The Bookstore

During my recent research into the Emergent Church I kept running into a worldview that contained elements of post-modernism, relativism, universalism, and humanism, all of them contrary to a biblical worldview. Then it occurred to me, this is nothing new.

Liberal theologians have tried to incorporate these philosophies into Christianity for years. In fact, this very unbiblical worldview has infiltrated and taken control of a great many Christian denominations in recent years. It even made inroads into the Southern Baptist Convention (of which I am a part) until Bible-believing men and women stood up and said, “no more.”

All of this recycled liberal theology I found prevalent in the Emergent Church reminded me of a conversation I had with a women years ago in a bookstore in Indianapolis. I wrote about the experience and it ran in Baptist Press. I think it effectively illustrates the worldview of the Emergent Church.

Here it is:

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–“I’m a Christian,” she said, “but I’m not so arrogant or foolish to think we have the only way to God.”

During a conversation with a lady at an Indianapolis Barnes & Noble bookstore, this was only one of several statements made by someone professing to be a believer in Jesus Christ. I found it odd such a person would ignore the words of the very person she claimed as her Lord.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6.

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” — John 3:18.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12.

“I have a problem with my son-in-law right now over this very issue,” she said. “He and my daughter are getting ready to have a baby and he insists they teach the baby at a very early age about Jesus and the Bible. My daughter thinks they should allow the baby to grow up some and make his or her own determination about spirituality. It’s pretty shallow to try to force your own spirituality on another. Especially since there are so many ways to God out there.”

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” — Proverbs 22:6.

“He dragged me to his church once,” she said. “That preacher talked about how without God everyone is bad. I told my son-in-law I’d never go back to that church because I refused to be around people who ignored the good that is in all of us.”

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” — Jeremiah 17:9.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” — Romans 3:10.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23.

“For there is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” — Ecclesiastes 7:20.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” — 1 John 1:8.

“My son-in-law said everyone was a sinner and without Christ would face a terrible judgment,” she said. “I told him that maybe his god was that way. But my god loves everyone and wouldn’t do that. I think I’m better off with my god.”

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” — Hebrews 10:31.

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.

Every now and then I’m asked whether I think all the fighting over the inerrancy of the Bible in the Southern Baptist Convention was worth it. Always in the past I’ve invited the questioner to imagine a brand of Christianity where the authority of Scripture was ignored in favor of cultural whim and political correctness. The lady I met in Barnes & Noble was completely adrift. She had no anchor, no foundation of any sort.

By contrast, when Southern Baptists get together to discuss doctrine we now agree on the final authority. We can spend more time digging into actual doctrine because we recognize the ultimate authority of the inspired Word of God.

The discussion at Barnes & Noble gave me an actual example of the danger in seeking spiritual authority in places other than Scripture. It also taught me that we, as Southern Baptists, are now known for the stand we took.

Another lady involved in the conversation mentioned how “narrow Christian thinking” had caused her last two relationships to end.

“Were they intolerant?” the first lady asked of the second’s ex-boyfriends.

“Yes,” was the response.

“Were they narrow-minded?”

“Yes. They insisted the Bible was the only authoritative revelation from God.”

“They were probably Southern Baptists.”

They may not have been Southern Baptists, but I’m glad she thought so.

I remember thinking, at the time, how destructive this kind of thinking could be if it ever became the predominant mindset in the church. I’ve seen its terrible effects on several denominations where the authority of the Word of God is subordinate to the feelings of people “in tune” with contemporary culture. I’ve seen it attack the church from without via secular organizations and media. And I’ve seen its defeat at the hands of Christians who would not compromise the Scripture’s authority.

We should always remember this wholly unbiblical worldview is a tool of the enemy, and it is always most effective when it can do its damage from within the church. Praise God it has been thrown back time and time again. But we need to be vigilant. The enemy will not lay aside this weapon that has proven quite effective in the past. It will be repackaged and thrust upon us over and over again.

Always with a fresh, new, attractive name.

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

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