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DARWINING DOWN THE WORD: EMERGENT PASTOR ERWIN MCMANUS AND HIS EVOLVING IDEA OF THE CHURCH



Posted: 02/10/06

Darwining Down the Word:

Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church

 

"My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ.  Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I'm anti-Christian. I think they might be right." Erwin Raphael McManus1

 

 

            Not long ago, I warned that Erwin McManus, a leader of the Emergent Church movement was headlining "Student Life" events across the U-S.  McManus has endorsed a book promoting open theism, a theology which calls into question the sovereignty of God, denies His omniscience, and is gaining a foothold in many "evangelical" seminaries today.  That alone, I believe, should concern parents, youth pastors and churches that are sending their teenagers to attend conferences led by the Los Angeles pastor and author.

            Student Life founder and president Randy Hall took umbrage with my assertion that McManus was involved in the Emergent Church movement/community/conversation, which seeks to promote a "post-modern gospel" in an effort to be more culturally relevant.  However, all one has to do is read McManus' book "An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind," to find he believes that the church must adapt to the world in order to become more culturally relevant.  This unscriptural idea is at the heart of the Emergent Church movement/community/conversation.  Doesn't the Bible teach us that we are to be in the world as salt and light, but not of it?  Romans 12:2 says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

            Unfortunately, rather than turn to God's Word, McManus uses flawed evolutionary analogies to outline his perspective on the church.  He refers to the pastor as "the spiritual environmentalist" and claims "For a species to survive and propagate in a given ecosystem," there must be "a balanced ecosystem," "environmental adaptation," "spontaneous reproduction," "the nurturing instinct" and "life-cycle harmony."2  Why he compares us to animals, I'm not certain, but the Bible clearly tells us we're separate from animals, made in the image of God.  I sure hope McManus is not leading a biology workshop at Student Life events.

            According to him, "Every living system that is fruitful is required to adapt to the environment in which it has been placed.  Species that thrive are species that adapt.  Species that do not adapt to change do not survive because change is an ever-present reality.  This is the difference between macroevolution and microevolution. This is not describing the change of one species into another species, for God clearly created each species according to its own kind, but it is the improvement of a species within its own kind."3

            It's true that species do change within a kind.   But opponents of biblical creation often use the fact that species change as evidence for Darwinian evolution, when it's only evidence for change within a kind.  This is not "survival of the fittest" as Charles Darwin taught. When an environment changes, it's not the fit or "improved" species that survive, it's those that happen to have the right characteristics to survive.

            Rather than consulting God's Word for insight, McManus applies his evolution metaphor to the church. "The church must acclimate to a changing world, or she will destine herself to irrelevance or even extinction. What this means for the pastor as spiritual environmentalist is that he must understand the changing environment in which the church has been called to serve.  One of those dramatic changes in our environment is the shift from words to images. To do church in a way that is entirely text driven is the kiss of death."4

            It's extremely dangerous for McManus to present the sin-cursed world as a metaphor for what churches and Christians should be doing today.  The world is fallen (Genesis 3) and "the whole creation groans" (Romans 8:22).   Instead, McManus should be looking at the world through the lens of Scripture.  He should be starting from the inspired Word of God.

            Research from George Barna shows only 9% of teenagers who call themselves "born-again" believe there's such a thing as absolute moral truth.5  It's no wonder whole generations of young people have been indoctrinated in naturalism and spiritual relativism, with speakers like McManus headlining Christian youth events and schools brainwashing teens with secular humanism.  As noted creation scientist Ken Ham told me in a recent news interview, "Instead of the church actually touching the culture, we've allowed the culture to invade the church.  And as a result, the church has adopted millions of years, evolutionary ideas, man's ideas."  I couldn't agree more.  Our young people need solid Bible teaching, not man's flawed ideas to grow in Jesus Christ and reach a lost world.  Sorry, Erwin.  I'll take the advice of God's Word over Darwin any day.

 

 

 

1 Erwin McManus, interview with the Christian Examiner

 

2 Erwin McManus, "An Unstoppable Force," p. 14

 

3 Ibid, p. 16

 

4 Ibid, p.17

 

5 http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=37

 

 

 

For an excellent review of McManus' book "The Barbarian Way," go to http://www.theothersideoftheriver.com/Articles/Hordes.shtml.

 

 

 

Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

By Jim Brown

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READER FEEDBACK


Erwin McManus, by someone in his pews.
Posted On: 04/08/08 04:41:12 PM Age 29, CA
Read the last post in this blog, and see what an attender of MacManus' church thinks. http://wholecounsel.blogspot.com/2006/06/erwin-mcmanus-and-emergent-church.html



Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 05/02/07 10:16:03 PM Age 38, NC
Erwin WILL bring Reformation to the religion we call Christianity, Reformation that I am excited about.

Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 03/18/07 06:06:12 PM Age 27, CA
Oh, where does one start? Erwin was trying to be creative in his use of nature to describe needs of the church. He talks about being un-Christian as a way of describing the practices of people and churches that do not represent Christ. He does this because he so badly wants God's people to re-present His Son correctly. I don't know, but it doesn't seem as though you read the entire book, or any of his others. Try "The Barbarian Way". Not exceptionally written, but a call to those who say they are followers of Christ, or have a Christian worldview, to live like it. The body of Christ was never only meant to know the right things, but to live them out as well. Mr. McManus is popular with young people because he encourages a return to Christ-like living, not just Christ-like thinking. Learning Bible verses and singing in the choir may have passed for discipleship in previous generations, but I'm glad Erwin points out that it's a whole lot more. If a Christian worldview doesn't lead you to love all people, desire your community to be radically transformed, or want to see the dead come to life (spiritually and physically!), then it's not very Christian. I think that's what Erwin is trying to get at. And one final thought: every single person I've shared a McManus book with has been inspired to go after Jesus like never before. Notice I said Jesus, not a postmodernliberalblahblah worldview. Read all of his stuff before you slander him. (I would like to take this moment to point out that all of this was written in a very gentle, loving tone.) =)



Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 02/20/07 02:36:59 PM Age 41, MI
As a conservative Christian I do not feel threatened, in any way, by Mr Mcmanus's teachings. I have heard Erwin speak and was very inspired to live a more Christ-like life. Your comments about his being "against Christians" are very much out of context. He is part of a growing movements of Christians who are challenging the Church to re-examine how we are "doing" church. This is not new age, nor is it open theism. It is, however, a call back to what the Christian church was meant to be - a loving, SERVING, forgiving body which encourages nonbelievers to turn from sin and turn to the one God of all creation. Your reaction seems fear based and threatened.

Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 01/11/07 11:12:20 AM Age 01001, TX
the idea of changing for the cultural times i think is something that the author of this article is taking differently. The Church, as of this time, IS culturally acceptable. The Church hasn't done anything "out of the norm" in MANY years. just because some of them sit around and argue with politicians about abortion doesn't mean we are indeed being the salt of the earth. i think Erwin's ideas here are awesome. nothing against what The Church has been doing, but for some, simply going on Sundays just isn't cutting it, and it shouldn't make them upset. the youth have a passion now that no youth before has had. what did the pharisee say when Christianity was placed before them? If it's of God, we won't be able to stop it^^ just some thoughts^^



Re: Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 08/17/06 10:32:49 AM Age 34, PA
You bring up an interesting point about leading people "away" from Christ or "to" Christ. Why not actually ask the 20- and 30-somethings who are listening to McManus and others like him? Are they closer to Christ as a result, or are they farther away from Him, taking an open theistic approach? I think you might be surprised. The people I know who have read McManus' books have experienced a much deeper, closer relationship with Jesus through Erwin's teachings. They aren't following McManus himself or being led astray. Rather, they are truly following Christ closer than ever before.

Re: Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 05/25/06 07:57:55 AM Age 24, FL
In the verse you used, "word" is used to represent Christ, not an actual word. I also think that Jesus was the most amazing storyteller not because of the words he used, but because of the imagery it brought about to those in his audience. When he was around church leaders he told stories they could relate to, when he was around the "common" folk of the time, he told stories with which they could relate.



Re: Re: Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 02/22/06 01:26:41 PM Age 49, IA
With a few exceptions, I don't think too many people these days worship the religion of Christianity. I am concerned, however, about the hyper-sensitivity and changed connotation of several words. Being "religious" used to be a good thing. It meant a person who had a devout faith. Today, it means ritualistic and worshiping religion rather than God. Being a "fundamentalist" used to be a compliment. It was a person who believed in the Bible and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Today it means someone who is a right-wing fanatic, and the term is applied by some to Christians and Islamic terrorist with basically the same meaning. Preachers used to be held in high regard when they taught about things like "santification" and "justification" and "doctrine". But those words are now considered no longer appealing to seekers (most of whom must apparently have a 5th grade level of education and are unable to comprehend teachings about such concepts), and have been replaced with more user-friendly terms, if the concepts are taught at all.

Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 02/15/06 02:06:27 PM Age 38017, TN
Great job Jim. Keep up the good work. It is sad people can not read the books and interviews with Erwin and see what he says is not biblically acceptable. Ii is also telling that so many young people in their teens and early 20s are his biggest defenders. Some of these young people will grow in their biblical knowledge and discernment and regret they were part of this movement. I also think you have lots of his supporters working together to give feedback to your column. This means you have hit a nerve. Good for you. Please keep writing and posting more articles like this, I am learning a lot as well as are some of my friends that have e-mailed your article to their pastors and friends.



Re: Darwining Down the Word: Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and His Evolving Idea of the Church
Posted On: 02/15/06 11:52:50 AM Age 62, OH
I NEVER CEASE TO BE AMASSED AT THE ABILITY OF THE LIBERAL ELEMENT I THIS COUNTRY AND HOW THEY CAN READILY STEP INTO OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND MANIPULATE THE MINDS OF OUR YOUTH.NO ONE EVER SEEMS TO STEP UP AND SAY SOMETHING TO STOP THIS POLLUTION OF MINDS. WE NOW HAVE LIBERAL ATHEIST, PRO-GAY, PRO-UTHANISM, EVOLUTIONIST, PRO-ABORTIONIST, ANTI-GOD, PRO-ISLAM, PRO-TERRORIST, ANTIFEMINIST, PRO-CLONERS, AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON. WHEN WILL WE GROW WEARY OF THE DISTRUCTION OF OUR YOUTH BY POLITICAL POLLUTERS AND HOLLYWOOD TRASH AND TAKE A STAND TO CLEAN UP OUR COLLEGE CAMPUSES. I NEVER DREAMED THAT SO CALLED CHRISTIANS WOULD JOIN THOSE WHO ARE BENT TO THE DISTRUCTION OF ALL THAT OUR LIFE AND HOPE IS BASED ON, THAT IS OUR FAITH. AS FOR ME I HAVE AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE, BACHELOR DEGREE, MASTERS DEGREE, AND DR. DEGREE, ALL EARNED AND THOSE 250+ CREDIT OURS NEVER CAUSED ME TO DOUBT GODS WORD OR EXISTENCE. IT RATHER ENHANCED AND BUILT MY FAITH IN GOD AND THE WORK OF THE CHURCH. IF THESE PEOPLE ARE REAL THEN THEIR EVANGELISTIC EFFORTS ARE TO THE DEMISE OF THE LORDS WORK AND THOUGH THEY MAY BE WORRIED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING ARE DEFINITELY FREEZING THE TRUTH OF GOD IN THEIR ACTIONS.

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