April 18, 2008
In the Sixties the
counterculture rejected consumerism, individualism, traditional values
and ideas, and protested against their parent's middle class values.
Thus began an all out assault on what had made America prosperous for
Now a similar assault on historic orthodox Christianity is underway
that's gaining momentum. Some Christians believe a paradigm shift is
taking place in the Church and as a consequence "everything must
change." This is anything but good news for Christendom, my friends. In
a radio interview with Worldview Network's Brannon Howse, Professor
Peter Jones of Westminster Seminary warned listeners that the Christian
theistic West has been turning back to pagan, pantheistic monism. Many
in contemporary western culture now hold to a pantheistic belief in the
unity of nature and God, of body and spirit -- all is One.
Pantheism is a major tenet of the New Spirituality movement (NSM), once
called the New Age movement. Other names used are Self-spirituality and
Mind-body-spirit. The movement is largly eclectic with inspiration drawn
from all the major world religions, which include Buddhism, Hinduism,
Taoism, Shamanism, Wicca, the metaphysical New Thought movement, and
Neo-Paganism, to name a few. The goal of NSM is a shift in "planetary
consciousness." Their focus is not only on the West but also on the
NSM is producing a movie to promote the new paradigm. In an article on
Christian Worldview Weekend, Brannon Howse gives details: "New
Spirituality gurus like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, alongside
leftist environmentalists like Al Gore and religious figures such as
Archbishop Desmond TuTu. Their message is the same, as though it was
taken from the same script. 'A massive worldwide phenomenon is in
progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future…We aare in the
middle of the biggest social transformation in history, THE SHIFT.'"
In order to move the West away from theism, the shifters must first
reinvent biblical Christianity. Enter Oprah Winfrey. It would seem Oprah
has been planning The Shift for many years. In 1987 she read the late
Eric Butterworth's book "Discover the Power Within You." His book
changed how Oprah looked at life and religion. She was convinced that
Jesus didn't come to teach us about His divinity, as the Bible teaches,
but to teach us about our divinity! (Oprah's code word is "Christ
consciousness.") She recommended Butterworth's book to her audience and
sales soon skyrocketed.
Who was Eric Butterworth? A theologian, lecturer and author who
delivered the message of the Unity School of Christianity (part of the
heretical Metaphysical movement) that "looks within" to find Christ.
"Try telling someone in the Metaphysical movement…about the wages of
sin…andand they will look at you as though you are an anachronism — a
thrrowback to a less-enlightened age. The ideas of an enslaving sinful
nature, of being alienated from God, and of God's wrath are, to them,
extremely offensive." He considered sin ''self-inflicted nonsense.''
In 1987 Forbes magazine summarized Eric Butterworth's message thus: ''We
alone have the power within us to solve our problems, relieve our
anxieties and pain, heal our illnesses, improve our golf game or get a
But this article is not about Oprah's spiritual poison, it's about
spiritual deception that's spreading like cancer in Christendom. (More
on Oprah's latest attempt to indoctrinate the masses through the occult
teaching "A Course in Miracles" in my next article.)
In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my
disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you
There is a growing movement afoot in the postmodern Church that does not
abide in God's Word; hence they do not know the truth. The movement
calls itself "Emergent" or "Emerging Church" (ECM) and it's emerging
away from orthodox Christianity, spreading its spiritual cancer
throughout the globe. ECM change agents have made inroads into
evangelicalism, big time. What they preach is a counterfeit social
gospel. They say they bring a "message of peace." Their hope is to make
Christianity more palatable to the world. Sounds altruistic, doesn't it?
But don't believe it! In order to accomplish their lofty goal, the
shifters must first repackage the Church.
So they're touring the country, promoting their social gospel and
message of peace to the masses. Prominent ECM leader Brian McLaren is
spearheading the "Everything Must Change" tour. According to McLaren's
website the planet is in Deep Shift'
A time of transition
But really, it's all about re-shaping the true Gospel of Jesus Christ
into a false gospel and re-imaging Jesus Christ into the New Age Cosmic
McLaren created Deep Shift to provide spiritual guidance for
organizations who are open to this. On the DeepShift.org website he
states that he will work with leaders, "inviting them to discover where
the gifts of their people and God's purposes in the world meet. Deep
Shift provides support as leaders make their own personal deep shift and
guide their organizations through the transition and transformation
necessary to ignite the loving energy of people to work for the good of
the world. As guides, we provide coaching, consulting, and resources for
people leading in deep shift — faith community and church leaders,
nonprofit leaders, ethical business leaders and others."
Maharishi McLaren's re-imaging of the modern Church is on it's way --
whether evangelicals want re-imaging or not. The transformation, he
boasts, "is for the good of the world."
You may not have heard about The Shift yet, but you will – soon!
Shifters, like pod people, are in our midst. Some of your friends and
acquaintances could be shifters, only you don't know it yet. Shifters
have wormed their way into church leadership (pastors deacons, elders),
worship services, Bible studies, Sunday school, seminaries, Christian
schools, youth groups, camps. They lecture, write for Christian news
sources and they're all over the Internet. Now they're touring the
country. Many shifters are familiar faces on TV and have become media
darlings. Browse through your local Christian bookstore and you'll find
their names lined up on shelves. Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Tony
Campolo, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Leonard Sweet, Erwin McManus,
Phyllis Tickle, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Scot
McKnight, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger, Jeff & Sherry Maddock, Peter
Rollins, to name a few. Every one of them are theological liberals!
But shifters are offended when they're labeled liberal. And besides,
liberal is so yesterday! And let's be honest here; liberal has a
negative connotation, thanks largely to vociferous conservatives (Rush
Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Joseph Farah, James Dobson, Gary
Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Brannon Howse, Don Wildmon, Matt Drudge,
Melanie Morgan, Tony Perkins and Hugh Hewitt – whew!) who are on the
front lines of the culture war exposing liberalism's globalist,
big-government, radical feminist, rabid environmentalist, pro-abortion,
anti-gun, peace at any cost, gay rights, anything goes, sick twisted
agenda. Balking at being called liberal, they hide behind the trendy
term, "progressive." Many "Progressive Christian" leaders are highly
critical of the Christian Right and their role in politics. (See link 9
In his article, "Understanding the Emergent Church" Walter Henenger says
that while some of ECM's leaders came of age in the "new paradigm"
churches of the Sixties and Seventies, "the real starting point was the
mid-1980s, when Gen X ministries began catering to youth culture. Often
organized as churches-within-a-church, they adopted cutting-edge
ministry methods but generally retained the structural DNA of their
parent megachurches." But in the late Nineties they came to realize that
they had failed to connect with postmodern people. During a 1997 meeting
of the Young Leaders Network, pastor Doug Pagitt turned the discussion
to the subject of postmodernism. "Light bulbs appeared over heads around
the room," continues Henenger, "and postmodernism has been the
organization's focus ever since. The Young Leaders Network soon morphed
into the Terra Nova Theological Project, which eventually became
Emergent. Its leaders went from niche marketers of religious services to
global heralds of a massive, irresistible paradigm shift. Heady stuff."
A brief explanation of modernism and postmodernism is in order. In his
article "Preaching to the Post/Modern Choir" Shane Lems offers this
"Modernism embraces definite truth, absolutes, foundations,
rationalistic thinking, and certainty, while postmodernism embraces
emotions, authenticity, community, tolerance, and denies unquestionable
foundations. Modern preaching highlights the propositional, didactic,
and intellectual while postmodern preaching stresses the narratival,
communal, sensual, and authentic."
What exactly is ECM?
Well for one thing Emergents believe that the monologue of the Christian
Right is over and a new "conversation" (a term they prefer over
movement) is "bringing together a wide range of committed Christians and
those exploring the Christian faith in wonderful ways," boasts Brian
McLaren, "and many of us sense that God is at work among us. As would be
expected, there have also been criticisms." I must digress for a moment
to pose a question to Pastor McLaren: If God is now at work in the
postliberal ECM as its leaders contend, was God not at work in the
movement to Reclaim America for Christ for several decades? Just thought
What is ECM's mission?
According to Emergent leader, Tony Jones, "At a basic level, Emergent's
mission is no different from any other group of Christ-followers: we
want to follow Christ and we want to help others follow Christ. Of
course, where it gets tricky is when we start talking about what it
looks like to follow Christ. All along, Emergent has been about the
melding of theory/theology and praxis, and we want to promote fresh,
creative, and imaginative thinking about each. It seems that many
organizations get to emphasize one side over the other in the
theory-praxis equation, but we really are going to struggle to keep both
of those in an equal, reflective symbiosis. What does it mean to be the
church? What does it mean to follow Christ? We want to serve as a
catalyst for conversations that attempt to answer those two questions,
and to bring together the most creative people we can find for those
conversations. But, conversation alone leads to paralysis by analysis,
which is why we have always made sure that conversations are led
primarily by practitioners rather than theoreticians and consultants."
ECM's missional concern
Emergents are concerned about being missional in a postmodern world.
"The word missional emphasizes a return to the church's identity as
existing for the world—tto be God's stewards over creation, to be a
light to the nations, to be witnesses of the inaugurated kingdom of God
on earth." In this regard Emergent leaders have been critical of
evangelicalism. They believe evangelicals have not been effectively
missional in a postmodern world. Naturally, many evangelicals find this
view arrogant and self-righteous. Sadly, ECM's arrogance has caused
division between them and evangelicals.
What is the ECM protesting?
"Whatever the Emerging Movement is," explains Scot McKnight, "it is
clearly a protest movement. Sometimes it can appear to be cranky, but
there is substance and there is focus in what the Emerging Movement is
protesting. And, though sometimes the resolutions fall flat or fail to
materialize or collapse into the unworkable, there are genuine
resolutions being worked out. What is the Emerging Movement protesting?
Let me count the ways," quips McKnight. "That's not an attempt to be
funny," he assures us, "there is a list of at least ten items the
Emerging Movement is protesting, and most would agree that it has its
finger on some hot buttons. And let it be said that its primary focus in
protestation is the evangelical movement and, sometimes but not always,
the mega-churches that so clearly define and set the tone for the
One hot button issue is abortion. Because they're mostly liberals, many
Emergents are pro-aborts. It pains me to do so, but I'll let this go and
Here's the rundown on some of what ECM believes, from an article by
Joseph Farah posted on WorldNetDaily.com:
Capital punishment is wrong, despite the clear, unequivocal biblical
commandments to take life for life.
Most Christians are too war-like and are guilty of "not loving our
Universal health care should be provided by government.
Poverty should be eliminated by the U.S. government, not just in the
U.S., but throughout the world.
The minimum wage should be significantly increased.
The U.S. should sign the Kyoto Protocol as a step toward solving the
phantom crisis of global warming.
The U.S. should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and address the real
problem of terrorism by creating a Palestinian state and addressing the
root cause – poverty.
We should make condoms available throughout the Third World to fight
Farah lists more of
ECM's beliefs but I've got a lot of ground to cover, so I'll move on.
(In the article he exposes
Red Letter Christians, a movement headed by Tony Campolo and Jim Wright
who are trying to "seduce evangelical Christians into anti-biblical,
socialist, tyrannical politics.")
ECM is also about "rediscovering spirituality"
"Emerging church practitioners are happy to take elements of worship
from a wide variety of historic traditions, including Anglicanism, Roman
Catholicism, the Orthodox church, and Celtic Christianity. From these
and other religious traditions emerging church groups take, adapt and
blend various historic church practices including liturgy, prayer beads,
icons, spiritual direction, and lectio divina." In other words, whatever
unbiblical practice floats your boat.
ECM's Quaker influence
"The Religious Society of Friends…although not bornn from a conflict
with modernism, has nonetheless influenced the emerging church movement
through mystics such as Richard Foster. This influence is often seen in
the mystical tendencies of emergent worship and devotion. Some emerging
churches mirror the Quaker rejection of church hierarchy while valuing
the sacred as a personal, subjective experience, others utilize their
particular denominational structures for church leadership."
Bringing God's kingdom to earth
"To Brian McLaren," says Pastor Gary Gilley, "the most prolific emergent
writer, the ultimate goal of Jesus (and God) is the kingdom of God,
brought to earth. Just how is the kingdom brought to earth? Through our
good works. McLaren states, 'I hope that they [his neighbors] and I will
become better people, transformed by God's Spirit, more pleasing to God,
more of a blessing to the world so that God's kingdom
(which I seek, but cannot manipulate) comes on earth as in
heaven (emphasis mine).'"
A new path
Many shifters, like Campolo and Wright, are hard-core leftists who are
doing everything in their power to lead the Church down a new path, away
from Sola Scriptura, into what Pastor Ken Silva calls the "emerging cult
of the new liberal theology" and a "spiritual cancer." Without
Scripture, how is it possible to establish what is true about God? Oh, I
know! To find answers you must get in touch with your "inner self"
through meditation! To that end ECM leaders urge believers to embrace
unbiblical contemplative prayer and other occult practices. (I addressed
this topic in Christians are mixed-up…in mysticcism!
On the DeepShift.org website, Pastor McLaren points visitors to the new
"We hope this is a beginning for you to be on this new path, believing
in Jesus in a new way, ready to act for change in your own life, in your
community, the public and the world. We hope this is a beginning for you
to connect with new people who are on this same path and journey for
encouragement, support, relationship and depth."
The part that bothers me the most is "believing in Jesus in a new way."
What does he mean? Could he be referring to the "Cosmic Christ?"
McLaren makes clear his intentions for 2008 on McLaren.com when he says,
"Rather than accepting invitations in 2008, I'll join a creative team of
friends to develop and present about ten regional gatherings, half in
the winter/spring and half in the fall. These gatherings will be called
'Deep Shift 2008."
McLaren's mission? (My comments in brackets)
"DeepShift will call people to a deep shift in their thinking about
[Jesus Christ], faith, church life, mission, ministry, art, justice,
leadership, community, and worship. It will emphasize deep personal
inner transformation [through contemplative prayer] integrated with deep
organizational transition as well, in the context of the 'Generous
Orthodoxy' I write and speak about."
McLaren on hell and the cross
In a 2006 interview McLaren calls the doctrine of hell "false
advertising for God." "[T]his is one of the huge problems with the
traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with
Jesus' teaching, then I won't say the only and I certainly won't say ...
or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the
Kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world by
inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God
comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an
ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that's not really
true. At the end God get's his way thru coercion and violence and
intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The
Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false
advertising for God."
In my research I ran across a panel discussion on You Tube, "Let's Talk
Post-Modernism and the Emergent Church." Here highly regarded orthodox
theologians R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler and Ravi Zacharias had a
"conversation" about postmodernism, modernism, liberalism, and ECM.
The main thrust of ECM, the scholars say, is its rejection of modernism
and its embrace of postmodernism. Why reject orthodoxy? Because the
orthodoxy are absolutists. Absolutists want to reinsert categories of
right and wrong, whereas postmodernists balk at doctrinal assertions.
They gave as an example Brian McLaren's position on homosexuality in a
Time Magazine interview. Following is the excerpt from Time: "Frankly,
many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've
heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we
can say 'it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.' That alienates us
from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what
we should think." So McLaren suggested a five-year moratorium on making
pronouncements. And what will we do in the meantime? He went on to say,
"[W]e'll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully,
disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they'll be
admittedly provisional. We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in
biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and
related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak; if
not, we'll set another five years for ongoing reflection."
Um…the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, Brian. (Lev. 18:22, Lev.
20:13, Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9-10,)
McLaren's wishy-washy comment on homosexuality obviously did not go over
well with the panel. Near the end of the discussion Albert Mohler
commented that his response to the homosexual question is the very
essence of postmodernism. He then cautioned, "It is the abdication of
Christian responsibility. It is the abdication of Christian conviction
and it is a cave in of Christian courage. We do have an answer! And it's
not like we don't know what it is!"
As R.C. Sproul said so well, ECM appeals to Christians "who don't want
to have to deal with theological conflict." These same folks relativize
doctrine, and that makes Sproul angry. He then points out that
disagreeing doctrinally is a "bad thing." Looking rather grim-faced he
said, "We can't be satisfied with it. Because truth is too important to
kill it in the streets for the sake of peace! You can't do it!" Bravo!
Ravi Zaccaris puzzled, "These men and women who were the progenitors of
this [movement]…what brought this about? Are they bored with God?!" The
problem, he explained, is "Non critical people listening to this stuff
absorb it." After reading McLaren's books, Zaccaris wonders what he
believes at present. "Maybe something on Monday, something else on
Tuesday?" he said grimly. "He's an anti-doctrinal individual. It's
pitiful to see something like this actually gain currency."
The Emergent movement is most definitely gaining currency, especially
with young people and those who are dissatisfied with mainline
evangelicalism. Which is the reason it's imperative that committed
Christians take a deeper look into the "conversation." Listen carefully
to the language to see whether or not what a person purports is within
the pale of orthodoxy. In other words, check to see if it's biblical.
Because if the "conversation" doesn't line up with Scripture, it's not
from God. And if it's not from God…it's ffrom the pit of hell.
In another You Tube video I came across, Todd Wilken, host of Issues
Etc., was interviewing Pastor and author John MacArthur on his response
to ECM. MacArthur believes the problem is that Emergent leaders have a
non-Christian attitude. Moreover, they have a "very worldly, carnal,
unsanctified approach to the Bible." With regard to truth, he made this
comment: "Truth is everything, and the truth is contained in the Bible."
He also mentioned that progressives "do not accept the authority,
inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. They do not accept that
everything in the Bible is absolutely true and that it is clear that it
can be and must be understood and applied." And the reason they reject
it? According to MacArthur, "They don't like a lot of the things it
Scott Diekmann, a Christian apologist who believes "segments of the
'Evangelical' Church are in danger of compromising the Gospel at crucial
points" wrote an 8-part article on ECM. In part 8 he states that part of
the problem with Emergents is that "some have substituted the doctrines
derived from the inerrant and inspired Word of God with a doctrine based
on an uninspired melding of Scripture, experience, mysticism, and
imagination. That lack of Scriptural fidelity has at times led to a
redefined Gospel, a message that is predominantly Law rather than
Gospel, and pastors who have failed to present the whole counsel of
What this is really all
about is truth. False teachers stare at Truth but fail to recognize the
identity of truth. Jesus himself said, "I am truth." Thus we know that
Truth is an aspect of God Himself. Christianity is the only truth
because it is anchored in the Person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, truth is
crucial to a realistic worldview. Which is why committed Christians
mustn't buy into the lie that truth is a matter of preference or
opinion. In case you haven't notices, in our postmodern culture we are
experiencing the death of truth – and the death of truth could mean the
death of civilizzation! I wrote this down, but I don't remember who said
it. "Truth is true if no one believes it. A lie is a lie if everyone
believes it." And that's the truth!
Before I wind this up, I
want to stress that celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and "Progressive
Christian" leaders are pressing a large number of believers into
apostasy, even into rank heresy. This is a serious threat to the Church!
The threat shouldn't be taken lightly nor tolerated. So ECM and "New
Spirituality" must be thoroughly understood and debunked.
What's more, committed Christians must expose shifters for what they are
What are your thoughts on this article?