Eugenio Duarte Elected As 37th General Superintendent

Rev. Eugenio Duarte has been elected as one of the new General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene. He is currently the Africa Region Director. He is from the Cape Verde Islands, and is from the same Island of Brava where I was born.  I am very excited to know that a Cape Verdean has been elected, knowing that he knew my father for many years and comes from a tradition of holiness preachers. Congratulations to him, and may God bless him as he prepares to help lead the Church of the Nazarene.

Eugenio

Eugenio Duarte Africa Regional Director, Elected as General Superintendent
Below is the report from NCN News:
History made as Duarte elected general superintendent
Orlando, Florida
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

“This is what being a missional church gives you.” — Eugenio Duarte, the 37th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.

Eugenio Duarte (pronounced “Dwart”), regional director for Africa and a native of the island of Brava in the Cape Verde Islands, became the first citizen from outside the USA/Canada Region elected to the Church of the Nazarene’s Board of General Superintendents in the 100 year history of the denomination on Tuesday, June 30. Duarte was elected the 37th general superintendent on the seventh ballot on Tuesday, June 30, 2009, at the Church’s 27th General Assembly. Duarte’s election also reflects the multicultural face of the denomination.

Upon the announcement of the election, a crowd of delegates immediately swarmed Duarte in celebration, lifting him off his feet. Song erupted as the auditorium stood and clapped. Duarte finally was able to make his way to the stage followed by his fellow Africans waving a Cape Verde flag and photographers. He was warmly greeted by the presiding general superintendents, many of whom were in tears for this historic day.

Taking the podium, and after thanking the delegation, a humbled Duarte declared: “This is what being a missional church gives you.”

Duarte spoke of being enrolled in a small Nazarene mission school at a very young age, and later returning to teach at that same school. He talked of his journey as a minister and the steps that have been taken, following God’s lead for his life – a journey that has led him to the general superintendency.

“One who is inadequate has no right to say ‘no’ to God,” he said.

He then told the crowd, “During 31 of the 44 years I have been a part of the Church of the Nazarene, it has always been the case that the church teaches me how to serve. That’s all I know. That’s all I came to do.

“I am willing to serve.”

“Thank you very much for trusting me,” he continued. “Thank you very much for trusting the mission. Thank you for trusting Africa.”

Duarte then took his spot on stage – as is tradition – next to his fellow members of the Board of General Superintendents.

Duarte has been serving as the regional director for the Africa Region since 2005. Prior to this assignment, he and his wife, Maria Teresa, served as regional global missionaries with the Church of the Nazarene. Eugenio was field strategy coordinator of the Africa French Equatorial and West Fields.

Eugenio was born on the island of Brava, one of the Cape Verde Islands. He gave his heart to the Lord at a young age. Upon his completion of high school in the city of Mindelo, he was chosen by the Portuguese, who governed the Cape Verde Islands at that time, to be secretary to the administrator on the island of May. While there, Eugenio was active in the work of the Church of the Nazarene. He also met and married Maria Teresa, who was serving as postmaster on the island at the time. When Cape Verde received its independence from Portugal, the new government asked Eugenio to go to Moscow to study electrical engineering. He denied that offer to respond to the call to preach.

After his training in the Nazarene Seminary in Cape Verde, Eugenio pastored on the island of Saint Antao. He was ordained in 1981 and later took charge of the publishing work in Cape Verde. He served the district as treasurer and as a teacher in the seminary, and then as pastor of the church in the city of Mindelo. He was later elected district superintendent.

Eugenio’s talents were obvious, and soon he was called to direct the work in Central Africa. The Portuguese-speaking areas of Africa were growing so fast that it became clear that a field strategy coordinator was needed. Eugenio was asked to take that responsibility. In August 2003 his assignment was changed when he was asked to serve West Africa and the French Equatorial fields.

On November 23, 2005, the Board of General Superintendents, in consultation with World Mission Department Director Louie E. Bustle, announced the election of Duarte to serve as Africa regional director. A majority response was received from a mail ballot sent to the General Board, ratifying the election at that time.

Duarte holds a master’s degree in leadership from California’s Azusa Pacific University and speaks at least five languages, including English and three of the major African languages. He has a gentle spirit, is a firm leader, and has a good understanding of mission philosophy.

Upon Duarte’s election as regional director in 2005, Bustle described Duarte as “a good man and a great leader.”

“His quiet and effective leadership has earned the respect of people through the continent of Africa,” stated Bustle. “He loves the Church of the Nazarene and testifies through word and deed that Jesus is our hope. God is doing great things in Africa; I look forward to seeing how He will use Eugenio to build His Church.”

Under Duarte’s leadership, the work has continued to grow rapidly and expanding to new areas of the continent of Africa, making it the fastest growing region in the denomination. In fact, 22 percent of all Nazarenes are African.

Eugenio and Maria Teresa have three sons, Sergio, Francisco, and Richard. They live in Johannesburg, South Africa.
–NCN News, World Mission, General Secretary’s Office

Click here for a little history of Cape Verde

We Are Still Very Concerned

UPDATE June 21, 2009
Brothers and sisters, I will be at General Assembly this week until Monday the 29th.  I will be doing daily updates, please check the General Assembly Diary page above.

For those who are opposed to the dangerous movement infiltrating the Nazarene denomination, please pray for God’s Holy Spirit to move on the people there, especially the leadership, that they will come out and stand strong against this false movement.  Pray that the Concerned Nazarenes and others going there will make a great impact with their testimony; pray for Eric Barger as he speaks twice a day, for three days, at the Residence Inn; pray for all denominations and the body of Christ, that people will not be deceived.  May the Lord give discernment and wisdom to all during this time.

—————————————————————————————————-

  • Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  Jude 1:3

Concerned Nazarenes have been waiting for a long time for this moment.  We believe that we are in a critical period of the Church of the Nazarene.  What happens at the General Assembly June 23 to July 3 could very well make this the most important Assembly in a very long time, and perhaps ever.  The Nazarene church has gone through crises in the past, and much change at times, and mostly for the good.  But there are many changes going on right now in our universities, and in the denomination, that are not looking good.  I and many others who are concerned, have written on this, and posted information, regarding the emergent church movement and it’s incorporation of contemplative spirituality practices which are not biblical, and much of it is heretical.

The leaders of this movement (like Brian McLaren, Rob bell, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo) have been consistently trying to undermine the authority of scripture and supplant it with “experiences”; they have been trying to re-write the history of great men such as John Wesley and H. Orton Wiley to suit their twisted theology; they are deceiving many with their false doctrines, and if the denomination’s leaders takes us down that road, it will be a grave mistake.  There will be much “carnage”, as some have told me, but it will be caused by those who are taking us down a wide road that looks nice and accommodates a lot of people, but it leads straight to a pit that is hard to climb out of.

Along the way, as we have been fighting this, those who oppose this movement have encountered much vilification.  There have been families whose long time membership at their churches have ended, because they dared to speak up and ask questions.  They have been told to shut up or leave.  There is very little room for debate, or discussion, or honest presentation of facts with emergents.  These emergents call themselves the understanding, tolerant ones, but in reality, they only tolerate you if you go along to get along. Dare to speak and say that something is absolutely true, and watch the daggers come out.  They even accuse us of… gasp!  being more like Baptists such as John MacArthur and RC Sproul!  This is one Nazarene who stands firmly with MacArthur and Sproul in their stance on the inerrancy of scripture, just as Wesley and Wiley did.  (Why, I even have a John MacArthur study Bible).

But there is a body of Nazarenes who will not tolerate the intolerance.  We have yet to meet many of them, but they are out there. They will not stand by silently while unbiblical, contemplative prayer practices originating from pagan religions, are incorporated into our churches.  Sadly, some have already left the denomination altogether, disgusted at what is happening to their churches, and they ask, why?  Where is the discernment?  Will the leadership speak on this problem in Orlando, and if so, what will they say?  Will there be warnings, or will there be an embrace of that which is not scriptural, all for the sake of some kind of unity and ecumenicism?  Will we slowly become a social oriented, environmentally friendly, ecumenical denomination, to the detriment of preaching the gospel, the true gospel.

The answer for many of us is this: we will fight on to keep as many as possible away from this deception that is occurring.  There will remain many pockets of resistance, even if this “agenda” is codified at the Assembly.  There will be many Nazarene churches, along with their pastors, who will “stand in the gap” and resist the infiltration of emergent heresy.  I will join them in this fight and will continue until it is not possible.  I pray that it will not happen, but let me remind you of our Nazarene history, that years ago, one of our great founders, Phineas Bresee, left his denomination because of the slippery slope it had gone down on, and founded the Nazarene denomination. May God help us all see what we need to see, and turn to the authority of His Word, and not man’s word.

Below is a preview of the DVD which we will pass out to thousands at the General Assembly.  May God use it to open the eyes of many to this apostasy that is occurring.  I urge all who are as concerned to pray and fast as you can, and turn to the Lord for guidance and wisdom.

Brian McLaren’s Hope for the Future – The Minds of Your Grandchildren

In a presentation* I did on June 14 about Deceptive False Teachings, I briefly reviewed Brian McLaren and his emergent thinking, just touching on a few quotes by him.  Following is a review by Lighthouse Trails Research editors of one of his recent books.  Unless this is all made up, you will read more evidence of the extremely dangerous and often heretical teachings of Brian McLaren.  This should really make one wonder why in the world are Christian universities (including Nazarenes) inviting emergents like him to spread poison on their campuses to our youth.  Time to start asking questions and writing letters?


Source:  Editors at Lighthouse Trails

Brian McLaren’s newest book, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, is the first in a series of eight books by Thomas Nelson publishers. The General Editor of the series, which is titled The Ancient Practices Series, is emerging church proponent Phyllis Tickle. Other authors in the series include Dan Allender, Scot McKnight, Diana Butler Bass and Joan Chittister.

In Finding Our Way Again, McLaren thanks several contemplatives like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Joan Chittister. He also says he is “indebted” to Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis and recognizes Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones for teaching him contemplative practices. It is not surprising that McLaren thanks these listed teachers – McLaren has been in the emergent camp from the beginning of its inception, and where there is emerging, there is contemplative.

McLaren tells a story in which he met Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge at a Christian conference for pastors. Senge asks the pastors: “[W]hy are books on Buddhism so popular, and not books on Christianity?” Senge then tells the pastors it is because “Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief. So I would want to get Christian ministers thinking about how to rediscover their own faith as a way of life.” Translated, this emulates what a Hindu monk, Dr. Bramachari, told Thomas Merton once, that mysticism (ancient practices) could be found within the Christian tradition (the desert fathers).

What Senge meant was that a Christian did not have to become a Buddhist to enjoy the mystical experience but just “rediscover” that this mysticism is within the Christian faith (through contemplative spirituality). This is essentially the thesis of McLaren’s book, and with this mystical ideology, McLaren interjects the usual emerging church condemnation on Christians who adhere too closely to biblical doctrine and the return of Christ.

In regard to Christian doctrine, McLaren states: “[W]e need to move beyond our deadlock, our polarization, our binary, either/or thinking regarding faith and reason, religion and science, matter and spirit … We need a fusion of the sacred and the secular” (pp. 4-5). As do other emerging philosophers (such as Tony Campolo and Rick Warren), McLaren pairs fundamentalism with the adjectives: “fearful, manic, violent, apocalyptic” saying that its followers are “well armed, dangerous, and in the mood for an apocalypse.” (p. 5). This resonates with Rick Warren who said that Christian fundamentalists (he describes those as ones who adhere to the five fundamentals of the faith 1) are this new century’s enemy (and put them in the same category as Islamic terrorists.2

McLaren says there are three groups we must avoid: “militarist scientific secularism, pushy religious fundamentalism, and mushy amorphous spirituality” [which he calls "new age"]. He offers a fourth “creative” alternative, one that needs to “derive strength from the old religious traditions” (i.e., mysticism ), a “fresh alternative … [that] seeks to bring ancient spiritual practices to bear on the emerging world” (p. 6).

McLaren understands the outcome of mysticism, which is interspirituality and man awakening to his own divinity. Thus, he explains that these ancient practices (spiritual formation) are for people of different faiths and that these “practices are actions within our power that help us narrow the gap” (p. 14). They are “ways of becoming awake and staying awake to God” (p. 18).

McLaren twists Scripture by suggesting that the Old Testament priest Melchizedek was of a different religion than Abraham, and Abraham used a mystical practice to connect with Melchizedek. Thus McLaren draws this conclusion: “[W]e discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith” (p. 25). This is what occultists believe. Occultist Aldous Huxley said that mysticism is the “highest common factor” that “links the world’s religious traditions” and leads man to recognize the divinity within all things (see As Above, So Below, p. 2). Spiritual director Tilden Edwards backed up this comment by stating that this “mystical stream [contemplative] is the Western bridge to far eastern spirituality (see Spiritual Friend). Tony Campolo, in his book Speaking My Mind suggests that it is mysticism that unites Christianity with Islam (pp. 149-150).

The interfaith theme is threaded through Finding Our Way Again. In one section, McLaren says that even Christian communion is something to be shared with people of all faiths (in particularly with the Jewish faith and Islam); he states that this “sacred meal” is a celebration of “inclusion” and “reconciliation” (p. 26). This makes a mockery of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who told believers to do this in remembrance of Him, acknowledging His atonement for sin – a mockery because the beliefs of other religions reject Christ as being God and the slain Lamb who could take away sin.

As do other emerging/contemplative teachers, McLaren believes in a literal global kingdom of God on earth before
Christ returns that will incorporate all the world’s religions and all creation, a “world yet to be born” that “desperately” needs “these spiritual practices.” He also relates: “[T]hese practices” have “enlivened the three Abrahamic faiths” (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) and should not be “allowed to go extinct” (p. 29).

There is a piece of the puzzle in the book as to where the emerging church is really heading. In view of the fact that prominent Christian figures like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels continue to promote emerging church leaders (e.g. Leonard Sweet was a recent speaker at Saddleback and McLaren himself recently at Willow Creek) with millions of people around the world being significantly influenced by them, it is essential that we know where the emerging church is going. In chapter four of Finding Our Way Again, McLaren, in referring to his “spiritual formation,” admits he has gleaned from various religious traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc). Then he makes reference to a woman named Anne Lamott when she says, “I am at heart a Jesus-y person” (p. 31). Lamott is a perfect example of someone who “likes Jesus” but rejects biblical Christianity. Lamott illustrates this by her recent back cover endorsement of the best-selling book, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert’s book is heavily promoted by Oprah and has been at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for over a year. Gilbert was a disillusioned young woman who traveled to an India ashram where she learned to meditate and find oneness with God. During her time at the ashram, Gilbert had a meditative experience where she says “the scales fell from my eyes and the openings of the universe were shown to me.”
Her book is a virtual primer on New Age thinking. Of the book, Lamott says: “This is a wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight.” The reason McLaren resonates with Lamott is because the New Age and the emerging church (or what we call the merging church) are going in the same direction – to help man awaken to his inner divinity through mysticism. When McLaren states in this chapter that he learned from Hinduism, what else could he have learned than this?

Like so many others in the emerging camp, McLaren shows a distain for Christianity, saying that “a person can be a follower of the way of Jesus without affiliating with the Christian religion (p. 33) (please see our report “Christian or Christ-follower”. One emerging leader says that Christianity actually hijacked truth. McLaren takes this reasoning a step further and says, “Jesus wasn’t a Christian” (p. 34). But McLaren certainly isn’t the only one in the merging church that talks like this. Erwin McManus (unfortunately promoted by David Jeremiah) says it is his “goal to destroy Christianity as a world religion” and also: “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.”

Finding Our Way Again emulates McLaren’s previous writings on atonement, on Jesus being the only way to God and salvation, on the return of Christ and on the last days. The difference with this book is that the emphasis is on how we can attain to this awakened state – through mystical practices. One chapter is devoted primarily to these contemplative exercises, but the entire book is seeping with its core message – “reconciliation with God, one another, and all creation in a global community” (p. 42).

While we at Lighthouse Trails read this entire book, it would be repetitive to write about each chapter. The theme is as we have described above, and McLaren spends page after page trying to prove his points. He condemns traditional Christianity to dangerous and fearful, he applauds efforts to reconcile all religions together, he rejects any thoughts that Christ’s kingdom is only for the born-again, and he upholds a New Age kingdom in which man is in union with God (regardless of beliefs). He embraces mysticism wholeheartedly and in fact believes the world cannot be healed without it.

But something in McLaren’s book has given this writer a motivation to continue with the work we do at Lighthouse Trails as long as we have breath. In McLaren’s chapter titled “Moving On,” he gives a detailed analysis of how the emerging church is God’s answer to a stifled, fearful Christian church. He explains that this merging church must infiltrate the “institutions that rejected it,” adding that “conservative Protestants have repeated their Catholic sibling’s earlier mistakes (referring to the Catholic church’s one time rejection of Galileo). Then he says: “But over time, what they reject will find or create safe space outside their borders and become a resource so that many if not most of the grandchildren of today’s fundamentalists will learn and grow and move on from the misguided battles of their forebears [biblical believers]” (p. 133). You see, McLaren and his emerging church fellows (Pagitt, Sweet, Warren, et.al) want to change the minds of our children and grandchildren. That is why Rick Warren once said that the older traditional ones will have to leave or die because they won’t change, thus the emphasis in the emerging church on the youth.

What’s alarming is that McLaren’s vision of infiltration is working. And he knows it. Listen: “At the center, safe space happens. A learning community forms. New possibilities emerge. A new day dawns. If the guardians of our fragmented religious institutions forbid their members to meet in the center, the members will not be able to comply. They will simply go undercover and arrange secret liaisons … Eventually, the shared resources, vitality, and new possibilities that unfold … will penetrate and reinvigorate … Trying to stop [this] … is a losing game … against the plotline of God’s universe.”

In the last chapter of McLaren’s book, “Theosis (via Unitiva),” he sums up his calling by stating that “The purpose of the via purgativa [the practices] is to prepare us for the via illuminativa [the awakening], and the purpose of the via illuminativa is to prepare us for the via unitiva [all is one], the union of our nature with the nature of God” (pp. 171-172). He calls God “fire” and says, “We join God in being fire … Before the beginning … God was All, and All was God” (p. 175). This is the exact same message that Eckhart Tolle and Oprah are propagating. But while many Christians are now condemning Tolle’s message, they don’t realize that the very same message is permeating their very own churches. For those readers who care about the spiritual future of their children and grandchildren, it is vital they understand the meaning of McLaren’s spirituality in particular and the emerging/contemplative movement in general. We believe this is an extremely compelling motivation and should prompt us as believers to defend the faith and the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

This article or excerpt was posted on December 6, 2008@ 4:45 am.

From
: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

*Will be available on DVD including a version with Portuguese subtitles

INERRANCY and the WESLEYAN TRADITION

Jonathan A. Staniforth
June 11, 2009


Over the past few years, I have been spiritually troubled by an increasingly popular implication that not “all scripture is breathed by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). I have come to an understanding of the inerrancy of God’s Word, in all matters, as essential to the faith. Though there are those who do not see the point in explaining the original autograph manuscripts which we have not seen, yet out of reverence for the sovereign knowledge of the Author, I believe it is essential we defend them.


Though I consider its message of salvation and holiness as the purpose for which this book was “breathed by God,” I do not undermine its Author’s ability to communicate to mankind a message free from errors in history, geography, science, or any other subjects. There is no doubt that the Bible is a book of God’s redemptive plan. However, we cannot ignore the fact that this redemptive plan involves a history, a place in which it unfolds, and, often, science plays a role. To bring in to question any of these “other topics” will undoubtedly affect the central message, as it is inextricably linked. It must all be a part of the affirmation, “All scripture is breathed by God.”
In simple terms, I will attempt to bring understanding to all that I have stated thus far. On the side of a packet of bottled water, I noted the slogan “pure, refreshing and invigorating.” There is no doubt that one who drinks bottled water does so that he may be refreshed. Furthermore, that person would expect the water to be pure. This is the purpose of bottled water.
However, here is a question many have not considered, “Is the bottle clean?” Let us consider the history, the geography and science of the bottle. Imagine if the manufacturers of bottled water added in small print under their slogan, this following remark:

We are not concerned with the scientific composition of the bottle itself. Furthermore, we are unsure of the historical facts regarding the handling of this bottle, and may have been misinformed as to its origin. Nevertheless, we ensure you its contents are pure.

Immediately, the consumer would suspect that the water is no longer pure, because the bottle was subject to contamination. Though he or she may have picked up the bottle only because they merely wished to be refreshed, an awareness of potential error in the science, history and geography of the bottle, has caused the very content to come under question.
As the pure bottled water is the source of refreshment to the consumer, the living water is the source of life to those who believe. Jesus the Word stated, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). In a nutshell, this is the message of salvation and entire sanctification that has been held so dear by Wesleyans over the past two and a half centuries. However, this message has been encased in “time and space.” It was stated at a certain time in history and in a certain place. Furthermore, it establishes Jesus as the great Life Giver, the one who breathed life into man at the beginning of time (Gen 2:7; Col 1:16-17). This life that Jesus offers in John’s gospel is essentially spiritual, but in Genesis he was involved in the creation of physical life. Therefore, science is also involved.

If an absolute standard of inerrancy is not held, and only the message of salvation and holiness is considered valid, then this will lead to a corruption of the message itself. As a contaminated bottle will serve to corrupt its contents, so will a contaminated history, geography or science corrupt the message for the hearer of the Word. To question the historicity of a statement or the place in which a statement is made will only lead to the inevitable doubt of the validity of the statement itself. Which court would accept a statement as truth in which the witness is vulnerable to making errors in recollection of events and places? Would not the ruling be “insufficient evidence”? Yet the Bible is regarded by its Author as “sufficient” in all matters. “All scripture is breathed by God.”
This is the traditional belief of Wesleyans throughout the centuries. In a sermon entitled, “On Charity,” John Wesley states, “We know, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ and is therefore true and right concerning all things.” It is quite clear that Wesley understood that “all scripture” meant “all things” in the Word. However, were these “things” so connected that an error in history, geography or science would affect the central message? When reviewing a tract entitled, “Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion,” by Soame Jenyns which undermined inerrancy, Wesley wrote in his Journal for 24 July 1776:

If he is a Christian, he betrays his own cause by averring that “All Scripture is not given by inspiration of God, but the writers of it were sometimes left to themselves, and consequently made some mistakes.” Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.

It is evident in this statement that Wesley believed that the admittance of “any mistakes” would affect the very “truth” that God wishes to reveal. Therefore, I am sure that John Wesley would ascribe to my analogy of bottled water.
Secondly, we must review those prominent theologians in a movement to trace the consistency of its doctrine. Adam Clarke concurred with Wesley’s view on inerrancy. He stated: “Men may err, but the Scriptures cannot; for it is the Word of God himself, who can neither mistake, deceive, nor be deceived.”
Richard Watson, the first systematic theologian of Methodism, stated that the authority of scripture “secures the Scriptures from all error both as to the subjects spoken and the manner of expressing them.”
However, the great debate of inerrancy never began to take its toll until the last century. It began in the early 1900s and culminated in the 1970s when “historical skeptics” attacked the Word of God as unreliable in matters of science and history. As a response, some Wesleyans have fled from the bastion of inerrancy in all matters, to the wilderness of what they would call “soteriological inerrancy.” This is to say that they have created a doctrine contrary to the truths held by the fathers of the Wesleyan movement.

However, just what is this new view on inerrancy? Rob L. Staples, a proponent of soteriological inerrancy, wrote, “For Wesleyanism, the basic theological question is: ‘What must I do to be saved?'” Therefore, he surmises, that “Wesleyans” need only be concerned about inerrancy as regards the message of salvation. Staples even goes so far as to quote John Wesley for support: “I want to know one thing, the way to heaven ‘how to land safe on that happy shore.'”
Although Staples’ motives may be pure, there are two areas of immediate concern. First, the door has been left open for error in “other things” in scripture that Wesley himself considered inextricably linked to the message itself. Though the “way to heaven” is the pure water of the Word, one cannot avoid the fact that this message is linked with the bottle of “time and space.” To do so, would be to commit an intellectual suicide. Secondly, it is a sweeping statement of little historical merit to use the term “Wesleyans.” As we have seen, both the founder and its early theologians would disagree that this movement would support such a theological stance.

Furthermore, Dr. Staples stated, “We in the Wesleyan tradition have avoided the divisiveness some denominations have suffered whenever the “inerrancy” issue has reared its ugly head” [Words of Faith, p. 21].
Once again, there is a contradiction here. “Soteriological inerrancy” is a divisive theology that has crept into Wesleyan denominations. H. Ray Dunning, wrote concerning the Nazarene statement of faith concerning “The Holy Scriptures,”

While some Nazarenes interpret this to imply full authority in the broadest sense… other Nazarene sources allow a more restricted interpretation, defining it as extending to the whole canon; in terms of the content of scripture, to the soteriological aspects of the Bible, that is, it holds that the way of salvation set forth in Scripture is completely reliable and dependable [Grace, Faith, and Holiness, p. 72].

In other words, we have those that hold to the Wesleyan belief that “all scripture is breathed by God” and those that would settle for less: pure water in a potentially dirty bottle.
This leaves only one question to be asked: If doubt as to the total inerrancy of God’s Word does not have its roots in the Wesleyan tradition, from where did this understanding originate? I believe we find this theology in the Garden of Eden. It is the original temptation. Eve had wandered too close to “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” For her waywardness, she would suffer temptation at the hands of the serpent. Instead of the inspired Word, she now will be tempted to settle for something less – the inspired snake of the evil one. He states his doctrine of doubt, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'” (Gen 3:1).
Notice, the serpent does not make a direct statement, such as “God did not say . . . .” He simply implies that it may not be true when he questions the validity of God’s statement. This is what I call “the power of suggestion.”

If the evangelist of soteriological inerrancy proclaims that only the message need be true, has he not wandered too closely to the tree? He may argue at this point that the question of the serpent need not be historical or that the creation account is allegorical. However, if he listens carefully to his “own understanding” he will find that he has not trusted God’s Word, but echoed the voice of the evil one (see Prov 3:5-8). After all, to deny the validity of history is to bring into question the message. In other words, if there was neither “time” nor “space” when God spoke those words, then the next question to ask is: “Did he really speak them?”
In the garden, the Word of God was doubted and the rest is history. Adam and Eve were cast into a wilderness because they bought into the lie. They had traded the pure waters of Eden, for the murky waters of the wilderness. If we begin to doubt the pure water of the Word and all that is inextricably linked, we will end up drinking the contaminated waters in the wilderness of doubt. One doctrine after another will fall. Furthermore, we will put ourselves in a very dangerous position before the Author and Judge, Jesus Christ. A. W. Tozer proclaimed:

Let a man question the inspiration of the Scriptures and a curious, even monstrous, inversion takes place: thereafter he judges the Word instead of letting the Word judge him; he determines what the Word should teach instead of permitting it to determine what he should believe; he edits, amends, strikes out, adds at his pleasure; but always he sits above the Word and makes it amenable to him instead of kneeling before God and becoming amenable to the Word.

Once any detail in the Word is doubted, then the doubter has permitted himself to judge that which will judge him. He begins to pick and choose what is true, and that what is false. He has attempted to set his throne higher than the Almighty: The One who has promised, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot (the smallest letters in the Hebrew alphabet) or one tittle (accents and diacritical points) will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Luke 4:36). It is then that the door is opened and in creeps heresy.
At the outset of his book, The Story of God, Michael Lodahl, professor of theology at Point Loma Nazarene University, writes

In many ways, it’s the same way anyone’s story gets told – except that this is a very old story, told over a considerable length of time with many tellers, twists, and complications, and with a rather unobtrusive main Character (God) who seems not to be overly concerned that we get the Story “just right” in every detail [p. 16].

Notice in the last sentence the word “seems” is used. The use of this verb does not create a direct statement. If he had used the verb “is” and the statement was straightforward in nature – “God is not concerned that we get the Story right,” then there would probably be an outcry. But here we have the power of suggestion: “God seems not to be overly concerned that we get the Story “just right.” And, as I have already stated, suggestion is more enticing. In other words, he gives you enough to begin to doubt. The door of doubt is open and now we as readers are invited to become the judge of the Word. You pick and choose what “details” are right.

As we are led into the wilderness of this book, the water itself begins to become contaminated; not just the “Story,” but the message itself. In his search for an answer to God’s judgment of water at the time of Noah, we are given a heretical “implication” by Lodahl: “There is an unavoidable implication in the story of the Flood, however, that it is that God was learning through experience about human beings of His own making.”
After this remark, Lodahl attempts to soften the blow: “This does not square with traditional notions of divine omniscience, but this need not be overly bothersome” [p. 97]. For those who still drink of the water of the Word from the Garden of Sound Doctrine, it must be bothersome! After all, Lodahl has just attempted to diminish the omniscient God of scripture. Instead of a God who is all-knowing, Lodahl has given us the option of another god, in our image, who is “learning through experiences” – a humanistic god. That is a breach of the sovereignty of the Almighty! Furthermore, it is evidence that when one begins to doubt total inerrancy and sits in judgment, the message becomes contaminated. I will stand with the disciples who stated to my God: “Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You” (John 16:30).

Joe Staniforth
Nazarene Ordained Pastor

The Authority Of Scripture

By Scott MacDonald

Let me preface this article by saying that I have many friends and acquaintances within the Church of the Nazarene denomination. I truly believe that numerous people in Nazarene pews have limited or no knowledge of this problem, and I hope that they will be as troubled as I was when I discovered this false teaching. I also hold that many leaders and pastors within the denomination have not sensed this as well. I seek not to condemn the denomination, but to call it to awareness. The Church of the Nazarene must confront this seed of heresy before it takes root in coming generations. This is of incredible importance. In all love, I ask and plead that you will hear my words for the sake of the purity of the Bride.

One day in February 2006, I was searching the internet for the Church of the Nazarene’s statement of belief. Along the way, I found this on the Southern Nazarene University’s website.This is a statement of what they desire to teach in their theology department.

The Christian Scriptures

(1) We introduce students to the Old and New Testaments.

(2) We try to lead them into a love for the Scriptures. Through our classes we present a comprehensive picture of the biblical narrative.

(3) We introduce students to the structure of the Bible so that they will not be lost in or discouraged by the Bible’s size and complexity.

(4) The doctrine of the Scriptures that the Church of the Nazarene embraces is our norm.

(5) We teach that the Old and New Testaments inerrantly reveal the will of God in all things necessary for our salvation. They are authoritative in all things that relate to faith and Christian practice.

(6) “Whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith” We pay attention to the diverse contexts in which the various writings of Scripture emerged, and to the unique ways in which individual writers bore witness to divine revelation.

(7) For us, the authority of the Scriptures is soteriological (salvation). The realm in which the Scriptures are authoritative concerns our salvation.

(8) Salvation, of course, includes both Christian faith and practice. Hence, where the Scriptures speak on matters of ethics–how the life of Christ is manifest in the Church and His disciples– they are authoritative. 1 (Line numbers added)

This paragraph astounded me for numerous reasons. In this article, I wish to logically analyze it using Scripture, history, and reason. Before I state my disagreements with it, I must say there are areas in which I overwhelmingly agree with it. First, I desire that all people would come to know and love the Scriptures (Lines 1-2). This whole article would be pointless if I disagreed. Second, it is essential in Biblical studies to be introduced to the framework of Scripture (Line 3). This aids young and old believers by helping them avoid troublesome context issues. Third, I agree that whatever is not contained in Scripture should not be considered as an article of faith. If we begin to include extraneous teachings into our statement of beliefs, we have returned to one of the Roman Catholic errors that we still protest. Now I will attempt to kindly address the areas in which I find myself to be in opposition.

In this fallen world, the church is under constant scrutiny and attack. Whether it is from societies, governments, or even so-called Christians; we, the “salt of earth,” must be firm and decisive on certain essential points of doctrine. If we are not, we must question whether we deserve to even bear the name of Christ. Why be called Christians when we contradict a basic part of the faith? I have known the Church of the Nazarene to be sound in the basics of Christianity; however, this came into question when I read, “We teach that the Old and New Testaments inerrantly reveal the will of God in all things necessary for our salvation. They are authoritative in all things that relate to faith and Christian practice.” I, too, believe in the plenary inspiration of Scriptures, and therefore, I must believe that God’s Word is inerrant in all things concerning our salvation. Though I agree with this statement, I still find it to be weak in nature. God’s Word is not limited to “inerrancy” only in salvation. If we honestly believe the following verses, we must maintain that Scripture (in its original texts) is veracious in every aspect.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASU)

2 Peter 1:20-21

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (NASU)

God inspired the Scriptures entirely, and we must hold fast to the principle that God is perfect in all His works, in regards to anything. He did not even allow a man’s interpretation, will, or opinion to enter His Word. Jesus and the apostles were shown to be quoting Scripture on numerous occasions, each time as being authoritative. Why shouldn’t they quote Scriptures? They are perfect as its Author is perfect. Consider God’s goodness and perfection from His Word!

Matthew 5:48

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”‘ (NASU)

Psalms 19:7-8

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (NASU)

James 1:17-18

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (NASU)

Deuteronomy 32:4

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” (NASU)

If we truly believe that God is perfect in His nature, we must contend that His works are unquestionably perfect. It is insane to suggest that the Perfect would do something imperfect. For this reason, we must conclude that God’s Word is the inerrant truth in every aspect. There can be no compromise or middle ground. This leaves the University’s statement in a weak and possibly troublesome position. This is not their fault entirely; the denomination has allowed this through the weakness of their own statement of beliefs. Examine the Church of the Nazarene’s statement for yourself.

These are the beliefs Nazarenes hold to be true. They are common to Christians world-wide:

We believe in one God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.

We believe that man is born with a fallen nature, and is, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.

We believe that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.

We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.

We believe that believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.

We believe that our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place. 2 (Emphasis added)

By omission, both of these statements allow for gross misinterpretations. Holding to them, I could decide to believe that the Scriptures do not contain truth outside of faith and practice. As much as this statement makes Christian unity easy, we stand to lose much more if this error creeps into any church. In an issue this important, we must be specific in our beliefs in order dispel even the shadows and whispers of trouble.

This brings me to the heart of my disagreement; my concern lies in the text of lines 7-8.

For us, the authority of the Scriptures is soteriological (salvation). The realm in which the Scriptures are authoritative concerns our salvation. Salvation, of course, includes both Christian faith and practice. Hence, where the Scriptures speak on matters of ethics–how the life of Christ is manifest in the Church and His disciples– they are authoritative. 1

Again, I agree that the Scripture has authority in soteriology, but we cannot risk error by limiting statements to salvation alone. For when we leave the door open, the heresy creeps in. The error takes its form in this paragraph as the word “realm.” How can the Nazarene denomination claim to believe in the “plenary inspiration” of Scripture then say that it is only “authoritative” regarding the “realm” of salvation? This appears to be a glaring contradiction.Let us suppose for the sake of argument that God’s Holy Word revealed in the sixty-six books of the Bible is only authoritative concerning soteriological applications. I could never trust the historical aspects of Scripture. It would become easy for me to believe that the story of the creation was fiction. Did all those kings of Israel and Judah actually exist? Probably not. Why should I believe that the story of Ehud is authentic? It seems incredible and unlikely. Scientifically speaking, the Bible would be outdated at best, useless at worst.

If we believe that God is God, then God’s Word must be the perfect authority in every realm.The Bible is not a reflection of God’s truth (which some Presbyterians have been lured into) nor does it merely contain God’s truth (as many of the Pagans erroneously suggest). The Scripture was, is, and will always be the truth. What I am saying is not new! The fathers of the Church of the Nazarene agree entirely with my dissertation. Jacob Arminius, a pillar of the Wesleyan tradition predating John Wesley, said this in his book, Disputations.

Disputation 6 – On the Authority and Certainty of The Holy Scriptures

The authority of the word of God, which is comprised in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, lies both in the veracity of the whole narration, and of all the declarations, whether they be those about things past, about things present, or about those which are to come, and in the power of the commands and prohibitions, which are contained in the divine word. 3

At what point did people in the Nazarene denomination drift away from such sound doctrine? This makes a clear statement for the veracity of Scripture – in every aspect.

John Wesley crafted the Twenty-Five Articles of Religion (originally 1784, expanded 1804).This is the man the Church of the Nazarene proudly states as a great forefather of their faith. The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion contain numerous statements on basic Christianity. Let us see for ourselves what Wesley’s words say concerning Scripture!

V. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation

The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary for salvation… 4

This statement is in unison with the Church of the Nazarene’s basic statement of faith. I still stand firm in my position that this is a weak statement (though I find myself in agreement). However, John Wesley clarifies his position on this issue. In the following sermon, he is preaching against those men who twist and alter the Word of God for their own purposes. Along the way, he makes a solid declaration on what a good preacher should be. More importantly,Wesley quotes the same Scripture I did to back up His beliefs.

Sermon 136 – On Corrupting The Word Of God (2 Cor. 2:17)

…In the next place, they (Sound preachers) are as cautious of taking from, as of adding to, the word they preach. They dare no more, considering in whose sight they stand, say less, than [or] more, than He has assigned them. They must publish, as proper occasions offer, all that is contained in the oracles of God; whether smooth or otherwise, it matters nothing, since it is unquestionably true, and useful too: “For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God; and is profitable either for doctrine, or reproof, or correction, or instruction in righteousness,” — either to teach us what we are to believe or practise, or for conviction of error, reformation of vice. They know that there is nothing superfluous in it, relating either to faith or practice; and therefore they preach all parts of it, though those more frequently and particularly which are more particularly wanted where they are. 5 (Emphasis added)

Notice how Wesley makes it obvious that the Word of God is entirely true, for every part of it has to do with our faith and practice. Therefore, if we set this alongside his previous statement concerning Scripture, we see the reason for why the Bible contains “all things necessary to salvation.” It is because he firmly believes that all Scripture is veracious and relates to our salvation. In my eyes, I see Wesley as sound on this issue. However, this statement from the Southern Nazarene University does not seem to incorporate in its statement that all Scripture relates to our faith. Instead, it gives an impression just the opposite. This impression comes through fiercely in line 8 which reads, “Salvation, of course, includes both Christian faith and practice. Hence, where the Scriptures speak on matters of ethics–how the life of Christ is manifest in the Church and His disciples– they are authoritative.” See, this allows and teaches us to have a divisive view of Scriptures – that parts that don’t directly speak about ethics and faith somehow have a lesser level of validity. This is not the stand of Arminius, Wesley, or myself. Instead, we desire to have an entire view of Scriptures – where Scripture is inerrent in salvation because all of the Word is about salvation. Using this line of reasoning, if some person were to stand up and say that Abraham might not necessarily have been a real person, I would quickly object for they are depriving us of the truth of Abraham which most surely relates to soteriology. This can be said of every verse in the Bible. Consider this logic; since the Bible is entirely true for all of it relates to salvation, it is most certainly veracious concerning history, science, and any other realm.

As you have probably already deduced, I am not a member of the Church of the Nazarene. Do not discard this article for this reason, but examine it even more closely. Remember the ages past when Welsey and Whitfield worked together for the cause of Christ! It is in that spirit that I write this. I am not writing to tangle with a sideline debate, but instead I write to call for clarity on an essential doctrine. I can love and fellowship with Nazarene brothers and sisters, but not with any who would pervert the authority of Scriptures! I am deeply troubled by this, and I hope you are as well. I also will admit that this problem is by no means limited to your denomination. It is now becoming a popular idea as our faith is being battered by our humanistic Western society. Christianity is now becoming a religion based on how we feel and what we want. Many churches want peace at the price of purity and doctrine. This false teaching, limiting the Bible, is a step in the wrong direction. Eventually, the church will find itself in control of a religion of its own invention, and it will no longer be Christianity. In that day, those heretics will determine what is veracious; they will choose what suits their warped desires. May this never be – in any denomination, in any church!I hope for the sake of the Church and especially your youth that you prayerfully consider the clarity of your doctrine. May I propose and offer the following statement, which is my own declaration logically based on the Word of God:”Scripture, being found as eternally inerrent and inspired of God, is veracious and authoritative concerning every aspect of physical and spiritual existence. The Bible has been provided as our only completely truthful standard of theology, ethics, science, history, and every other realm into which its limitless grasp extends.”

For God’s Glory,

Scott MacDonald

From the posting at nazarenepsalm113 on May 13, 2009

Rob Bell’s Abstract “Elvis”

I’ve written a Rob Bell critique before on my blog, but his teachings are so seductively dangerous, especially for youth, I thought I would post this excellent review from last year by pastor Bob Dewaay, who by the way, has written an excellent expose of the emergent church, called “Undefining Christianity”.  It’s available at his website bookstore.

A slightly longer read than most, but this article is a must read if you are concerned about false teachers who cast doubt on the validity and reliability of the scriptures for all matters of faith.
(Originally posted at Truth Matters)

Rob Bell’s Abstract “Elvis”

- By Bob DeWaay

Rob Bell is a very articulate spokesman for the postmodern theology characterizing the Emergent Church. Having watched two of his videos, I can testify that his communication skills are superb. His book Velvet Elvis is creative and imaginative both in content and layout. But there are serious problems with his theology. I will begin with a description of the basic premise that lies beneath the title of Bell’s book. Then I will discuss several of Bell’s theological claims.

In Search of the Real “Elvis”

The literal “Velvet Elvis” is a particular portrayal of velvet-crafted Elvis Presley that Bell owns. The artwork serves Bell’s book as an analogy to the Christian faith. Bell claims that all versions of Christianity are paintings or portrayals, just as his velvet Elvis is a portrayal of Elvis. Since that version of Elvis is not the only one ever created, it would be just as absurd to expect there to be only one “painting” of Christianity—it can be viewed and captured from many angles. Bell’s book fashions one for his readers.

The problem with the analogy is that an actual Elvis lived and still can be seen in photos and on videos and thus can serve as an objective standard by which to judge artistic portrayals of Elvis. Someone could use abstract art that employed a collage of images that bear no resemblance to a human being and call it “Elvis” but everyone would know it was not Elvis.

In historical Christian theology, the inerrant Bible interpreted according to a valid hermeneutic that sought to know the Biblical author’s meaning was the standard “picture” of the real thing. That meaning gave “artists” (it’s a bad analogy but I will interact with it because it is Bell’s) the standard by which they made their “portrayal.” Various systematic theologies with creeds and definitions can and should be judged as to how well they portray the truth of Scripture. The postmodern approach of Bell and others claims that objectivity is impossible, therefore to judge a theology to be “biblical” or not is impossible and futile.

Unfortunately Bell has created a piece of abstract art and called it “Christianity.” He lets us know early on that his masterpiece is abstract by explaining his view of the object: “Jesus took part in this process [of constant change] by calling people to rethink faith and the Bible and hope and love and everything else, and by inviting them into the endless process of working out how to live as God created us to live.”1 This idea of a Christian faith that is “morphing” (Bell’s term on the same page just cited) is a recurrent theme in Emergent/postmodern theology. But Jesus in a process that is still happening rules out the “once for all” statements in the Bible.

The Bible says the faith was “once for all delivered” (Jude 3) where “the faith” means the content of God’s verbal, inerrant revelation. The Bible describes Jesus in terms precisely opposite to what Bell uses: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). The God of the Scriptures spoke authoritatively and with finality.

Bell claims that people in church history (he gives Luther as an example2 ) were involved in “rethinking.” I don’t deny that. But when he says that we have no objective means to determine whether Luther’s teachings or those of the Council of Trent are in closer agreement with the teachings revealed once for all in the Bible—there I strongly disagree. In fact Bell rejects “Scripture alone” on principle:

This [that the canon was not settled until the 4th century] is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. 3

He thereby takes the same position that the Roman Catholic Church took against the Reformers: That since the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) gave us the Bible, the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) is authoritative over the Bible. Bell’s version simply expands that idea beyond Rome to any Christian group anywhere struggling with the meaning of the Bible. Rather than to rely on a grammatical/historical approach to determine the author’s meaning, he trusts that in some manner the Holy Spirit is “enlightening us.” 4

I believe that inspired, authoritative revelation was given once for all and is contained in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible by inspiring the Biblical authors, not by inspiring 4th century clerics. They merely recognized the evidence that pointed to the true apostolic source of writings Christians had cited as authoritative since the death of the apostles.5 Therefore revelation is not an ongoing process.

Bell, on the other hand, likens his view to the fluidity of jumping on a trampoline and calls the views of theologians like me, “brickianity.” This [brickianity] he claims is not good news but bad news about walls that keep people out.6 Incidentally, this brick wall metaphor is Bell’s way of repudiating systematic theology—a practice he shares with every Emergent/postmodern writer I have studied (which are many).

In place of the doctrines of systematic theology7 that needed to be justified biblically, Bell’s “Elvis” is based on a mysterious original: “The Christian faith is mysterious to the core.” 8 His misuse of the term “mysterious” results in a semantic sleight of hand that confuses readers through a major category error. “Mystery” in the Bible means that which could not be known had God not chosen to reveal it. For example, Paul claims God revealed to him the “mystery” that God was saving Jews and Gentiles through the gospel and making them co-heirs in Christ. Once this is revealed, it is no longer mysterious or unknowable. But Bell means something entirely different. Bell writes “The mystery is the truth.”9 This comes in a section where he poses what he considers unanswerable questions. Rather than using the term as Paul did to mean, “what would not be known had God not revealed it to His apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:3-6), Bell uses it to mean “that which cannot be fully known or answered, the ‘mysterious.’” That is equivocation, and it is not acceptable.

The Leap of Faith

Rather than to search the Scriptures to find a valid doctrine that God has revealed through the Biblical authors (systematically taking into account ALL God has spoken on a given topic), Bell jumps on a theological trampoline and invites others to join in the experience. His “jump” turns out to be the very “leap of faith” that was proposed by 20th century existential theologians who had, like Bell, given up on the belief that truth about God that comes from God can be validly known. Bell says, “It’s not so much that the Christian faith has a lot of paradoxes. It’s that it is a lot of paradoxes. And we cannot resolve a paradox.”10 So the “jump in the air” turns out to be a leap into the dark—the unknown and unknowable. Paradoxes are like square circles: you can talk about them but such talk reveals precisely nothing.

Having established that we cannot validly know enough to build a wall or foundation with theological bricks, Bell invites us on a journey. But how do we know that a Christian journey is a better one than a Muslim one? For Bell, we don’t. We know that Christian ethics and social action are very good things, and if we engage in these practices our Muslim neighbors will be better off—even if they stay Muslim. Says Bell, “Another truth [remember this means “mystery” for Bell] about the church we’re embracing is that the gospel is good news, especially for those who don’t believe it.”11 This is the very problem that all versions of neo-orthodoxy run into. If faith cannot be grounded in inerrant Scripture properly interpreted (and they assume it cannot), then we have no reason to assume a Christian “leap” is better than a Hindu “leap.”

Since Christianity is mystery and paradox (according to Bell’s thinking) we cannot build a foundation with any theological bricks because they are too inflexible. That is where he brings in his trampoline analogy:

A trampoline only works if you take your feet off the firm, stable ground and jump into the air and let the trampoline propel you upward. Talking about trampolines isn’t jumping; it’s talking. Two vastly different things. [sic] And so we jump and we invite others to jump with us, to live the way of Jesus and see what happens. You don’t have to know anything about the springs to pursue living “the way.”12

How do we know that a Christian jump (in the absence of any a priori knowledge of truth) is better than jumping on a trampoline and living the way of Ghandi or the Dali Lama? The answer is we do not, other than possibly by pragmatic means which always fail as tests for truth.

Francis Schaeffer warned against what Bell and other postmodern writers are now doing back in 1968. What he says is directly applicable to Bell’s “jump”:

If we think that we are escaping some of the pressures of the modern debate by playing down propositional Scripture and simply putting the word ‘Jesus’ or ‘experience’ upstairs, [where nothing can be verified] we must face this question: What difference is there between doing this and doing what the secular world has done in its semantic mysticism, or what the New Theology [neo-orthodoxy] has done? . . . If what is placed upstairs is separated from rationality, if the Scriptures are not discussed as open to verification where they touch the cosmos and history, why should one then accept the evangelical upstairs any more than the upstairs of modern radical theology? . . . Why should it not just be an encounter under the name Vishnu?13

Schaeffer asks a good question: why not Vishnu? There is no answer once we reject the Reformation affirmations about the Scripture, such as its authority and clarity.

That is precisely where Schaeffer directed his readers from an earlier generation: “The Reformation and the Scriptures say that man cannot do anything to save himself, but he can, with his reason, search the Scriptures which touch not only ‘religious truth’ but also history and the cosmos. He not only is able to search the Scriptures as the whole man, including his reason, but he has the responsibility to.”14 This, Schaeffer wrote to rebut religious existentialism with its religious leap with “no point of verification.” Rob Bell is taking thousands of people who were not yet born when Schaeffer issued his warnings right back into the neo-orthodoxy that destroyed so many churches during the 20th century.

Bell never uses the term “neo-orthodoxy,” but his position on Scripture echoes it. Like those who call the U.S. Constitution a “living document” to escape its meaning, neo-orthodox theology uses similar terminology to do the same with the Bible. So does Bell: “When you embrace the text as living and active, when you enter its story, when you keep turning the gem, you never come to the end.”15 You also never arrive at a binding meaning. Bell uses the typical postmodern argument that because documents (like the Bible) must be interpreted, that therefore they can have no fixed meaning (the author’s). Says Bell, “The Bible has to be interpreted. Decisions have to be made about what it means now, today.” 16

If, however, meaning is determined by the author, the meaning will never change and is not different today.
There may be new applications, but not new meaning. Claiming the sort of fluidity, mysterious nature, and ambiguity that Bell does creates the scenario where the readers of the Bible determine its meaning. This implication is not escaped by claiming, as Bell does, that the Holy Spirit is involved in the process. The Bible claims that the Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical authors. By so doing, the meaning was fixed, “once for all” and delivered to the saints. But Bell takes the neo-orthodox position: “The authority is God who is acting in and through those people [1st century Christians] at that time and now these people at this time.”17 This solves no problems and makes it impossible to make exclusive truth claims. The Mormon Church could just as well say that God was working through Joseph Smith and now he is working through their apostles. (In fact they do claim that.) So is Bell willing to say that his Mars Hill Church is valid and the Mormon Church down the street is not? I cannot see what grounds he would have to do so. 18

When the readers (however pious and well meaning they may be and however committed to some community) determine the meaning, there is no valid binding and loosing. They are only bound to the ideas of their own minds. That is not how Bell sees it: “This is why binding and loosing is so exhilarating. You can only do it if you believe and see God at work now, here in this place.”19 No! We are bound by the teachings of Christ and His authoritative apostles, not an existential experience we interpret as “God at work now.” Without a priori clear, binding revelation from God about God we cannot know what is or what is not “God at work”. Otherwise we might interpret anything that strikes our fancy as “God at work.”

The Ultimate Role Reversal: Man is the Object of God’s Faith

The most egregious error in Velvet Elvis is found in the section where Bell offers many details about the nature of rabbinical instruction and discipleship in Jesus’ day. Much of his information about Jewish practices is interesting and accurate. But his application of the material is shockingly unbiblical. His error is to assume that since Jesus was Jewish and was a rabbi, that therefore almost everything that was descriptive about Jewish rabbis of His day is true about Him. This is a de facto denial of the uniqueness of Christ.

For example, in a section where Bell describes Jewish education and educational techniques, Bell misquotes a Scripture: “Jesus later says to his disciples, ‘Remember, everything I learned I passed on to you’” (emphasis his; he footnotes John 15:15).20 He then asks, “Did Jesus go to school and learn like the other Jewish kids his age?”21 That is not the point of John 15:15! Here is what the passage says: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). The Greek said “heard” not “learned.” Furthermore, his learning was from the Father with whom John claimed Jesus pre-existed (John 1:1). Jesus was no typical Rabbi.

Furthermore, Bell assumes that Jesus’ relationship to His disciples must be also of the same sort that was typical between rabbis and disciples of that day. But that assumes too much and fails to account for what the Bible teaches. For example, in the narrative where Jesus tells them to “drop their nets,” Bell assumes that therefore Jesus sees some sort of ability in them: “Of course you would drop your net. The rabbi believes you can do what he does. He thinks you can be like him.” 22 That is a very man-centered interpretation that assumes that Jesus believes in innate human ability rather than His sovereign power to transform. Because ordinary rabbis took the best students based on certain criteria does not mean that Jesus did the same. For example, the commission to be made “fishers of men” in Luke 5 came after a miraculous catch of fish caused Peter to say, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” This is likely an allusion to Isaiah’s call in Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw God’s glory and was convicted of his sinfulness. Peter followed suit. This was no ordinary rabbi that Peter encountered.

One of the videos I saw of Bell preaching was about this topic of rabbis and disciples. After a very well articulated discussion of rabbinic practices, Bell came to the conclusion that the main point is that we must have faith in ourselves because Jesus believes in us. WHAT? Man is the object of God’s faith? Bell makes the same point in his book, discussing the incident of Jesus walking on the water and Peter starting to do the same. Here is Bell’s interpretation: “And Jesus says, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; Jesus is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself.”23 That is very bad exegesis. Furthermore, Peter did have faith in himself later on and it was a bad thing: “Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You’” (Matthew 26:35a). We all know what happened.

Throughout the gospels, “great faith” or “little faith” had to do with people’s belief about Christ. For example, the centurion who did not consider himself “worthy” for Christ to come to him had a very high estimation of Jesus’ authority (Luke 7:2 – 10). He had “great faith” according to Jesus. His faith was in Christ, not himself.

According to Bell, what frustrates Jesus is “When his disciples lose faith in themselves.”24 Bell makes a serious error when he assumes that when an ordinary rabbi chooses disciples based in his perception of their own abilities and potential to be like the rabbi himself that, therefore, Jesus must have had faith in the abilities and capabilities of His disciples. But this is not the case. No one will ever be conformed to the image of Christ because of his own innate human abilities. Bell’s humanistic teachings disregard the Biblical doctrine of human sinfulness and inability.

Bell makes it clear that we are not misunderstanding his point:

God has an incredibly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I have been told that I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. [sic] But what I am learning is that Jesus believes in me. I have been told that I need to have faith in God. Which is a good thing. [sic] But what I am learning is that God has faith in me. 25

Is man the object of God’s faith? Here is God’s testimony about man:

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. (Romans 3:9 – 12)

In John 2:24, 25 it says this: “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.” The word “entrusting” is pisteuo_ in the Greek, the word “to believe.” John 2:23 shows that this lack of faith that Jesus had in man is applied to believers. The reason for not trusting or believing in men was Jesus’ knowledge of the inner nature of man (anthro_pos, humanity). So most decidedly Jesus does not have faith in man.

We have to conclude that Bell is leading people away from the faith once for all delivered to the saints and toward a man-centered faith that believes in self as the appropriate object of faith and not to God Himself as the ONLY object of faith.

Bell’s “Heaven” and “Hell” Come to Earth

In Velvet Elvis, Bell asserts that all people are already forgiven, reconciled, without having to respond to the Gospel in the manner Jesus said in the Great Commission: “and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Here is Bell’s claim: “So this reality, this reconciliation, is true for everybody.”26 His proof text is Colossians 1:20 which he assumes teaches universalism. But the passage includes humans, spirits and the material world. Wicked spirits will never be reconciled to God, and Christ has triumphed over them and disarmed them (Colossians 2:15). Elsewhere Paul “begs” people to be reconciled to God (2Corinthians 5:20). People who are not reconciled to God are ultimately consigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). But, having eschewed systematic theology, Bell’s trampoline jump does not require consideration of those passages that call into question his use of a favorite proof text.

Bell sees that forgiveness and reconciliation are already true for all people, and the problem is that some have not accepted that particular telling of their story. He says, “The fact that we are loved and accepted and forgiven in spite of everything we have done is simply too good to be true. Our choice becomes this: We can trust his retelling of the story, or we can trust our telling of our story.” 27This obscures the demands of the law and the promise of the gospel. Believing a story where we are reconciled to God even if we are not Christians is not the Biblical message. We are wicked rebels who abide under God’s wrath unless we repent and believe the gospel. Never in the Book of Acts did any of the apostolic preachers proclaim, “Believe you are loved and accepted” as the terms of the gospel. They preached repentance as Christ told them to.

Bell writes, “When we choose God’s vision of who we are, we are living as God made us to live.”28But God’s vision of who we are is that unless we have repented, we are hopeless, wretched, without God in this world, dead in sin, and storing up wrath: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). Bell’s version is much more attractive: “And as we live in this life, in harmony with God’s intentions for us, the life of heaven becomes more and more present in our lives. Heaven comes to earth.” 29

Bell makes it clear that he is more concerned with “hell on earth” than with what happens after this life: “What’s disturbing then is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now.”30But in the Bible the term for “hell” is Gehenna. Hades is where the ungodly go when they die to await the final judgment after the resurrection of the wicked. Here is what the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) says:

This distinction [between Gehenna and Hades] is a). that Hades receives the ungodly only for the intervening period between death and resurrection, whereas Gehenna is their place of punishment in the last judgment; the judgment of the former is thus provisional but the torment of the latter eternal (Mk. 9:43 and par. 9:48). It is then b). that the souls of the ungodly are outside the body in Hades, whereas in Gehenna both body and soul, reunited at the resurrection, are destroyed by eternal fire (Mk. 9:43 and par., 45, 47 and par., 48; Mt. 10:28 and par.). 31

Bell’s teaching that heaven and hell come to earth depending on how we live now simply is not biblical. He says, “As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth. Poverty, injustice, suffering – they are all hells on earth, and as Christians we oppose them with all our energies.” 32But the term for hell, Gehenna, is used 12 times in the New Testament, 11 of them by Jesus. Not once did He use the term to describe something that is now on earth or now coming to earth. He used it in this manner: “And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:30). In Bell’s usage, losing body parts would be hell on earth. But Jesus’ point was that it would be better to go through this life (which is temporary) maimed than to have a perfect body that is cast into hell (which is permanent). But Bell says, “For Jesus, this new kind of life in him is not about escaping this world but about making it a better place, here and now. The goal for Jesus isn’t to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here.” 33 Really? But Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

The gospels simply do not teach Bell’s ideas about heaven and hell coming to earth now depending on certain actions. They teach the importance of eternity and the relative unimportance of our status now other than in how it affects us in eternity. But Bell continues to explain his “repainting” of “Elvis”:

True spirituality then is not about escaping this world to some other place where we will be forever. A Christian is not someone who expects to spend forever in heaven there. A Christian is someone who anticipates spending forever here, in a new heaven that comes to earth. The goal isn’t escaping this world but making the world the kind of place God can come to. 34

To do this, according to Velvet Elvis, we need to become our “true selves”: “And Jesus calls us to return to our true selves. The pure, whole people God originally intended us to be, before we veered off course. Somewhere in you is the you whom you were made to be.” 35 This embracing of our identity and trusting we are loved supposedly brings heaven to earth: “That is what brings heaven to earth.”36 These types of statements, issued universally to all people, are not the universal call of the gospel. Bell’s message, unlike the gospel found in the New Testament, is not how God has chosen to make dead sinners alive. A dead sinner is not going to bring heaven to earth by believing such things about himself or returning to his “true self.” The fact is that our “true selves” are wicked rebels who deserve hell.

Conclusion

In the world of art, there is nothing wrong with being abstract. People are free to paint as they wish. But the gospel claims to reveal truth that is necessary for salvation. Where we spend eternity rests on understanding and believing the gospel. Abstractions cannot declare God’s unchanging revelation. As we have seen, Bell’s painting bears no resemblance to the Biblical original.

It turns out that “Elvis” painted in abstract art could serve just as well to be JFK, Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe or Janice Joplin. Since paradoxes cannot express meaning, a theology of paradox can mean anything the reader’s mind wants it to mean. Bell’s “Christian” painting, done as it is in abstract art, serves merely to tickle the mind and the imagination, not to reveal anything in particular. So we must ask ourselves, should we consult the original that God’s authoritative spokespersons gave us or should we embrace the abstract version of “Elvis” and hope that God is pleased with it? For anyone wishing to know the truth, the answer is obvious. We should trust God’s authoritative spokespersons.

Pastor Bob Dewaay

How Far Will They Go?

by Rev. Kenneth Staniforth

The following is a short account of a controversy that took place in England in the late 19th century.  The details are taken from “Evangelicalism in England” by E.J. Poole-Connor, who quotes profusely from the records made at the time.

“How much further will they go?”  This question was asked by the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon in his magazine “Sword and Trowel” of August 1887.  He asked this of the Baptist Denomination – a movement that he had faithfully served for 35 years and in which he was the most prominent preacher.  For some time, he, and others in the Baptist Union had been concerned that apostasy from earlier standards might be showing up in the denomination.  They were also concerned at the character of the teaching being given in some of the Baptist colleges.  After asking the above question, the great soul-winner said, “It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the truth once delivered unto the saints should fraternize with those who have turned to another Gospel.” In 1887, Spurgeon launched his “Down-grade Controversy” (– referring to the downgrading of the scriptures.)  Baptists, he said, were abandoning the Bible and the Evangelical faith, and “going down hill at breakneck speed.”  Many confirmed the necessity for his protest; others charged him with gross exaggeration.  Others found the subject a source of merriment!  Sadly, the Baptist Assembly of April 1888 finally rejected Spurgeon’s appeal to put its house in order, still claiming to be sound in doctrine.  Spurgeon, finding that no headway would be made, withdrew from the Baptist Union.   Evidently, the Baptist denomination was committed to the principle that there could be the widest departure from the older Evangelical faith without the least charge of heterodoxy being laid against it.  The tide which Spurgeon sought in vain to stem swept steadily outward until in 1925 a rank modernist with anti-evangelical convictions was elected to the presidency of the Baptist Union.  The stand taken by the faithful Baptist prophet was vindicated by subsequent events.  (p. 235 – 249)

There is some truth in the old adage, “history repeats itself.”   I find that there are some striking parallels between what was happening in 19th century England, and what is happening now in many evangelical churches in North America (I was in England recently and the churches there are in a similar state of concern).   The church of the Biblical Jesus Christ is under attack from those who repudiate the authority of the written and living Word.  This latest onslaught of liberalism calls itself the “emergent church” –“a concoction of Bible, New Age Theology and ancient Eastern mysticism.”
[W. E. McCumber, This Jesus, p. 4]

Most unfortunately, the emergent movement is rapidly gaining ground in many Christian churches and educational institutions – including some of our own in the Nazarene denomination. Veteran pastors in the church are expressing their common concern over the alarming advance of this deviate philosophy which distorts Scripture and diminishes Jesus [See This Jesus by W. E. McCumber].

Nazarenes, in the light of the present serious situation, we need to apply Spurgeon’s question to our Zion – “How much further will they go?”  I joined the Church of the Nazarene chiefly for three reasons:  It was Protestant (not Roman Catholic), Wesleyan and evangelical.  The latter term seems to have undergone a change of meaning in the last forty years!  The amazing thing to me about the “Downgrade Controversy” is how far a denomination can drift from sound biblical doctrine and still claim to be evangelical.  My understanding of what the term means is clearly expressed in these two quotes by Dr. J.I. Packer M.A., D.Phil. – (one time senior tutor of Tyndale Hall, Bristol):

“It (evangelicalism) is, we maintain, the oldest version of Christianity; theologically regarded, it is just apostolic Christianity itself” [Fundamentalism and the Word of God, p. 38].

“Its basic principle is that the teaching of the written scriptures is the Word which God spoke and speaks to His church, and is finally authoritative for faith and life – what scripture says, God says”  [Fundamentalism and the Word of God, p. 47].

According to this definition, the evangelical believes the entire Bible to be “God-breathed” and thus he is completely submitted to its authority for faith and life.  Whoever denies the authority of God’s Word cannot honestly claim to be evangelical, no matter how sincere he is or how graciously he comes across on a college platform.
The serpent in the garden was graciously deceitful when luring Eve into fatal error.  In 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, Paul uses this incident to warn the church against the preaching of “another Jesus,” and receiving a spirit different from the Holy Spirit.  John also warns against believing every spirit but to test them to see whether they are from God (I John 4:1).   The test is do they agree with Scripture?   Different spirits propagate different gospels and consequently invoke the condemnation of God (Galatians 1:6-9).  John Wesley, from whom Nazarenes claim spiritual succession, wrote: “Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions or revelations to be from God.  They may be from Him.  They may be from nature.  They may be from the devil…Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it” [John Wesley, The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, p. 521].
We need to strive against being led astray by the seducing spirits of a movement that is not only intent on changing methods (the way we do church), but is also bent on changing the message on which our faith rests.  Brian McClaren, one of the leading advocates of the “Emerging One Church of the New World” stated to his fellow “emerging” pastors:  “When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well.  We might as well get beyond our naivety or denial about this” [Church on the Other Side, p. 68].

Speaking about the emergent church, Nazarene General Superintendent Jim H. Diehl said, “It sounds very new age.  Anything but holiness!  It seems centered on “everything must change” and they mean “must” and they mean “change”.  In other words, everything you and I have given our lives for must change.  If they could have their way, the Church of the Nazarene would no longer be holiness nor evangelistic.”
(2009)*

It seems as though open season has been declared on all the precious doctrines of the one and only Gospel.  None of them are safe from the misrepresentation of false prophets.  The following comments were made by Marcus Borg, held in high regard by some of his emergent colleagues, one even considering him “an essential part of emerging spirituality.”    (Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, p.196.)          He wrote:

“I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product.  I learned that it is a human cultural product … Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of Himself as the Son of God, and did not see His purpose as dying for the sins of the world.”  [The God We Never Knew, p. 25]

Note the sequence – denial of the inspiration of the written Word leads to the diminishing of the Living Word.   Jesus did know that His death was for the sins of the world.  In the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:17-21), Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 61).  The Master certainly knew His Bible and His revealed destiny.  Therefore, it is inconceivable to suggest that He did not know the prophet’s prediction of His death and its purpose.  “He was wounded for our transgressions …the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).  The 12th verse of Isaiah 53 is quoted by Christ and applied to Himself in Luke 22:37.  In the upper room, as He shared the wine with His disciples, He said, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:28

The substitutionary atonement of the Savior is the heart and core of the Christian faith.  Christ’s shed blood at Calvary is the only acceptable atonement for man’s sin.  Our whole salvation depends absolutely on His death – our Redemption (Ephesians 1:7), our Righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21), our Forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22), our Deliverance (Hebrews 9:26), our Sanctification (Hebrews 13:12), and our Reconciliation (Romans 5:8, 6, 10).

And yet, what do we find?   Many advocates of the emergent church have reduced His sin-atoning death to mean merely an example of sacrificial service.  Others have called the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind “a slaughterhouse religion” (Horton, Church History and Things to Come, p. 156), “this vile doctrine” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, p. 168) and “false advertising for God.” (Brian McLaren, The Bleeding Purple Podcast Interview, 2006)

Clearly, most emergent New-Agers have turned to another gospel, one that teaches that the experience of God is discovered through mysticism and a new form of meditation in direct opposition to the authentic gospel which teaches that penitent believers are saved only by the grace and mercy of God, through the sacrificial shedding of Christ’s blood for sin. Amid the clash of accusation and argument, the Christian cries with Paul, “for I determined not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).

“How far will they go?”  The question of Spurgeon fell on deaf ears.  The church leaders of his day failed to deal with the liberal infiltration of their movement, many even denying there was any such problem.  In the 1960s, hundreds of churches pulled out of the Baptist Union when its president cast doubt on the unique deity of Christ.  We are not immune to what has happened in other historical denominations which failed to discern the damning effects of liberal theology.

The Church of the Nazarene, of which I have been a member and servant for forty years, has been used by God in wonderful ways for over a century.   Praise God that around this sin-sick world, on its mission fields, revival fires are burning and many are turning to Christ.  May the great ministry of our church continue to bring blessing to our world!

We need to pray urgently that the ministry will continue but, at the same time, in the words of General Superintendent Diehl, we need to “watch out” and “be on our guard.”  (2009 Ordination Service, Grove City, Ohio.) Whatever it costs, we need to distance ourselves from those who propagate a false gospel.   “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

We also need to renew our regard for and belief in the plenary inspiration of the sixty-six books of God’s infallible revelation.   We are to “hold fast (to keep secure) the form of sound words according to the established doctrines of the gospel” (Nazarene Certificate of Ordination).   Jude puts it like this: “….contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”   (Jude 3)

*This quote was from an email that was sent to a Nazarene evangelist from General Superintendent Diehl.  Concerned Nazarenes have had permission from this evangelist to print this quote.

Rev. Kenneth Staniforth
commissioned evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene