Erwin McManus is a superstar Southern Baptist pastor in California, known for his love of Celtic pagan worship mixed with biblical worship and his popularity among Emergent religionists. In this series of articles
, I explore and expose a number of lies he presented in his book, The Barbarian Way
. I have done nine individual lies so far. We pick up with number ten.
LIE #10. The gospel is not about salvation by faith for the forgiveness of sins
. Page 32. Specifically, McManus states that the idea of salvation by faith for the forgiveness of sins in order to escape God's wrath "results in our domestication." If you have not read the book, the theme is in the title. He exhorts young, male church-goers to live outside the authority of the church and its leaders. He uses buzz words, "domestication" and "civilization" for evil and "barbarian" and "danger" for good. Barbarian includes a disdain for biblical authority. This he calls the Barbarian Way and he says the great men of Scripture were like this, too. Here is what he says: "So what is the good news? The refined and civilized version goes something like this: Jesus died and rose from the dead so that you can live a life of endless comfort, security, and indulgence. But really this is a bit too developed. Usually, it's more like this: if you'll simply confess that you're a sinner and believe in Jesus, you'll be saved from the torment of eternal hellfire, then go to heaven when you die. Either case results in our domestication."
The deception is really thick here. First, notice he equates the health-and-wealth gospel with the real gospel. Why? The believe-in-Jesus-and-get-rich-and-healed message never was the gospel of orthodox Christianity and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins has always been the gospel. So why mention both as though they are of the same weight? The former is a modern invention of the televangelist thieves. The latter is the gospel of historical Christianity.
The only reason I can think of to do this is to relate the true to the obviously false so that both will be rejected. He doesn't really define the gospel, but he does go on to indicate it involves being dangerous and barbarian. It can't be seperated from those things. In this way, he plants in the minds of his readers the idea that rebelling against authority is really good. The authorities are evil.
LIE #11. Jesus' mission was not to seek and save the lost.
Page 31. McManus writes, "Even then Jesus understood His mission was to save us not from pain and suffering, but from meaninglessness." Interestingly, embedded with the main lie is another even more hideous. Notice the "Even then Jesus understood..." So it seems Jesus caught onto something earlier than Erwin might expect.
NEWS FLASH FOR ERWIN: Jesus is God. He doesn't catch on to anything, because He knows all things.
McManus, here, is trying to redirect our attention. The main reason Jesus came was to be the Lamb of God Who takes away our sins. McManus wants us to believe otherwise. He wants us to forget that and concentrate on the personal fulfillment we can get. If that is the point of Christianity, why not be a Communist. Many have found that added meaning to their lives. Or a Buddhist, or a Shriner, or a Republican, or a Muslim, or...
LIE #12. "Sacrifice and servanthood" are part of unruliness and rebellion.
Page 34. This is really just an example of the double talk so common in Emergent writings. On the one hand, McManus calls the young to be barbarians. On the other, one has to sound vaguely Christian to sell books through the local "Christian" book store. So put in something like this: "The bargarian way is about love expressed through sacrifice and servant hood." Yeah, that ought to do it.
LIE #13. Jesus called Peter (and by extension all the other disciples and you too, Boopy) to be a barbarian.
Page 35. Look at the illogic Erwin asks his readers to embrace: "Peter found himself being called to the barbarian way." He then recites John 21:18-19 as proof. (The book has "17-19." An editorial mistake, since the quote begins with verse 18.) That passage contains Jesus' prophecy that Peter would die at a very old age and in an infirm condition and it calls for Peter to submit to His will. How that leads to a barbaric way of life, I don't know. I'm sure Erwin doesn't know either. But he bet most of his readers wouldn't catch on to the nonsense. In this day and age he is right.
LIE #14. You should ignore good rules of hermeneutics and teach the young by example to be sloppy in their interpretation.
Page 45. Okay, he didn't actually say it. Instead, he modeled it. This is the kind of hermeneutics a first or second year Bible school student taking his first biblical interpretation course would get an F for if he did it. He said, "...the biblical word for witness
is actually the word for martyr
Put on your thinking caps here. Hermeneutics is just the fancy word for biblical interpretation, in case you're wondering. McManus committed two hermeneutical errors not fitting for a first year bible college student. First, he cited the New Testament word for "witness" as "the biblical word" for it. How about the other 70% of the Bible, Erwin? The Old Testament is in Hebrew, not Greek. Do you suppose it uses a word or two for "witness?" In fact, it did use several words, but when making a point pick your data and lie as if the rest of the data doesn't exist. Try that in court and see if you win many cases. Or even if you're still a member of the bar. Try that in science and see how many papers you get published. And get ready to teach at a back water school that couldn't get anyone else. Is Erwin, the real life communication wizard that he actually is, that stupid or is he lying?
The second hermeneutical mistake is even worse if you can imagine. It's called the time-frame fallacy. It is a fallacy often committed by Evangelical preachers that are uneducated, sloppy, or don't care about anything more than whipping up the folks and getting complements. This book is put out by Nelson Books, an old and respected Christian publishing house which has lost its integrity as most have. I hold them responsible as well. They knew better at one time.
The time-frame fallacy works like this: To make a dramatic pint in a sermon (or book) I can take a dramatic word in the English, find its Greek origin, if it has one, and tie it to my text to make the sermon more exciting.
The problem with that is two fold. First, it starts with human wants and the ego or employment aspirations of the preacher/writer, instead of the text of the Word of God. Second, it's often wrong in its conclusions because the meaning of a word in its historical, cultural context is what counts, not how the word came to mean what it means or what it or its cognates will mean in the future. The origins of a word are its etymology. A common example of this fallacy is the English word "dynamite." Often preachers will use that word to juice up a sermon about the power of God, the power of the Spirit, or the power of the Christian. The Greek word for the power to do something is "dunamis." (There is another Greek word that has to do with the power of authority.) From "dunamis" Mr. Nobel made the word for his invention of nitroglycerin mixed with sawdust, "dynamite." No New Testament author had the idea of "dynamite" in his mind when he wrote "dunamis." Here's the proof: They had never heard of dynamite becaue it hadn't been invented yet. So to read history backwards and say that Paul meant an explosive substance or anything like it is simply wrong. He meant "dunamis," not "dynamite."
Erwin did that same thing. The Greek word for "testify" is "martureo." The noun "witness" (one who testifies, not one who sees) is "martur." As history unfolded those that died for the faith were called God's witness. As such, the Greek word provided the root of the English word "martyr" for one who died or suffered for a cause. That was not in the mind of the writers of the New Testament. They meant one who testifies whether they suffered as a result or not. (But it really jazzes up Mr. McManus' point, and selling books, not accuracy to the Word of God is his main point, I think.)
Now I ask again, is Erwin that stupid or is he lying. I'm not asking this just to make the point that McManus is no good. (I've made that clear from the beginning.) However, I ask it for this reason: If he's lying, he's unfit as a Christian leader on moral grounds. If he's that stupid, he's unfit to teach because he doesn't adequately comprehend the subject or even how to study the primary texts.
You don't need to decide. Either possibility makes it imperative that the body of Christ discard him as a teacher until he changes.
Labels: Emergent Doctrine, Emergent Follies, McManus