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31 March 2009

Fun with Labels

Wow, I'm an idiot. I'm not mad, but I am surely an idiot.

Here I was, spreading the message from James, Philippians, etc., that "faith without works is dead" -- a point I've seen with my own two eyes that the Church (in general; please allow me that one generalization and don't get stuck on it) often doesn't seem to understand in much detail -- and I wondered why more Christians weren't opening their eyes and saying, "Wow, I get it. How have I been missing that?"

Little did I know that one tool that Satan uses to make this piece of the Gospel ineffective is a simple label. Like that one on your mattress, only this one is unfortunately very effective.

If you take certain verses, within context, from James or Philippians or Luke or Mark that are regularly ignored and say, "Hey, guys, we've been missing this. We haven't been helping the needy like the Word says to do here," all the listener needs to do is to think, "Hey, doesn't the Emerging Church talk about helping needy people?!" and voila! People who talk about doing good things are "love gospel" nut-cases and Emerging/Emergent Church pushers (doesn't matter which one -- just pick a label and run with it).

(Sometimes people are thinking about the Emergent Church, but they don't know the difference. Since both begin with E-M-E-R-G -- which translates to "666" when deciphered correctly -- both are obviously bad.)

In case I'm being confusing, what I'm saying is this: if I encourage Christ-followers to actually DO things that reach out to needy people and not just "help" in the traditional way (tipping God when the offering plate passes, for instance) it appears that some people may be labeling me as an Emerging/Emergent Church fanboy. This article at does a good job of summing up the two "movements," in case you're among the many who aren't familiar with the terms.

The benefits to this guilt by association are numerous:

  1. When we put a label something, it is far easier to dismiss it outright than it would be if we actually listened to what was being said and checked to see if it's in our Bible.

  2. When we assign something to a movement, we can call it a fad

  3. We can associate dangerous works like helping the poor with mysticism, ecumenism, monasticism, the home church movement (a movement that apparently somehow defies Hebrews 10:25), postmodernism, etc., call it a works-based attempt at salvation, and in doing so energize ourselves to continue on the way we've been going, without lifting much more than an offering envelope-laden hand

  4. We can become indignant that our denomination has been insulted by ragamuffin Gen-X'ers

  5. We can say that all of these crazy ideas are coming from the latest book by one of a handful of trendy authors, not from study of Scriptures, repentance and love for Christ and pleading to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

  6. We can pray for people's deluded souls in a more pious fashion
I'm sure that the list is longer than that.

I've realized that my words may be falling on deaf ears with a little more than a smirk and quick, quaint dismissal.

Have a look at how the church is "winning the world for Christ." Do that and then tell me that it's sold out to Christ and no change is needed, either in heart or in practice.


Jake Woods said...

Wow Dean. How could you say something like this? You and I both know that when someone is wrong in one area, they are automatically wrong in every area! You're such a Heretic! [/sarcasm]

I was actually talking with a friend the other day about Postmodernism and it's relation with the Emergent church. We were discussing some of the Theology surrounding the emergent church. Now, obviously, postmodernism doesn't fit in with scripture. A quick C&C diagram will reveal the inconsistencies.

HOWEVER, let's say we remove the Postmodern Theological aspect from the Emergent church, and what do you get? You get a movement that can/will bring modern Christianity back to it's roots. I have no doubt about that.

But back to your post. When something is different, people automatically are scared of it. They don't know what to think. They have their system, it works for them, so they don't see a need for something else. However, we know the current setup doesn't work as well as it should.

I don't think there is going to be an absolute solution to this problem. IE: I don't think we're going to be able to look at one single movement and say that everything is correct about that movement. Anytime someone starts something new with pure intentions, those following them tend to lose the true meaning of why it was created in the first place. We're going to have to stop making blanket-statements about movements such and the Emergent church and start taking pieces from those movements and piecing the church back together.

Jake Woods said...

Left out a Scripture reference.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV). "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

Preston N said...

Wow - being a part of a "home church" I guess I didnt realize I was in violation of Hebrews 10:25. Oh well won't be the first time someone has called me heretic and probably won't be the last!

Jake - the only thing that will bring revival is not the Emergent Church or any other "movement" for that matter. The only thing that will bring revival is a simple and straight forward message of the Gospel. Its the same message the prophets preached, the same message John the Baptist preached and it is the same message Jesus and his disciples preached. Its a radical and much hated message - one that will cost everything:

Mark 1:4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

I left the church (aka the building) several years ago because I was tired of preachers and staff members who desired to use methods that pandered to the felt needs of man that ultimately created a human-centric worship 'experience' rather than uncompromised vertical Christ-centric worship experience. Seeker sensitive creates seeker centered. Let us remember - ideas do have consequences! Regardless of how much "good" a movement may do in the name of God, what matters the most is the foundational IDEAS upon which they are built upon. "I will build my house on a strong foundation, not shifting sand"!

Emergents have essentially accomplished the same thing except they have taken it to a more philosophical and intellectual level by denying the exsisiting of truth or man's ability to obtain truth. For example, yesterday on my Facebook page I had an "Emergent" follower tell me that he didn't even know if he was currently experiencing "reality"! HUH!? He went on to say that God's Word, or at least parts of it, can't be trusted because it we can't determine with human reason if it is indeed the Truth and thus it can't be trusted. Granted this was only one person and we can't define an entire "movement" by that one person, but this is the type of false thinking (ideas?) McLaren, Jones and others are promoiting and yes this IS what their movement is all about. So to take post-modernism out of the Emergent Church and you deconstruct the house of cards it is built upon.

Again, the only three things that will bring revival is the working of God's Spirit, the clear and logical presentation of the gospel truth through God's Word, and the will of man. It is only when these three things come together that the possibilty of hearts can be changed. We can got out and do all the "good works" we want and call that the gospel, but unless the right "idea" is behind it, its just dead works.

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