In recent decades several distinct ‘groupings’ have appeared on the professing Christian scene and amongst the designations ascribed to them are ‘The Emergent Church’ and ‘The User-Friendly Church’.
Trying to explain, consider and then critique their views in the light of God’s Word is no easy matter but two videos have been made in recent years that attempt to do just that and from an orthodox Biblical Christian perspective.
The videos are titled ‘The Real Roots of The Emergent Church’ and ‘Church of Tares’ and I have graciously received permission to post both of these videos to the ministry YouTube site.
In recent years evangelical/biblical Christianity has had to confront what has come to be known collectively as ‘The Emerging Church’. This is not some structured organisation espousing a ‘common creed’ but rather refers to an assorted group, made up of individual ‘pastors’, itinerant ‘evangelists’ and iconic ‘commentators’. The one common thread that they seem to share is their desire to undo the way evangelical/biblical Christianity has been proclaimed over the past 2000 years and instead they prefer to embark upon a path of ‘dialogue’ and ‘global conversation’ that does not expect ever to arrive at any given statement of ‘absolute truth’. They believe that for anyone to claim to have possession of ‘absolute truth’ in spiritual matters is a mark of sheer arrogance and for them an admission of not knowing anything spiritual absolutely is a mark of true humility and piety.
Green Belt 2008: Spring Harvest 2009: Summer Madness 2009
Whilst 3 different ‘Christian’ festivals are listed in the title to this article, the article itself will for the most part concentrate on the upcoming Spring Harvest 2009 festival scheduled for 4th – 19th April 2009. I will be focussing on the ramifications of their willingness to include a certain individual amongst their invited speakers and this ‘invited speaker’ is actually the common thread linking in the other 2 ‘Christian’ festivals, Green Belt 2008 and Summer Madness 2009 to this article.
Before proceeding any further I want to give some insight into the main heading for this article – ‘Synagogues of Satan’? The Lord Himself used this expression when He wrote to the Church in Smyrna. He was referring to a group of people in that area who clearly claimed to be God’s people but He said of them that they were “the synagogue of Satan” [Revelation 2:9]. They were a group that rejected both the Divine Person and the Redeeming Work of Jesus Christ.
As each year passes it seems that as a ministry we are regularly confronted by the next BIG ‘Evangelical Initiative’ that we are told is assuredly going to change the spiritual landscape and sweep hundreds or even thousands into the Kingdom of God. In recent years I can think back on local initiatives like ‘Power to change’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ and then nationally and globally there has been and still is all the hype about ‘The Passion Movie’ and ‘The Alpha Course’. Rev William Smylie, General director of Slavic Gospel Association in his editorial for their April-June 2007 newsletter wrote about ‘The Importance of Little Things’ and said ‘In general people are switched on by BIG things…In the area of mega churches there are those who will travel half-way around the world to see if they could copy the same method…BIG projects whether they are humanitarian or of a spiritual nature grip many and move them to get on board…The Christian is called to be faithful in the little things…The Christian life is about how we perform ALL the time…Our Lord Jesus Christ is our great example of faithfulness in the simple duties of life…In this issue we are covering…many areas where God’s servants are being faithful in the little things’. In this issue I will once more be sharing concerns about an upcoming BIG initiative called HOPE 2008 and sadly once more BIG does not equal FAITHFUL. As 2008 unfolds may we be ever ready to give a faithful answer for the hope that is in us [1 Peter 3:15].
When Pastor Gary Gilley was our guest here in March 2006 to address a number of issues, including what has come to be known as ‘The Emerging Church’; he highlighted how in many instances churches and fellowships are now ‘supplementing’ or in some cases virtually ‘replacing’ the reading and preaching of the Word of God with more visual, sensory-based experiences designed to somehow induce an almost mystical ‘experience’ of ‘God’.
In recent times a couple of Methodist Churches in South Belfast have hosted what were termed as ‘The Labyrinth Experience’. In each case those presenting this ‘experience’ have ‘dressed up’ rooms in the church complexes in such a way as to appeal to and address the senses and to supposedly ‘picture’ some aspect of a spiritual relationship with God. Ideas such as ‘the journey so far’, ‘the God who knows and loves’, our ‘relationship’ and what He ‘reveals’ will hopefully be ‘conjured up’ by the use of partitions and curtains, devotional aids such as the well-known ‘Footprints’, photos of people and communities, water bowls, pebbles and an open Bible.
One of those who will be contributing to the upcoming Summer Madness event is Shane Tucker. This is how the reference to him on the ‘Seminars – sneak preview ‘07’ is worded –
Shane Tucker will be introducing us to an ancient form of meditation on the Bible with ‘Lectio Divina’
Just this evening I received this urgent email from Lighthouse Trails Publishing in America –
If you have a child in either a public or private school, please contact the school immediately and find out if your child is being introduced to any type of meditation exercise (this includes lectiodivinaand breath prayers). Tell the school you do not want your child participating in any of these activities. This would include Rob Bell’s popular Nooma films and his book Velvet Elvis, which are both being used in Christian junior high and high schools.
Last year Pastor Gary Gilley was our invited guest to speak around Northern Ireland on 2 subjects in particular – (1) The ‘Purpose Driven’ Movement and (2) The ‘Emerging Church’ Movement.
In the run-up to Gary’s visit he mentioned to me that there was a local [in Belfast] ‘Emerging Church’ group called IKON that was headed up by a man called Peter Rollins. Gary asked me if I knew of him and I said ‘no’. Subsequently I did a web search and came across a website for this group called IKON and as I browsed their site I saw a web page listed under a subheading of ‘The Last supper’ and that somehow ‘rang a bell’ for me. On further investigation I found out why.
When Pastor Gary Gilley was here as the guest of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries [March/April 2006] I asked him to speak on 2 specific issues. One was the ‘seeker-sensitive’ or ‘user-friendly’ approach to preaching the Gospel as promoted in Rick Warren’s ‘Purpose Driven Movement’. The other was what has come to be known as ‘The Emerging Church’. This is a very loose ‘coalition’ of post-modern pastors and conference speakers. Many view Brian McLaren as being the main Emerging ‘guru’ and Gary Gilley devoted time in his talk to exposing some of the heresies of this man. I too have also addressed Brian McLaren in the article found on this link – http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-december-2006/