INTRODUCTION: Many emergent church proponents are quick to emphasize their belief that God loves everybody savingly or salvifically. A big part of this is their assumption that the historic position of the Christian church may be wrong when it comes to the question of followers from other religions always being automatically damned to hell for their lack of faith in Christ. Of course, this isn't the technically correct reason why people are consigned to hell, but that's for another blog post (Proverbs 16:4; Romans chapters 1-3; 9:6-23; 1 Peter 2:8). The idea of the narrow way really rubs them raw; which is the idea that you cannot get to the True God apart from the Jesus Christ revealed in the pages of the New Testament (Matthew 7:13-15). Because some of the emergents outright reject the propositional truths of Scripture in part or altogether for the sake of preserving "epistemic humility" because they believe that they can't really know anything about God with certainty (except, they believe they can know that particular statement with "certainty"!), they cannot form a consistently biblical soteriology either.
DISCUSSION: Inclusivistic emergents believe that God will show saving mercy to everyone at the Great Day of Judgment, thus promoting a belief that will always be avant garde to the postmodern mind, a form of the false teaching known as universalism. This is seen in the writings of many a popular emergent church leader, but since Spencer Burke immediately comes to mind because of my familiarity with some of the things that he's said in this area, read his brief quote here, "I don’t believe you have to convert to any particular religion to find God.” (Heretics Guide to Eternity, 197). Before we move on, consider a similar statement made by the well known emergent leader Brian McLaren,
"Although I don't hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don't hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus. Ultimately, I hope that Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam and every other religion, including the Christian religion, which often seems to need saving about as much as any other religion does. (In this context, I do wish all Christians would become followers of Jesus but perhaps this is too much to ask. After all, I'm not doing such a hot job of it myself.)". [Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 264.]
Aside from the fact that McLaren wrongly assumes that everyone who has some type of nominal association with a church can be legitimately considered a Christian, what about his implied universalism above? Where is there room for the Biblical understanding of God's wrath and anger against vain idolaters? (Psalm 31:6; Romans 1:18-32) Nowhere to be found for sure.
The logical conclusion of what was promoted by Billy Graham's slogan popularized 50 years ago, "God loves the sinner but hates the sin" has now been taken to the next step by many an emergent thinker. You see brethren, ideas have consequences. That's why if you combine a popular yet unbiblical slogan like Graham's steeped in an Arminian approach to God's love that has no degrees but instead can be likened unto peanut butter since you "spread it on far and wide" and then you become familiar and accepting of the inclusivistic ideas of many within the emergent church movement, then you set yourself up to conveniently reject the biblical concept of God's wrath and hatred for sinners. In sum, if you have mixed the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world then you have nullified the cross (1 Corinthians 1-2; Galatians 2:21). This is because where no wrath exists, no sin has occurred and if there is no sin, then everybody is saved by whatever means they think is acceptable for them and the cross was a useless historical event. Worse yet, God would be a liar, contra Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18.
Let me say that I wholeheartedly agree with Jesus that there is a general non-saving love or beneficence that God shows to all His creatures, including God-haters (Psalm 145:9-10; Matthew 5:44-45). However, I do not confuse God's general goodness and creaturely love for all of His creation with His saving love as it pertains to His own eternal salvific purposes for His elect. There is a large and wide chasm between these two precipices that can never be bridged by idolatrous religions as it pertains to the universalistic/inclusivistic declarations made by some of the major voices for the emergent "conversation". For all Godlovers, we must respectfully but strongly disagree with these modern ideas of God's love for biblical reasons (Psalm 5:5; 7:11; 11:5; Romans 9:13). May the truth of the Holy Scriptures be the torch that we use to light the way through the dark maze of heretical and unorthodox teachings that seek to undermine the exclusivity of the claims of Christ!
UPDATE 4-23-08: After speaking with several friends about a lack of clarity in some of the wording of this article as it was originally published on 4-22, I have taken the liberty to revise and update it to better reflect a what I believe to be a more biblical understanding of the love of God. I apologize that your comments have been deleted, but I wanted to get rid of the video I posted on the original article, and to do so, I had to delete the original post. Thanks for your understanding. DS