Now . . . the next few characteristics of the emerging church problem. The emerging church is the result of the evangelical movement getting mixed up in church growth methods and techniques. Churches discovered that some doctrines sell easier than others. It is easier for people to visit and stay at a church that is teaching what the people already think. The obvious result is that church growth research basically tells us that if a church simply tells people the people what they already believe then they are going to be comfortable in your church and stay.
Characteristics #4-8 of an emergent church follow:
4. The moral failures of leaders in the church have caused the emergers to doubt the entire institution of the church.
5. Multiculturalism has caused an unresolvable tension between the gospel that says Jesus is the only way and multiculturalism that says every culture has found their own way. (So, how are those cultures doing? Are the emergers leaving the US yet for those other cultures yet?)
6. Just as the Gnostics of the second century could not grasp the concept of the God of wrath in the Old Testament, so also the Emergent Church can not resolve the conflict they have between their image of a tolerant, understanding God of love and mercy along with the holy God of righteous judgment found in the scripture. (Point: the emergers are not emerging but are regressing back into ideas and practices that time has proven to be failures.)
7. Concerning the issue of homosexuality the emergents consider the biblical view to be oversimplified compared to the complex issue of sexuality. (How hard can it be? God begins the Bible by telling us he made them male and female. People are either one or the other. Obviously, the sin nature is so powerful that people get confused with only two options. Just imagine how difficult sexuality would be for the emergers if sexual options were like a Baskin Robbins store??)
8. The use of language has its limits so the Bible itself is bound by the limits of language. (It is too bad that God did not have the foresight to overcome this. If God were only as wise as the emergers he could have skipped the whole process of the recording of scripture and just communicated to us through our feelings.)
You may want to take note of the following. According to Roger Oakland these are some trends of the Emerging Church movement:
- Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
- The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
- More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
- The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
- The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
- The teaching that the book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past or is allegorical.
- An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
- Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
- The pastor may implement an idea called "ancient-future" or "vintage Christianity"claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
- While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
- These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments (for Protestants), particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
- Some "evangelical" Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the "church fathers" saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
- Some suggest there are many ways to God.
- Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave. If you are over age 50, your opinion will not even matter.