Monday, January 29, 2007



In the first two parts of this series on evanglizing Emergents, we started with two questions aimed at pointing out the differences between normal, logical thinking and Emergent thinking and between Bible-based thinking and Emergent thinking.

The first question was "Is there such a thing as a right answer?" This question is designed to point to the basic fallacy of Emergent thought. Pretend you're an Emergent and your car develops bad brakes. Stopping is a problem. While thinking about your car you realize there is something wrong with your car. This implies your car could be right and when you take it to your mechanic, you expect to pay him hundreds of dollars to find out what is wrong. You want him to find the right answers to the questions "What is wrong with my brakes?" and "What has to be done to fix them?" However, as an Emergent, when you stop thinking about your car, and begin to think about world view questions it is like a switch is flipped. You have to stop thinking rationally and begin to think in terms that exclude right (rational) answers. Obviously, this is a trick we all pull on ourselves from time to time to avoid dealing with spiritual realities. When asked the first question, the Emergent and your hearers have a chance to realize just how stupid it is to think that way. And I'm not being mean here when I call it "stupid." It's really stupid. Even if the Emergents dares to answer "no" he's claiming there's a right answer to that question.

The second question is "Does the Bible have the right to tell you how to think?" Keep the "you" in there. This is to be applied personally. The main point of this question is the stop the Emergent or your hearers from excusing themselves from the truth claims of Scripture. If the Emergent admits "yes" he is in your hands. If he says "no," then you have just short circuited one of his main debate weapons. An Emergent will often quote Scripture to make a point against a believer, but will deflect Scriptural points of argument with the excuse that the Scripture is not all that propositional, inerrant, or authoritive. This takes that argument away from him either way he answers. If "yes," his excuses are gone. If "no," he can no longer legitimately argue anything from Scripture because if it is not binding on him, it is not binding on you. And your hearers will be alerted to what an Emergent really thinks.

In the second part we discussed the necessity to confront the Emergent with the fact that he is not a believer and with the reality of the gospel. This is extremely important for your hearers to hear and understand, too, since the Emergents always pretend to be Christians, and some think they are. If you can establish that, you can present the gospel, if not to the Emergent, to your hearers.

In this third article I want to go into some easy reasoning aimed at establishing the fact that the Emergent is not a believer. This will help you in your confrontation with the fact that he is not a believer and with the presentation of the gospel as something that really is true and something he has to deal with. Even if he is a believing Type III Emergent (see Part II) assume he is not saved for his sake and for the sake of your hearers. I cannot emphasize the importance of truthful confrontation enough. It will be very shocking to the Emergent and many, if not all, of your hearers to hear you say the Emergent is not a believer. However, the Emergent quotes I will give you in this article will help you establish just that fact. This is so important that when an Emergent calls me a brother, I gently tell him we are not brothers, because we believe very different things. I'm a believer in the gospel and he is not. Don't be arrogant, but don't shy about this, either. First, it is the truth. Second, it is just shocking enough to many that the debate will begin in earnest. He will not leave until some resolution is reached or until he or you have to go for other considerations. He will argue with you all the way home that evening in his head. He may even lose sleep. Pray for his conviction.

To establish the difference between Emergent thinking and biblical faith, you will need to be able to quote a number of Emergent leaders. Their own words will expose them when contrasted to Scripture.

One of my favorite quotes from Emergents is Donald Miller's "If we hold that Jesus wanted us to 'believe' certain ideas or 'do' certain things in order to be a Christian, we are holding to heresy." Then quote John 3:16. Ask who is right, Jesus or Miller. According to Miller, are we supposed to believe anything to be Christians? According to Jesus, are we supposed to believe anything to be Christians? Would you say that someone who doesn't believe anything is a believer? Ask these questions and let the Emergent slowly work through them. Even if he is stubborn and simply tries to double talk his way around it, he will demonstrate to all your hearers that he is lying to get out of the facts. And you will be laying the ground work for presenting the gospel to them.

Here are some other quotes that you may use in a similar way and a suggested question or two to follow up:

1. "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter." --Tony Jones, director of Emergent Village(1). According to John 3:16, would Jesus ask His followers to take a position on some things? According to Tony Jones, does the Emergent take a position on anything? Then is the Emergent believing what Jesus told us to believe? Then, since they are not following Christ, are they Christian?

2. "If we hold that Jesus wanted us to 'believe' certain ideas or 'do' certain things in order to be a Christian, we are holding to heresy." --Donald Miller, popular Emergent author(2). Did Jesus ask Nicodemus in John 3:16 to "believe certain things?" Who's right? Miller or Jesus?

3. "...if you’ll simply confess you 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..." is a statement that Erwin McManus actually makes fun of. Erwin McManus --popular Emergent author, speaker, and pastor(3). Do you think the Bible wants us to believe that Jesus died to save us from hell? Who's right, God or McManus?

I hope this helps in your efforts to work with these people.

In any case, remember to start with the two questions, confront them with the truth of the gospel, and confront them with the contrast between the truth and the Emergent.

ONE LAST REMINDER: Confront, but confront gently as you are no better than an Emergent. You're just saved.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

(3)McManus, Erwin; The Barbarian Way; Nelson Books; Nashville, TN; 2005; ISBN 0-7852-6432-9; page 32.



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