This article has turned out to be much longer and a lot more ‘in depth’ than I thought it would be. Nevertheless I believe it is one of urgent and great importance as it highlights the danger posed, particularly to young professing Christians by men who, as you will read, are ‘wresting [twisting, torturing] the scriptures’ [2 Peter 3:16 to the destruction of both themselves and others and are also ‘perverting [transforming into something of an opposite character; totally changing] the gospel of Christ’ [Galatians 1:7].
Just recently I was informed by a brother in Christ that details had been posted to a website of some of the invited speakers for the planned 2007 ‘Summer Madness’ event. On the website
it states the following – ‘Summer Madness is celebrating its 21st anniversary next year. Help us blow out our candles between 29th June and 7th July 2007with special guests Bart Campolo, David Nasser and Brian McLaren’.
The brother who drew this to my attention was quite rightly concerned about the invite that had been extended to Brian McLaren. Before I come to analyse the beliefs of Mr McLaren let me just give some background information on this now annual ‘Summer Madness’ event. The following snippets from a number of websites give a flavour of the history and aims of this event.
‘The first Summer Madness camp began in July 1987 in an attempt to provide encouragement for Christians to look seriously at their faith, and the challenge of a radical lifestyle…having begun as a canvas camp for some 250 young people, leaders and staff, in just 3 years the numbers attending had risen to just over 1500. (The Festival now attracts roughly 4000 people – camping and visiting throughout the week-end.) The camp was based initially in Castle Archdale Country Park, Co. Fermanagh…It moved location to Gosford Forest Park in Co. Armagh in 1992 to facilitate the early expansion and joined forces with the New Horizon Family Bible Week to buy a 3000-seater tent in 1994…Then due to the ‘Foot and Mouth’ crisis in 2001 the Festival moved to the King’s Hall complex in Belfast. The Summer Madness Management recently made the decision to continue in Belfast…Little did the Church of Ireland Youth Council realise what God was starting back in 1987 when it initiated a small summer camp with an outrageous name.’
‘Summer Madness, Ireland’s premier outdoor Christian Festival, celebrates its 12th year in style this year . Around 4000 young people are expected to descend on Gosford forest park (near Armagh) between Friday 26th June and Tuesday 30th June for what promises to be an exceptional event! As in previous years the programme boasts an impressive diversity in music, drama, debate, worship, workshops, and activities. Speakers this year include the world-renowned, controversial Tony Campolo whose infectious enthusiasm, social conscience and profound message make listening to what he has to say a must!…The other main speaker this year is firebrand, Alf Cooper**, who has spent 15 years working with SAMS in Chile…As ever the arts programme for the event promises to be spectacular with the welcome return of the hugely popular Soul Food Café and the launch of Re-Activate, a new live music venue. Acts include local and overseas, names: Booley House, Halcyon Days, Beehive, Hydro, DBA, and Fruit’
** The name Alf Cooper was new to me so herewith is a short report compiled by Mr Cooper and his wife that can be accessed on this website
What a weekend! Alf and Hilary Cooper report on another extraordinary encounter
“We have just returned from a mission in Chol Chol, the cradle of Anglicanism in Chile. We were invited by a Pastor Joel and his wife, wanting to see for themselves how Anglicans can experience a visitation of the Holy Spirit. “The Lord led the seminar at which there were over 100 leaders, first covering the themes of Repentance, the Cross and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Then He came! There was such a powerful manifestation of God’s presence and loving power that not a soul went untouched. People were converted on the Saturday night evangelistic meeting, beamed over the area by the radio. “There were such wonderful healings and deliverances of abused youth that the entire community acknowledged the hand of God. One woman with a huge stomach protuberance was healed before our eyes (and filmed!), weeping as her stomach noticeably flattened out. One missionary, now married and living there, said: “I have waited 45 years to see what I am seeing here today!” Another stalwart, responsible member of the PCC who had been a little suspicious of such things said: “Look at me, with my hands in the air worshipping God! I would never have imagined it!” “Our team from the richer sector of Las Condes [Santiago] was very challenged and enjoyed every minute of the holy hospitality and testimony of these materially poorer, but spiritually richer Christian brothers and sisters they met. What a weekend!”
The Belfast Telegraph of Saturday 1 July 2006 carried several reports on this years event and herewith are a few extracts from those reports –
‘This weekend’s Summer Madness Christian festival at the King’s Hall, Belfast is a sell-out. More than 3500 people are camping out in the grounds…Among the highlights are the debates such as ‘This house believes all XXXXing swearing is wrong’ and discussions on the Da Vinci code and Intelligent Design and Evolution…Summer Madness has become a fixture in Ireland’s Christian youth calendar. With speakers like Mike Pilavachi**, Phil Collins and Tre Sheppard and renowned worship leaders like Tim Hughes and Johnny Parks, it promises to be another landmark in the long history of the event’
‘’U105 Radio presenter Julian Martin will present his Sunrise programme tomorrow live from 7.00am-10.00am at Summer Madness…we…try to introduce people to the huge variety of Christian music styles now available. For every mainstream style, there’s a Christian equivalent which many people are not aware of’
** The name Mike Pilavachi was also new to me so I thought I would share just a few extracts of an interview with him that is posted on this website –
Mike Palavachi is being interviewed by Huw Lewis ‘editor of Jesus Life and member of the Apostolic Team of the Jesus Fellowship’.
HUW: What were the significant moments in your own spiritual journey to finding Jesus?
Mike: I became a Christian just before my 16th birthday. I’d been a complete non-Christian up until then, but I was searching for something and seeking alternatives, like Christian Science. Then some Christians came out of the woodwork and explained to me the gospel and I realised that Christianity wasn’t about rules and regulations and going to institutions, but it was a relationship with a person. I met Jesus as a result of that and I gave my life to Him. Soon afterwards, I heard about what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the gifts of the Spirit. I was desperate for that and kept asking on my own. Nothing happened so I went to a couple who were leading my home group, and asked them to pray for me. They didn’t know what they were doing any more than I did! So they sat in one corner of the room, I sat in the other, and we just sat in silence and prayed! After an hour, suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon me. It was the most wonderful meeting with Jesus, in such a fresh way – knowing God was in me and God was with me!… So, I spent the next two months walking round Harrow without any shoes on, trying to be like Jesus! I did the most ridiculous, crazy things like that!… My home is within the Anglican church and I want to be a loyal, committed member of this bit of the body. But I also love the whole church, and I’m not really a denominationally-minded person. What’s amazing is young people come to our festivals from every denomination and non-denomination and we want to serve them all.
What was the fruit of ‘Soul in the City’ in London during July, 2004?
We learned what can happen when God’s people come together. We had 770 partner churches, 30 per cent of which were black majority churches. A number of large churches were involved: Holy Trinity Brompton, Kensington Temple, All Souls Langham Place and others.
Who are the spiritual heroes that have particularly influenced you most?
Not in any order – John Wimber, who was by no means perfect as a person and yet in his imperfection and his weaknesses he had a boldness and he carried something powerful. I hope I can emulate the generosity, warmth, humility and encouragement of David Pytches, who is my spiritual father, and bring that to others.
No doubt these few items will convey clearly to some readers an informative impression of the theological position and worship approach to God that appears to be for the most part adopted by Summer Madness.
I want now to address the matter of the invitation to Brian McLaren to be a guest speaker at the planned 2007 Summer Madness event.
My first ‘encounter’ with Brian McLaren occurred with the controversy that blew up with the publication of Steve Chalke’s book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’. When I obtained a copy and looked at the back cover it had this endorsement on it –
‘The Jesus introduced by Steve in these pages sounds like someone who can truly save us from our trouble’ Brian McLaren [Author of ‘The Church on the Other Side].
So, according to Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke’s ‘Jesus’ can solve the problem of man’s ‘trouble’. What exactly is man’s ‘trouble’’, his real but often ignored or unrecognised ‘trouble’? Well, it is summarised very succinctly in the opening words of the well-known hymn ‘I stand amazed’ that goes on to refer to the obviously now Christian believer as having been ‘a sinner, condemned, unclean’. That’s some ‘trouble’ and that is the real ‘trouble’ of every unregenerate, non-Christian. How does a just and holy God solve this‘trouble’ that man is in? It is beautifully set out in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21 where we read “For he [God] hath made him [Christ] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Christ]”.
In a previous article that I wrote about Steve Chalke I included the following –
In his book ‘The Murder of Jesus’ Pastor John MacArthur gives an explanation of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 of how God “hath made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us”. Pastor MacArthur wrote [p71&73] ‘When Christ hung on the cross, He was bearing the sins of His people and He was suffering the wrath of God on their behalf. Second Corinthians 5:21 explains the cross in a similar way “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us. In other words, on the cross, God imputed our sin to Christ and then punished Him for it (cf. 1 Peter 2:24)…The holy Son of God who had never known even the most insignificant sin would become sin – an object of God’s fury’ and that is ‘penal substitution’.
That is how God solved the problem of man’s ‘trouble’ and that is how “He [God] might be just [rightly punish sin] and the justifier [declare a sinner ‘not guilty’ and free from the condemnation that his sin merits] of him who believeth in Jesus” [Romans 3:26].
This then is the true ‘Jesus’ who really saves believers from their ‘trouble’ and God’s solution was by the means of ‘penal substitution’. The problem with Steve Chalke’s ‘Jesus’ is that according to his thinking, on the cross his ‘Jesus’ was ‘NOT suffering the wrath of God on their [sinners’] behalf’.
Steve Chalke wrote [blasphemously] in his book on pages 182-183 ‘The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse – a vengeful Father, punishing his Son, for an offence he has not even committed’. What a testimony to the truth of God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness”! In reports I have [and will share extracts from later] Brian McLaren echoed the same [blasphemous] thoughts with his rejection of ‘penal substitution’ as being ‘divine child abuse’.
Rather than again rehearse in this article all the Biblical arguments against the heretical views of both Steve Chalke and Brian McLaren on this soul-saving issue let me direct readers to the following articles posted on our website –
The upshot of all of this is that Brian McLaren has unreservedly given his endorsement to Steve Chalke’s ‘false Christ’ [see Matthew 24:11&24], a ‘Christ’ who is incapable of saving sinners from their greatest ‘trouble’ namely the just wrath and condemnation against sin meted out by a Holy God.
My second ‘encounter’ with Brian McLaren occurred when yet again I came across his endorsement on the back cover of a book. This time it was ‘Speaking my Mind’ by Tony Campolo and this was Brian McLaren’s endorsement –
‘If you paid the full price for this book and only got chapter 8, you’d be getting a great bargain. The same is true for chapters 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11. At a time when the term “evangelical” is up for grabs, Tony’s voice needs to be heard’ [Brian McLaren – pastor & author of ‘A New Kind of Christian’].
For those who may be wondering, I didn’t pay ‘full price’ as it was on ‘special’ in the bookstore that I purchased it in. That aside, as we now ‘take a look inside the “mind” of Tony Campolo’ I want to quote some extracts from 4 of the chapters Brian McLaren drew special attention to [coupled with my own thoughts on the extracts quoted] and leave it to you to judge whether ‘Tony’s voice needs to be heard’ and whether he has laid for himself a legitimate claim to the term ‘evangelical’. I am persuaded that this book is laced with scripture contradicting thoughts and ideas from a man who rightly said about himself in his ‘Preface’ [XI & XII] ‘Over the years I have had to change opinions and beliefs that I once held with dogmatic fervour. Now there are fewer and fewer things about which I am absolutely certain…It is as a struggling Christian that I try in these pages to make valid cases for some of the most pressing concerns of our times’.
That self-analysis by Tony Campolo rather flies in the face of what is written on both the front and back covers of the book – ‘The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid to Face…He offers convincing interpretations of the Bible on such bedrock issues as ordination of women and the right response to homosexuality’ – whatever happened to the struggling Christian’? Herewith the extracts –
Chapter 4: Is Evangelicalism Sexist?
Tony Campolo – Pages 33,36,37 ‘I got into big-time trouble when I declared to the 2003 gathering of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that those who prevented women from being ordained to the preaching ministry were perpetrating an evil practice… Those who defend the practice of barring women… are likely to quote 1 Timothy 2:11-12… Paul made clear that Jesus’s death on the cross abolished the second-class religious status that women had in Judaism (Ephesians 2:13-22)
Cecil’s Comments – Tony Campolo is wrong in his assertion here – these verses have NOTHING to do with the supposed‘second-class status of women in Judaism’ but have ALL to do with the removal, because of the redeeming and reconciling work of Christ on the cross, of any social, religious and spiritual separation or segregation between former Jews and Gentiles who, as Christians, are now “in one body” [verse 16]
Tony Campolo – page 37 “There is therefore neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” [Galatians 3:28]
Cecil’s Comments – Tony Campolo quotes this verse supposedly to make a case for the office/role of women preachers but this verse in Galatians has NOTHING to do with the offices or a role that may be occupied by those mentioned, but has ALL to do with the equality of their spiritual standing before God. God here focuses on the fact that “all in Christ Jesus” are “one” and by that he means they are all equally part of “the body of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-14)but Paul goes on in the verses that follow in 1 Corinthians 12 to highlight the diverse offices/roles occupied by the differing members of that “body”. Paul writes in verse 18 “But now hath God set the members, every one of them, in the body, as it hath pleased him” and from other verses of scripture it is clear that it has “pleased” God to only have male preachers ordained.
Pastor John MacArthur commenting on Galatians 3:28 phrased it well in his ‘Study Bible’ – ‘This verse does not deny that God has designed for racial, social and sexual distinctions among Christians, but if affirms that those do not imply spiritual inequality before God. Nor is this spiritual equality incompatible with the God-ordained roles of leadership and submission in the church, society and at home. Jesus Christ, though fully equal with the Father, assumed a submissive role during His Incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8)’.
The following link will lead to a more thorough and I believe also very helpful article on this issue and it will refute many of the arguments that Tony Campolo puts up for his support of the office/role of ‘women preachers’ – http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/womenpreachers.htm
Chapter 6: Is There A Second Chance
For Those Who Die Without Christ?
Tony Campolo – pages 77-78 says
‘As a guest on the TV show Crossfire…with the TV preacher, Jerry Falwell, [he] sprang a question that caught me off guard… he asked whether or not people who did not know Jesus as personal Saviour could go to heaven… I hesitated before I even tries to answer… After a few seconds I feebly tried to respond by saying something about what Paul wrote in Romans 2:14-15… I began to make the case that God would judge people – including those who had never heard the gospel – on the basis of the light and truth about God that had been available to them. It didn’t wash… I was showered by emails, letters and phone calls condemning my hesitancy and my weak answer… Most evangelicals wanted me to state with certainty and confidence that only those who clearly understood declarations of Jesus as Saviour in this life would escape the fires of hell’.
Cecil’s Comments –
I believe that no believer should hesitate when it comes to answering this question. I am convinced the teaching of Scripture gives a clear answer of “No” to this question. The testimony of the Lord in John 14:6 and of Peter in Acts 4:12 is clear – Christ ALONE is the only way to The Father [to heaven]. Some argue of course that they agree with this “narrow way” [Matthew 7:13-14] BUT they then speculate – does that mean that people have to actually HEAR about the gospel of Christ’s redeeming work for sinners, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4? They claim that Christ alone has opened the way for people to get to heaven but they also believe that the benefits of His redeeming work on the cross can be applied to individuals even if they never personally hear the gospel preached to them. These heavenly benefits can apparently be applied if people respond sufficiently to whatever ‘light and truth about God’ they have been exposed to. It is crucial to realise that true believers will NOT be judged on the question of entry INTO heaven – that matter was settled in time when they were ‘born again’ – as Peter puts it in 1 Peter 1:23“born again, not of corruptible seed [the soul-damning ideas/philosophies/wisdom of men] but of incorruptible, by the word of God [the message of God’s Word is indispensable to someone being ’born again’]”. Believers will face a judgement to determine ‘rewards’ given to them IN heaven [see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 9:24-25; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10]. ALL others will be judged about the degree of punishment they will have to endure in hell [see the Lord’s teaching in Luke 12:45-48]. Commenting on these verses Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible writes ‘That there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell is clearly taught in Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24: Mark 6:11 and Hebrews 10:29’. In Romans chapter 2, Paul makes plain in verse 12 that those who have been exposed to “law” [God’s Word] and are not converted, then they will be judged [for their degree of punishment in hell] by that same“law”. He also explains that those who have never been exposed to “law” [God’s Word], whilst they won’t be judged [for their degree of punishment in hell] by“law”, they will nevertheless be judged by how they responded to the promptings of their conscience [see verse 15] because the promptings of the God-given conscience actually mirror much that is contained in“the law” [see verse 14]. Those “without law” will, in like-fashion, be condemned as guilty sinners just like the unconverted “in the law”. This is how Paul states it clearly in verse 12 “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish [in hell – no entry into heaven here! ‘Perish’ means “the loss of well-being in the case of the unsaved hereafter’ – Vines’s Expository Dictionary page 164 under ‘Destroy!]without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged [for their degree of punishment in hell] by the law”.
Tony Campolo – pages 79-80
‘There is another way of looking at this matter of heaven and hell that I believe deserves our serious consideration. It is in the preaching and writings of English theologian and novelist, George MacDonald. MacDonald is the writer whom C S Lewis [a virtual Roman Catholic] as well as the great British essayist, G K Chesterton [an actual Roman Catholic] credited with some of his best insights. MacDonald offered us the possibility that there could be opportunities for those who reject Jesus in this life, or never had the chance to know about Him, to repent and surrender to His transforming love after death… some biblical passages support what MacDonald had to say… we find in 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6 CLEAR [emphasis Cecil’s] references to the claim that Jesus goes to preach to those who are imprisoned in a place of death. These are the kinds of passages that MacDonald said upheld his beliefs about the afterlife.
Cecil’s Comments –
Do the passages in Peter make it CLEAR that Jesus, after His death [1 Peter 3:18] gave dead people a further opportunity to believe on Him and be saved by going and preaching to their ‘imprisoned’ spirits. My studies into this yielded ‘2 other schools of thought’ from that advanced by George MacDonald and which held a strong attraction for Tony Campolo.
Matthew Henry commenting on 1 Peter 3:19-20 wrote‘The apostle passes from the example of Christ, to that of the old world and sets before the Jews…the different event of those who believed and obeyed Christ, preaching by Noah, from those that continued disobedient and unbelieving, intimating to the Jews that they were under like sentence. They had now an offer of mercy…but those who rejected Christ…should be as certainly destroyed as ever the disobedient in the days of Noah were…Because they were dead and disembodied when the apostle speaks of them [the disobedient of Noah’s days] therefore he properly calls them spirits now in prison, not that they were in prison when Christ [by Noah] preached to them. They were disobedient…and…their sin is aggravated from the patience and longsuffering of God…while Noah was preparing the ark…as well as by his preaching’.
Matthew Henry clearly does not view this as a ‘further opportunity’ for dead people to believe to the saving of their soul. Likewise in relation to 1 Peter 4:6 Matthew Henry does not see this as being ‘second-chance’ evangelism for those already dead.
Louis Berkhof in his ‘Systematic Theology’ wrote on page 341 ‘1 Peter 3:18-19…This passage is supposed to refer to the descent into Hades [by Christ] and to state the purpose of it. The Spirit referred to is then understood to be the soul of Christ and the preaching must have taken place between His death and resurrection. But the one is just as impossible as the other. The Spirit mentioned is not the soul of Christ but the quickening Spirit…The common Protestant interpretation of this passage is that in the Spirit, Christ preached through Noah to the disobedient that lived before the flood, who were spirits in prison when Peter wrote and could therefore be designated as such.
Berkhof wrote when referring to 1 Peter 4:6 ‘The “dead” to whom the gospel was preached were evidently not yet “dead” when it was preached unto them, since the purpose of this preaching was in part “that they might be judged according to men in the flesh”. This could only take place during their life on earth’. Berkhof then adds ‘In all probability the writer refers to the same spirits in prison of which he spoke in the preceding chapter ’.
The second ‘school of thought’ finds expression on page 481 of Vine’s Expository Dictionary where under the comments on ‘Preaching’ we read this ‘1 Peter3:19 the probable reference is, not to glad tidings, [evangelistic ‘gospel’ preaching] but to the act ofChrist after His resurrection in proclaiming His victory to fallen angelic spirits’.
Pastor John MacArthur follows an almost similar line of explanation when he writes in his Study Bible –‘Between Christ’s death and resurrection, His living Spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that, in spite of His death, He had triumphed over them. “spirits in prison”, this refers to fallen angels (demons)…who have been there since the time of Noah’. Commenting on 1 Peter 4:6John MacArthur wrote ‘Peter had in mind believers who had heard and accepted the gospel of Christ when they were still alive, but who had died by the time Peter wrote this letter’.
When you reflect on these ‘2 schools of thought’ I hope that like me you will be convinced that the meaning of these passages is not in any way as ‘CLEAR’ as claimed by Tony Campolo. Both of these ‘schools of thought’, although differing greatly, have this in common – both reject any notion of the passages meaning that dead people will be given a ‘further opportunity’ to believe on Christ.
Perhaps you’re wondering which of the ‘2 schools of thought’ I would lean towards – well I feel most comfortable with the explanation offered by Matthew Henry and believe that it has much to commend it.
Tony Campolo –
Pages 80-85 wrote In Ephesians 4:9-10 we read “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things”.
Is this not a reference to a Jesus who refuses to give up on people even when they reject Him in this life?…
When Jesus called Peter to be the key leader of Christendom …(Matthew 16:18) Does this verse not imply that a church that declares the salvation message will invade hell itself’ [Rome and The Mormons would really love these last thoughts!]…
I find myself drawn to MacDonald’s theology about the destinies of the lost. That sort of thinking appealed to me before I ever read his novels or his sermons…I am not saying that I am convinced that MacDonald is right but I would be less than forthright if I did not admit that his convictions make sense to me’
Cecil’s Comments –
Tony Campolo clearly believes that the references in Ephesians 4:9-10 to“he…descended” are references to Christ going into ‘hell’ after His death in an attempt to evangelise and save those already there and Mr Campolo even suggests that the evangelising mission of the church can extend to those in ‘hell’.
Louis Berkhof in his ‘Systematic Theology’ wrote on page 341 concerning Ephesians 4:9 ‘The apostle argues that the ascent of Christ presupposes a descent. Now the opposite of the ascension is the incarnation, cf. John 3:13. Hence the majority of commentators take the expression as referring simply to the earth. The expression may be derived from Psalm 139:15 and refer more particularly to the incarnation’.
Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible wrote concerning the expression “He…descended” – ‘This refers to Christ’s incarnation when He came down from heaven, as a man into the earth’ and concerning the expression “the lower parts of the earth” he writes ‘These are in contrast to the highest heavens to which He afterward ascended’.
As a final thought on these passages in 1st Peter and Ephesians 4 I want to quote from page 123 of my ‘Dictionary of Theological Terms’ by Rev Alan Cairns. Responding to the suggestion that 1 Peter 3:18-20 gives ‘a second chance’ to those who died in their sins, Mr Cairns writes ‘This idea may be easily disposed of. The Scripture does not proclaim any other day of grace and gospel opportunity than the one enjoyed before death. The passage cited simply means that Christ, by His Spirit, preached through Noah to men who were “disobedient” in Noah’s day and were condemned for their sin. Those disobedient and condemned sinners were “spirits in prison” in Peter’s day. The use of “sometime” clearly marks the disobedience and the preaching as contemporaneous [happening at the same time]. The longsuffering of God is shown in His waiting in the days of Noah, NOT in a ‘second chance’ after death… Furthermore Ephesians 4:8-10 teaches the incarnation of Christ, His descent into the world, not into Hades. Isaiah 44:23 uses similar terms with the evident contrast between this lower world of earth and [the higher world of] heaven’.
Chapter 8: Can We Help the Poor
Without Making Matters Worse?
This is the chapter that Brian McLaren drew special attention to in his ‘endorsement’ on the back cover of the book. Without reproducing large quotations from it I would just summarise it as Tony Campolo’s assessment of all that is wrong with government economic and social policies around the world and a clarion call from him for Christians to involve themselves in all kinds of social action to alleviate the suffering and poverty of ALL the poor in the world [both inside the USA and beyond]. He speaks [page 126] of ‘a biblically prescribed mission – to be a voice for justice for the oppressed’. This ‘mission’ of course often involves an unbiblical, ‘ecumenical, so-called Christian, mix’, such as in the case of Habitat for Humanity and so it can be to the doctrinal detriment of the purity and truth of The Gospel. Consider carefully this statement [page 131] ‘The list of all that is going on under the auspices of churches, synagogues and mosques goes on and on’. The following item was published in our June 1999 NEWS FROM THE FRONT newsletter and illustrates the point I have just made –
Habitat For Humanity – Northern Ireland
I recently received unsolicited notification concerning the work of the above charity that described itself as ‘a Belfast-based cross-community Christian housing charity – part of the International Habitat for Humanity organisation’. A 4-page letter to ‘Dear friend’ outlined the purpose and goals, cited a practical example and invited me to help in these words ‘please don’t delay with your gift…you have it in your hands to change the future’. In this 4-page letter not one mention is made of Christ or Calvary being the foundation upon which true hope and peace is built as we read in 1st Corinthians 3:11. Instead we read ‘supporting cross-community projects is the most practical way you can play a part in building lasting peace in our communities’.
Whatever happened to prayer and preaching the gospel?
In a 1992 Fact Sheet issued in advance of a visit to Belfast by the founder, Millard Fuller, we read ‘Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry…An ecumenical board of 29 people meets 3 times a year to determine policy and monitor operations’. The ‘ecumenical’ flavour of this organisation is well reflected in ‘The Patrons’ of the Northern Ireland operation. Listed amongst them are Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Dallat, former Presbyterian Moderator John Dunlop, Retired Church of Ireland Bishop Gordon McMullan, Presbyterian elder David Hewitt and Roman Catholic Monsignor Tom Toner. This organisation, enthusiastically endorsed by Paul Clark of UTV, is an embodiment of today’s popular but false social gospel that gives pride of place to human works rather than to Christ’s work.
Tony Campolo rounds off this chapter 8 in these words
‘On that great day, when each one of us must give an account of ourselves, we will be asked what we did to feed the hungry or to reach out to help those who were in need or being oppressed. Let’s make sure we have a good answer’. I would surmise that Tony Campolo is basing this statement in particular upon the Lord’s parable recorded in Matthew 25:31-46
A few years ago I produced a little booklet that detailed a series of exchanges between myself + 2 other brothers in Christ and local Roman Catholic priest, Patrick McCafferty. I want to quote some sections from that booklet, as I believe they address some of the same ‘social gospel’ ideas that Tony Campolo advances in this chapter of his book.
‘Numerous newspaper articles and ‘Take Heed’ Ministry guest book entries penned by local Roman Catholic priest Patrick McCafferty have prompted this article… [in particular Patrick’s teaching] that the Lord’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46 teaches that ‘Those who will be saved are those who served Jesus in the poor and needy’ [Please keep in mind the closing words of Tony Campolo to this chapter that I quoted earlier]… The ‘great commission’ is to preach the ‘gospel’ of ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ so that sinners [rich or poor] may be saved from eternity in hell. The true ‘gospel’ offers ‘eternal life’ based solely on the finished work of Christ’s atonement…The ‘great commission’ is not to feed the ‘poor’ and starving else why would the Lord not have applauded those who suggested that the precious ointment used to anoint Him could have been sold and the money given to the ‘poor’ [see Mark 14:3-9]. Other passages of Scripture such as Proverbs 25:21-22 [quoted also by Paul in Romans 12:20] refer to how Christians are to treat poor ‘enemies’ and these kindly actions will also merit a “reward”…The distinction between kindly acts to Christ’s ‘brethren’ and to the rest of humanity is seen in Paul’s exhortation to Christians in Galatians 6:20 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” [i.e. those who are Christ’s ‘brethren’]. This parable [Matthew 25:31-46] does not support Patrick McCafferty’s teaching that‘Those who will be saved are those who served Jesus in the poor and needy’.
Now I am not suggesting that Tony Campolo is, like Patrick McCafferty, making ‘social/charitable’ action a condition for salvation, but I believe he is using the same portion of scripture to include ‘social/charitable’ action in ‘The Great Commission’ and in this I think he is very wrong, based on his understanding of this particular portion of God’s Word.
‘The Great Commission’ has everything to do with the problem of ‘sin’ and yet in the whole of chapter 8 the word ‘sin’ never appears – I think the closest allusion to it is in the phrase ‘destructive behaviour’ [page 133] and even that misses the mark as it only deals with the effect of such actions on humans and not the offence that such actions cause to a Holy God.
Tony Campolo is attempting to primarily promote ‘carnal weapons’ [finance, politics, social/charitable action etc] to break worldwide ‘strongholds’ [see 2 Corinthians 10: 4] caused by the sin of fallen mankind instead of advocating the real Christian spiritual resources that can tackle these issues – resources such as the preaching of The Gospel, righteous living by God’s people with all that that implies and constant, impassioned prayer.
Individual Christians are commissioned to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in a corrupt and dark world and of course they must love God and their neighbour but ‘The Great Commission’ centres uniquely on the problem of ‘sin’ and its only remedy – a remedy that comes through the preaching of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once ‘the Church’ introduces ‘a biblically prescribed mission – to be a voice for justice for the oppressed’ then I believe they have gone astray and are preaching ‘another gospel’. In closing this section let me quote something by Dr Loraine Boettner from pages 30/31 of his book ‘Roman Catholicism’ under the heading of ‘The Church In Politics’ –
‘She [The Church] does not seek to become a political power rivalling the state, nor to become a state within a state. She must not allow herself to be used as a pressure group for the securing of certain rights and temporal benefits for men, nor to pressure the state for reform measures even though such reforms may be needed and desirable from the Christian viewpoint. Christians as individuals are indeed to work for whatever reforms may be needed but the Church is not to do so in her corporate capacity. Such action on the part of the Church almost invariably will detract from her primary mission of the proclamation of The Gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of men and will tend to give people a wrong conception as to what her true mission really is’.
Chapter 9: Is Islam Really an Evil Religion?
Tony Campolo – pages 138-139 wrote
‘Hosts on a variety of talk shows on Christian radio have stirred up negative reactions against Islam by citing a verse in the Koran in which Mohammed called for the death of “infidels”[unbelievers/non-Muslims].
The text they usually cite to justify such violent retaliation is this – ‘Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them whenever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, kill them’ [The Koran: Sura 2 (Al –Baqarah) 190-194].
When asked about this passage from the Koran, a Muslim scholar contended that this passage must be read in context. Those in (a) non-Muslim tribe were staging regular terrorist attacks on the Muslims in Medina. These verses were not permission for terrorism. Instead they were a warning against terrorists…
It is completely unfair to judge Islamby this verse when the overwhelming emphasis of the Koran is to treat Jews and Christians with reverence and respect, to provide freedom for them to worship (but not to proselytise) in accord with their faith and to protect them against harm [The Koran: Sura 29:46]…
It is…wrong for us to take an isolated passage out of the Koran to demonise Mohammed or to define Allah as a God who wills the annihilation of non-Muslims’.
Cecil’s Comments –
Anyone reading what Tony Campolo has written would, I believe, come to the conclusion that the passage he quoted is the only passage in the whole of the Koran that is used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’ including Jews and Christians. This is one of the ‘misleading’ and ‘incorrect’statements by Tony Campolo that I referred to earlier. So what are the TRUE facts about the verses/passages in the Koran that are used by Mulsims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’? A very helpful web page can be accessed on
and there you will find details of no less than 164Jihad verses that are often used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’. On this web page they are listed in the order that they appear in the Koran but people must understand that the Suras in the Koran are not listed chronologically [in the order the ‘revelations’ were given to Mohammed] but the Suras in the Koran are listed according to length [shortest first and so on]. ‘Revelations’ in Islam are subject to the law of ‘abrogation’ – in other words, if a later ‘revelation’ contradicts or cancels a previous ‘revelation’, then the latest ‘revelation’ over-rides the previous. This is very important when comparing/contrasting the verses that enjoin a peaceful approach to ‘infidels’ [early ‘revelations’] with the much more militant verses [later ‘revelations’] that sanction extreme violence against ‘infidels’. Here is one short quote from this web page – ‘Abrogation is a reoccurring topic whenever verses of the Koran are discussed. As a rule, later verses counselling Holy War, such as the Sword Verse (Sura 9:5), abrogate earlier verses counselling tolerance and peace, such as Sura 2:256. The Sword Verse is just one of the 164 Jihad verses listed below. It follows that not many, if any, of the Holy War verses in this list are abrogated’.
From that quote we learn that the verses cited by Tony Campolo, from Sura 2, are actually part of a Sura containing ‘earlier verses counselling tolerance and peace’. The ‘Sword Verse’ [Sura 9:5] is viewed as ‘abrogating’ the earlier peaceful approach. So what is this ‘Sword Verse’ and have we examples of it being used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’? The verse reads ‘slay the idolaters wherever you find them…take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush’.
Robert Spencer, in his book ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam’ writes on page 31 ‘Osama bin Laden…in his “Declaration of War” against the Americans quotes Suras 3:145; 47:4-6; 2:154; 9:14; 47:19; 8:72 and of course the…‘Verse of the Sword’ Sura 9:5 [whatever happened to Tony Campolo’s claim for ‘an isolated passage’?] …In 2003 on the first day of the Muslim holy celebrations Eid-al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, he began a sermon “Praise be to Allah who revealed the Verse of the Sword to his servant and messenger [the Prophet Mohammed] in order to establish truth and abolish falsehood”…Osma’s use of these and other passages in his messages is consistent with traditional Islamic understanding of the Koran…The jihad passages in the Koran are anything but a dead letter’.
To understand the chronological progression, as ‘revelations’ unfolded, from being a position of ‘no retaliation’ to being ‘defensively permitted’ to being ‘defensively commanded’ to eventually becoming ‘aggressively commanded’ a visit to this web page will prove very instructive
The following quote from this web page should cause Tony Campolo to revisit this whole subject in much greater depth and detail and hopefully cause him to retract what he has misleadingly written in this chapter – ‘Although all Muslim scholars believe that God replaced some earlier verses by substituting later verses, there is a great difference of opinion among them as to which verses supersede which verses. Nevertheless, most are agreed that Sura 9:5, (called “the verse of the sword”) supersedes most of the previous verses regarding jihad. Some believe it supersedes as many as 111 previous verses. In spite of this general agreement, many today quote the previous replaced verses in order to validate their perception of Islam being a peaceful religion. Thus modern, liberal Muslim leaders, especially here in the west, are teaching what could be called “the Islam of Mecca” with its emphasis on non-violence and tolerance. At the same time, “the Islam of Medina,” with its more aggressive, totalitarian nature is what is being practiced and taught by orthodox, fundamentalist Muslims in most parts of the Muslim world’.
Then secondly I want to consider the following –
Tony Campolo – pages 146-147
‘Recently I was rather taken aback by the declaration that Mohammed, at the age of fifty, married a six-year-old girl and consummated the marriage when she was just nine.
Were that true then the accusation that Mohammed was guilty of child abuse would be valid, and the claim that Islam condoned the exploitation of women would have to be taken seriously.
I have traced the sources for this statement and found the most widely employed authority to be the book Unveiling Islam which was written by a couple of ex-Muslims who I believe were out to do a hatchet job on their former religion.
While looking into this matter I was referred to Yahiya Emerick, an American covert to islam…This Muslim scholar contended that the bride in question was A’isha, the daughter of Mohammed’s friend, Abu Bakr. Emerick, along with a host of other Islamic scholars claimed that A’isha wasnot six years old when she was married. He says she was twelve years old when she was betrothed for marriage and that the actual marriage did not take place until she was sixteen…
Before we go pointing the finger at Mohammed too quickly, consider that Oxford scholar, Karen Armstrong has claimed that Mary was about twelve years old when the announcement came that she was to give birth to Jesus’.
Cecil’s Comments –
I have to admit that I have never seen nor read the book Unveiling Islam but I came across a review of it by a Christian apologist and this is part of what he wrote – ‘The Caner brothers have delivered what they promised. They accomplished their two-fold stated purpose and they did so in the manner they desired. They sought to help Christian readers “understand Islam more clearly and to present Christ more effectively” (p. 20). They were motivated to help Christians understand Islam more clearly because of their own Muslim background, and they were motivated to help Christians present Christ more effectively because their own deceased Muslim father never accepted Christ as Lord (p. 20). The Caners also wanted to show “the human side of religion” (p. 15) “without a diatribe filled with invective” (p. 20). They succeeded on this front as well. This book is deliberately more than a book of facts. It is a book of facts with a face. It puts a haunting human face on Islam, a beating human heart in Islam’s people, and a humble broken heart in the Christian reader’. The full book review can be seen on –
but these extracts from this review seem to fly in the face of Tony Campolo’s claim that the authors‘were out to do a hatchet job on their former religion’. It’s also surprising that Tony Campolo didn’t mention that the two authors are professing Christians and didn’t commend them that they were, as we read, ‘motivated to help Christians present Christ more effectively because their own deceased Muslim father never accepted Christ as Lord’ (p. 20).
On another website are reviews by four readers of this book and herewith are some short extracts from these four reviews –
 “This is a great book on Islam from an evangelical perspective. The authors are well informed and have taken a stand to tell the truth about Islam and not make it into what it is not. A great book for those seeking to really understand the issues facing Christians in Islamic communities.”  “An excellent introductory book for Christians who want to learn how to be effective witnesses to Muslims. It is a balanced and fair evaluation of the truth concerning Islam written by two former Muslims who were forsaken by their own father to follow Christ”.  “Great book answered all my questions on the subject and so much more.”  “Excellent Christian Resource! This explains the Muslim worldview and helps one to understand how to love our Muslim friends into a saving knowledge of Jesus without making common mistakes that offend the Muslim”.
What a dramatic contrast, the tone and content of these four reviews, are to the views expressed by Tony Campolo.
In the quote I gave from Tony Campolo, he cites this book, Unveiling Islam as being, in his opinion, ‘the most widely employed authority’ and‘source’ for the claims that Mohammed married ‘A’isha when she was 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9. From my researchUnveiling Islam was published in 2002 so it is a book of very recent origin.
I have a number of books on Islam and I want to quote from just a couple. In ‘Islam Revealed’ by Dr Anis A Shorrosh [published in 1988] I read on pages 55-56 ‘In the tenth year of his mission and the fiftieth of his life, Muhammad lost his faithful wife, Khadija, who died at sixty-five…Khadija was the only wife of Muhammad during her lifetime…within two months he married Sauda, a widow, He also betrothed himself to Ayisha, the daughter of his best friend Abu Bakr, then only seven years of age’. A source for this quote is given as being from a book called ‘Muhammad’ written by Martin Lings, and published in London by George Allen and Unwin Ltd in 1983. In ‘Islam Unveiled’ by Abdullah Al-Araby, I read on page 21 ‘Ayesha was only nine years old at the time he married her [in the sense of consummation following earlier betrothal], Mohammed was fifty-three years old’. Concerning his book, the author wrote at the beginning‘Nothing in this book is written with the intention of offending anyone. Our objective is only to present the truth with love and humility’.
The reality is that the source for these claims is not found in the Koran but in the Muslim ‘Hadiths’. One Islamic apologetics site that I visited stated quite bluntly ‘The source of the above information can only be the Hadiths books which are nothing but lies attributed to prophet Muhammad’. However a Christian website in dealing with the subject writes ‘To understand the authoritative nature of the example of Mohammed, we have to understand something of the Muslim hadiths. They hold a higher place in Sunni Islam than church tradition does in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Sunni Muslims hold to six collections of hadiths as the most authoritative writings in Islam after the Qur’an’.This website then goes on at great lengths to quote, not only from ‘the six authoritative hadiths’but also to give comments by ‘the highly respected early Muslim historians ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari’. This website can be accessed on
As for Tony Campolo’s reference to ‘Oxford scholar, Karen Armstrong’ and her claims about the age of Mary being 12 when ‘the annunciation’ was made to her, I read the same in ‘Manners and Customs of The Bible’ by James M Freeman – ‘The espousals were made very early in life, though marriage did not take place before the bride was twelve years old.’
I happen to have a book in my possession by‘Oxford scholar, Karen Armstrong’ called ‘In the beginning’ and just to give you a flavour of her theological perspective let me quote a few portions from it ‘The authors [plural] of Genesis do not give us historical information about life in Palestine…In fact as scholars have shown, they[the authors] knew nothing about the period…Our authors are not interested in historical accuracy’ [p 7]]…If God created light on the first day, what was made on the fourth?  [p 15]…The first chapter of Genesis therefore was not intended to be a historical account of the beginning of life but a meditation upon the nature of being itself’ [p 18].
There is I believe a huge moral problem posed by the idea of a young girl of only 9 years of age having to consummate a marriage with a man of 53 years of age, even in a culture which sanctioned early-age betrothal but overwhelmingly deferred consummation until the bride was at least 12 years of age. The reality is that the claims for this appear to have been ‘enshrined’ in the Muslim ‘Hadiths’ for well over 1100 years and they didn’t just ‘surface’ with the publication of a book back in 2002.
Earlier I wrote ‘Tony Campolo, in my opinion, fails utterly to honestly and biblically address the question posed by his chapter heading’. From my understanding of Scripture, ‘evil’ is anything that meets with Satan’s approval and God’s disapproval, because regularly Satan is referred to as ‘the evil one’. Nothing is as ‘evil’ as denying The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and so blinding people to the message of “the glorious gospel of Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:4] and yet that is precisely what Islam does. It denies the Deity of Christ and the Death of Christ. It holds out some hope to its followers that based on their works they may get to Paradise. It holds out sure hope to its followers that if they die for God they will go to Paradise. Those hopes are ‘evil’ because they will lead to an eternity with ‘the evil one’. Faith alone in the God who died on a cross to save sinners, even Jesus Christ, is the only sure hope of entering God’s Paradise and of avoiding an eternity in torment in the company of ‘the evil one’.
Obviously it would be very wrong to automatically assume that Tony Campolo’s son, BART CAMPOLO, [who has been invited to speak at next years ‘Summer Madness’ along with Brian McLaren] is in agreement with the views expressed by his father that we have looked at. BUT, perhaps it might be a good idea, if anyone with any influence where ‘Summer Madness’ is concerned is disturbed by what we have brought to light, for them to ask BART where he stands on these issues.
Moving on from ‘A look inside the “mind” of Tony Campolo’ I want now to consider Brian McLaren. We have considered some of those that Brian McLaren ‘endorses’, but what does he himself teach and practice? To try and answer that I want simply to quote extracts from reports and analysis prepared by friends in Christ whose views I would respect. I will give the links to their articles so that you can see fully what they have written about Brian McLaren.
As I mentioned earlier my first ‘encounter’ with Brian McLaren was through his endorsement of Steve Chalke’s book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’.
Well, earlier this year Brian McLaren had a book of his own published, with an almost identical title, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’.
Earlier this year our ministry hosted a visit by Pastor Gary Gilley and in his talks he considered  ‘The Purpose-Driven Movement’ of Rick Warren and  ‘The Emerging Church Movement’ and Gary highlighted very much the role of Brian McLaren in this ‘Emerging Church’.
3 other helpful and informative article by Gary Gilley on ‘The Emerging Church’ can be accessed through this website link –
Following his return to America, Gary Gilley read and reviewed McLaren’s book ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’ and in his review he wrote –
‘McLaren’s hope is, “if enough of us see the kingdom [his version]—and seeing it, rethink our lives, and rethinking our lives, believe that the impossible is possible—everything could change” (p. 204) This in essence is the gospel of the emergent movement: if enough of us become missional we can make this world a better place. What a sad substitute for the gospel message as found in Scripture’.
Gary Gilley’s full book review can be viewed on
Former Roman Catholic priest, Richard Bennett, who, like Gary Gilley, has ministered here in Northern Ireland under the auspices of ‘Take Heed’ has written a number of articles on ‘The Emergent Church’ and in the first of those articles, entitled‘The Emergent Church Markets Catholicism’ he wrote the following –
‘Brian McLaren is the pastor of the non-denominational church he founded in the late 1980’s and a leading spokesman for Emergent-US, a dominant group within the Emerging Church movement. As such he is a prime example of the success of the Catholic ecumenical agenda…Leaning heavily on Roman Catholic writers, particularly G K Chesterton and his book ‘Orthodoxy’ , McLaren has written a book entitled ‘A Generous Orthodoxy’…In this book, the approach to his subject of dealing with conservative Protestantism is a pristine demonstration that he has successfully assimilated Vatican II methodology and doctrine…McLaren has followed the Vatican II tactic of presenting subjective opinion in a subtle attempt to pervert biblical authority and historical fact through fictitious contrast, revisionist history and “constructive synthesis”…These Catholic dialogue parameters, which are the working orders of the larger context in which the Emergent Church is set,work well for both the Catholic Church and McLaren because they sow confusion and discord among believers and unbelievers alike. The Papacy is most likely the bigger winner, for McLaren will be gone in a few decades, but the walls of doctrinal separation between the Catholics and the Protestant world will have been further damaged through McLaren’s assistance…McLaren claims to be a true prophet by bringing his new ideas to emergent thinking. The infallible Spirit of God, through the Apostle Paul warned Christians about “grievous wolves…not sparing the flock”…The Holiness of God, the conviction of sin, the fear of God, and the Gospel message are major parts of what is missing from ‘A Generous Orthodxy’.
Richard Bennett’s full article can be viewed on
and Richard’s other ‘Emergent Church’ articles can be accessed through his website on –
Another former Roman Catholic, who, like Richard Bennett, has ministered here as a guest of ‘Take Heed’, is Mike Gendron and he has written an article entitled ‘Emergent Church is Leading Protestants Back Home to Rome’. In his article Mike wrote
‘One of the major influences that is paving the road back to Roman Catholicism is The Emerging Church movement…Emergent leaders say God’s Word no longer holds the answers to life’s questions. Experience must become the key factor to encounter spiritual reality. The experiential attractions which are being promoted by the Emerging Church include: statues, prayer stations, incense, liturgy, candles, icons, the sacraments and calling communion the Eucharist….The most influential leader in the emergent church movement is Brian McLaren, a pastor and author from Maryland who wrote the controversial book, A New Kind of Christian…It is appalling to see what McLaren and other leaders of the Emergent Church are really promoting. In A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren writes that he “is consistently over sympathetic to Roman Catholics.”
Mike Gendron’s full article can be viewed on
Yet another past guest speaker to our shores under the banner of ‘Take Heed’ is former lecturer on evolution, but now a strong advocate of Biblical Creationism, Roger Oakland. On his website Roger has an article entitled ‘The Emerging Church: Another Road to Rome’.
In the article Roger wrote –
‘The following statement taken from a book written by Chuck Smith Jr. titled There is a Season (foreword by Brian McLaren and endorsed by Leonard Sweet) provides insight into how Christianity may be “reinvented” in the future as the Emerging Church moves away from the Word of God towards the concept of experiencing God. Chuck Smith Jr.states:
What would happen if we allowed people to “feel” what we cannot explain, to know with the heart and not with the brain? We would open the door of faith to a wider audience than if we continued to insist on a rational belief in the facts as the only legitimate starting point of the Christian faith.
…Brian McLaren summarizes what the Emerging Church is in the title and subtitle of his book ‘A Generous Orthodoxy’: Why I Am a missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + fundamentalist/calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished Christian…According to McLaren, the goal of the Emerging Church is to formulate a Christianity for the twenty-first century that is based on a smorgasbord of ideas in the name of Christ. There are really no ideas barred. However, based on what we read in Scripture, many of these ideas lack support or are outright heretical…So in taking this look at statements made by Brian McLaren, Dr. Robert Webber and Chuck Smith Jr., what can we conclude? Is it not reasonable to suggest there is an attempt to reinvent Christianity for our generation and that this reinvented Church is very similar to the church that emerged from the New Testament church in the past? Is it possible history is being repeated? How can one deny there is a moving away from the authority of God’s Word by seductive experiences that have always been promoted by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches?’
Roger’s full article can be viewed on
A ministry that has proved to be a real help in recent years is that of Lighthouse Trails Publishing based in Oregon. On their very comprehensive website –
they have a vast reservoir of links to articles dealing with many of the devilish deceptions that have permeated professing ‘Christendom’. They have quite a number of articles relating to Brian McLaren and herewith are some extracts from a few of them with the links to the full articles
From the article ‘Brian McLarens’ new book: The Secret Message of Jesus’ by Berit Kjos – Who Defines the Kingdom of God? we read –
‘Where is the Kingdom of God? How inclusive is it? Who defines the terms? Today’s emerging church has already moved the boundaries of His Kingdom. It has redefined God’s Word and is fast embracing the latest versions of the old Gnostic quest for secret knowledge (gnosis) and self-actualisation, whether through mystical experience or collective imagination’. The full article can be accessed on
Concerning an audio segment Brian McLaren calls Hell and the Cross “False Advertising for God” we read a quote by Brian McLaren –
‘in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that’s not really true. At the end God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn’t the centre then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God’. You can get a link to listen to the audio by going to this link –
In another informative and wide-ranging article called ‘Spiritual Fusion: East comes West’ by Mike Oppenheimer of ‘Let us Reason’, having set out many of the destructive, unscriptural teachings and practices of Brian McLaren and many others like Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Rick Warren, Neale Donald Walsch and Leonard Sweet Mike writes –
‘It’s time to see this for what it is- The church is under attack from within by those who think the Holy Spirit and Bible are nor longer sufficient for our spiritual life and Growth. They are more than willing to use what is not written then what is written. In fact, they challenge the literal written word by changing its interpretation to be something very different, more hip to our time. Its application is often an introduction to something the Bible never intended’. The link to Mike’s full article is
Lest any should think that the influence of Brian McLaren [particularly in the UK] is merely ‘peripheral’ let me quote from his own ‘SUMMER 2006’ report posted on his own website about a recent visit to Europe including the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
‘a special highlight was the chance to meet and speak with Archbishop Rowan Williams [The Archbishop of Canterbury]. I can’t imagine a more difficult calling than his – or a better person than he to fulfill that calling. It is a great honour to know that he has read and quoted and widely recommended some of my books!… People often ask for my impressions of the places I visit…There’s the unique history of the state Lutheran churches in each Scandanavian country, for example, or the joint contributions of Calvin and the World Council of Churches in Geneva, or the pervasiveness of the charismatic movement in English Evangelicalism, or the special role of Catholicism in Ireland…Meanwhile, I continue working on Jesus and the Suicide Machine (to be released next year)’.
This statement by Brian McLaren is yet further evidence, as if any were needed, of the absolutely pitiful state of the Church of England and ‘Anglican Communion’ in general that is being torn apart by all kinds of bible-denying factions. Truly we are living in the days of“seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” [1 Timothy 4:1].
Brian McLaren was formerly the ‘pastor’ of Cedar Ridge Community Church and when you visit their website [http://www.crcc.org/] you will see that they still take an active interest in his work and likewise he, on his own website [http://www.brianmclaren.net/], makes affectionate ‘fraternal’ references to them. On recent visits to the homepage of their website they displayed these quotes and the sources for them…
Your soul … gradually falls toward its proper centre, which is God.
The soul needs no other force to draw it than the weight of love.
– Madame Jeanne Guyon
Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things … as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value. – Teilhard de Chardin
So firstly, who is this Madame Guyon? Let me quote the opening lines of an article on her ‘The Mindless Mysticism Of Madam Guyon’ by G Richard Fisher of the Christian apologetics ministry ‘Personal Freedom Outreach’ –
In an era of emotionalism, experience mania, sensationalism and mindless Christianity, it is easy to see why the writings of a mystic dead almost 300 years are enjoying a revival in readership. Put in contemporary terms, the teachings of Madame Guyon, a Roman Catholic mystic who lived during the 17th and 18th centuries, are like an amalgam of the teachings of Shirley MacLaine, Rebecca Brown, Joyce Meyer and Sister Angelica. Nevertheless, some see her life and teachings as an example for Christians to follow.
The full article on Madame Guyon can be accessed on http://www.pfo.org/mguyon.htm
Then secondly, who is Teilhard de Chardin? In an article entitled ‘The Emergence of The Mystical church’ by Mike Oppenheimer of ‘Let Us Reason’ ministries wrote
[Leonard] Sweet employs numerous concepts of people that are trying to change the world through unbiblical methods; by philosophies, sociology and teachings that completely oppose the Bible. He copiously quotes new agers, mystics, many who believe in natural and spiritual evolution. For example: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – who taught on quantum transformation, spiritual evolution, and everything being interconnected. In this present crisis, in which we can see and feel the confrontation between the traditional Christian forces and the modern forces of evolution, is simply the permutation of a providential and Indispensable Inter-fertilization. (Christianity and Evolution. 176) He taught on the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution. (ibid p. 96) I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. (ibid.p. 128)
The full article on ‘The Mystical Church’ can be accessed on
The willingness to favourably quote such mystical, new age philosophical thinking shows just how wide is the gulf of both Brian McLaren and his former church from Biblical Christianity.
I want to finish this article by quoting a ‘Special News Alert’ that was issued by Lighthouse Trails Publishing in the wake of the publication of Tony Campolo’s book ‘Speaking my Mind’ that as you will have read earlier in this article, was warmly endorsed by Brian McLaren. If this ‘Summer Madness’ invitation to Brian McLaren proceeds then thousands of young professing Christians in Northern Ireland are going to be handed over to one who fully meets the terminology used by Paul in Acts 20:29 about false teachers. Paul saw them as “grievous wolves”.
Emerging Church Leader, Brian McLaren, Promotes:
Islam and Christianity Reach the Same God
During Mystical Experiences
New Book by Tony Campolo says mysticism
[contemplative prayer] will unite Christianity and Islam
According to Tony Campolo, in his book Speaking My Mind, he has several suggestions for Christians – the bottom line is he believes we need to “redefine ourselves,”… “recast our opinions,” and “entertain the possibility that we might be in error” about particular issues. He says we need to stop being so stubborn about these issues. What are those issues he speaks of? They are everything from mysticism to homosexuality and an array of other changes we need to make in our attitudes, behaviors and ideas. With regard to mysticism (contemplative prayer) he believes, “mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” He asks and then later answers the question, “Could they (Islamic Sufis) have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?” His answer – of course! Sound like Thomas Merton? It should. Campolo emulates Merton, Schuller and a host of other New Age, mystical leaders all rolled into one. And as far as he is concerned, the real problem for the whole world lies with “rigid” Christians who believe in the possibility of Jesus’ soon return. According to Campolo, they are to blame for wars, and a host of other evils in the world. I am reminded, as I read his book, of Alice Bailey and Barbara Marx Hubbard, whose clear and obvious hostility towards believers shouted out from the pages of their writings.
The most alarming thing about this book is that Brian McLaren’s name is on the back cover, telling us the book is a “great bargain” and that Campolo’s voice is one that “needs to be heard.” Brian McLaren, named recently by Time magazine as one of 25 most influential evangelicals, is also considered the statesman and leader for the fast growing emerging church movement, which is just a disguised Trojan horse for contemplative prayer with a close connection to Richard Foster, Rick Warren and other contemplatives. Remove the contemplative, mystical element from the emerging church and you have nothing more than couches and candles. While many of the young people in this movement may be searching for a more genuine faith and cannot be criticized for that, we believe the leaders, such as McLaren, are leading thousands astray, whether they realize it or not. If McLaren agrees with Tony Campolo, and he must or he wouldn’t have said so, then great deception is lurking around the corner and many are heading right into trouble and into a belief system that shouts All Paths Lead to the Same God. And as for believers who refuse to recast their opinions or redefine their views that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and access to the living God, hold on to your hats – it’s going to be a rocky ride.
Lighthouse Trails Research Project
 Tony Campolo himself uses a similar argument on page 103 of his book. In a chapter headed ‘Are Evangelicals afraid of Science’ he writes ‘scientists now calculate that the universe was created approximately fifteen billion years ago…A good description of what happened way back then can be found in “The Big Bang” by Karen C Fox…This astounding description does not fit the theologies of those who preach a six-day creation. It does however fit the thinking of those of us who see the opening chapter of Genesis, not so much as a literal six-day creation but as a description of the various stages of creation that occurred over years of time. I suppose that one good reason for not believing the Genesis “days” were literal is that God did not create the sun, the rising and setting of which enables us to mark off days, until the fourth day of the creation process’. I am neither an ‘Oxford scholar’ like Karen Armstrong or, as in Mr Campolo’s case, a ‘Professor Emeritus’ but back in 2003 I dealt biblically with this type of argument against belief in a literal six-day creation as taught in Genesis. The article entitled “Partial” Agreement to “Plenary” Inspiration can be accessed on this website link –
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 13 July 2006