(RNS) Christian conservatives who think Satan is using communism and Islam to bring down America can add a new “adversary” to the list: the Emergent Church movement.

A portion of the upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington will stray from its usual focus on politics and consider the Emergent Church as one of three “channels the adversary is using to bring America down.” Art Ally, president of The Timothy Plan, a Florida-based mutual fund company devoted to “biblically responsible investing,” will lead the breakout session.

“Why would Satan use Communism? It’s a godless form of government,” said Ally. “Why would Satan use Islam? Same reason. It’s not a religion. It’s a movement to dominate the world under the guise of religion. The Emergent Church plays right into that by weakening further our church community.”

The Emergent (or Emerging) Church was a hot topic a decade ago as authors and pastors like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones challenged churches to adapt to a postmodern culture, but the movement never organized itself well, and the debate surrounding it eventually died down.

Tony Jones, left, and Mark Scandrette portray traveling evangelists circa 1908 in the Church Basement Roadshow, a light-hearted tour performed by leaders of Emergent Village. Religion News Service photo courtesy Doug Pagitt

Tony Jones, left, and Mark Scandrette portray traveling evangelists circa 1908 in the Church Basement Roadshow, a light-hearted tour performed by leaders of Emergent Village. Religion News Service photo courtesy Doug Pagitt


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“The Emerging Church was founded to get the evangelical church to take art, social justice and other what might be considered progressive issues more seriously. It was also founded to get the Mainline church to loosen their neckties a little bit,” Jones said.

“If we had one one-thousandth of the adherence of either of communism or Islam, we’d be doing pretty well.”

Jones was surprised by the Emerging Church’s inclusion in the conference, given that the movement has largely gone under the radar.

“When I first saw this, I thought it was a headline from The Onion,” Jones said. “Some people say the Emerging Church is dead, other people say the Emerging Church has spread so far it’s just been absorbed into the fabric of the American church, so maybe that’s what frightens these guys.”

But what Ally considers to be part of the Emergent Church might include a wider definition than what Jones and McLaren would. While hesitant to name names, Ally suggested that megachurch pastors Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and recently retired pastor John Piper could be considered emergent.

“These guys don’t even talk about sin for fear it’s driving away the postmodern generation,” Ally said. “The Emergent Church has watered down biblical Christianity to the point that John the Baptist would have been shocked.”

Many theologians, however, would likely not include Warren, Hybels and Piper in the Emergent camp. Piper, for example, has been critical of the Emergent Church, saying it is “going away from the gospel.”

Either way, the movement could be considered sputtering, said Scot McKnight, a New Testament scholar at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill.

“It’s an unaware perception of what’s going on in the church today,” McKnight said. “I’m thinking this is going to appeal to people who are 70 and above.”

The Timothy Plan has been featured in Christianity Today and World magazine, which called it the “granddaddy of evangelical investment funds.”

The mutual fund company, which has a portfolio of about $700 million, avoids investing in companies that it deems contrary to Scripture. For instance, it declines to invest in Starbucks because of the company’s stance on gay rights.

The first 200 attendees at Ally’s breakout session will receive complimentary copies of Curtis Bowers’ DVD on Communism, Paul Blair’s DVD on Islam and Roger Oakland’s book “Faith Undone.”

The Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit is seen as a platform for Republican and Tea Party luminaries to reach politically minded social conservatives. Confirmed speakers this year include Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A spokesman for FRC said that those who sponsor breakout panels choose their own content.

In 2007, the summit hosted a debate between Sojourners founder Jim Wallis and Richard Land, then-president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Commission, but it has generally strayed away from theological debates.

“Aspects of Emergent have become popular in Mainline Protestantism, and more regularized in pockets of evangelicalism,” said Daniel Treier, a theology professor at Wheaton College outside Chicago. “I would speculate that the Values Voters are up in arms because of some prominent Emergent tensions over sexual ethics, its general aversion to right-wing culture wars, and thus its perceived tendency to go Democrat.”

KRE/LEM END BAILEY

37 Comments

  1. ““Why would Satan use Communism? It’s a godless form of government,” said Ally.”

    I guess Christianity must be godless:

    “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” Acts 2:44-47 New International Version

    • Taken out of context, the verse seems to equate Christianity with communism. But the believers were doing this out of a sense of personal conviction, not under threat of state conviction. No one was compelled. True koinonia can never be by compulsion.

    • Yes, they did try a form of Communism, and it was only a few years later that the apostle Paul was going all over Asia taking up a collection for the poor Saints in Jerusalem.

    • People willing to share their possessions is not Communism. Communism is the state taking from all people and distributing it as it sees fit. The state becomes God. In fact, that is why the state, especially in the U.S., that the state wants to step in and meddle with what charitable organizations do. In Acts, the people unified and acting as one based on the Holy Spirit joining them in the Body of Christ. BTW, Jesus was not a socialist either as many socialist like to fancy he was the first Marxists.

      • state corporatism is most certainly not communism and the comments here betray not only a lack of political and historical knowledge, but a mind fashioned by arguments from the 1950s.

  2. Villabolo, you’re exactly right. Original Christianity was thoroughly socialist. It’s unfortunate that the majority of Christians have strayed from a system designed to make sure everyone has enough.

  3. Mike and Vil… You guys are right in your assessment of early Christianity… However, that giving of possessions and goods was voluntary… Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of it…but in practicality it is very hard to do because we humans are by nature pretty selfish…

    • I’m not so certain it was voluntary, and there is no evidence to show either way, except that Ananias and Sapphira were killed for not giving the whole amount of the sale of land to the church. Some say they were killed simply for lying, but the reason people lie is to hide a deeper sin. The scripture is unclear about whether they had pledged the entire proceeds from the sale of land in advance voluntarily or whether it was required of them. It was their greed that cost them their lives. The lie was just a symptom of the greed. I believe the early church practiced this pure form of communism as a means of “loving your neighbor as much as yourself,” which is also why Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give to the poor. It is evident from other gospel scriptures that Jesus and his disciples practiced basic communism (they essentially lived as a travelling commune), and the Old Testament laws concerning tithing certainly established socialism as support for the economy (news bulletin: the tithe never belonged to the church and never had ANYTHING to do with money – its sole purpose was for providing food for those who had no means of growing it for themselves).

  4. When I read articles like this, generally the first thing I wonder is how much time do the people complaining about our culture, media, churches and America in general, actually spend in personal repentance for their own sins as well as praying for the lost souls in the world. Truth be known, maybe 2-3 minutes a day is my guess…. if that. By and large, the church in America is a prayerless church, self absorbed, cares not about the lost and dying world who is on their way to hell, and is consumed with money, popularity and materialism. Not to mention all the big fat egos we see from the pride filled leaders of most of these million dollar organizations, that are generally too afraid to look at the real issues. I think it’s time the so called leaders of these organizations get on their faces and repent of their multitudes of sin and then once you’re done, then and only then, point your fingers elsewhere.

  5. Stacy Harp, if religion is about belief more than behavior, then it’s essentially worthless. Beliefs are not facts, they’re speculation. It’s the very ideas expressed in your statement that contribute the most to the spread of secularism.

  6. I don’t think a mega church will be the one to look for,,,or a TBN preacher, who often differ about scripture.. The only big religion I see on the horizon is the one in SLC. Utah,, 75,000 young men doing 2 years on a bike,,,name me a church that can do that…16 Mil. and growing fast. Just call them as I see them.

    • Chris, here is something to look for. Secularists pointing out the facts. America was founded on judeo Christian principles. That true? Then those principles are those of thieves and murderers who took natural resources and called it capitalism. Christian principles? The Mormons mountain meadows massacre? 3 million klan members in 1930 that murdered throughout the ” bible belt”? The rosewood massacre? Religion of all stripes have been histories best killers and abusers. Wash the blood off and go right back to church. Yeah, stuff happens. That’s not the issue, it’s the lying and denying of it. Look for this: secularists are going to expose religion, they don’t have to attack it. The facts are the facts.

  7. Human beings often develop identity by having an enemy to be against. Take away an enemy, we lose identity.

    Jesus taught us to have a new Way of having identity. We are for our enemies. We love the people who think we are evil or cursed. We are kind to the people who think we are the worst.

    And, even “Christians” struggle to live from the new identity Jesus gives us

      • Jesus received his identity from his Abba. His desire was to do Abba’s will.

        The Pharisees and the Sadducees practiced a sacrificial religion, willing to “throw people under the bus” for the sake of “peace”

  8. ally is battling against a rather common reality: religions generally imagine themselves embodying a tradition that extends back into the deepest recesses of the ancient past, but every year new christian groups emerge out of their surrounding culture. this exactly reflects the process whereby christianity itself emerged in a greek world where a certain amount of greek theology and philosophy was so “obvious” that nobody wondered much about how god’s earlier philosophy looked so much more persian or canaanite. and when christian groups aren’t enthusing about traditions that derive from greece or persia or canaan, they are enthusing about the traditions that pertain to the foundation era of their own church, and complaining about the “corrupt” christians who engage in “unbiblical” activities like dancing, motor vehicles, abortion etc.

    thinking you can fight the march of new forms of christianity arising from a synthesis with modern culture is akin to opposing christianity itself, since this is what christianity always was

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