Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Rotten Fruit of the Emergents

Sep 26, 2012

Jesus taught us quite clearly that we would know someone based on their fruit. Indeed, he commanded us to judge, to discern, to assess, to see where people are at. We are not to be gullible and undiscerning, but we are to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Here is what he said in Matthew 7:15-23:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

In this regard all true Christians need to be very careful of new religious trends and fashions that come on the scene, appealing to many, yet departing from clear biblical truth. One such faddish movement of late has been the emerging church movement. I have already penned over two dozen articles on this new heterodox bunch, and it seems I will be writing plenty more such pieces.

In one of them I sought to establish the utter contrast between the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament with the confused mumbo jumbo coming from the emergents:

When they sound just like postmodernist philosophers and deny the reality of absolute truth, and jettison basic Bible doctrines such as future judgment and the two-tracked eternal destiny of humanity, then you know we got some real problems on our hands.

And when they not just reject but actually attack the clear biblical teaching about God’s purposes and design for human sexuality, then it is time to give these trendy teachers the flick. When they jump on board the bandwagon of the radical homosexual lobby, then you know they are not biblical Christians at all, but charlatans who are out to deceive and destroy the flock of God.

One of the biggest cheeses of them all in the emerging church movement, Brian McLaren, has made it perfectly clear who he aligns himself with – and it is certainly not Jesus and the Bible. Here is how one news item covers the story:

“The son of author and speaker Brian McLaren, who is often identified as part of the controversial emergent church, married his same-sex partner this past weekend. Trevor Douglas McLaren, 28, wed Owen Patrick Ryan on Saturday in Washington, according to The New York Times. The marriage ceremony was officiated by a Universal Life minister, and his father, Brian McLaren, led a commitment ceremony with ‘traditional Christian elements’ afterward. The elder McLaren recently recalled to NPR the time his son – one of four sons – came out to him.

“It had just been a couple of years when McLaren shifted his thinking and abandoned the traditional view of homosexuality being a sin that he grew up with. ‘I had gone through my change in this view before I ever guessed that any of my kids might be gay,’ he said on the radio program. ‘I was a good kid, I believed what I’d been told. And as a pastor, I started having gay people come out to me and what became clearer and clearer to me is that their experience was not explained by the theology I inherited,’ he explained. ‘And that it would be unjust to continue to uphold what I’d been taught. Maybe I could say it like this: My call to love God and love my neighbor was in conflict with what I’d been taught the Bible required me to say and do’.”

Wow, where does one begin unpacking all this foolishness? Note how he clearly states that he has allowed personal experience to determine his theology. He totally reverses the Christian position in which the Word of God should inform and determine our theology, with that in turn guiding and assessing our experience. It is never to be the other way around.

If I and others have been right in insisting that the emergent church is basically a lot of secular humanism in religious garb, this seems to be a very good proof of this indeed. He will take his fallen and finite experience and let that be the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong – even if it explicitly means rejecting the Word of God.

And no Brian, there is no conflict between loving God and neighbour and doing what the Bible requires. Both are totally in sync, and always will be. Biblical love has absolutely nothing to do with mere lust, emotion, or sentimental sap.

Biblical love always has to do with willing the highest good for the beloved. And as Jesus stressed constantly, if you really love God you will obey his commandments – not deliberately disobey them. Here we have this head honcho of the emergents telling us quite forthrightly that when it comes to God’s word, he is more than happy to reject it and disobey it, because he would rather go with the trendy PC fashions of the day.

Another article about this episode says this: “Brian McLaren, who formerly was chair of the board for Sojourners, is among a minority of evangelical progressives who advocate that the church should abandon heterosexism and move toward reconciliation with homosexuals.”

Now that is a most revealing sentence. Sojourners is of course a hard-core leftist group and magazine run by a mate of Clinton and Obama. I have discussed him and it elsewhere:

But the real winner in all this is this line: he is on a campaign to stamp out “heterosexism”! Talk about taking first place in the mindless heretic of the week contest. Never mind that it is God himself who created us to be heterosexuals, and that is the only sort of sexuality he has ever permitted: one man and one woman in marriage. That is clear from the opening chapters of Genesis, is reaffirmed by Jesus, and runs throughout the Bible on into Revelation.

This is God’s primary plan for humanity, yet this McLaren character thinks it is something evil which must be resisted and fought against. All of which means he actually thinks God is evil and must be resisted and fought against. Boy, I sure don’t want to be in his shoes when he stands before his maker and his judge.

The Bible has no hesitation whatsoever in calling those folks who reject God ‘fools’. At the very least, this man is utterly foolish, and worse yet, he is proving himself to be a false shepherd who has deliberately sided against God and his word. Let me repeat the words of Jesus:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

[1225 words]

10 Responses to The Rotten Fruit of the Emergents

  • Wow!! I found an article by Brian McLaren several months ago denouncing homosexuality. I loved how he explained how believers are expected to acknowledge their personal sinful desires and take deliberate measures to refrain from behaviors that give in to those desires. I bookmarked the page for future reference. When I tried to retrieve the page a few weeks ago, I discovered that it was no longer available!! Nowhere to be found! Now I know why. Thank you for your commentary!

    Valerie Evans

  • Thanks Valerie

    Yes it would have been a rather old article, as he most certainly has changed his mind big time here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Is it because of wilful ignorance or absurd optimism that persists the deliberate failure to recognise the vast difference between ‘sin’ and ‘sinner’?
    Arthur Hartwig

  • Reads like a script to a horror movie – who gets to produce it? Very sad state of affairs!

    Steve Davis

  • Emergent church and its liberal postmodernism has nothing to do with the gospel. South Yarra baptist emergent church with the ‘minister Nathan Nettleton’ is already writing to our parliamentarians telling them that we as Christians want gay marriage. I wonder who he speaks for, since he has about 12 members in his very strange church. They pray to saints on the wall. Use some interesting liturgies and drink copious amounts of wine. I was forced to do a workshop there last year as part of my college advanced diploma in ministry. This group reinterpret the bible because truth is now relative. Emerging church no thanks.

    Peter Sweeney

  • Yes I am with you Peter

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Sadly, it is not just South Yarra Baptist, but at least ten other so called Baptist Churches, including Collins St Baptist in the City, that are selling out the Bible and following their hearts down the broad road to peril.
    Just last week one of CSB’s pastors came out on national TV supporting same-sex marriage.

    Peter Stokes

  • Dear Bill, I have just read a statement from the Catholic Church. Catholics have a duty to oppose same sex marriages and civil unions, for reasons which you know. It was written in 2003 and issued by Pope Benedict when he was a Cardinal. This is for your information.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  • I wonder why the people insist on calling themselves Christians when the reject the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Why bother following a God who you believe is wrong?

    Kylie Anderson

  • What a twit!
    Firstly, he fails to apply Jesus’ teaching of distinguishing between who the person is and his/her behaviour.
    Secondly, if his heterosexism had been stamped out earlier, he wouldn’t have had the gay son he is so proud of!
    John Bennett

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