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Postmodern Christianity and the Emerging Church April 13, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity.

“It is impossible to possess a foundation of truth that can be used to test all other truth claims, since one can never objectively know that the foundation is correct. As a result of this lack of faith in man, postmodernists advocate a ‘nonfoundational’ understanding of truth, viewing truth as a collection of beliefs that exist in a constant state of tension.”

From “How (Not) to Speak of God as a Postmodern Evangelical” by Shaun Turner (Precipice Magazine).

The Emerging Church is one of the fastest growing church movements of our time, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Now, before I get into my post too deeply, I want to start by saying this: I’m not trying to denounce the Emerging Church through what I say here. The purpose of this article is to open our eyes to one of the many problems plaguing Christianity today.

While the mainstream Evangelical Church bickers over such topics as wearing jeans to worship services or the introduction of this generation’s form of music, Satan has prostituted the Bride of Christ to her newest client — postmodern philosophy.

In his book How (Not) to Speak of God, Peter Rollins espouses ten key ideas for believers to embrace if our faith is to thrive in this postmodern culture. One of these is the view of “orthodoxy as a way of believing in the right way rather than simply right or correct belief” (emphasis added).

Let’s look at the term orthodoxy for a moment. Tim Lucas, lead pastor at Liquid Church in Morristown, NJ, has summed up orthodox beliefs (along with supporting passages from Scripture) on this page. Simply put, orthodoxy holds that God is triune and eternal, that Christ died to cover humanity’s sin and rose again to conquer death, that the Spirit of God exists to empower and guide Christ’s followers, that the Bible is God’s truth without mixture of error and is alive, that humanity was created in the image of God but rebelled in an attitude called “sin,” that salvation is God’s gift to mankind through Christ’s work, that Heaven and Hell are true places of eternal existence, and that through Christ the believer is secure for eternity.

Rollins’s idea that these tenets are merely “a way of believing in the right way” undermines the foundation of Christianity. It leaves open many questions, including “What is the right way?” and “What are some other ways of finding the right way?” If orthodox beliefs are not the goal, what is? Is there even a goal?

If orthodoxy is just one of many ways, grace vanishes into the crowd of other beliefs. Our salvation is meaningless because there’s nothing concrete to hold on to. God told us in Scripture that we can know for certain that we will see Christ in heaven and that our destiny is secure. But is it truly secure if the Gospel is open to interpretation?

I fear for my soul and the souls of countless others if this side of the Emerging Church is right. “Since one can never objectively know that the foundation is correct,” one can never know if his eternity is secure. And if one can never know if his eternity is secure, one cannot trust Christ to secure his eternity. Grace has lost, and there is no hope.

Wake up, brothers and sisters! The battle isn’t over music or dress. The battle is over the Gospel itself! If we cannot know that the truth of our Saviour is correct, how then can we believe any of the Scriptures?

Fellow believers, please don’t be so naïve to think that this movement is a passing phase or a craze. Relativism as a philosophy has been seeking to gain a foothold in the Church for over a century with men like Søren Kierkegaard and Georg Brandes. More recently, some of Kierkegaard’s ideologies have been embraced by Pastor Brian McLaren, founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland. McLaren gives some insight into his beliefs in one of his books.

“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord” (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264). 

I’m pleading with my brothers and sisters who have spent more time studying the Scriptures than I have to face this enemy head on. Stop debating amongst yourselves about beliefs that hold little bearing on the eternal destinies of those around us. I thank God for ministries like Mars Hill Church, Liquid Church, and NewSpring Church, and for men like Mark Driscoll and Tim Lucas. These men and their ministries have chosen to put aside the petty debates and preach the true Christ of the Scriptures in a time of growing hostility towards objective truth—a hostility that is now festering within the very Body of Christ.



1. Nate - April 14, 2008

Please don’t think that I have anything against my fellow believers who are part of the Emerging Church. I love you just as much as I love any of my other brothers and sisters in Christ. My concern is that the truth of the Gospel is being shadowed by the wavering beliefs of relativism.

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