The EC and Israel
Historically, church saints have looked to God to take them up to meet the Lord in the air at any moment (1 Th. 4). Furthermore, said theologian David L. Larsen, “Neither John the Baptist nor the Lord Jesus redefined the Kingdom promise; nor did they transfer it or cancel it for Israel.”1
Such resolute statements emanate from a strict adherence to a historical-grammatical interpretation of God’s Word. However, the emerging church
(EC) relies heavily on the Bible’s narratives and stories and less on biblically definitive language. Thus a Zionistic view of Scripture, which teaches that Jewish people are a literal people who were promised a literal land where a literal King will set up a literal Kingdom on Earth, is not enthusiastically embraced by most emergent churches. Said one self-described ECer, “We don’t believe that anyone theology gets it absolutely right.”2
In November 2006, best-selling author Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California and enthusiastic supporter of EC conversation, went to Syria and met with its dictator, Bashar Assad. Among his critics was Paul Proctor, whose insightful comments were published on newswithviews.com:
What Warren was doing in Syria is what he’s been doing all along here in America and around the world with the dialectic church—withholding inconvenient truths about sin and the call to repentance for the sake of Results and Relationships. Going soft on sinners is his specialty! That’s how you “build bridges,” exponentially grow churches and dialectically achieve “unity in diversity”— by putting absolutes aside and dialoguing differences away until everyone’s conscience is seared and conviction vanishes in the ambiguity of religious relativism.3
EC followers see themselves as missional.* (See glossary) They desire to evangelize. They want to demonstrate genuine love and concern for all people, a goal that is both admirable and biblical. When Jesus told His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” He did not limit the outreach to a particular color, age, gender, or religious background (Mk. 16:15). However, the question needs to be asked, “What gospel?”
Jesus said it simply in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” To consider the conversation of men to be as valid as the Word of God paves the way for a false gospel.
And since the EC philosophy soft-pedals doctrine in favor of a worship experience, it is highly likely that many EC churches are producing a younger generation—Generation X—that has little knowledge of the absolutes of Scripture and no particular understanding of, or love for, Israel and God’s Chosen People.
- David L. Larsen, “The Postmodern Abandonment of Israel,” paper presented at the Pre-Tribulation Conference, Dallas, Texas, December 2006.
- Scot McKnight, “Five Streams of the Emerging Church,” February 2007 <christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/February/11.35.html>.
- Paul Proctor, “What Rick Warren Wants,” December 4, 2006 <newswithviews.com/PaulProctor/proctor106.htm>.