Deborah Dombrowski is the Editor in Chief for Lighthouse Trails Publishing.
This Crosstalk looks at Dan Kimball, an author and pastor who has been part of the emerging church movement since its beginnings with Leadership Network.
Dan Kimball has an orthodox doctrinal statement, yet he continues to participate with the major false teachers of the emergent church movement. Is an orthodox doctrinal statement enough when assessing the truth of a spiritual leader? How can someone who claims an orthodox doctrinal statement participate with, fellowship with and point others to those teaching doctrines of demons? Should biblical Christian leaders "dialog" with emergent leaders? These questions are addressed in part one of this two-day series on Bridgers - teachers who work to bridge the gap between biblical Christianity and the mystical doctrines of contemplative spirituality.
A look at the "bridge people" of spiritual deception. The work of subverting the Gospel can't occur without those who attempt to bridge the gap between biblical Christians and emerging spirituality teachers. "Bridgers" are the authors and leaders with well-polished doctrinal statements who cannot be faulted on paper (or their websites) for believing heresy. Their role is different than that of the obvious Wolf that openly stalks its prey.
The role of the Bridger is that of the Judas Goat, famed for attracting sheep to slaughter. The Judas Goat is not the actual instrument of death. It attracts the sheep to the place where it will be slaughtered. So while a Bridger will not stand in a church and teach from his pulpit or at conferences that there is no literal hell or that the substitutionary penal atonement of Christ was Divine child abuse, he will favorably quote from the books of those who do teach that. Or he might ask a Wolf to endorse his latest book on the back.
The Bridger will speak at conferences with these same Wolves and have photos taken with them. He will quote, selectively, from the Wolves and throw in the qualifier that he "doesn't agree with everything the guy teaches or writes", but he has found so and so's book on leadership really helpful.
When you go to the Bridger's website, however, and click on his doctrinal statement, confusion begins. The Bridger is Trinitarian. He believes in salvation through the work of Christ on the cross. He believes we all have sin. He believes in God's grace. He ascribes to the Apostle's Creed. The Bridger doesn't fit on the heterodoxy chart. He must be OK after all.
This is increasingly the way error is disseminated. Flagrant heretics like Brian McLaren are not difficult to spot. His open denial of cardinal doctrine raises red flares to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Scripture and belief in its authority. The enemy of souls is not so stupid as carry error forward only on the backs of the ravening Wolves. He needs the Bridgers. He helps them find useful dupes among Christian apologetics leaders whose egos are flattered by a sense of importance in being chosen to "dialog" with a them. Chummy photos are taken. Credit is given where none is deserved. Warm handshakes occur, private late night phone calls are exchanged, remarks are made over coffee…and another Bridger is given credibility publicly, successfully providing a gateway to error for those who are taken in.
I believe that just as believers are called to specific jobs in the church, the enemy of souls has assigned jobs to those in the hierarchy of spiritual darkness. There are high level roles and less visible roles. The end result for which they work is the same: the destruction of the biblical Gospel and the promotion of a spirituality that is anti-christ.
We cannot afford to be naive in this hour of growing spiritual delusion. We who are believers in Jesus Christ and who hold fast to the bedrock truths of Scripture cannot afford to give an inch to the Bridgers. Satan works in the area of pride and Christian leaders who have not checked that impulse in their hearts and who lust after credibility as bloggers, apologists, speakers, authors or teachers can unwittingly become the dupes of the Bridgers.
In the book of Nehemiah, we see the response recorded when Sanballot and Tobiah came to "dialog" with God's people. Several times they sought to stop the work of wall building that was underway. The response sent back by Nehemiah to the troublemakers down below was short and clear: "We are building a wall. We cannot come down."
That must be the response of bloggers, podcasters, radio broadcasters and authors when they are invited to "dialog" about spiritual things with emerging church teachers. Truth is not to be debated with false teachers, it is to be proclaimed. That is our role, like the Apostles of old, in the the middle of this encircling spiritual darkness. May God keep all of us faithful.