Open Theism and the Emergent Church
I have been greatly distressed in recent days concerning a movement that was once very appealing to me, but now seems to have gone terribly wrong. The movement is known in most circles to be that of the "Emergent Church." At one time, Dan Kimball's book, The Emerging Church was to me a breath of fresh air in the stench of new church ideologies gone wrong. He advocated contemplation and reverence instead of blaring music and high-tech smoke and show in order to attrach young, postmodern Americans to the Church. His idea of authenticity over glitz and glamour seemed to me to sound a new trumpet for a coming revival for college students and young adults. But, as the saying goes, "something went wrong on the way to heaven." Terribly wrong.
I first heard of this wayward move a couple of years ago when I picked up Greg Boyd's book, Is God to Blame: Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering. I did so with one intention, to see how ludicrous it really was. You see Greg Boyd holds to a position called Open Theism. You can read a critique of this by John Piper by clicking here. But basically it is the view that God does not know what will happen in the future and He never has. Jesus Christ's incarnation and atoning work was "Plan B." God is still out of loop as to how this whole "Project Earth" thing is going to turn out. Like I said -- ludicrous. But back to the Emergent Church connection. It seems that on the back of the book there is an endorsement by Erwin Raphael McManus, who is not a Ninja Turtle, but rather one of the major players in the EC movement. As I have recently seen, he and Dr. Boyd are good friends and seem to share a common kinship in their view of theology -- not a good thing for our young adults.
But as if that was not enough of a problem for the EC, just a few weeks ago the Kentucky Baptist Convention revoked a speaking invitation given to Brian McLaren to its State Evangelism Conference. It seems that Rev. McLaren noted in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy that those who have never accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ could still indeed enter into eternal life with the Father. Additionally, McLaren when asked in a national interview about his position on homosexual marriage, stated he would not comment because either way it would hurt someone's feelings. I don't ever remember Jesus making such a comment when it came to how he viewed a position. This is no way to teach a generation how to have Biblical courage.
Knowing all of these recent events, I now declare myself not to be an Emergent Church advocate. In the past I told people that this sounded both appealing and encouraging. Now I am completely unsure what will happen if this theological shift in the Emergent Church movement is not directly addressed and rebuked. I do believe that the movement can recover if those who stand for Biblical truth will rise up and for the sake of the Gospel call these men on the carpet for their unBiblical views and be ready to show them that they are preaching a different Gospel. May the true Gospel continue to be preached and may God move in the hearts of His people to display courage in dealing with these unScriptural beliefs.
Until Christ is formed in us all,