CLOWNING AROUND IN THE PULPIT:
Fresh Expressions of Emerging Church Ecumenism
A Closer Look at the 2005 National UK
Emerging Church Pastors/Leaders Conference
By Chris Lawson (April, 2012)
Read entire Newsletter in PDF.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia,
that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine...”
(1 Timothy 1:1-3 KJV)
Introduction: Teach no other doctrine
In his first pastoral letter to Timothy, Paul the apostle exhorted the young pastor to command others that they “teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies...” Christlike love was at the root and foundation of Paul’s command and warning, and proper edification for believers in Christ was his goal. Unlike many leaders today, Timothy heeded Paul’s command. As Christians we believe that Scripture was inspired by God the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16-17). As such, God’s exhortation through Paul to Timothy was given so that the church would be spared from doctrinal aberration and heresy.
It is no secret that pastoral warning and teaching have for almost 2000 years been themes of the pastoral epistles - these themes and others runs throughout each of these three letters. The pastoral letters of I and II Timothy and Titus are the biblical standard, not a passing fad. Biblical theology, balanced leadership and proper roles in the family and the church are at the core of these letters and similar material can also be found in I and II Peter, I, II, and III John, Jude, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, etc. The New Testament is jam packed with solid doctrine and practical injunctions to guide the willing servant of God. Systematic, consistent study of these books and the rest of the Bible should be the standard in order to lead the Christian into sound theology and balanced Christian living and ministry. Not doing so will likely lead a zealous believer (and for sure a non-believer) into aberrant teaching, popular heresies and following big-name personalities that seemingly win the day with big crowds - and lots of “big money” too. The learjets, limousines and Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets full of money say it all. The road to getting there is lined with false teaching.
Unfortunately there are many in the church today who are claiming “new revelations.” Their gnostic methodology reveals their delusion. In our own age, nearly 2000 years after Paul penned his letter to Timothy, one wonders how so many present-day “popular” leaders are failing to do the simple thing that Paul told Timothy - “teach no other doctrine...” Unfortunately many churches have tossed sound biblical theology and balanced leadership practices out of the window.
I Never Knew You: Depart From Me
To illustrate the point here all one has to do is turn on the television and watch Trinity Broadcasting Network or GOD TV, or visit You Tube and watch what is being touted as “revival,” “prosperity,” “the anointing” and more. The bulk of sermon content and the unbiblical antics of such false Christianity destroy the biblical Gospel message. Surely this is the type of apostasy that Jesus alluded to when he warned of false prophets who were inwardly ravening wolves (in sheep’s clothing). God Himself said we would know them by their fruits. God expects people to discern the good from the bad!
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:15-23).
God Given Warnings
God has given warnings and even today has raised up many individuals and ministries to warn His church - but few are choosing to listen. God the Holy Spirit has placed many warnings in Scripture about the character and nature of those who would come in order to deceive, mislead, betray, make merchandise of people, speak lies in God’s name, destroy the Israelites and divide, deceive and ruin God’s church from the outside and from within. How many there are who fail to see the warnings and forget that God names false teachers, false prophets, counterfeit believers, aberrant teachers, and demonic entities by name - Lucifer, Nadab and Abihu, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Eli’s sons, the old prophet of Beth-el, priests under Jehoash, corrupt priests and levites, abusive rulers in the temple, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Simon the sorcerer, Judaizers, Sadducees, Diotrephes, Elymas, Hymenaeus, Philetus, Alexander the Coppersmith, the Nicolaitans, etc. There was also Demas, who once walked as a Christian but forsook Paul and God’s church, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica...” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Naves Topical Index lists just some of the warnings God has given in Scripture:
False and Corrupt Ministers: De 13:1-5; 18:20-22; 1Ki 12:31; 2Ch 29:34; 30:15; Ne 13:29; Pr 19:27; Isa 3:12; 5:20; 8:19,20; 9:14-16; 28:7; 29:10,11; 30:10; 43:27,28; 44:20; 56:10-12; Jer 2:8; 5:13,14,30,31; 6:13,14; 8:10,11; 10:21; 12:10; 13:20; 14:13-16; 23:1,2,11,14-16,21,25-39; 27:9-18; 48:10; 50:6; La 2:14; 4:13,14; Eze 13:1-23; 14:9,10; 22:25,26,28; 34:1-31; 44:8,10; Ho 4:6,8-13; 5:1; 6:9; 9:7,8; Am 2:11,12; Mic 2:11; 3:5-7,11; Zep 3:4; Zec 10:3; 11:4,5,16,17; 13:2-5; Mal 1:6-10; 2:1-3,8,9; Mt 5:19; 7:15,22,23; 15:9,14; 20:20-27; 23:3,4,13; 24:4,5,24,26,48-51; Mr 9:33-35; 10:35-37; 13:21,22; Lu 6:39; 9:46; 11:35,46-52; 12:45,46; 21:8; 22:24; Joh 3:10; 5:43; 10:1,5,8,10-13; Ac 20:29,30; Ro 2:19-25; 16:17,18; 1Co 3:1-4,10-16,21; 11:18,19; 2Co 2:17; 11:1-31; Ga 1:6-8; 5:10; Eph 4:14; Php 1:15,16; 3:2; Col 2:4,8,18,19; 1Ti 1:3-7,19; 4:1-3,7; 6:3-5,20,21; 2Ti 2:14-18; 3:6-9,13; 4:3; Tit 1:10-14; 3:10,11; Heb 13:9; 2Pe 2:1-22; 3:16; 1Jo 2:18,26; 4:1-3,5; 2Jo 1:7-10; 3Jo 1:10; Jude 1:4-11; Re 2:1,2,12,14,15,18,20-23.
Sacrificing biblical truth for the cause of ecumenical unity and the promotion of carnal methodology in churches are the norm in our age. In many cases it seems that I and II Timothy and Titus are all but forgotten about. Drawing big crowds through the compromise of biblical truth not only appeals to the flesh and is very popular, it breeds a jump-on-the-band-wagon mentality amongst pastoral groups and off-base churches scavenging for anything that will bring people through the doors. Instead of playing fast and loose with God’s church, Christian leaders across the world ought to be discussing Bible prophecy in light of global events and teaching biblical discernment in light of the end-times apostasy. They should also be able to effectively proclaim and clearly explain a solid biblical Gospel message that includes repentance from sin, fleeing from the wrath of God and the judgment to come and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation - for salvation can only be obtained by trusting in God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
If Ye Continue In My Word
At the end of the day one must choose carefully. Leaders can opt for carnal teachings and worldly methods to grow churches, which delude souls and lead people into eternal darkness and misery, or they can obey the Lord Jesus Christ, continue in His Word, and be blessed through yielded surrender and obedience unto Him:
“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:29-32).
In the illustration that follows in the second half of this article, entitled Clowning around in the pulpit: Fresh expressions of emerging church ecumenism, one can see a glowing example of the apostasy at large in the church today. The 2005 Emerging Church UK National Church Leadership Conference is just one example of many that this writer has either investigated firsthand, or has received firsthand accounts from concerned individuals.
Although the sincere intentions of the individuals and churches involved in the Emerging Church Conference were well-meaning, there is no biblical precedent whatsoever for the liberal smorgasbord type of Christianity that was presented/encouraged. The fact is, the professing Christian leaders did not just place sound biblical theology, scriptural discernment and God’s warnings in the back seat, they threw them off the bus! What you are about to read may shock you and it should have been written about long ago. I assure you that it actually did happen and much worse and much larger compromises are presently happening all around the world.
After reading about this you will not only see that this type of event not only convolutes the biblical Gospel, it deludes those that stand for what conferences like this promote - an emotional “love” for Jesus, but thorough resistance to His warnings about false teachers, false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, end-times deception, etc. Jesus expected his disciples to obey His commands, and to recognize that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, not error!
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).
May the following paragraphs help you see how “emerging church ecumenism” has infiltrated denominations at national leadership levels and that Christians are commanded by God to reject and “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
Clowning Around In The Pulpit
The testimony of biblical preachers of the past who proclaimed the unvarnished Gospel of God (Romans 1:1-5) and laid down their lives to preserve it speaks volumes. Nowadays we are seeing 21st century Emerging Church conferences (pictured) where ‘Christianized’ pagan altars are built and clowns, incense, candles, sitting before “white noise” and displaying childhood keepsakes are recognized as “Fresh Expressions” of worship! Worship of who...and what?
Indeed, this is the new standard for much of professing Christianity in Britain, the USA, Canada and beyond. From the biblical Gospel which preaches repentance from sin and faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, to a user-friendly politically correct social gospel that cannot save from sin, hell, and the righteous judgment of God, men and women can now be seen clowning around in the pulpit. Postmodern Emerging Church liberals that preach a radical social gospel are at the core of this blasphemous trend.
Fresh Expressions Of Emerging Church Ecumenism
for a changing world.
“Fresh Expressions encourages new forms of church for a fast changing world,
working with Christians from a variety of denominations and traditions.
The initiative has resulted in hundreds of new congregations
being formed alongside more traditional churches.”
- Fresh Expressions website -
Oftentimes centered around mystical worship and a mixture of Roman Catholic liturgy and Eucharistic Adoration, new “freshexpressions” are representative of these so-called alternative worship practices. In many cases, yoga is offered too, for those who prefer a “Christian yoga” worship experience. Bible verses are characteristically ripped out of context and wrapped around candy coated Evan-gullible (no longer Evangelical) messages that simply tickle the ears, dull the conscience and lead the undiscerning into sensory overload worship practices. Only God knows how many unsaved people are sitting in churches being primed for everlasting darkness as a result of damnable aberrations, heresies and mystical/occult contemplative delusions.
In attendance (for research purposes) at the first ever Church of Scotland Emerging Church Conference (2005) a concerned missionary friend and I were able to witness firsthand the true colors behind the liberal ecumenical Emerging Church movement that has invaded the United Kingdom. Only those who were likeminded with biblical concern were able to see and hear (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Romans 11:8; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9; 22:17) just how badly the biblical Person and work of Jesus Christ was undermined at this event.
Led by the apostate Church of England (Anglican) and hosted by the apostate Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) at a liberal ecumenical Church of Scotland fellowship, the clear biblical Gospel was not preached, upheld, or honored - at all. Rather, a call to ecumenical unity through “fresh expressions” of worship was sounded forth to hundreds of church leaders, including Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, YWAM missionaries, Salvation Army and Vineyard Church leaders, and more.
Convergence And Global Spirituality
The leaders and book tables at this conference heavily promoted Emerging Church teachings, philosophy and methodology. A conference booklet entitled “Convergence” promoted the ideology that all streams of Christianity need to meld together into one “stream.” This is the same belief of global ecumenism where ultimately all of Christendom (except for the biblically literate and discerning) either proactively merge with, or are absorbed by Roman Catholic ecumenism and the New Spirituality (mysticism, occultism, New Age). This Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline) promoting liberal New Age Christian Convergence booklet was written and provided by Rev. Robert Pickles. His Spiritual Formation/New Spirituality emerging church primer, Convergence: ‘Dancing in the Rain’ - A Theological map for an Emergent Church opens with an introduction titled “Convergence - The Shape of an Emerging Global Christianity.” Pickles’ manual maps out how - with the help of Richard Fosters book Streams of Living Water - all streams of Christianity can coalesce into one massive global movement. Pickles added his own flair to Richard Foster’s already theologically problematic book, further creating a road map to Mystery Babylon (Revelation chapters 17 and 18). Pickles’ plan includes social justice (Christianized socialism/marxism), ecumenism, “Everything in God”, sacraments, being “missional,” Charismatic and Incarnational tradition, actualizing convergence, etc. Robert Pickles effectively labels his roadmap to unity as “Convergent Christianity.” So much for the “narrow way” Jesus talked about (Matthew 7:13-14), this is the “broad road” to syncretistic, New Age/New Spirituality, ecumenical Christendom!
Prayerfully Meditating Before “White Noise”
Along with the thoroughly unbiblical ecumenical agenda at this conference came a crowning achievement of diabolical ingenuity. Attendees at this conference were led into siting in a prayerful, meditative state - before a huge multimedia screen that displayed “white noise.” “White Noise?” Yes...that white fuzzy black and white confusion that your (older) television set produces when no images are displayed. Incredibly, the people putting on the conference were unaware (or maybe not) that sitting before “white noise” in a prayerful/meditative (receptive) state has long been associated with trying to contact the dead, spirit beings, ghosts, poltergeists, etc. Occultists and psychic mediums know this full well, as do ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, parapsychologists, necromancers, diviners, channelers, etc.
To note, the movies Poltergeist, White Noise, and numerous other occult movies and television shows have glamorized “white noise” as a means by which people can allegedly contact the dead. They actually contact demons! And now... church leaders are sitting before “white noise” at a National U.K. Church Leaders Conference? God’s Word condemns any and all such practices (Deuteronomy 18). Who really is behind these “fresh expressions” of worship?
It should also be noted that the giant multimedia screen that viewers either gazed at, or sat in “silence” before, was above the sample Emerging Church altar (pictured). The altar, which was decorated similar to pagan altars found in Latin America, India, South/East Asia, etc. included candles, books, incense, a cross, infant pajama apparel, a toy clown, party poppers, rocks and more. I have seen altars that look virtually identical to this in foreign countries, but in a different context - that context being pagan idol worship with altars of rocks, incense, candles, rice cake offerings, celebratory flowers, sacrificial offerings of blood and animal parts, colored cloth and/or clothing, pieces of hair, fetishes, voodoo dolls, face masks, beads, fruit, etc. In dismay we sat, not even believing what our eyes were observing as hundreds of ecumenical church leaders from a vast array of denominations and non-denominational ministries were enjoying a smorgasbord of unbiblical, sensory-driven pep rally speeches - all in the name of Christ. After five hours of listening to speakers and speaking with liberal ecumenical church leaders my missionary friend and I left, or should I say fled. Hostility toward “discerning” Bible believers was clear and no one would listen to us.
When Christians Are Like Shamans
The irony in all this is that upon returning to my home in Edinburgh at dusk that same day, I happened to walk by the Edinburgh Shamanic Centre. In the small shop window display was somewhat of an identical altar to the one I saw earlier that day - at the conference! The occult Shamanic magazine called Sacred Hoop, which the shopkeeper gave me upon enquiring about their spiritistic pagan altar, included the same type of altars amongst voodoo worshippers. Issue number 49 of Sacred Hoop magazine is rife with samples of pagan altars from the Day of The Dead: “Death - a lesson for life • Day of the Dead • Sacred Deer • Soul Food • Helping a Friend Cross Over • Elena Avila - Curandera • Romani Traditions of Light and Dark • Huichol Animal Sacrifice • Workshop Casualties.” Christians worshipping just like pagans?
Feeding Sheep Or Entertaining Goats
After being repulsed by the horrible theology and practices at this conference and seeing meditative “white noise,” false teachings on the book tables and the “sample” altar dressed up like Voudon (voodoo) paganism, one cannot help but soberly recall what British preacher C.H. Spurgeon declared many years ago:
“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep,
the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.”
Two-thousand years ago Paul declared:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Certainly that time has come! - SRN