The Great Evangelical Divide

This is from late 2010, but is still a good resource for Christians who want the landscape of the Evangelical Divide happening in our churches. Plus there are some great links you can follow for background. (via Milwaukee evangelical | Examiner.com:)
chruchdivided

There has been a great divide going on in the evangelical church for the last few years and not many Christians even know about it. It has been unknown because some of the most famous leaders and authors, men who have infiltrated every denomination and, indeed, nearly every church, are the causes of this great divide. These teachers, who have discipled and led multitudes of Christians through their seemingly harmless books on such subjects as prayer, love, parenting, spiritual gifts, and finding God’s purpose for their lives, are now causing an uproar by aligning themselves with those who are trying to “restore” the earth and bring about “social justice.”

While this has been going on for quite a while, many in the evangelical church are just recently being exposed to how far their religious leaders have gone in embracing this new form of “evangelicalism.”

The most famous leaders who have gone this way are Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.

Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life is the best-selling non-fiction book of all time, has become a member of the religious advisory council of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, an organization devoted to interfaith spirituality and religious coexistence. Warren is also a member of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations. His P.E.A.C.E. Plan is an attempt to mobilize millions of Christians to conquer what he calls the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

Bill Hybels hosts an annual Global Leadership Summit, inviting world leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, and Tony Blair to his Willow Creek Church to speak to Christian leaders. This year’s guest is Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. Hybels says his goal in having the summit is to develop Christian leaders who can participate in “God’s plan to restore our world through the power of the local church.” Elmbrook Church of Brookfield is participating as a satellite location for this year’s August 5-6 meeting.

Some controversy has developed because Hybels’ wife, Lynn, writes a blog for Jim WallisSojourners web site. This is the same Jim Wallis that conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, a Mormon, is speaking out against. He even encouraged people to leave their church if it’s promoting Wallis’ social justice. Conservative evangelicals (I guess the distinction is now necessary), desperate to hear somebody who seemingly speaks their language, have flocked to Beck even though he’s a member of the Latter Days Saints. (This Mormon connection led to a division over the election of Mitt Romney, another member of the Latter Day Saints, and whether evangelicals should vote for a Mormon.)

Recently, Jim Wallis was invited to be a guest speaker at Lifest, an annual Christian rock festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This caused a stir because Q90 FM, a local Christian radio station which usually sponsored the event, withdrew their support based on Wallis’ participation.

Cornerstone Festival, another Christian rock gathering in Illinois, also came under fire for the content of its seminars on social justice, interfaith activism, monasticism, sexuality, Catholicism, and many other controversial subjects.

Last year there was also a divide over the” Manhattan Declaration.” This was a statement put out by leaders in the evangelical, orthodox, and Catholic faiths which proclaims unity on the moral issues of the sanctity of life and marriage. While some, such as Chuck Colson, claimed “co-belligerency” (a term coined by British abolitionist William Wilberforce indicating his willingness to work with anybody, even his enemies, if they helped him to oppose slavery) was a good thing in the fight against evil, others, such as John MacArthur, were less enthusiastic about the statement’s characterization of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as fellow Christians, and were unwilling to put their name on a document which lumped them all together as members of the faith.

The move toward Catholic mysticism, in particular “contemplative” spirituality, is also a hot-button issue in the great divide. While many in the evangelical church are moving toward the “wisdom” of the ancient desert fathers and other mystics such as Teresa of Avila and Brother Lawrence, as revived by Celebration of Discipline author, Richard Foster, and promoted by Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, others are trying to hold the movement back, as can be seen in the controversy involving author Max Lucado and evangelical teacher Beth Moore’s appearances on the contemplative video Be Still (which was available for rental at local Movie Gallery stores). The use of popular phrases such as “spiritual formation” (a term used by Eastbrook Church of Milwaukee) and “the spiritual disciplines” have become the latest trend in churches across the country.

Those who oppose this trend are concerned that transitioning the evangelical church from a faith based on absolute truth and historical fact to an experiential religion will make it more difficult to differentiate Christianity from any of the other world religions-many of which are also based on mystical experiences. This would make the blending of religions much easier, since there are no divisive fundamentalist beliefs to hinder the development of Tony Blair’s vision of interspirituality or British rocker Bono’s dream of coexistence.

Thrown into this mix is the emergent church, led by Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, Donald Miller (who prayed at the last Democratic Convention), and a slew of others whose main message is that there needs to be “a new kind of Christianity” with a “generous orthodoxy.” Targeting the younger generation and trying to be “relevant,” the emergent church also leans to the political left and is less concerned about abortion or gay marriage (issues of concern to the “religious right”) than it is with poverty, global warming, and sexuality/gender issues. They are also moving towards contemplative prayer, as McLaren reveals in his book, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices.

Leading the charge against these “new evangelicals” are people like Ingrid Schlueter, host of Crosstalk, a Christian radio show based out of Milwaukee and played on the VCY America radio network, Brannon Howse, founder of the Christian Worldview Network based out of Tennessee, and Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries with radio host Jan Markell. Pastor Bob DeWaay and Warren B. Smith are two of the most popular authors writing against the purpose driven movement and the emergent church. There are also web sites such as Lighthouse Trails, Let Us Reason, and Apprising Ministries contributing to the battle against what they believe is deception and even apostasy in the Church.

At issue is the role of the Church in the world. Is it the Church’s mission to “restore” the world or spread the gospel? And what does the gospel “of the Kingdom” mean? Does it only apply to salvation after death or is there a “peaceable kingdom” (some call shalom) that Christians should be trying to bring about on the earth?

If we are to bring about the peaceable kingdom, what form should it take? Is it only found within the human heart or does it take a physical form? If it is physical, how can it be ushered in while there are still other religions that reject Christ in the world? Does the restoration of the earth involve the acceptance of other faiths into the kingdom or even universal salvation for all?

Should the role of Christians in the political world be that of a prophetic witness or co-creator? In other words, should the Church be involved in the attempt to usher in a new world order or should they oppose it? Is all of this leading to a world church and/or a world political system as some believe is prophesied in the Bible? Are we near the end of the age and the return of Jesus to set up his kingdom, or near the beginning of the New Age where we set up the “peaceable kingdom?”

These are issues that the average Christian, indeed the average pastor, may need to know more about in the near future since, as the divide grows wider, each person will have to decide which way they will go.

The Great Evangelical Divide – Milwaukee evangelical | Examiner.com

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6 Responses to The Great Evangelical Divide

  1. Shawn Eckstein says:

    Wonderful article! Thanks for sharing. This spells out exactly how the "enemy" works. Slowly and methodically eroding truth and combining various beliefs until we forget what scriptural truth is for the sake of "peace". Jesus did not promise that we would have peace while on earth. In fact, just the opposite if we truly follow Him. This leads to a vague universalism and non-judgmental mentality where we smile at each other in acceptance and tolerance without spreading the gospel of Jesus.

    btw: Bono is Irish

    Like

  2. Mr Davis says:

    Your last bit there Mike "In other words, should the Church be involved in the attempt to usher in a new world order or should they oppose it?" I don't think that is the right question, rather what you have asked is really the observed reality in the Church today, which, has given up on following the truth of Christ Jesus to pursue self righteousness and self intrest through self promotion exalting men. Christ is no longer the head.

    Scripture in my Bible is clear:
    2 Corinthians 6 NLT
    1 As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. 2 For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

    3 We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.

    6 We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    7 We have faithfully preached the truth. God's power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.

    9 We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

    11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you. 12 If there is a problem between us, it is not because of a lack of love on our part, but because you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us!

    14 Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: "I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

    17 Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

    Whats in your Bible? That is a better question.

    2 Corinthians 5 NLT

    11 It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart before God.

    13 If it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Whatever we do, it is because Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live.

    15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.

    16 So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now! 17 What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

    18 All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. 20 We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

    Why should we continue any longer to walk as enemies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ if the Holy Spirit is really in us?

    May God bless you and fill you will knowledge of Him in all spiritual understanding and grant you power through His glorious might to walk in a manner worthy of Christ.

    Dan

    Like

  3. Matthew LeMay says:

    It is fascinating to watch how the Church continues to evolve. Since the great schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Orthodox Christian Church in 1054, we have witnessed a reiteration of this phenomena with greatly quickening speed.
    After 1000 years of movement toward unification, the Church divided into two primary factions: the Orthodoxy which embraced the Traditional scriptural and esoteric teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Roman Catholic Church, which devised a variety of new doctrines in the next five hundred years. However, in just 500 years, half the time it took for the original schism, another schism would take place as the new Roman doctrines of mandatory priestly celibacy, papal infallibility, Imperial expansionism and so forth proved to be deviations from the Original Truth.
    Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in 1517, initiating the Protestant Reformation and giving rise to a vast diversification in Christian doctrines. Calvinism, Baptism, Puritanism and Anglicanism would also arise from this revolution, each with its own unique and new viewpoints. In response to the corruption of the Roman clergy, the new Protestants favored a simplified theology based on the new doctrine Sola Scriptura and individual inspiration and relationship with God.
    However, to be a "Protestant" is to be defined in opposition to something and create and we have seen that it creates a reiterative process in history. Each generation of Protestantism has given rise to new churches and doctrines and each group that has espoused its own interpretations of the Truth has just gone off and started their own Church. Hence we now have Lutheranism, Calvinism etc, Baptism, Freemasonry, Quakers, Shakers, Native American Church, Evangelicals, Pentacostals, Theosophists, New Age Christians and Fundamentalists. (In Latin American countries, we also have the trend of many new forms of Christianity arising from the indigenous peoples, who are devoutly Catholic in essence, but draw on their own unique cultural heritage in the way the pray and celebrate God's Communion.) While they have very different theological *views*, the are all essentially theological liberal in that they have proclaimed their own unique doctrines according to the dictates of their conscience.
    In approximately half the time it took for the Protestants to separate from the Catholics, we see the full emergence of Science and "Scientism" as a belief and cultural influence. We are talking here about the time of the French and American revolutions, where science, individualism and democracy changed the future of the planet. Originally, science was developed by Christians seeking to understand God's Creation in order to draw more near to Him. However, taking advantage of the trend toward individualism heralded by Protestantism and Repulicanism/Democracy in Northern Europe and America, the scientists would eventually develop their own worldview of "Logical Positivism," the idea that we should only believe what can be fully proven, and this created a trend toward Agnosticism and eventually Atheism. Protestant nations also developed industrial and material sciences, biochemical medicine and the economical philosophy of Capitalism, which have brought us into the modern age of the individual.
    We can see how this trend of Individualism has played out in reiterative phases. Today, many Christians have once again become critical of the options for spiritual growth presented by the Church(es). Protestantism, though in principle a liberating and theologically-inspiring position, has also given rise to scientism and "realism" which have "de-mystified" the Church and sometimes even limited theology to dry scholastic intellectualism and pedantic quasi-moralism.
    So now people turn either to the New Age of Theosophy, the revival of Gnosticism or so forth in order to attempt to reclaim the original, experiental revelation and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you look at the historical trends which have led to this moment, it is really quite logical.
    "Contemplative Christianity" also attempts to show that you don't need to buck the Church to find individual communion with God, but that the Church can support individuals in that process. Protestants and Catholics alike are thus turning to new (and old!) approaches to revive the Heart of their faith. This is all wonderful. What they don't realize is that the unbroken line of the Church of Jesus Christ, complete with all aspects of the Original Doctrine of profound Scriptural, Patristic, and Mystical teachings still exists in the Orthodox Church. It is only in the Western Churches that they have seemed to disappear!
    The Orthodox Church is inherently mystical, proclaiming the highest goal of the Christian to be not only salvation but Theosis. This is the original teaching of Jesus Christ and can be found in this mainstream Church, without having to "revive," "recontextualize" or "reinterpret" a new doctrine from fragments of the Desert Fathers, Gnosticism and Theosophy. Indeed, the Orthodox Church holds the lineage of the Desert Fathers, uniting the wild-heart of mysticism with the firm grounding Orthodox theology and Scriptural teachings in one, undivided and totally holistic Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    But don't take my word for it, investigate it for yourself! May you realize the true profundity of the Original teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ!
    While it may be obvious that my own inclination is toward Orthodoxy, I do not find fault with the trend toward Protestantism and Individualism in principle. I just believe that it requires a high standard of moral discrimination to determine what is True and what should be practiced. Some individuals are capable of walking such a path, while others should seek the community of older brothers and sisters to guide them. I do see some danger, both in the trend of individualized "Sola Scriptura" world views and in individualized "mystical" worldviews because both of these can lead to distortions of the Truth if they are not complemented by the broader wisdom and tradition of the Holy Family of the Church, Patristic Tradition and our elders and community on the Path.
    Probably more dangerous, however, is the trend toward belief in "Scientism," atheism and "logical positivism" which is in my opinion neither logical nor positive! So let us at least be as One Body in opposing this dangerous, and frankly quite stupid blunder of reasoning that is attempting to overthrow theology all together! Science itself is not bad, and in my opinion there is no contradiction between pure science and pure theology, but as Einstein warns us, the material power and knowledge of science MUST be directed by the pure Heart and moral dictates of profound theology and altruism if we are to avoid nihilism and planetary disaster.
    However, I believe God has allowed this fragmentation to occur in the Church in order that, in the coming times, we may achieve a higher Union. Maybe the one thing science can teach us in this process is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Currently we are experiencing the greatest fragmentation the Church has ever known, but when this process reaches is inevitable extreme, perhaps we will find a way back to Unity as One Body in the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be so!

    Like

  4. Matthew LeMay says:

    It is fascinating to watch how the Church continues to evolve. Since the great schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Orthodox Christian Church in 1054, we have witnessed a reiteration of this phenomena with greatly quickening speed.

    After 1000 years of movement toward unification, the Church divided into two primary factions: the Orthodoxy which embraced the Traditional scriptural and esoteric teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Roman Catholic Church, which devised a variety of new doctrines in the next five hundred years. However, in just 500 years, half the time it took for the original schism, another schism would take place as the new Roman doctrines of mandatory priestly celibacy, papal infallibility, Imperial expansionism and so forth proved to be deviations from the Original Truth.

    Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in 1517, initiating the Protestant Reformation and giving rise to a vast diversification in Christian doctrines. Calvinism, Baptism, Puritanism and Anglicanism would also arise from this revolution, each with its own unique and new viewpoints. In response to the corruption of the Roman clergy, the new Protestants favored a simplified theology based on the new doctrine Sola Scriptura and individual inspiration and relationship with God.

    However, to be a "Protestant" is to be defined in opposition to something and create and we have seen that it creates a reiterative process in history. Each generation of Protestantism has given rise to new churches and doctrines and each group that has espoused its own interpretations of the Truth has just gone off and started their own Church. Hence we now have Lutheranism, Calvinism etc, Baptism, Freemasonry, Quakers, Shakers, Native American Church, Evangelicals, Pentacostals, Theosophists, New Age Christians and Fundamentalists. (In Latin American countries, we also have the trend of many new forms of Christianity arising from the indigenous peoples, who are devoutly Catholic in essence, but draw on their own unique cultural heritage in the way the pray and celebrate God's Communion.) While they have very different theological *views*, the are all essentially theological liberal in that they have proclaimed their own unique doctrines according to the dictates of their conscience.

    In approximately half the time it took for the Protestants to separate from the Catholics, we see the full emergence of Science and "Scientism" as a belief and cultural influence. We are talking here about the time of the French and American revolutions, where science, individualism and democracy changed the future of the planet. Originally, science was developed by Christians seeking to understand God's Creation in order to draw more near to Him. However, taking advantage of the trend toward individualism heralded by Protestantism and Repulicanism/Democracy in Northern Europe and America, the scientists would eventually develop their own worldview of "Logical Positivism," the idea that we should only believe what can be fully proven, and this created a trend toward Agnosticism and eventually Atheism. Protestant nations also developed industrial and material sciences, biochemical medicine and the economical philosophy of Capitalism, which have brought us into the modern age of the individual.

    We can see how this trend of Individualism has played out in reiterative phases. Today, many Christians have once again become critical of the options for spiritual growth presented by the Church(es). Protestantism, though in principle a liberating and theologically-inspiring position, has also given rise to scientism and "realism" which have "de-mystified" the Church and sometimes even limited theology to dry scholastic intellectualism and pedantic quasi-moralism.

    So now people turn either to the New Age of Theosophy, the revival of Gnosticism or so forth in order to attempt to reclaim the original, experiental revelation and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you look at the historical trends which have led to this moment, it is really quite logical.

    "Contemplative Christianity" also attempts to show that you don't need to buck the Church to find individual communion with God, but that the Church can support individuals in that process. Protestants and Catholics alike are thus turning to new (and old!) approaches to revive the Heart of their faith. This is all wonderful. What they don't realize is that the unbroken line of the Church of Jesus Christ, complete with all aspects of the Original Doctrine of profound Scriptural, Patristic, and Mystical teachings still exists in the Orthodox Church. It is only in the Western Churches that they have seemed to disappear!

    The Orthodox Church is inherently mystical, proclaiming the highest goal of the Christian to be not only salvation but Theosis. This is the original teaching of Jesus Christ and can be found in this mainstream Church, without having to "revive," "recontextualize" or "reinterpret" a new doctrine from fragments of the Desert Fathers, Gnosticism and Theosophy. Indeed, the Orthodox Church holds the lineage of the Desert Fathers, uniting the wild-heart of mysticism with the firm grounding Orthodox theology and Scriptural teachings in one, undivided and totally holistic Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    But don't take my word for it, investigate it for yourself! May you realize the true profundity of the Original teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ!

    While it may be obvious that my own inclination is toward Orthodoxy, I do not find fault with the trend toward Protestantism and Individualism in principle. I just believe that it requires a high standard of moral discrimination to determine what is True and what should be practiced. Some individuals are capable of walking such a path, while others should seek the community of older brothers and sisters to guide them. I do see some danger, both in the trend of individualized "Sola Scriptura" world views and in individualized "mystical" worldviews because both of these can lead to distortions of the Truth if they are not complemented by the broader wisdom and tradition of the Holy Family of the Church, Patristic Tradition and our elders and community on the Path.

    Probably more dangerous, however, is the trend toward belief in "Scientism," atheism and "logical positivism" which is in my opinion neither logical nor positive! So let us at least be as One Body in opposing this dangerous, and frankly quite stupid blunder of reasoning that is attempting to overthrow theology all together! Science itself is not bad, and in my opinion there is no contradiction between pure science and pure theology, but as Einstein warns us, the material power and knowledge of science MUST be directed by the pure Heart and moral dictates of profound theology and altruism if we are to avoid nihilism and planetary disaster.

    However, I believe God has allowed this fragmentation to occur in the Church in order that, in the coming times, we may achieve a higher Union. Maybe the one thing science can teach us in this process is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Currently we are experiencing the greatest fragmentation the Church has ever known, but when this process reaches is inevitable extreme, perhaps we will find a way back to Unity as One Body in the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be so!

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      I am a true born-again follower of Christ. Before that, I was raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church. I agree with your stated definition/description of 'Protestant'. That is the very reason I refer to Roman Catholicism as the first 'pro-TEST-ant' in ancient church history. While my understanding of Scripture still is somewhat influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy (especially the history and culture), I concur with you that the first protestants-protesters split from the true church and then devised all sorts of traditions. The evangelical church has ongoing struggles because of the heresies and doctrinal aberrations that spread from ancient Romanism. That you recognize that fact of history indicates you've truly done your homework. God bless you!!

      Like

  5. Jesen says:

    Hello all,

    I was raised in Benny hinn ministries,enriched in willo creek and matured in the Osteen's church.Let me tell you, after truly learning the scripture and histroy, i have no choice but to embrace Catholicism.Thanks to the training i received at the great evangelical schools and seminaries.By the way the orthodox church is in the process of joining back the Catholic church as well.All these non denominational denominations are 21st century inventions,yes they will entertain and offcourse motivate,but trully not real christianity.

    Like

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