Michael Horton's ninth chapter in the Gospel Commission has got to be his keystone chapter. He rounds up everyone from conservatives like George Barna and the pietists, to liberals like Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, and shows how they contributed from taking the Church's focus off of the Bible and teaching Christ to people and changing the focus to either marketing to people or being the Gospel. We can never be the gospel. The Bible is clear that Christ alone is to be worshiped, and he alone is the Gospel. He is the message. We don't have to be.
The scary thing is, these guys get their tactics from the New Measures of Charles Finney. Finney did not believe in original sin, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and to him Christ was only a great moral example. Finney was most certainly not a Christian. His goal was to get people to have better morals and shape society, but he left people not knowing Jesus and still going to hell. I'm sad to hear that this legacy lives in Barna. He is an excellent statistician, and he writes good books. I've known for some time that his research isn't accurate. For example, he says 50% of Christians have been divorced. What he didn't check to see is how they define themselves as Christians, if they were a Christian at the time of divorce, or even the circumstances of the divorce. He just said 50% of professing Christians have been divorced. I've read his book on children, and he's not a heretic like Finney. He does believe that Jesus was sinless, that he was God, and the main tenets of Christian doctrine. However, like Finney, he does not see the importance of the church using the Gospel alone to bring people to Christ. He is in favor of whatever it takes to get a person saved.
Jesus clearly pointed it out in his Great Commission. All authority in heaven was given to Him, and now he gives us the privilege to tell people about him through baptism, communion, and the Bible. Emergent liberals like Pagett and Bell have not only thrown out church as we know it, they went beyond Barna and threw out the Gospel of the penal substitutionary atonement. And both sides of the argument act like we actually deserve to be saved, when in reality, if God was truly fair then no one would be in heaven. The cross truly is offensive, but it is what God used to give us salvation. There is no other name to save us than Jesus and if we don't tell the church about him and what he did for us, then we fail as believers and church leaders.