Charles Spurgeon An Emergent?

        There is a modern day epidemic within the Christian church that has given more of a stigma to Christians than any other issue within the umbrella of Christian religion. That issue follows us like a black cloud, infecting everything we touch, and everyone we talk to, and most have fallen into the two unbalanced groups I will present to you in this blog. That issue is the disintegration of a balanced doctrine, and the split of the body of Christ. The first is a group that preaches hellfire and brimstone from an impersonal and judgmental pulpit, taking no feelings or thoughts of the individuals we are trying to reach into account. This church is often portrayed on movies as being the self righteous, and ignorant group of people holding the picket signs and yelling out hateful words to gatherings of homosexuals, or fans of extreme musicians. They are portrayed in such a light because they really do picket, and really do preach with skewed messages and flawed logic. They really do judge and possess a venomous message, that speaks nothing of grace, or of Jesus, or of love. The second group is the “hip” and “relevant” group that has traded in rock solid conviction for accommodating and fluffy words. This group dislikes the first group so much that they try to be as diametrically opposite as they can without worshiping a different God. They try to be friendly as opposed to resolute, and have attempted to alter the word love to accommodate their (as Marcus Pittman puts it) “teddy bear Jesus”. The two groups I am referring to are the ultra conservative, fundamental evangelicals, and the emerging church movement. Both are on the very tip of the metaphorical seesaw, and both won’t budge with their theology. The result? There is a civil war being waged within the church, the effects of which are not only unbiblical, they are catastrophic to the true purpose and mandate of Christ.

The Evangelical Fundamentalists

          I was raised in an Independent Baptist Church… Ever heard of Bob Jones University, or Pensacola Christian College? Well, those are Independent Baptist run schools. We were expected to wear nice clothes every Sunday, sing our hymns, and listen to an hour long exposition on any given Bible passage, any given Sunday. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we were expected to live perfect little lives devoid of rock music, sitcoms, movies, or dating? Well, we were. Instead we were supposed to listen to outdated music, watch PBS all day and night, and “court” the opposite sex, while we tried to attain God’s acceptance through living like robots from the 50’s. I hated my upbringing, but was allowed to go through it for many reasons. And yes, I met God in my church, it’s just that the God I met wasn’t the God that I now know. There are pros and cons to any church, but the cons for the churches of my upbringing are huge. The God that I met at these churches was not a personal and loving God, rather He was a God of strictness, a God that said I had to be perfect or He wouldn’t love me, that I had to follow every rule or I would not be blessed. I was told to evangelize, but why would I want to bring anyone into a church that was going to tell my visitor that they were going straight to hell? I knew I wouldn’t want to go if I was in their shoes. So I stayed a baby Christian for years, in hibernation, that is until God woke me up.

          The ultra right wing, evangelical church is a very legalistic sect and works oriented movement that has been around a lot longer than the Emerging Church Movement. It is characterized by like groups and similar people, getting together to live in a bubble of like minded machines. They are taught to be in the world but not of the world, but have somehow forgotten that they are still IN the world. And while I appreciate this groups motives to adhere to Christ’s laws, I feel small and ashamed every time I so much as enter into a church of my past because I know that the gospel they are teaching does nothing but slam me for my flaws, even if I am on the right path.

The Emerging Church Movement

          Over the past few years the emergent church movement has been skyrocketing into the mainstream, religious eye, and the fundamentalists aren’t happy about it. And they shouldn’t be, after all the “emerging church movement” (ECM) is seeking to engage the post modern and unchurched, or post-churched people by altering traditionally held doctrinal beliefs and redefining them for a new group of people. Sounds like a good idea on the surface, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. There are two things incredibly inconsistent and wrong about this movement.

          1. The ECM is taking the exclusivity out of the message of Christ, thereby altering the entire true plan of salvation. We live in a world that only likes nice, a world that likes the comfortable lifestyles and doesn’t want to adhere to the idea of selling out to something, or being accountable for our actions. This mind-set just can’t work, in the vast scheme of things because the Bible says we are to surrender the entirety of our lives to Christ by dying to our selves and serving Him. The very act of “surrendering” and “dying to oneself” are not effortless or comfortable decisions, and I’m sad to say most Christians from any denomination barely even understand this concept. Jesus Christ told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and to come follow Him, but was the ruler able to acquiesce? No. Here we see one of the very first Biblical examples of the emerging church, a church that says “We will do anything Lord, you have but to ask!” but runs and hides if God truly asks anything that requires that they get their hands dirty. The ECM movement gives no true consequences to those that choose the alternative to Christ, and that is not presenting the entire, unified and balanced gospel. Hell is a very real element to one’s future, if one does not repent and come to know Jesus.

          2. The ECM relies on flash and gimmicks to “bridge the gap” between the Christian church and the liberal crowd. They do this in a myriad of ways, but why try? Is the Bible not radical enough to draw any person from any background to it? Did God not have the foresight to know that times and people would change, but would still need the same message? The word, His words, possess a power that no one can find in any other text in existence because they were deliberate, and planned. They are perfect. The Bible has changed more lives than any other book since the beginning of time, and will continue to do that until the end times are here because the author is eternal, and therefore the message too, is eternal. And when the ECM tries to appeal to the outside world by looking like a group of rock-stars or coffee shop poets it severely undermines the power of the word. Effectively, they are telling God, “No, your ways, and your word are not good enough and won’t work with this crowd. Let us handle these people, you just sit back and watch.” Isn’t that absurd?! I believe it is.

The Answer?

          So what do the heroes of the faith say? Let’s take for example, Charles H. Spurgeon. What does he have to say about how to treat people that believe differently than we do?

          “Love thy neighbor, too, albeit that he be of a different religion. Thou thinkest thyself to be of that sect which is the nearest to the truth, and thou hast hope that thou and thy compeers who think so well, shall certainly be saved. Thy neighbor thinketh differently. His religion thou sayest is unsound and untrue; love him, for all that. Let not thy differences separate him from thee. Perhaps he may be right, or he may be wrong; he shall be the rightest in practice, who loves the most. Possibly he has no religion at all. He disregards thy God; he breaks the Sabbath; he is confessedly an atheist; love him still. Hard words will not convert him, hard deeds will not make him a Christian. Love him straight on; his sin is not against thee, but against thy God. Thy God takes vengeance for sins committed against himself, and leave thou him in God’s hands. But if thou canst do him a kind turn, if thou canst find aught whereby thou canst serve him, do it, be it day or night. And if thou makest any distinction, make it thus: Because thou art not of my religion, I will serve thee the more, that thou mayest be converted to the right; whereas thou art a heretic Samaritan, and I an orthodox Jew, thou art still my neighbor, and I will love thee with the hope that thou mayest give up thy temple in Gerizim, and come to bow in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Love thy neighbor, despite differences in religion.”

(Love Thy Neighbor- Aug. 9th, 1857)

         

          I totally agree with Spurgeon on this one! It is not our job to force or to pressure, it is our job to love and accept. We are supposed to win people with the true love of Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His divine job, for we are not the potters, we are the instruments the potter uses. This quote will ruffle the feathers of any fundamental evangelical because it seems to ere more on the side of the ECM, but does that make Spurgeon, one of the most beloved and respected preachers of the last 300 years, an emergent?

 

::Drum role::

 

          NO!!!!!!!!! The above quote in no way compromises the power of the word or the message of Christ, rather, it presents a true and balanced gospel, one that allows for TOTAL grace, and rock solid, sound theology. So to the people searching, or to the emergents or evangelicals that read this blog, please hear me now.

          God can not be put into a box, and made to fit our view of Him. He is not only absolute in His truth, He IS absolute truth. But He Is also kind, and loving, and gracious, and just. When we evangelize people it is not effective to yell at the top of our lungs that they are going to hell, but we must make the consequences for sin clear. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God, is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Balanced doctrine is wise doctrine, and the concept of perfect grace, and beautiful submission is key. Ultimately the Bible is offensive enough in its message, that we do not have to preach it in an offensive way! If we let God do the talking, then everything will be as He would want it. All that truly matters is that we are submitted to Him on a daily basis in the word. May God’s name be glorified and may we honor His name is all that we do.

          (Below is a video of one of my favorite authors, giving a talk about exactly what the ECM deals with… I do not agree with everything he says but this will give you more of an idea of where they are coming from. Check out Don’s book, “Blue Like Jazz” if you haven’t already… I am rereading it and still love it.)

also check out GodAlone.wordpress.com…

          I will be writing another blog shortly on the responsibilities we have to one another in the body of Christ.

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~ by Tim Kurek on September 6, 2007.

20 Responses to “Charles Spurgeon An Emergent?”

  1. Hey Tim, good post.

    I grew up in a setting like yours (it sounds so similar). I too came out of it as a genuine believer but realizing that if that’s what the outworking of Christianity supposed to look like – I didn’t want it.

    I also have come to feel a sense of concern about the reaction many well-meaning Christians have engaged in because of those kinds of extremes (i.e. the Emergent Church). There’s a lot of the motive in the EC movement that I whole-heartedly agree with. But there’s parts that concern me too.

    What I find the Lord doing in my spirit lately is tempering me, slowing me down, telling me that I need to be wise enough to reserve judgement until comprehension sets it. All I’m saying is that I don’t know the whole story yet, so I have to be careful about labeling people prematurely. It is true that the way our culture things and handles life has changed. It’s also true that the church has to change its methodology in order to reach those new ways of thinking. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with (like you) is when the truth of Jesus, His death in our place, and His divinity are compromised. He’s the one who draws all men to Himself, not our fancy-shmancy methods. We can’t lose sight of that. If we do, the baby has just gone out the window along with the dirty bath water.

    Blessings,

  2. Tim, Tim, Tim.

    I agree with almost everything you said, but I strongly feelt hat your perception of fundamentalism is twisted and corrupted because fo the twisted and incorruption of the Church you went to.

    You quote The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, in one breath, yet you ridicule your church for telling the people you invite thatt hey are going to hell.

    No preacher on earth spoke more about Hell then Charles Spurgeon. No one said more boldly that people were going to Hell then this Man.

    HE says the following….

    There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers. There are some of you who have not turned over your Bibles for a long, long while, and what think you? I tell you blunt words, but true words. What will God say at last? When you shall come before him, he shall say, “Did you read my Bible?” “No.” “I wrote you a letter of mercy; did you read it?” “No.” “Rebel! I have sent thee a letter inviting thee to me; didst thou ever read it?” “Lord, I never broke the seal; I kept it shut up.” “Wretch!” says God, “then, thou deservest hell, if I sent thee a loving epistle, and thou wouldst not even break the seal; what shall I do unto thee?” Oh, let it not be so with you. Be Bible-readers; be Bible-searchers.

    But he loved as he said it. DO NOT confuse my hatred for the EMC, as hatred for the people involved in it’s grasp.

    A modern day preacher who preaches Hell, Fire and Brimstone with Love is Paul Washer who yells at kids in tears, begging them to repent…I encourage you to watch his sermon available here…

  3. PS if you are going to throw my name around, please at least plug my site.

    http://www.transplantministries.com

  4. Carey,

    Thanks for your response. I agree with you when you talk about how the church’s adaptation, for the most part, is a necessary occurrence and that it is needed. My own Pastor is not a traditionalist by any means. But it is when that divine, set, absolute truth is thrown out of the window because the ECM doesn’t want to “offend” people, that I have a problem. And sure there are a lot of good Independent Baptist churches, but like the ECM churches they all run off the same formula. It’s funny isn’t it? That the ECM wants to be so anti formula that it actually is formulaic. Thanks for your comment!

    Marcus,

    From the first three words you used, you proved the spirit behind them. “Tim tim tim”, repeating my name as if you turn your head slowly in judgement, looking down upon me with condemnation in your eyes. Marcus, I truly pity you for that pride. And regarding the corruption of the church’s I went to… They weren’t corrupt, they were very misinformed. Some of my greatest friends are from those churches, so I am not putting them down, I am saying how sad it is that they are ruled by mantlepiece grace. And Spurgeon preached hellfire and brimstone to a society that was very strict and very subject to authority. Nowadays people are different and do not respond well to such attacks. Nowadays one needs to be friends or at least friendly with the person they are witnessing to in order to demonstrate God’s holy love. But Marcus you do not understand. It is all relational evangelism. If people do not think you like them, they aren’t going to listen. Period. End of story. And Marcus, sorry for not “plugging your site”.

    Everyone, Marcus’ website is http://www.transplantministries.com. It is a great ministry for the most part, but not one I can support while the founder chops at the body of Christ like a butcher.

    Cheers to all of you out there!
    tim

  5. Very good blog. I enjoyed reading Spurgeon as always. I thought that you stated your case very well in addition to making it clear that you despised the doctrine and not the adherents, which is how we are to express hatred. We hate the sin and love the sinner. What greater sin can there be than to emasculate the power of Christ or to play down the greatness of His sacrifice for us? What greater evil can there be than to suggest that Jesus’ death wasn’t really necessary and that we aren’t “all that bad?” It’s an atrocity! However, the majority of it is done in ignorance. Those misguided ones who dilute the Word of God believe they are doing what is right, and for that I pray earnestly that there would come a revelation to them and shake them to their foundations. We should all bow our knees to intercede for our brothers and sisters who flounder on that path. God alone can change their lives just as he changed mine, yours, and countless others. Great blog, great comments, and what a great God!

    -Josh

  6. Good post! I have been wondering lately maybe it isn’t the church that should emerge, but the Christian. If you consider the commission of the church is to equip people for the work of the ministry and it is the individuals making up the community of the church that respond by engaging in the Great Commission.

    As usual, Spurgeon hits the nail squarely on the head.

  7. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your nice comments on my blog. We do serve a great God, and He is so much more than Bob Jones University.

    I know it well as I am a Bob Jones grad. I made great friends while attending that institution. But my faith didn’t grow much – partly due to my bad attitude.

    I was told it was sinful to listen to Steven Curtis Chapman.

    It has been nine years, and I’m starting to find God again.

    I like your blog – keep writing. Check mine out once in a while. I hope it encourages you.

    Blessings –

  8. Tim: I gotta agree with Marcus. But instead of saying why, let me say this: there are different types of evangelism for different types of evangelists! About this: “And Spurgeon preached hellfire and brimstone to a society that was very strict and very subject to authority. Nowadays people are different and do not respond well to such attacks” while that is a challenge, ultimately we must realize that it is not our job to convert people, it is the Holy Spirit’s job. We are only to speak the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to do its work. Please remember the Old Testament prophets. They preached for two reasons. 1) So that people would hear their message and turn to God. 2) So that when people refused to do 1) and were judged/punished, they could not say that they were not warned! So, your job as the preacher is as much for that person not to be able to say that they did never had a chance when they stand before God one day as it is to win that person. Either way, God’s Will is done and He is glorified as being Holy and Righteous. If someone is going to reject the Truth of God’s Word to go after their own sin and lusts, that honestly is not your problem. Your job is to not withhold the Truth from people, and it is your willingness to do that job that determines how you will be judged. If you speak the Truth out of honorable motivation and a pure spirit, then the Holy Spirit will speak for you; the words will not be your own. But you can actually hinder the Holy Spirit by, well “thinking too much” to try to adapt your presentation to the wickedness of this current world. Well, just let go and let God! God knows your heart, and moreover, He knows the heart of the sinner that you are speaking to. So why not just let HIM do the talking for you instead of trying to be so sophisticated? Things work when we stick to the Bible and keep it simple. It is when we veer from that when we mess it up. And by the way, the people who just yell at people about how they are going to hell and themselves have false motivations … are they doing as much harm as you thing? Philippians 1:14-18 says “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” I am sorry, but I gotta say that the 95% of Christians that do not preach Christ at all, who never evangelize, are doing more harm than virtually any of the 5% that are “preaching it wrong.” Really, only the people who are dishing false doctrine, the ones preaching “another gospel”, are doing harm. The Bible says “He who has ears let him hear!” and what we need are more people preaching and living the gospel. Thank you.
    http://healtheland.wordpress.com

  9. Oh brother, I agree with most of what you said, but what you do not understand about Marcus is that he spends 100% of his time criticizing other believers and NO time actually evangelizing with his ministry. Its almost as if when he calls people emergents its an insult and a put down rather than a classification of their beliefs. And yes, the word is simple and we need to stick to the simple message, but there are different types of people and I dare say that God created diversity so that we might learn how to reach those types. The gospel is offensive enough without us having to add to the offensiveness. I wholeheartedly believe that we have a mandate to preach a bold and radical gospel that includes the whole picture, heaven and hell and everything in between, but we can do so with respect and love reflecting in how we speak such a message.

  10. Tim: Well, reading his comment again, I must say that his words were problematic. But this post of his, http://godalone.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/he-will-handle-the-situation-if-we-will-handle-our-faith/, seems solid, does it not?

  11. Tim: Boy did I just screw up. Oh well!

  12. Wow, Tim. Your last comment means that you know nothing of my Ministry.

    Let me fill you in.

    Almost Every weekend I try and go to VA Beach, where me and some friends from the Local GNN network spread the Gospel, Pass out Tracts and share the Word. I do open Air, and do 1 on 1 with complete strangers.

    2. if you go to http://www.transplantministries.com/creation you will see that we are working on a Documentary that we made when we traveled from VA to KY and spread the Gospel to several people in VA, KY and Ohio in route to the Creation Museum.

    3. I am a youth Minister. I preach the Gospel to my youth, and then it take them on trips to show them how to do the same.

    4, there are several blogs I have written where the Gospel is Preached.

    5. I am a writer for a local Church Newspaper that has a free distribution of over 20K a Month. The Gospel is preached in every article I write for it.

    You do not hear about me Preaching the Gospel, because we are not to BOAST of such things, we are just supposed to do it.

    I can go on and on, but I will not because as I said we are not to boast of such things.

    If you need a video of us preaching the Gospel then watch this one here…

    Or more one on one here…

  13. Marcus,

    You continually amaze me, even after a phone conversation, that you don’t understand that relating the gospel to unbelievers is a beautiful way of helping them on the path to being as hard headed as we are lol… I encourage you to reach out to those people you seem to despise and to work out your own salvation instead of trying to work out everyone else’s for them.

    I’m tired of this same old conversation. I am writing a new blog soon, no doubt you will write me and criticize that.

    tim

  14. Marcus,

    I am familiar with Charles Spurgeon. I also sat and watched the Paul Washer video you offered, and although I disagree with many of the fundamental things he says, he is surely a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He offended me, embarrassed me, and I was somehow inspired and humbled by it. Call me a fallen Christian with a hard shell (I’m Roman Catholic though originally raised Charleston Baptist… oh here it comes), but I still found his message to be truly beautiful. What he DOES NOT have and what he does not preach with, you seem to have in spades. You are full of selfish PRIDE, Marcus, and I am sure that neither Charles Spurgeon nor Paul Washer believe that any Christian is filled with pride. Why do you speak in this way? Do you even realize you speak and write in this manner? Why must you criticize endlessly? It never ends! I wish I could understand and maybe be impacted by any message you have given, but EVERYTHING I have read or seen of yours shows nothing but pure hubris and contempt, hopelessness and selfishness. I pray that perhaps somewhere far from your human self you speak of some powerful message that I must be humbled to hear… a message presented by good men like Paul Washer. I hope that you will join me in prayer to ask God to forgive us both for our prideful ways and our prideful words.

  15. Well said Frank. In the almost 4 years I have known Marcus this has been our continual problem… Not even mentioning the message itself, it is his tone that I disagree with. But Marcus does have an incredible vision and an incredible amount of potential. I truly hope that the Lord will use him in the future with transplant ministries, for there is a great need for that kind of ministry in Christianity today.

  16. In all fairness I think you have miss-represented both fundamentalists and the emerging church in this post.

    Ultra-legalism really belongs to a reasonably small sub-set of fundamentalists. Sure, some legalism is common in almost every faith tradition and probably more so in fundamentalism, but not every fundamentalist will kick you whilst you are down. Judgmental fundamentalists do exist, but to label them so stereotypically is wrong.

    With the emerging church you have a problem of definitions. The emergent church is a very small subset of the emerging conversation that does have issues with relativism and universalism but they do not represent the rest of the conversation. Note the difference in terms: “emergent” and “emerging”. Emergent describes a group of people playing with some dangerous theological ideas, emerging describes a group that is looking at methodological ideas. To stereotype everyone involved with the emerging conversation as a universalist is wrong. In similar fashion not everyone in the conversation is interested in making Christ cool either.

    Whilst these problems do exist in either group they are confined to minority elements (at least as described) and it is unfair to either group to label them as a whole. We need to show more grace than that.

  17. Thats not true Adam… Yes there are many factions within the whole, but the emergent church movement is specifically referring to those that believe in a very shallow version of the gospel, that speaks only of love and nothing of God’s utter hatred for sin. And the radical fundamental evangelicals are the ones I am referring to. So I am addressing the “minorities”.

    And I think at least we can agree on this, Jesus is awesome and none of us deserved Him dying for us. His love and the beauty of His message moves me unlike anything else. What a great God we serve!

  18. Hi,
    Im big on Hell Fire and Brimstone, and i think it is very necessary in our day. I dont see to much of it these days. I can say personally my life has drastically benefitted from listening to preachers like, Paul Washer, Leonard Ravenhill, Charles Finney, etc. The manner in which they preach revives the soul, to open its eyes to see eternity as it is, and God as He is.
    The moral decline in America is so intense. They need be warned of the wrath to come. And besides how often does anyone here ever see anyone open air preaching anyway. I’m sure you have heard the statistics of Christians who share their faith regularly, and it is absolutely pathetic. I think, along with others that the hell fire needs to be preached this day and age to the Church more than to the world. We need to wake up. I would encourage you to seek God and revival, in your church and in your own life.
    I can say any preacher who weeps over his congregation or his audience after railing them has favor in my sight. As Marcus mentioned Paul Washer as crying for youth, i strongly am encouraged by these men who see reality as it is. Many Christians don’t have any sleepless nights and think everything here is quite on the eastern front, while the world is going to hell. Look at the life of the Apostle Paul and be embarrassed, then be encouraged. May anyone who reads this be encouraged. Pray!

  19. It is a sad state of affairs when preachers like Paul Washer and Rev. Finney are forced to abandone a balanced gospel in favor of a strict hell fire and brimstone only message. THAT LEAVES OUT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE WHOLE MESSAGE!!! Arrg, I want to pull my hair out thinking about people who are so unbalanced, favoring one side of scripture and leaving out the other.

  20. Thanks!,

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