From Lighthouse Trails
"I'm not talking about a religion this morning. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish - or you may have no religion at all. I'm not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion."-Rick Warren, 2005, United Nations interfaith prayer breakfast"
The June 17th headline in the Seattle Times newspaper reads, "I Am Both Muslim and Christian." Janet Tu, religion reporter for the Times has written the piece on an Episcopal priest named Ann Holmes Redding. Redding has been a priest for more than 20 years, and she became Muslim 15 months ago. The article is her coming-out-of-the-closet debut. Redding explains: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both."
Interestingly, the article quotes Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at the pro-contemplative/emerging Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. Of Redding's choosing to be both Muslim and Christian, Fredrickson seems to be opposed to Redding's decision and states, "The most basic [question] would be: What do you do with Jesus?"
But there is a twist to this story, and obviously, it's one the Seattle Times didn't include in their own report. While Fuller Theological Seminary and probably most evangelical institutions would say you can't be both Muslim and Christian, in truth they are saying the opposite every day. How you ask? Simply by promoting contemplative and/or the emerging church, which countless Christian organizations, ministries, schools and churches do now. One thing is important to understand -- If there is a promotion of contemplative (i.e., spiritual formation), then there is a promotion for emerging spirituality (the belief system of the emerging church). That is because the premise of contemplative is the premise of emerging, and both end up in the same camp - interspirituality of which Redding is a perfect example.
Some may be thinking right now, the emerging church proponents may be practicing mystical exercises but they would never agree with Redding that you can be both Muslim and Christian. And here is the essence of our report: They do agree with Redding! Even Rick Warren agrees with Redding in a round about way. And here is how we can say this:
When Rick Warren told an interfaith audience at the 2005 UN Prayer Breakfast that God didn't care what religion they were, they just needed to add Jesus to their lives, what he meant was that you can stay Hindu, or Buddhist, or Muslim, but you need Jesus. It's called the New Missiology. It promotes the following ideas:
1. You can keep your own religion - Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism - you just need to add Jesus to the equation. Then you become complete. You become a Buddhist with Jesus, a Hindu with Jesus, a Muslim with Jesus and so on.
2. You can throw out the term Christianity and still be a follower of Jesus.
3. In fact, you can throw out the term Christian too. In some countries, you could be persecuted for calling yourself a Christian, and there is no need for that. Just ask Jesus into your heart, you don't have to identify yourself as a Christian.
Rick Warren isn't the only one promoting the new missiology. In fact, momentum is growing daily, and new missiology evangelists are increasing by number steadily. While Don Miller, author of the very popular, Blue Like Jazz says, "the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity" (p. 115), and Brian McLaren says "It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts," Baker Books' new release, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope takes the belief to astounding new heights (see our book review).
In the Manifesto, under the chapter "The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness," the following statements are made. These are all in context and from the same author, Muslim raised Samir Selmanovic who later served as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor and now is part of Emergent Village. Selmanovic states:
"Christianity's idea that other religions cannot be God's carriers of grace and truth casts a large shadow over our Christian experience" (p. 191).
"The emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity but rather the kingdom of God" (p. 192).
"To believe that God is limited to it [Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign. Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian, one is liable to idolatry" (p. 193).
"Is our religion the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? ... The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity" (p. 194).
The message that Selmanovic is preaching is none other than what Alice Bailey calls the rejuvenation of the churches, where Christianity will be melded into the other religions of the world, ultimately leading to a universal global religion, and in which the gospel message of Jesus Christ will be completely compromised. Ray Yungen, in his book, A Time of Departing, explains this in depth.
Some may think that Selmanovic's anti-Christian statements are isolated, that other emerging leaders don't carry it that far. But they do. Dan Kimball's book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church is a perfect example of this hammering away at Christianity -- the only belief system with the truth and the only one that offers salvation freely through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Kimball condemns what he calls fundamentalists (which he defines as Bible literalists), and yet leaders like Josh McDowell and others commend and endorse him. Erwin McManus says it is his goal to "destroy Christianity" yet David Jeremiah and others promote him.
If Christianity is redefined as "just one of the great religions," the obvious next step will be "Jesus is just one of the great masters among many."
Emerging spirituality is quickly overtaking much of mainstream Christianity, right before our very eyes. If your pastor or youth leader is telling your church to be involved with spiritual formation, they are taking you down a road the same as Samir Selmanovic when he says he seeks "to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the good of the world," or when he says, "We have one world and one God," and "Imagine: One humanity, One pulpit, A rich diversity of voices, All learning from one another and cherishing the traditions of one another."1
Jesus asked the question "[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). That's a sobering question that we should ponder.