I never thought it would come to this point, where I would have to put my foot down and express my utter disdain and holy hatred for the “Emergent Church” movement, but today I was pushed over the edge by a PBS report. As I was watching, two questions kept flowing through my mind, “Is this heterodoxy, or is this outright heresy?” You can watch the report below, or if you are unfamiliar with the “Emergent Church”, from what I gather, this is a movement that wants to focus on communal living, but it looks downright cultish in its best behavior. It’s heterodox in it’s church structure (couches instead of pews, ethereal mood music instead of an organ, low-brow structure instead of a liturgical environment), but like a layer of very thin ice, one crack could send thousands of our Christian brethren falling into the polluted and tumultuous waters of heresy! As you watch, notice the lack of pastoral leadership within the Emergment Environment and the assumptions they are working with when approaching Holy Scripture (i.e. The bible is not necessarily innerrant and theology is for old professors). Before you watch this 7 to 8 minute clip, chew on these questions:
1.”Who is their pastor, and what is his purpose within this movement? Is he just a facilitator*, “one who helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance”? (merriam-webster) *NOTE: As one who is planning on a becoming a pastor, it breaks my heart to see the role of pastoral care neglected and frowned upon. The role of pastor is not a yardstick to be tampered with, and scripture is very clear of the necessity of the position (Acts 20:28). To be a pastor, is to be an overseer of the Church which Christ bought with His with precious blood. To be a pastor is to be a gift from Christ himself, Eph 4:8;11. Indeed, the pastor is the shepherd of Christ’s flock, keeping it intact and protecting it from wolves and other predators.
2. If their Sunday gatherings are just Q&A sessions, are they not simply doing a poor imitation of Sunday School?
3. What are the dangers of “experiential Christianity”, of one who bases their individual faith and salvation on emotions and subjective experience?
My prediction? This movement (or apostasy?), like all other fads and American trends, will leave many of Christ’s sheep broken and scattered, plagued with uncertanties, and longing for the Truth that only Christ can impart. When this happens, think of that day as a blessed harvest, for it will be our duty as heirs of the reformation to preach the whole counsel of God (both Law & Gospel) in all of its Truth and Purity. In doing this, will we not be fulfilling the great commision of baptizing and teaching? Will we not be the means through which the promises of Psalm 23 are fulfilled? Thank God, the true Church is built on the rock, and hidden in Christ.
I believe they are laboring under a delusion that change is a good thing, perhaps change is good in some circumstances, but not in the Church. When the Church changes, we lose touch with the connection of our past and we throw ourselves to the demands of a consumerism culture. On the other hand, there is true comfort and rest with the consistency of a liturgical church. Norman Nagel, a well respected theologian had this to say about the beauty of the Church and liturgy:
[T]he liturgy can be a great gift, haven, and joy to people who live in a
society and a world where they can’t be quite sure what things are going to
be like five years from now, or whether tomorrow everything will be
changed. In a world where everything has gotten to be so transitory and
“throw it away tomorrow,” is there anything that they can count on as lasting,
that they can be sure will still be there tomorrow, next Sunday, next year, and
when they die? The liturgy delivers the answer, “Yes!” Same old liturgy
every Sunday. You can count on it like it’s been there for a thousand years
and more. When people bump into that in a world where there isn’t anything
else they can be sure of like that, there is something real! And so we decline
the demands of a consumer society which has to have a new model every
year or every week if you’re going to sell. For then you’re talking marketing,
and you’re not talking the church of Christ and the holy liturgy.