You might be wondering just what is the Emerging Church? To give you a clue to what I am trying to explain, look at this Bible verse and what it tell us. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4:3,) Concerning the developing problem of what is considered the Emerging Church, it is doubtful that many of you even are aware that there is such a thing. Unfortunately the Emerging Church problem is getting much bigger that anyone realizes.
Most of the warning signs and information on the Emerging Church that I use are taken from the following two awesome websites run by Roger Oakland and Richard Bennett. http://www.bereanbeacon.org and http://www.understandthetimes.org/ec/exposingec.shtml,
Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority, with those in the Emerging Church, as the basis for the Christian faith. In my (Roger’s) study on this subject, the normal objection to obeying Scriptures as the authoritative word of God, is being replaced by a mindset that moves beyond the rational and the factual to the experiential and the mystical. This dumbing down form of Christianity feels that all things are relative to the beholder. What may be right for you may be wrong for someone else. There is no such thing as absolute truth. The only thing that is absolute is that there is no absolute. This is best described by the Word of God giving way to experiences that God’s Word forbids.
As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise of mystical experiences is alarming and these experiences are being presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling and seeing God. These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer and experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
As troubling as it may seem, much of what I've uncovered in this article points to a re-endorsing of Roman Catholicism. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for the fostering of what is called "spiritual formation." This teaching suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite. The spiritual formation movement is based upon experiences promoted by desert monks and Roman Catholic mystics - these mystics encouraged the use of rituals and practices, that if performed would bring the practitioner closer to God (or come into God’s presence). The premise was that if one went into the silence or sacred space, then the mind was emptied of distractions and the voice of God could be heard. In truth, these hypnotic, mantric style practices were leading these monks into altered states of consciousness. The methods they used are the same that Buddhists and the Hindus use as a means of encountering the spiritual realm.
Some of the tips for "developing ongoing prayer" that are recommended by them are that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer (repeating his name over and over) about three hundred times a day. Or when you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly occupy the center of your attention. The repetitive use of the Jesus Prayer while doing more focused things allows God to be on the boundaries of your mind and forms the habit of being gently in contact with him all day long. Some say that their personal encounter began when they discovered Christ through a practice known as "centering prayer." However, the practice of centering prayer and using the name of Jesus as a "mantra" is just not to be found in Scripture. In fact the idea of using a mantra (that is mindlessly repeating a word over and over again) is used by the Buddhists and the Hindus instead, in their attempts to focus on the spiritual realm and contact higher beings that the Bible calls demons. You don’t have to be Bible scholar to understand that repetitive prayers designed to get one into a state of consciousness in order to bring one closer to God, is not in the Word of God.
By the way, both Roman Catholics and Buddhists practice the spiritual principle of repetitive prayer. In both cases they chant prayers over and over again while they’re counting beads. Yes, Roman Catholics and Buddhists both have a "rosary" technique to keep track of how many times they have chanted a prayer. Chanting repetitive phrases to get closer to God is not biblical, it is Satanic. It is good to know that the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:7, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do."
Another area is how the Emerging Church requires reintroducing ideas, experiences and beliefs of the past in order to reinvent Christianity for the present. Emerging Church proponents go back to the first, second and third century to find out what Christianity was like then. They say there is a lot to learn from the mystical church fathers that we need to become familiar with. What God has revealed in His Word apparently falls short. Or worse yet, mystical experiences that are even similar or identical to the practices of pagans are being upheld as the new revived hotline to God.
In closing, we get closer to God first by accepting that we can do nothing to earn salvation. The only way is to take your sins to the cross and accept the gift that He gives to us. The great exchange, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, is that He took our sins for His righteousness. The Bible gives us, "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3) It has "the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16) Furthermore, we can grow in the Lord (1 Peter 2:2) if we stay in His Word. (John 8:31, 32) "Feel-good" experences simply satisfy the lust of the flesh but do nothing to get closer to the God, much like we were warned about in Colossians 2:8, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Those "Emerging Church" theories amount to one's desire to impress yourself, or other people, but do nothing to impress God. To serve God we need to remember His message found in Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
In other words, since His Word says it, that settles it!