The neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church is continuing to morph and develop its “big tent” version of Progressive Christianity [read: universalism], which is still being cobbled together by the likes of uber-liberal theologian Harvey Cox along with his friend panentheist progressive/liberal theologian Dr. Philip Clayton. Dr. Clayton is himself friends with Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren, whom you’ll see him talking with re. the big tent in the video clip below.
In McLaren’s latest book he has begun somewhat laying out sytematically this new form of progressive Christian (they say) theology; a postmodern upgrade to Liberalism 2.0—which they sometimes will refer to as Emergence Christianity. Because of its inroads into the younger sectors of mainstream evangelicalism you will now need to be prepared with an apologetic against progressive/liberal theology; and in addition, be ready share the Gospel with people claiming to be Christian.
Here’s a quick example from Do We Believe In The Same Jesus Philip Clayton? Therein I told you that in his post SHOULD the church adapt to a post-Google world?, over at his personal blog Clayton’s Emergings, Dr. Clayton had specifically discussed me as a critic of the recently concluded EC heresy-fest Theology After Google (TAG). During an exchange in the combox, both of us doing theology while using some of the new social media ala TAG, one of Clayton’s followers addressed me about “dominant emphases in evangelical vs. progressive theological reflection.”
So I went to the heart of the matter as to why there can never be agreement between a Bible-believing Christian minister like myself and a progressive/liberal one like Dr. Clayton. In showing the contrast, I used Dr. Marcus Borg, whom I do respect for his willingness to go on record with his beliefs where so many others with similar views choose instead to use Humpty Dumpty Language. As I pointed out at Dr. Clayton’s blog:
I guess what I’m trying to say is, a progressive e.g. like Marcus Borg, and one such as I who holds to the historic Christian faith I alluded to before, can never have unity. We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a “big tent” Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.
That said, there’s nothing even in Reformation theology that precludes caring for the good of our fellow man. Without arguing I’m simply stating that my point is, as I see it, we don’t need to jettison proper Christian doctrine even in an “after Google world.” (Online source)
Later, while speaking to another commenter, Dr. Clayton does address my comment but he doesn’t speak directly to me as he says:
In a sense, it’s MORE valuable because we are wrestling together with hard questions of what it means to be Christlike today, even though we don’t agree on all the details.
For this reason, it makes me sad to read above, “We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a ‘big tent’ Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.” I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site. (Online source)
This is when I asked Dr. Philip Clayton the following question, to which he’s still never responded:
To be clear, I said of a liberal/progressive like Marcus Borg: “We don’t believe in the same Jesus.” And you said, “I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site.”
So this neutral observer would think that someone like myself who holds to the full Deity of Jesus Christ, in addition to His full humanity, and Marcus Borg who believes Jesus was simply a man, believe in the same Jesus? (Online source)
Since, in the month that’s now passed, Dr. Clayton’s still not responded I feel led to use this issue as a teaching to further illustrate the futility of attempting to pass off as Christian this new version progressive/liberal theology, which Clayton and the Emerging Church 2.0 are now attempting to spread throughout mainstream evangelicalism. And it’s against this backdrop that I point you to an informative article from evangelical Christian apologist Dr. Ron Rhodes.
While we do have our differences Dr. Rhodes is a fine scholar and, by no means, can be considered a radical. In other words, Dr. Rhodes is a respected, conservative, middle-of-the-road evangelical scholar; and as you’ll see, he shows you in the article below how to share the Gospel with liberal “Christians.” For you see if one believes the doctrine of what renowned evangelical Christian apologist, and cult expert, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) called “the cult of liberalism or modern theology if you will,” they are not Christians.
So Dr. Rhodes begins:
Liberal Christians typically seek to adapt religious ideas to modern science. Their goal is to make Christianity “relevant” to modern man. By elevating science to supreme authority, they assume the Bible is a fallible human document, approach Scripture with an antisupernatural bias, and dismiss miracles as the fantasies of ignorant people in biblical times who did not understand the laws of nature. They also view humanity as fundamentally good, with no real sin problem.
Jesus is not viewed as God incarnate as God incarnate or as a divine Savior. Rather, He was a man supremely full of God and was characterized by ethical and moral excellence. He is an example to–and moral teacher of–the human race. He didn’t die on the cross for our sins, but His death nevertheless has an uplifting “moral influence” on people (setting an example of sacrifice).
God’s primary attribute is said to be love. His holiness, judgment, and wrath are practically ignored. Thus, it is not surprising that liberal Christians hold out the hope of immortality for all people. The idea that any will spend eternity in hell is rejected.
Confronted with such a plethora of unbiblical ideas, conservative Christians might wonder how to begin in evangelizing their liberal counterparts. Following are some guidelines I have found helpful when dialoguing with liberal Christians…
In addressing the spiritual bankruptcy of liberalism, you can use the liberal’s recognition of God’s love as a launch-pad to emphasize that God loved humankind so much that He sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to rescue humankind from hell. Be sure to note that Jesus–love incarnate–spoke of God’s wrath and the reality of hell in a more forceful way than any of His disciples ever did (see, e.g., Matt. 25:46).
Hence, God’s love is not incompatible with the reality of hell. Jesus affirmed that His mission of love was to provide atonement for human sin (for which there is plenty of empirical evidence in our world) by His sacrificial death on the cross (Mark 10:45; John 12:23-27).
Inform the liberal that if he or she really wants to experience the love of God, the place to begin is a living relationship with Jesus Christ… (Online source)
You can read this article by Dr. Ron Rhodes in its entirety right here.