For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:21-22, NASB)
Evangelicalism Cutting Loose The Anchor Of God’s Word
The quote following below concerning the authority of the Bible comes from Blake Huggins, who tells us he’s:
a seminary student, a United Methodist, a participant in the ongoing emergent conversation…[and] a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist church and I am interested in unconventional, nontraditional, iconoclastic, and outside-the-box ways of “being” the church, “living” theology, and reclaiming the prophetic voice. (Online source)
My point isn’t to attack Huggins; but rather, he actually articulates very well the faulty view of Scripture so prevalent within the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—morphing into Emergence Christianity (EC)—which is a cult of postliberalism now within mainstream evangelicalism:
The locus of Christian authority and the centerpiece of revelation lies in the God who was revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ — Scripture bears witness to this reality; as such the bible is the primary source of revelation and it becomes the contextual word of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as it is responsibly interpreted and faithfully performed in the community called church. (Online source)
You may recall from Rob Bell Absolutely Wrong About Scripture where I pointed you to Rob Bell’s Abstract “Elvis”: A Critique of Velvet Elvis, an article by pastor Bob DeWaay where he shows that the above is essentially the same argument made by Rob Bell—the Elvis of the EC—in his book Velvet Elvis. Like Huggins above, Bell also attacked Sola Scriptura when he wrote:
This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible.
But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is… When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. (067, 068)
Pastor DeWaay will now correctly deconstruct and unpack Bell’s mystic musings for you:
Bell claims that people in church history (he gives Luther as an example) were involved in “rethinking.” I don’t deny that. But when he says that we have no objective means to determine whether Luther’s teachings or those of the Council of Trent are in closer agreement with the teachings revealed once for all in the Bible—there I strongly disagree. In fact Bell rejects “Scripture alone” on principle [in the quote cited above]…
He thereby takes the same position that the Roman Catholic Church took against the Reformers: That since the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) gave us the Bible, the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) is authoritative over the Bible. Bell’s version simply expands that idea beyond Rome to any Christian group anywhere struggling with the meaning of the Bible. Rather than to rely on a grammatical/historical approach to determine the author’s meaning, he trusts that in some manner the Holy Spirit is “enlightening us.” (Online source)
What Huggins and Bell have both outlined is the highly subjective and existential neo-orthodox approach to the Bible, which becomes clear when Huggins appeals to Karl Barth in order to bolster his speculations:
Through responsible, communal interpretation, Scripture becomes the Word of God and is thus authoritative for Christian thought and practice. As Karl Barth writes, “The Bible is God’s Word to the extent that God causes it to be His [sic] Word, to the extent that He [sic] speaks through it.” Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the text becomes the word of God as it is read, interpreted, and performed by the church.
This does not mean, however, that the text (each passage, chapter, or verse) as a single, fixed, objective, and determined meaning for all places and in all times. Such an illusion is unsustainable for at least three main reasons. (Online source, emphasis his)
I bring this up here because, 1) from years of EC teachings being used in evangelical Young Adult and Youth Groups, you just may be surprised by how many within your local church now hold the view discussed above; and 2) the fruits of CSM, which flowered in apostate Roman Catholicism, ought to help explain to you why so many evangelical pretending to be Protestants are now openly accepting the Roman Catholic Church as a viable form of Christianity.
As I close this for now, I will now leave you with the godly wisdom of Dr. John MacArthur from his excellent, and largely over-looked, 1994 book Reckless Faith: When The Church Loses Its Will To Discern. Below MacArthur very skillfully ties together for you exactly why—from its inception circa 1997—the EC had to go to a neo-orthodox (at best) view of the Bible in order to bring in their core doctrine of so-called “Christian” mysticism.
However because she’s a dutiful daughter of Rome, you then need to see that the spin this Emerging/ent/ence Christianity gives the below is she now takes the neo-orthodox existential emphasis off the individual, and then turns it back upon “community” i.e. church:
Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. Its heyday came in the middle of the twentieth century with the writings of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebaur. Those men echoed the language and the thinking of [Soren] Kierkegaard, speaking of the primacy of “personal authenticity,” while downplaying or denying the significance of objective truth. Barth, the father of neo-orthodoxy, explicitly acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard.
Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant, What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”
Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they affirming traditional beliefs, their actual system differs radically from the historic understanding of the Christian faith. By denying the objectivity of truth, they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. It is a theology perfectly suited for the age in which we live. And that is precisely why it is so deadly…
[Contemplative Spirituality aka] Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, of other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous.
Mysticial experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means… Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith. Mysticism is the great melting pot into which neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement, anti-intellectual evangelicals, and even some segments of Roman Catholicism have been synthesized.
It has produced movements like the Third Wave (a neo-charismatic movement with excessive emphasis on signs, wonders and personal prophesies); Renovaré (an organization that blends teachings from monasticism, ancient [Roman] Catholic mysticism, Eastern Religion, and other mystical traditions); the spiritual warfare movement (which seeks to engage demonic powers in direct confrontation); and the modern prophesy movement (which encourages believers to seek private, extrabiblical revelation directly from God).
The influx of mysticism has also opened evangelicalism to New-Age concepts like subliminal thought-control, inner healing, communication with angels, channeling, dream analysis, positive confession, and a host of other therapies and practices coming directly from occult and Eastern religions. The face of evangelicalism has changed so dramatically in the past twenty years that what is called evangelicalism today is beginning to resemble what used to be called neo-orthodoxy. If anything, some segments of contemporary evangelicalism are even more subjective in their approach to truth than neo-orthodoxy ever was. (25, 26, 27, 28, 29)
The widespread acceptance of an EC apostatizer like Rob Bell is precisely why I’ve been warning you that: The Nightmare Is Just Beginning For Mainstream Evangelicalism.