A Critique of the Emerging Church

This past Sunday during a group discussion on discernment and ways to “test the spirits” because of the many false prophets that abound today, a group member told of their encounters with various elements of the Emerging Church.[1]  Many in the group were unaware of its existence and the many ways that its ideology permeates our modern society.

In his well known book, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Paul Enns offers an in-depth discussion on this movement and its effect on the landscape of modern Christianity.  In review of Enns’ discussion of the Emerging Church, I wholeheartedly agree with his evaluation of this movement.  Every single point made by him can be substantiated with the absolute truth of the Scriptures, even though I will only address four of Enns’ points. 

First, Enns states that “emerging church leaders have recognized the change in culture and are attempting to connect with that culture.”[2]  Although its efforts of reaching a changing culture are commendable, the Emerging Church has significantly missed the mark on how to effectively evangelize to a lost world.  God charges all Christians to be separate from an ungodly world, and reject everything that is unclean in His eyes in order to achieve the title of son or daughter of God.[3]  Although it is almost impossible to physically separate oneself from society, Paul charges all Christians to be separated spiritually from the rest of society, thus providing a righteous alternative.

Second, Enns states that “by embracing relativism, the emerging church has abandoned an authoritative source of truth—the Scriptures.[4]  In essence, if moral truth is relative to the individual, then there is no absolute truth.  When this logic is applied to the deity of God and Christ, a more pantheistic worldview emerges within society as a whole.  However, in the New Testament, Jesus reasserts the Old Testament commandment of loving the one true God, and declares that He is still one Lord.[5]  In addition, concerning the veracity of Scripture, Jesus proclaims the absolute truthfulness of His Word and its role in the spiritual separation, or sanctification, from the world discussed above.[6]

Third, according to Dan Kimball, an emergent author and pastor, “to emerging generations…darkness is more desirable.”[7]  This simple statement is a key indicator that the Emerging Church is incongruent with Scripture.  Jesus is very clear that evildoers despise the light because it will illuminate their evil deeds, but one who is a doer of the Word is drawn to the light.[8]

In conclusion, Enns presents a viable discussion of the Emerging Church, as well as a case for its erroneous teachings.  This theology is just another cup of dirt used to muddy the waters of Christianity, and dispel seeds of doubt and discord among the body of Christ.  There is just enough biblical truth present to convince those who do not yet eat of the meat of Scripture that they are a viable theology.  For these actions, their judgment awaits for eternity.


[1] 1 John 4:1, NKJV.

[2] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), 694.

[3] 2 Corinthians 6:17-19, NKJV.

[4] Enns, 695.

[5] Mark 12:29, NKJV.

[6] John 17:15-19, NKJV.

[7] Enns, 690.

[8] John 3:19-21, NKJV.

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