Saturday, November 04, 2006

Throwing Down the Gauntlet --
Evangelicalism as a Cult.


Go to dictionary.com and look for the word "cult".

Definition 6 should be "...a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader."

Ok, what's my point? Well, I'll have to locate it but on another blog, I read a comment from a reader which stated that "emergent" was a new cult within evangelicalism.

I disagree. Reread that definition, and consider the words "false", "unorthodox" and "under the direction of a charismatic leader". Let that sink in. Now, read the next line slowly and thoughtfully.

Those terms fit contemporary evangelicalism.

That's precisely what I said -- Those terms fit contemporary evangelicalism.

Now, I grant you that most of us aren't extremists "...living outside of conventional society". But then the definition doesn't make that an absolute. Besides, many bona-fide cults also are not marked by extremism or living apart from conventional society, such as Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. They make decent neighbors and so often the Mormons even come off better in society than many "evangelicals".

You say "But we aren't under a charismatic leader!" No??? What about Rick Warren, "America's (untouchable and unexaminable) pastor"?

Modern evangelicalism is not orthodox. How do I know? Because the Scriptures stand as the sole authoritative norm by which we must measure ourselves and the Church.

"Considered to be false"? By Whom? Simple question, simple answer. God.

In an earlier article I mentioned that we have created our own god (small 'g' intentional). You know, the one who wants us to ignore purity in the church althewhile pretending to care about "seekers" (which will then become the "newly ignored" as we go out to get more "seekers"). We worship a god (again, small 'g' intentional) that only cares about numbers, not purity. One who (intentional small 'w') doesn't mind us worshipping and fulfilling our own "needs" through entertainment disguised as worship.

So, we have a false gospel, wrong mission and wrong goals.

Not only that, we preach a "gospel" that teaches "salvation by decision", not by grace through faith (which the Bible teaches is the dual-sided coin of repentance and trust in Christ alone). In fact, at Saddleback, all you have to do to be considered saved and eligable for baptism is check a box on a sheet of paper! Please, show me that in the scriptures!

Now, if you were to walk into your church and see a golden calf sitting there, would you tolerate this? Of course not! But what is the difference between a "graven image" or statue made of metal or wood and the falsehoods we hold to in our own minds? And evangelicalism is rife with falsehoods, which I've already alluded to.

God doesn't differentiate between physical idolatry and spiritual idolatry any more than He differentiates between hatred and murder.

Furthermore, just try moving within almost any evangelical circle and raise questions about Rick Warren and his methods. Please. Then tell me what happens. Evangelicalism would question Jim Jones, but for some reason it's considered "unacceptable" to suspect anything of "Pastor" Warren. Even though he has stated on video that he can't tell us what parameters are right or wrong in any religion such as Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism.

So, we have a false gospel, wrong mission and wrong goals and a wrong object of worship. Our motives may be right, but then that doesn't make "evangelicalism" any different than (again) Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. And we have our own "Jim Jones" who is more than happy to dispense poison to us.

Does that tick you off just a little bit? Is there something inside you that gets angry about this? Then perhaps that's because this hits home.

So, I disagree with the person that posted that comment. Emergent isn't a cult within evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has morphed. It is, itself, now a cult.

8 comments:

danfromtn said...

Nice gauntlet pic.

I agree. It IS a cult. But the Evangelicalism of today is actually New (or Neo) Evangelicalism.

There is some interesting history in an article by David Cloud at http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/fundamen1.htm and I’ve pasted a little below…

In the first half of the 20th century evangelicalism in America was largely synonymous with fundamentalism.
Many historians make this connection, including Mark Ellingsen (The Evangelical Movement) and George Marsden (Reforming Fundamentalism). Marsden says, “There was not a practical distinction between fundamentalist and evangelical: the words were interchangeable” (p. 48).
When the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was formed in 1942, for example, participants included such staunch fundamentalist leaders as Bob Jones, Sr., John R. Rice, Charles Woodbridge, Harry Ironside, and David Otis Fuller.
By the mid-1950s, though, a clear break between separatist fundamentalists and non-separatist evangelicals occurred. This was occasioned largely by the ecumenical evangelism of Billy Graham. The stronger men dropped out of the NAE. The terms evangelicalism and fundamentalism began “to refer to two different movements” (William Martin, A Prophet with Honor, p. 224).
The sons of evangelical-fundamentalist preachers determined to create a “New Evangelicalism.” They would not be fighters; they would be diplomats, positive rather than militant, infiltrators rather than separatists. They would not be restricted by a separationist mentality.
.
.
.
New Evangelical thought has swept the globe. Today it is no exaggeration to say that almost without exception those who call themselves evangelicals are New Evangelicals; the terms have become synonymous.

Jane said...

Tim,
You have made a profound statement which should be repeated many times. As years have passed I have sensed more and more that my freedom has diminished within the fold. The so-called truths which appear self-evident of the popular evangelical culture have a chilling effect on free speech in church fellowship and the totalitarianism of the PDC philosophy lays a dark veil of distrust among believers in churches all over America.

Anonymous said...

interesting post.
i've been reading quite a bit about those "emergent as a cult" and i was wondering if there were any who disagreed because there's something in their arguement that sounds hollow. interestingly enough, i found your site through their links...
cheers

Julie said...

After reading your post, I wonder at your choice of graphic. It looks like Sauron's hand, from Lord of the Rings.

What are you saying, despite all of what you've said? You might think it a minor thing to quibble on the graphic, but I think, by your title and accompanying graphic, you're equating yourself with Sauron.

This isn't splitting hairs. It speaks volumes. Perhaps more than the words you've used to write off evangelicals as a cult.

Blair said...

Very interesting post. I think you are a very level headed Christian. I had to look up who Warren is.

Tim Brown said...

Blair:

Thank you. To whatever degree I'm level-headed, give God the glory; he's been doing alot of filing!

Blessings to you,

Tim

Tim Brown said...

Julie:

Yup. You're reading things into the graphic. It is to be taken as a picture of a gauntlet, period.

Another graphic that has raised an eyebrow or two (not here but at the source) is the "friend of discernment" graphic on my blog homepage. Regardless of the statement of the logo's creator that it was a stylized "d" for "discernment", there were those who were convinced that it was "the eye of horus", and that the creator of the logo was therefore identifying himself with unsavory things.

Oh well.

Tim Brown said...

Julie:

Tell ya what -- and I don't mean this sarcastically but with sincerity -- if that graphic really bothers you, find a couple "better" ones. What I have there now is just what I found "out there".

If you can do that, I'll mail you a bunch of Ray Comfort's tracts at my expense.

Thanks for your help!

Tim