The Emergent Church Teaching On The Trinity "Loving Community"
by Sandy Simpson, 12/10/10


There is a fairly new teaching in the Emergent Church (EC) on the Trinity as an example of a "loving community" thereby giving evidence that anyone who names the name of Christ is to be a loving community, in unity with "humanity".  This concept seems to be something Brian McLaren talked about in his book "A Generous Orthodoxy".  In a reveiw of that book by Tim Challies of The Discerning Reader, Tim mentions the promotion of this concept in that book.

A second observation about this Generous Orthodoxy is that he has cleared the playing field, so to speak, eschewing all current systems of orthodoxy and beginning anew. But on what authority will he do this? The answer, as becomes clear later, is that he will do so on his own authority - with what feels right. His generous orthodoxy will not be a biblical orthodoxy for it does not begin and end with Scripture. He does not weigh each and every doctrine or experience by the Word of God. In his concluding chapter he tells us "To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have truth captured, stuffed and mounted on the wall." Parenthetically, I would like to point out that this is an irrational statement, for I know of no Christians who would make the claim that he has arrived at absolute truth in every area of doctrine. We will continue with McLaren who says that orthodoxy is a "loving community of people who are seeking truth on the road of mission and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still." Again, notice that he refuses to acknowledge that perhaps we have captured much of objective truth through the Scripture. Orthodoxy is "a way of seeing and seeking, a way of living, a way of thinking and loving and learning that helps what we believe become more true over time, more resonant with the infinite glory that is God." So to McLaren, orthodoxy is thinking or opinion, not doctrine. Furthermore, it becomes "more true" over time. How can something be more or less true? It is either true or false, unless of course, one is fully absorbed in the relevatism of postmodernism. (Review by Tim Challies of A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren, http://www.discerningreader.com/book-reviews/a-generous-orthodoxy)
This book is a manifesto on just how obtuse and ridiculous postmodern thought is.  But you will notice the beginnings of this concept of making up a doctrine where the unity within the "glory of God" becomes a model for Christians to be a "loving community of people who are seeking truth on the road of mission and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still."  This "loving community", always in search of the Truth but never really finding it (as amply evidenced in the EC), then proves itself ultimately by becoming a stepping stone to unity with all humanity.  Let's look at the "conversation" of EC participants on this issue and where it has lead.
If God is one, we must also be one in mind and heart in worshipping and loving God. There must be no division in the Christian community because division is the opposite of what the mystery of the Trinity teaches us.  (http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/259683/the-blessed-trinity-a-community-love)
Now the Godhead, eternally existing as One God in three persons, is our prime example of love.  We are commanded in the Bible many times to be united in Spirit with true believers.
1Jo 4:11  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1Jo 3:23  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1Pe 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
Note that our unity is based on being "brothers" in the Lord.  That means that we must discriminate as to who we are in unity with.  The "mystery of the Trinity" teaches us to love one another as God demonstrates love within Himself.  But we must not just take one aspect of God as our model without regard for other aspects of God or other teachings of discernment in Scripture.
Na 1:2  The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
Jos 24:19  Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.
De 4:24  For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
God's enemies include false teachers, false prophets, false apostles and false Christs.  God is jealous about His people and those who commit adultery by turning to false gods, false teachings, and false prophets He will punish if they do not repent.
Ps 4:2  How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah
2Pe 2:1  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought themóbringing swift destruction on themselves.
So we are to emulate the love in the Triunity of God toward our true brothers, speak the truth in love to unbelievers via the Gospel, but we are also to mark and avoid false brothers.
Rom. 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Ga 2:4  This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
We are not to allow false brothers into our ranks!  But the Emergent Church teachers go even further than promoting unity among Christians.  They claim this call for unity includes "all creation".  They major on what they think is unity of the Spirit, which has as a prerequisite being born again, and end up destroying the unity of the Faith, which is unity in belief/doctrine.
Eph. 4:13-15  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Without unity of the Faith there will be no unity of the Spirit.  Yet EC proponents are trying to include everyone in on the unity that is reserved exlusively for those who are born again and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles by taking the love in the Trinity out of context.
The doctrine of the Trinity praises God, who can work in so many ways, yet for the same end, seeks to bind all of creation together in one loving embrace. (http://www.cofchrist.org/enduringprinciples/trinityLove.asp)

If we humans are, as the Bible affirms (Genesis 1:26), made in Godís image, we are made in the image of Trinity, of true community. We cannot fulfill our purpose in any other way than to be builders of communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. Over many centuries Christians have not hoped for the fulfillment of our notions of community, but for the fulfillment of Godís Triune work. Through witness, Christ, and the indwelling power of the Spirit, God intends to bring all of us together in the loving community of the Trinityís divine life. (http://www.cofchrist.org/enduringprinciples/trinityLove.asp)

The key to integrating the one and the many is found in a trinitarian understanding of personhood. Because humanity is made in the image of the Trinity, we become truly human the more we image the Trinity. Personhood in the Trinity is not defined in opposition to others, but through relationship with others. (http://www.theologynetwork.org/christian-beliefs/doctrine-of-god/the-good-news-of-the-trinity.htm)

We are also not to promote unity with unbelievers.  The Triune God is not seeking to "bind all creation together:"  Jesus Christ did come to provide forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father through His death on the cross, available to all who believe.
Joh 1:7  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
Mt 18:14  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
But all "humans", all "humanity" will not be saved.
Joh 3:3  In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
2Co 4:4  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Re 21:8  But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liarsótheir place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."
Those who teach another Gospel, another Jesus, another spirit we are not to be in unity with.
2Co 11:4  For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
This verse hearkens back to Jeremiah's time when the Jews did not want to listen to the truth about their imminent captivity but wanted to listen to the false prophet's message of peace and prosperity.
Jer 5:31  The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
I'm afraid it is the same today for churches and individuals who are more interested in unity for the sake of unity rather than division when it is what God commands of us.
Lu 12:51  Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
Tit 3:10  Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
The "division" spoken of here comes from the word "heretikos" which is a deviation from true doctrine.  We are actually to have nothing to do with those who make the Bible says things it does not, or take away from what the Bible says by ignoring, for instance, the need for proper division based on doctrine and instead concentrating on the "loving community" without regard for discernment about those who want to unify with us but who are not obeying the Lord.  We are to be careful who we are in unity with as Christians because God is careful about it.  How?  Because eventually those who donot believe and obey the Lord will spend eternity apart from Him.  We need to love people enough to present the Gospel to them, but if they do not believe or if they are clearly preaching another Gospel, another Jesus, another spirit then we are NOT to put up with them but get away from them.
2Co 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Trying to promote yoking with unbelievers is why this open ended teaching of the EC is absolutely against the whole counsel of the Word.