By Paul Proctor

May 2, 2007

A reader sent me an amazing article over the weekend from the Religion section of The Decatur Daily titled "An emerging Christianity is reshaping faith." It was written by the pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Auburn Alabama, who just happens to be a syndicated columnist, as well. His name is James L. Evans.

Addressing the Emergent Church movement, as if to be introducing it to the general public for the first time, he wrote the following: “Even now, a new form of the faith seems to be taking hold within the broad tradition of evangelicalism. Calling themselves "emerging Christians," or in some instances "the Emergent Church," a movement of mostly younger believers are re-shaping the traditional faith in ways that is creating excitement among some, and deep worry among more established Christian leaders.”

"Reshaping the traditional faith?" -- Isn't that a little like reshaping an old clay pot into an ashtray? Just how does one do that? Since you can't re-mold hardened pottery into something else, it seems to me the only course of action is to smash it and then set your smoldering stogy on one of the broken pieces.

Does that mean it's still an earthen vessel? - I'd say about as much as the Emergent Church is a "traditional faith." Oh, you can call it an "earthen vessel" if you like - but it's really just an ashtray, isn't it?

In my view, the only thing that has been "reshaped" here is rebellion - a rebellion that is wreaking havoc in the Church today - something our Decatur Daily pastor/columnist didn't bring up - even though many have written about it, including yours truly in a recent piece called "The Emerging Civil War." Or, could this be what the good reverend meant when he wrote that the movement was "creating excitement?"

Isn't positivism refreshing?

I thought it was cute the way he casually explained the Emerging Church movement in the third person - as if he was just an objective observer reporting on an ecclesiastical trend that he happened to be privy to but wasn't actually a part of himself.

You see, if you visit Pastor Evans' own church website, you'll see, hidden in plain sight, right there in the big fat middle of an otherwise traditional looking church homepage, pictured beneath the words "A Journey in Faith," an occult symbol and prayer device commonly associated with Eastern Mysticism and the Emergent Church, called a Labyrinth. 

My guess is, the older, more traditionally-minded members of his church have no idea what a Labyrinth is - where it originated - what it represents or what it means to the future of Auburn Alabama's First Baptist Church. But then, that's the way change agents work among the flock today - in stealth - below the radar, if you will - publicly appearing to represent one thing while covertly promoting another.

In the Decatur Daily article, Evans proceeds to quote Scott McKnight, a Northpark Seminary professor from Chicago, who describes the Emerging Church this way:

"Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within post-modern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches identify with the life of Jesus, transform the secular realm, live highly communal lives, they welcome the stranger, serve with generosity, participate as producers, create as created beings, lead as a body, and take part in spiritual activities."

"Practice the way of Jesus?"   What's that suppose to mean?

As for his nine Emergent Church practices:

1. We are not called to "identify with the life of Jesus." We are called to repent and believe the Gospel. The former is ambiguous, esoteric and misleading. The latter is biblical. (Acts 3:19 - Mark 1:15)

2. We are not commissioned to "transform the secular realm." We are called to preach the Word in season and out, whether secular society hears it and accepts it or not. (2nd Timothy 4:2)

3. We are not commanded to "live highly communal lives." Communes are where socialism and consensus are preached and practiced and where hippies and flower children were known to hang out back in the 60s. Where do you think the term "communism" comes from? Faith in Christ is not about following a group or going along to get along, but rather about obeying God and proclaiming His Word even if no one else around you will. (2nd John 1:9-11)

4. "To welcome the stranger" does not mean we are to fellowship with unrighteousness and "unequally yoke" ourselves to unbelievers. (Ephesians 5:11, 2nd Corinthians 6:14)

5. "Serving with generosity" is not an acceptable replacement for knowing, believing and obeying the absolute truth of God's Word - something the Emergent Church has a real problem with. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Luke 6:46)

6. Nowhere in scripture is the Christian encouraged or expected to "produce" anything. The Holy Spirit does the "producing," which may or may not involve my participation in a commune. (1st Corinthians 3:7)

7. Nowhere in scripture is the Christian commanded to "create" anything, but only obey the Word of God. It is He that does the creating and, in spite of the Emerging Church's contemplative quest to discover "God within," the Christian is not the Divine. (John 1:1-4)

8. Jesus did not tell Christians to "lead as a body," but instead to take up their cross and follow Him. You cannot lead and follow at the same time. Those who think they can, are the same people who think they are God. (Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Mark 10:21, Luke 9:23)

9. Witches, Satanists, New Agers, demons and devils regularly "take part in spiritual activities" - that doesn't make them biblical or even Christian. (1st John 4:1)  

Nevertheless, the pastor continues with this:  “…one of the central concerns of the emergent Christian movement is the desire for their faith community to be all-inclusive - to welcome the stranger.”

First of all, the "central concern" of any Christian, pastor or church, especially in this day and time, should be our innate propensity, both individually and collectively, to stray from God's Word - to run after every "wind of doctrine" that comes along (Ephesians 4:14) - not a "desire for their faith community to be all-inclusive." There is no biblical mandate to be "all-inclusive." That ludicrous notion is the demonic doctrine of new age liberals masquerading as Christians - trying to get everyone onboard the U.N.'s peace train to a humanistic heaven on Earth.

He goes on to say:   “This concern has resulted in high tolerance for people of other faiths. Emergent Christians have serious doubts about doctrinal ideas which hold that some are in and some are out - that is in or out with God.”

Is the re-shaped reverend suggesting here that the Emergent Church embraces universalism? And, if so, does that mean he too embraces it? Or is he still in the closet? Oh, I forgot - he's just conveying information impartially, like any good journalist. One thing's for sure - he certainly isn't speaking out against the Emergent Church - at least not in this article. But isn't rightly dividing the Word of God his first responsibility as a preacher of the Gospel?

Another agenda maybe?

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." - Matthew 7:21-23

As if that wasn't enough, Evans adds absurdity to absurdity: “This means, of course, that emerging Christians are not very evangelistic - at least in the traditional sense. For the most part we will not find them trying to convert people from one faith to another or from no faith to their faith.”

So, Emergents might "transform the secular realm" - but don't expect them to "convert people from one faith to another or from no faith to their faith," even if they're Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Moonies, Wiccans, Satanists, atheists or agnostics, huh? Just bring 'em all in, light the candles and let the good times roll - is that it?

The U.N. folks will love that.   What about Jesus saying: "he that gathereth not with me scattereth?"   I guess "practicing the way of Jesus" isn't really all it's cracked up to be - biblically speaking.

Still, Evans continues:  Emergent Christians also tend toward a more liberal social view. They are concerned about the poor and about the environment. The emphasis here for emergent Christians is on serving and being generous. They think it is more important to live and act in faithful ways rather than obsessing about what we should believe. This concern for people and the world is not a stance related to any political party. For emerging Christians, caring about people in this world is their mission in life.”

Well, if that's true, then I guess Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Al Gore, Rupert Murdock, Bill Gates, Simon Cowell, Ted Kennedy, Ted Turner, Sheryl Crow and Madonna are all Emergent Christians.

If this pastor is not immediately removed from the pulpit of Auburn First Baptist Church, then AFBC ought to be removed from the Southern Baptist Convention.

But, you know what? He's not going anywhere - and neither is AFBC.  You know why?

Because you can go to the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Stores online or to any of their walk-in bookstores nationwide and find a wide array of books promoting the Emerging Church and Contemplative Spirituality. If you find that hard to believe, just go to the website of Christian Research Service, click on their Master List, scroll down to the section subtitled: "CENTERING PRAYER/CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/EMERGING CHURCH/ CHURCH GROWTH/MYSTICISM/PURPOSE DRIVEN" - and then enter the names of the authors listed there into the search engine of LifeWay Christian Stores, beginning with the name "Ruth Haley Barton," and you'll know why.

This is not just a James Evans problem. It's not just an Auburn First Baptist Church problem either. It's not even a Southern Baptist Convention-only problem.

This is a global spiritual catastrophe in the making and very few from today's Church are even aware of it, much less are speaking out against it.

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." - 1st Timothy 6:3-5

© 2007 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved






By Paul Proctor

April 4, 2007

In a rather unsettling new article entitled, Influential Baptist Layman Challenges Emerging Church, Christian Post reporter, Audrey Barrick, greets readers with this stunning little announcement:

“An influential Baptist in Missouri believes the Emerging Church movement is one of the most dangerous and deceptive movements infiltrating Southern life and he's out to stop it. Roger Moran, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, is a conservative layman at First Baptist Church in Troy, Mo. But he's also considered the most powerful Baptist in the state, St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported Monday.”

In the article, Barrick goes on to say: “Moran's driving concern is the rise of the emerging church and its threat to the future of the Baptist church in Missouri and across the nation.”

"Not since the stealth tactics of the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship - a group of more moderate Baptists which left the SBC) have we seen a movement operate so successfully below the radar of rank and file Southern Baptists," said Moran at an SBC Executive Committee meeting earlier this year.

She continues with a warning from Moran: “"In my home state, the Missouri Baptist Convention is on the brink of a near civil war - and at the heart of our struggle has been the blatant dishonesty of those who are determined that Missouri Baptists will embrace this new post-modern approach to ministry…"

Now, I don't know what all troubles brother Moran about the Emerging Church - and though I am extremely pleased to finally see someone's objections to the EC make it to the pages of a widely read publication like The Christian Post, I am troubled that the more unchristian aspects of the movement were curiously overlooked by the reporter. Though I share Moran's stated objections, which were clearly cited in the piece, one would think, after reading it, that the practice of speaking in tongues, playing R-rated movies and serving alcohol during services, were the only concerns.

Since other Christian denominations have for some time, utilized all three of these things in one way or another as part of their worship, wouldn't this reduce what might otherwise have been considered Christian concerns into merely Baptist concerns - at least in the eyes of the average non-Baptist churchgoer, thereby silencing the alarm, so to speak, as to the more pressing dangers of the EC, until the story is remembered as little more than a silly account of another agitated old fogy crying "wolf" over denominational differences and worship styles? And, wouldn't that insure that those who recall the article might never be interested in hearing the subject addressed again, having already made up their minds that the controversy is largely nonsense?

Somehow, I kind of doubt this was Moran's intent or doing. I might be wrong, but I would be more inclined to place the blame for this little oversight elsewhere, if you'd care to call it that - maybe at the feet of the writer, editor or publisher of the piece.

In my view, the conspicuous absence of the real Emergent threat to the Church makes this Christian Post article as dangerous as the movement itself because it dialectically distracts those who are not yet familiar with it from truly understanding the spiritual peril it poses to Southern Baptists and protestant Christianity in general - thereby undermining any opportunity for scriptural rebuke, correction, conviction and repentance - effectively neutralizing the opposition. I seriously doubt there are many Southern Baptists reading this commentary right now that haven't seen an R-rated movie or know at least one brother or sister in Christ (and probably several) who, though they be in leadership positions, not only speak in tongues but probably consume alcohol outside of church on a regular basis. So, just how shall we rally them and those they lead into rebuking the Emerging Church when the Christian Post suggests, by way of its incomplete information, that Emergents are simply doing in church what many Southern Baptists have been doing elsewhere all along?

That renders the CP article little more than an SBC invitation to hypocrisy, does it not? And, only a fool would grab the ears of that snapping dog.

The end result? - More SBC compromise, complicity and capitulation toward the new global spirituality of "whatever it takes" and "whatever works" - all while the Emergent church marches on in unaccountable rebellion against God and His Word.   If this isn't a Trojan horse, then I don't know what is.

You see, not a single word was written in the article about the overtly pagan practices, mystical beliefs and outright rejection of absolute truth that distinguishes the Emergent Church from the Southern Baptist Convention and most other mainline Christian denominations.

The words "spiritual formation," "contemplative," "centering prayer," "breath prayer," "Labyrinth" and "lectio divina" were nonexistent in the piece. Neither was anything said about how the mind-emptying mantras of the Emergent Church are designed to lead their practitioners into an altered state of consciousness, called "The Silence" where voices and visions are the order of the day. Not once were its similarities to Hinduism, Buddhism, the occult and New Age ever even suggested. Worst of all, there was absolutely no warning whatsoever given to readers that such practices can result in demonic influence and the deification of self.

As far as I'm concerned, this Christian Post article is just one more example of the controlled opposition at work in the Church today. Frankly, I wish they'd just go ahead and change the name of their publication to The Post Christian because it would certainly be more representative of our time. Instead of alerting and informing the Body of Christ in a thorough and responsible manner about the Emerging Church movement, propaganda pieces like this only disengage, dissuade and discourage the brethren from the spiritual battle we are called to by turning their ignorance, apathy and iniquity against them until they run for the tall grass in search of fig leaves rather than courageously standing and calling for repentance in obedience to God's Word.

And you know what? It's working - because this Emergent leaven is everywhere in Southern Baptist life today and almost no one in SBC leadership and authority that I know of is resisting it - at least not publicly.

In fact, by and large, today's church welcomes it and celebrates it because it puts butts in the seats and makes participants feel culturally relevant, spiritually savvy and tingly all over - today's measure of success.

To them, I suppose that's worth a civil war.

"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." - Proverbs 6:16-19

Related Articles:

1, Influential Baptist Layman Challenges Emerging Church
2, A Line Has Been Crossed…No Turning Back
3, Contemplative Spirituality - The Latest 'Christian' Craze
4, God Sends Shocking Message To Emerging Church!

© 2007 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved