Young people today are flocking to a new phenomenon called the “emergent church.” It really isn’t new—it is the same old deception of Satan dressed in modern attire. The devil has been trying to get man to doubt the goodness of God since the Garden of Eden. God gave man everything that he needed and much more to enjoy, but there was one tree in the midst of the garden that was forbidden. Man, however, became convinced that God was denying him something good and decided to trust his own reasoning rather than God’s Word. Today, young people are drawn to the “emerging church” because it allows them to believe in God and yet live as they choose. The leaders of this movement preach a religion that allows you to pick and choose what you believe about God and the Bible. Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz states, “I wished I could have subscribed to aspects of Christianity but not the whole thing.” One reader of Miller’s book said, “I love Blue Like Jazz because it’s, like, a Christian book, but it doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.” Another said, “I’ve already bought thirteen copies to give to my friends. I’m a Jesus girl, but I also like to go out and do tequila shots with my friends. This is a book I can give to those friends.”
In a Renegade’s Guide to God David Foster calls for a renegade type of Christianity that, “Resists being named, revolts at being shamed, and rebels against the tamed.” He boasts that we won’t be told what to do or commanded how to behave. In the book Emerging Church the author states that its membership is made up of “People who didn’t fit into regular church. They were too cynical, too rebellious, and too radical.” It seems that everybody wants to be cool and Christian at the same time.
It is amazing how man today wants to blend God’s character with a godless culture. The Bible makes it clear that God and culture have nothing in common. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). In the book of Exodus, God commanded the children of Israel to get out of Egypt. (Egypt in the Old Testament is a type of the world and sin.) So, Moses and Aaron went in to see Pharaoh and announced, “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1). Pharaoh was not interested at first, but after a few of the plagues fell on the land he called Moses and Aaron in for a meeting and said, “Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land” (Exodus 8:25, emphasis mine).
Thank God Moses and Aaron did not bend to this attempt at compromise. In verse 26, Moses declares, “It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?” Moses understood that you can’t blend God and the culture. You can’t worship God “in the land.” You must, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Today’s tolerant culture wants everybody to win and no one’s lifestyle to be condemned. Biblical salvation, however, includes a radical change of direction. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Once born again, we can’t have it both ways. We must choose between Christ and the world. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). James calls friendship with the world spiritual adultery! “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Even the term “Emerging Church” is a contradiction. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which comes from two words: ek meaning “from” and kaleo meaning “to call.” Thus the word church means “called out from.” Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis states, “The goal isn’t escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to.” This emerging group is not a “church” but a cancer! Paul warned of them centuries ago: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13–14).
We are seeing Paul’s words to young Timothy fulfilled before our eyes: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3). Man today rejects sound doctrine as old fashioned and irrelevant and chooses eclecticism which amounts to simply doing what is right in his own eyes (see Judges 21:25). We want to call Jesus “Lord,” but we don’t want to do what He says (Luke 6:46). And Jesus wonders, why? Why do you want to identify with Me while living in contradiction to My life and commands?
Centered in the human heart is a quest for freedom. We want to be liberated from anything that restricts and confines us. Sadly, in that quest, many turn from the very thing that can set them free. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus Himself claims to be that Truth in John 14:6. He prays for us in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The “emergent church” proclaims freedom from the dogma of doctrine and the rules of restriction. Donald Miller speaks of his time in college when he hung out with atheists and agnostics who used drugs and lived in open fornication and describes them as “purely lovely.” He says that they taught him about “goodness, about purity and kindness.” He states, “I discovered life outside the church, and I liked it. As I said, I preferred it.”
It doesn’t sound to me like this is a “called out” group or church, but rather a group of people who have “bailed out.” “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned... For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14, 16). Do you have the mind of Christ? If so, you won’t be bailing out on the things of God as taught plainly in His Word. We don’t need to “emerge”—we need to embrace!