‘Two men say they’re Jesus – one of ‘em must be wrong’ – Mark Knopfler
Those who say there is no such thing as absolute truth will be the first to be outraged at somebody else’s lies about them. When people say there is no such thing as absolute truth it is a subjective statement. There is no absolute truth to them. Which is fine. Except the proponents of this idea rarely keep it to themselves, they want to ensure everyone else believes it too. What disturbs many Christians is that the people asking these questions about absolute truth often identify as Christians. Are they deluded? Or are they not born again? Either way, they do not have the truth, so they don’t recognise the truth. We are being taught as a church not to question the post modernist emerging church preachers and writers, because if we do, we are to be dismissed as hopelessly traditional. This is a loveless doctrine, a cruel message to those who believe they are brothers and sisters. Don’t discard other believers, but don’t kid yourself either. There are such things as false brethren. Scriptures tell us there will be many whose love of God will grow cold towards the end. If you change the goal posts however, and insist that the Bible is no longer an authority and God’s word is what they believe it to be, they can say whatever they like. In their own churches. Just don’t expect everyone else to simply fall in line, or accept the insult that you are ‘not relevant’.
Much Emerging Church theology, is imbued with this version of ‘truth’. It is in fact the foundation stone upon which further false teaching is raised.The Bible no longer retains its God ordained place as the inerrant Word of God except for those who want to use the parts of the inerrant truth that apply to their personal agendas. To them, Jesus’ words are important, but only some of them. Jesus’ words are also more important than other parts of the Bible, and from what I have read of the origin of this phrase ‘Red Letter Christians’ by Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, the concept of ditching the bits which are not ‘relevant’ is not a problem. In fact it’s kind of hip, cool and radical. And relevant. Relevant is important.
Mostly, emerging church ideas have appealed to those disaffected by traditional church. I know how these people feel, I spent 15 years in a religious cult and when we came out, we were extremely disaffected. We have spent many years since rebuilding our faith from the ground up; the ground of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, not the ground of heretical theology or eisegesis. I am sorry but there is no other way around this. You can’t have subjective theology. We spent 15 years being immersed in one man’s subjective theology. Coupled with intense brainwashing techniques and the daily threat of losing one’s salvation, we came to view the Bible as prison bars, and did not partake of the wondrous gospel of freedom and salvation. After we exited the cult, we found it too easy to move towards emerging church theology. It sounded so different to the equally heretical authoritarian savagery we were used to. After about 12 months however we began to smell a rat. We have since learned to study the Bible, research the ideas and not just accept them, and compare them to what the Bible actually says. It’s hard work, but at the cost of your spiritual walk, you tread carefully. We have wasted too much time assuming a pastor actually knows what he is talking about, or the printed page would never contain error because the writer is a ‘christian’. We have since learned there is a huge difference between a follower of Jesus and a man who is born again. There has to be a change, a transformation. If that man’s life does not add up, if his words sound great but his actions speak volumes which contradict the words, these are red flags. Attend to them, they are important.
For many Emerging church authors there is an overemphasis on ‘living as Jesus did’, yet there is also a terrible lack of genuine understanding of theology. Apparently Bible study is only for people who know what they are talking about, like many of these pastors and authors. They actually present post modern gnosticism. You have to come to them to understand the truth because they know stuff you don’t know. This is the lure of the cult. They will always give themselves away by majoring on minors, thinking they are offering you something new and different. All they are doing is offering you something different to the actual gospel. Selling everything you have to give to the poor is good. Repenting of your sin not so much. Did Jesus tell everyone to sell everything and give to the poor, or only that rich guy? Funny how some emerging church preachers take the alleged giving to the poor mandate and forget the ‘don’t do your good works before men’ mandate. It kind of casts aspersions on the speaking tours and authoring books thing not to mention the mega-star status in certain churches that some preachers have, and Tony Carpool (drat autocorrect – you know I am going to leave it there) in particular is probably one of the most well known Christians on the planet. Especially to Bill Clinton for whom Tony was the ‘go-to’ guy for moral dilemmas. Which is kind of embarrassing I would have thought. Its a shame most politicians and high profile religious leaders don’t have the normal level of sensitivity to embarrassment the rest of us have.
I recently read this blog post from Rachel Held Evans (an emerging writer) who laments how difficult it is to try and be Shane Claiborne (an emerging leader who set up a ‘new monastic community’) whose big push is focused on living with and ministering to ‘the poor’. She tried and she tried and it didn’t work. I think there might be a message here for people like Shane, an author and popular speaker who seems to attract young people like Rachel because Shane appears to be living in such a ‘radical’ way. So she follows men and finds that following human beings makes you crazy, because inevitably, man-made teachings and communities will fail. Sure you can learn a thing or two from these guys, but as Rachel admits, its more than that, she is wasting her life in a repeating spiral continually trying to hoist herself up with being ‘of’ somebody else rather than simply being a daughter of the most High. She is not living a life supplied by the Truth, Life and Way called Jesus Christ, she is following a man who kind of seems like Jesus, but who manifestly isn’t, especially as a Red Letter Christian who denies that the word of God is Truth.
We don’t subscribe to sweeping prescriptions from people who claim to be Christians but actually mock and deride genuine believers because we believe in Hell, Judgement, Salvation by the blood of Jesus and Repentance from Sin. According to Rob Bell we are irrelevant. John Macarthur, the epitome of a conservative fundamentalist mega-church pastor with similar enviable credentials to Mr. Carpool and friends, claims we are also irrelevant because we are not of the Reformed tribe. Or more specifically the Reformed variety who believe John Macarthur to be the epitome etc. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. .
In fact it’s kind of ironic. John MacArthur is a creditable nominee for the position of Emerging Church Anti-Matter Man. Yet his position on relevancy is the equivalent of Rob Bell’s. They keep using that word. I don’t think it means what they think it means. Relevant to what or who? To God? It would take a massive amount of arrogance to reject more than half of the body of Christ simply because they don’t accept John Calvin’s flower power theology, especially when Calvin himself would be taken for a pathological homicidal maniac if he killed 50 people just because they didn’t agree with him in today’s paradigm (another emerging hip word).
Those who claim there is no absolute truth clearly know nothing about mathematics, physics or geometry. If the truths contained within these sciences are not absolute and unchangeable, we would not be able to build skyscrapers, fly planes, make computers or heal sick people. Sure we get it wrong, which means that we don’t know all the truth there is to know about those things. It still proves that there are a lot of absolute truths we can work with, with absolute certainty. Ask Oprah, who while still cheerleading for apostate ‘progressive’ pretend Christian leaders (like Rob Bell and Karl ‘leather’ Lentz), maintains that there are some things that she knows for sure. Oprah, my friend, that’s absolute truth. You need to work out whose side you are on.
There are absolute facts which are true which do not change and will never change. Like God’s word (Isaiah40:8). Therefore there is absolute truth. All of life is based on rules and laws which are based on absolute truth. Killing another human being is wrong. Those who do so are arrested, tried in a court of law and sentenced. This is just one of the absolute truths which govern our society. If we had no absolute truth, society itself would devolve into The Lord of The Flies with nukes. More importantly, the police do their work based on the innate understanding that human nature, left to itself will devolve to its lowest common denominator in Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” without the rider of “as long as nobody else gets hurt”. We know from personal experience that there are a LOT of people out there who will hurt other people because they enjoy seeing other people’s pain.
As far as I can see, there are only two reasons why a human being would come to the conclusion that there is no absolute truth: because it suits them, or because they are nihilists. To become a nihilist, they have become so disillusioned with life that they believe there is no structure, no authority, no dream and no ideal which can inspire or inform their decisions. Life to them is a jungle, or more accurately an illusion, in which no man alive can tell another what to do because nothing is real. In essence, nihilism is really just a storm in a mental teacup. And I have seen some mental teacups. Here’s one for starters.
Whatever a human being defines reality as being, they still have to live in the world. The world runs according to universal rules – water finds its own level, night follows day, MacDonald’s hamburgers taste the same wherever you are, cats always want out as soon as you let them in. You can claim there are no absolute truths and therefore that only parts of the bible are accurate and not others, but you will face God at the end of your life if not before and have to give an account for your thoughts and actions. I would want to be pretty darn sure of what I believe regardless of what that is if I were you. And the best way to know what God thinks is to look in the Bible, because it is our litmus test of false doctrine. Get rid of that and you no longer have false doctrine. Easy peasy….and broad is the way.