Emerging Church

This has been invading many churches of all types over the last several years and has been popping up more and more even among those who have been historically strong bible teachers.

We have a responsibility to prove all things and try the spirits as seen in these verses:

Ezekiel 33:6 – But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

1 Thess 5:21 – Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Eph 5:10-11 – proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them

Following are notes I have collected so far concerning the Emerging Church.

Emerging Church

Sometimes known as the “Emergent” or “Emerging” church, it goes by many names and boasts being defined by a lack of definition and rules (a.k.a. CONFUSION)

Instead of a focus on belief and what they believe, they emphasize experience, mystical practices, spiritual disciplines, conversation, seeker sensitive, purpose driven, relational, hipster, and what they consider “being relevant and accessible”.

Emergents are characterized by not having a statement of faith or being nailed down to any one belief.

Emergents typically divert the “conversation” by saying they are protesting against regimentation, dress codes, formality, traditions, etc…

They also marginalize anyone critical of them as being “religious”, “legalistic”, “traditional”, or “archaic”.

However, orders of service and what music is used for worship is not the real issue.

The issue is that they introduce liberal theology, corrupt doctrine, doubting of scriptural authority, and mystical/new-age practices.

Emergent leaders

Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Bob Buford, Brennon Manning, Eugene Peterson, Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Jim Willis, Tony Campolo, Richard Rhor, Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Frank Viola, Laurie Beth Jones, Ruth Haley Barton, Shane Claiborn, Dan Kimball, Shane Hipps, Spencer Burke, Peter Rollins, Steve Chalke, Rick Warren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jay Bakker and many others

Emergent Practices

Since true biblical spirituality and order is done away with and labeled too “traditional”, it is replaced with ancient mystical ritualistic disciplines.

Mystical practices and disciplines are encouraged though each gathering of emergent church adherents employ a different mix of practices including: symbolic, multi-sensory worship; centering prayer; prayer beads; icons; spiritual direction; labyrinths; and lectio divina.  

They usually start with seemingly innocent “prayer” disciplines such as “praying the psalms” or repeating phrases over and over (vain repetitions Matt 6:7) and slowly introduce more and more practices.

Breath Prayers – Similar to the Catholic Church, the Emergent Church encourages the use of a mystic practice referred to as contemplative prayer or breath prayers.  A Breath prayer is a short phrase or sentence that is repeated throughout the day.  It’s like a mantra.  While the Catholic Church encourages it’s adherents to pray the rosary every day to increase their treasury of merit, the Emergent Church encourages it’s adherents to repeat breath prayers throughout the day to create an experience for the believer.   

“Many Christians use “Breath Prayers” throughout their day. You choose a brief sentence, or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath.” – Rick Warren

Meditation – Unlike Biblical meditation which engages the mind and chews on and digests scripture — the mystical meditation practiced by the Emergent Church is a form of transcendental meditation that is about disengaging the mind.   

“Get in touch with your lungs by closing your eyes. Visualize in your mind a tennis court” 8.“Hold your Bible and breathe meditatively. The breathtaking, nay, breathgiving truth of aliveness is more than Methuselean in its span: Part of your body right now was once actually, literally part of the body of Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Esther, David, Abigail, Moses, Ruth, Matthew, Mary, Like, Martha, John, Priscilla, Paul… and Jesus. 9. Keep breathing quietly while holding your Bible. You have within you not just the powers of goodness resident in the great spiritual leaders like Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, Lao Tzu You also have within you the forces of evil and destruction.” Resident in each breath you take is the body of angels like Joan of Arc and devils like Gilles de Rais, Genghis Khan, Judas Iscariot, Herod, Hitler, Stalin and all the other destructive spirits throughout history” – Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality.

Lectio Divina – divine reading, a.k.a. spiritual formation, the silence, but is best known as contemplative prayer. This is a growing trend in evangelical churches. The prayer ritual stems from teaching associated with Catholic mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Ignatius of Loyola, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. Contemplative prayer was reintroduced by Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, William Meninger, Basil Pennington and other mystics. The aim is to achieve an altered-state-of-consciousness.

Prayer Labyrinth – used to facilitate prayer, meditation, spiritual transformation, and/or global unity. A labyrinth is a path which leads, via a circuitous route, to the center of an intricate design and back out again. A labyrinth’s route is unicursal; that is, it has only a single path. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is designed for ease of navigation

Ignatian Examen – One of the few rules of prayer that Ignatius Loyola made for the Jesuit order was the requirement that Jesuits practice the Examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day. It’s a habit of self-reflection that Jesuits, and many other Christians, practice to this day.

Bono and the Emerging Church
Bono and U2 are the poster children of the Emergent Church and many think that U2 is a Christian group.

More than once I’ve heard of people who experienced and “epiphany” (in reality an initiation) during a U2 concert and saying that they consider their experience during a U2 concert as demonstrating to them what “true” worship should be.

Watch this short trailer for a documentary about Bono and what he truly believes:

If nothing else, we need to be prepared to recognize these false teachings (Matt 10:16) so that we 1) don’t get trapped in them, and 2) can help others keep from being deceived by it.

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