"Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." -Vladimir LeninChildren, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity, an upcoming conference to be held May 7-12, 2012 in Washington, DC, will feature prominent leaders of the Emergent Church Movement, including Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo, Samir Selmanovic, Ivy Beckwith, and others.This is a conference that Christian parents need to be aware of as it features leaders who have been identified as being part of Evangelical Christianity, but in fact, they are far, far from orthodoxy. Some of their beliefs, in their own words:
"At the end God get's his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and, uh, domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God."
"God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else." (with Leif Hansen, Bleeding Purple interview)Shane Claiborne:
Shane Claiborne: Both Muslims and Christians are very evangelical in the sense of desiring others to come to faith in their God. When we talk about inter-religious cooperation, does that mean that we need to stop trying to convert each other?
Tony Campolo: We don't have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don't convert, they are God's people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.
I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam.
Shane Claiborne: That seems like a healthy distinction—between converting and condemning. One of the barriers seems to be the assumption that we have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell. How do we unashamedly maintain a healthy desire for others to experience the love of God as we have experienced it without condemning others who experience God differently?
(On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation, Q&A between Shane Claiborne and his mentor, Tony Campolo)Tony Campolo:
"Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of Ecstatic Union With God ... I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?" (Speaking My Mind, pp 149-150)Samir Selmanovic:
"Can it be that the teachings of the gospel are embedded and can be found in reality itself rather than being exclusively isolated in sacred texts and our interpretations of those texts? If the answer is yes, can it be that they are embedded in other stories, other peoples’ histories, and even other religions?…God’s table is welcoming all who seek, and if any religion is to win, may it be the one that produces people who are the most loving, the most humble, the most Christlike. Whatever the meaning of “salvation” and “judgement,” we Christians are going to be saved by grace, like everyone else, and judged by our works, like everyone else…For most critics of such open Christianity, the problem with inclusiveness is that it allows for truth to be found in other religions. To emerging Christians, that problem is sweet… Moreover, if non-Christians can know our God, then we want to benefit from their contribution to our faith." (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, pp 195-196)Emergent Church Leader Brian McLaren, in the video below, discusses his desire to begin crafting curriculum aimed at Christian youth in order to teach them emergent beliefs. McLaren's no dummy. As a Progressive Christian, Brian McLaren must certainly adhere to the tenets espoused by Progressive heroes that if you can capture a nation's children, you've captured a generation.
"Hi, I'm Brian McLaren, and I want to invite you to be part of a conference that's going to take place in May 2012. The conference is called Children, Youth and A New Kind of Christianity......In my travels over the last several years, I've had so many people come up to me and say, 'Brian, you and other people are writing a lot about the emerging church, about the emerging conversation, uh, we're exploring new approaches to worship, art, liturgy, preaching, we're grappling with issues of theology and we're having intelligent and needed dialogue and discussion, but - I've heard this again and again, all over the world, people - but, it's not yet being translated very effectively into curricula for children and youth. On other words, we're going through a revolution in the way we do church, and in the way we understand and practice Christian faith, a revolution that's changing the lives of so many adults, and especially young adults, but then we go down and we're still using old, off-the-shelf curricula for children, and we're creating problems for youth and young adults. They're going to keep replicating some of the struggles of the last couple of generations. So, I was so thrilled when Dave Csinos approached me and a number of other people and said, 'Let's get people together for several days of intense, thoughtful dialogue.' We're going to have some wonderful participants in this conference. We're going to have people like Tony Campolo, Jim and Joy Wallis, Shane Caliborne, a whole lot of other people whose names you'll recognize, people like Ivy Beckwith who're well known and respected in the area of children and youth ministry. We're going to have such an amazing group of people together, but we need you there, too, because this dialogue has to take root across denominations, in hundreds and thousands of local churches." (my emphasis)
This is especially sobering to me having just finished a study on the book of Jonah. What a complex hero of the faith Jonah was! God told him to go to Nineveh, and he turned tail and ran in the opposite direction. But can those of us who belong to God ever truly run away from Him? Don't our hearts always eventually turn back to our Lord and Master? Such was the case with Jonah. When God brought him under severe discipline for his disobedience, Jonah turned back to the Lord, praying one of the most heartfelt prayers recorded in the Bible (Jonah 2). And then Jonah does go and preach to Nineveh, and one of the most profound conversion stories of all times occurs: the entire city believes and is converted. Hallelujah! God is merciful! But there is a sobering part to this historical account too: the 3rd chapter of the book of Nahum records that just 100 years after this miraculous conversion, God destroyed Nineveh because they had returned to their former idolatrous and wicked ways. That doesn't mean those conversions in Nineveh weren't real - they were. But it does mean that the people forgot to do one very important thing: leave a spiritual inheritance for their children that would stay with them for generations to come. We must be exhorted and encouraged by this story to pray for, teach and protect our children from errant teaching (such as what is taught by leaders of the emergent church movement).
Parents, given what we know - from their own words - about the leaders of the Emergent Church Movement, do any of us who hold to orthodoxy think it would be wise to send our children to the event Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity to receive spiritual instruction? Or should we instead take seriously our charge as their spiritual authorities to disciple them ourselves in truth, not abdicating our God-given responsibilities and handing them over to other spiritual leaders for their spiritual training (other spiritual leaders, incidentally, who might have very different views of God, man, sin, and how it is that sinful man is reconciled to a high and holy God)?
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Emergent Church Leader Samir Selmanovic Worships with Witches
Not Conservative, Not Liberal: Progressive