It was Shakespeare who said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In the case of the “new spirituality” that has pervaded so much of Christianity, emergent church by any other name is just as harmful. While some are saying they are not “emergent” but are emerging, the overall beliefs (and mission) of each–emergent and emerging–are the same.
A perfect example of this can be found in Mike Erre’s book, Death by Church: Rescuing Jesus from His followers; Recapturing God’s Hope for His people. Erre is the teaching pastor (and “lead theological architect”1) at RockHarbor Church in California and was the featured speaker at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (Calvary Chapel’s mother church) on Friday May 29th for a large youth rally called Movement 2009.
RockHarbor Church says it is not an “emergent church” but rather is an emerging church. What exactly does it mean when a church says it is emerging but not emergent? From their point of view, they mean that they are not like some of the hard–core emergent leaders such as Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones. These men were part of the original late nineties group (birthed through Bob Buford’s Leadership Network) who went by the name of “Emergent.” Today, McLaren has renounced the biblical view of atonement, calling the doctrine of hell and the cross “false advertising for God.” Jones and Pagitt have also clearly crossed the line from biblical to New Age type teachings. Thus, when a church, such as RockHarbor Church, says they are not emergent, they mean they do not agree with some of the more extreme views such as McLaren’s view on salvation. But these churches will often readily say, “We are an emerging church.” They say that means they are merely being relevant to the culture so they can reach the post-modern generation.
On the outside, it can sometimes appear that these “emerging churches” are just as orthodox as any other Bible-believing church. Online doctrinal statements and many sermons will sound no different from a Bible-based church. But more often than not when the outer layers are peeled back from these “emerging churches,” a mystical-based, kingdom-now, panentheistic view of “God” is revealed. And this, dear friend, is no different from the view of “God” that the Emergent leaders (McLaren, Jones, Pagitt, etc) hold to as well. And this is why we say emergent and emerging are in fact kindred spirits–and they are going in the same direction, even if at times, it appears they are on different paths.
In Mike Erre’s book, Death by Church, he echoes the emergent view of God and truth, as we have shown in our recent article, “Death by Church” – Emergent New Paradigm Pastor to Speak at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa . If you closely examine that book and are familiar with the teachings and beliefs of Brian McLaren and Tony Jones, for example, you will see the same components: universalism (God is saving all creation), panentheism (God is in all), kingdom-now theology (the church will usher in the kingdom of God BEFORE the return of Christ), an exaltation of the mystics, replacement theology (no prophetic significance for Israel or the Jews at all), a touting of uncertainty and doubt when it comes to truth and Scripture, and finally, a “deep theology” (the kingdom of God includes all people and religions).
Interestingly, in an online video , where Mike Erre recently addressed about 700 people from his church for a forum on whether RockHarbor is an emerging church or not, he mentions a number of figures (Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc) who have supposedly distanced themselves from Emergent figures (McLaren, etc). Erre says that Leonard Sweet is helping to form a new “sort of deal” of emerging that has a “centerpiece” which has a “very high view of the Scriptures.” This statement is rather incredible given Sweet’s obvious New Age/New Spirituality theological propensities (of which Lighthouse Trails has frequently written about and documented). What these supposed reformists miss is that the mystical/New Age attributes that caused McLaren and the others to go in their wayward direction are the same mystical/New Age attributes the reformists have retained themselves!
It was Alice Bailey (the channeler who coined the term New Age) who said that the age of enlightenment (when man finally sees that he is God) will come through the Christian church, not around it. Ray Yungen explains in his book, A Time of Departing:
In light of the many who will be coming in Christ’s name, I also believe the Alice Bailey prophecies can provide further insight into what the apostle Paul called in II Thessalonians the falling away. Bailey eagerly foretold of what she termed “the regeneration of the churches.” 2 Her rationale for this was obvious:
The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished. 3
In other words, instead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness! The various churches would still have their outer trappings of Christianity and still use much of the same lingo. If asked certain questions about traditional Christian doctrine, the same answers would be given. But it would all be on the outside; on the inside a contemplative [emerging] spirituality would be drawing in those open to it. (ATOD, p. 123)
Today, we are watching Bible prophecy unfolding before our very eyes.
“Emergent” or “Emerging”? Makes No Difference – Going in the Same Direction – Away from Truth toward Deception.
1. from RockHarbor position paper (and video): “Is ROCKHARBOR Becoming an Emerging Church?”
2.Alice Bailey, Problems of Humanity (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing, 1993), p. 152.
3. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy (New York, NY: Lucis Publisihing, 1976), p. 510.