Monday, October 24, 2011

Willow Creek, Bill Hybels, and Heretics

Was shocked (well, on some level) to learn today that Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church hosted Brian McLaren, founder of the Emergent Village, part of the liberal, postmodern "conversational" movement the emerging church, as a featured speaker at their "Shift 2008" youth ministry conference. I realize this is a few years old, but I just learned about it. And, it appears, Willow Creek still endorses McLaren, as his literature is available in their online store. In addition, in 2005, session three of the Willow Creek small groups conference was hosted by McLaren.

Why the stink? Because McLaren has for years been considered a heretic by those who adhere to traditional Christian orthodoxy. In his beliefs, McLaren places doubt on the same level as faith, claims that truth is relative, and rejects the Scriptures as infallible, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and the eternal punishment of hell. He embraces postmodernism, which is a "kinder, gentler" version of Christianity.

Here is a bit of what he taught at the conference, per an April 18, 2008 Baptist Press article (emphasis mine):
Citing the Lord's Prayer, he told conference attendees that youth ministers must shift their thinking and teach teens that involvement in earthly matters is more pressing than focus on eternal matters.

"As youth workers, a shift is happening and a shift is needed," he said, "that you become agents of recruiting people, young people, to consider devoting their entire lives to living not just for themselves and their own selfish interests, not just for their nation and their own national interests, but to work as agents of the Kingdom of God, joining with Jesus Christ in His good news of the Kingdom of God."

In the breakout session, McLaren said the world is moving from an era of modern thinking to an era of postmodern thinking and youth ministers must transition their teaching accordingly.
One item in the article that stood out to me was the following:
During the conference's opening session, Bo Boshers, executive director of student ministries for the Willow Creek Association, said he does not agree with all McLaren's views but that all youth ministers should consider his thoughts. (emphasis mine)
Really? Does Mr. Boshers know what the Bible has to say about tolerting false teachers? Better yet, how about Mr. Hybels? I understand that Willow Creek is not known for digging deep into the Scriptures, but this should be obvious to anyone in the ministry. Here is some of what the Bible says (emphasis mine):
2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Titus 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,

Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.
According to the Scriptures, we are not supposed to have anything to do with false teachers. It is no secret that Brian McLaren is a false teacher-that was exposed many years ago. Dr. Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, even referred to McLaren as "Serpent-Sensitive". Regarding McLaren's appearance at Willow Creek, the Baptist Press reported:
Christians should know by now that McLaren displays "hostility to the most basic aspects of the Gospel message," Moore said, adding that Willow Creek should not have invited him to speak.

"McLaren's comments at Willow Creek are not themselves surprising," he said. "What is surprising is that a Christian conference, especially one growing out of a movement designed to reach 'seekers' for Christ, would invite him to speak. When McLaren questions the existence of hell and the hope of the second coming, he is not a 'new kind of Christian.' Such things are neither new nor Christian.

"They are instead a repetition of the voice of a snake in a long-ago garden: 'Has God said?' and 'You shall not surely die.' It is tragic that one of the world's most renowned evangelical churches would highlight this kind of Serpent-sensitive worship."
Not only did Willow Creek invite McLaren to speak, but Bill Hybels has never repented or even acknowledged error in doing so. The Bible says that whoever even "greets" a false teacher "takes part in his wicked works". As Christians, we are to avoid people like McLaren altogether. We should not even speak at the same conference as them, unless it is to refudiate their message.

As Hybels has far more than greeted McLaren and not repented (even after a public uproar over the event), we should not have anything to do with Hybels or Willow Creek. If Hybels eventually does repent, and demonstrates that he will no longer willingly associate with false teachers, then the matter can be re-considered. Until then, farewell Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Association.

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