Is the gospel being preached in the emergent church movement?
We are to be keepers, protectors and proclaimers of the gospel, it is to be the same message that was given to the apostles nearly 2,000 years ago.
The gospel can be changed from applying new innovations. Even Brian McLaren admits the way that emerging church presents the message can be changing the gospel:
“It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, "We're not changing the message; we're only changing the medium." This claim is probably less than honest ... in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that's received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this."
This is one of the rare times I can agree with him. Our method of presenting the Gospel can adopt change in its presentation when necessary; but the content of the message cannot, or we have another gospel. If we are not careful the message can be changed by the method. And the message HAS already changed for many inside these progressive type movements like the emergent church movement. Without the cross as central to our lives and our preaching, the Church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross- this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ One is to believe and follow. We all get saved the same way, by the message of gospel, not other way can be a substitute. Paul warned about another gospel being changed by preaching a different Jesus in Gal.1:6-9.
What kind of Jesus allows other religions teachings and practices to be taught in his church to those who are to supposed to be following him as the way the truth the life.
This is not to say that everyone in the Emergent church holds to the new views of the gospel but there are many of its leaders that do. Using humanistic concepts, other religious ways or just adjusting the gospel to reach the various cultures they avoid the real intent- exposing the darkness in all human hearts by Christ being preached “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
The changing of the gospel message and its application come in many forms Leonard Sweet explains it “Postmodern missions must have a geomantic imagination and geomantic design. What I am calling a geomantic style of evangelization will ensure harmonious habitation patterns as the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and landforms. (Quantum Spirituality p.168). This is changing the gospel to be relative to the environment. Earth based spirituality has nothing to do with the gospel that was preached by Paul and the apostles whose intent was to deal with sin (1 Cor.15:1-4).
Brian McLaren has endorsed Jones' book, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind. Brian McLaren: "Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply."
Alan Jones, like McLaren, rejects what is the Gospel message. Jones :
"The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it."( Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005) p. 132. Jones goes on to say, "Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine." Alan Jones, p. 168
This is an intentional denial of Jesus himself, both his person and his work that showed the love of God. What we are seeing is an intellectual - philosophical movement that offers a baptism into a new spiritual openness. But without the preaching of the cross it neglects the true spiritual condition and need of mankind. This is not leading people to the truth of their sin by being confronted by the gospel for salvation but instead pursuing a spiritual experience outside the parameters given by Jesus. This is all integrated in the church to reach the post- modern generation that does not see any one way more valid than another. It is opening the door to thousands to go another way. All this leads to is interfaith- accompanied with universalism.
In an interview with Christianity Today McLaren said “I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer." "I don't think the liberals have it right. But I don't think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy." (The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today Nov.2004)
McClaren questions nearly everything in the Bible so how can one preach the gospel of salvation if they do not know the truth of the gospel and exercise faith in it. The Bible says if we doubt, we are doubleminded and will receive nothing. This attitude is the opposite of faith. Then no one can really know if they are saved or anything for that matter, which is the very opposite of what John wrote in his first epistle. I Jn 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Having eternal life means going to heaven- Jesus said I give them eternal life, where I am they may be also.
Rom 10:16-17 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Obedience is believing the word, exercising faith unto salvation.
Rom. 16:25-26 Paul says the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, has now has been made manifest, by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. ”
Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 2:4-5:“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak”
1 Cor 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Rom 1:16 tells us the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”
If McLaren does not have the gospel right, then he lacks the power of God which first and foremost brings salvation which gives us the ability to live the Christian life by faith. The whole Christian message is that mankind is sinful, God came to earth as a man to die for our sins- to bring us into a relationship with our maker.
So how is it he is so unsure of this? Its all very clearly written down. 1 Pet 1:25 But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
1 Cor 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”
The Gospel is focused on two specific areas: who Jesus is and what He has done. It is centered on the person and work of Christ for us. The person is the who- which the gospel is focused on-God who came in the flesh. Jesus said unless you believe I am you will dies in your sins”
Lk. 24:47 gives us the message of the gospel “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.”
Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
We need to be able to explain God’s word to people because that is where the power resides, it is his words that are spirit. Help people understand their need for a savior because of their sin. Paul preached the simple gospel that confounds the wisdom of the world and God honored it with salvation to many who heard it.
Col 1:23 One day we will stand before the Lord holy and blameless “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard”
When you do not have a basic understanding of the gospel as it is presented in the emergent church then you are cannot be saved by it.
God spoke to Israel Isaiah 1:15-19 “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood."Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. "Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
God asks to discuss their sinful condition so he can give them the remedy, it is not just for Israel but a clarion call to the world for cleansing by the blood of the lamb.