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