Dr. Stetzer, head of the SBC’s LifeWay research department, holds to the “in non-essentials liberty” philosophy, despises separatism, and associates with pretty much anybody and everybody. He is a bridge to the “broader church” that is filled to the brim today with ancient and end-times heresies (such as baptismal regeneration, popery, Mariolatry, sacramentalism, anti-Trinitarianism, universalism, Catholic mysticism, kingdom now reconstructionism, Charismaticism, theistic evolution, fallible inspiration of Scripture, panentheism, the non-judgmental “Shack” god, and Christian homosexuality).
As far as I know, Ed, as a “conservative evangelical,” doesn’t hold to these heresies, but he is a bridge to the broader “evangelical church” where an individual can easily be influenced by any and all of these. He is a path to the treacherous waters.
Most of these heresies are represented by the authors featured in any LifeWay Bookstore and certainly by those with whom those authors are directly associated.
Consider some of Stetzer’s associations. He is closely affiliated with Mark Driscoll, who is “culturally liberal” (e.g., ushering in the New Year through champaign dance parties), hates the doctrine of the Rapture, and promotes Catholic contemplative mysticism, among other things. Stetzer is affiliated with fellow Southern Baptist Rick Warren, who in turn is closely affiliated with New Agers and universalists (e.g., Tony Blair, Mehmet Oz, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman, Leonard Sweet) and promotes Catholic contemplative mysticism, among many other things. Stetzer is non-critically affiliated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which in turn is affiliated with the papacy and has turned thousands of “converts” over to the Catholic Church. Stetzer is also affiliated with the most liberal of emergents, who deny the infallible inspiration of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement, a literal hell, and many other fundamentals of the faith. Though Stetzer criticizes their heresies, he does so in gentle, intellectual, dialoguing terms and refuses to disassociate from them. He won’t stand up on his hind legs and reprove them in no uncertain terms for the rank and wretched heretics they are! For example, Stetzer participates in Shapevine, an emerging church blog that features liberal emergents such as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Sally Morganthaler, Alan Hirsch, and Leonard Sweet. Shapevine is called “a global community of collaborators.” “Conservative Southern Baptists” like Stetzer are right in the middle of this unscriptural collaboration (Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Timothy 3:5). (See our book What Is the Emerging Church? for documentation of the dangerous heresies of the aforementioned emergent leaders.)Stetzer endorsed the 2010 book Jesus Manifesto authored by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. The book introduces its readers to a virtual who’s who of ancient and end-time heretics: Karl Barth, Thomas Aquinas, Origen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Henry Newman, Sören Kierkegaard, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas à Kempis, E. Stanley Jones (a modernist who is called “the great Methodist missionary”), Roger Schutz (founder of Taizé), the “Cappadocian Fathers,” Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Reinhold Niebuhr, to mention a few. All of these are quoted favorably without a hint of warning about their rank heresies.
It is not an accident that Viola and Sweet repeatedly and favorably quote Karl Barth, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and Reinhold Niebuhr, since they hold to a heretical Neo-Orthodox view of Scripture. Consider the following excerpts, which could be multiplied: “Chapters 1 and 2 [of Genesis] were never intended to be the battleground for the Creation-versus-evolution debate” (Jesus Manifesto, p. 9).
“The Christian religion teaches that the Bible answers virtually every question that’s brought to the sacred text. The problem with this line of thought is that the true God cannot fit into anyone’s box” (p. 130).
“Truth is not a book ... or a creed ... Truth is a person. And Jesus is His name. Christianity, therefore, is not fundamentally about following a book” (p. 137).
“[The Bible] speaks anew to every age. It should be read in the light of new information and fresh discoveries. It must also be understood in community, not as an individual. ... Each age draws new insights from the Scriptures based on what that age brings to it. This means that revelation is always veiled in mystery. We bring to it our culture, our history, our gaze, and our glasses. The fundamentalist idea that the text has only one meaning is of relatively recent invention” (pp. 139, 140).
Frank Viola, co-author of Jesus Manifesto, is the father of the so-called organic church movement which renounces the office of pastor-elder. Leonard Sweet is a New Age sympathizer at best. Sweet promotes a universalist-tinged doctrine that he calls New Light and “quantum spirituality” and “the Christ consciousness.” He describes it in terms of “the union of the human with the divine” which is the “center feature of all the world’s religions” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 235). He defines the New Light as “a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 70). He says that “New Light pastors” hold the doctrine of “embodiment of God in the very substance of creation” (p. 124). In Carpe Mañana, Sweet says that the earth is as much a part of the body of Christ as humans and that humanity and the earth constitutes “a cosmic body of Christ” (p. 124). Sweet says that some of the “New Light leaders” that have influenced his thinking are Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, Willis Harman, and Ken Wilber. These are prominent New Agers who believe in the divinity of man, as we have documented in the book The New Age Tower of Babel.
Both Viola and Sweet have endorsed The Shack with its non-judgmental father-mother god. Both Viola and Sweet promote Roman Catholic contemplative mysticism and dangerous mystics such as the Catholic-Buddhist Thomas Merton.
To recommend a book like Jesus Manifesto and writers such as Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet, it is obvious that Ed Stetzer is not “conservative.” He is the blind leading the blind, and the ditch into which he has fallen is filled with end-time apostasy.
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