Emergent Soteriology: The Dark Side -- By: Trevor P. Craigen

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 17:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Emergent Soteriology: The Dark Side
Author: Trevor P. Craigen


Emergent Soteriology: The Dark Side

Trevor P. Craigen

Associate Professor of Theology

Brian MacLaren typifies the dissatisfaction of the emergent over the format and praxis of modern churches. Such reactions ignore Psalm 1 in setting forth the source and impact of a proper worldview, a definitive conclusion about a proper worldview, and a formal approved conclusion as to a proper worldview. Though Emergent churches might identify themselves as evangelical, they still register dissatisfaction with the existing evangelical church, a dissatisfaction that spills over and affects emergent’s doctrine of salvation. The language of Emergent churches ignores a number of traditional soteriological terms and redefines others. Emergent soteriology replaces biblical emphasis on a person’s eternal destiny with emphasis on one’s future condition and status in the present life, ignoring the impact of present behavior on future destiny. Because of selling short the words of Scripture, Emergent perspectives also are woefully errant in understanding the work of Christ on the cross. Emergents have revised the meaning of the well-known acrostic TULIP, depriving it of meanings given it in the Bible. They have an inclusivist view of the eternal destiny of the unsaved, leaning toward the position of universalism. Rather than following the worldview of Psalm 1, the movement has fallen into a pattern resulting from present-world philosophy.

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Timothy, the apostle Paul’s young protégée, was to exercise discriminating judgment in order to know which were the strange doctrines to put down. His and Titus’ shepherding task was to exhort to sound doctrine or healthy words and to refute those who contradicted such teaching (Titus 1:9). The immediate context emphasizes the necessity of this task undertaken by the elders. Many “must be silenced” or “whose mouths must be stopped” because their efforts were disturbing whole families, and doctrinal harmony was absent. The teacher, the refuter, the elder, is to hold fast the faithful word in accordance with the teaching he had received; otherwise he has no foundation by which to evaluate and judge the soundness of what he is hearing. That is hardly a gentle dialogue and friendly chat as though an equitable philosophical level prevails for all parties. Refuting those who are wrong is more than conversation or an enjoyable dialogue. Dialogue without the goal of placing the truth squarely on the table between the debaters accomplishes very little, for the one party retains an aberrant understanding. The elder’s task is to refute those who contradict and not to try and learn something from ...

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