Emergent Church Overview – Doctrinal issues with Revisionists

Consider some of the core doctrines that have come under attack by Revisionists:

  • Bible as authoritative – inability to interpret: “you may be right, I may be right”
  • Virgin birth – even if “believed”, not considered an important doctrine
  • Jesus as the only way to God – non-traditional interpretations of John 14:6
  • Penal substitutionary death of Christ – one revisionist writer refers to it as “cosmic child abuse”
  • Literal heaven/hell – de-emphasis on the afterlife, focus on the here as well as the now
  • Old Testament vs. New Testament view of God – downplaying the OT “angry God” version

 It should be pointed out that even with the above tendencies, Revisionists are often very Jesus-oriented.   The question can be raised of course, is this a “different Jesus” (2 Co 11:4)?

In addition to the above, there are other non-traditional views that are often found within the Revisionist camp:

  • Tendency toward inaccurate criticism of Israel and inaccurate praise of Palestinians
  • Support of same sex unions, Gay clergy
  • Toleration of Open Theism (God is not omniscient) and Process Theology (God is not omnipotent)
  • Embracing of mysticism, contemplative centering prayer
  • Redefining the Gospel in a social and even ecological sense: Dominionistic , Social Gospel, Green, Leftist politics

 It should be noted that some of the above also takes place within an essentially orthodox context.  For example, the leftist, Green politics, and perhaps some forms of contemplative centering prayer can be found within people who essentially hold orthodox doctrinal views.

A case can be made that what is touted as an “emerging” phenomena – implying progress – is in many respects a retrogression into the past.  The Revisionist camp within the EC has the look, feel and talking points of the liberalism of the late 19th and early 20th century, as well as of contemporary progressivism found in mainline protestant denominations.   Add to that mix some flavor of neo-Gnosticism, Theosophy and a variety of New Age beliefs, and you get the distinct feeling: “This is nothing new!”

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2 comments to Emergent Church Overview – Doctrinal issues with Revisionists

  • Tim

    “Toleration of Open Theism (God is not omniscient) ”

    Every well known Open Theist theologian would affirm completely that God is omniscient. Hence, to be frank, your statement above creates a straw man.

    eg Gregory Boyd, one of the leading Open Theist theologians says in the following URL


    “In any event, I and other Open Theists absolutely affirm God’s “omniscience.” God knows all of reality perfectly, exactly as it is”

    The confusion about Open Theism’s believe come from people saying that Open Theists say that God doesn’t know the future. That assuredly is not the case. God knows the future as it is – in Open Theism view though – the future is made up of some fixed things that God has purposed He will bring about eg the second coming of Christ; and also some other things called possibilities. Hence, the future, in the Open Theist view, is not completely fixed.

    Hence, as you can see the dispute is not about God’s omniscience at all. Rather it is a dispute about the nature of time and particularly of the future. I like what Boyd says. He says that he would rather be called an Open Futurist than an Open Theist for this reason, recognising that the dispute isn’t over God’s omniscience but rather of the nature of the future.

  • Dick

    Thanks Tim for your helpful clarifying remarks, as well as the link to Gregory Boyd’s article. I’m also taking a look at Roger Olson’s posting and the extensive comments at http://www.rogereolson.com/2010/08/29/why-i-am-not-an-open-theist/ .

    I think the reference I made to Open Theism is valid in the sense that there are those in the traditionalist camp that view this concept as an attack on God’s omniscience, but what I hear you saying is that they are wrong to interpret Open Theism in a negative or doctrine-unfriendly light.

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