For the past few years Apprising Ministries has been a leading online apologetics and discernment work covering the now upgraded sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church. The EC 2.0 has now cobbled together its own postmodern form of Progressive Christian theology.
What we’re actually dealing with here is a Liberalism 2.0, which these apostates will often refer to as “big tent”Emergence Christianity. Tragically, this theological poison is, right now, seeping into the veins of the mainstream evangelical camp—particularly within its younger sectors.
In Biblical terms, it’s leaven introduced into the lump of visible Christendom (cf. Galatians 5:9) circa 2000 e.g. through Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren, universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, and his friend Dr. Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch.
Such a loathsome legacy they’re leaving. I’ve had the chance to talk with Doug Pagitt quite a few times through the years via phone and email. From what I can tell he seems like a nice guy who’s sincere in his approach to what he wishes was Christianity; one that he’s cobbled together down at the Build-A-God Shop.
What Pagitt calls, A Christianity Worth Believing (ACWB); the title of one of his books. However, what Pagitt et al are really doing is standing in the role of false prophets and God says:
Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16)
A case in point is this tweet yesterday from Pagitt:
The link takes us to the full version of Doug Pagitt’s message over at one of his Facebook pages:
We then follow that link until we end up at Pagitt’s professional page where he informs us:
Now, this article Wonderfully Made is a glaring example as to what is so eternally deadly wrong with the “gospel” of the postmodern Liberalism 2.0 of Emergence Christianity. Actually this isn’t something new from Doug Pagitt; rather we learn that “his article is adapted from” his book ACWB, which I just mentioned above.
Faith & Fitness Magazine bills itself as “gym equipment to build the spirit, improve relationships, and expand opportunities for experiencing the Christian faith.”1 The question we now need to ask is: Which version of the Christian faith? Being that they’re carrying this mythology by Doug Pagitt, the answer becomes obvious.
Looking at the Publisher’s Note with a discerning eye, we get the sense we’re going to veer of the course of the historic orthodox Christian faith as we’re told to think about “all the human beauty that God creates and then consider how you can be life to others.” Of course, in and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with this per se.
However, when we consider that we’re about to go mentally off-roading in order to unlearn with the apostate Doug Pagitt, “human beauty” is your tip off that the cardinal doctrine of original sin will be missing in this people-pleasing presentation. God did create beauty; but we degenerate rebels then marred this beauty with our sin.
This Doug Pagitt doesn’t want you to hear. The problem is, if you don’t grasp this truth, the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness in Jesus Name makes no sense. For you see, if there’s no sin nature holding us as prisoners then Christ’s becoming sin and being punished in our place on the Cross to free us is wholly unnecessary.
No, Pagitt’s Christianity isn’t worth believing because it’s not even Christianity in the first place. He goes back to his Junior High days and tells us about some knuckleheads on the school bus who were bullies. Pagitt describes their disgusting mistreatment of girl named Didi and apparently the ringleader was named Kevin.
We certainly know there was no need for his incessant verbal abuse toward this young girl; but at the same time, it does provide a clear example of sinful human nature. Then as expected, Pagitt steers off course as he tells us:
As Christians, we believe that Didi is a precious child of God who is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” just like the Bible says. (source)
No, and yes. No, as Christians we know that apart from a saving relationship to God in Christ one is not “a precious child of God (cf. John 1:12; John 3:3-7). Yes, from conception all human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). That’s why the Christian is opposed to the murder of unborn babies.
In dealing with the viper Doug Pagitt, he is especially slippery. First he is correct when he says Christians understand that “each human being [is] imago dei (Latin for ‘the image of God’).” But then his sinful ecumenicism comes emerging as he says Christianity also sees human beings as “icons through which we” encounter God.
This fable is rooted in the gnosticism inherent in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism where mankind is thought to already have a “spark of the divine,” i.e. God indwelling them. However, this isn’t true. It is written:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (Romans 8:8-12)
Quite obviously not everyone has the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in them. Rather than waste any more time deconstructing the specious neo-liberal arguments of Doug Pagitt in the rest of his piece, let’s stop right here and ask a critical question: What does in the flesh actually mean?
The reason being, the Biblical answer I’m about to give you is all the refutation you’ll need to turn away from blind guides like Doug Pagitt who, for whatever reason, do not tell people the truth about how to come to know God. In fairness, Doug Pagitt and the Emerging No-Stars are hardly alone in this gross error.
We find the same deficiency in the Seeker Driven and Word Faith camps as well. People want to focus on self-esteem and don’t want to talk about the real problem humanity has: s-i-n. In fact, in simple terms, it truly is this over-emphasis about the self that’s actually at the root of our dilemma of sin.
Our sinful human nature is housed within our body—the flesh—all of it is wrapped up together with our heart. The absolute truth is, the doctrine of original sin shows we are absolutely powerless on our own to harness it and that’s what leads us to consistently keep rebelling against our loving Creator.
A good working definition of sin is any transgression of God’s Law, and all unrighteousness, is sin. And as John MacArthur rightly points out:
Genesis 3 explains the human dilemma. All the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account. Say that again: All the problems in the universe — physical problems, spiritual problems, moral problems, social problems, economic problems, political problems — all the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.
This Chapter then is the foundation of any true and accurate world view. And without this foundation, every and any world view is utterly wrong. If you do not understand the origin of sin and its impact based on Genesis Chapter 3, then your understanding of the world is wrong.
Everything then is misunderstood; everything is misevaluated; everything is misread; everything is misdiagnosed, and hopelessly incurable. You see, if you go back to the end of Chapter 1, it says: “And God saw all that He had made.”
And He had made all that has ever been made, so He saw the whole created universe. “And, behold, it was very good.” When God completed the original creation, everything was “very good.” But frankly, folks, everything in our world now is very bad. It is anything but good. And it has been anything but good through all of human history. (source)
The doctrine of original sin is critical to understanding our separation from God and His love and mercy in Christ Jesus:
In the biblical perspective, sin is not only an act of wrongdoing but a state of alienation from God… It signifies the rupture of a personal relationship with God, a betrayal of the trust He places in us…sin (harmartia) is not just a conscious transgression of [God’s] law but a [weakening] ongoing state of [hatred of] God…
[S]in…can be thought of as [an evil], personal power that holds [all of] humanity in its grasp.2
Oddly enough, Doug Pagitt does see the the problem; but he offers the wrong solution. He has decided to reject the Bible and just make up a “story,” which unfortunately is merely his own counterfeit version of reality. Pagitt then says:
we need to tell that better story, the story that lets us know that we are created in the image of God, as partners and collaborators with God. (source)
We are created in God’s image, but our sin has marred that image of God. So, as well-meaning as he might be, Doug Pagitt is offering a lifeboat that has no bottom. The LORD God plainly tells us about mankind’s true nature apart from Christ — the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21).
Perfectly in line with what Jesus Himself said:
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)
Under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul told us:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…. Wretched man that I am! (Romans 7:18, 24)
Doesn’t sound much like the fantasy world of Doug Pagitt, does it. If you are beginning to feel condemned, and without hope, then you are getting the initial message; the other side of the Good News; For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is talking about spiritual death; i.e. no relationship with God.
In John 3:18 Jesus says — “Whoever believes in [Me] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” So maybe now you can better understand what God the Holy Spirit was talking about through Paul above.
The truth is, in our fallen human condition we literally are condemned to sin against God, with no ability whatsoever on our own to stop. God’s Word says — Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Can you see, the condemnation of God and His wrath is already upon everyone who reject God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sins; this would be the sacrificial death on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think we are safe in saying that one doesn’t feel wrath toward someone you are pleased with.
Let me ask you: Does this trouble you; do you find yourself stirred up, maybe even somewhat confused inside? Is your heart beating a little faster now because this doesn’t sound like the “gospel” of the mystic mush god, the one with a man-shaped hole in his/her/its heart, that you so often hear about today:
You wouldn’t be the first as you’ll see below; and there is hope:
Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:43-47)
For you see, to answer the call to come to Christ Jesus is the most all-important decision you’ll ever have to face; and it’s one that only you alone can make. So is He calling to you right now; then, what say ye?