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 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, 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.


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


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