Chuck Smith the Senior just released a paper on the "emergent church". (Parson to Parson, PDF) [UPDATE: paper probably written by someone on staff at Calvary but not Chuck Smith Sr - ) Its been years since I heard him preach at Calvary Church in Costa Mesa. My wife used to attend their Saturday evening events when she was a teenager but is not old enough to remember the days of Lonnie Frisbee and the beginnings of the Jesus Movement in Southern California. Chuck is a great guy and a well respected leader. But he may have been handed some bad info on the emerging church.
He suggests the emergent church:
1. Does not believe that Jesus is the only way by which one might be saved.
2. Soft peddles hell - traces of universalism
3. Experience of feelings become criteria of truth rather than Word of God
4. Use of icons to give them a sense of God.
5. We should not make sinners feel safe and comfortable in church.
6. They condone what God has condemned.
7. They look to Eastern religions and practices of mediation through yoga and spiritual breathing techniques or repeating a mantra.
8. The final authority of the Scripture is challenged by their confusion
Not saying that one or two of these elements are not present in some of the churches. I have used icons (crosses, flowers, architecture, photos) in church [but so do Calvary Chapel] and when "sinners" come to my house for a meal and a talk about Jesus, I make them feel safe and comfortable. House churches globally would be guilty of Number 5. The message of the cross is still a stumbling block and an offence - no getting around that - but our hospitality should not be such a barrier. And I believe in the authority of the Scripture and that Jesus is the only way to the Father. These are basics of the faith that are held worldwide and covered in the Lausanne Covenant, which I affirm, uphold and promote.
And if critics keep going on and on about the relationship between emerging church and breath prayers and repeating mantras . .. then maybe i will need to actually find out how to do one just so i know what they are talking about. I feel stupid reading this stuff - like maybe i am supposed to actually know more than I do.
Mantras? Doesn't Jesus tell the Pharisees not to repeat their prayers meaninglessly? Are emerging churches REALLY doing this? Because i haven't seen it. I do see the LORD's Prayer getting mantra-fied in some churches on a weekly basis but that would go for all churches - and emergent churches are less guilty of mindless repetition than traditional churches.
But I don't think this is all about emerging church defending themselves [again] over false accusations and i don't feel a need to put up a fight. If one looks behind the scenes, there was a recent mess-up with Chuckies book on spirituality and prayer called "When Storms Come" and Chuck is now clearing up the mess by distancing himself from anything labeled "contemplative". More here.
Chuck Smith the Junior, who i have enjoyed meeting a number of times [and he has commented on this blog before] sees the emerging church deeply connected with worship and has written a good book on the emerging church - "The End of the World As We Know It". I am hoping relations are good between the two Chuckies. I sent an email to Chuck Smith Jr this morning to see what's up. From looking at his website, Chuck is continuing and reproducing his father ministry by running an emerging church.
"Chuck Smith jr. started Capo Beach Calvary in Capistrano Beach, California, and has served as its pastor for 30 years. His father founded Calvary Chapel, a Southern California church that developed innovative ministries in the 1970s to reach young people in the counterculture. Today, Chuck is doing the same thing for emerging generations of the postmodern age." Link
Further: Phoenix Preacher