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The Isms Are Coming! The Emerging Church, Other Heresies and Sleeping Christians

February 9, 2009

(Note; the material here is based upon Jerry Falwell’s final sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church)


Matthew 16:13-19Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.. 19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Ac 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles‘doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

 Dr. Peter Drucker, management consultant and social ecologist said: “Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation…. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself–its worldview; its basic values: its social and political structures; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived…. We are currently living through just such a transformation. It is creating the post-capitalist society”. Think back to some of your relatives. I have family pictures from the early 20’s and life was a bit different then. Our grandparents, living in the 1800s: this was before radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, computers, etc; their world was quite a bit simpler concerning technology although there were technological advances, indoor plumbing, doors with hinges, windows etc. They had things like the printing press and the steam engine but in reality it was probably not too different from the days of the Apostles.


But since that time, with the industrial revolution and other things there have been many major changes in our world. This includes the world of religion in general and the world of Christianity in particular. I have been speaking about the add-ons; the things that have been added to the visible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ with much liberalism infiltrating the one pure unadulterated word of God. Now no two pastors are the same and some have different mannerisms and ways of presenting truth. As long as they are true to the Word of God; as long as the Church is ordered after the biblical model, well there’s nothing wrong. A guitar in the church is not the wicked thing that was imagined in the 50’s and 60’s due to the culture of rock and roll and such. David spoke of playing on an instrument of 10 strings. My guitar happens to have 12 and yet I sing and play for the glory of God, not the praise of men.


Some people prefer organs or pianos but the point is not the instrument played but rather the content of the lyrics sung. Are we singing to the glory of God or are we singing to be heard of men. If it is the former then you are a biblically minded believer; if the latter then you have received your reward.


As long as we are following the biblical model there is nothing wrong with changes in methods, music and structure in the 21st century church. BUT…if your changes are distorting the word of Truth, perverting the pure unadulterated Word that God breathed into the Bible, well then we have a serious problem.


I have warned you about people like Joel Osteen who preaches pretty platitudes of nothingness and makes people feel good about themselves. I have told you of Kenneth Copeland who has received new revelations he says “from God” and having written them in the back pages of his bible they are now Holy Scripture. I have declared to you the false gospel of Benny Hinn and his traveling miracle show where people are healed but not really. And I have declared the warning of Jude 1:4 where we read “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” And I have spent time dealing with the fact that some men have bought into the lies of these men and have made shipwreck of the faith in order to have a ‘successful’ ministry. And today I want to tell you of a new ism, a new threat to the true Church; it is called “The Emergent Church.”


What is The Emergent Church? The Emergent Church, also called The Emerging Church, was supposedly created during the past decade because of frustration with dead and irrelevant evangelicalism. Let me define the term evangelicalism. It is a “Protestant movement that stresses conversion by the grace of God, the Bible as the only basis for faith, and evangelism at home and abroad.” Is there anything wrong with this definition? I don’t see one.


Now understand that there is nothing wrong with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with the Word of God. But many times there are problems with those who claim to follow Jesus. Vince Gironda, a bodybuilder and trainer of movie stars once said “My training methods work, but some of my students do not.” Consider that God’s word is just as relevant to the church and to the world today as it was the day His holy servants penned it. Just as Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever so too is His Holy Word! But some of His so called servants do not live by His commands!


I have also spoken of those who don’t believe the Word of God who have somehow wormed their way into positions of power in the Church and have slowly been injecting their poison into the minds of their hearers. So convincing they are that I believe they have led astray some of the elect who have for a time neglected the Word of God which alone is able to make one wise unto salvation.


Part of this poisonous doctrine is found in the slogan: “it’s time for a change.” Notice that the antichristian infiltrators have the same message as the democommies in our political scene. There’s something wrong with the message of the bible. It isn’t speaking to people in a ‘post-modern’ world. Josh McDowell defines post modernism as “A worldview characterized by the belief that truth doesn’t exist in any objective sense but is created rather than discovered.”… Truth is “created by the specific culture and exists only in that culture. Therefore, any system or statement that tries to communicate truth is a power play, an effort to dominate other cultures.” Robert Struble, Jr. states: “The postmodernist worldview dismisses all forms of absolutism from eras past, especially Judeo-Christian faith and morals; yet the postmodernists idolize absolutely their new secular trinity of tolerance–diversity–choice.”


Let me give you my definition of Post Modernism. It is an excuse to not have to be accountable to God or His Holy Law but rather to ‘Follow our heart” which the Bible declares thus;“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? Jer 17:9 How can you follow something that you are incapable of understanding? Let me put it another way; you receive a package in the mail. It has an item that needs to be assembled but comes with no instruction as to how to do so. The result will be a mess. And this pretty much sums up the lives of those who embrace the postmodern worldview. They have no foundation, nothing solid to hold onto. Indeed postmodernists are putting their trust in empty air.


And how successful is this? Remember Chuck Finney? He decided that it was time for a change. Now not all of his methods were bad. It is good to challenge people where they are rather than preach lofty messages that don’t speak to anyone. Rather than speaking in generalities, Finney was very pointed. He said, “You” or “Us” or “We” rather than “Them” or “They” or “Those guys.” He demanded that the Redeemed of the Lord Say So! But then he got off the track and embraced the doctrine of “Entire Sanctification in this life” otherwise known as perfectionism. He began preaching this to congregations and the results were, well, non-results. You see, humans cannot be perfect and so there can be no real results. What you end up with is people who believe they are perfect and so no longer accountable to God. It’s like Johann Tetzel who granted indulgences that absolved the recipient of all accountability. The result was increased sinfulness because there was no longer any accountability for sin. And what did I say was the definition of Post Modernism? It is an excuse to do whatever you want, to do what is right in your own eyes without any accountability for your actions! The sad thing about Finney is that he began well; he began to build by preaching a powerful message of repentance. But having embraced falsehood he was not able to finish and we have been wagging our heads at him for 150 years. You see, there is nothing new under the sun. All that is new is the label. Call it what you will, false doctrine is just that; false doctrine. You cannot make truth out of a lie no matter how hard you try to twist the facts. It will remain a lie!


And so the reasoning behind this new “Emerging Church” is a false preconception that the Truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is no longer valid, effective or efficient for our modern world. George Carlin said; “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some shmuck will buy it from you!” Now, because this new church movement is perceived to be something good by the unsuspecting masses new congregations and ministries have cropped up across the nation very quickly. And what is their message? They claim they have decided to modernize and re-create the church so as to be more attractive to the un-churched.


Let’s look at those terms. They want to modernize the Church. This says that the church has failed because it followed the old paths, the scriptural path. They want to re-create the church. That means that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ which He bore on the Day of Pentecost is not good enough. Jesus failed and its up to us to fix it. They want to make the church more attractive which means that they want to make it ‘user friendly’ with fleshly allurements so that they can appeal to the masses. And then there is the term “un-churched.” I hate that word. It speaks of those who have never been in church. Ok. But shouldn’t we call such people “Lost” or “Unsaved” or “Sinners in need of a Savior.” I mean, such an innocuous term like un-churched will not offend anyone.


And that is precisely the point. They don’t want to offend anyone even though the scriptures speak of Jesus Christ being a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock Of Offence. The scriptures speak of the message of the Gospel being foolishness to the lost. But these people want to make it palatable, easy to swallow; non-offensive. It is clear that their message is not the message of the bible, the true gospel. Instead it is another gospel which will lead its hearers to hell! I have said quite a bit about the Emerging Church but lets hear from their own lips who they are and what they stand for. These are direct quotes!


“Emergent Village began as a group of friends who gathered under the auspices and generosity of Leadership Network in the late 1990s. We began meeting because many of us were disillusioned and disenfranchised by the conventional ecclesial institutions of the late 20th century. The more we met, the more we discovered that we held many of the same dreams for our lives, and for how our lives intersected with our growing understandings of the Kingdom of God.”

“Above all, we became convinced that living into the Kingdom meant doing it together, as friends. Thus, we committed ourselves to lives of reconciliation and friendship, no matter our theological or historical differences. As time passed, others joined the friendship, and the friendship began generating things like books, events, websites, blogs, and cohorts.”

“By 2001, we had formed an organization around our friendship, known as Emergent, as a means of inviting more people into the conversation. Along with us, the “emerging church” movement has been growing, and we in Emergent Village endeavor to fund the theological imaginations and spiritual lives of all who consider themselves a part of this broader movement.”


Emerging Church groups have typically contained some or all of the following elements:

  • Highly creative approaches to worship and spiritual reflection.
  • This creativity can involve everything from the use of contemporary music and films to very formal liturgy or other more ancient customs. …
  • A flexible approach to theology whereby individual differences in belief and morality are accepted within reason. This is the major chink in their armor.
  • A more holistic approach to the role of the church in society. This can mean anything from greater emphasis on fellowship in the structure of the group to a higher degree of emphasis on social action, community building or Christian outreach.
  • A tendency to re-analyze the Bible against the context into which it was written.

As I said; they have no foundation but instead are ‘open’ to whatever is right in their eyes. And this is totally against what we read in our opening texts. Jesus is the Rock upon which the Church is built. And the 4 pillars of the Church are the Apostles doctrine (never out of date) fellowship with other believers (that is real Christians and not those who are merely Cino’s) the breaking of bread, (The Lords Supper which looks to the never out of style, once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world) and prayer (seeking the face of God for direction, guidance and strength).


When the church is founded upon human discontent, desire to improve what God has designed or any other basis than upon Jesus Christ and His Word, it is already corrupted and in the end will fail but not before destroying the lives of many people. The Emergent Church was built on the slippery slope of falsehood and I believe Jeremiah speaks of them very clearly when he says in Jer 23:32 “Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. in a very few years, has already moved onto the slippery slope and every passing day and every new church plant magnifies that error.”

So what does a Church built on sand look like? What are its characteristics?

1.      Their preachers have no biblical training not knowing the Lord of the Book and so they preach nonsense/gibberish. They merely ramble much like the Pentecostal preachers who spend their time in the pulpit relating stories of past glories without any evidence to back them up.

2.      While casual attire, different music tastes, praise and worship instead of hymn singing, etc., are not sinful, cursing in the pulpit is heresy. Tony Jones, one of the leading preachers in the Emergent Church, recently used the “F” word in during a sermon, if you could call it that. He said “The F’ing Bible is scary to me”.  I don’t wonder why!

3.      The leaders of the Emerging Church movement have decided that profanity is relevant.

4.      The use of Alcohol is also relevant and makes the message of the Emerging Church more attractive to sinners. Again I don’t wonder why.

5.      Doctrine and Theology have been declared irrelevant. It has been decided by the leadership that these things are ‘roadblocks’ to the lost. Interestingly they have embraced the ‘doctrine’ of universalism.

6.      They have decreed that diverse families and things like gay marriage are relevant . Confronting their culture with the truth is not.

7.      The preaching of repentance is irrelevant to modern culture. 



Consider this critique of The Emerging Church. “It is characterized by a rush to relevance which is the main or driving agenda. It is characterized by- Not preaching repentance, faith or obedience to God’s Word – all the things that Jesus demanded of His followers. Rather those involved are engaged in a never-ending quest to be relevant to the culture – something the Lord never taught…. Unfortunately, when we bond with the enemies of Christ, we betray Him – having first tolerated, then accepted and ultimately embraced the unscriptural standards, ideals and agendas of those to which we have willingly yoked ourselves.”


The spooky thing is that, like all other cults they are growing and becoming a force to be reckoned with. In other words they are becoming ‘Organized.’ All cults; Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnessism, Worldwide Church of Godism, and all the other isms that surround us all began in a disorganized fashion by some people who were ‘discontent’ with the way things were going. They too had ‘ideas’ about what they wanted the church to be and found other people who were like minded and soon they created little empires.


What we are seeing is the ‘emerging’ of another cult whose doctrine is the gangrenous ‘doctrine’ of Hymaneas and Philetus. It is the world loving ‘gospel’ of Demas and the compromising ‘theology’ of every God-hating man, woman and child that has ever lived.


Now what do we do in the face of all this? Exactly what I have been telling you ever since I began preaching the gospel. You must live out your faith! You must act like you really believe that what you believe is really real. You must order your steps according to the word of God and you must take every thought captive to the word of God. Those around you must be able to see Jesus in you and if they can’t then you mustn’t wonder why they won’t believe you when you tell them they need to repent and be saved. They will react exactly the way Lot’s sons in law reacted when he warned them to flee from the wrath to come. They thought he was joking and so will your relatives when you speak to them!


It is said that Post Modernists have no set beliefs and so will reject the gospel outright. Ok. Why do you think this is? Could it be that they see nothing in those who say they are Christians to back up the message being declared? And this is not something new. Go to the Bible and trace out the lives of men and women of God and you will see that their lives spoke as loud if not louder than their words and gave a punch to the message that was being preached.


The modern church-goer has no conviction that what he or she believes is really real. And so, if they present the gospel at all it is with a take it or leave it attitude. There is another saying I hate but it applies here. “If you’re going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.” In other words, if you are going to say “I’m a Christian” which name means little Christ or like Christ then there had better be some evidence to your claim or you are a liar and the truth is not in you. With all of these isms out there vying for the attention of lost sinners it is no wonder that people are falling for lie after lie.


They’ve never seen the truth! By that I mean they’ve never seen an authentic Christianity lived out before them and so they have no idea what the real thing looks like. And that’s why people in my community go to a ‘church’ called “Big Fish- Church for the rest of us.” It appeals to their flesh and their lower nature and since they haven’t seen real Christianity, since all they have ever known is the ‘business as usual’ church type person, well, there you have it!


Wake up! The isms are coming and they are dragging soul after soul down to hell and we aren’t doing anything about it because we are afraid of what people with think, about whether we are going to make people mad or whatever excuse you are thinking about in your own mind at the moment. And if you’re not willing to stand up for Jesus and make His word known by your life and by your words, you had better take a look inside your heart to see whether Jesus Christ is in you. The evidence of Christ in the life of one who is truly redeemed can be seen. No evidence, no Jesus. No Jesus, no power in your message and the Isms win the day! Don’t look around and think that it’s someone else’s job to live for Jesus and proclaim the gospel. It’s yours! It’s your responsibility! Look outside. There’s the mission field and the fields are ripe for harvest. But the workers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into the harvest. Let your ear be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through His Word. And when you read Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” understand that this message is for you. “Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isa 6:8   Will this be your response?

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