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Emergent: History & Characteristics

This entry is part 12 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool


The Emergent/Emerging movement needs special explanation concerning its inclusion in the Wolves in Wool: Creeps in The Church series.  More specifically, a disclaimer should be noted concerning this movement.  Unlike the Word of Faith movement studied up to this point, the Emergent/Emerging movement is much more difficult to define.  And, its definition leaves perhaps half of the movement in the “Creeps” category, while the other half of the movement – though suspect- appears to be attempting to uphold orthodox theological thought. Continue reading

An Emerging Relativism

This entry is part 13 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

Religious Relativism (part 2 of Emergent Characteristics)

“Relativism” is the philosophical concept that a certain aspect of one’s experience is dependent upon another.  For example, one person may believe an individual to be beautiful while another person believes that same individual to be quite unsightly.  In such cases, the application or understanding of beauty is indeed “relative” to the person interpreting it.   In certain applications however, relativism is the philosophical enemy of the concept of “absolute truth,” (or universal truth) which essentially asserts that what is true for you is true for me, and it is true for people of all times and places.  Continue reading

Emergent Deconstructionism: Hell

This entry is part 14 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

Deconstruction of Hell

Deconstruction is a philosophical idea which fits nicely into post-modern, and consequently emergent, thought processes.  Essentially, deconstruction is the systematic removal of all certainty and propositional truth from a text based on the assumption (loosely) that a text finds its meaning from its readers rather than having a finite and comprehensible intent of its own.  Or, put another way, there is no way to understand a text outside of our own insights.  This is supposedly due to the subtle biases which exist in every society.  Therefore, no text is able to produce a singular, declarative truth outside of a communal consensus which can remove all such biases through continued examination. Continue reading

The New, Friendlier Gospel

This entry is part 15 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

A Friendlier Soteriology

The natural consequence of the emergents and post-moderns rejection of certainty (regarding scripture or anything else) is a very natural outflow of that lack of certainty into their theology.  The religious relativism and deconstruction of the “certainty” regarding a theology of Hell discussed so far are only a small sampling of the complete historical re-writes which many in the emergent movement are conducting on every theological idea previously defined.  For people who do not believe theology is very important, they do an impressive job disassembling and rebuilding it in their own post-modern image.  Even more ironically, those who reject notions of absolute truth speak quite absolutely concerning their own redefined theological platform.  Continue reading

Emerging Mysticism

This entry is part 16 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

Emerging Mysticism

In preparation for the next post a short introduction of certain mystical practices is necessary.  It will be contended that a particular worship practice of the Emergent mainstream is deeply rooted in pagan traditions which recently have been described categorically as “New Age” thought and practice.  Thus, an examination of these practices is a good preparatory exercise.  This section will make no attempt to connect Emergent practices to New Age, as that correlation will follow.  Rather, this side-bar fragment will simply identify and describe a mystic principle from pagan traditions which will later be demonstrated to have been adopted by Emergent tradition. Continue reading

The Emergent Contemplative Prayer Model

This entry is part 17 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

The Emergent Contemplative Prayer Model

(Continued from the previous post)  This lengthy introduction to transcendental meditation is not the focus of this study, however.  The immediate concern is the fact that identical tenets, beliefs and practices to those of transcendental meditation have been repackaged under the Christian-sounding title of “contemplative prayer” and are being taught as biblical concepts by popular Emergent leaders.

I know of numerous Christians who maintain that contemplative prayer is not necessarily synonymous with transcendental meditation.  I find myself doubting that, yet will leave that argument for another day.  The focus of this portion of the series is specifically the contemplative prayer model practiced and encouraged by Emergent leaders, which is clearly nothing more than a warmed over demonic tradition, recast in Christian robes. Continue reading

The Great Falling Away

This entry is part 18 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

The Great Falling Away

(NOTE:  This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series.  This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)

In concluding this series on false doctrines in the church, a return to its beginning is in order; once again examining the scriptures which warn of such coming practices.  In retrospect, the teachings of the Word of Faith and the Emergent movements find themselves fully uncovered in light of numerous scriptures which have rightly predicted their rise in the latter days, their unbiblical basis of “truth” and the true motivations for their practices.

In 2 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul articulates events concerning the future rise of Antichrist and the season of the coming Great Tribulation.  Apparently, some had attempted to delude the church into believing that such events had already begun.  Paul sets the record straight that such cannot be the case until several key events have taken place. Continue reading

The Consumerization of the Gospel

This entry is part 19 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

(NOTE:  This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series.  This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)

The great falling away is further demonstrated in scripture by what can best be understood as a “consumerization” of the gospel.  A further indication of a future apostasy is noted in 2 Timothy.  In this text, Paul does not specify an apostasy which will immediately precede the tribulation, but he does note a later time in which men will refuse sound doctrine.  And, as will be demonstrated, his teaching clearly articulates the very same elements of apostasia as were noted earlier.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV)
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Concerning the mentality during this coming age, Paul makes several assertions.  First, he notes the consumerism of the Word of God.  He states that “men will not put up with sound doctrines,” but will instead choose those which “suit their own desires.”  As if doctrines can be “shopped” for discriminately, these men hear the legitimate truth and simply make a decision not to accept it in light of the error which they prefer.  Such is the nature of consumerism.  If I want a blue car, I do not have to purchase a red one, for blue ones are readily available.  If, likewise, I want to serve a God who lives to please me, I can make such a choice as well, for men are available readily who will preach such a gospel to my ears.  Paul notes, “to suit their own desires” they will accumulate such teachers.  Thus, it is the desires of man himself which will orient doctrines in this coming age.  What man desires to hear as “truth” will be given to him as such.  Welcome to custom-built theology 101.

Noted in the text is that there are “a great number” of teachers who will provide such self-tailored theological services.  As such, it is clear that a great quantity of people will desire to hear such doctrines, and will give validation to the false teachers which propagate them.  It is at this point the reader should take great caution concerning the nature of how religious truth is noted to be validated in our culture.  Simply because the masses affirm it to be true does not make something true.  Clearly the times will come when the masses will align themselves with false teachings over legitimate doctrine.  However, unlike a made-to-order hamburger, which is built for man’s personal demands of consumption, doctrine is by definition something which belongs to its creator. 

We live, however, in a culture of consumerism.  Even our very governmental system is so designed that men get what the ultimately want (at least ideally) by voting for candidates which represent their desires.  This culture has proven to be a fertile ground for the propagation of such false doctrines by the itchy ears of the crowd.  Both the Word of Faith Movement and the Emerging Church movement are beacons of opportunity for those seeking a consumerized gospel.

The Word of Faith has made itself exceptionally proficient at promising the desires of men’s hearts.  Their doctrinal position is precisely crafted to scratch the ears of their willing constituency.  They teach that man can have anything he wants if he learns how to properly utilize the “word of faith.”  How ingenious!  Without the necessities of a litmus test or focus group studies, these men literally promise that men can have their own desires regardless of what they happen to be.  Do you want healing? 

“You may have sickness in your body; you need to call in health.”
“Your circumstances will line up with your words.”
“Joel that sounds like wishful thinking. No, that’s using your words to create what you need.”
“You can change your world by simply changing your words.”
Joel Osteen (“Speaking Faith Filled Words”, Tape # 223, May 2, 2004)

Do you want money? 

“What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, “You big, thick billfold full of money.” Speak to your checkbook. Say, “You, checkbook, you. You’ve never been so prosperous since I owned you. You’re just jammed full of money.”
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape #186, side 2)

Indeed, whatever man wants to acquire for his own glory, there is a Word of Faith teacher prepared to instruct him (for the price of admission) on how to use “faith words” to receive it.  Rest assured, “Think Your Body Thin” and “Command Yourself to Beauty” are soon to follow, as these men are masters at scratching ears which itch.

In the end, their bogus systematic theology puts man literally in the driver’s seat, being equal with God himself.  After all, if man can “speak” whatever his heart desires into existence, what power or purpose remains for God himself?  Fred Price rightly defines their position as ne notes,

“Yes! You are in control! So, if man has control, who no longer has it? God.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (“Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is … and How to Pray?” The Word Study Bible, 1990 p. 1178)

Returning to the original sin of Satan himself, WOFers have indeed recognized and responded to the greatest itch man has ever had; his desire to be his own god.  Their demonic dogma aligns loyal followers with Satan himself as they ascribe to “be like the Most High.”  According to Paul Crouch,

“He [God] doesn’t even draw a distinction between Himself and us. . . . You know what else that’s settled, then, tonight? This hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the Devil to try and bring dissension within the body of Christ that we are gods. I am a little god! . . . I have His name. I’m one with Him. I’m in covenant relation. I am a little god! Critics, be gone!”
Paul Crouch (Praise the Lord, TBN? July 7, 1986)  [with Ken Copeland nodding in agreement]

Itch, be scratched.

The nodding Copeland fully affirms this teaching as he notes,

“You don’t have a god in you, you are one”
Kenneth Copeland (The Force of Love, 1987, audiotape #02-0028, side 1)

When I first began investigating the incredulous doctrines of this group, I must admit that I didn’t really get what they were all about.  I just thought Word of Faith preachers were run-of-the-mill tares in the wheat; simple misguided and half-baked theologians who got way too much attention.  I’ve learned that they are much more than that.  They are master deceivers who know what men want to hear.  They are opportunists who gladly will contort God’s eternal Word to suit the greed of their followers, which in turn feeds their own greed through donations and fiction book sales.  They are the systematic fulfillment of scripture; those who men gather around themselves to “say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  

Not to be overshadowed, the liberal end of the Emergent pool has perhaps outdone even the creepy doctrines of the WOF.  While the WOF attempts to corrupt God’s word for their own purposes, the Emergent left have devised a system where such creative theological twisting need not even be agreed upon during limousine rides between preaching gigs. Indeed, the “lesson” at the next venue may be completely different, depending upon the local opinions.

By shrugging off systematic theology and embracing a purely narrative approach to scripture, God’s Word is now read as poetry by the Emergent ear scratcher.  It says to you what you want it to say, like your copy of Kubla Khan.  The more radical Emergents have systematically deconstructed scripture, resulting in each individual congregation holding the interpretational “rights” to it through community acquiescence.  They claim that one cannot understand scripture fully, but only through the collective imaginative opinions of the group can its meaning be put into proper practice.  As Rob Bell so eloquently doubts,

This [that the biblical canon was not settled until the 4th century] is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is.
Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, – Rethinking the Christian Faith, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2005, pp. 67-68)

Thus, the church trumps the Bible in its own authority.  Because the Bible was penned and affirmed by men, it can only be rightly interpreted by community pool.  One community reads their Bible and concludes (by general consent) that homosexuality is good and right.  Another reads the same Bible and concludes that homosexuality is wrong.

Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.’ That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives whom seem to know exactly what we should think. Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection.
Brian McLaren (online source:

With the validity of theology relegated to “what we should think,” men need only find a church which “thinks” their own doctrinal position to be validated by the whole of the Emergent position.  Relativity is not seen as incompatible with scripture.  Truth for me may or may not be truth for you, though it flows from the same fountain.

Scritch, scritch, scritch.

Paul’s wisdom, inspired by the Holy Spirit, should cause all who fear God and respect his word to reconsider the validity of all such foolishness.  He could no more clearly have stated what is obviously at large in today’s open-minded theological soup of the WOF and Emergent movements.  “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.” 

The term translated for “sound” (doctrine) is the Gk. hygiaino, which literally means “healthy” or figuratively means “uncorrupted.” 

How interesting. 

Being “uncorrupted” is precisely the antithesis of apostasia, as was observed in the last section.  That which is apostate is that which was at one point healthy and uncorrupted, but has now been rendered unhealthy and corrupted.  Furthermore, it is clear that it is indeed such apostasy that he speaks of here in 2 Timothy 4, as he notes in verse 4, “4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  The ears of those who formerly heard the truth are turned aside.  They know and have heard good theology in the past, but choose to no longer put up with it. 

Thus, what Paul reveals concerning “sound” theology bears the identical definition of what he noted (in the last section) in 2 Thessalonians concerning the coming apostasy of the last days:

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV)
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [apostasia] occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

Those who will not put up with sound doctrine, but instead choose that which scratches their ears are of the very same essence as the apostasia.  In both cases, men who have heard, known and understood valid theology will turn it aside in lieu of what is deemed more desirable for their own consumption.  Paul’s warnings continue to point to an increasing rebellion from the very body of Christ as time progresses.  Particularly, the last days are noted to be a time of such manifestations of false doctrines.  I am not comfortable making presumptions concerning our current state of apostasy in the church.  I’m not going to announce half-cocked that the last days are upon us.  Yet, I can- and must- acknowledge that the modern church is uniquely poised as a candidate for those days prior to the end.  The fat lady may very well be warming up in the greenroom.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NIV)
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Today’s Apostasy: Inventing Doctrine

This entry is part 20 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

(NOTE:  This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series.  This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)

Concerning today’s massive population of false teachers, scripture also offers several texts which warn us of the propensity of these teachers to teach outside of the Word of God.  While these texts do not speak specifically about a latter day apostasy, they do speak volumes concerning the very nature of false teachers; namely, where their doctrines come from and why they are to be avoided. Continue reading

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