In his book, A Christianity Worth
Believing, emergent leader Doug Pagitt presents a theology
that is worth exposing, because it is neither biblical nor
Christian. This is the unfortunate power of media-savvy
emergent leaders--errant theology is couched in Christian
terms, and the undiscerning are drawn in.
As others have noted, Doug Pagitt undoubtedly cares about
his flock, the homeless, coffee farmers in Guatemala, and
the environment. Yet, if the emergent movement could be
summed up in one phrase, perhaps it is this: "Tiny men
shaking tiny fists at the biblical God."
The Bible tells us, "The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and
against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands
asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth
in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in
derision.(Psalm 2: 2-4)
The author of A Christianity Worth Believing vigorously
disputes the authority of Sola Scriptura--the Word of God.
He writes, "The inerrancy debate is based on the belief that
the Bible is the word of God, that the Bible is true because
God made it and gave it to us as a guide to truth. But
that's not what the Bible says" (p. 65).
He further explains, "This is how it works. We are
characters in the stories we hear. The living Bible invites
us to step into the stories, not as observers, but as
participants in the faith that is alive and well and still
being created" (p.67).
That's right. The author believes Christianity is still in
the process of being created. Obviously, this theology that
is being created is in total opposition to biblical Truth.
Like the author of The Shack, Pagitt categorically denies
the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
He states, "the early evangelists recognized they could help
the Jesus story make sense if Jesus was seen as someone who
was chosen to appease the wrath of God--hence, the 'anointed
one' who could do what no one else could do" (p. 181).
So, minus our Savior, how does this emergent leader view
receiving forgiveness for sins? Before we get to this, let
us understand that he spends a good deal of time making the
artificial distinction between Christians' alleged
Greco-Roman understanding of God (Pagitt sees this as a
distant God), and the Old Testament Hebrew God (always
present, understanding, and intimate).
Incredibly, the author presents the Old Testament as his
"proof" that there has always been accessible forgiveness
for sin. He notes that his wife was raised in a Jewish
family, and she "tells [the congregation] each year that the
Jews would celebrate the Day of Atonement by gathering lint
from their pockets, every little corner of them. She invites
us to do the same. Then we write confessions on pieces of
paper or pick up leaves to represent each sin and walk to
the edge of a stream. As we drop our leaves and papers into
the stream, we read from the Psalms" (pp.163-164).
Psalm 103:11-13 is then read to Pagitt's congregation: "For
as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy
toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the
west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth
them that fear him."
Following this, he writes, his wife, "reminds us that just
as the water carries our words away, God takes our sins from
us. As far as can be, sin is removed, taken, gone. Yes, sin
exists, and when we find it, we should get rid of it" (p.
But what defines "sin" if the Bible is not really the
authoritative Word of God? If Christ is not Savior? Pagitt
never really gives a satisfactory answer to this.
"Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee:
and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away
thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and
causes of banishment"(Lamentations 2:14). Pagitt assures us
he understands this new theology can be upsetting. "This can
come as a shock to those Christians who are so used to
hearing that Jesus is the solution to sin that they assume
that the remedy started with the death of Jesus. The Jewish
Tradition tells us otherwise" (p. 163).
A Christianity Worth Believing is the presentation of a
distorted version of our faith. It is the tepid celebration
of a powerless, false "christ." It is textbook emergent
heresy. Those reading this book who do know and love Christ
may feel disgust, disbelief, even scorn. Well and good. But
may we also be very afraid for those who are exposed to such
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit
of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he
know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1
One gets the sense that Doug Pagitt seems compelled to deny
the Truth--he simply cannot see it. He is the angry blind
man striking out with his cane. He swings, he slashes; he
jabs and stabs. Unfortunately, that sharpened cane has poked
out many an eye.
And seems poised to pierce many, many more.
"And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the
blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?'" (Luke
Who defines the Kingdom