The Emergent Cult

Doug Pagitt, a famous emergent church pastor, was interviewed on the podcast (October 13) by Matt Slick, and on Way of the Master Radio (October 22, Hour 1) by Todd Friel. Each host asked seemingly simple questions, and Pagitt answered neither because he didn’t like the wording.

  • Matt Slick asked, “Is Jesus a man right now?”
  • Todd Friel asked, “Where do good Buddhists go when they die?”

These are fundamental questions. Appropriate, biblical answers reveal a basic understanding of the gospel. Slick’s question is one you don’t hear every day, but it should be something that any Christian can think through and then respond. I would say that if one can’t answer Friel’s question and explain why, it’s doubtful he or she is born again and headed for heaven.

Pagitt told Slick his question was weird and worded strangely. He hemmed and hawed for a while but never gave a straight answer. My response: Of course Jesus is a man. He was physically resurrected and ascended into heaven and is fully man and fully God, sitting at the right hand of the Father.

When Friel asked his question, Pagitt responded that he didn’t like the question because he doesn’t believe heaven is a real place. After jockeying over the wording of the question for a few minutes, it morphed to, “What happens to the soul of a good Buddhist after they die?” Pagitt decided that he or she would be reconciled to God, ending up in the same place as Christians.

This pastor’s words show a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. I don’t believe Pagitt can claim to be a Christian any more than a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. Nevertheless, he’s probably just as desperate to claim the title of Christian as people in those cults. I suspect that every emergent is in his own little world, and each of the church’s followers believes different things. However, I think they need to be evangelized just as much as any other cult. Doug Pagitt is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What tool has God given us to reach those who have completely butchered the Bible but still think they’re Christians? The law is a tutor to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). It shows us the exceeding sinfulness of our sin (Romans 7:13), teaches us what sin is (Romans 3:20), and stops our mouths from trying to justify ourselves (Romans 3:19). When someone understands God’s justice, and is concerned about their standing, they’re ready to hear the true gospel. The Holy Spirit will convict them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), and is the only one who can cut through all the misunderstanding, and save people from an eternity in hell.

31 Responses to The Emergent Cult

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptDoug Pagitt is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What tool has God given us to reach those who have completely butchered the Bible but still think they’re Christians? The law is a tutor to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). … […]

  2. love1wins says:

    it’s certainly disturbing to hear this, I have actually recently to a couple of Pagitt’s sermons and thought they were pretty good. but there is always another side of the story- it would be interesting to see if he had any follow up comments to make about these questions.

    [by the way- love the subtitle to your blog, God Bless!]

  3. billphillips says:


    Thanks for your comment. We are left to hope that he misunderstood or misspoke. But, at some point, we have to take him at his word. These are simple questions with simple answers.


  4. skubalon says:


    I was going to blog about this. I heard it this morning. WOW did it open my eyes as to how far they go. I am going to link this to my blog. You did the grunt work for me.

  5. […] I was going to blog about this but Fisher of Menbeat me to it. That is ok b/c he has saved me the grunt work. He said what I was thinking and more. […]

  6. love1wins says:

    agreed, these are some pretty simple questions- especially for some one with the knowledge like Doug Pagitt.

  7. It is scarey how many “preachers” preach a broad road to heaven.

  8. Bot says:

    Mitt’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has been often misunderstood by Evangelical preachers in the past . . Some accused the Church of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion . . helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early (First Century) Christianity’s theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Mitt’s church believes in the Jesus of the New Testament, who prayed to his Father in Heaven in the Garden of Gethsemane, not the Jesus portrayed in the creeds of the 4th Century.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) adheres to Early Christian (New Testament) theology more closely than other Christian denominations. . Perhaps the reason Evangelical preachers such as Dr Jeffress of Dallas promote this mis-representation is to protect their flock (and their livlihood). It is encouraging to note that Evangelical preachers such as Don Wilton and Bob Jones III (along with Jay Sekulow and Mark DeMoss) have dis-avowed bigotry and appear now to have a moral and competent president as a priority..

  9. billphillips says:


    A simple test to see if Mormons are Christian:

    1. Do you believe that Jesus is the one true God, or one of an unlimited number of gods?
    2. Do you believe that Jesus created the devil, or is the brother of the devil?
    3. Do you believe that Jesus and the Father have always been God, or do you believe that they were once human?
    4. Do you worship Jesus, or just the Father?
    5. Is salvation by faith alone through grace alone, or must you include works?

    Mormons are idolaters. Their god is a made up god, with the same name as the one true God. They aren’t Christians. Christians get their beliefs from the Bible, not from 4th century creeds, and certainly not from an occultist from the 1800’s.


  10. Coram Deo says:

    I’d also be curious to know what “Bot” thinks about the little issue of God the Father having had actual physical sexual intercourse with Mary in order to incestuously impregnate her with Jesus.

    Mormon theology is roughly comparable to equine ejectus; but in defense of equine ejectus at least it isn’t responsible for leading countless myriads of human souls to eternal damnation.

  11. Rick Frueh says:

    To hear that interview is like listening to a parady that surely cannot be true. Pagitt has thoroughly and publicly established himself as a heretic, and I am one who attempts to listen carefully to each person individually no matter what their label.

    To argue with one who says mormons are Christians is like arguing with the flat earth society, too far out to argue.

    What possibly started out as a movement of methodology has quickly morphed into doctrinal quicksand.

  12. “I suspect that every emergent is in his own little world, and each of the church’s followers believes different things.”

    From what I know of them I would say you are probably correct. They don’t seem big on doctrine. Trust is it often gets in their way.

  13. timbob says:

    Greetings. Few deceptions are as dangerous as those of “another gospel or another Jesus.” I have a sister who is a mormon and, in the course of casual conversation, her words and phrases will sound just like ours. That is until one realizes that to them, these terms have completely different meanings. It’s interesting that when asked about the end times, the first thing that Jesus stated was “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Thanks for a great and enlightening post.

    Have a blessed weekend in Christ.


  14. brotherjohnny says:

    I dunno who Doug Pagitt is, but I don’t think I would consider him to be the spokesman for ’emergent church doctrine’.

    Like most of Christiandom, I Just don’t think they are all that unified (although some of them are).

    My understanding of the emergent church is that they consider what they are to be more of a ‘conversation’ than an orthodoxy. A predominately younger group of folks who are in the process of reconsidering much of what has been handed to them as ‘THE Christian faith’.

    While I can relate to many of their reconsiderations, I also know what things I hold as absolutes.

    I only say these things so that we don’t just automatically judge everything ’emergent’ as ‘non’ or even ‘anti’ christian.


  15. billphillips says:


    I’m equally worried about Brian McClaren and Rob Bell as I am about Doug Pagitt. I agree that emergent people are hard to pin down on their doctrine, and someone might identify themselves as emergent, and actaully be born again. But, I think, in general, we should be very worried about where this emergent stuff is going.


  16. Gerard says:

    So, you believe LITERALLY that Jesus is, “…fully man and fully God, sitting at the right hand of the Father.” Is that right? LITERALLY? That this fully human (yet fully creator of all), is sitting (not standing or walking or busying himself any other way, but – sitting) at the right hand (never at the left, or behind or in front ) of — HIMSELF. Can you maybe explain this inexplicable, rather bizarre literal interpretation? How can the Father and the Son, LITERALLY be one? This would mean God sent HIMSELF to the planet (knowing exactly what would happen as he knows all), spent years talking about his father in Heaven (who was really himself), and then when crucified, cried out to HIMSELF asking why HE (himself) was forsaking himself. Basically, what you would have here is a man talking to himself and LITERALLY asking a question to himself about something he (obviously) knows the answer to – yet still asking “why?” How does this LITERALLY work out?

    This literal interpretation of scripture, becoming so popular within only the last 150 years since the death 2,000 plus years ago of Jesus, is what is quite possibly the heresy – the “cult!” You must step away from the traditions passed along by our contemporaries (yes, those living in the 1800’s are our contemporaries in the context of two THOUSAND years), and question if they had an agenda to pursue such ideas. Who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing? Are you *sure* you know? Might they be those who have passed along these things that make the Bible – frankly, unbelievable – to the masses (and they have left the church in droves) while those who teach the REAL message of the New Testament are called the false teachers. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

    Reconcile that, LITERALLY.

  17. billphillips says:


    Thanks for your comment.

    Straw men are easy to knock down aren’t they? It is evident from your comment that you don’t understand the trinity. That’s okay; it can be difficult to understand. The Trinity is described as one God in three persons. The persons can talk to each other. The trinity doesn’t violate any laws of logic; neither does Jesus being fully man and fully God.

    I disagree that literally interpreting the Bible has happened within the last 150 years. Martin Luther lived in the 1500’s. The Catholic church, while I certainly disagree with a lot of what they believe, I think they believe in the Trinity and Jesus being fully man and God. The Catholic church goes back continuously hundreds of years. The Catholic church kept the Bible out of normal people’s hands for much of the middle ages. If you read the Bible, you’ll see that Paul believed it and wrote it literally. He was generally writing practical letters to various churches. People have taken the Bible literally for 2000 years.

    There are many cool verses I could show you, but it would take quite a bit of time. Take a look at this website: Keep in mind that we don’t stand in judgment of the Bible. It stands in judgment of us.

    Would you say you’re born again?


  18. Gerard says:

    Yes, I fully understand the CONCEPT of the trinity. No need to patronize. Can you LITERALLY explain the questions I asked? If you need to, read it again. I would like to know how you can explain it – even in the context of the fundamentalist concept.

    I respectfully disagree about literal interpretation of scripture being something that has been accepted for 2000 years. I also notice that you spend SO MUCH time discussing the letters of Paul. Have you taken the time to read the four gospels and the teachings of Christ? Are you following the clear LITERAL interpretation from, for instance, the Sermon On The Mount?

  19. billphillips says:


    I’m under no obligation to answer your questions, and your comments remain at my discretion.

    Saying you understand the Trinity doesn’t make it so. If you understood it, you wouldn’t have asked those questions. If you understand it, why do you want me to explain it to you again? Is there a non-literal viewpoint of the trinity (other than from a cult)?

    The logic behind the Trinity goes something like this:
    1. There is one God (Deut. 6:4, Isaiah 43:10, 44:6, 46:8-9, John 17:3, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, etc.).
    2. The Father is God (Phil. 1:2). Jesus is God (John 1:1). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4).
    3. Each person of the Trinity is co-eternal. The Father is eternal (Psalm 90:2). Jesus is eternal (John 8:58, Colossians 1:17). The Holy Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14).

    Jesus is fully man and fully God. Verses saying Jesus is a man Colossians 2:9, Romans 5, etc. Jesus rose from the dead physically (1 Corinthians 15:14, John 20:27). He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). Jesus is at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33).

    I guess we’ll agree to disagree on how long the Bible has been taken literally.

    I do my best to follow what is plainly stated in the Sermon on the Mount, and I have read the Gospels. I am fully aware the the Bible has poetry, and apocolyptic portions, and parables. It should be read and applied plainly.

    Since I have answered your questions, please answer this as I have asked it twice: Are you born again?


  20. Gerard says:

    Absolutely. Salvation by faith. As is, I believe Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and Doug Paggit. I certainly don’t find them calling your beliefs a “cult.” We can have disagreements without the heresy talk. Remember a guy named Luther? God used Martin Luther to open eyes and to urge people to cast a wary eye on tradition, passed down simply by rote motion. The Emergent church and its calling followers of Christ back to the actual teachings of Christ may sound heretical to some, as it shakes the foundations of our current theological comfort zone. That zone allows for a suburbanized, “Western Jesus,” with few discomforts to our culture of wealth and prosperity. It’s much easier to focus on the personal salvation aspects which require only faith. But to be followers of Christ is revolutionary. It upsets the cultural suburban worldview that those who believe that actually DOING what Jesus COMMANDED us to do is “liberal.” It’s much easier to place a tract on a counter, or, write in our blogs and throw stones.

    God bless.

  21. billphillips says:


    Bell, McLaren and Pagitt don’t like most of what Jesus said. For example, John 14:6, John 3:3, 3:16, 3:36, Matt. 13:41-42, and any other thing that might be considered mean or intolerant. You can’t tell me Pagitt has such a high esteem for Jesus’ words when he won’t even acknowledge that heaven is a place. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Jesus said heaven will eventually be on earth. Earth is a place.

    Anyone who says that Buddhists will end up in the same place as Christians, is a heretic, and his church is a cult. He is taking people to hell. At least Pagitt has the guts to come clean with what he believes. Rob Bell’s god is a sex god, and wears lipstick, according to his book. He has a different God than me. As far as I know, McLaren has never committed to any particular belief, which is just as dangerous as picking the wrong belief. These men are heretics. It’s okay to say it. You can call me a heretic if you like. I’m going to stand by all of Jesus’ words, not just the ones that make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I agree that most Christians fall short in acting out their faith. In fact, there are many hypocrites who will end up in hell. We must have a proper understanding of who Jesus is (John 8:24), and have the life to go along with it. You must have both. Are you sure that you have both?


  22. Rick Frueh says:

    No one “understands” the Trinity. The concept is a mystery. If we do not strive for literal interpretations, than we are captured by private interpretations as Peter warned.

    Literal interpretations include metaphors and similes and hebrewisms, but they are all still defined literally.

  23. Rick says:

    I’m not part of the Emergent Church movement, nor do I defend everything they believe. But that interview was a farce. If anyone looked like an idiot, it was Todd Friel. It was obvious he was just tying to set the guy up like an attack dog. He wouldn’t even let him fully answer a question before he jumped in with his own conclusions.

  24. billphillips says:


    Thanks for your comment. What do you say happens to a good Buddhist?


  25. Rick says:

    I believe they are lost. What do you say?

    But again, Friel never even gave the guy a chance to answer the questions. He is an embarassment to all conservatives and is pretty ignorant when it comes to theology himself.

  26. billphillips says:


    I agree that they’re lost, but you didn’t really answer the question. I believe they go to hell for eternity. Besides that, there are no good Buddhists (Luke 18:19).

    I think Todd Friel has pretty standard evangelical and Biblical theology. I certainly agree with him, and most people who read the Bible plainly agree with him.

    Are you born again?


  27. Rick says:

    Yes Bill, I’m born again. Like Todd Friehl, you seem to like “talking down” to people rather than actually listening to them.

  28. ila says:

    Hey Rick,

    I can’t say I’m a faithful listener of Friel, but I haven’t heard what you mention. I am about as conservative as they come and I have never been embarassed by him. Further, I have not found fault with his theology. Could you give me an example or two?


  29. […] The Emergent Cult over at his Fishers of Men Bill Phillips did a good job in bringing us up to speed concerning two […]

  30. telson says:

    Mormons are heretic cult. More information behind the good article:

  31. Did you see Douglas Wilson speaking at Indiana University? It is crazy how the “Christians” and the non-Christians there treated him. They’re tolerant of anything but what they disagree with.

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