The Emergent Church:
“A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”
By Barry Thornton
How Has It All Happened?
Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the Emergent Church Movement has crept into the church, bringing New Age teaching wrapped in mysticism. Much of the church has become susceptible to variant forms of false teaching from Emergents because of a slippery slope away from a Biblically-and-God centered theology. Postmodernism has saturated the church's theology with relativism that has led individuals away from an objectively based faith towards an experiential, self-appointed, and self-directed theology based upon feelings and personal preferences. The current culture within many churches today is based upon creating idols and a new conception of God that is not Biblically-defined but shaped and formed according to existentialist criteria. Thus, what we have today is an atmosphere fertile for false teaching, but, even more, an atmosphere where there is no standard to evaluate and test such teaching. The Bible is seen not as THE standard but A standard, mixed in a multi-relevant hodge-podge of criteria whose root is self-directed but not God-directed.
American culture has contributed to the problem, too. We are living in a day and age when discriminate discernment, based upon standards of law, common sense, and Biblical teaching, is frowned upon and squelched. Although liberalism of thought would lead us to believe that we are living in an age of acceptance, those who choose to appeal to higher standards of moral absolutism are "shouted down" and viewed as intolerant. This general attitude has infiltrated the church and has led to a form of postmodernistic theology, based upon the axis of personal authority and not Biblical and Godly authority. Postmodernity, as a theory, refuses to allow any single defining source for truth and reality beyond the individual.
Whereas the church used to be a pillar for the truth, it has now become no more than a vehicle for cultural assimilation. With the human spirit's longing for meaning and truth, now, instead of hearing "rightly divided truth" from the pulpit and reading the Bible as THE source of all truth, there is a void for the kind of truth that Jesus referred to that sets an individual free. This void is critical.The human spirit will not allow that void to exist for long. In man's quest to find meaning, his penchant toward filling the void is a quest that eats away at his whole spiritual being. Thus, with the void created by a lack of objective truth, all that is left is to seek truth through other means, personal means, means that de- fine truth in personal rather than objective terms.
All this being said, the church is RIPE for false teaching! Cultural conditioning away from definitive, objective truth has led to an atmosphere where seeking "experiences" is the pathway to discovering truth. Without the "book, chapter, and verse" standard that we once knew to be true and faithful, instead, we are being led like lemmings over a cliff leading into a sea of relativism. There now is no need to question just about anything that is being introduced into the life of the church!