Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An Emergent Emergency

Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana, California recently released a formal statement againtst the "Emergent Church." What say ye?

We see a tendency toward this in what is commonly called the "Emergent Church" teachings. Some of the concerns that we have are with the speculations and positions that they are suggesting:

1. That Jesus is not the only way by which one might be saved. It seems that they are postulating a broader gate and a broader path to heaven, a sort of "all roads lead to heaven." That good people by every religious persuasion may be received into heaven. We feel that this goes against the plain teaching of the Scriptures and negates the need of the cross for the expiation of our sins. Paul wrote of those men in his letter to the Philippians and called them enemies of the cross of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father but by Me." This is not relative truth, but absolute truth.

2. The soft peddling of hell as the destiny for those who reject the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. There are suggestions of universalism in their teaching, that all will ultimately be saved.

3. We have difficulty in their touchy-feely relating to God. Where the experience of certain feelings become the criteria for truth rather than the word of God.

4. We have great problems with the use of icons to give them a sense of God or the presence of God. If they want to have a tie with the historicity of the church, why not go back to the church in Acts, which seems to be devoid of incense, candles, robes etc., but was filled with the Spirit.

5. We do not believe that we should seek to make sinners feel safe and comfortable in church. Is it right for me to speak comfortable words to a man who is going to hell unless he turns from his sin? If I fail to warn him of the consequences of his sin, and he dies and goes to hell, will God require his blood at my hand? When is godly sorrow and conviction of sin such a wrong thing?

6. Should we seek to condone what God has condemned, such as the homosexual lifestyle? Should we tell them that their problem is a genetic disorder rather than a blatant sin that God condemns over and over in the Bible? How long before they tell us that they have discovered that rapists, pedophiles, and adulterers have a genetic disorder and need to be understood rather than condemned?

7. Should we look to Eastern religions with their practices of meditation through Yoga and special breathing techniques or repeating a mantra to hear God speak to us? If this is needed to enhance our communication with God, why do you suppose that God did not give us implicit instructions in the Scriptures to give us methods to hear His voice? Is it the position of my body or my heart that helps me to communicate with Him?

8. The great confusion that exists in the divergent positions of the Emergent Church results from their challenging the final authority of the Scriptures. When you no longer have a final authority, then everyone's ideas become as valid as the next person's, and it cannot help but end in total confusion and contradictions.

There are those who say that Emergent movement has some good points, but so does a porcupine. You are better off if you don't get too close!

So, let us not turn to our own understanding, but rather return to our own
first love; and teach that the Bible is indeed the true word of God; and teach
it in its entirety; nothing less and nothing more. (
read entire
statement here


david rudd said...

interesting statement.
i certainly understand why they are making the accusations they do. unfortunately, many of them are nothing more than sweeping generalizations. sometimes the vaguery of the EC lends itself to that kind of criticism (unfortunately, those within the "movement" aren't willing to accept this)

i'd love to see them quote their sources when making accusations about what others believe.

i'd love to see them show a bit more balance by pointing out the ways the EC has positively impacted evangelicalism (if it has).

i'd love another post on hot dogs!

i'd love to eat a hot dog...

rick said...

as I noted in my blog, I don't agree with the icon concern. It could be an issue but I think we really need to understand the heart behind it before we say that. I haven't been anywhere that didn't have some kind of icons of some sort.

That aside, I thought the concerns were things Christians should be concerned about but I'm not sure they are things we can attribute to the EC "conversation".

Vince said...

for both dave and rick - as you both know, this is not my statement - this is the statement of a church in california.

i have read some from the "conversation" and I would say that the vague statements are not helpful. following Christ is not a vague life style.

i am sure this church in california would have positive things to say about the "conversation" but that is not what a statement is about.

i can't think of many other statements that include the positive aspects of something they are against. does that mean that they can find nothing good about the movement? no, it's just that a statement is not the place to list all of those qualities.

i have found d.a. carson's book quite helpful in this area. he is clear on what he has found helpful about the "conversation" but his views are pretty clear about the outcome.

stay tuned for another post on hot dogs.

david rudd said...

ahh vince, the old carson book.

that was a hastily written book based loosely on his hastily prepared lectures at


i know this through some conversations i've had with one of the philosophy profs at


i think the whole EC thing is currently too amorphous and formative to make general statements against "all things emergent" (i know no one is doing that, but it feels like it sometimes)

i'd much rather see people calling out those who are publishing some of the HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE stuff by name and confront the issues head on (i.e. Brian McClaren; Tony Jones; some Rob Bell). I think Mark Driscoll does this nicely in his "confessions" book.

i'd also much rather eat a hot dog.

Creative Liberty said...

I never thougth I would agree with a church from California but I can see how they would have issues with the EC. Many of the thoughts I read are nothing new, "God loves everyone and wouldnt send good people to hell." I know several people who think along those lines. It comes from a lack of understanding of who God is and what Christ did for them.

As far as the homosexual part of thier statement. We, as Christians, have to ask ourselves, what does society think of us? Are we "the Christians" who are always lobbing insults and agendas at them? Or are we "the Christians" who will disagree with society on homosexuality, abortion, pick your social firestorm, yet stand beside them as we disagree with them?

Many churches bill evangelism as bridging a gap. I disagree with the brigde mentality. Someone is still on an island in that scenario. I believe in living among the non-believers, loving them in community, and being there to point them to Christ. All the while communicating with them about absolute truth, right and wrong, consequences, and a loving God that did make a sacrifice for their sake.

Well, that is all I have to ramble about right now but...I am off all week and will be checking back regularly.

Bryan C. McWhite said...

There's good truth in the statement, but, in the words of Rick Warren (this will be the first and last time you'll hear me quote Warren), "Why is it that evangelicals are known far more for what they are against than what they're for?!"