The Apostle Paul prophesied that in the end times — during the season of the Lord’s return — we would be confronted with perilous times, when people would love themselves, love money, and love pleasure. He was echoing the words of Jesus who had proclaimed that society would be as immoral and violent when He returns as it was in the days of Noah. Have those perilous times finally arrived?
Dr. David Reagan and I asked this question on our television program Christ in Prophecy of Eric Barger, the founder of an apologetics ministry called Take a Stand!. In the first segment, he addressed religious persecution ratcheting up in our day. Eric will now explain why the term evangelical has begun to lose its meaning.
Dr. Reagan: There was a time when you could say you were an evangelical and that meant something. That meant that you relied on the Bible for everything that you believe in how and used the Bible as a guide for how you practiced living. Today, though, that term is being used by people who don’t even believe the Bible is inerrant. Instead, they believe the Bible is filled with all kinds of myths and legends and superstition. The Bible to them has ceased to have any true meaning.
This rejection of the Bible as inerrant has been adopted among the people of a movement once known as the Emergent Church Movement. Eric, you mentioned this movement is no longer called the Emergent Church Movement anymore. Since you know a lot about this movement and what it’s morphed into, please tell us some of its characteristics.
Eric Barger: You’re right about the whole definition of the word evangelical changing. I used to be able to say evangelical and people would understand what I meant. Now I have to give them at least a paragraph so they will understand that I’m not what maybe some other people think is evangelical. I’m a Bible-believer first and foremost. I think that’s the best way of describing a true evangelical.
Dr. Reagan: Someone wrote me recently and said, “You need to phrase things differently or people are going to think you’re a fundamentalist.” And, I wrote back and I said, “I really am a fundamentalist.”” I don’t use that term much because it has so much baggage tied to it.
Nathan Jones: Yes, these days when people think of fundamentalists, they think of Islamic terrorists.
Dr. Reagan: To be labeled a Christian fundamentalist is to be labeled as super-legalistic. So, I, too, just tell people I’m a Bible-believing Christian.
Eric Barger: That’s the best way to address that concern. I’ve gone from saying I’m an evangelical to saying I’m a Bible believing Christian.
Nathan Jones: A Barna poll was released in the last five years that showed that only 9% of confessing Christians in America claim to be truly Bible-believing Christians, meaning they hold to a biblical worldview. This worldview holds to the primary doctrines such as Jesus Christ in the Son of God and the Bible is inerrant.
Eric Barger: Wow! Knowing what a biblical worldview is should make all Christians begin to check ourselves for our doctrine.
Nathan Jones: That so few take the Bible as the Word of God shows we’re truly living during the prophesied perilous times Jesus said would define the years before His return.
Dr. Reagan: Eric, go ahead and tell us some of the characteristics of what was called the Emergent Church Movement.
Eric Barger: The Emergent Church Movement believed that a new church must emerge to meet the needs of the Millennial crowd who follow post-modern thinking. They theorized the Millennials wouldn’t accept Christianity the way it’s always been taught, so we needed a new type of church.
In the process of developing this new form of church, just listen to some of the Emergent leaders. I’ve been to a couple of their conferences and heard them preach this new post-modern doctrine. I heard first-hand from what I call the “godfather of the emergent movement,” that being Brian McLaren. He continues to redefine Christianity, like for example claiming that the Christian’s purpose here on earth is to save the planet. He also claimed that John 3:16 isn’t about saving the lost in the world, rather the verse is about saving the planet ecologically. He makes that point in one of his books as well.
Dr. Reagan: In fact, you went to one of his rallies up in Washington state, right? What did he ask the people to do at the end of the rally?
Eric Barger: Yes, but it was in Idaho. McLaren called to the attendees to come up and take water from a vat and rebaptize themselves into the new Christianity. Another vat was set on the table, like a tub that a farmer might feed livestock from. That tub was filled with dirt. McLaren continued with, “While you’re here, put your hands in the dirt,” (his exact words), “to see what needs to be saved.” McLaren was teaching it wasn’t man, but the dirt — the earth — which needed saving. He also makes that point very clear in one of his book as well.
Brian McLaren is sadly one of the most sought after speakers in the modern-day speaking circuit.
Dr. Reagan: One of the characteristics of the Emergent Church Movement is that instead of getting up and, let’s say, teaching a sermon about homosexuality and what the Bible has to say about it, instead the approach is to ask, “How do you feel about it? Let’s all talk about it. What truths do you believe about this subject?”
Eric Barger: That’s a conversation that never has a period at the end. The movement adopts feelings over facts. How I feel about something is just as important as what God has said about it. One of the six characteristics of emergent ideas is feelings are more important than truth.
Nathan Jones: Wouldn’t us defining truth as we see it place us is God’s position?
Eric Barger: Yes, indeed, by saying based on our feelings we know what truth is apart from the Bible means we have become our own gods.
Nathan Jones: We have become the gods of our own religion.The Emergent Church: We have become the gods of our own #religion. #apostasy #religion Click To Tweet
Eric Barger: In the end times it’s all about us and not about worshiping the God of the Bible. That’s what happens when you gather a narcissistic group of people who have been raised to believe that they should be served in every way, and that church is really about them. McLaren and the other Emergent leaders are in truth teaching that by removing God from worship and replacing Him with ourselves, then you can get the Millennials to come to church. If you tell them the truth, that worship is not about them but it’s about God, then expect your churches to bleed empty.
Nathan Jones: I had so much trouble when my family first moved to Dallas in finding a doctrinally sound church, because in so many of the churches the service was all about us. The worship was what God’s doing for you. The sermon was how to help yourself. It took a few churches before we found one that placed God at the center of the worship service.
Eric Barger: How do you think I felt when I moved back to the Seattle area? That’s the least churched county in the United States where I live. It took us eight months to find a Bible-believing, God-centered church. Of course, I was traveling some, but along with my wife Melanie and my daughter we all looked and looked for quite some time. Washington contains an awful lot of very new-agey, ethereal kind of self-style New Age teachings. But, we finally found a decent church, a good church, and the Gospel is being preached there. But, even in America, a church that places Christ at the center are becoming few and far between.
Dr. Reagan: People are so concerned these days about hurting people’s feelings. Certainly we shouldn’t desire to hurt people’s feelings, but on the other hand, Christians need to confront people where they are at — as sinners. The Gospel has never changed. You confront people with the fact that they are sinners, and you tell them what they must do about that by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. That message is going to offend some people.
Eric Barger: It is. Certainly we don’t need to beat people up with our Bibles in the process, but rather show that it’s a loving act to tell people the truth, especially if their eternity is at stake. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is up to us to do. It’s just not for those people who serve in what’s so-called full-time ministry. No, sharing the Gospel is Christ’s command to the entire world. We believe the Bible and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a lost world. The Gospel has never been about saving the dirt.
Dr. Reagan: How does the Christian stand up and be salt and light in these last days?
Eric Barger: That may be the most important question post-salvation. In every way, the way that we Christians conduct ourselves in our lives, in our businesses, in our marriages, and in our interactions with other people, we should let the light of the Holy Spirit in us shine brightly. Doing so doesn’t mean that we’re holier than thou. It doesn’t mean that we walk around looking whatever spiritual looks like. Rather, we Christians have got to present truth in such a way that people understand that there is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Show people that time to make a decision for Christ is short, because life is short. And, we are living during perilous times. That trumpet call of the Rapture could happen at any time. It’s about sharing Christ to people with an urgency. If the Church just had the urgency, that would be the key right there to successful evangelism.We #Christians have got to present #truth in such a way that people understand that there is only one way to #Heaven, and that is through #JesusChrist. #salvation Click To Tweet
Dr. Reagan: If Christians don’t stand for righteousness, nobody’s going to stand for righteousness. Life’s going to become increasingly difficult to share the Gospel as society becomes more pagan. Already it is difficult for people to take a stand for Christ, because when they take a stand, it may mean losing their job promotion. It may mean losing the job itself. Today we’ve actually heard of people being fired over saying, “God bless you.”
Eric Barger: A gas station attendant recently said to me, “Have a blessed day.” I replied, “I love that response.” But, in some places, what she said might have cost her a job.
Dr. Reagan: Right, so we urge our fellow Christians to stand up for righteousness, especially since we’re living in the end times. You can speak out in many different ways. People often ask me, “What should I say?” I respond, “Pray and the Lord will show you what to do.”