by Mike Ratliff
While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” (Luke 11:37-44 ESV)
The emergent conversation is nothing more than postmodern relativism corrupting the Church. Even those who claim outright that they are not “emergent,” but who reject the clear and direct teachings of the Gospel and sound doctrine from the Bible, have been corrupted by the inherit postmodern spiritual bankruptcy that has invaded seemingly every part of the visible Church. Dialogue has as its main intent the finding of “common ground” in order to peacefully coexist with those of different mindsets, viewpoints, religion, or “types” of profession of faith, et cetera. This finding of “common ground” is nothing more than compromise. This “conversation” is not the same thing as debate, which, if properly done, preserves and proves points of fact rather than seeking to compromise. We are often dismayed when we witness a Christian leader compromise who, in the past, has appeared to have a solid background of orthodoxy and stood firmly on the right foundation which is the Word of God, its doctrines, all built on and around and through the chief cornerstone, who is Christ. Why has this happened?
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:7-15 ESV)
These compromises to orthodox Christianity are rooted in one or more of three rejections of the truth by the emergents. They reject doctrinal certainty, calling any stance on the strict, black and white adherence to Sound Doctrine as displays of abject arrogance. They also reject scriptural clarity. They insist that we must approach the Bible with the intent to being fuzzy and inconsistent and nebulous in its presentation of the truth. They also reject gospel exclusivity claiming that the sheepfold door is not only wide and open, but that there are many other ways into it other than this one door, which is Christ. Our Lord’s own words here tell us that the making of another entrance into the sheepfold is done only by thieves and wolves. The door to the sheepfold is guarded and open only to the true sheep of the Lord. Those solid appearing Christian leaders who are suddenly exposed in compromise did not suddenly arrive to this point, but it came about through manipulations and acts of compromise. We must pray for these we see do this to repent or, if they don’t, that God will expose them entirely so they can no longer lead others into unsound doctrine through their hypocrisy.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (Luke 11:37-44). In this passage God shows us clearly how the Lord dealt with religious hypocrites. Did he have a “conversation” with them looking for “common ground?” No, when their hypocrisy was revealed He condemned them to their faces. These men were guilty of practicing a very spiritual appearing religion that, however, was not of the Lord. It was one of externalism, one of being man-made and self-focused. These men did everything to be seen by others and exalted for what they did. However, in vv40-41 we have that part of our Lord’s rebuke which had the intent of “turning” them to repentance. He said, “You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.” Here we have that part of the rebuke that is showing them that it is God who is Sovereign and who demands to be worshipped His way, not man’s way or for any other motive other than His glory. The result of true worship, from within, is what? “Everything is clean for you!” This is our Lord telling them that God will accept the good done by them (done from within) even if they are not conformed to the ceremonialism of their false religion, which they assumed was essential.
What was their response to this rebuke? We have to skip down to vv53-54 which immediately follows our Lord’s rebuke of the lawyers or scribes after they commented on His rebuke of the Pharisees.
As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:53-54 ESV)
I’ve experienced this very thing. This is why, after I prayed for wisdom and discernment concerning attempts to trip me up with comments, et cetera after I made a very clear doctrinal statements that provoked some to retaliate, that I made the decision to never dialogue with these people. Why? They are deceitful. They are hypocrites. These are religious people attempting to show they are Christian when they are nothing more than hypocrites walking according to the flesh. They have been deceived into relativism and so now see any stance for doctrinal certainty, scriptural clarity, and gospel exclusivity as being acts of abject arrogance. The refusal to “dialogue” or participate in the emergent conversation is something we must commit to while we emulate our Lord in condemning all heresy and rebuking those who purvey them. At the same time we must also give the truth to those who have been “captured” by these people as we pray for God to draw them into the light.
There is another attribute of false forms of Christianity that we need to look at briefly. Remember how Rick Warren came up with his Purpose Driven paradigm? He did a door-by-door survey of the people in the area where his church was. He asked them what would interest them in a church or what would a church have to do in order for them to become part of it. Of course, the answer was that it would have to be non-exclusive, non-threatening, et cetera. So, that is what he did. He designed a way to “do church” that was according to the desires of the people. This is church according to the terms of people rather than God. This is a self-focused, self-oriented form of Church that uses the enemy’s counterfeit for joy, which is entertainment, as the engine which attracts people to it. So this attribute of false forms of Christianity are that it is man-focused rather than God focused. Instead of being focused on obeying God for His glory, it is all about entertaining people in order to keep them coming back. I have no problem with small groups and ministry that actually does bring people together to minister to others through prayer and being there for them. No, that is biblical. However, when the focus of “doing church” is to appease people or be oriented towards them to the exclusion of doctrinal certainty, scriptural clarity, and gospel exclusivity then you have a compromised church that has become indoctrinated to postmodern relativism in one form or another.
My brethren, those in Christ are so on His terms not theirs. Not one of them have one thing to offer that was not given to them first by God, such as faith that believes God (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are being called to stand firm on God’s truth regardless of the cost. We are called to build our treasure in Heaven instead of here on earth. Lastly, let us not forget that if the world loves our message then we are not preaching or teaching doctrinal certainty, scriptural clarity, and gospel exclusivity. Our Lord was not politically correct and neither are we to be if we are to follow Him. He is the only way to the Father and His truth is absolute.
Soli Deo Gloria!