Blogger and researcher Jim Fletcher has worked in the book publishing industry for 15 years, and is now director of the apologetics group Prophecy Matters. His new book, "Truth Wins," provides important analysis of Rob Bell and his Emergent friends.More ↓Less ↑
As Christian publishing continues to morph into some sort of postmodern entity, it is perhaps not surprising that “doubt” is the new buzzword among what passes for evangelicals these days.
By the way, the term “evangelical” itself is now fluid. In bygone days, everyone understood that the primary agenda for evangelicals was to evangelize. Now, as the Emergent movement gains steam – and I would argue against those voices like John MacArthur, who contend that the movement is already in decline – even clear labels are now murky. For an example of this, see Lynne Hybels’ blog at Sojourners.
It was somewhat discouraging to see an evangelical group, Christian Retailing, giving space to a news item about Reformed pastor John Suk’s new book, “Not Sure: A Pastor’s Journey From Faith to Doubt.”
Notice this gem: “Suk was pleased that his chapter on why you can’t have a personal relationship with Jesus was excerpted and run in The Christian Century magazine.”
Suk describes the book as “the story of a pastor who used to have all the answers.”
This is dismaying because this effort comes at a time when young people in particular are searching for meaning and truth. They are being told directly by Emergent leaders that, in essence, truth can’t be nailed down.
It appears that one of the strategies of the left/Emergent is to appear super cool and relevant to college-aged students. Embracing doubt – a curious and deadly habit for clergy – is the order of the day. So is embracing pop culture.
Just this morning, “America’s Pastor” (unfortunately) Rick Warren tweeted: “News in today’s paper: ‘Lady Gaga wins court case against Lady Goo Goo – a children’s cartoon character.’”
Here, Pastor Rick is showing how cool and culturally relevant he is by referencing the strange career of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, a pop singer.
What the Emergent/Gaga crowd misses is that our youth are soaked in our rotten culture 24/7. Why do they need to also be exposed to it in church?
It is a well-known fact that American pop culture doubts the truth of Scripture. It is the spirit of the age. How incredibly sad that American pastors enjoy repudiating the faith of their fathers; most of them display open contempt for what I’d call the “old-time” religion. This attitude is the norm, from Notre Dame scholar Mark Noll (who grudgingly tells us in his writings that, OK, I’ll still be an evangelical, even though the community is dominated by anti-intellectual knuckle-draggers), to the oh-so-relevant young turks being mentored by Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels.
Witness a recent blog theme from Tommy Sparger, of North Point Church in Springfield, Mo.
His premise is that we should embrace doubt: “I begin to realize that some of Christianity’s perceived enemies were not really enemies at all. If anything, many of them were very concerned for the poor and hurting of this world. Many of them were thoughtful individuals with an intellect that they exercised. Many of them were not afraid to have their assumptions and beliefs challenged. That was different. Many Christians that I knew were paranoid of having their beliefs challenged.”
Sparger alleges a lot of things in such a short space. Notice the nod to Noll’s view that evangelicals have historically been buck-toothed, hillbilly inbreds. Notice also the call to a “social justice” agenda (as if committed, Bible-believing Christians haven’t always been committed to helping the poor and preaching justice).
Sparger goes on to embrace doubt about the faith, even referencing the apostles. Yes, Thomas doubted, and we are told that “some” doubted, but Thomas eventually embraced the truth of Jesus Christ. Thomas had a biblical worldview; he didn’t drift toward an Emergent view that absolute truth can’t be known.
I think it’s also not surprising that Sparger has endorsed Brian McLaren’s books on his own website.
Why do Emergent leaders and pastors not teach young people this: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Instead, they are told that we need new ways of reading the Bible. Not coincidentally, these new ways are embraced by folks like the Pied Piper of Emergent, Brian McLaren, who has written, “Sometimes doubt is absolutely essential.”
It is? In a biblical sense?
One of the problems with this worldview is that it is being published widely, due to new delivery systems. As someone said, the Internet is both good and bad; true worldviews can be disseminated, and false worldviews can be disseminated.
What many Bible-believing Christians are missing is that these liberal views of the faith are impacting young people dramatically. Besides my aforementioned prediction that Emergent is gaining strength, I also maintain – though it is painful to admit – that in another generation, our nation’s support for Israel will decline dramatically. Hand-in-hand with sowing doubt about the Bible is the embracing of the so-called Palestinian narrative, which castigates the Jewish state.
This view is also being promoted by the Emergents, and their target demographic is college students.
In any case, the Bible is self-authenticating. Yet this view is held in contempt by the young turks who fill America’s pulpits today. They sow doubt about the faith. They also, comically, tout their tolerance.
Would they be open to the view of the Bible espoused by men like Robert Dick Wilson, John MacArthur, or, heaven forbid, Dave Hunt?