Monday, July 23, 2007

"Why Al Qaeda Supports the Emergent Church" - sheesh!

I never heard of Frank Pastore until a fellow church member sent me his article from yesterday entitled, "Why Al Qaeda Supports the Emergent Church." He is an award winning radio talk show host based in California. Though I probably share many of Pastore's concerns about the emergent movement (as opposed to the "emerging" movement), this article is way over the top. It strikes me as wrong-headed on several fronts, not the least of which is the all-t00-typical tendency of modern evangelicals to locate our greatest problem "out there" rather than "in here."

We need to heed the wisdom of that late great theologian, Pogo, who rightly said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Here is the logic of Pastore's article:
A post-Christian, post-modern, secular-socialist America will be no match for a radical Islam fueled by petro-dollars and threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

But an America where the church is strong, resolute, and courageous? That's a different thing altogether.

Which is why al Qaeda supports the emergent church.
Read the whole article here.


GUNNY said...

If you go to an emergent church, the terrorists have already won.

Chris said...

While there are obviously problems with the emergent church movement, particularly with those of the Rob Bell type, Pastore is making a misnomer here. He says that conservative, evangelical Christians are what stand between the rest of the world and Al-Quaida. But then he goes on and talks about the institution of the church, such as church buildings. I have news for Pastore. When persecution hits the American church, the emergent church may be more likely to survive than the institutional church. Church buildings will be empty. The emergent church may present a watered-down gospel, but we could at least take their missional aspects and apply it to our scriptural aspects. I know my church does. We need to also pray for Al-Quaida and any other "terrorist" organization for them to see Christ and come to a saving knowledge of him. Pastore missed the mark.

Jeremy said...

Sorry in advance for the length of this response.

When I read articles like Pastore's, it really upsets me. I know and admit that there are serious problems with emergents, but it is not with all emergents. He rightly states that emergents are "a loose association of people who share common values and attitudes toward, well, everything" and that they believe that "the only “truth” that can be known is rooted in communities of shared subjective experience." But this is where the accuracy of his generalizations end.

Later in the article, he states,

If those in the emergent “we’re-a-missional-not-an-institutional” church had their way, American church buildings would be just like European church buildings – empty.

But he never says why. here is another accurate generalization: emergents believe that the work of the church happens outside the walls of the church and that, in many cases even, that is where "church" should happen. The whole "Don't go to church, be the church" mentality. Yes, church buildings would be empty, but not because zeal for God is dead, but because those who haven't heard the Gospel yet - prostitutes, drunkards, druggies, non-Christian businessmen - would be hearing it by a "church person" coming to them.

He also makes this statement:

If the world is to be saved from Muslim conquest, it will be America who does it. And if America is to be saved, only conservatism can do it. And if conservatism is to be saved, it will be those Bible-believing patriots who do it–those conservative, evangelical Christians who are the bedrock of the American way of life.

I believe Pastore to be wrong on all three counts. Here's why, in order of each sentence.

America is not going to save the world from Muslim conquest; Jesus will. America is not God, and unless we come to a place where we can acknowledge that, we will fall and be conquered by Muslims. Not because of some emergents who think peace is better than war (afterall, didn't Jesus kinda say that?) but because we will have been singing the praises of America and extolling the strength of America rather than almighty God.

America cannot be saved by conservatism any more than Muslim conquest can be stopped by America. Doesn't Proverbs say something about how it is foolish to put one's trust in horses and chariots and swords and men?

Same argument about conservatism as well. God is the only one who can save anything. And, in my opinion, conservatism is already dead, at least the kind of conservatism Pastore is fighting for.

My last critique is that Jesus calls us to love our enemies, whether they be emergents or Muslims. If these people (and now I am speaking of emergents) are so horrible and in need of a savior, then why not show them The Savior rather than spending all of our time telling them how horrible they are? Why not point them to Jesus? Instead, he spends all of his time passing judgment and yet he is just as guilty of idolatry as they are, as I pointed out above. I think it's the whole log vs. speck idea that Jesus talked about.

And, just for the record, Al Qaeda doesn't support ANYTHING Christianity does, not even the emergent church. They wants us all dead or Muslims.

James Diggs said...

As someone that very much identifies with the emergent church, I appreciate the over all fairness at which the initial post and many of the comments have conversed about this issue.

Though we may not agree on some things I frankly see that the religion wrapped in nationalist fundamentalism is really a big problem whether it wraps up the religion of Islam or even Christianity it makes no difference. Patore’s rant kind of shows this.

Bob Cleveland said...

Two ideas immediately come to mind:

ONE: Al Qaeda has been around for quite a few years, pre-dating the "emergent church" movement.

TWO: When I read Habakkuk, I see that God was raising up the Babylonians to deal with wayward, unrepentant Israel.

So ... I'm assuming that it isn't the devil raising up Al Qaeda,. it's God. The similarities are just too "coincidental" for me to think any other. And that looks to me to be in response to the USA (and perhaps others) over what we've strayed into, which seems to include the conventional church, not the emergent church.

From my standpoint, the article highlights, to me, that you can be educated and respected and still say stupid things. And get them published.

dogpreacher said...

Just let me second that last paragraph of yours Bob!

DoGLover said...

I spent a day prayer-walking the city with a group of missionaries in Birmingham, England several years ago. We were preparing to send in a church-planting team specifically to target the immigrant populations. Here are some observations from the experience:

1) Muslims are advancing here & in Europe much as the first generation of Christians did - possibly more by natural progression than by intentional "mosque-planting."
2) Most of the mosques we saw in Birmingham were "house-mosques" not polished free-standing edifices like the one above (but some were).
3) As Muslims move into neighborhoods, indigenous populations leave - sort of like the white-flight phenomenon.
4) As the Muslim population grows & establishes Muslim-owned businesses in a community, they displace the local indigenous-owned businesses by doing business with their own, & not integrating.
5) Most local churches in Europe (& here) don't evangelize much at all. They certainly are not intentional about reaching Muslims - but some are.
6) As the indigenous populations leave, churches fail.
7) Muslims like to buy old church buildings and refit them to suit their religious practices. Kind of authenticates their claim that Islam supersedes Christianity.

Some conclusions:
1. Muslims initially tend to displace local populations rather than assimilate them. Often, however, once the Muslims achieve majority status, they establish Islam as the official rule of law and then proceed forcibly to persecute Christians, Jews, & anyone else who does not submit.
2. The real issue isn't whether or not a church possesses buildings, but whether or not its members are truly possessed by Christ. Some ministries are just easier to conduct when a church has the space & place to do it in. Other ministries are best conducted in the market place, & not on a church campus.
3. Many Christians in America have grown complacent about the Great Commission & the kingdom of God overall.
4. Other Christians are experimenting with new paradigms because what they have witnessed has become ineffective.
5. The answer lies in a reformational revival - a return to our first love & a passion to bring others to Jesus.

Micah said...

"A post-Christian, post-modern, secular-socialist America will be no match for a radical Islam fueled by petro-dollars and threatening the use of nuclear weapons."

There's a point to be made, but this isn't it. A post-modern cultured America will be no match, not for the supposed military might of Islam, but against the truth claims thereof. Forget the whole emergent discussion for a moment, for it is just a symptom of a more significant cultural shift in our country that has been going on for almost a century.

People seem oblivious to the fact that young people are being taken in by the claims of Islam, it is Islam's conservative "values" and rigid structure that some of the younger generation are attracted to.

Jeremy said...

Micah stated:
People seem oblivious to the fact that young people are being taken in by the claims of Islam, it is Islam's conservative "values" and rigid structure that some of the younger generation are attracted to.

While I haven't personally seen this in my experience, I believe you to be right. I am 23 years old, and I long for structure in my religious life, but not necessarily the structure of mega-church-evangelicalism (which is what Christianity has seemed to become in recent years). I have read the a little over half of the Quran, and I can definitely see the appeal as a Christian.

The emergent church may not have the answer, but they are on to something when it comes to questioning the systems that we have in place and seeking to find new and different ones. Like doglover said above,

Some ministries are just easier to conduct when a church has the space & place to do it in. Other ministries are best conducted in the market place, & not on a church campus.

The Muslims are learning this, the emergents are learning this, so I think that more of us need to learn this as well. And this is something else that the linked-to article misses as well.