Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Wake-Up Call.

The Christian landscape is fraught with danger in these last days and we would do well to keep due diligence in watching carefully what is being taught in our churches. This is especially true in these postmodern times that we are supposedly living in. The influence of the postmodern “emerging” church is extending well beyond the borders of the churches specifically identified as officially part of the “emerging” church. Books by postmodern authors are popping up in Christian bookstores all over.

Here in the Columbus, Ohio area, we have LifeWay Christian Bookstores. One of the smaller branches is located just a few miles from my home and I go there frequently. As with many bookstores, there are both good and bad materials stocked there. I cringe every time I walk past the Bible section and see the “Biblezines” there on the shelf. Turning down another isle makes me cringe once again as I lay eyes on “smiley boy’s” (Joel Osteen) book, “Your Best Life Now”. But I have not run across any books by Brian McLaren and other well-known postmodern authors in the smaller store.

I do occasionally go into the LifeWay “mega store” at the north end of Columbus. That particular store stocks everything. That includes books by postmodern authors such as Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet. Mainstream Evangelicalism is being infiltrated by the philosophy of these postmodern “thinkers”, more than anyone can imagine. Do not naively think that this postmodern thought is only limited to the “emerging” church. Just as many evangelical churches jumped on the bandwagon of the seeker-sensitive movement, they are now jumping on the postmodern fad exclaiming “us too!” While many may not currently be jumping in with both feet, they are nonetheless beginning to subtly adopt some of the teaching being promoted by the “emerging” crowd.

In the church that I currently attend, one of the members of the pastoral staff who was serving as the youth pastor at the time, was quoting out of Brian McLaren’s book, “A New Kind of Christian” to the youth group. This was told to me by someone in the church who assists with the youth ministry. This man asked me whether or not I was familiar with the material, since he reported that much of what was quoted seemed to be doctrinally off-base. I had seen the book in a bookstore a long time ago and picked it up briefly, but quickly decided that it was not worthwhile, so I put it back on the shelf and moved on. I usually do not spend much time reading heretical material. Time is much too precious to waste on nonsense. However, since this incident in our church, I pay a little more attention to these things to at least read enough of the material to discern what is being taught. After this issue was brought to my attention, I went and did research on the book and looked over the material more closely. The material was indeed heretical and introduced ideas that countered Biblical teaching. I put together the material gathered in my research and gave it to the particular gentleman that brought it to my attention. I then sent the research off to the youth pastor with a stern warning concerning the material. Before the McLaren incident, our pastor quoted out of one of Leonard Sweet’s books and even showed a picture of the book’s cover on the overhead screen in one of the Sunday morning services. At that time I was not very familiar with Sweet’s material either. Since that time I have not heard much mention of this material being used, and certainly nothing being quoted out of works such as Brian McLaren’s.

But I can’t help but wonder how much this material has altered their reasoning and philosophy of ministry. Are they still utilizing much of the material but not making public mention of these works? Are they more secretive now because some people are more privy to what is going on? One thing that really annoys me is that there are many things that simply will probably never be preached from the pulpit for fear of offending some people. I have also noticed a subtle tendency toward a shift to a more “conversational” dialogue style of teaching. I personally refuse to lead Bible studies consisting of a sort of round table style of discussion where everyone merely expresses their view of what they think a passage means to them. This is not a case where I do not encourage discussion. But I always begin with a determination of what a certain passage means within its context, and then open up to discussion on how it applies to our lives. It really does not matter what the Bible means to me or what it means to you. What matters is what did God mean when it was written and how does it apply to our lives.

These are certainly spiritually dangerous times in which we live. We need more than ever, to be like the first century Bereans in Acts 17:11, who diligently searched Scripture to verify the truth.

9 comments:

Call Me Ishmael said...

Brian McLaren's most recent book has inspired several New Year's resolutions for me, which I've posted at http://thatisnotmyblog.blogspot.com. Now if I could only remember what I did with last year's resolutions...

Don't Know said...

Thank God you are so smart and you can correct all of us who are wandering off of your straight and narrow

John Haller said...

Hey Eric. Where to you go to church? I go to Grace Brethren at Polaris.

Great post.

anoninva said...

Eric, thank you for your excellent post and praise the Lord for the wisdom and discernment that you've shown. I am thankful that you are willing to risk to bring this false teaching to your church and to the blogosphere. I hope that you have thick skin because those that disagree can be downright hateful. But those who agree with you and I do and so do many others who are grounded in the truth, applaud you. Please continue use your wisdom and articulation to warning the church. The wise will take heed.

AuthenticTruth said...

John, I go to New Life Community Church in Canal Winchester. I often listen to your pastor, Jim Custer, on the radio on my way to work.

AuthenticTruth said...

Anoninva, Thanks for your encouraging comment, I appreciate it. It is encouraging that there are still people out there who love God's truth.

Mike Perrigoue said...

Amen, brother. My wife and I left a church for this very thing. Is it not important that we know what type of material our pastors and elders are learning from and influencing the way they teach us?

Youth pastors scare me to death. Not because I think they are all young and dumb...I'm young and dumb. Because they have our huge influence over our children...and many folks plop their kids into big kid church daycare...

Sad...

Okay...off topic...great post, though!

AuthenticTruth said...

Mike, you bring up a good point about youth ministry. Most parents probably do not know what is really being taught to their kids in youth group. Really scary!

It is frightening to think about the material that may be influencing our pastors. It is getting more difficult to find solid churches based on God's Word.

JohnJohn1186 said...

Yes, you have to be careful. I work at lifeway. If I see a book like "Your Best life now" pop up on the shelf, you can bet I will hide it. The other day, someone ordered a Joyce Meyer book from us and didnt want it so we were forced to keep it in the store. We put that book in a good place --the office. haha....yeah, I don't know why we carry that post-modern trash. Lifeway needs a revival. Pray for us...