This is Part 4 of a blog post asking the question: IS THE GRACE BRETHREN STATEMENT OF FAITH COMPATIBLE WITH EMERGENT THEOLOGY?
What We Believe About Jesus Christ:
“His preexistence and Deity (John 1:13)”, “sinless life (Heb. 4:15)”, and the resurrection would be affirmed by many if not most in the emerging/ent church but things get a bit less certain when we talk about His “incarnation by virgin birth (John 1:14; Matthew 1:18-23).”
Influential Rob Bell is the only one I’m aware of coming from the angle that belief in Christ’s virgin birth is not necessarily an essential. His statement in Velvet Elvis is one of the worst I have ever read but many emergents love that book. (1)
What about Christ’s “substitutionary death (2 Cor. 5:21)”? This precious doctrine, especially in the area of penal substitution and propitiation, is under attack by McLaren and some others in the emergent movement. McLaren calls the cross “false advertising” for God (2). Many protest the violence that the Cross represents and it doesn’t fit in with their repainted version of the Father who requires the blood of His Son to be shed for the remission of our sins.
Concerning the character of Jesus Christ, many emergents have a completely re-worked picture of Christ, His message, and His ministry. Just read McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus (3) and you’ll see the concern here. Dwight J. Friesen says: “Jesus did not announce ideas or call people to certain beliefs as much as he invited people to follow him into a way of being in the world.”(4). What? Similarly, Donald Miller says: “If we hold that Jesus wanted us to "believe" certain ideas or "do" certain things in order to be a Christian, we are holding to heresy.”(5). I think we need to definitely believe certain things to be truly saved (Jn. 8:24).
Many emergents are promoting worship of the Eucharistic “Jesus” of the Catholic Mass (6). Is this an accurate doctrine of His person and work? Is He continually even today being re-sacrificed in the Mass?
This is not the Jesus Christ we point others to in our Statement of Faith.
(1) Velvet Elvis, pg.26
“False advertising” quote: http://www.enteuxis.org/leifh/bleedingpurple21b.mp3
(4) An Emergent Manifesto of Hope p. 201 - 212
(5) Donald Miller writes: “If we hold that Jesus wanted us to "believe" certain ideas or "do" certain things in order to be a Christian, we are holding to heresy. In that bar on Hawthorne, I finished the last paragraph and felt a kind of sickness at the thought of whether or not I was telling the truth. But after further consideration, and after rewriting the book, I realized the formulaic version of Christianity was irrational, and for that matter, unbiblical.” http://www.donaldmillerwords.com/searching.php
(6) Eucharistic Adoration in the Emerging Church: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=330&more=1&c=1