"Throwing Our Future Church Leaders to the Wolves" <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
An estimated 25,000-30,000 young people are expected to attend "Student Life" events with their church youth groups this year in twelve different locations across the U-S. Headlining the 2006 tour are worship leader Charlie Hall, the drama team "All Things to All People" and Los Angeles pastor and author Erwin McManus, a leader in the Emergent Church movement.
But before you pay to send your teenager off to one of the Student Life conferences, be aware that Emergent leaders such as McManus, Leonard Sweet, Andy Crouch, Brian McLaren, and others are pushing liberal theology under the guise of "postmodern" Christianity. The movement assails absolute truth, the inerrancy of Scripture and justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and instead embraces spiritual relativism and mysticism. Sound like something you want your son or daughter dabbling in? This "New Kind of Christianity," as McLaren calls it, is distorting the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler has said "When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the identity of Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully divine, the authoritative character of Scripture as written revelation, and the clear teaching of Scripture concerning issues such as homosexuality, this movement simply refuses to answer the questions." Yet, the movement continues to gain traction among undiscerning believers young and old, as well critics of traditional evangelicalism.
In an interview with www.freshministry.org, McManus was asked what advice he would give preachers that want to minister in the postmodern age. He responded by saying, "First, The sermons that are changing the world are the ones where the pastor is real--sharing his journey with the congregation. Second, stop preaching sermons and start telling stories. Third, Break though the pressure to be a great preacher and become a great leader." In other words, away with sound doctrine if it's not culturally relevant or entertaining to your audience.
Perhaps more troubling, McManus endorsed Gregory Boyd's book "Is God to Blame." Boyd is a leading proponent of open theism, which denies God knows all of the future. In the book, Boyd argues that Almighty God suffers from self-imposed limits on His power. At the very least, it's apparent McManus is willing to tolerate a heretical view that undermines the doctrine of Christ's Atonement and the authority of Scripture.
One has to question why Student Life would feature McManus at its popular conferences and why any youth pastor would wittingly allow his youth group to sit under an Emergent pastor's teaching. I think the answer can be found in II Timothy 4:3-4: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." Christian young people need sound doctrine to grow in Christ and reach a lost world for Jesus, not a "postmodern" or culturally relevant gospel.
Jim Brown is an education reporter for American Family Radio News. His stories appear frequently at www.agapepress.org and other Christian websites. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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