By Matt Tyler
"You can't be content with people who have pieces of the Truth." John MacArthur
I can only imagine how unpopular this post will be. I am already wondering how many comments I will have either on this blog itself, Facebook, or in person. My only request is that all, and I mean ALL, who before reading will commit to doing the Biblical practice of examining oneself. I have had to think about whether my blog post is written in a Christ-like way (and I understand some will disagree with me on that). I ask that you do the same with your comments. I also ask that you read EVERY single Scripture that is referenced to in this post. Everything must go back to the Word. Read the verses. Please. And finally, make sure you read the whole post. Don't skip around. I realize this is an extremely long blog post. But read it all anyway, with the verses, while examining yourself! Please do not comment without doing that. And I promise to do the same.
Stop right here. Don't go any further until you go read Matthew 23 and Luke 20:45-47. Read these passages slowly. Take note of how Jesus confronted false teachers in his days. Examine the language that Jesus used. When I read these passages I see a Jesus that is much different from the Jesus taught about in much of our culture.
I have been familiar with the Emerging Church Movement for a few years now. I've read books and heard talks given about the movement and I believe that I can adequately critique the movement based on the Word of God and the research I have done. While I could spend several posts on the dangers, inadequacies and problems with the Emerging Church Movement, I don't see it as beneficial since others have done it much better than I ever could (see The Truth War by John MacArthur or Why We're Not Emergent by Deyoung and Kluck).
While much of the Emerging Church is crumbling and dying out, the "heroes" of the Emerging Church Movement are still around and they are having an impact on many people. One such leader is a man named Doug Pagitt. Doug Pagitt is the founding pastor of Solomon's Porch. It has been reported that he is the one who coined the phrase "Emergent Village." Having read some of Pagitt's work and listened to some of what he has said then, I had a lot of concern when I found out he would be speaking in Chapel at my university. I started posting videos on Facebook and encouraged some to write letters to one of our administrators questioning why Pagitt would be allowed to speak in our Chapel. It seems I was not the only one concerned.
After this particular administrator received letters and did some research on Pagitt, he decided that it would be better if Pagitt spoke in an evening session. Students were not required to attend. So on September 28th and 29th Pagitt came to SBU to speak. To be perfectly honest I use the word "speak" very lightly. Pagitt had several questions aimed at him. However, I am thoroughly convinced he did not answer one question while he was here. Oh, he talked. A lot. But he talked in circles.
I am not going to recount Doug Pagitt's talks on Monday and Tuesday night in much detail. Much of what he said can be found online or in his books. All I will say is that:
- Doug Pagitt is wrong on his view of Hell. The Bible is clear: Hell is a literal place of eternal torment for sinners. We all deserve to go to Hell. Throwing Hell out cheapens the work my Savior did for me on the cross.
Here are just some of the verses..
- Doug Pagitt is wrong on his view of the Gospel. It does not change depending on the person. Everyone needs to hear that we have sinned against a holy God. We deserve hell. However, God in his great love and kindness sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. He bore our sins and died but rose three days later. We can be reconciled to God when we turn from our sins and put our trust in Jesus Christ. That is the message of the Bible.
- Doug Pagitt is wrong when it comes to his "quasi"- Universalist stance. A Universalist, has many connotations, but let's just sum it up as someone who believes that all roads lead to Heaven. Doug has never given a clear statement on what happens to people who do not put their trust in Christ. His book, "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope" has statements that indicate that Christ is not the only way to Heaven.
- Doug Pagitt is wrong about the Bible. It is God's Holy, inerrant, inspired Word. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness. God is the center of our faith, but He has revealed himself in His Word and His Word is the Bible. We need the Bible.
There are other things, but that is enough for now. I really was not surprised by what he said at all. Instead of recounting all that Pagitt said, I want to focus on my reactions and thoughts about Doug Pagitt coming to SBU. I was against Pagitt coming to speak in Chapel from the beginning. I have read and heard many things from Pagitt. And I had come to a certain viewpoint about him before he came. Now that he has come and gone, my view is even stronger. It is with much caution that I type this and put it online, but I feel that I cannot remain faithful to the Word of God if I do not state what is truly in my heart. Doug Pagitt's beliefs are opposite of orthodox Christianity. I do not think it right to accept him into the fold when he believes things that are clearly heretical.
I can understand that, perhaps due to someone's lack of knowledge, Pagitt was scheduled to come to SBU. However, I cannot comprehend the fact that we allowed him to speak for two days without any sort of confrontation of the part of our professors and administration. I know some professors counseled with students after the sessions. I know some of the professors (hopefully) disagreed with Pagitt's talks. But no letter was sent out and no statement was made about the wrong things that were said. Indeed, not one of the blatantly unscriptural things that Pagitt said (and has said in the past) was brought to the attention of the students. In my opinion, students should have received either a letter or a public statement explaining the problems of Pagitt's view and the correct Biblical stance on those things.
I realize that people believe we should be willing to listen to other's beliefs. I realize that people believe we should be challenged in what we believe. But to invite a wolf into the fold of God to speak and to give him authority without any sort of reprimand is, to me, unthinkable! We are called to love Truth. Why would we want to invite someone in who errs in his "truth?" 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says, "They are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." So why invite him in? Is the answer 2 Timothy 4:3? Are we a people who do not want sound teaching? Are we a people who only want our ears itched? Are we accumulating for ourselves teachers to suit our own passion? To me, this is exactly what we did with Doug Pagitt. However, My Bible says, "but as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)."
I admit that immediately after I heard Pagitt speak I spent a while trying to figure out what I could take away from Pagitt's talk. While I think I can take away things about Pagitt and the experience of hearing him, I am now under the persuasion that, as far as what Pagitt said, there is not one thing I can take away from it. If I believe someone is a wolf in sheep's clothing and if I believe this person's teaching is contradictory to the direct teachings of the Bible, then I cannot see what positive things I can take away from that person. Can I take anything positive away from what the Pharisees said? I do not think so. Can I take anything positive away from the Judaizers beliefs in Galatians? I do not think so. I base this on Ephesians 5:11-14, Romans 16:17-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Titus 3:10-11. When confronting the false teacher's in his day, Jesus said to "Beware of the scribes and Pharisees.…" He did not say, have a discussion with them, look for the positives, have a conversation about your disagreements. No. He said to beware of them.
It greatly saddens me that so many within Christendom do not have discernment. So many are deceived. I do not say these things about Doug Pagitt just for the sake of saying thing. Trust me, it would be a lot easier to not say anything at all. If I felt I could go without saying anything, I would. Oh how I long, hope, and pray for the day when American Christianity looks like it is supposed to look. How much more beneficial would it be to get strong, Biblically-minded Christian speakers who preach the Word at SBU? Why do we need to get an "emergent and postmodern" outlook on engaging the culture? Why can we not get the Bible's outlook? IT ALONE is useful for teaching. We should be engaging the culture with the Word of God. It doesn't need our help to be relevant. It is relevant because it is from God.
I long to see God glorified through Christians hearing and proclaiming the Word. I want to be about the business of teaching people the True Gospel: that Jesus came to this earth as fully God and fully man; he died on the cross and bore the sins of those who deserve hell; three days later he rose from the dead, and whoever repents and trusts in Him will be saved. Oh what wonderful fellowship I would love to have with Doug Pagitt- if he would only preach that message. I am tired of people cheapening what my Savior did for me on the Cross. There is no room for that within Christianity. The Gospel message of the Bible is perfect. It does not need changing. It does not need anyone's help. No one can make it any more relevant than it already is. What we need to do, as faithful ambassadors of God, is to proclaim it every day to ourselves and to others.
Please join me in praying for Doug Pagitt and all leaders within the Emerging Church. Please pray for my school, SBU, and the students. Pray that we would all look to the Bible as God's ultimate Word to us to teach us and instruct us so that we can grown in our knowledge and understanding of Him