Missional or Actually Emergent/ Progressive?

Photos from Wikipedia

First, let’s talk about the photo to the right! As you can see the internet label above the photos says, “The Emergent Church leaders” that’s right. These are some of the more prominent leaders of the Emerging Missional Church Movement. The top first two (Brian McLaren and Rob Bell) seem to get a lot of space from those trying to warn the Church to avoid them since they are extremely heretical and in reality probably not even born again Christians. The third one on the top, gets some attention as well, and again he (Doug Pagitt) is extremely heretical and likely not a born again Christian. Some of you might be saying, “you don’t know if they are saved or not..” actually, research them and you will understand the statement. The other two guys on the bottom are Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch…yes! Alan Hirsch is an EMC leader! See one of the things that has made researching the EMC over the past year a challenge, is the reality that there are more than one stream of it, but all of the streams focus on being “missional”. A short background on Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, they are considered to be “Deconstructionist” (or in another term, Progressive Christians) basically, they flat out reject much of scripture, use scripture out of context when they do use it, practice contemplative spirituality, are LGTBQ affirming, all that, Like I said before, you can do your own in depth research.

I’m going to focus on Alan Hirsch for now, since he has a great amount of influence on EFCA pastors and leaders through the group Creo Collective. Alan Hirsch is South African with ties to Australia, and is one of the most prominent teachers of being “missional” and for his teaching of APEST (which would be a whole other post) – he is what is known as a Reconstructionist in the EMC stream. What is the desire of this Reconstructionist? The church is irrelevant in their (Reconstructionist) opinion so the church needs to change to meet the needs of the changing culture (even though the Church was never called to do this), so we have the push and the expertise of Alan Hirsch to be ‘missional’ and incarnational. Include everyone, exclude no one. A bigger picture of what this looks like is having conversations rather than evangelize, do works, social justice, utilize spiritual formation (contemplative spirituality…which is new age/Eastern Orthodox Mysticism) and some Emergent/Progressive Christians like Shane Claiborne promote monastic community (this comes from following the Desert Fathers – Catholic). Here is the thing NONE of this is NT Christianity.

There is a reason these things are not apart of the NT Church, they are actually influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church which draws from 2nd – 3rd Century ‘Church Father’s’ rather than the Word of God itself, contemplative spiritual practices are common place, as well as many elements of Catholicism (which this stumped me for awhile) but Hirsch has an Orthodox view of scripture and the gospel so these things highly influence this movement. I will say of many other EMC leaders, they also have these same leanings. So, is it ‘missional’, Emergent, or Progressive? Yes! Actually, it is all the same movement. The Emergent and Progressive movements are intertwined, some a little more extreme than others. Those like Alan Hirsch follow and endorse those such as Brian McLaren. There is no separation due to heresy or apostasy as the Bible says there should be. No, these people support each other in the ‘mission’. According to David Fiorazo an author, speaker and radio host who has written on the Emerging Church confirms the Emergent movement has morphed into what we are seeing as the Progressive Christian movement. The Progressive movement reject the authority of literal interpretation of scripture therefore sound teaching of scripture is not important.

Even Creo Collective, the group for missional minded pastors in the EFCA (which is welcoming not affirming of LGTBQ), is following this Progressive movement. In September, they held teaching on the ‘Early Church’ (apostolic teaching, creeds, confessions, catechisms, early church fathers and mothers)… this is CATHOLICISM. All of these things are rooted in the Catholic traditions NOT in NT Christianity. This is ecumenism pure and simple. More clearly, this is turning evangelical churches into heretical churches. Neither the Eastern Orthodox Church nor the Catholic Church are the NT Church. The Bible gives all the information we need to see and know what the NT Church is and how it is to function. You can not bring people to Jesus with a biblical gospel, when the basis of what you believe, teach and promote are not aligned with the Word of God. Might there be some in these movements and the Catholic faith who have heard a biblical gospel and have been born again? Yes, this is possible, however their leadership are compromising with secular culture instead of being faithful to true biblical teaching.

This movement is full of mud puddles of doctrine and heresies. Alan Hirsch and many like him are Dominionist and Amillenial in their end time eschatology. The Bible is clear on the end time events, so even in this, our churches and leaders are being influenced with unbiblical doctrines. These things have to matter or we are going to find ourselves far away from our desired destination. That’s it. StraightUp!

If you know nothing about Progressive Christianity, checkout Alisa Childer’s new book Another Gospel…it will be a starting point.

Missional Church – Why You Should Say No Thanks

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If you are a Christian you may of heard something about being “missional” or on “mission”, these are basically the concept or methodology of the Emerging Church Movement. There are those who will argue that is not so, but I have done enough research over the past year to know that it is in fact the Emerging Church. However, for the sake of those who may choose to argue, I am going to leave it this way, the theology of being “missional” is heavily tethered to the EMC. Everyone who teaches, trains or writes about being “missional” are EMC leaders and influencers. That in of itself is a problem.

First, what does it mean to be “Missional”? It comes from the idea of missio Dei God’s mission to the world, working to restore and heal creation. (this should already be raising a red flag). The furthered idea that the Church is on “Mission” for this purpose. This idea that God’s mission was/is to restore all of creation is not a Biblical concept, it is Kingdom Now theology and Replacement theology. God does not need our help to solve the issues of societies all across the globe before He will come and receive His Kingdom from us, fallen, wretched, humans and the promises of God to Israel, are for Israel not the Bride of Christ…the Church. God did not send Jesus to restore creation; God sent Jesus to save humanity, sinners, people!!! The way the EMC/Missional church takes the focus off the redemption purpose of God sending His only Son and making it about Jesus being “sent” totally removes the cross and its purpose for humanity from the Church…nothing matters but WHY Jesus was sent! Why do they do this? The reason was very well articulated by Dr. A. Taylor back 1960 (yes, this is not a new thing, just a more visible one) in The Presbyterian Journal where he wrote, “Missions’ in the traditional concept, suggests outreach. One goes out to another who is outside until he is brought in. ‘Mission’ on the other hand suggests in-reach. One reaches across to a neighbor who is already a brother within, but not yet ‘identified’ or ‘committed’.” What?!!!! Yet, that is exactly what is being taught today. People like Caesar Kalinowski and others, who teach that we should love everyone as family, everyone is a brother or sister…well, not according to the Bible. Yes, every human is created in the image of God, but the Bible is very clear when it comes to speaking about who is or is not a child of God. In fact, the Bible tells us that those who do not put their faith in Jesus Christ are children of the world, they are enemies of God. The basic idea in the “missional” movement is that the traditional way of going out and sharing the gospel as commanded in the Great Commission is no longer its purpose. The church’s purpose is to include everyone, which is extremely ecumenical and even universalistic. The unity of the NT Church is based on the gospel not anyone or any organization that labels itself “Christian” – there is an obligation to sound Biblical doctrine when we unite with others who call themselves Christians and when that is not there, we should not be uniting.

The other big common thing you hear from the EMC/Missional Church is being “incarnational”, “transformational”, “living sacrificially” all to transform the world. There is a shift from Holy Spirit led proclamation of the gospel to a man centered inspired gospel. These people use all the Biblical terminology but the substance is very different. Lesslie Newbigin, who is very influential in the EMC/Missional movement saw the church as God’s embassy in a specific place; “It will be a community that does not live for itself but is deeply involved in the concerns of its neighborhood. It will be the church for the specific place where it lives, not the church for those who wish to be members of it.” Here is the thing, the Church was not called to change the culture of local communities, it was not called to change culture in a larger global scale. The Church was given one purpose, preach the gospel and make disciples. Basically, when you live on mission and incarnationally, you are living a relationships based (hyper friendship evangelism), conversational, good works (this includes social justice) false Christianity. If you do good works and don’t share the gospel, all you have done is humanitarian work, you are not even being a witness for Jesus Christ. Why would God need our good works to transform the world? The Bible tells us that our (humanity) goods works are as filthy rags (I will let you look deeper into that and understand exactly what is meant) our good works don’t even do anything for us.

There is so much I can write about this, but I am just hoping to provide a snap shot so that if you find yourself connected to a church or a ministry that is pushing the “missional” stuff… you need to realize that it is moving away from Biblical Christianity and you need to reject it. The Bible tells us that in the last days the world is going to wax worse and worse, violence will increase, suffering will increase, disasters, disorder, death it is all going to increase and get worse and part of the reason for that is God’s judgement on a rebellious world, the world is not going to get better, it is going to get worse! Have you looked at what is happening all over these days…we need to wake up! We need to stand for a Biblical gospel that is true to the purpose of why God sent Jesus to earth otherwise we are going to find ourselves in a totally different end than we had anticipated.

Quick thoughts as to why you should say no thanks to the Missional, incarnational concept of Christianity:

  1. Based on Kingdom Now/Dominionist theology.
  2. Man Centered works focused/social justice gospel
  3. Does not follow Biblical end time eschatology
  4. Replacement theology (Church replaces Israel)
  5. Doesn’t follow Biblical concept of community.
  6. It is ecumenicalism and universalism.
  7. Incarnational spirituality is no different than New Age incarnational spirituality.

It just isn’t Biblical. Just say NO. That’s it. StraightUp!

Just Like Tempering Eggs

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In July 2019, I watched some video training by a guy on Facebook that was shared by one of my pastors. I quickly saw some things that really were not inline with scripture. As I began to look a bit closer into him and those who he is connected with in ministry, as well as those who endorse his books, I found a line leading right into the Emerging Missional Church Movement. As I continued looking into these people, I eventually stumbled onto a connection of this in the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America).

In my looking into these people and others connected with them, I came across a couple of articles about the EFCA and contemplative spirituality on the Lighthouse Trails website from 2013 and 2014, but nothing more current, so in February of this year I sent a Letter to the Editor sharing with them what I was finding and asked them what they were seeing more currently, so below is my letter, their response and a comment that was left by an E-Free pastor. I have prayed about what to do with this information for weeks, and as I continue to have conversations with people and their concerns about false teaching and just things that are not biblically sound happening in their churches or churches of people known to them, I believe it is time to share this.

ME:

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I know you have posted some things regarding the EFCA back in 2013-2014 and contemplative spirituality, but I haven’t seen anything more current so I thought I would share some things with you that I see. As a member (Technically) of an EFCA church, I accidentally stumbled across some things that, if correct, should be concerning to anyone who is attached to the EFCA.

So, as you probably know, in June 2019, the EFCA removed “premillennial” [belief in a thousand year reign of Christ after the tribulation] from their SOF and replaced it with “glorious return.” I wondered why, and this past Fall, I found the answer. There is a Vimeo video online of the President of the EFCA sharing why he wanted people to vote yes to the language change from premillennial to glorious return. What was his reason? A group of young pastors who wanted to credential under the EFCA but they couldn’t say they agreed with the premillennial view. I could be wrong, but that sounds like compromise. On June 19, 2019, the amendment was approved.

Then, in a search about the “Emerging Missional” movement, a blog post showed up on the EFCA website titled “Understanding the Missional Church” dated May 2012. The EFCA is going in the direction of the Missional Church movement or at least part of it is. Inside the EFCA is a grass roots group of pastors and leaders who desire to live and be “missional”*— that group is known as Creo Collective. Now, might this be the group of pastors who weren’t sure they could agree with the “premillennial” view? You have to Google Creo Collective (www.creocollective.org) to find them as they don’t just show up on the EFCA website.

I should mention that it is my understanding that not all EFCA pastors agree with the direction the EFCA is headed (however, that is not the case in our local church). From what I can tell, this movement is actually a part of the Emerging Church or at least it would appear that way. Why? Well, in 2018 Creo Collective trained EFCA pastors and leaders on the APEST model as taught by Alan Hirsch and his book Forgotten Ways. Alan Hirsch, as I believe you know, is an emerging church leader, and he is endorsed by many other EMC leaders. When you look at people Hirsch quotes, they are not people most Christians would be quoting. He tends to quote contemplative spiritualists, social-justice teachers, progressives, Catholic priests, etc. When I looked on the Creo Collective FB page for 2020, the first thing that comes up for training (coaching) is spiritual formation and later in the schedule is more training (coaching) on the APEST.

What’s my concern? Is the EFCA in fact lining up with the Emerging Church movement? What do you at Lighthouse Trails see happening?

Watching, C.J.

The following is the response from those at Lighthouse Trails. Their comments are used with permission and may not be used without their verbal or written consent.

LT:

“We agree that there are some EFCA leaders and pastors who are not promoting or embracing emergent church teachings or heading in that direction. However, we also share your concerns about EFCA as a whole and about their present leadership and direction. What we were observing in 2013 and 2014 regarding the EFCA has now borne its emergent “fruit.” As you can see in this 2011 recommend resources list, EFCA had made the decision to go down the contemplative mystical path. And now today, as you have pointed out, partly through EFCA groups like Creo Collective, they have followed the “natural” course that contemplative leads to—emergent, “progressive,” social justice; and based on what has happened to so many other denominations, we predict it will only get worse for the EFCA. Once a group starts down the contemplative path, only a determined and committed effort and desire to stop will keep that group from going full-blown emergent, socialist, and ultimately anti-Gospel.

While EFCA doctrines of belief statements still adhere to biblical principles, there are definite indications they are compromsing in order to keep everyone happy. We must remember that doctrines of belief statements are not enough to show an accurate gauge to how biblically healthy a denomination is. What must also be looked at are the various movements, recommendations, groups, pastors, churches, and offshoots of a denomination because those are what give a far more accurate glimpse into the future of that denomination. Creo Collective, plus the EFCA connections to emergent leaders such as Alan Hirsch are two examples of where EFCA is going.

One of several examples we saw of EFCA’s apparent compromising in order to keep everyone happy is a statement made about Replacement Theology** where they make allowance within their denominational structure to accept it or reject it. And coupled with their recent vote to remove the word “premillennial” (a word that would generally include Israel’s role in the last days scenario), our concerns that EFCA is indeed becoming emergent are only heightened.

*Missional: Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.”

The following is a comment left by an E-Free pastor after my letter was posted on Lighthouse Trails website, again I was given permission to use his comment. This is not a pastor I personally know nor is he from my state or district.

“As a Pastor of a EV Free Church I can tell you that you are correct that there has been a massive turn towards Emergent Spirituality within the EFCA. I have labored to warn leadership at our District and National levels concerning the dangers of Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality and their Social Gospel leanings. All of those efforts fell on deaf ears. Our District leadership has invited Emergent Speakers for district leadership meetings and they have endorsed such heretical mystics as St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Our little church will not be embracing any of that. We are going to stick with the Bible and the simple gospel message of the cross. We are not interested in the latest church buzzwords and business models. We are definitely in a time of Apostasy and I am thankful for Lighthouse Trails, the Berean Call, and men and women such as Dave Hunt, Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Caryl Matrisciana, Trevor Baker and others who have had the courage to stand for the Lord in these last hours. My prayer is that the church would wake up and cast off the works of darkness! Our prayers are with you! Endure dear saints, the Lord is coming soon!”

Over the past few months I have talked with two other E-Free pastors who confirm the concerns expressed in this post.

So, why do I post this? Because people need to know. We are in serious times in society and in the Church. As I have prayed as to whether the Lord would even want me to put this out there, He kept bringing to mind the process of tempering eggs. I love to make Creme Brulee, and when you do that, you have to temper the eggs with the hot cream little at a time. What I got from the Lord in His bringing this to mind, is this, deception comes into the Church a little at a time just like adding a little hot cream mixture to the eggs a little at a time so the eggs adjust to the change that is taking place and eventually you can just mix the rest of the cream in without worrying about messing up the eggs. That is the same thing with deception coming into the church, it comes a little at a time, tempering you so that you are conditioned to the change that is taking place, by the time people realize what is happening they will already actively be supporting and living in a Christianity that is no longer about a biblical gospel, a biblical Jesus, or even a true biblical Christianity. This post isn’t just for those connected to the EFCA it is for any Believer in Jesus Christ who is seeing some things that appear to be out of line of Biblical Christianity – it is time for the Church to wake up! That’s it. StraightUp!

A New Kind of Christianity – What?

Have you heard this? Maybe you have heard something like one of these – “A new way of being Christian”, “Reinventing the Church”, or “Re-Imaging Christianity”. You might be saying yes or you might be shaking your head no and thinking what?! These are statements you will hear from “evangelical Christians” (Those who are connected to the Emerging “Missional” Church movement) who think that the Church needs to change in order to be more relevant to today’s society and culture, but actually, it is all a bunch of false gibberish, ideas, philosophies, concepts and methods that are not biblically sound. There is only one way to be a Christian (through repentance and a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), that doesn’t change and the Word of God doesn’t change because God doesn’t change. (Hebrews 13:8) the Word of God and the Gospel are just as relevant today as they have ever been- that will NOT change! Whether a society accepts God’s Word as absolute Truth or not, the fact remains that it IS!

So, what does something like “A new way of being Christian” mean? Well, it means being a culturally friendly Christian. It means softening the Gospel so you don’t have to feel weird or sacrifice a friendship because you shared the Gospel and someone got offended, so now you have one less friend. What does this soft gospel look like? The Story of God (A summary of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation). Sorry but this is NOT the biblical Gospel! Jesus never commanded the disciples or us to go share the “Story of God” – Jesus never shared the Story of God. Jesus told people, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.” When we soften the Gospel so that we don’t offend people, we are denying who Christ really is and what He really did on the Cross. The Word of God tells us, that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. (Matthew 10:33) Think about that! Jesus will DENY you before His Father if you deny Him before men- that should scare the milk duds out of you! The only thing that is relevant in any culture at any time is the Word of God and the biblical Gospel, Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Repent and call on the name of Jesus and you will be saved – that’s it.

One such person who promotes The Story of God in his book The Gospel Primer is Caesar Kalinowski. Now there are many things with this guys overall “doctrine” that should raise flags, but for now I am going to focus on this book. It is not biblically sound. Just the concept of learning and telling the story of God over the pure biblical Gospel is not biblical. This book, which I have read through, has a few things that should send up red flags, as if any more are needed beyond the obvious. Personally, this book sounds like nothing more than conditioning. It is all about getting you, the Christian, to second guess what you believe and to get you to rethink what and how you should be sharing the “gospel” – Pg. 65 He writes, “But if we want to tell our stories in ways that others who have not learned this UNUSUAL DIALECT will relate to and connect with, we need to RETRAIN ourselves to proclaim the gospel using language that communicates good news in words that the listener will understand.” Um, NO!!! Sharing the Gospel as demonstrated in scripture is NOT hard to understand, it is offensive!(1 Cor.1:18) … and we can’t have that now can we? (that is sarcasm) We do not get to change that! The Gospel is not meant to make people feel good or even happy. There is a cost to following Jesus.

On another page 1.1 he writes “In a nutshell, we can sum it up this way: The gospel is that God himself has come to rescue and renew creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Why does creation (which includes you and me) need rescuing? Because of sin. There is a huge problem in this, this is kingdom now theology and it is not biblical. Jesus did not live, die and resurrect to rescue and renew creation, Jesus died and rose again to redeem HUMANITY from SEPARATION from God because of SIN. This planet we live on is His provision to sustain His creation (you, me and every other human) but He did not shed His blood to save the earth. In this same section, he writes, “In order to effectively equip our missional community to be “fluent” in the gospel (he isn’t talking about the biblical gospel), we will need to create a culture where it is normal to speak the gospel to each other regularly, naturally.” This is conditioning! If you hear something enough and do it enough, you can convince yourself it is right. This is not! Then there is the whole concept of being “missional” the main concept of the Emerging Church. No where in scripture are we told to be incarnational or missional. They are not biblical concepts. They are however, the idea of people who think they have figured out a better way to be Christian. This book is published by Missio Publishing, a publisher for emerging and progressive Christians like Brandon Hatmaker. The editor of this book is Hugh Halter (check out his FB page) who is also an Emerging Missional Church leader who is endorsed by Brian McLaren another Emerging Missional guy (Google him or even find him on YouTube…this guy is NOT a Christian). The Word of God says we are to have NOTHING to do with false teachers. Caesar is surrounded by them. That’s it. StraightUp!