Is it unloving to call someone a heretic?
If you just say the words, Emerging or Emergent Church, you are likely to be met with a whole host of attitudes and opinions. Many, like myself, have strong thoughts on the emerging church and many have no idea what the emerging/emergent church is. One of the most helpful articles I have read in recent years, regarding the emerging and emergent church, was written by Mark Driscoll. You can read that article here. In this article, Driscoll, as many rightly do today, draw a distinction between emerging and emergent. I will not go into all the details here, as you can read all about it in Driscoll’s article, but the bottom line is that there are a group of leaders in the emergent church who have clearly abandoned biblical orthodoxy.
One of those leaders is a pastor named Doug Pagitt. He is the pastor of Solomon’s Porch, a church that meets in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over the years I have dialogued a little with Doug and it is simply clear that he and I do not see eye to eye on the core doctrines of the faith. He has written several books that attempt to lay out his beliefs, however, after reading them, you might only grow more confused about what he actually does believe. Occasionally, I will check his blog just to see if anything new has developed and sometimes, I have taken the liberty to contribute to his discussions.
A couple of weeks ago, Doug had a guest on his radio show that has been an open critic of Doug’s theology. When you click on the link below, you can listen to the interview and follow the conversation through the posts that were published. There is more I could say, but let me summarize by saying this: If is obvious from the Scripture that there is truth and error. We even see this from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Himself, when He rebuked those who who were teaching false doctrine. Of course, Paul also hammered on those who taught false doctrine as well. Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that false teachers were not lovingly spoken to. In fact, Jesus’ harshest words were for those who taught and practiced wrong theology. As you will see in this discussion, the thrust of the debate is that Doug and others do not understand why people are so critical of him and his teaching. Some, as I do, call him a heretic because he is leading people away from the absolute truth of the Gospel. Doug openly denies original sin; the substitutionary, atoning work of Jesus on the Cross; he is an open theist that does not believe in a literal heaven or hell; and from what I can tell is a universalist (although he will not clearly speak to that issue when asked). From what I have read and heard from Doug, he is a false teacher that needs to be confronted. I do not think you should confront hatefully, but you should also not confront lightly either. He is teaching a false gospel and that is something that should not be tolerated, no matter how unloving it may appear.
As you will see, there are many posts in this discussion,many of which I myself do not agree with. In fact, I do not even know any of the people in this discussion. All I would like you to do would be to listen to portions of the radio interview and then read the comments. Keep in mind, the Scripture never advocates tolerance for false doctrine and false teaching. The most unloving thing Christians can do is allow false doctrine to be spread. Here is the link to the discussion. Let me know what you think.