Doug Pagitt, a famous emergent church pastor, was interviewed on the Carm.org 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.