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24 January, 2008 / theexpositor

Erwin McManus on the decline of church membership

“My primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent. So they see the church as a place that is there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them. There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ.

I think the bottom line is our own spiritual narcissism. There are methods and you can talk about style, structure and music, but in the end it really comes down to your heart and what you care about.”


What do you think about McManus’ statements?



  1. nathan / Jan 25 2008 2 59

    He’s obviously a heretic 🙂

    • Mark Keithley / Feb 3 2010 8 34

      On what basis do you make a claim like that. I go to Mosaic and everything McManus says is based on Scripture.

  2. Douglas / Jan 25 2008 7 46

    “What do you think about McManus’ statements?”

    Enemies of the Church and the Christian faith have been saying the same sort of thing too, for hundreds of years, eh?. Accusing the Church and Christians of this and that when things don’t go their way.

    “He’s obviously a heretic”

    He obviously teaches some heretical false doctrine too, doesn’t he? 😦 Does that make him a heretic? What makes a person a heretic? A professing Christian can be a heretic, eh?

    Soul Cravings: An Exploration of the Human Spirit

    By Erwin Raphael McManus
    Reviewed by Jonathan Leeman

    Soul Cravings

    by Erwin Raphael McManus
    Reviewed by pastor Gary Gilley

    The Barbarian Way

    by Erwin R. McManus
    reviewed by pastor Gary Gilley

    Are these folks correct? Where is the truth to be found? HELP!!!

    After reading some of McManus’ teachings here and there and these reviews of his books, I do have to wonder, IS there some heretical stuff in his teachings? Yes, I think so. He does twist and distort a few things doesn’t he? There have been far more people than Mr. McManus saying, and for a lot longer too, what he said in that quote, it’s not unique to him. He probably read it somewhere in the first place??? I read that sort of thing over twenty years ago and I have been saying it for just as long. I don’t have to twist the Scriptures or knock Calvinism either as McManus does. He seem to have a hatred for Calvinism as well, doesn’t he? A lot of Southern Baptist folks hate Calvinism don’t they? Why? Are Calvinist too mean and unloving according to Mr. McManus? Just because they disagree with some of his false teachings they are mean and unloving? All God is is a God of LOVE and nothing else? God is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE? God is HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! isn’t he? The God who is angry with the wicked every day and who hates the workers of iniquity? Is that the God Mr. McManus believes in or does Mr. McManus downplay those awesome, dreadful, fearful attributes of God? Will God have the unrepentant wicked cast into the lake of fire on judgment day? Doesn’t God LOVE them too? Doesn’t God show grace and mercy to them too? Does Mr. McManus believe that sort of thing? All will work out a bed of roses eventually? There will be no cries of eternal concious torment of the damned, the smoke going up day and night forever? That’s all just metaphors and symbolisms?

    2) Erwin claims that biblical doctrine can be dismissed BECAUSE it is being abused.

    “Erwin has called Calvinism a false religion like Buddhism. And he claimed it was a false religion because Calvinists supposedly abuse the doctrine of election. First, let me say that it is a sinful tragedy when anyone calling himself a Calvinist displays any arrogance in regard to being elect. This demonstrates a lack of wisdom in genuinely understanding the nature of this precious doctrine. I’ll come back to that in a minute. But, according to Erwin, in order for any doctrine to be declared untrue and dismissed, the only criterion needed is whether it has any history of being abused. Well, according to that criterion, we had better throw out the doctrines of Christian liberty, grace, freedom in Christ and love, not to mention the Lord’s Supper (See 1 Cor 11:17-34). How did the Apostles handle doctrinal abuses? One example is how the Apostle Paul stood his ground when Christians were being accused of abusing Christian liberty, or when he was falsely accused of teaching libertinism. He clarified the doctrine but did not dismiss or even alter it. He also warned the church of Galatia, having obtained an immense freedom in Christ, not to use that freedom as an opportunity to sin (Gal 5:13). But he did not renounce the doctrines regarding freedom in Christ. He only warned against abuses. We must not stop preaching truth merely because people abuse it for their own selfish desires. We must rebuke and correct these abuses, by God’s grace, but we are never permitted to alter the contents of the word of God.

    Erwin can tell story after story about doctrinal abuses – about people he has met who hold to Reformed teachings and are, at the same time, arrogant about election. He says he has friends who are falling for this dangerous teaching. Dangerous? If anything, God’s sovereignty in salvation is the most humbling doctrine, for it strips us of all our pride. It tells us that we bring nothing to the table when it comes to salvation. God does it all. Someone once asked a man after giving his testimony, “So you’re saying that you had no part to play in your salvation?” to which the man responded, “Actually, I did bring something. I am the one who brought the sin that God needed to forgive.” The doctrine of election exalts God and humbles man, revealing his true state of affairs – utterly depraved and incapable, “dead in trespasses and sins” until “God made us alive” in Christ (Eph 2:1-6).” Erwin McManus Plays Dominoes with God’s Sovereignty
    by Ron Foster

  3. Douglas / Jan 25 2008 11 48

    Erwin McManus’ Real Position on the Authority of Scripture
    By Ron Foster

    Erwin McManus’s False Teachings Part 1: Ditching Discipleship for the Doctrines of Demons

    Erwin McManus’ False Teachings Part 2: “You Have Incredible Potential”

    Ron Foster
    Ron Foster, his wife Linda and daughter Kira live in Pasadena, California where they are members of Lake Avenue Church. Ron holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Biola University in La Mirada, CA and a B.A. in Bible from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, along with a teaching credential in Social Studies. Ron has served as a church planter, youth minister, music minister and interim pastor of several churches in Texas before moving to Los Angeles for his graduate work. There, he joined and became a member and leader in Mosaic Church under Erwin McManus. By God’s grace and mercy, he and his family left Mosaic after seven years to find a church whose pastor taught and obeyed the whole counsel of God in both his preaching and in his theology of ministry and missions (Acts 20:27). Ron currently teaches elementary school in Pasadena and teaches a men’s Bible study group at Lake Avenue Church. He deeply respects pastors and authors John Piper, John MacArthur and Alistair Begg for having powerfully encouraged and instructed him “from a distance” through their God-exalting radio and internet ministries and through their books. Ron is especially thankful to God for Dr. John Piper’s vision of spreading “a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

    More of Ron Foster’s Articles

    Is Mr. Foster correct? After all is said and done, he did attend Mosaic for several years and even became a leader there so he must know what he is talking about, surly? Does Ron speak the truth in love? Does he weep over Erwin McManus’ false teachings?

    Does Erwin McManus proclaim boldly and unashamedly, the full orbed, doctrinally sound, biblical gospel? Or is God to be found inside each one of us, even we are dead in our trespasses and sins? Do we really only need to look deeply into our corrupt souls to find God, God resides in our degenerate, unrepentant heart of stone, does He?

    We must have the full message. . . ‘deliver the whole counsel of God’. . . . It starts with the Law. The Law of God … the demands of a righteous God, the wrath of God. That is the way to bring men and women to conviction; not by modifying the Truth…. We must confront them with the fact that they are men and that they are fallible men, that they are dying men, that they are sinful men, and that they will all have to stand before God at the Bar of Eternal Judgment….And then we must present to them the full-orbed doctrine of the Grace of God in Salvation in Jesus Christ. We must show that no man is saved ‘by the deeds of the Law’, by his own goodness or righteousness, or church membership or anything else, but solely, utterly, entirely by the free gift of God in Jesus Christ His Son. . . . We must preach the full-orbed doctrine leaving nothing out-conviction of sin, the reality of Judgment and Hell, free grace, justification, sanctification, glorification. We must also show that there is a world view in the Bible … that here alone you can understand history-past history, present history, future history. Let us show this great world view, and God’s Eternal purpose…. Let us at the same time be very careful that we are giving it to the whole man … the gospel is not only for a man’s heart, that you start with his head and present Truth to it … Let us show that it is a great message given by God which we in turn pass on to the mind, to the heart, to the will. There is ever this danger of leaving out some part or other of man’s personality… Let us be certain that we address the whole man-his mind, his emotions and his will.” ~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones The Weapons of our Warfare pg. 21-22

  4. nathan / Jan 25 2008 16 56

    yikes… take out can opener, open worms.

    Can I ask you a question, without an essay answer. Where has Erwin ever said that doctrine can be dismissed because it is being abused? I have two pieces of advice.

    1. Don’t believe everything you hear on TV
    2. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet (especially if there are no direct quotations).

  5. Douglas / Jan 26 2008 0 19

    “Can I ask you a question, without an essay answer.”

    That’s difficult. Did you read every single thing in all those articles I linked? Are they true or false. No direct page numbered quotations? Erwin writes books that have no page numbers and so forth. Makes it a bit difficult to do eh?

    Nathan, I would like to ask you some things. Is Ron Foster a liar? Do you and Erwin fear God alone and tremble at God’s holy Word? I do. Do you bow the knee before the LORD Jesus Christ? Do you look into the mirror of God’s word every day and see how deceitfully wicked your heart really is? Do you see how evil and sinful you really are? Does Erwin? Does Erwin teach people how to look into God Word that way? Does Erwin teach people to fear God alone? Do you?

    hope that wasn’t too long.



  6. nathan / Jan 26 2008 5 57

    Doug, only one of Erwin’s books does not have page numbers (and it has entries). You can still use quotation marks and such. I don’t mean this as an insult, but have you read McManus’ materials, or are you just reading what others have said.

    I am not prepared to call Ron Foster a liar right now. I will say this. From everything that I have read, and knowing his history with McManus, he sounds like someone that is deeply hurt and wounded. For that I am truly sad. Because of that, I think he sees things with a bias. I pray that God will heal his wounds from the past and help him to grow in his ministry.

    To all your questions… yes. We try really hard to accurately portray the complete biblical message. Can I ask you something? Why did you not include “do you marvel in the love and kindness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”? Not everything that is true has to be about how wicked we are. Plus, it seems that God has given you a burden for Mosaic and McManus. We COVET your prayers as we strive to lead Los Angeles closer to Christ. I would love to have you as a prayer warrior with us.

  7. Ken Silva / Jan 28 2008 1 00


    I think it’s only fair that you should know Nathan Neighbour “currently serves on the creative arts team at Mosaic LA,” and Erwin McManus is his pastor. Nathan is also a contributing writer at this Watcher of the Watchdogs website here.

    So he isn’t be very likely to be open to criticism of McManus. And I can also tell you that Ron Foster is one of my correspondents with Apprising Ministries, he is a friend of mine, and he is a fine man of God.

  8. Douglas / Jan 28 2008 10 37

    Thanks Ken, that is very interesting info.

    This review really shocked me when I first read it, some of what McManus teaches in that book of his is so terribly wrong and very disturbing:

    The Christian Hordes?

    A review of “The Barbarian Way”
    by Erwin Raphael McManus
    By Kevin Reeves
    October, 2005

    I want no part of that sort of teaching. Give me sound doctrine any day.

    I pray that God opens Nathan and Erwin’s eyes to His glorious, wondrous, thrice times holy, awesome (fearful & dreadful) character and nature, that they would have an Isaiah 6 encounter with the God who is. Then they would truly understand the love of God if He does not consume them in the fire of His wrath.

  9. Darren Sapp / Jan 28 2008 19 16

    “What do you think about McManus’ statements?”

    His answer sounds very much like what many describe as the man-centered gospel where they are looking for an experience to benefit them, whether it is the best new contemporary worship song or their favorite hymm. Whether it is stadium seating or that old wooden traditional pew. When church members put those things first, the church will fail. Church members need to put the sovereignty of God on display through a changed life. When he is worshipped over a song or a building and when they desire to serve someone other than themselves, the church is growing. So, if that is what he meant by his answer, we are in full agreement.

    The real secret is that church growth should be about spiritual growth, not numbers.

  10. just a mom / Jan 29 2008 13 56

    Below is a sampling of other blog info that might shine light the light of truth on this whole Emergent Church movement: with pictures
    The Soliton Sessions

    The Soliton Sessions
    With much hard work and a few(as in more than one) all-nighters, the Soliton Sessions turned out to be a great success. Not the kind of success that can be calculated in any measurable way, but successful in the sense that the conversations were stimulating, diverse, deep and jolting.

    My favorite part about the role in which I played during the Sessions had to be watching it all come together. After two years in the making, watching what was once just an idea born in conversation become a catalyst of movement for others was, well, overwhelming. Everything came off without a hitch. Well, almost everything. We certainly learned alot. And though the group was intensely diverse, there was an all but unanymous reaction of gratitude and inspiration. Erwin McManus brought a sense of the future into the present; Dan Kimball brought a sense of the past into the present; and David Ruis brought heaven into the present.

    My “other” favorite parts?? Well, that’s tough…but I’ve been thinking about it.
    1. One of the biggest things for me personally was observing the momentum of our team. In two weeks, some of us are gathering to redesign our own leadership culture, and I think there were various organic depictions of service that will help us in that process.

    2. Jon Reid. Jon is a great guy, and I must admit. He caught me offguard on more than three occaissions. This not so silent programmer from San Jose was one that I loved watching during the sessions. He brought my family gifts, and was himself a gift to the flow of the weekend. He defies label and definition, and is full of love and patience, as well as an eagerness to encounter God in any form he can. I wish he lived closer–I think we’d have to cause a lot of trouble together. Check out his photos of the Sessions.

    3. Dan Kimball. There’s much to digest–not just on what I gleaned from set times of dialogue, but what I gleaned from the postures of humility and sensitivity he emanated. I think it becomes easy when you’ve been around conversations about the future as much as he has, to grow a bit weary of some of the “franchising” questions, and the pomo groupies. But he met the groups he engaged with an incredible sensitivity, and because of that many were able to learn. He added a strong pastoral element to the Sessions that was beautiful and necessary–and something that is rare in environments like this. He brought Josh Fox with him, a songwriter and worshipper from VFC, who’s an all around great guy. And of course, the water-based pomade Dan hooked me up with is great. (though it’ll take much more than that to restore the ol’ pomp)

    4. Jeremy & Jamie Wells, artists from Ecclesia. I particularly loved the way Jamie would flip her paintbrush and secure it in her hair like a chopstick when she wasn’t using it.

    5. Shayna Metzer from The Ooze came. It was great watching her sit and absorb all that went on around her. You would think that being around as many conferences as she has been, you would grow calloused to those environments. But she was engaged and touched, and I think that says something about what God was doing.

    6. Worship was huge. God I love that woman that you’ve given me, and what comes out of the depth of her being. I love being interrupted in my own expression of worship with the realization that the most beautiful things I experience of the tangibility of God are created by my soulmate.

    7. Tattoos. Yep, tattoos. Though we had temporary tattoos for all the registrants as identifying marks (rather than nametags), we also had Sid and Christopher from Sid’s Tattoo Parlor there. My wife and I each got our first tattoos, and [i love this] so did David Ruis. “Consider the Poor”. What a great experience.
    There is so much that I learned on so many different levels. In circles of facilitation and design of environments like the Sessions, in collaborative leadership and empowerment, and in personal reflection.

  11. Thomas Twitchell / Jan 29 2008 17 54

    Nathan quotes Mandela, a fascistic socialist, power grabber, and terrorist ( That one supremist group should attack another does not exhonerate either. It should be no wonder that Mandela was poster boy for leftists. Mandela in that quote makes man to be inherently good, with his own light, his own superior power, over throwing the truth of Scripture. Reminiscent of Hitler’s will to power in the Triumph of the Will, it makes man the cure to the evils of man’s sin.

    I live in Cheyenne and we have a church called Element. One of its recommended readings is McManus, but the interesting thing is that this church is a plant whose roots go back the the Evangelical Church of America. The ECoA is an extremist form of Arminianism that traces itself to ties with the UMC and the Wesleyan Holiness Movement.

    Strange isn’t it that a liberal antinomians like McManus would be put forward by a group that is the offspring of one of the most deadly forms of legalism in protestantism.

    I would be curious to know how wide spread the deception is. McManusism is just another form of works and guilt driven religionism, so it doesn’t surprise me that it has found welcome among cultish social remediation organizations whose philosophies resemble those of the most heinous oppressors we know.

  12. Darren Sapp / Jan 29 2008 19 26

    Note to everybody.

    Mike asked “What do you think about McManus’ statements?


    “What do you think about McManus?”

    When the Wall Street Journal wrote an article on church discipline, did we evaluate the doctrine of the Wall Street Journal or the content of the article?

    Evaluating McManus has its place but I don’t think that is what Mike was asking.

  13. nathan / Jan 30 2008 2 48

    I find that most people that criticize McManus either

    A. Have not read his books themselves, but blindly follow a handful of reviews online

    B. Have not spent much time at Mosaic. They have no clue what McManus’ doctrinal beliefs or practices are.

    C. Have not listened to the FREE podcasts of McManus’ sermons

    D. Don’t care about hearing what McManus has to hear, but want to use McManus’ word to fit a predetermined inclination or agenda.

    That’s all I really have to say. God Bless you all.

  14. Douglas / Jan 30 2008 9 47

    Nathan, the more I look into what Erwin McManus is all about, the more murky and shifty it all becomes. Hey, I trust each one of those reviewers and I have even spoken to Kevin Reeves once when I rang him from Australia when I was living there, he is an honest trustworthy man even though we have theological differences. I am not going to allow false doctrine to flow from the lips of Erwin McManus into my ears though, I am going to guard my heart with all diligence. I do not want his emergent barbarian nonsense deceiving me. I read reviews of books so as I can find out whether it will be a good investment of my time and money not a waste of it and I am afraid to say I would be wasting both my time and my money on Erwin’s products. He can keep them. He links arms with the heretic Robert Schuller as many others did the other week, that tells me more than I need to know thanks. I am not even interested listening to any of his free stuff but thanks anyway.

    Are all these folks lying about McManus?>>>>

    Solid Foods

    Mosaic of Pain

    I am having a listen to the audios in the above.

    Oh! Sorry. I forgot:

    A: 1. Don’t believe everything you hear on TV
    B: 2. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet (especially if there are no direct quotations). (What about when there ARE direct quotations? Would you then believe Erwin McManus is a false teacher?)

    I’d better stop watching TV and surfing the Net and get down the beach and do some real surfing instead. Now that would be real fun. We have a really good surfing beach here in Christchurch called “Taylors Mistake.” Some real beaut waves at diverse times I can tell you. Even visitors from the States love to have a surf there. It’s a nice beach too, with great cliff top walks either ends.

    Something does not ring true from Mosaic if you ask me, but hey, I’m just an unknown bloke living in New Zealand, where things are becoming a violent godless mess (I had my car attacked on Friday night while I was in it by drugged crazed youths, lovely feeling I can tell you), who surfs the Net from time to time, what do I know, eh? Erwin is a faithful doctrinally sound full-orbed Biblical expositor, eh? He doesn’t hate Calvinism does he? Do you hate Calvinism Nathan, do you? Are you a barbarian Nathan? I was once but I’m now that’s for sure.



    “Truth is so obscure in these days and falsehood is so established that unless we love the truth we can never know it.” ~ Blaise Pascal

  15. Jay / Feb 15 2008 22 26

    Nathan, Nathan,
    you back up Erwin every step of the way. And this isn’t the only site you’ve done it. You want quotes. REally. Go to You’ll get your quotes. Silly

  16. Jay / Feb 15 2008 22 31

    There is recovery from too much Kool-Aid drink. Stop drinking it.

  17. Yvonne W. / Mar 5 2008 19 50

    Hello Everyone!

    My name is Yvonne W and I’m the person who writes the Solid Foods blog that Douglas linked to above.
    (Thank you Douglas!)

    I am a former member of The Church on Brady/Mosaic, L.A.

    My father once held the title of executive pastor of Mosaic L.A. and was a church elder. My father “retired” from Mosaic in January, 2007 and resigned from his position as an elder a few months later.

    To the best of my knowledge, I have not written anything untruthful about Erwin McManus or Mosaic. I have done my best to provide proper citations throughout the articles I have written at my blog.

    In addtion to those citations, I have also spoken and/or cooresponded directly with the people I quote in my blog.

    These people include:

    *Current leaders of Mosaic

    *Former leaders of Mosaic

    *A former missionary of Mosaic

    *Former members of Mosaic

    In regards to the series of articles I wrote about Erwin McManus’s “non-profit” organization(s), I have spoken on the telephone to representatives of the following Los Angeles non-profit organizations –

    Union Rescue Mission
    L. A. Mission
    SEA (Soledad Enrichment Action)
    Neo Underground Railroad

    I attempted to contact other organizations by phone or email but did not receive replies to my inquiries.

    I also have emails from Jimmy Duke, the former vice president of Erwin McManus’ “non-profit” organization “Awaken” and Mosaic’s current executive pastor, Eric Bryant. (Eric is the new vice president of “Awaken.”)

    Eric Bryant has not replied to the last email I sent to him on May 3, 2007.

    I would like to respond to the comment made by Nathan Neighbor:


    I find that most people that criticize McManus either

    A. Have not read his books themselves, but blindly follow a handful of reviews online

    B. Have not spent much time at Mosaic. They have no clue what McManus’ doctrinal beliefs or practices are.

    C. Have not listened to the FREE podcasts of McManus’ sermons

    D. Don’t care about hearing what McManus has to hear[sic], but want to use McManus’ word to fit a predetermined inclination or agenda.

    That’s all I really have to say. God Bless you all.


    These are my answers to the above:

    A. I skimmed through Erwin’s books back when they were given to me for free but I now plan to do a more careful reading of them, especially “An Unstoppable Force” since I was recently made aware that it contains factual errors regarding the history of the Church on Brady.

    B. I started attending the Church on Brady while I was teenager and didn’t completely break with Mosaic until sometime around 2001 or 2002. I was there during the critical years of transition from the Church on Brady to Mosaic.

    In addtion to my father, two other members of my family have served on the PAID staff of Mosaic and others served as unpaid leaders. Since my family is very close-knit, I was kept well informed about the happenings at Mosaic after I stopped attending.

    I believe I have a very good “clue” as to what Erwin’s “doctrinal beliefs and practices” are.

    C. Until last year, I was unaware of the fact that Mosaic offered free podcasts of Erwin’s sermons. I have listened to a few of them but so far they have only confirmed what I already knew about him.

    D. Nathan wrote that most people criticize Erwin because they:

    “Don’t care about hearing what McManus has to hear[sic], but want to use McManus’ word to fit a predetermined inclination or agenda.”

    I do care about what McManus has to say and I would really like to know what he has to say about the questions I have raised in my blog.

    If my concerns about Erwin’s revisionist history of the Church on Brady and the questions I have raised about other areas of his ministry mean that I have a “predetermined inclination or agenda” then perhaps I am guilty as charged.

    I still feel my concerns are valid and need to be addressed.

    Yvonne W.

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