The History of the Emerging Church Movement – Elliott Nesch

Artistic, universalist, liberal Christians are rising in Generations X and Y, under the leadership of Brian McLaren (A Generous Orthodoxy, 2004), Rob Bell (Love Wins, 2011), and other kindred spirits. It is called the “emerging/emergent church movement.”


An old, old spirit of the devil.

A good response to this type of universalism is in Mark Galli’s God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News Is Better Than ‘Love Wins’


58:50 – 1:23:48 – The video has a section on “Contemplative Mysticism.” I have some reservations about this section, which could be more thoroughly explained in my e-book How to Experience God. But in brief, I agree with the critics that Rob Bell’s brand of contemplation should be rejected, because he is a universalist, and is therefore leading contemplatives toward union with a false god–namely, the god of Hinduism, the New Age, yoga, Eastern meditation, and universalism. But for these critics to reject the Desert Fathers is all wrong; A. W. Tozer would have thought it was ludicrous. A thorough study of their theology and practice will find they were one with the orthodox church fathers–namely Athanasius and Jerome, and in John Cassian’s The Conferences, you see a well developed Biblical theology of spiritual disciplines and charismatic experience. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because Christian mysticism is being abused or misused by liberal Christian universalists, it does not follow that the original mysticism of the Desert Fathers, or even of various Catholic saints, was all wrong. I continue to stand against devotion to the Virgin Mary and praying to dead saints. But I have yet to find any good reason to stop “looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2)–which all Christ-centered mystics see as the ultimate verse on contemplative prayer (for example, Isaac Ambrose’s Looking Unto Jesus). Also, to completely reject the tradition of Catholic mystical theology is not only ignore centuries of charismatic activity and wisdom in the history of the church–it is to leave the church with very little remaining to evaluate and judge modern moves of the Spirit.

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2 Responses to The History of the Emerging Church Movement – Elliott Nesch

  1. Sticksbrady says:

    Here’s a question I keep on thinking on the section where The critics talk about Contemplative prayer. Why is this some of the critics tend to think that contemplative prayer is a practice where you empty your mind of all thoughts and being a place of not thinking. But yet contemplative prayer means to empty all the distractions from your mind and pay tension to Christ and put your whole attention to Christ. Do you think the critics misunderstands contemplative prayer in that sense?

    • Yes, they misunderstand contemplative prayer for sure. Their view of prayer is confined to the Southern Baptist view mostly. The LifeWay bookstore view. Contemplative prayer comes out of the Catholic Church and the early monks. Its completely foreign to them. So, the closest thing that looks similar to them is Hinduism or what they call “Eastern meditation.” But then there are “centering prayer” people: and this confuses things even more. These are liberal Catholics who mix traditional Catholic contemplative prayer with Zen Buddhism (for example, Thomas Merton).

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