Sunday, August 19, 2007

Emergent Controversy

Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel have come out swinging at the Emergent Church in a way that is reminiscent of the sort of attacks that Calvary Chapel received from mainline churches in the 1970s. Calvary Chapel has always been "seeker sensitive" when the term is defined in the broadest way. Smith prides himself on being the one to tell the usher that the people without shoes (the hippies in the 1960's) should be allowed to come in and the church would take care of cleaning the carpets after they left.

Why Has the Emerging Church Movement Gone Too Far?
This one's a bit harder to follow. With the (self) excommunication of Chuck Smith Jr from Calvary Chapel the separation has taken hold.

The criticisms are non-specific in terms of who said what or pointing to any authoritative position since the emerging church itself is non-specific and has no central authority - unlike CC where Chuck Smith is the pope. The emergents have taken a page from Calvary by eschewing traditional denominational associations but gone a step further by not needing someone like Smith at the center.

Listing the errors of the EC, the CC position paper says
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.

Let's look at each of these claims one at a time.

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