Who Is A Concerned Nazarene or Christian?

Many people who support the emergent church movement seem to be concerned  (no pun intended) about numbers, regarding our opposition to their movement.  Some of these folks tend to dismiss Concerned Nazarenes as a very small group comprised of “disgruntled” Nazarenes like Manny Silva, or perhaps my friend Tim Wirth, and maybe just a few other friends which perhaps amounts to a small handful of crazies.  I think that is a serious mistake if they think so, and perhaps comes from a wish for it to be so.

Often a criticism of emergent opposition is that we have not had enough years of theological training and education, so how can we truly understand biblical doctrine and therefore criticize emergent ideology? One problem with this logic is this: I admit that my best claim to formal theological training is two semesters of New Testament Greek and a few other courses, but what about those who oppose emergent ideology, and who have the equivalent or higher in formal theological education as many emergent pastors have?  How does an emergent answer an elder in the Nazarene church who believes as I do, that most of emergent ideology is based on Satan’s game plan of deception, and not rooted in the word of God?

One of the sneakiest game plans that emergent pastors follow, is to not let on that they are emergent!  Why is that?  Why can’t a pastor or elder who, in private conversation with me perhaps, will admit to supporting all that the EC has to offer; why can’t he also admit that to his congregation?  Why can’t he go on a full fledged campaign to trumpet the virtues of emergent ideology? Why is it that there seems to be a stealth campaign amongst many pastors to hide their true emergent leanings to the flock that they are responsible for feeding the word of God?

I believe the fact of the matter is that, concerned Nazarenes (or Christians) will be totally upfront about what they are for or against, regardless of criticism.  But unless a congregation is fully, or almost fully emergent, there is a lack of candor, and a deliberate attempt to hide the full emergent agenda.  Unless arm-twisting is done, there will be no statements such as “sure, I’m an emergent pastor, and proud of it.  Here is what exactly I support and promote.”  And if there is an upfront admission by an emergent pastor, perhaps it’s because they would rather see anyone who is opposed to their ideology, leave so they can more easily and cleanly continue with their agenda, unopposed, in their emergent style church.

I’ve spoken with more and more people who are part of a church which they have discovered has a pastor who is slowly trying to introduce the emergent agenda.  They have asked me what they should do, and of course, every situation is different.  But I have shared from my experiences and have advised them to work as well as they can to ask questions and get answers.  I have warned them that many emergent pastors will respond in a very negative way to questions from members. They could very well be demonized if they stubbornly insist on getting clear answers.  They could end up being shunned and eventually will be labeled  troublemakers who are trying to divide a church or denomination.  The fact is, all they are standing for, unashamedly, is for biblical truth and and the upholding of biblical doctrine, which most emergents think has very little importance now in this post-modern era.  (Read 2 Tim. 3:16 to see Paul’s emphasis on doctrine’s importance, among other scripture).

Yet I am reminded from a sermon by Pastor Tony a while ago, of this scripture in 1 Peter:

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:1-3

This tells me that a pastor should not be rebuffing questions from members who are concerned, but should be completely upfront and honest if a concerned member is asking about something.  A pastor should not in any way try to demonize someone who has tried to get answers to serious theological inquiries, but instead, he give straight and clear answers, and hopefully, answers based on the word of God.  A pastor who is responsible (and a very serious responsibility at that) for feeding his flock the whole counsel of God, should do just that!  These situations should be teaching moments, not moments of telling a member to go away and stop asking questions.  Does that sound vaguely familiar to any of you in your situation?  If so, take care and be warned that things might not get easier at all, if you question a pastor you think might be emergent.

Finally, another accusation from emergents, which is totally unfounded biblically, is that we should not ever judge, except for the essentials.  First of all, what are the essentials anyway?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me, essentials are whatever we are CLEARLY commanded in the scriptures to do, and not necessarily a short list of our primary doctrinal belief statements.  A clear command in scripture is NOT optional.  If you disobey in one area, you have disobeyed in all, the scriptures say.  And of course, judgmentalism is not something emergents like, yet we are commanded over and over again in the scriptures, on how and when to judge, NOT that we should never judge.  I don’t have a theology degree, yet I understand that.  Why do emergent pastors not understand that?  Is it perhaps because when they say “do not judge”, they deflect from any scrutiny of their doctrine?

So concerned Nazarenes (Christians) are not a small fringe group comprised of nutcases such as Manny Silva.  There is growing opposition as more pastors, evangelists and other leadership, and plain old laypeople, start finding out about this cancer that has snuck into our universities and churches.  Concerned Nazarenes are also totally upfront about their agenda, and are not embarrassed to say it. And, concerned Nazarenes (Christians) are judgmental, but as we are commanded in scripture, to “test the spirits”, to discern what is right and wrong doctrine, to know the fruits of those who are false teachers.

As the opposition grows to this “not of God movement”, I am making a plea to any pastor who is opposed to this movement.  I ask that you join us clearly in this opposition.  I ask that you join those who have risked their pastorates for the sake of truth.  I ask that if you truly know that these practices and ideologies being promoted by the emergents is not of God, to speak out against it.  It is scriptural to do this, and it is clearly commanded by the Lord, and the apostles, that we do this.  We owe it to the young babes in Christ who are still feeding on the milk, but who in their immaturity can be swept away by “almost the truth.”

It would be a big mistake if the emergent crowd continues to believe we are going away.  We are not, and we will hold your feet to the fire, as we continue to inform more Nazarenes and other Christians of the dangers of this false movement.

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12 responses to “Who Is A Concerned Nazarene or Christian?

  1. Hi, Manny. Since you’re asking to hear from pastors, I thought I’d reply, because some parts of the “emergent pastor” label stick to me. Other parts don’t. But enough do that perhaps my perspective can be helpful.

    First let me say that I’m sorry to hear that apparently some “emergent pastors” have been less than helpful when presented with tough questions. In another forum, I’ve shared what would happen — and has happened — when people have come to me with questions: I listen and try to answer as well as I can. For any pastor, or any Christian, to demonize or shun someone simply because they are asking questions — that should never happen. I agree that any pastor, emergent or otherwise, should always be upfront, honest, and thorough in these kinds of conversations. Hopefully they will also be gracious, patient, and encouraging.

    I don’t know many Nazarene pastors who would label themselves “emergent.” A handful, maybe. The ones I know personally are all committed to Scripture, committed to our Lord Jesus Christ, committed to sound doctrine, etc.

    I was talking to a young Nazarene pastor today who doesn’t quite know what all this “emergent” business is about, but as we talked, she thinks she might fit the profile (their leadership team practices lectio divina together). She and her husband are giving their lives to working among the poor in a dangerous part of their city, doing their best to reach people for Jesus, relying heavily on the Holy Spirit for guidance, strength, and provision. They believe in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform broken human lives. That’s the only reason they’re sacrificing like they are. She was thanking God today for a recent opportunity she had to lead someone to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

    I’m not quite sure what is meant by “the emergent agenda” or “emergent ideology,” but I’ve never known a Nazarene pastor who was trying to be sneaky or stealthy about any of the things usually attached to the “emergent” label on this blog.

    For example, if a pastor finds lectio divina to be a helpful way to listen to the Spirit of God speak through the Scriptures, they usually introduce it to their congregation and practice it. (I’m not sure how one could be sneaky about that.) But then that same Nazarene pastor might get up in the pulpit and preach against the dangers of postmodern philosophy or against the idea that creation and evolution are somehow compatible. Should that pastor stand up and say, “I’m emergent”? What would that even mean?

    I’m glad you’re concerned, Manny, and I’m glad you’re asking questions. I’m sorry to hear that, for you and for others, those questions have not always been received well or answered well.

    I look forward to seeing replies from other Nazarene pastors to your blog post.

  2. You said it so diplomatically Brother. I don’t want there to be any doubt which side I am on. Some I suppose remain silent because of what they stand to lose (retirement, income, stability, etc). Brother I want to be able to stand without shame before Jesus some day. I would hate to have temporal things hinder me.
    Thank you again Brother I am proud to stand with you!

  3. Wow Manny where is the I like this post button
    : )
    I also find it interesting too, how many of reprobate mind (many in Naz Net) will point out our error but not use scripture to back their positions.
    Also find it amusing and sad how they tried to point out how your pastor/father really thought.
    Not that you would know anything about your dad or anything like that.
    Blessings

    Tim

  4. Frankly, Tim, I saw those comments too, and I try not to say much on Naznet- not worth it anymore. Those who even thought they could take even a guess at what my dad would think or believe, are delusional at best. Not surprising however.

    Hey Rick! Proud to stand with you too, brother!

  5. Folks still dont get why we are concerned but part of it is not just distorted biblical facts but distorted history.
    And its not just happening at Naz Net its happening all around us.
    History is being rewritten by false teacher to support other false teachers distored views of the scripture’s.
    It still all boils down to the garden of Eden where a very real devil stated in Genesis 3:1″Yea, hath God said”.
    satan (the devil our adversary) has always tried to put doubt in our minds concerning scripture so as to forward the false agenda that his false teacher’s are spreading.
    We should not be suprised at this because scripture plainly states
    “2 Thessalonians 2:3a (New King James Version)

    3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first
    Also Eph 5:11-14
    What is happening over at Naz Net and all over the planet right now is just a fullfilment of this verse.
    We need to continue to follow Gods Word as we are to as Jude 1:23 states 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
    Our witnessing should normally be done with compassion, but sometimes with sobering warnings of hell, depening on circumstance. False teachers of the emergent church and others hate this as they try to explain away scripture. All of this should always be biblical,truthful, and done in loving concern.
    Most of our opposition would tag our loving concern with the title hate speech, or state we are being divisive simply because it disagrees with their unbiblical point of view.
    We need to continue to pray for these folk and most of all these mislead pastors who spend the majority of time on the internet commenting all over the place in order to try to make a name for themselves.
    Instead of spending time on their knees before God begging Him to send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth for the sake of their congregations. And for the sake of a good sermon.
    Instead of a 20 minute feel good about me message.
    Sincerely in Christ
    Tim

  6. Tim, I’m genuinely curious. Which Nazarene pastors are you thinking of who are:

    (1) spending “the majority of time on the internet… in order to try to make a name for themselves,” and

    (2) teaching unbiblical doctrines, and

    (3) preaching “20 minute feel good about me” messages?

  7. The problem is with emergent, but more than that it is with “liberal Wesleyan” as in “open theism”, biblical innerency, theistic evolution, various theories of atonement, etc, etc.

    I’m trying to imagine what success looks like and I can only come up with two options.
    1) All emergent/”liberal” Wesleyan see the error of their way, convert and become Concerned/Fundamentalist Nazarenes.
    2) All emergent/”liberal” Wesleyan are fired and replaced by Concerned Nazarenes

    The first option is not going to happen. That leaves the second option. In that case, who is going to do the firing and who is going to replace those being fired.

    I don’t know about your list, but my list of “the apostates” is very long, which raises the question – where is the host of “Concerned Nazarenes” that it is going to take to replace this massive loss.

    I have often wondered about the ratio of fundamentalist Nazarenes. Along with you, I suspect that it is very large but my experience is that the vast majority of them are pew-sitters. I am not aware of any Concerned Nazarene leadership that is ready, available and waiting to repopulate theology and biology depts, Seminaries, large churches, general church leadership, etc.

    Even if you succeed in raising the consciousness of these pew sitting fundamentalist in huge numbers (which is questionable, especially when you start naming names), I still don’t see where the fundamentalist leadership is coming from in the numbers that will be needed assuming you succeed in depopulating the current positions of “liberal Wesleyans”.

  8. Here are two Theologians that describe it best:

    Paul Simon:

    And God only knows
    And God makes his plan
    The information’s unavailable to the mortal man
    We’re workin’ our jobs
    Collect our pay
    Believe were gliding down the highway
    When if fact we’re slip slidin’ away

    Slip slidin’ away
    Slip slidin’ away
    You know the nearer your destination
    The more you’re slip slidin’ away

    Edward Mote:

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    When darkness seems to hide His face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace.
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.

    His oath, His covenant, His blood,
    Support me in the whelming flood.
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my Hope and Stay.

    When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh may I then in Him be found.
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

  9. Wow….I am really blessed to read this. My heart has grieved at the direction of the Nazarene church, that I have known all my life. As a third generation Nazarene, I find this article strangely uplifting, clear and concise. Blessings to you my brother. My prayers and heart go to my fellow Nazarenes.

  10. To make your point of the reaction of emergent pastors, here is one of many responses from a Nazarene Pastor about this topic….”if you have questions about the denomination, why not turn to trusted sources who are thoroughly Wesleyan, learned, and understand who we are and who we are not. But sources like Barger and Silva are not where you want to go. We are headed in the right direction!”

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