By Andy Johnson, Pastor Cross Roads Baptist Church Farmerville
There is a postmodern movement in the churches of America that is commonly known as “the Emerging Church.” The “movement” began to develop in the late nineties, and gained momentum early in the new century.
One of its most prominent leaders is a man by the name of Brian Mclaren, pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church near Baltimore, Md.
In a 2005 Baptist Press interview, Mclaren defines the “movement”: “… there’s got to be a lot more humility and a lot more gentleness and [we feel] that the Gospel is made credible not by how we argue and make truth claims. But it’s made credible by the love and the good deeds that flow from our lives and our community.”
One of the more bizarre assumptions by Mclaren is that the message of the Gospel is not about who is going to heaven or hell, but that the primary reason for Jesus coming to earth was to fix the culture with a social Gospel; to eradicate poverty and repair the grimness of the situation in the social world.
A result of this type of liberal doctrine is the watering down of the sacredness of the Scriptures and the dismissal of any absolutes regarding Bible doctrine.
But probably the most noticeable result of this “movement” is the blatant apathy and indifference it produces toward a bold evangelical witness for salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, many in the “movement” are focused on Christ repairing situations and circumstances in which people live.
Many in this “movement,” which appeals especially to the younger generation, are trying to apply Christ to the fruit of unrighteousness rather than dealing with the root, which is salvation from sin.
More emphasis is initially placed on right living rather than emphasizing the need for repentance, forgiveness and redemption in the Lord Jesus.
I recently preached to a group of teenagers at a Saturday night youth rally. The emphasis of the rally, I was told, would be geared towards right living and bearing spiritual fruit.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In the world in which we find ourselves today, young people could use a double-dose of emphasis in righteous living.
That night I preached on the rich man who died and when to hell. It was noted that while in hell the man had all of his senses. He could see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.
For an eternity the rich man would hear the cries of the damned who died apart from Christ.
There were three who were mentioned: Cain, who asked the Lord “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Judas, who sold the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and hanged himself. And King Agrippa, who, after the Apostle Paul had presented the Gospel to him, said “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
These men, just like the rich man, would remember for an eternity each and every single time that they were presented with the Gospel.
The point that I made to those young people that night is that hell is real. Hell is not a parable, hell is not a figment of the imagination, and hell is not an allegory or a symbolic representation to scare people into getting saved.
Some people think it is offensive and rude to “scare” someone into getting saved by telling them the truth about a real, literal hell.
In my opinion, I would much rather “scare” someone into heaven than love them into an eternal hell. Yet, that’s exactly what Brian Mclaren and many of the Emerging Church leaders endorse.
In a 2007 interview, Mclaren said: “A lot of arguments happen among religious and non-religious people about the question of ‘Who’s going to Hell and who’s going to Heaven?’ And a lot of times Christians get into this argument by saying ‘We have the only way into Heaven.’ And people often ask me what do I think is the way into Heaven.
“I have a problem when they ask me this question,” Mclaren continued, “because it assumes that the primary purpose of Jesus coming and the primary message of Jesus was a message about how to get to Heaven.”
If I may, Mr. Mclaren, on this issue Jesus was crystal clear when he declared, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
As for the issues of social progress and “lifestyle evangelism,” the rich man in hell was much more concerned with the spiritual state of his five brothers than he was their social status, poverty level, and lifestyle.
The only problem, it was too late for the rich man to do anything for his family.
At the youth rally three young people accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. All three thought they were saved, but the Holy Spirit convicted them and they responded to the gospel.
Some might say the young people were “scared” into heaven. Perhaps, but the bottom line is they accepted Christ. So to Mr. Mclaren I would say, “I think I will stick to the fundamentals of the Gospel.”