(Originally printed in the Spring 2012 Issue of the MCOI Journal)
Postmodernism and the Emergent Church were brought to my attention in increments. John MacArthur’s book, The Truth War, was one of the first sources to bring the movement to my knowledge. Postmodernism is the latest revolt inside the church. It is a rebellion from within. It’s the coup d’état against the authority of the Bible that will usher in the Anti-Christ as he “emerges” onto the scene. It’s so subversive and extreme, that it won’t be topped by future uprisings.
While the historic Christian Church has half-heartedly watched outside its walls for danger, this hazardous threat has sprung up and taken root right under her nose. The mobilized efforts of Emergent leaders—like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, David Dark, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Sally Morgenthaler, and many others—are seeking to lead the Church into a “paradigm shift.” John MacArthur defines this paradigm shift as “a wholesale overhaul in the way people think about truth itself.”1
Postmodernism and the Emergent Church are gaining strength in their attempt to bring historic biblical Christianity into compromise with all religions of the world. The promised result is a peaceful, harmonious world “community.” Christians are urged to find common ground rather than areas of disagreement as they interact with other belief systems.
This organized, systematic opposition to Christianity’s exclusivity is cleverly devised and implemented. It persuasively twists Scripture and misapplies biblical teachings as it shifts traditional, Bible-based Church practice toward inclusiveness. It is completely revamping foundational truth and long-standing biblical interpretation. It is a scheme made of mixing truth and lies which Ravi Zacharias explains, “a half-truth gets so interwoven with a lie that it becomes deadlier by the mix.”2
Blind Leading the Blind
The popular 2004-2010 TV series Lost ended its season with an hour, not only laced with spiritualism, but also explanations for its mysterious storyline; then it culminated its saga with its view of the afterlife. As the characters gathered in a church, the camera remained on a stained glass window in the background showing six plates. One plate had a Christian cross; another had a yin yang sign. There was a Jewish Star of David, the Buddhist wheel, a Hindu “aum, and, finally, the star and crescent of Islam.
The characters in the “church of all religions” hugged and cried as soft, peaceful music resonated in the background. As the man (who had died on the final episode) was leaving through a doorway, he approached a bright light indicating he was entering heaven. The peaceful music, the “feeling” of unity, and the “happy ending,” in reality was a story of how lost the characters were as they hoped they were trusting in the right thing.
Hopefully, Christians recognize this prime-time error and refuse to watch such contradictions to God’s Word. But, to think this falsity has come from our pulpits and is in our Christian literature would be pushing it. Right? How could this openness to other faiths come into our faithful churches? How could my preacher be preaching compromise with other religions? Jesus warned His disciples strong deception would be the sign before He returned (See Matt. 24:3-5,11). How much more deceiving is error when it comes from a trusted source? Paul warned Christians in Acts 20:29-30 that “after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
The mobilization toward global unity is so strong that without vigilance, preachers unwittingly pepper their sermons with the doctrine of inclusiveness even suggesting truth can be found in other “sacred texts. If we compromise with believing truth (not just true statements) could be found in another book, we naturally conclude salvation could have come without the Bible. A preacher may even say the truth and mean the truth in his heart, but if he is too watered down or unspecific about what or whom he is referring, the young sheep of his flock will likely filter it through their world view of inclusiveness.
We can be assured the Bible excludes “others” from being sources of truth. Jesus tells us in John 17:17 that “… Thy Word [Bible] is truth.”
In Psalm 119:160, the psalmist wrote, “Thy word is true from the beginning.” The source of truth for mankind is the Bible of Christianity. No other religious text completely agrees with the Bible, where they contradict the Bible, they are not the truth. There is one truth (from God), and there are many false ideas (from men). Truth is exclusive.
Inclusiveness unites all belief systems. It adheres to common ground while ignoring disparity. But, areas of disagreement cannot be overlooked. It is the disagreement that distinguishes truth from error. The “common ground” of love and compassion are now allowing false ideologies to be preached as the “truth of Jesus,” so that even the elect are being deceived (See Matt. 24:24).
All religions living in unity is a farce. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) There is no unity between contradicting beliefs no matter how long the two pretend to agree with their disagreement. The result of this union only forces Christianity to abdicate principles vital to truth.
The very trap of the enemy is for Christians to lay aside truth in order to negotiate with other religions “on their terms.” Other religions have no intentions of abdicating their beliefs. “Their terms” is a reference to an article in a Christian magazine where author Brian Zahnd argued:
… if we are going to persuade a skeptical world of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make a compelling case for Christianity in this century, we will have to do so on their terms.3
Zahnd is persuasive as he explains how Jesus’ platform is one of forgiveness. Without doubt, Christianity is about forgiveness, and we are required to love people of all religions as we draw them to truth and away from the error which sends them to Hell. Emergent authors mislead, though, as they apply reconciliation at the cross (between man and God) to a Christian’s relationship with other religions.
Zahnd’s final blow in causing Christians to lay down their defense of Scripture is his compelling argument that things are “uncertain” in Christianity.4 Satan knows Christians will not defend with confidence that which is uncertain. On the contrary, we should resist these attacks and rest in certainty that Scripture is “true from the beginning” and every one of God’s “righteous judgments endureth forever.” (Ps. 119:160) It is very true the cross brought love, reconciliation, and forgiveness. The author is right about that. But for whom? Everyone? All religions? Why did Jesus suffer if, in the end, all go to heaven?
Salvation from eternal death is available for those who exclusively adhere to the truth of God’s Word in the essentials. But, God will take “vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Thess. 1:8) Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Sadly, a person who does not believe these narrow/essential teachings will face eternal punishment. This narrowness in the essentials is part of the “simplicity” of the Gospel which Paul feared would be “corrupted” just “as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety.” (2Cor. 11:3)
The new Emergent Christianity—which is now trying to submerge true Christianity—is suggesting to church-goers that Jesus can be found on any path and/or by reading any text. Assured Christians who know there is only one view of truth are being advised to adjust their thinking. Old alleged “assumptions” of truth are being re-evaluated. The new inclusiveness is said to “sweeten what you already believe” giving it “collective strength” gathered from other viewpoints.
However, confusion is the result of believing several viewpoints. Think how contradictory and even fatal it would be for a person to believe several differing viewpoints of gravity. Giving credibility to someone else’s viewpoint just for the sake of peace is really no peace at all if that concession ends in death. It is obvious the only right and true way to approach life, either physically, and especially spiritually, is to approach life truthfully.
On a side note, we must remember Paul’s advice to be “all things to all men.” (1Cor. 9:22) Christians should be the first to relinquish their personal viewpoints if discussing irrelevant opinions. We are to turn our cheek (Matt. 5:39) without defense when we are personally rejected or mistreated. Our opinions in everyday life do not matter as we should please others and yield to their opinions, putting our desires last. But, when truth is at stake, let the sword of truth be unashamedly waved.
The Way of Truth Shall Be Evil Spoken Of
Following is a quote from the postmodern book, An Emergent Manifesto, written by several authors. Barry Taylor, teacher at Fuller Theological Seminary and speaker at international events exploring emerging global culture, writes:
One of the most interesting dynamics of the present time is the collapse of distinction between the sacred and the profane. Contemporary society allows for the “holy” to be found in the most unexpected places. As Christopher Partridge writes: “The new spiritual awakening makes use of thought-forms, ideas and practices, which are not at all alien to the majority of Westerners. They emerge from an essentially non-Christian religio-cultural milieu, a milieu that both resources and is resourced by popular culture.” The future of Christian faith lies in its ability to inhabit this gray world, not attempting to “sort it out” as much as to be available to help others navigate and negotiate the complexities that such a dynamic raises. To “go with the flow” might seem a trite way of describing theological engagement, but a commitment to fluidity and a willingness to swim in the cultural waters rather than insisting on one’s own paddling pool is a necessary perspective.5
Any red flags in your spirit? This author is urging Christianity to blur the lines between it and other religions, allowing the unholiness of neo-paganism to filter into the holiness of Christianity while suggesting we can find the holiness of Jesus in unholy places. The author is confusing Christians with his soft rhetoric, tempting them to surrender their protection of truth, as he belittles them with insults of narrow-mindedness.
The Bible constantly warns against outside influences and is clear from cover to cover that Christianity is not to be infiltrated by other religions. Ezekiel 22 is clear in warning God’s people that since they “… put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean…” they were consumed with the fire of His wrath. (vs. 26, see also verse 31)
A different author from the same book, Samir Selmanovic, who had a Muslim father and Christian mother, is a “progressive” Christian pastor, and who is also the founder of Faith House—an “inter-religious” organization in Manhattan, wrote:
Christianity’s idea that other religions cannot be God’s carriers of grace and truth casts a large shadow over our Christian experience.6
This demeaning statement automatically causes people to shy away from defending Christianity. To defend the very crux of Christianity (grace and truth) is not a shadow, but the very Light of the World! The “idea” God’s truth is only contained inside Christianity is not an idea at all, but reality. The real shadow on Christianity is the new spiritual awakening preached by Emergent wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Whether humanity likes it or not, Christianity is the only carrier of grace and truth (cf. John 1:14,17). The fact Christianity is the exclusive repository of truth is a stumbling block to unbelievers. But, it originates with God and is found only in the Holy Bible of Christianity. God’s authentic truth, the real Jesus, is only revealed to us through His Word. Jesus is the Word (Jn. 1:1; Rev. 1:2; 19:13).
Jesus tells us the Scriptures (at that time, the Old Testament) “testify” of Him (Jn. 5:39). Although, false texts can contain facts, a liar can make a true statement, and Satan can use Scripture, Acts 18:28 tells us it is the Bible that shows us Jesus Christ. Anything that contradicts Scripture suggesting there are other “carriers of grace and truth” can only be advocating a false, Anti-Christ.
The new twist is so clever that it will even admit Jesus’ deity, but deny Him as also being one unique human man … the One Who died on the cross for our sins. Jesus cannot be any other man. New theology believes whoever practices the “love of Jesus” is actually revealing the “Christ” within.” In their reasoning, anyone can become Jesus (and, therefore, God) by acting out their “authentic,” loving nature, which, of course, denies the sin nature of humanity. According to the Bible, it is the spirit of “anti-Christ” to deny the Son is come in the flesh. (See 1Jn. 2:22-23; 1Jn. 4:2-3; 2Jn. 1:7) This error flips the truth that God became flesh, as it claims flesh can become God.
If a “Christian” falls for a consensus of the view truth can be found in other sources and other religions, and that Christ is anywhere other than in the person of Jesus, then proof is there—he never did believe the exclusive truth of God’s Word. The whole point of Christianity is to confess, believe, uphold, and adhere to the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to the Father (Jn. 14:6). So, to believe the truth plus “21” lies means the person did not, in fact, believe the truth. (There are approximately 22 major world religions.)
Be Ye Separate
Using a false religion’s method of worship and applying it to Christianity is what the children of Israel decided to do when they made the golden calf. A golden calf is obviously a worldly idol. Did they get this idea from Egypt? But, notice the Bible tells us it was worshiped at a “feast to the LORD.”(Ex. 32:5) The alleged “new freedom” inside Christianity also applies false religious practices to its beliefs, refusing to see the discrepancy. God’s jealousy has not changed and a divided heart provokes Him to anger just as it did in the day of the Israelites.
The Bible states in 2Cor. 6:17 that we should “come out from among them, and be ye separate … .” Who are the “them?” They are false religions and their practices. Instead, we have not separated, but have chosen to blend all for the sake of relationship, peace, and an appearance of loving-kindness and tolerance.
We have not drawn a clear line between falsity and truth (and are now even crediting both views as “truth”). Jesus said something we rarely hear in today’s church. He asked, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” (Matt. 10:34; Lk. 12:51) He came to bring a “sword.” His Word of truth is that sword, and it causes division between right and wrong. There are times when peace applies and times when division applies.
KEY: The problem of disunity is really when other religions do not conform to Christianity. If all religions would agree with God’s way, there would be true peace. (See Jn. 14:27). If Christianity refuses her duty to uphold truth captured inside the “narrow way” and decides, rather, to conform to other religions, a false sense of world peace will be the result. This is when Jesus says He did not come to give peace “as the world giveth,” (Jn. 14:27) but to bring a sword of division (Lu. 12:51). The world is pressuring Christianity to coincide with all other belief systems. Christianity should not bow to “their terms,” they must bow to God’s terms (Is. 45:23, Phil. 2:10).
If God had set up the world so man could do whatever he pleased and be guiltless as long as it was labeled “good,” then we needn’t worry about anything. We could just turn on the soft music, sit back, and hum our way into eternity. However, discernment tells us that to neglect truth and to “call evil good” is the Devil’s doctrine and leads to woeful regret. (Is.5:20)
Real Fruit vs. Fake
The book Christianity Encountering World Religions, published by Baker Books, has several authors who are bold in their intentions to converge all religions into one. One author wrote:
Those who argue that other religious practices, such as Buddhist meditation and Hindu yoga, can be used by Christians often cite the passage in Matthew 7:15-20 that argues that a good tree is judged by its fruit. The implication is that practices that produce good Christian virtues (Gal. 5:22-26) are acceptable.7
[This is a much-used/abused passage among many groups. The Matthew 7:15-20 passage is talking about how to recognize “false prophets” (v.15), not how to recognize Christians. Christians do bad things, unsaved people do “good” things. We recognize Christians because they “have love one to another,” and they do the work of God: “believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 13:34-35, John 6:29)]
Using Scripture out-of-context or focusing on parts of Scripture without considering the rest of the Bible is a popular tactic used by non-Christian religions. After reading the previous quote, a thief (Hindu or Buddhist) could point out the “good fruits” of his thievery, since he is helping the persons he robs work off their bad Karma from a previous life.
In reality, good fruit is only the product of a good root. Spiritually, we are responsible to make sure our hearts are rooted in truth and our outer fruit reflects that truth and is not some shiny counterfeit that sits on the table for display only. If a work is of the flesh or produced by man’s religion (not Christianity), it is bringing forth “fruit unto death.” (Rom.7:5)
Beguiling Unstable Souls
2 Peter 2:14
Pointing to the alleged “good fruit” of other religions without mentioning differences of roots into the “true vine” versus fruit that withers from a corrupt vine is very misleading (See Jn. 15:1; Jude 12). It is merely walking by sight. This reverts back to the age-old belief all “good” people go to heaven as it focuses on mans’ works. This doctrine nullifies what Jesus did at the cross. Contrary to the new perspective, people do not go to heaven based on the “goodness” of their religion even when this goodness is deceptively called the “spirit of Jesus.”
Jesus made it clear He is the vine, and we, as branches, must be connected to Him to produce good fruit. Jesus said, “… without me ye can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5) (This verse reveals mankind does not possess hidden divinity and, therefore, cannot be God.) The branch must be rooted in the truth before its fruit is considered good by God. A person cannot have good fruit until it is rooted into Jesus, the Word, and therefore, Christianity. (See Jn. 15; Rom. 11.)
Across the page from the previous quote from Christianity Encountering World Religions, the question is asked, “Is the Christian God the God of All Religions?” That question should be a waste of time for even the most elementary Christian. But, the “Christian” publisher decided to give these wolves a voice leading weaker lambs into the valley of indecision because the answer given in the book is:
When human beings, no matter when or where, reach out to something beyond space and time, they are, whether they know it or not, reaching out to the God … There is only one true God, so anyone describing the ultimate principle of the universe, no matter what the quality of the description, is referring to the biblical God.8
Reaching out to “something,” whether a person knows “it” or not, is NOT the same as reaching out to God. Personal salvation requires an active “yes” to truth, not ignorant groping. To describe “the ultimate principle” “no matter what the quality” is validating all belief systems. The message of the current Emergent literature is prying open our minds to accept Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Baha’i, Scientology, Islam, Astrology, Kabbalah, and New Age cults as weighing equal to Christianity. The Bible warns against unequal yokes with unbelief as it asks, “… what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (2Cor. 6:14)
Satan wants the standard of truth—Christianity and its handbook—gone. He strategically hopes graying the lines between truth and lies will contaminate the Gospel to the point of extinction. We must be vigilant and stand against this onslaught of teachings promoting “broad is the way” (Matt. 7:13).
Remember these are so-called “Christian” books published by mainstream Christian publishers found in Christian bookstores across the country. As I read these Emergent books, I find nearly every page of every book is clear in its fatal message advocating truth in all religions and the corresponding validity of all viewpoints. The Emergent literature is consistent in teaching embracing other religions while bashing true, biblical Christianity for its adherence to exclusive truth. This is not the belief of one or two stray authors who are seeking vengeance against their childhood pastor, but it is a tsunami led by many aberrant thinkers who are ravenous for the souls of this generation.
More Spoiled Fruit
A local newspaper covered the National Day of Prayer back in 2009 criticizing Franklin Graham for stating his prayer was not a prayer to the same god as the Muslims and Hindus. Graham said:
None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big kumbaya service and all hold hands and it’s all going to get better in this world.9
The writer of the article then asked:
If the whole world prays for a common good, will no good come of it?
She ended the article with the comment that:
… transcending the notion that only some prayers are the right ones might get us closer to the enlightenment we purportedly seek. 10
In the same breath as she demeans Franklin Graham, she implores Christians to “transcend” their narrow notions. She, as prime-time humanists, believes joining all faiths is “closer” to truth than recognizing truth’s exclusive nature. But, striving to combine the conflicting beliefs of all religions for the “common good” of humanity is fruitless, if on Judgment Day, those who are “enlightened” by this “common good” are plucked up and cast into the fire.
The article also referenced research allegedly showing that the human brain reacts to all prayer “in the same way” and surveys showing “evangelicals under 30 believe there are many ways to God, not just through Jesus.” [11 Kathleen Parker, “Pray to which God?,” Amarillo Globe News, May 9, 2010] But, regardless of ever-changing research and surveys limited by humanness, truth remains unchanged by God. Even when the Emergent spirituality calls for Christians to “transcend” their belief in the Bible—implying we have wallowed in the mud for centuries, we must resist and stand for the certainty of truth being persuaded of its accuracy and perfection found in/confirmed by the physical resurrection of the One and Only Son of God: Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:4). (See Luke 1:4; Prov. 22:21.)
Few and far between are Christians who have the nerve to stand like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they refused to bow to a false god. The philosophies of Humanism try to trick Christians into bowing by saying Jesus is in all religions so go ahead and bow. Christians must have the fortitude to refuse to bow even when the false god seemingly has attributes of Jesus. Not knowing the differences will be the fatal error of those who fall for the Anti-Christ as he will fit the bill in many ways but falls woefully short when compared to the biblical Jesus.
God is Not the God of All Religions
The relentless urging toward global unification of all religions in the spiritual realm is very persuasive, because it is beginning to have the power of consensus. Majority opinion currently persuades modern thought. All religions are coming together under the false pantheistic conviction that everything is the same, and there are no differences.
The Bible is clear, we are to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Love is the greatest attribute and commandment given to man (Matt. 22:35-41). Love is the main thing that draws people to the truth of Christianity. But, there is a difference between “love” that agrees with the false teachings of the enemy and “love” that confronts the false teachings of the enemy with truth for the sake of salvation as taught throughout Scripture.
In all the global efforts to converge the world’s religions, we must not forget the Bible’s warning that “friendship of the world is enmity with God.” (James 4:4) Attracting the world to Christianity by loving others does not include bowing to their gods, obeying “their terms,” or abdicating Christianity’s main tenet of exclusivity. If that is abandoned, any following efforts to better mankind will be in vain, because the love given to men will not result in true salvation.
As society and the Emergent church push the false notion that “all religions teach the same thing” and “God is the God of all religions,” we must remember truth is exclusive. “Narrow is the way” to life and “few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) A loving God has graciously provided humanity access to Him, but it is only through His Son—Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
All Scripture quotations are from the King James Bible.
- John MacArthur, The Truth War (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 7 ↩
- Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2000), 82. ↩
- Brian Zahnd, “End of the Line,” Charisma, May 2010, 47 ↩
- Brian Zahnd, “End of the Line,” Charisma, May 2010, 48 ↩
- Barry Taylor, An Emergent Manifesto (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 168-169 ↩
- Samir Selmanovic, An Emergent Manifesto (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 191 ↩
- Terry Muck and Frances S. Adeney, Christianity Encountering World Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 48 ↩
- Terry Muck and Frances S. Adeney, Christianity Encountering World Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 49 ↩
- Kathleen Parker, “Pray to which God?,” Amarillo Globe News, May 9, 2010 ↩
- Kathleen Parker, “Pray to which God?,” Amarillo Globe News, May 9, 2010 ↩