"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Standing Whole ~ EC6

I guess in light of my past five posts it is pretty easy to see that The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns was really quite disturbing for me…on a number of fronts. I have outlined some (but not all) of my concerns in these past posts. I do not wish to discredit anyone, or anyone’s ministry. I believe it is wrong to do so. One never knows if someone is only temporarily deceived or misled by something that could be harmful. We all need a chance to learn and grow with patience as we seek the truth. That being said, however, I believe there are times that error absolutely must be exposed. Richard Stearns’ book is a number one best seller, and it is said to have had a great impact on the Christian church, today. That fact is extremely bothersome in light of all I found while reading this book. I decided if Stearns can write what he believes is wrong with today’s church, I guess I can counter with what I believe is wrong with his book. Much of what is frightening about his world view may be hard to recognize as it is very much cloaked in a richness of truth. But the fact can not be ignored that a lot of his teaching is distorted, a bit condescending, and it appears he has a motive that is a whole lot deeper than a desire to bring believers into a stronger relationship with our Lord which he claims can only be achieved by offering our lives in service to the poor.

I have already written about most of my concerns. I simply want to summarize in this final post that we as believers need to be aware of what is taking place within our churches through the emergent church movement. For myself, I am concerned that what the emergent church* is espousing is not just a simple mistake; it is not simply doctrinal differences, or a misunderstanding of words and interpretation. Is it much more than that? I have found myself wondering if what is taking place in churches across America is intentional to weaken, divide and attack. Yeah, I’m a conspiracy theorist. It is common knowledge that in order to bring about change in any venue, what is standard or the norm in people’s lives must be proven wrong or inadequate before any change can be brought forth. I’m not saying Richard Stearns intentionally seeks to divide the church. I don’t believe that. But I do believe he seeks to bring the church into a liberal political view that he believes is necessary to orchestrate work in the foreign mission field. It appears it is his belief that this work must be done through the United Nations. And I believe that is dangerous.

I also found what I believe to be error in doctrine and in his interpretation of certain Scripture. Most troubling is his interpretation of Matthew 25: 31-46. But I chose not to write about that. I chose rather to focus my concerns on the political side of his writings and what is happening in the emerging church, because politics is exactly what emergent leaders are using to bring about the change they hope to effect. There is a common mantra coming from any and all emergent leaders one may seek to study. That study will reveal a belief that:

• We need a social gospel (through liberal politics) that must spread throughout the world.
• Americans are puffed up and greedy and to blame for the world’s ills.
• The American Dream needs to be destroyed.
• We need the work of the UN through the UN Millennium Development Goals and the World Health Organization
• God is in every person and in all things.
• All faiths are of the same God and we should strive for an ecumenical belief system.

Also noticeable among emergents is a failure to speak of the need of repentance from a sinful heart. America is blamed as those who have neglected a duty for taking care of the poor of the world. Most emergent leaders fail to mention it is America that provides this aid more than any other nation.

As I said in my previous posts, Stearns chooses to quote and highlight some troubling figures. Some of whom are fellow Christians that are having a tremendous impact on today’s church. For example: Rick Warren. Why is Warren a problem for me?

Warren showed his ecumenical side at President Obama’s inauguration when he prayed these words:
“I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, Esa, Jesus, Jesus—who taught us to pray…”

Esa, to those of the Islamic religion, is a “prophet” of God worshipped by Muslims and spoken of repeatedly in the Quran. The Quran teaches that though Esa was born of immaculate conception, he is believed to be human and not at all considered to be Divine.

The Bible, however, is very clear that there is no other God and “no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” - Acts 4:12. That a Christian would choose to pray in the name of a false “prophet” is deeply troubling. Yet Stearns and other emergent leaders continue to quote Warren and use him as an example in their work.

Stearns also quotes Jimmy Carter with a fact that simply isn’t true. Carter says:

“The greatest problem of our time is the growing gap between the richest and poorest people on earth.”

Oh really. And all this time I thought the greatest problem of our time might be lives lived without Jesus; wars and rumor of wars; earthquakes and other natural disasters, and of course famines; just to name a few. The poor? Heartbreaking, yes; but the gap between rich and poor the greatest problem? I don’t think so. Carter’s quote and Stearns exposition on it sounds like a socialistic agenda to me! I guess it’s time to "spread the wealth around". Only thing is, Jesus said that would never work. He said the poor will always be among us. No, I am not saying that we shouldn’t bother with the poor in that case. Of course we are to care for any and all those in need that God places in our path. Hey! I even believe that includes unborn babies who will lose their lives before they have a chance to breathe that first breath of life….oh but wait, Stearns said if I care about that I am just “trying to grab a piece of the media spotlight.” Sounds like politics to me. And woops! I promised myself I wouldn’t get sarcastic or flippant.

I have never understood why those that claim not to be political want to find fault with those that do. I believe America has been blessed by God to be the nation most able to spread His Gospel and in fact we have been the ones that have consistently done just that. But if we do not strive politically to keep those freedoms, we will not be able to continue to reach that goal. I believe God has gifted each of us for a reason. If we didn’t have the “Jerry Falwell’s” and “Pat Robertson’s” who have fought diligently to preserve our freedoms, we wouldn’t be able to have the “Billy Graham’s” that seek to only share the Gospel….and by the way, where have the “Billy Graham’s” gone?

Stearns explanation of how this hole came to be in our Gospel, is nothing more than his opinion. He takes great strides to inform us this hole is a result of the liberal concern for the poor that came into odds with the conservative “who believed the world was beyond fixing”. That’s political! But more than that, it is only his personal belief. The problem is, he presents it as fact and diligently tries to convince us that this divide is the major cause of bringing about a "partial gospel" on both sides. The truth of the matter is, the gospel Stearns presents, barely resembles the Gospel of old.

Most distressing of all; Stearns, in this book, has changed the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a gospel of people of works and action with Stearns himself being the one that has determined what believers should be doing if they are truly saved. I don’t believe I read anything like that anywhere in Scripture. In order for him to convince us and bring us into his world view, he needs to have us believe “Two thousand years ago the world was changed forever by just twelve men…it can happen again.” My reason for these posts is simply to say, I’m afraid that just isn’t so.

Ok, I’m done. Thanks for reading.

"Be it known unto you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.....Neither is there salvation in any other..."              Acts 4: 10-12

*Throughout my posts, I have made no distinction between the "emergent church" and the "emerging church".  I am referring to each term as one and the same.


  1. Thanks again for your insight. Never be done.

  2. Enjoyed reading your insights into this book. It would be interesting to find out how Mr. Stearns lives: for instance, does he give away all of his huge income from a best seller to the poor of the world? What kind of car does he drive, house? Clothes? Is he following his own preaching and living frugally to give all that he has to the poor? That would be fascinating to me to find out....and you are right in that the chief end of man, as the catechism points out, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Then the Scriptures teach us what duty God requires of us. Many of us were called to this culture, this place, this time to try and build the kingdom of God right here. I don't believe there should be guilt heaped upon us because we are not called elsewhere. So steady on! It is an important calling to expose error and declare truth! Amie

  3. Thanks for commenting, Amie...Yes, it would be interesting to see how he lives..He makes the point early on in his book, that he gave up a huge house, a fancy car, and a very high paying job in order to take the job at World Vision. But your right about the money from his book...I'm not sure he mentioned that.

    I so agree with you! Not all of us are called abroad; neither should we have to feel guilty because of that.

    I was glad to get that out of my system. (Ha ha..there is still a lot more I wanted to say!) ;-) Thanks for reading, commenting and hanging in there with me... :-)