, previous post
[20] D. A. Carson, “The Emerging Church.” Modern Reformation Magazine. “Faith a La Carte?” (July / August 2005 Issue, Vol. 14.4. See: Here Carson summarized points made by McLaren in chapter 17 of Generous Othodoxy, pg. 256 – 266. NOTE: This is my assessment. With the possible exception of Beowulf and Canterbury Tales, Generous Orthodoxy was the most difficult book I have ever attempted to read. Thinking you have run a great distance, you discover that you have run all day in a circle and wind up where you started, though exhausted and out of breath. Compared to reading McLaren, I am rested and relaxed after mowing my lawn on a 100 degree August day! Registered & Protected

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Foundational Sands of Emerging Theology

Emerging theology had more of an evolution than a beginning. According to denominational Evangelical Free Church of America scholar Grant R. Osborne, the 1980’s saw a number of theological guru’s begin writing about what was then called the “Post-Conservative” movement.(1) The term “post-Conservative” is generally attributed to a man by the name of Roger Olson. Along with Olson, Nancey Murphy and the late Canadian Baptist theologian Stanley Grenz all began writing about Post Conservatism about the same time.(2) All these writers came out of the already described Evangelical movement. Grenz is especially significant because Brian McLaren, an existential theological philosopher we will soon discuss at length, lamented Grenz’s untimely death in 2005 as being to him a “mentor.” He wrote quite a lengthy obituary for Grenz on his Emergent Village ® blog at the time. Osborne asserts that the foundation of the movement was a desire to “shift from battles over the Bible, theological details and liberalism to a new constructive theology that is more open to innovation and movement.”(3)

Closely examined, the pseudo-interpretive dream of Grenz, McLaren, et al very closely mirrors King Saul’s interpretive view of God’s very clear directives in I Samuel 15 which is illustrative of all that is wrong in the way that many are now interpreting Scripture at the beginning of the 21st century. The clear Word of God was given to Samuel. The same clear Word of God was given to King Saul. The Word of God given to both men was identical, with no variances, changes or exceptions. That Word clearly, and without ambiguity, required King Saul to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites… no “if’s, and’s or but’s.”
“Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
– I Samuel 15:3 (NKJV)
How could King Saul misinterpret the above portion of God’s Word? God spoke a straight line, Samuel saw a straight line but King Saul saw a circle. Samuel used linear methodology while Saul used circular. Linear interpretation asks the question, researches the Word of God, hears the Word of God and comes to a correct and verifiable answer. Circular interpretation, on the other hand, asks the question, brings up life experiences and emotional feelings, filters the Word of God through these experiences and emotions, comes up with multiple “truths” and literally manufactures its own “truth.” King Saul changed the Word of God to suit his pragmatic plans for military glory and honor. When challenged by Samuel, Saul blamed the people and made up excuses. His circular defense utterly failed. Saul lost the kingdom to his rival that very day.

The way we interpret the Bible has consequences, potentially catastrophic ones!

Yes, the Bible teaches proper interpretive methods, illustrates said methods and shows us consequences of changing the Word of God. And yet, many among us are turning lines into circles.

The greatest challenge to the 21st century church of Christ is this; “Are we going to be Samuel or are we going to be Saul? Are we going to hear and obey or are we going to hear and ignore?"

I explore these issues regularly on my Biblical Interpretation blog, Come pay us a visit!

We will explore the ramifications of interpretive systems latter. Below, I have summarized what Osborne notes as general characteristics of “Post-Conservatism” that soon evolved into what we now call “Emerging Theology.” We will abbreviate “Post-Conservatism” with the letters PC.
• PC relies on experience rather than doctrine.
• PC is critical of Evangelical orthodoxy.
• PC is inclusive in matters of fellowship.
• PC is inclusive in matters of salvation.
• PC promotes experiential truth rather than propositional truth.
• PC states that truth is more found in a fluid rather than a static state.
• PC states that the Holy Spirit speaks, not just through the Word of God but equally through community and tradition. [NOTE: You will hear many among us who now embrace the instrument “defend” a-cappella singing as a “tradition” and no longer defend it as “truth.”]
• PC states that there is no “universal set of criteria for affirming belief.” (4)

Osborne concludes, “So theology becomes a conversation [a BIG buzz word among the emergent (RM)] in which the community (and its tradition) reflects, reforms and delineates its belief structure into an integrated and prescriptive set of doctrines.”(5)

Post-Conservatism was the theory that soon became the reality of emerging theology with which we now must deal. It has spread like wild fire among the evangelical world and has spilled over into the Lord’s church like a broken dike. While the Lord's church slept, the emerging church began its institutional evolution in the early 1990’s.

A telling insight into just how emerging theology has impacted traditional Evangelical churches is found in an interview by Andy Crouch with a noted emergent preaching team of Rob & Kristen Bell who “pastor” the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a 10,000 member mega-church that meets in an abandoned shopping mall purposely painted gray proudly proclaiming, as it were, the "noble ignorance" of existential Post-Modernism:
The Bell’s started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself – “discovering the Bible as a human product,” as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat, [Kristen further states], ”I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible,…that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means.(6)

Previously cited Michael Horton sees several things as marks of Post-Modern emerging theology. These include;
• "Leading Evangelical institutions doubt the Bibles trustworthiness and infallibility." (7)[doubt by default…i.e. the scriptures are unable to bring about unity [RM])
• "Sermons are often "Pop Inspirational" rather than serious expositions of scripture." (8)
• "The electronic age has produced a new crop of God-man go betweens; i.e. radio, TV, phone calls, (websites, social networking sites, etc. [RM]), etc." (9)
• "Money and salvation have become intertwined around many of us. "They sell you salvation," sings Ray Stevens, "while they sing Amazing Grace." (10)
• "Self esteem, self glorification, self centeredness (dominates [RM]) the preaching, teaching and popular literature of the evangelical world." (11)
The “lower view of scripture” that Mr. Horton refers to, as noted above, has several characteristics that now are accelerated to an even greater degree by existential Post Modern emerging theology which we will soon define. The emerging church was Post Modern and Evangelical before it “emerged.” Apostasy is a slow but steady process, error is progressive.
(To Be Continued)

Public domain picture of sands on the seashore courtesy of:


(1) Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral - A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2nd Edition 2006), pp. 402-403
(2) Ibid. pp. 402-403
(3) Ibid. p. 402
(4) Ibid. pp. 402-403
(5) Ibid. p. 403
(6) Crouch, Andy. “The Emergent Mystique,” a posting on the Christianity Today website 11.01.04. See:
(7) Michael S. Horton, op cit, “What is an Evangelical?” - My point here is that “if” we cannot learn unity principles from the Bible then scripture is lacking in power. “IF” the Scripture is lacking in power in any way…it is not inspired, Christ is not raised, and we “above all men are most miserable.” The evangelicals do not believe religious unity is possible so they have ceased discussing it, thus denying the power of the scriptures.
(8) Michael S. Horton, op cit “What is an Evangelical?”
(9) Michael S. Horton, op cit “What is an Evangelical?”
(10) Michael S. Horton, op cit “What is an Evangelical?”
(11) Michael S. Horton, op cit “What is an Evangelical?" Registered & Protected

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Denominationalism, Post-Modernism & Emerging Evangelicalism

Three years ago I never even heard of the emerging church. Today, it is one of my greatest concerns. To unravel any mystery, one must begin at the beginning. At the beginning of the emerging church mystery is the definitional designation. Just what does the word “emerge” really mean? Webster’s notes a revealing definition.
emerge \i-‘marj\ vi emerged; emerg-ing [L emergere, fr. e- + mergere to plunge – more at MERGE] (1563) 1: to become manifest 2: to rise from or as if from an enveloping fluid: come out into view 3: to rise from an obscure or inferior condition 4: to come into being by evolution. (1)

Theologically speaking the most horrific thing this author has ever experienced is the sudden appearance of this so-called “emerging church.” From the above definition, especially number 4, the name of this “other” gospel (Galatians 1) is critical. It is no accident that those who advance the theory that “truth” evolves over time have named (they will claim the name “evolved!”) their movement using a word with heavy Darwinian overtones. The emerging church arose out of Evangelicalism and spread rapidly, even into the church of Christ like an undetected cancer. Let’s examine a short history.

Most denominationalists today are more “Evangelical” than “denominational,” i.e. they identify more with a theological system than with any one denomination. For example, when asked, many people would rather identify themselves as “born again Christians” (THE overly redundant Evangelical catch-phrase so often heard in the media) than, say, as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. [Keep in mind that the term “Evangelical” has no practical reference to “evangelism.”]

As discussed elsewhere in this work, from the beginning of the church until about the 17th century, Western civilization accepted the biblical premise that truth is defined in absolute terms and said truth is found within the Word of God. The Protestant Reformation took place within this world view that we will term as “Pre-Modern.” The more “conservative” Protestant churches, known as “Reformed” churches, were and are “Pre-Modern.” Though the Reformers draw false conclusions from the Scriptures regarding many things, they do accept without question the inerrancy of the Scriptures, as has every member of the church of Christ since the Day of Pentecost. Though our culture is far removed from the Pre-Modern world view, many people are still motivated and defined by it. The late Vernon McGee, R. C. Sproul and John McArthur are all noteworthy Reformed scholars. The emerging church is far removed from the Reformed church; in fact the Reformed church sees the emerging church as its arch enemy. Emergent theology is not at all influenced by the Reformers. The Reformed church is Pre-Modern and is not influenced by Post-Modernism.
From the 17th century until the time of the First World War, the world view is known as “Modern.” Modernism asserts that truth is knowable and discoverable but it is variable and individually defined. The Evangelical church is a Modern church, having “truth” but the kind of truth is more like Jell-O ® than concrete! Though the time of Modernism has almost nearly completely past, many people alive today are Modern in their thinking and in their theology. Modern Evangelical theologians would include most notably Billy Graham, the late Dr. Bill Bright, Chuck Swindoll, Pat Robertson, the late Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, et al.

Unfortunately, as of May 7, 2008, our own brother Max Lucado added his name to what is now called the “Evangelical Manifesto.” This manifesto has two aims, one is to “soften” the belief system of Evangelicalism to make it more accommodating to the new post 2008 election political realities in the United States, and two – and most importantly – to leap frog Evangelicalism from “Modernism” to “Post-Modernism.” Today’s evolving Evangelicalism attempts to pitch a “big tent” made up of just about anyone who has “made a decision for Christ,” [the “Sinner’s Prayer” salvation experience] though Rick Warren [Purpose Driven Life] is now attempting to “straddle the fence” between “Christianity” and other “people of faith.” Warren has one foot in the old Modern Evangelicalism and one foot in the new Post-Modern emerging Evangelicalism movement. The pre-manifesto Evangelical church was Modern, the post-manifesto Evangelical church is Post-Modern and the emerging church is existential. Before we go any further, just what is an Evangelical?

An “Evangelical” is a “liberal Reformer.” Orthodox reformers such as Luther and Calvin wanted to “reform” the apostate Roman Catholic Church but were not “totally back to the Bible” people per se. A Reformer could not be a Catholic and a Catholic could not be a Reformer. In fact, the Reformation sparked numerous wars in Europe that lasted for nearly 300 years until the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815. NOW, however, an Evangelical can be either Protestant or Catholic! The “liberal Reformer / Evangelical” no longer feels the need to reform the Catholic AS LONG as the Catholic embraces those things that matter to the Evangelical. On the other hand, this writer asserts that a CHRISTIAN cannot be Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical or Emergent. In order to discuss the “Evangelicals,” we must first arrive at a working definition. Where did the term “Evangelical” come from?
“Evangelical” was derived from the Greek word “euangelion” which means: Gospel or good news. During the reformation, Martin Luther referred to his movement as the Evangelische kirche (Evangelical church). Later, “Evangelical” became a near-synonym for “Protestant” in Europe. It retains this meaning in Germany today. (2)

Open cooperation with these self proclaimed "Evangelical Christians" unfortunately exposed biblical Christians to an earlier Post-Modern misinterpretation of scripture, i.e. the error espoused by The National Association of Evangelicals, aggressively promoted by media giant Christianity Today along with the Dwight L. Moody Institute. Evangelicals often appear with Dr. James Dobson on the daily radio show, Focus on the Family as well as with Pat Robertson on his daily television show, The 700 Club. The National Association of Evangelicals, founded in 1942, is dominated by the theology of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and is articulated by the teachings of the late Dr. Bill Bright, founder of "Campus Crusade for Christ." In 1956, Bright published a pamphlet entitled The Four Spiritual Laws which is foundational to the modern day “sinner’s prayer salvation experience," so called. [President Woodrow Wilson had his Col. House and Billy Graham had his Dr. Bright.] You can reference my web site,, for a detailed exegesis of this false doctrine and its primary proof texts, all explored biblically and in full context.

An exhaustive attempt to define “Evangelicalism” could fill another book! For brevity’s sake, we will settle for just two definitions, the first being a philosophical self-definition. The second definition is a more “real world” definition based upon everyday experiences and conversations of the author. Since Evangelicalism attempts to “unify” diverse belief systems, iron clad statements of belief are difficult to come by, though there are a few. Gary Stern, an Evangelical blogger, posted in January of 2007 an answer to the question, “What Makes One an Evangelical?”
What makes someone an Evangelical Christian? Defining what it means to be an Evangelical has long been an issue of contention among scholars, reporters and…yes…Christians.
The Barna Group ® which does all sorts of Christian research uses its own fine tuned definition. [It may be fine tuned but it is VERY similar to the official definition put out by the National Association of Evangelicals ® on their website.] To be considered an Evangelical, one has to adhere to or believe nine particular points.
According to (The) Barna (Group ®), about 38 % of Americans define themselves as Evangelical. These are the folks the media refer to when reporting on the political and social influence of Evangelicals.
But only 8% of adults qualify as “nine point evangelicals.”
The nine points? Evangelicals:
• Have made a personal commitment to Jesus.
• Believe they will go to heaven because they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus.
• Believe their faith is very important in their life.
• Believe they have personal responsibility to share their beliefs with non-Christians.
• Believe that Satan exists.
• Believe that salvation is available only through grace, not good works.
• Believe that Jesus lived a sinless life on earth.
• Must assert the Bible’s accuracy.
• Must describe God as the all-knowing, all powerful perfect deity that created the universe and still rules it. (3)

Secondly, from this writer's observations, "Evangelical Christianity" is a unity movement among sectarian people based upon a "lowest common denominator" (author Michael S. Horton’s phrase – RM) theology that unites people around:
• Watered down Calvinism, (4)
• The "sinner's prayer salvation experience", (5)
• Obsessive pre-millennialism and
• Blind loyalty to the modern state of Israel all wrapped up into
• A “personal” relationship with Christ at the expense of the “corporate” (the church for whom Christ died).

These items are readily observable by viewing Evangelical T.V. broadcasts, listening to radio presentations by Evangelicals and engaging in conversations with Evangelicals. The items noted above are what Evangelicals LOVE to talk about! Just ask one!
In Charlotte, N.C. where I live, I recently heard a radio ad for a reformed church that is attempting to oppose this emerging Evangelical theology. It states; “We don’t dumb down the Christian faith in order to market it to the marginally interested.” (6) (It scares me when those in error make more sense than some of my own brethren!) Many Evangelicals, however, still cling to the idea of “Jesus, YES, the church NO!” These people make up the vast “stay at home on Sunday T.V. evangelist” non-affiliated church. Other than the above mentioned few “essentials,” little else seems to matter to Evangelicals. They can be confessing or non-confessing, they can be charismatic or non-charismatic, they can be Protestant or Catholic, they can be orthodox or contemporary, just as long as they hold to these few core beliefs. According to denominational scholar Michael S. Horton, "Evangelical Christianity" has a number of characteristics the most prominent of which is a "lower view of Scripture." (7)

Post-Modernists believe that ultimate truth is un-obtainable. The absurdity of such a position is striking. A quote from a blog called the “Aspiring Theologian” puts Post Modernism to the test with this rhetorical question regarding absolute truth: “Absolute truth does not exist.” Really? Is that statement absolutely true? Or does absolute truth exist after all?” (8)

Emerging "Evangelical Christianity," under the influence of Post-Modernism, says that unity based upon a common view of scripture is NOT obtainable so everything other than the few core principles are simply thrown overboard. A “pseudo unity” is the sad result, having a familiar ring to the “unity” of the Tower of Babel. Presbyterians begin to look and sound just like Baptists who look and sound just like Methodists who look and sound just like the Assemblies of God, etc. We know, however, that God has given us, "...all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (II Peter 1:3b) This same “pseudo unity” sentiment is now showing up among some of us. Later we will reference an address by bro. Terry Rush, the senior minister at the Memorial Drive church of Christ in Tulsa, OK who has sadly bought into this “unity at any price” philosophy. Long before, however, we began “sipping the Kool Aid” ® of emerging theology,” the denominational world downed it by the gallon. The emerging church is 100% existential to the point of making Post-Modernism appear almost orthodox.

Emerging theology is about to split the Evangelical movement into two groups, the “here and now” faction of Brian McLaren / Rick Warren and the “here and the hereafter” faction of Billy Graham. Strange as it seems, there are a growing number of “agnostics” within emerging Evangelicalism…and they want to take up residence in your congregation. (To Be Continued!)


Cathedral Window Photo Courtesy of:
(1) Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, MA, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1991) pg. 407
(2) See:
(3) See:
(4) NOTE: What I mean here is this: “Watered down Calvinism” is a salvation position more broadly defined by the Evangelicals than the Reformers. Evangelicals teach a much more generous “grace” than do the Reformers. Many Evangelicals, such as Charles Stanley et. al., often emphasize that a person, once saved, cannot be lost for any reason regardless of the heinous nature of their sins while the Reformed church emphasizes that heinous sin is a sure sign that the person was not “saved to begin with.” Salvation according to Evangelicals is more generous than that of Reformers. A Reformer would see the “sinner’s prayer” as “salvation light.” Evangelicals promote a “private” salvation experience while the Reformers promote one that is “public.” Evangelicalism is “watered down” Reform Calvinism.
(5) For more information see:
(6) This is from an ad that ran for a time for Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. The ad ran on WHVN Radio, AM 1240.
(7) From Michael S. Horton, "What is an Evangelical?" Article published in 1992. Currently on the web at
(8) From “The Aspiring Theologian” blog site. See Registered & Protected

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Modernism & Post Modernism

The original title of this work was Emerging Towards Departure. I changed it to Emerging Towards Apostasy. The word “apostasy” is a deadly serious word. It comes from the Greek word apostasia, meaning REVOLT. There is a spiritual REVOLT within the churches of Christ. Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary defines “apostasy” as a “renunciation of a religious faith.” I prayerfully and reluctantly changed the title. I reached that decision to change the title in late May, 2008 upon learning that bro. Max Lucado signed the so-called "Evangelical Manifesto" at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. His signature declares to the entire world that he has publicly renounced God’s Plan of Salvation in favor of the folly of man. He is in open revolt…and not a word of this was reported in the leading brotherhood newspapers. I was stunned and dismayed but bro. Lucado had “crossed the Rubicon and burned the bridge.” May 7, 2008 was a seminal and watershed date in the history of the church of Christ and we, as God’s people, didn’t even take notice.

The word “apostasy” has eternal implications regardless as to whether it is rightly or wrongly applied. Correctly applied, “apostasy” describes those who have abandoned the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” and embraced error, the kind of error that may drag souls into hell. If wrongly applied accusing others of “apostasy” makes one a focus of heavenly anger for wrong application makes one a judge of the motives of other men, a place God reserves for Himself exclusively. Erroneous application also makes one a merchant of “discord among brethren,” a thing that God hates.

Sadly, there are now those in the church of Christ embracing and teaching “another gospel.” It is a “gospel” built upon a foundation of neo-Gnostic interpretive methods, motivated by denominational Evangelical influences and propelled by pragmatic and self centered Post-Modern philosophy.

I often go to a web site known as It is a great resource for quick reference material on most any subject. One night in the fall of 2006 I typed in "Restoration Movement" just to see what I would find. There was an extensive article on the churches of Christ. In the midst of the article there was a paragraph that puzzled me. The entry read: "Emergent Churches of Christ." Frankly, I had never heard of the term. I then spent the next two hours reading about "Emergent Churches of Christ." I received quite an education that night. The purpose of this book is to convey to you, as objectively as I can, what I have learned since. I have documented this work heavily so that the reader can independently verify the validity of these assertions and conclusions in a Berean spirit. I will attempt to do so with gentleness and respect for the souls involved without attempting to judge motives. What you read here are not judgments of motive, but a forthright assessment of a movement among us. It's not important as to who is right, it is what is right that matters. “What is right” is that which is consistent with the revealed, clear and linear Word of God. With that in mind, my mission is threefold.


First I intend to identify and bring to light an apostasy from the church of Christ that is philosophically flawed by Post-Modernism, spiritually flawed by Evangelicalism and theologically flawed by Patristic interpretive models.

Secondly, by bringing these issues to light, I prayerfully hope to warn the faithful of the dangers of the present hour and the dangers of the very near future.

Thirdly, by God’s grace and mercy, I hope these words will encourage those who are contemplating a departure, and those already departed from us, to reconsider their decision and to turn back to the “narrow way that leads to life.”

Finally, my primary approach, instead of examining the false deductions of these errors, is to examine the dubious road map to these errors. In other words, this work is an examination of the FOUNDATION of error instead of an examination of the CONCLUSIONS of those who are in error. There are numerous extant works examining the false conclusions of the Emergents, all done by those far more competent than I. Having said that, when we dialogue with the Emergents among us we will fail miserably unless, and until, we are thoroughly familiar with HOW they arrived at their erroneous conclusions. To that singular goal I give this work to you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of all things.


This work will show that those "Emerging Towards Apostasy," are doing so by adopting Post-Modern philosophy, by becoming unequally yoked with denominational Evangelicalism and, most importantly, by adopting a Patristic and neo-Gnostic interpretive method based upon the teachings of Origen and Thomas Aquinas (whose image appears at the heading of this study).

For some time I have noticed more and more congregations among us acting and speaking in ways that I simply just can’t understand. It is as if some people are communicating in a completely different language! I must admit, I had no clue as to what is taking place all over the country. I now realize what is "going on" and here it is:

Many congregations have ceased to RESIST the culture and have begun to EMBRACE the culture, and some have even BECOME the culture.

What is "going on" is like something I used to experience years ago while listening to WGH, a 1960's Hampton, Virginia, "rock and roll" radio station, the "double play." The "double play" was simply playing over a song just heard. The song of today's culture is what we call Post Modernism. Post Modernism is, at its core, an "double play" of Judges 21:25 (2) and Romans chapter 1 where everyone "does his own thing." The trinity that is worshipped by Post Modernists is "me, myself & I" instead of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit. As Solomon said; "...there is no new thing under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9c) What I soon was to discover is what the late denominationalist scholar, Francis Schaeffer, discovered in the sixties, and that is, many among us are speaking a different language altogether. “It is na├»ve to discuss the theological questions as theological questions until one has considered what truth means to the one making the theological statements”.(3) Sadly, some among us have a different definition of truth than they used to.

Before we can get a handle on how Post-Modernism has affected the Lord's church we must define the term itself. The scriptures just referenced, of course, render the best definition of all. Post-Modern man does just as he pleases, "king or no king." In fact the Post-Modernist crowns HIMSELF king.

In the broadest of terms, Post Modernism is an “equal and opposite reaction” to Modernism. Until the 18th century, westerners, even when at war with one another over religion, considered the Scriptures the only source of truth, period. Before the mid eighteenth century, all westerners shared this same basic world view. Soon afterwards, however, the so-called “Age of Reason” was ushered in. This is what we refer to today as Modernism. Its premise was that man’s ultimate truth is in his own ability to reason. It also stated that though the Scripture may hold “truth,” it does not hold ALL truth. Thirdly, it stated that “truth” found in Scripture can also be located apart from Scripture as well. Modernism has left in its wake history’s greatest tragedies. When played out in real life, Modernism brought us the bloodletting that was the French Revolution, Napoleon and what was truly the “first world war.” For nearly 20 years Europe was engulfed in total warfare pitting agnostic France against the rest of Europe’s theocratic monarchies. In the end, France was defeated but the Modernism that fostered the evil that was Napoleonic France, lived on. It was Modernistic thinking that led Darwin to publish the lies that will damn millions. It was Modernistic thinking that asserted that man has more “good” in him than evil. The Modernists liked to often mention the “divine spark,” the idea that essentially “good” man can continually improve himself over time. In fact, the Modernists believed that man would someday reach perfection through sheer self effort. (Sounds a lot like Dr. Phil, doesn’t it?)

Francis Schaeffer wrote prolifically in the 1960's and 1970's about the cultural shift between what we now call Modernism and Post-Modernism. He saw this shift in watershed terms;
…this change in the concept of the way we come to knowledge and truth is the MOST crucial problem, as I understand it, facing Christianity today. If you had lived in Europe prior to about 1890, or in the United States before 1935, you would not have had to spend much time, in practice, in thinking about your presuppositions…Before these dates everyone would have been working on much the same presuppositions, which in practice seemed to accord with the Christians own presuppositions…What were these presuppositions? The basic one was that there really are such things as absolutes. They accepted the possibility of an absolute in the area of Being (or knowledge), and in the area of morals. Therefore, because they accepted the possibility of absolutes, though men might disagree as to what these were, nevertheless they could reason together in the basis of antithesis. So if anything was true, the opposite was false. In morality, if one thing was right, its opposite was wrong…historic Christianity stands on a basis of antithesis. Without it historic Christianity is meaningless.(4)

Schaeffer illustrates this shift by something he calls the "line of despair." Prior to about 1890 in Europe and prior to about 1935 in the United States, people thought in terms of having convictions. After about 1890 in Europe and after about 1935 in the United States, people began thinking in terms of having opinions. Conviction is static whereas opinion is fluid, changing and vacillating. Ever changing opinions are the hallmark of Post-Modern thought and practice. The bridge between Modernism and Post-Modernism was built slowly over a number of decades and was characterized by the destruction of conviction. This shift in thought as to how people arrive at knowledge and truth is sweeping and profound. Nothing remains the same as it was before. Before about 1935 in the United States people accepted the fact that there was absolute truth and that this absolute truth was revealed in the Scriptures, was understandable by the average person and was held collectively by society, even by unbelievers. Beginning about 1935 in the United States people began rejecting the fact that truth was absolute. Instead the false notion began to proliferate that truth did not emanate from Scripture, that truth was not understandable by the average person and that truth, if it exists at all, is held individually. As with any falsehood, permeation of the majority mindset is progressively downward. The shift is now complete as Post Modernism has not only reached the denominational world, it has reached the church of Christ. Schaeffer illustrates this shift as a downward stair step:

General Culture
Theology (5)

The shift spread in several ways: geographically starting in Germany, socially from the intellectuals to the middle class and disciplinarily from the philosophers to the theologians. Schaeffer's assessment is sadly correct. Though some residual Christian influence remains, American culture is essentially post-Christian. The Emergent church is a post-Christian church, it does not flow from the Scriptures. The post-Christian Emergent church flows from man's ever-changing and self-centered intellect.(6)

The illusions of Modernism were shattered by the senseless violence of the First World War (1914-1918). The wholesale slaughter of millions illustrated with chilling clarity that the assumptions of modernism were lies from the pit of hell. Mankind is not essentially "good" and he cannot perfect himself. A key component of Modernism, if not its defining one, is “Social Darwinism,” a flawed theory that teaches that man is ever evolving upwardly through the “survival of the fittest.” Denominational scholar Dave Breese observes:
Social Darwinism was fast (prior to WWI – RM) persuading society of a similar [to biological Darwinism – RM] conviction. It claimed that no problem was unsolvable, no difficulty unresolvable. Given time enough, all would be well. Humanity had within it a potential that would not be denied. Let the naysayers and the pessimists be left behind, for nature itself had dictated progress and fulfillment, writing it large upon the bright scrolls of the future.(7)

Breese goes on to conclude:
…(it) turned the early promise of the twentieth century into the greatest series of disasters the world had ever known. It (Modernism / Social Darwinism as defined by John Dewey) brought upon the world the greatest intellectual confusion, moral myopia, and carnage that has been seen in the history of man.(8)

The physical and monetary drain on the British Empire, for example, took her from being the most powerful nation on earth in 1914 to near 3rd world status by 1945 making clear this tragic truth. Modernism stole the soul of Britain, leaving her only the dust and rubbish of Post-Modernism. Prior to World War I, the vast majority of evangelistic energy, manpower and money came from her shores. Somewhere between “Flanders’s Field’s” and “Dunkirk,” England gave up her belief in God. Today, I am told, that there are more practicing Muslims in England than practicing Anglicans. Will people 50 years hence write that somewhere between “Pearl Harbor” and “Baghdad,” that America gave up her belief in God? God help us! We must always keep close to our hearts Christ’s rhetorical question; “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 (RSV) It is unfortunate that what drives society eventually drives mans faith. The tail does indeed wag the dog.

Theologically speaking, Modernism wrecked similar havoc. “Theological Modernism” stated that truth is found through human reason, experience and observation, BUT not by revelation or inspiration. However “lip service” is rendered to the Scriptures by the Modernists as having a “useful” role in society. Modernism is a world view that says that truth is discoverable but is ever changing and generational in its definition. Today’s truth, though “true” today, will be useless tomorrow. When applied to theology the modernist would “accommodate” the scriptures to the present generation but would not bind those “truths” on subsequent generations. According to Prof. H. J. Ry, modernism says “…(that) faith (is) the experience of man’s beliefs about God and not an intellectual assent to God’s revealed Word” and that “…(the Bible) is not inspired by God and is not inerrant…Creedal formulas were true only for the age to that composed them.(9) Phil Johnson, a noted denominational scholar, defines modernism thusly, “…at (Modernisms) very core and inception was an overt attempt to subvert and defeat the truth of Scripture with humanistic rationalism.”(10)

Humanism has been around a long time, in fact, since the Garden of Eden when Satan promised Adam and Eve that they “would be as gods.” The ancient Greek philosopher, Protagarus, came up with a philosophy now called “HOMOMENSURA,” meaning; “man is the measure.” In our time, as cited previously, the late Frances Schaefer said of this philosophy; “Humanism is a philosophy that has both its feet firmly planted in mid air.” (Much like “Wiley Coyote” ® in the old “Road Runner” ® cartoons, I might add!)(11)

Post Modernism, as a response to modernism, asserts that truth is elusive and not discoverable. Reason is no longer valid. Post Modernists continually “seek” truth but never find it either individually or collectively.

Truth seeking to a Post Modernist is much like chasing the proverbial “greased pig” around the barnyard. The chase is fun but there is very little chance of catching the critter, let alone holding on to him!

Here is where we have come historically, until about 1700 western man believed truth was obtained by Divine Revelation. From ca. 1700 until 1890-1935 western man believed that truth was obtained primarily by human reason. Today western man believes that truth is simply unobtainable, it's "each man for himself." Mankind has come full circle like the 1964 Glen Ford movie, "Advance to the Rear." ©
Based upon the quotations in this book, some of the most influential men in the church of Christ today are convicted of little or nothing, "as their foolish hearts have been darkened" by Post-Modernistic thinking and influences.
Post Modernism in its “purest form” is a world view where there is not a Creator God (or if He does exist, then He is an inactive, “retired,” or a “Deist” God) where man is not subservient or responsible to any “god” whatsoever. The Post Modernist says, in effect, that since ultimate truth, even for this generation, is not obtainable, therefore, each person has the right to establish truth in his or her own mind. In other words, truth is ever changing, truth is in constant motion and truth is always individually defined. In the Romans 1 model, Post Modernist man becomes his own god and worships his own image. Since Post-Modernists themselves consider individual emotion as the ultimate definer of truth, they could NEVER agree on a single technical (objective) definition as just what Post-Modernism is! Be that as it may, here is how the online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines Post Modernism:
The term defies easy definition, but generally comprises the following core ideals:
A continual skepticism towards the ideas & ideals of the modern era, especially the ideas of progress, objectivity, reason, certainty & personal identity, and grand narrative in general.
The belief that all communication is shaped by cultural bias, myth, metaphor [allegory – RM] & political content.
The assertion that meaning and experience can only be created by the individual, and cannot be made objective by an author or narrator. [Such as God – RM]
(Characterized by) parody, satire, self-reference and wit.
Acceptance of a mass media dominated society in which there is no originality, but only copies of what has been done before.
Globalization, a culturally pluralistic and profoundly inter connected global society lacking any single dominant center of political power, communication, or intellectual production. Instead, the world is moving towards decentralization in all types of global processes.(12)

Phil Johnson further observes;
Post Modernism is not a significant departure from modernism; it is just a similar attempt to subvert and defeat the truth of Scripture by glorifying irrationality [Johnson’s emphasis] and portraying all truth as hopelessly paradoxical, ambiguous, unclear, uncertain, unimportant or otherwise unworthy… Post Modernism abandons the hope of finding any absolute or inconvertible truth, and instead, the Post Modernist looks for amusement by playing with words and language, and by questioning every assumption and challenging every truth claim. …in general (Post Modernism) refers to a tendency to discount values like dogmatism, authority, absolutism, assurance, certainty, and large, commanding, exclusive worldviews--which postmodernists like to label metanarratives. [“…stories that people have used to define their place in the world.”](13) Postmodern values would include things like diversity, inclusiveness, relativism, subjectivity, tolerance, ambiguity, pragmatism, and above all, a view of "humility" that is characterized by lots of qualms and reservations and uncertainties and disclaimers about whether anything we hold in our belief system is really true or not. Those are the very same values that are usually held in high esteem in the emerging church movement.(14)
In practical terms for this discussion, Post-Modern thought is observed by this writer as being characterized by the following, though incomplete, random list I have compiled over the recent past:

Truth is based on one's own subjective feelings.
Truth has no fixed values.
God, "if" He exists, is seen as subservient to man.
There are many paths to this "god."
All paths to this "god" are equally valid.
The symbolic triumphs over the rational.
The senses are to be trusted above intellect.
Truth is perceived, not revealed.
Convictions are scoffed at.
Opinions are honored since they can be changed as easy as a pair of socks. The Post Modernist is expected to change his or her opinions often as proof of having an open mind.
Tolerance is a virtue, in fact the supreme virtue to the Post Modernist, but ONLY as it applies to other Post Modernists. Total intolerance is manifested towards anyone not in the Post Modern mind set.
Success, as each individual defines it, is universally expected, nearly guaranteed, and can be pragmatically planned in advance. This is known as “outcome based” thinking.
Every inconvenience is elevated to crisis status. It was widely reported in the media on August 6, 2008 that a man called 911 TWICE because his sandwich was not made to his satisfaction at a local sandwich shop! The police arrested him for abusing the 911 service, shattering the man’s Post-Modern presuppositions!
Truth is found primarily by one’s own personal experience.
Truth is not static, it "evolves." (i.e. the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are "living, breathing documents" and the intent of the Founders no longer matters, we can assign our own multiple meanings to these documents as it suits us.)
All stationary beliefs are to be attacked.
Feelings and emotions trump logic and reason.
Self Centeredness is king..."What's in it for me?"
All reality is perceived and individuals can “create" their own reality. (i.e. Making up one’s own driving rules, "The Real World" on MTV & video games where “dead” players come back to life with the reset button are but three examples)
All opinions are equally valid, we all "agree to disagree."
Simply making a statement about something somehow "makes it so."
Truth is "discovered" internally.
What appears to be external evidence no longer matters. (Have you ever heard the expression; "Oh, well....!" or “Whatever…!” after undisputable facts have been laid down? FACTS are archaic and useless to the Post-Modernist. Sound hermeneutic principles are not only ignored, they are scoffed at when it comes to Christianity.) The old joke is no longer funny, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up!”
Mass Media is to be continually in use and not questioned in any way. (The evangelist of Post Modernism is the Television and he preaches his sermons in our homes on nearly a continual 24/7 basis!)
The pursuit of pleasure and the "good life" are paramount.
All pleasure is good and all pain is evil.(15)

Post-Modernism is not new, we have seen it before. What we now call Post-Modernism we once termed “existentialism.” Existentialism is a philosophy (stretching the word!) that is literally built on insanity! It takes the constant ups and downs along with the continual internal civil war of manic-depression and weaves it into a world view! Existential “thought” turns the bizarre into the admirable, the twisted into normal, the irrational into rational and finally the unreal into a “new reality.” Breese observes:
The result of Kierkegaard’s emergence in the middle of the twentieth century can be described as theological and philosophical diffusion [contradiction is “truth” – RM]. Thinking moved from the rational to the irrational; reason gave way to feeling. Final truth slipped away, and the thinking of the world became a set of self-contradictions. Theological and philosophical diffusion – that is existentialism.(16)

The so-called father of existentialism is one Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, was during his very short and disturbed life, called the “melancholy Dane.” He lived in Copenhagen from 1813 until 1855. Instead of seeking treatment for his mental condition he celebrated it and, with his vast writing ability, attempted to “sell” his delusions as a “philosophy.” His work had little effect outside of Denmark during his lifetime and he was not translated into English until a number of years after his death. His “philosophy” of despair did not really get a toe hold in the wider world until the close of WWI when the promise of Social Darwinism and Modernism came crashing down as a lie. Since main-line Protestant denominationalism in Europe had been co-opted by Modernism, the “church” had no answers and many fell sway first to the despair of Kierkegaard and then to the damnable lies of Marx, Engles, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. Nature abhors a vacuum. When “Christendom” was removed from the soul of Europe, the vacuum that remained was instantly filled with the despair of existentialism…where it remains today. We are witnesses to the sobering reality that today Europe is in spiritual, philosophical and cultural trauma. Unless the church of Christ commits herself to the immediate re-evangelism of Europe we will soon view Europe totally expired on her deathbed, killed by the hand wringing “tolerance” of existentialism and the “noble ignorance” of Post-Modernism. Into this vacuum, instead of communism this time, will sweep radical Islam. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has recently articulated a national goal of Great Britain becoming the world leader in shiria law compliant financing! Should America not turn from Post-Modernism, we too will suffer the same fate as Europe long before the end of the twenty first century. May God allow us all to have “ears to hear.”

Visually, there is a precise picture of Post-Modernistic thought currently playing in the form of a commercial on T.V. You likely have seen it. The commercial is for a high end career job search web site called ® In the commercial we see a tennis match. All of a sudden, the people in the stands rush the court and all begin to play tennis, each according to their own individually defined rules. Chaos, of course, is the result. The tag line says; “When everyone plays, no one wins.” In a word, Post-Modernism is as Phil Johnson describes it, "zeitgeist, The Spirit of the Age.”(17)

In the recent past some among us have attempted to "accommodate" the Post Modernists by implementing pragmatic outreach concepts. One such experiment is the so-called "community church." Community churches are, for the purpose of this book, churches of Christ who have discarded the name of Christ. This kind of extra-biblical outcome based thinking has led to "unequally yoked cooperation" with denominations in various social improvement projects. Such “cooperation” has blurred the lines between the “new reality” and the revealed truth of scripture regarding the biblical congregational model. These experiments, however, rarely at the time actually embraced Post Modern thinking as being biblically acceptable for Christians themselves, but “the hand was too close to the fire and the hand was burnt.”

Unfortunately, as with any surrender of conviction, there is not very often a "rewind" button. Eventually, corners are turned and we reach the point of "no return." Attempts to convert Post-Modernists have rendered the opposite effect, an open embrace of Post- Modernism by people professing to be Christians. A noted denominationalist, Haddon Robinson, has this to say regarding this syndrome,
Of course in speaking to a secular world we dare not speak a secular word. William Willimon observed that some preachers seem to have bent over backwards to speak to a secular audience and have fallen in.(18)

As the now defunct Pogo ® cartoon states, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” This principle is illustrated in Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by radicals a number of years ago. Over time, she began to identify with her kidnappers and finally joined them in their brazen crime spree.

Open embrace of Post-Modern thinking is now a real threat to the continued faithfulness of many among us. Many now identify themselves more with the Post-Modern “target audience” than with the truth of the gospel they had originally sought to proclaim.

In closing we must remember this: The Emergent church is Post-Modern and Existential. She has embraced darkness. The leaders of the Emergent church are disciples of the madman Kierkegaard. God help us! But before existential Post-Modern thinking impacted the Lord’s church it impacted the denominational world like a scud missile. (To Be Continued)

(1) From "Restoration Movement/Churches of Christ (non-instrumental) / "Post 1906 Schisms" / paragraph #7
(2) All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from Webster's 1833 Webster Bible translation of the Bible, a public domain document
(3) Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There - Speaking Historic Christianity Into the Twentieth Century, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1968, 1975) p. 51
(4) Ibid. pp. 13-15
(5) Ibid. pg. 16
(6) Ibid. p. 16
(7) Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave, (Chicago, IL., Moody Press, 1990), pg. 153
(8) Ibid., pg. 154
(9) H. J. Ry, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1968, XV, pg. 631
(10) From a lecture given at the 2006 “Shepard's Conference” at Grace Community Church entitled; “Absolutely Not!” – “Exposing the Post Modern Errors of the Emerging Church” by Phil Johnson. For a full text see NOTE: Emergent Theology is so radical that EVEN evangelical denominationalists, such as Dr. Johnson, are very much alarmed. Noted evangelical denominationalist Dr. John MacArthur has recently released a book on the subject entitled: The Truth War – Fighting for Christianity in the Age of Deception. In this work I often cite denominational and evangelical sources to document my statements. I do so for this reason: If EVEN those steeped in denominational and evangelical error can see the dangers of Emergent Theology, HOW can we not?!
(11) From a radio broadcast made by noted Reformed denominational scholar Dr. R. C. Sproul broadcast in late September, 2006 on WHVN, Charlotte, NC.
(12) See: AUTHORS NOTE: Wikepedia is subject to constant updates and changes. This exact quote may no longer be part of this article at time of publication. RM
(13) The definition of “metanarrative” is from Karl Aspehund in his presentation entitled; “Extension of Self: Media, History, and the Perception of Style in the Post Modern Age.” See noted as a source on
(14) Phil Johnson, op cit, See Note #4
(15) As noted, this is a rather “random” list I have gathered. I have long been intrigued with how our culture, especially the business and political side of our culture, is obsessed with pragmatic and outcome based thinking and practices. Please write or e-mail me with any additional descriptions you can think of…OR…challenge me to remove any inconsistent with Post Modernism. For a more complete study, you may want to read Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists by noted Roman Catholic scholar Benjamin Wiker. It was published in 2002 by InterVarsity Press. Though technical and difficult to absorb the work exhaustively covers the subject of just how 21st century Post Modern American thinking works. It is interesting that though the entire work is about Post Modernism, the phrase does not even appear in the index!
(16) Dave Breese, op cit, pg. 215
(17) Phil Johnson. See note #4
(18) Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic. 2001) pg. 31-22. Registered & Protected

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