An Open Letter To My Readers

Dear Friends,

I have appreciated that many of you have allowed me to keep sending you my posts, even if you have not agreed with everything I have written.  For those who have remained open to what I write, I thank you for keeping an open mind to the information I send you every week.  I felt compelled to write this note to you, in reaction to what is perhaps my most controversial article to date, which will be posted on Tuesday or Wednesday night.  It will also be online at The Good News Today website.  As some of you know, the print version of the article was distributed this past weekend to over 400 churches and 200 businesses in the Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts area.  It is sure to reach many more people who have not heard of the emergent church movement before.

Already, since the paper came out Sunday, I have received some very disapproving comments regarding my article, including the suggestion that I should never have printed it in the first place.  The title itself is not a “warm and fuzzy” kind of title: “Nazarene Denomination Losing It’s Way?”  Some folks are clearly not happy.  That was to be expected, and I respect the fact that many have and will disagree with what I have been saying for over a year now.  A few have made it clear to me that they believe I am trying to ruin the Nazarene denomination.  Some have told that me that what I am doing is going against scripture, and that I am leading people away from Christ.  Others perhaps just think I’ve lost my mind.  Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, and please remember, I am not forcing anyone to read what I write.

Let me be clear as to what my intentions have been since 13 months ago.  I did not start my emails and my blog to win any popularity contest, that’s very evident now.  It was also not my intention to write in such a way as to make you think I am intellectually and spiritually superior to any of you.  I’m simply laying out the facts, with my opinion as to what I believe those facts mean, based on scripture only.   The only reason for me to do what I have been doing for over a year now, along with many other Nazarenes doing the same thing, is for one thing only: to obey the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles, to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints”. That is all.

The new article was written in a way that will give a clear summary of what has been happening, to anyone who has never heard of this problem before.  Some of you will already know what is in there, and it won’t be new to you.  This was primarily intended to expand awareness amongst unaware Nazarenes, and other Christians, of what I and many others believe to be a serious threat to the body of Christ.

This is a serious time in the history of the Nazarene denomination.  As I said, I am doing this out of love for our denomination.  For those of you who disagree and think I am doing harm, I am sorry that you feel that way.  Regardless, please try not to judge my heart- only God can do that.  But I tell you honestly, that my motives are with the intention of warning fellow Christians of false teachings. I have clearly written many times with scriptural authority, explaining the duty of Christians to defend the faith and warn others of false teaching, so I will not rehash that lesson all over again.  However, if you insist that I am wrong as a Christian to do this, send me a private message, and I will be glad to send you a scriptural lesson not only on why we need to warn others of false teachings, but also on our Christian obligation to judge others appropriately.  You may not agree with the lesson, but it will be Bible based.  It is a common misconception by so many Christians, that we cannot ever judge, at any time!  How then can we “beware” of false prophets, as Christ commanded, if we cannot judge!  That does not make sense, does it?

Finally, I would ask that if you still strongly feel that I and many others are totally wrong in what we are doing, then I invite you to do the following, in order to help correct me:

  1. Send a private message to me, laying out the scriptural reasons that exposing and naming false teachers, or judging others, is unscriptural.  I would ask that you try to stay in context with whatever passages you use, and not to, as many do, “prooftext” and use one verse to negate what is being taught clearly in other areas of scripture.  I will keep this completely between you and me.
  2. Or send me the same kind of message, but which you have no problem in allowing me to post it publicly, BUT without using your name.
  3. Finally, post the same message here publicly.  Please understand that I will reserve the right to refute what you write, but I will give you the opportunity for any rebuttals needed.

The emergent church movement is real, and I believe it is a false movement in almost all that it asserts or teaches.  There may be some good in it, but as the scriptures say, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”  It is our duty as Christians to expose false teachings.  I pray that this upcoming article will help make many more aware of this danger.  It is absolutely unfair that so many Nazarenes are being kept in the dark about this problem, and all Nazarenes have a right to know the facts, and make up their minds as to whether this movement is of God, or if it is of Satan.  It cannot be both.

As Paul wrote in Romans 16:17-18: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

And in Ephesians 5:11, he wrote, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

 

Sincerely in Christ,

Manny
reformednazarene@hotmail.com

Thankful in Death As Well As Life!

by Kjos Ministries

Twelve Early Martyrs in ancient Carthage †  180 AD

Their crime? They were Christians who refused to compromise or recant. They would rather die than deny their faith and betray the Lord they loved!

The seven men and five women were brought before the Roman proconsul Saturninus in Carthage, North Africa (Tunisia) on July 17, 180AD. He gave them an opportunity to recant:
“You can win the indulgence of our lord the Emperor, if you return to a sound mind.”[1]
[See The UN Plan for your mental health]

Speratus, the apparent leader of the small group of faithful disciples, answered,

‘We have never done ill, we have not lent ourselves to wrong, we have never spoken ill, but when ill-treated we have given thanks….”

“We too are religious,” answered the proconsul, “and our religion is simple, and we swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor, and pray for his welfare, as you also ought to do.”

“The empire of this world I know not,” explained Speratus, “but rather I serve that God, whom no man has seen, nor with these eyes can see. I have committed no theft; but if I have bought anything, I pay the tax; because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.”

“Be not partakers of this folly,” said the proconsul.

Cittinus, one of the faithful, said, “We have none other to fear, save only our Lord God, who is in heaven.”…

“Do you persist in being a Christian?” asked the proconsul.

“I am a Christian,” he answered. All the others agreed….

The proconsul Saturninus then read the decree [their sentence] from a tablet:

“Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda and the rest having confessed that they live according to the Christian rite, since after opportunity offered them of returning to the custom of the Romans they have obstinately persisted, it is determined that they be put to the sword.”

We give thanks to God,” said Speratus.
Today we are martyrs in heaven; thanks be to God,” added Nartzalus.

The proconsul then gave the order that their sentence be publicly announced by the herald: “Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Lætantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata and Secunda, I have ordered to be executed.”

They all said: “Thanks be to God.

“And so they all together were crowned with martyrdom; and they reign with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.


According to the Christian History Magazine, Issue 27,

 

“The account of these martyrs from Scilli, a village near Carthage, is the earliest document demonstrating the existence of Christianity in North Africa. It shows what was at stake between Rome and the church: two opposing ways of life. When these African Christians refused to return to ‘the usage [custom] of the Romans,’ the Roman authorities recognized there was a profound danger to the Empire.

“The story of these seven men and five women is also important for the development of the canon of Scripture. When the Christians were arrested, they were carrying ‘the sacred books, and the letters of Paul, a just man.’ ‘The sacred books’ may mean the Hebrew Scriptures, thus making this an early indication that Paul’s letters were treated as Scripture. Or ‘the books’ may refer to the Gospels, which would likewise give insight into the history of the New Testament’s formation.”[2]

The intensity of persecution in the Roman Empire rose and fell with the temperaments and circumstances of the various emperors. Of course, that’s not unique in the historical record. Through the centuries of time, everything keeps changing — including churches and values — except God and His eternal Kingdom. In the last few decades, we have seen masses of so-called Christians ready and willing to compromise Truth and conform to an increasingly corrupt world.  Like in Old Testament days, it no longer seems wrong to “love evil more than good.” (Psalm 52:3) Almost “anything goes” except “intolerance” toward popular evil.

Genuine, uncompromising Christians will be despised by tomorrow’s leaders and global managers. We don’t fit their vision of unity, solidarity and upside-down tolerance. Like the ancient rulers who demanded conformity with “the custom of the Romans,” a new breed of rulers — like those in ancient Rome — are beginning to trumpet the “profound danger” of Christian resistance to their rising global empire. (See The emerging New World Order ) [2]

The times ahead will surely bring a time of purification to the Church — a separation of what the Bible calls wheat and tares: a division between those who truly belong to God and those who prefer to identify with today’s adaptable, emerging church.

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute youfor they do not know the One who sent Me.” John 15:19-21


1. “The Passion of the Scillian Martyrs,” at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1013.htm

 

2. Christian History Magazine, Issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1990)

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

One of my biggest thanks this year has been for the many new friends in Christ I have met over the last 12 months, all across the country and even overseas! Many of you have been a source of great encouragement and inspiration to me.  Thanks to all who have shared their stories with me and have taught me some real lessons in faithfulness and standing for God’s word.  It has truly been a blessing and all that has happened, good or bad,  has helped strengthen my faith.  I pray that I have helped you in return in whatever ways I could. May God bless you all in this time. Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34
This is the original proclamation from President Lincoln when he declared the celebration of Thanksgiving Day:

By the President of the United States of America.

A PROCLAMATION.

The year that is drawing toward its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watching providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised not hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.


By the President:

Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State


Manny Silva

Ecumenism Leads To Compromising The Gospel

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

I would like to share some thoughts about ecumenism.  I am not the world’s foremost authority on this topic, but I do read the scriptures and what it has to say, and my approach is strictly from a biblical view. One comment recently made in response to an earlier posting is typical of a perspective held by many Christians today, and the comment included a statement that how I was critiquing certain positions “does not reflect an ecumenical spirit” and is “very divisive”.  My reply after reflecting on that is this: achieving an ecumenical spirit is not necessarily my goal.  (And being “divisive” is often unavoidable according to the scriptures, i.e. Rom. 16:17-18, Titus 3:10-11, 1 Tim. 6:20-21, Titus 1:9-2:1, James 4:4-8).  It is often a consequence of defending the gospel).  So I am generally opposed to the idea of the “ecumenical spirit” or ecumenical movement as it is practiced by many today, because I believe that it is one of the many philosophies that are working towards the perversion of the Christian church and the watering down of the gospel.

In the Windsor Hills post, I criticized Professor Doug Hardy of Nazarene Theological Seminary for recommending a great number of books as good resources to be used in the Hardy Library of Spiritual Formation.  The vast majority of these books were treatises on a number of saints, monks, priests, and theologians from the Roman Catholic tradition, as well as some current proponents of emergent ideology and “spiritual formation” practices, such as Richard Foster, whose “Celebration of Discipline” is popular in many Nazarene circles.  My objection to these books, was not that they were simply to be available for research into unbiblical practices; but that they were recommended for reading as a healthy spiritual resource, as evidenced by the two declared purposes for the use of these books.  My objection was on the basis that these books are not the kind of books that ought to be anywhere near a Nazarene or any other Christian library, for the purposes of encouraging spiritual growth or learning about the scriptures! So, to view these books favorably like they are by Dr. Hardy, reflects the “ecumenical spirit” held by so many today in the “evangelical” church.  If you honestly look at the facts concerning the mystics in these books (Mystics Who Are being Promoted To Nazarenes) , you would be hard pressed to say these are acceptable for Biblical Christians to use as good resources.

I understand full well that the idea of criticizing the Roman Catholic Church can be a lightning rod that triggers accusations of bigotry, anti-Catholicism, hatred, insensitivity, and on and on. It comes from an erroneous idea that all who verbally profess belief in Jesus Christ  are true Christian brothers and sisters, and that we need to get along and ignore our differences, instead focusing on what we share in common.  That is a direct oppositional view to the doctrine of separation.  Instead of the doctrine of separation, which is biblically grounded, many have chosen the doctrine of ecumenism, which has brought disastrous results.  And the most volatile opposition seems to arise when anyone criticizes the doctrines of the RCC.  Just to be clear, I am focusing here on the official doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church that it teaches dogmatically (Roman Catholicism And Its Heresies), not on individual members of the RCC.  We cannot judge what is in the heart of an individual, but we can judge the doctrine of any church or person in the light of scripture.

So what is the ecumenical movement like?  Here is a statement from the ecumenical World Council of Churches website that describes their goal:

“The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ. It seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for his followers, ‘so that the world may believe’ (John 17:21).”


This statement is admirable on it’s face.  But who should we fellowship and join together with, and who should we not join together with?  While varying groups can express the shared sentiment of “confessing the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior”, does that mean that we are brothers and sisters with all who verbally profess to believe that way?  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” It would seem that doing the will of My father includes obeying the commands in scripture that are clear and absolute, not just simply saying that you believe in the Trinity and a few “essentials of the faith”, ignoring the supposed “less important” teachings.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13


Does the teaching of the RCC and other groups such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses fall in line with doing the will of our Father in heaven, and if not, what is the rationale for pursuing an ecumenical joining with them?  We should have fellowship with one another as Christians, but when fellowship with some professing Christians gets compromised by their continual and clear disobedience to the commands of scripture and adherence to a perverted gospel, are we to really continue in fellowship with them, and how would that be justified biblically, which should be the only criteria?  It is interesting that many who have argued with me about having fellowship with the RCC, do not argue that same point regarding the Mormon cult, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  That is inconsistent with their argument that joining hands with the RCC is okay.  Mormons believe in a perverted view of the nature of Jesus Christ (Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers), and so do the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Jesus was a created being).  Do we really want to say they are true Christian brothers and sisters, just because they profess a belief in Jesus with their mouths?  Therefore if someone does not believe in going to ecumenical services with Mormons and and JW’s, what difference is there in going to ecumenical services at a Roman Catholic church?

And so there is a pursuit of this ecumenical spirit with the Roman Catholic Church, which many in the Nazarene denomination seem to be embracing, including those from our seminary, evidenced by their sponsorship of a spiritual formation retreat just before General Assembly, as one example.  The RCC believes dogmatically in the following: the veneration of Mary; the praying to saints and icons; the bread of the Mass as the actual body of Christ; the belief in purgatory; the means of salvation being attributed to baptism, works, and the sacraments, instead of grace alone by faith alone through Christ alone.  There’s even more.  These declarations from the Council of Trent hundeds of years ago still hold full authority today.  So for Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism to be seen as the same is a total contradiction, and holding to that view completely ignores the vast differences.  One has to compromise their Biblical beliefs as taught in the scriptures, to say that we are one and the same with the Roman Catholic Church.  If I am wrong, I would challenge anyone to show me otherwise using the scriptures as the only authority.

But you will not find anything in scripture that justifies the ecumenical philosophy as it is practiced by Rick Warren and many others, and even the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has had 50 years of compromise with the Roman Catholic Church (this is well documented and disturbing, and I report this in spite of my admiration for Graham’s great sermons and his longtime service). Even such admired men as Chuck Colson, who has done some great work, have succumbed to the seduction of ecumenism.

Our motivation should not be an immediate desire for a kind of unity with any professing body that says Jesus is Lord, but rather to spread the gospel that is true and pure to the whole world.  Joining hands with those who preach another gospel does not help that goal, it hurts it, and serves only to bring confusion and compromise, which Jesus and the apostles never taught.  Instead, they seemed to be the most condemning and harsh when addressing those who preached another gospel, another Jesus.  What you will find is this and many other admonitions:

2 Cor. 6:13-19:  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[a] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“ I will dwell in them, And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”


We must be careful and only join hands with those who believe in the biblical definition of the gospel, not simply jump up and join with anyone who claims to follow Christ.  Paul had particularly harsh words to say to those who would pervert the gospel and preach another gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!


In practice, I believe many in our denominational leadership seem to be rejecting the doctrine of separation, and instead are moving towards a higher degree of ecumenism that is very troubling to many other Nazarenes who are aware of it.

But I contend that the price of “unity” must not come at the expense of compromise.

Are Emergents Trying To Negate The Reformation?

By Reinaldo T. De Almeida


Would there be a protestant church today if someone as courageous as Martin Luther had not rightly rebuked the erroneous ways of the Catholic Church? Definitely not! Praise be to God whose Spirit acts on those who search him with all their hearts and minds.

Today, to talk about judging has become an offense to many people. “Everyone must be included” is the new fad. But the Bible tells us to “not sit with mockers”! “Everyone is included” is actually not what the Bible has ever taught, but that there would be a ‘narrow door’ (Matt. 7:13) , and many false teachers (Matt. 24:5). That is a guarantee.  Instead, many look at judging others as completely forbidden by scripture.  They quickly point out perhaps the most widely misused scripture: Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” They never understand the context of this passage in full.  They forget that Jesus goes on to say, take the plank out of your eye FIRST, before you judge the other person.  Furthermore, Jesus says later on in verse 15: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Can anyone explain to me, how can I ever beware of false prophets, UNLESS I am able to judge?  Can this be any clearer?  It is impossible not to judge, and then be able to know who is a false prophet!  Nevertheless, we are admonished to judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”)

Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!

I believe this warning Paul gave applies so well to what is happening in our denomination today.  I am so disappointed when I hear Nazarenes giving examples of so many ‘humble people’ who are not even evangelicals or Nazarenes. Can’t we find enough examples within the Nazarene denomination? Perhaps not, if today’s preachers and missionaries are following the teachings of others who are not even close to the true message of the cross.

I always heard my father preach of those Nazarene missionaries who walked up mountains and traveled miles to preach the gospel. That is how the Nazarene church became a big organization. Today, unfortunately, some disciples and preachers frequently mention pagans and others who pray the rosary, who use labyrinths and other methods to get close to God, and who worship idols and the Virgin Mary as symbols of humility and Christendom. What a shame and embarrassment to see where this organization of 100 years is going and leading its flock. One particular thing about the Nazarenes is that in its formation it did not follow the majority, it was a union of churches that had something in common, a search for true holiness. Can others teach a Nazarene to be holy? Perhaps, but can the Catholics or emergents, with their aberrant and heretical doctrines?

Praise God for Martin Luther’s attitude. Because of him we are what we are. He had the guts to preach the right thing. That’s why many churches are dying today; many preachers refuse to talk about clothes, about holiness, about modesty, about judging with righteousness, about false teachers, or anything else, because all these topics offend people. They perceive us as foolish if we talk about such things as dressing modestly and not conforming and compromising with the world. Too bad!

1 Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Unfortunately many people who are not Nazarenes are the ones teaching the Nazarenes what they should believe and how they should behave according to their own philosophies or points of view, which most of the time, viewed in the light of scripture, are dangerous.  We are reminded in the scriptures not to get caught in the trap of man’s wisdom.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Others, who should know that the Nazarene church was founded on some imperative biblical principals, insist on working for such an organization, but not wholeheartedly, as it used to be with former Nazarene employees.

Martin Luther left his organization for specific reasons, for the right reasons. Unfortunately we have some who will not repent, who will not leave the organization, but who will unfortunately stay in it to follow the teachings of their non-Nazarene mentors.

Is your pastor a Nazarene in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition?  More directly, is he a pastor who puts his full confidence and faith in the infallible, inerrant word of God?  Or is he a double-minded professional?

To get an honest answer for such a question might take months and lives away from churches. That is ‘too personal’!

May God help us

Reinaldo