The Disastrous Emerging Church - Part 3 - A Schizophrenic Jesus
As I revisited some of the points in the earlier blogs (Part 1 & Part 2) I noted their doctrinal indifference, a false sense of humility, and the mockery of those who adhere to a strong message. Their doctrinal indifference completely waters down every major doctrine that is presented in the Bible which very much blurs the line of what it takes to be saved. Their false sense of humility seems to escalate into much sarcasm towards those who hold strong borders with the attitude of “how can you actually say you can proclaim the truth?” and “who are you to say you have the truth?”. Furthermore this false sense of humility endorses the idea that no one can really know what truth really is. Lastly, I brought to bear the fact that those who hold a strong doctrinal statement with an adherence to the truth are castigated as “Pharisees” because they preach an uncompromising and strong message. Their words always come cloaked in a strong dose of self-induced piety.
With those points in mind there is another element that seems to be a battle cry (one of many) among the Emergents. It is “Sirs, we would see Jesus!” or “Just give us Jesus!” Then they clearly define which Jesus they want. They want the non-judgmental Jesus, the one who casts about with harlots, winos, and other societal misfits. They want the non-confrontational Jesus, the one who walks about and brings wine to weddings that have run dry. They want the non-conformist Jesus, who being environmentally conscious, retreats to places of prayer in grassy meadows and rocky wilderness crags. They want the Gospel Light, tastes great, less filling Jesus! What they are really asking for is a schizophrenic Jesus that is not dogmatic but instead ambiguous and hazy. Holiness, divine judgment, sinfulness of man, and sacrificial living are all tossed out and the social ills of man are picked up as the real needs of “fixing” the man.
The Emergents think that if we pass out enough meals for the homeless, pay enough electricity bills for the destitute, give out sleeping bags to the sleepless around the underpasses, and get involved in some “eco-friendly, green” outlet that mankind will fare much better. In actuality, what all of this sort of social action does is enable those who seemingly are circling the drain for the last time. Sorry to seem so harsh but I spent 20 years in the medical field and ran practically the entire gamut of medical care and I quickly learned the drug seekers are not helped when you rubber stamp another prescription to help them get high. So suffice it to say that this kind of schizophrenic Jesus won’t work. In fact, it was never intended to work like this. Jesus Christ is transformational and He never leaves a man where He found him. A simple study in the Gospels will bear this out. But when you cannot put your trust in the authority of God’s word, much lesser substitutes will have to pass for the Gospel and revival.
If you cry for Jesus, there will be offense that comes along with Him, unless you get the eco-friendly, emergent, schizophrenic Jesus. This is the exact Jesus that worldlings and sinners are looking for, a Jesus that does not demand much and still promises entrance into heaven. One man in years gone by characterized it like this, “this curious fact—when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that we are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all. They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, nondoctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defense is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age.”
Erwin McManus is quoted by Leonard Sweet in The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (p. 248): “The power of the gospel is the result of a person—Jesus Christ—not a message. The gospel is an event to be proclaimed, not a doctrine to be preserved.”
On the surface this may sound good but when I start poking and prodding at some (most?) of the things that Jesus said and begin to preach them, the concepts are entirely opposed to the modern world that I live in. When you begin to tell people who Jesus is, suddenly the Gospel becomes exclusive and confrontational. In fact, Jesus clearly stated “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus is stipulating that this is not even up for debate or consideration. This is doctrinal and cannot be altered by anyone who is honestly attempting to preach the gospel in its entirety. There are certain truths about Jesus Christ that are unchanging and inevitable. The fact remains that if you have the wrong thinking about Jesus it can send you to hell (Gal. 1:8).
Just to briefly explore what wrong thinking about Jesus Christ will do to the church, one need look no further than to Tony Jones who is considered one of the top leaders in the Emergent movement. The following excerpt is from an interview in Relevant magazine (an online journal) where Jones details his thoughts about doctrinal statements or statements of faith :
Statements of faith are about drawing borders, which means you have to load your weapons and place soldiers at those borders. You have to check people’s passports when they pass at those borders. It becomes an obsession—guarding the borders. That is simply not the ministry of Jesus. It wasn’t the ministry of Paul or Peter. It stated to become the ministry of the early Church, and it abated somewhere in the Middle Ages and blew back to life in the time of modernity. For the short duration of time that I have on this planet to do my best to partner with God and build his kingdom, I don’t want to spend it guarding borders. I’d like to spend it inviting people into the kingdom. Statements of faith don’t do this. They’re a modernistic endeavor that I’m not the least bit interested in.
Jesus, Paul, and Peter all spent significant amounts of time with their “statements of faith” about what should be including in the Kingdom of God. Furthermore there are many examples biblically of the man whom God calls to serve in the role of watchmen, shepherd, and so on and all of these analogies demand that God’s man be a defender of the borders. Jones betrays himself terribly when he is asked if lesbian pastors and conservative purists can both be part of the emergent church. He answers, “We haven’t yet found that there’s anything that justifies us breaking fellowship with somebody else who loves and is trying to follow Jesus.” Now the moose really is on the table or the camel in the tent! Either way you define it, if this is the sort of Jesus the Emergents want to embrace, He has become emasculated and schizophrenic all at the same time!
Another leader, Spencer Burke, who is a formative voice among the Emergents (creator of the www.theooze.com , which I recommend you visit but prepare yourself for all sorts of “ooze” to muck through when you go) had the following things to say:
Could it be that—beyond religion, reason, and conventional wisdom—grace is something to be opted out of rather than opted in to? Is it not something you get but something you already have? (Can we say self-help, self-esteem, human potential ala Ayn Rand?)
When I say I’m a universalist, what I really mean is that I don’t believe you have to convert to any particular religion to find God. As I see it, God finds us, and it has nothing to do with subscribing to any particular religious view? (What he really means when he says “religion” is a doctrinal viewpoint. All roads very well may lead to Rome but they don’t all lead to Heaven.)
The God I connect with does not assign humans to hell. (See, a schizophrenic God. The longer I live the more convinced I become that Hell is the outgrowth of two of God’s attributes mainly holiness and justice.)
This is only the tip of the iceberg concerning the Emergents mentality about “just give us Jesus!” My only other point of advice is for the Emergents not to give their “Jesus” a dose of lithium because when they do, “Jesus” very well might wake up and become much more than they have bargained for.