McManus misses the mark


Erwin McManus has had a significant impact on my church. My pastor reads him a lot and takes a lot of theological insights into ministry from this emerging pastor and “cultural architect”. So after reading this sobering review of his latest book “Soul Cravings“, I am left very disturbed by the emerging missional theology that Mr. McManus preaches and writes. I know my pastor has read this page-numberless book, has lent it out to many high schoolers in our congregation, and thus I am scared that the understanding of sin and salvation our young generation has could very well be skewed and incomplete.Just because a book is labeled as “Christian” and sold in a Christian bookstore does not ever mean it fully bears the marks of true, Christianity — the historic, Christian orthodoxy kind.In Soul Cravings, McManus has thrown out the doctrine of original sin, human depravity, and completely missed the mark at trying to share the Gospel with non-Christians through this bok — a half-Gospel masquerading as the whole Gospel that has become a complete un-Gospel (along the lines of J.I. Packer’s vernacular).Jonathan Leeman, director of communications for 9Marks and PhD student at Southern Seminary writes an open letter to McManus in review of “Soul Cravings” — calling the cultural architect to write a book for non-Christians that gets the gospel right.

In other words, beholding God???s grand expression of love on the cross should change us as it shows us how loving God really is. Well, that???s true to a point. But you still haven???t told the non-believer what exactly he???s beholding on the cross. He is, in fact, beholding the Son of God taking upon himself the wrath of God for the sins of all who repent and believe. That picture is amazing. But it???s more. It???s actually doing something, like paying for sin. Are you beginning to see why I was surprised to find an affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message? It affirms original sin, God???s holiness and wrath, penal substitution, and a strong conception of repentance in conversion. I trust that you affirm those things. But I fear that your practice, at least in this book, rests on an altogether different theology. By calling me to look for God in my heart???s longings for intimacy, destiny, and meaning, you???re calling me back to all the old idols of my college years. You???re calling me back to a worldview embedded in today???s secular culture. You???re calling me, in the language of Feuerbach, to project my own subjective essence into the world outside myself and to objectify it as God (cf. Is. 44:13-17; Ps. 115:4-8).

In so far as I can tell, our dear Pastor of Mosaic is a disgrace to be affiliated with the SBC — pretending to uphold the Baptist Faith & Message when certainly Soul Cravings proves that what he teaches does not. I cannot recommend his work to Christians who lack solid discernment, let alone non-Christians who cannot tell the difference between a sheep and a wolf.

One thought on “McManus misses the mark

  1. I have not read SC but if it follows the Emerging Church partyline, your instincts may be right on. As you state, the issue is the substantive definition of the Gospel which has been mongrolized by the notion that this current post-modern generation requires its own language and vocabulary. But the message gets lost in the medium through people like McClaren, Miller and other EC pundits. The message will always be Christ crucified.Paul O. Bischoff, Ph.D.

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