Emerging "Christianity" - Part 1
Breaking Out of the Box
by Berit Kjos - March 2006
"Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be 'one of the big enemies of the 21st century.'" The purpose-driven pastor
Brian McLaren, the pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in the Washington-Baltimore area, may not be speaking at the UN, consulting at the White House, or addressing the Council of Foreign Relations as does Rick Warren. But his influence among evangelical pastors and postmodern seekers is soaring.
According to www.pastors.com, one of Warren's websites, McLaren is "a key figure in the 'emerging church." His books are converting countless pastors and skeptics to a revolutionary worldview. And his popular semi-fictional novel, A New Kind of Christian, promises to "open the way for an exciting spiritual adventure into new territory and new ways of believing, belonging and becoming."
Believing what? Belonging to what? Becoming what? Those questions need answers, for McLaren's emerging Christianity is turning Biblical truth and faith upside down.
Those who read A New Kind of Christian and its popular sequel will be caught up in an unusual dialogue. Identifying with the "Christian" teacher Neo and others who model the "new" Christian beliefs, readers are encouraged to challenge God, question His commands, twist disturbing truths, and pursue visions that fit contemporary culture. Notice how its introduction provokes doubt about Biblical faith:
"I realize, as I read and reread the Bible, that many passages don't fit any of the theological systems I have inherited or adapted. Sure, they can be squeezed in, but after a while my theology looks like a high school class trip's luggage--shoestrings hanging out here, zippers splitting apart there....
"I meet people along the way who model for me, each in a different way, what a new kind of Christian might look like. They differ in many ways, but they generally agree that the old show is over, the modern jig is up, and it's time for something radically new...."
"...if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won't need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality." Emphasis added
A new spirituality! That's an ongoing quest in emerging churches. The old Gospel clashes with new dreams and lifestyles. People forget that true fulfillment comes, not through human ingenuity or experimentation, but from the Holy Spirit who breathes new life into seeking hearts through God's treasured old Word. [See Psalm 119:11]
"As you have... received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.... Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
Rick Warren's website offers another glimpse of McLaren's worldview:
"Interdependence, though imbedded in nature, is foreign to the Western individualism.... That's why McLaren's 'new kind of Christian' often uses words like 'journey' and 'conversation' to describe Christian life beyond the postmodern divide. Conversation implies Christians can learn a lot by interacting with - and listening to - the world, especially non-Christians. 'Their questions are an essential facet of our discipleship,' McLaren says. 'They change us.'"
Of course! Such "conversation" with the world will quickly erode the old truths that block universal interdependence. This mind-changing dialectic process involves (1) "open-minded" dialogue among diverse people, (2) identification with all contrary views, (3) a common quest for "common ground," and (4) willingness to trade personal convictions for group consensus. In other words, the person "belongs" primarily to the group or community, not to God. [See Three kinds of groups]
But God never called His people to oneness with the world. While He sends us into the world as His ambassadors, we are not of the world. "Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord.Ē 2 Corinthians 6:18
Unlike McLaren's quest for interdependence, Biblical oneness is based on faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Those who have been joined to Him through the cross belong to God, even as they serve Him in the world. "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Godís." (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Since McLaren's postmodern "Christians" would continually be part of group "conversations," they would fit right into the UN agenda designed to mold and manage global citizens. Today's world leaders envision compliant "Global Citizens" who are adept at "thinking outside the box" of all contrary doctrines or convictions. Through cradle-to-grave "lifelong learning," everyone would be subjected to a repetitious three-step process: unfreezing (old truths and certainties), instilling new beliefs, and refreezing (confirming and solidifying). Eventually, each "trained" thinker would automatically reject factual obstacles to the new worldview.
A New Kind of Christian illustrates this mind-change well. "Neo's thinking is really infecting me," reports Pastor Dan in the story. "I feel like I've been invaded by a computer virus that's corrupting all my data...."
This "new Christian" must become open-minded to everything but the certainty of God's Word and promises. "Certainty is overrated," declared McLaren. It simply doesn't fit the envisioned utopia.
But God's ways are not like our ways! "For as the heavens are higher than the earth," He tells us, "so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8
No wonder Rick "Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be 'one of the big enemies of the 21st century." In a world that demands "lifelong learning" in dialogue and compromise, Biblical fundamentalism becomes a threat to unity.'" As Jesus told His disciples the night before His crucifixion,
"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.... If they persecuted Me they will persecute you... for they do not know the One who sent Me." John 15:19-21
1. "The purpose-driven pastor" at www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm
2. "Warren's P.E.A.C.E. Plan and UN Goals - Part 2" at www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/peace-un-2.htm
3. Greg Warner, "Brian McLaren: the story we find ourselves in" at www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=4150
4. Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christian, (Jossey-Bass; 1st edition (March 28, 2001), backflap and pages xiv-xv, xvi.
5. Ibid., page 24.