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.
On 19th March 2013 Dr E S Williams (author of the excellent book ‘The New Calvinists: Changing the Gospel’) gave a very informative, enlightening and topical talk on how Satan has been continually seeking to subvert the truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his talk he charts the impact upon the true Gospel of the likes of ‘Higher Criticism’, ‘New Evangelicalism’, ‘The Church Growth Movement’, ‘The Purpose Driven Movement’, ‘The Lausanne Movement’ and ‘The Emerging Church Movement’.
Dr Williams identifies key figures who have been involved in this sustained subversion – people like Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Billy Graham, John Stott, Rick Warren, Tim Keller, and Mark Driscoll to name but some.
I want to begin by saying a very big ‘thank you’ to the many folks who contacted me in the wake of the personal letter that I enclosed with my March newsletter. I was very touched by the expressions of concern and also helped much by the constructive comments and suggestions. As I said in that letter I hope to include a further letter with my September newsletter [DV]. We are still considering a number of possible options concerning the future and ministry so please do continue to pray on that the Lord will make His will for us ‘crystal clear’.
Whatever circumstances unfold in our lives we will endeavour to adopt the following (latter) attitude – this quote was passed on to me by a good Pastor friend who jotted it down when his church hosted a visiting missionary. The missionary said “Circumstances can come between us and our faith in God, OR we can put our faith in God between us and our circumstances”.
Worldwide there is much uncertainty ‘in the air’ at present but as children of the living God may we, through faith, know that peace that passeth all understanding.
For most of the past year large swathes of the world have been engulfed by what has come to be known as the ‘credit crunch’. Supposedly prosperous nations in Asia, Australasia, Western Europe, the British Isles and North America have been brought financially to their knees. Some of these in times past would have been viewed as bastions of Christianity but they have been found to be not only virtually financially bankrupt but also to be spiritually bankrupt. In Deuteronomy 8:19-20 God issued a warning to His people as they were making their way to the Promised Land – “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish…because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God”. The finances of many nations have been destroyed by corruption in high places – and so it has also been with their spiritual resources – they too have been corrupted. Much of this newsletter brings to light some sources of such present-day and popular corruption. May God be pleased to give His people discernment to preserve and prosper a faithful spiritual heritage amongst the nations that will bring true glory to Him, for that surely is one genuine biblical purpose that God has for His redeemed people.
Rick Warren has been very much to the fore this week with his appearance on the worldwide stage when he delivered an ‘invocation’ at the inauguration of Barack Obama. His use in his ‘prayer’ of a portion of the Jewish SHEMA as found in Deuteronomy 6:4 brought to mind an encounter he had back in December 2007 with Jewish Religious leaders in San Diego.
Invocation at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama 20th January 2009
When the Apostle Paul came to the city of Athens we read “his spirit was stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” [Acts 17:16] and later in verse 22 we read of how he stood up on Mars Hill in that same city and to a people whom he described as “very religious” he proceeded to proclaim the Biblical God of creation and His appointed coming judge of all people, His crucified but resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. Yesterday, along with countless millions around the world I watched on television the inauguration of President Barack Obama and not surprisingly I was particularly interested to listen to the ‘Invocation’ delivered by Rick Warren. As I listened to him speak, like Paul of old, ‘my spirit was stirred within me’ for this was not a prayer offered to the One true God of Heaven, Father, Son and Spirit but rather it was a cunningly crafted idolatrous prayer designed to placate and please many of the false ‘gods’ worshipped in Washington DC, in America in general and around the whole world.
In Pharaoh’s Egypt false ‘fertility gods’ were worshipped, and God’s people were oppressed. God revealed His anger through plagues that impacted adversely upon the environment, upon animal life, upon the food-chain, upon people’s health, upon climatic conditions and upon family life. In our day western ‘Christian’ nations are feeding the world’s lust for all manner of gut-wrenching pornographic material with Hollywood, USA being a leading player. These nations are also warmly welcoming false gods. In Iowa USA, at the end of January, Mohammed Khan, the imam of the Islamic Centre of Des Moines, led the opening prayer in the Iowa legislature at the request of Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, who has questionable associations with Islamic extremists. In his four-minute prayer before the Iowa legislative session, Khan made a plea for “victory over those who disbelieve” and “protection from the Great Satan”. Reflecting on the plagues of Egypt can we not see similar ‘plagues’ being visited on the world of our day. In Egypt these were a precursor to the great deliverance and exodus of God’s people. God answered the prayers of His people [see Exodus 3:7-8]. We thank you for your continuing love and support and ask you to join with us in the prayer of Revelation 22:20 “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
The subtitle of this article ‘The heretics are pastoring the church’ is really a parody on another well-known expression, namely ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’. Asylums were built to protect the general public from those who were mentally disturbed and so posed a threat to them but the public at large often think that those running such regimes, by their actions and attitudes, pose just as much, if not an even greater danger to the public they are supposed to be protecting.
God has ordained that His people gather themselves together in local churches and to such assemblies He gifts men who are skilled in “rightly dividing the word of truth” – this expression “rightly dividing the word of truth” according to Vine’s expository dictionary means “teaching Scripture accurately”.
Paul wrote “ the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” [2 Timothy 4:3] and you will read clear examples of that prophecy coming to pass in our day. Whether ‘they’ be ‘trendy-photographers’ at a ‘Christian’ youth event, or ‘church-growth experts’ and ‘innovative philosophers’ or ‘gospel-denying’ supposedly ‘Christian’ TV presenters or ‘ecumenical-evangelists’ or ‘religiously-misguided’ politicians, ‘they’ all share one thing in common, an ignorance of Biblical, Christian “doctrine”. During this past summer, Margaret and I received the gift of a signed Study Bible and in an article at the front entitled ‘How We Got The Bible’, the closing section, ‘The Bible’, reads as follows – ‘This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here heaven is open and the gates of hell are disclosed. Christ is the grand subject, our good its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul and a river of pleasure. It is given to you here in this life and will be opened at the judgment and is established forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour and condemn all who trifle with its contents’. May we all truly treasure it in 2007 [DV].