The Teaching of an Emerging Church Leader and Its Outcome
Tony Jones was the National Coordinator of Emergent Village. He had been a regular speaker at National Youth Workers Conventions and respected enough to be one of the featured seminar presenters for the Zondervan National Pastors Conference in February 2006. He had written the books, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry (2003), and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (2005). Like so many leaders in the Emergent Church, his personal testimony was without hope before God. For example, in writing about “The Quest for God,” he showed himself fumbling in the darkness of unbelief. He wrote, “[Some of us] have this nagging feeling that God is following us around, nudging us to live justly, and expecting us to talk to him every once in a while… Every time I leave God’s side, as it were, it’s not too long until I feel God tagging right along beside me, I can’t seem to shake him. Yet having this sense of God’s company doesn’t necessarily translate to a meaningful spiritual life. I know this because despite my awareness of God’s presence, I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what to do about it.” This sad testimony is of a man who was a leading light of the Emergent Church movement. In the Epilogue to his two books, in the sections called “Developing a Rule of Life,” Jones urges his readers to use certain religious exercises. He wrote,
“Following some experience with the ancient practices outlined in this book, you may decide to incorporate some of them into your personal Rule of Life. An example of a rule could look something like this: Pray through two centuries of the Jesus Prayer in the morning and evening every day. Keep the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday every week. Walk a labyrinth once a month. Take a two-day silent retreat once a year. Fast and walk the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent. Take a 28-day Ignatian retreat every decade…”
His final advice he declares is mandatory,
“We have lots of options in our ministries, but developing a disciplined spiritual life isn’t one of them. That is, it isn’t optional. It’s mandatory… Slow down. Listen to God. Be silent. Meditate. Make the Stations. Stare at the icon. And there, do you feel it? The divine light of the Risen Christ flickering within you, slowly building to a roaring fire….”
A biblical Christian is startled by the endorsement of so many Roman Catholic practices. In the words of Scripture this is, “counsel by words without knowledge.” And the Word of God specifically forbids staring at icons for spiritual life, and the consequences of such idolatry.
Because of allegations of a marital affair, Tony Jones resigned as National Coordinator in the autumn of 2008. While he was National Coordinator for Emergent Village, Relevant Magazine interviewed him on the issue of homosexuality. He was asked, “You mentioned earlier that you have lesbian pastors and conservative absolutists. It seems that it would create a tension point when it comes to endorsing that person’s view or platform.” Jones replied, “If you believe that Christianity is – at its very heart – a tension-filled, dialectical endeavor, you have less problems with these tension-filled relationships with believers. Christianity is paradoxical. Life comes out of death. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. We haven’t yet found that there’s anything that justifies us breaking fellowship with somebody else who loves and is trying to follow Jesus.”
Jones’ personal blog is now at the inter-spiritual website called Belief.net. In Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue: How I Went from There to Here, Jones removed all doubt as to his position. He thinks that Christians should also take his position regarding those who are unrepentant in their persistent and determined practice of the sin of homosexuality. He states,
“And yet, all the time I could feel myself drifting toward acceptance that gay persons are fully human persons and should be afforded all of the cultural and ecclesial benefits that I am. (‘Aha!’ my critics will laugh derisively, ‘I knew he and his ilk were on a continuous leftward slide!’) In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Trans-gendered, Queer] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.”
Tony Jones has shown the end result of his emergent beliefs. As the Lord Himself explained, “even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Jones let go of the knowledge of Christ Jesus as the only Mediator and became entrapped within the traditions of men and the bankruptcy of worldly spirituality. Jones made mystical exercises seem so worthy – that by endorsing Catholic mysticism, idolatry, and fleshly devotions – he bewitched those who read or tried to implement his teaching. The manufactured relics of Catholicism that were presented by Jones are absolutely opposed to biblical truth. The Lord God’s command is that believers are to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Tony Jones is an example of evil treasure brought forth from evil things.