Where Are The Battlegrounds?

“O son of man, I HAVE SET THEE A WATCHMAN unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me… IF THOU DOST NOT SPEAK TO WARN THE WICKED from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND… IF THOU WARN THE WICKED of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but THOU HAST DELIVERED THY SOUL…” – Ezekiel 33:7-15

The Emergent Church Movement is a serious problem for the Christian church.  It threatens practically all Christians regardless of denomination.  I’ve been a Nazarene all my life, but if you are reading this and are anything but Nazarene, it probably makes no difference.  Whether you are Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Calvary Chapel, or one of many other evangelical denominations, chances are you are either facing this danger, or you will be soon.  The third horrible option is that you either embrace this heretical ideology, or that you are a Christian who knows of this danger and have even seen it, but you have chosen to ignore the danger or warning signs, and have “stuck your head in the sand.”  The Bible speaks of a great falling away in the last days.  We certainly have been warned, and false movements and teachings have been with us since the days of the apostles.

Who are these emergents?  Very briefly, among most emergents today, you will find: an incorporation of Roman Catholic practices and embracing of books by many heretical mystics; the use of contemplative spirituality (mysticism), including but not limited to, prayer labyrinths, centering prayer, breath prayers, mantra-type prayers, and “practicing the silence”; the embracing of false ideologies such as open theism, process theology; the equating of evolution as being compatible with scripture; an unhealthy over-emphasis on social justice to the diminishing of preaching the plain gospel of salvation; an unbiblical focus on environmental concerns; a belief that after 2,000 years we have not gotten it right.  And there’s more, but here is its crowning jewel of “unbelief”: the Bible is NOT the inspired, infallible word of God, therefore man can use his reasoning to come up with different ways to read the Bible, all of which are equally valid (post-modernism, relativism).  Woe to to any Christian who dares to stand on the whole truth of scripture, and be ready for ridicule, scorn, and intellectually superior condescension!

I see the battle against this movement playing out in several major fronts.  I believe all of these fronts will play a key role in how any denomination will fare in dealing with the emergent church, or any other false movement for that matter. First, and perhaps most critical, there is the university battleground.

At the Christian universities, there are two major concerns I see.  I think of the many young students coming into our Christian universities today, and it is painful to think that some of them are probably safer from apostasy and false teaching if they attend a secular school.  If a young person goes to a secular university, at least he might have a fighting chance, and have his guard up, because secular schools are not in the habit of touting or upholding high Christian standards, and that’s not what a secular school does or is expected to do.  But when a young man attends a Christian school, the natural assumption is that the school will not only state that they have high Christian values and teachings, but that they will consistently teach the student to recognize that which is bad, and will not bring any poison into the school that would mislead such young people who might not be solidly grounded in scripture.  At least that is my expectation as a parent of a future student.  The proper way to bring in this “poison”, in my opinion, is to bring it in as an example of what to avoid, not as something to embrace.

So I fear for those young people at our Nazarene (and other Christian) universities who are at this very moment being fed, very subtly at times, this poison, while at the same time that school is carrying the name Nazarene high up for all to see.  “Hey, its Nazarene, so it must be teaching and defending the same things we learned back home in our local church, right?”  Maybe.  That is not the case with all of our universities, and I fear that there are students who may, and might have already, walked away from the faith, because of what is happening in some of our universities.  And the usual reasoning from the leadership of these schools is, “let’s let them be exposed to everything, and let them decide what is good for them.” Can you see how fraught with danger that is, and do you really want your child to be exposed to anything and anyone out there, without the strong guidance from godly professors who can clearly refute that which is bad, and explain why?

For those of you who are parents of kids who may go to a Christian school someday, would it worry you a little if I told you your child could be in danger of walking away from the faith, giving up because his theology professor told him that Adam and Eve probably were not real, or that the flood account was a myth, or that the creation account was just an allegory?  Does it frighten you to think that your child may come home someday and start telling you about his wonderful experience with the prayer labyrinth that is on campus?  Or is that just another good old Nazarene practice in the holiness tradition?  Would you tolerate it, or would you pick up the phone and call the school to ask what’s going on?

Or maybe he will tell you that he spent 30 minutes each morning doing a mantra-like prayer, just because Tony Campolo said he does it?  After all, since he spoke to the kids in chapel, was never confronted (in front of of the students) in anything he said, so everything he says or teaches must be good.  Right?  Why, your son even likes Campolo’s idea that perhaps the Muslim mystics have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?  (Of course, I never knew of this Christian mysticism as something that we have missed for so many generations, but since Tony Campolo teaches it, it must be okay now.)  Right?

Or how about this: your son comes home, and argues with you that perhaps his Hindu friend can go to heaven also, because a professor by the name of Jay McDaniel at Northwest Nazarene gave a lecture where he suggested that it was so, and there was NOT ONE Nazarene professor in that lecture hall that defended biblical truth and refuted him.  At least not that I know of, from listening to the whole video, start to finish including questions and answers.  Perhaps someone can correct me and show us where he was vigorously refuted for his blatant false teaching to our Nazarene youth.  I can tell you right now, it is hard to sit through this thing for any biblically sound Christian.

Perhaps your daughter came home and told you that she learned something new from the local Nazarene pastor near the school; that the bread and wine of communion actually becomes the body and blood of Christ!  And what would you think if your child came home and talked about his Ash Wednesday experience, when at evening service, he received the ashes on his forehand from the Nazarene pastor?  No problem?  Is that okay now in our Nazarene holiness and Wesleyan tradition?

There are more scenarios I can give you, and it is not a joke or laughing matter.  What about yearly trips to a monastery to practice the silence and pray and commune with the monks.  What about blatant advertising of Roman Catholic churches as options for students, knowing that the RCC teaches a whole list of heretical teachings.  We may as well advertise Mormon churches also, and perhaps Jehovah’s Witness churches.  What’s the difference?  Is not their theology in line with what Nazarenes believe?  Have we forgotten about the doctrine of separation?  (2 Cor 6:14-18)  Are all who proclaim Christ as Savior truly our brothers and sisters in the Lord, in spite of everything else they teach?  Are we inching every so slowly down that very wide ecumenical road?

Or how about the selling of books by such false teachers as Brian McLaren, who likened Christ’s death on the cross to “cosmic child abuse.”  Or Rob Bell, who does not believe in biblical inerrancy, and who distorts Bible passages, and has no problem sharing a world platform with leaders from many false religions.  I recall scripture that commands us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  yet we allow this stuff to be peddled to our vulnerable children in a Christian school?  Rest assured, my child will not be caught in such situations when he is ready to go to college.  But the good news, is that there are still good alternatives for Christian schools, you just have to do your homework and ask a lot of questions.

I know that for some of you, I am “preaching to the choir.”  You know what I am talking about, and you are involved in this fight for the faith as seriously as I am.  But if one more “undecided” person out there today realizes that what I am saying here is deadly serious, and God’s Spirit moves that person to action, to cry out to those in authority, that “enough is enough”, I will praise God for that.  To Him all the glory if someone else today sees that this is not a phony reality show; rather, it is a true reality show that is being produced by Satan.  But I keep wondering every night, and asking God, why are so many still not seeing this?  And even worst, why are so many SEEING this and NOT speaking out?  I do realize that there are scriptural answers to these questions, but I still ask them.

I almost forgot the second battleground.  It’s our local churches of course, where emergent pastors are coming to, after being mass produced at our seminaries and elsewhere, and then being shipped to the local churches to spread the emergent poison ever so subtly and slowly.  And many of them follow the Rick Warren model of “let’s just let them either die out, or force them to leave, if they don’t get with the program.  Yet it is hard to find one emergent pastor, who proudly proclaims what he truly believes to his congregation.  Oh no, that is the danger, friends.  They don’t dare shout it out, lest they be exposed immediately.  Have you really, really listened carefully like a Berean to your pastor’s sermons lately?  You may want to, because an emergent pastor must feed you the poison in very small portions.
The good news is that the faithful pastors who stand true to God’s infallible word are defending their flock.  The bad news is, there is no guarantee that they will be replaced someday by someone who actually believes the Bible is totally trustworthy.

Just remember, we are equally responsible to God for our actions or non-actions.

“…Be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. FOR THERE ARE MANY unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: WHOSE MOUTHS MUST BE STOPPED… TEACHING THINGS WHICH THEY OUGHT NOT… This witness is true. WHEREFORE REBUKE THEM SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith…” -Titus 1:9-13

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15 responses to “Where Are The Battlegrounds?

  1. Where are the battlegrounds? After reading this post, it sounds like the battle line has been drawn between our universities and seminaries on one side and our local churches on the other. It’s the university/seminary-educated clergy vs. the self-educated laity. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me.

    Speaking as a Nazarene pastor who graduated from ONU and NTS, I heartily agree that all laypeople should be listening carefully like the Bereans. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and even challenge your pastor. But please do so in a respectful way, since the Bible commands that as well (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Be eager to learn together with your pastor, so that we may all be built up together and reach unity in the faith.

  2. Oh, I am not pitting the universities against the local churches. I am saying that the battle is being fought on various fronts, and these are the two major ones.

    There are serious problems at some universities, and not others. There are serious problems in some local churches, and in some there are not.

    I do agree with you that we should present our concerns in a respectful manner. To learn together with my pastor, yes, that can happen. But when a pastor strays from biblical principles, that’s where we should draw the line, and unity cannot happen.

  3. Rich,

    I am just learning about this. Where are the ordained Elders and Church Leaders who know so much more about this than the lay people?

    How do you show respect to leaders that have been ignoring this? (sincere question not sarcasm)

    Pam

  4. It is hard to respect pastors that give you a “like it or leave it” attitude when you question materials being used within the church.

    Questions respectfully asked should be in return respectfully answered.

  5. Pam,

    I’m not sure what you mean by your first question. Perhaps you could clarify? As for your second, I think it’s always possible to challenge someone in a respectful way, whether they are ignoring this issue or are actively on the other side of it from you. 1 Thess. 5 instructs us to respect and hold in high regard “those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.” I’d say Nazarene pastors fit that description. Further, that passage instructs us all to be patient with everyone and live in peace with each other.

    If your question is asking about method (HOW do we do this), then I’d say that respect would include things as simple as tone of voice, having the conversation in private, allowing time for thorough answers and conversation, being polite, etc. We can do all this while still being passionate, determined, etc.

    Manny,

    I know that your post was structured to say these are the two battlegrounds. But it sounds to me as if everyone in the universities/seminaries are the “bad guys” (including the pastors who are educated there) while the “good guys” are the people in the local churches who know better than the educated folks.

    You say in your comment that there are some universities that do not have serious problems. Are there *Nazarene* universities that don’t have serious problems, in your estimation? As far as I know, all of our science departments teach biological evolution and a long geological age of the earth. I don’t think any of our religion departments would describe Roman Catholics as pagans, though of course they would point out areas in which we disagree with them, etc. Which, again, is why it seems to me that the battle isn’t actually being fought at the universities but between the universities/seminaries and laypeople who view them as “the enemy.”

  6. Rich,
    I don’t wait until the religion departments give their pronouncement on Roman Catholicism and then go with their opinion. I already know that much of Roman Catholic teaching is heretical. You know that too.

    Areas of disagreement- of course, but many of those areas of disagreement are absolutely false teaching- and so why don’t the religion departments step up to the plate and tell it like it is?

    Is it political correctness? Why won’t they denounce false teaching? Is it possible that some are embracing it too?

  7. Rich said, “I’m not sure what you mean by your first question. Perhaps you could clarify?”

    When I see people in Biblical authority over the church learn about this and don’t stop it or try to educate their lay people, then I think they are negligent in their duty as shepherd over a flock.

    Jeremiah 23:1
    “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.

    Proverbs 27:6
    Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

    Rich, I think in this instance hard words are better than smiling in silence.

  8. Pam,

    Who is “smiling in silence”? The concerned layperson? Or the pastor?

    I didn’t suggest concerned laypeople should be silent. Just the opposite. They should question and even challenge, but do so respectfully, as Scripture commands.

    And I agree with Brad that pastors should respectfully answer questions respectfully asked. I’m sorry to hear that some pastors are apparently taking a “like it or leave it” attitude toward questions and concerns. That’s certainly not how I respond when folks approach me.

    Manny, I’m not planning to try to answer the questions you posed in your last comment, since they don’t appear to be directed at me. However, if you wanted me to try to guess at the motives of our Nazarene religion professors, I suppose I could try… But just to clarify, in the parts of the classes that addressed these things, my religion professors were clear about what the historic, orthodox Christian faith is, which groups have stepped outside of that, and in what ways. We discussed what we as Nazarenes believe and practice, how that differs from the beliefs and practices of other groups, and why. I don’t remember there being any hesitation to address these issues. They “told it like it is.” Of course, that doesn’t mean that their assessment of “how it is” agreed with your assessment…

  9. What is difficult to accept is that much of their assessment of “how it is” CLEARLY does not “jive” with scripture. That is disturbing, not that their assessment might not agree with me or someone else- but with scripture, our ONLY reliable and perfect source of truth.

    Do you know of any Nazarene theology professors who have answered the question: Does the Roman Catholic church teach heretical doctrines?
    If so, I wonder what their answer was.

  10. Below is an article (in part) that I have written for “Grace and Peace” magazine which I believe will never be published because it probably falls outside their parameters for their magazine. The article was written in support of my inquiry as to why they published an interview with Leonard Sweet. And I questioned the direction the magazine was taking. The article simply asks the question “Have theologians outlived their usefulness?”
    “Allow me to explain! Then you decide. I am often reminded that the Bble teaches that the “foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” In greater detail this is found in I Corinthians [1: 18-25] “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. For it is written; I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God. it pleased God through the fooloishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For the Jews request a sign, the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
    The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians Church warned against those who passed themselves off as the enlightened ones, such as the emergent proponents,’ with special wisdom, knowledge or consciousness. It has been said that in Corinth you could meet self taught sagacious men who mimicked their favorite philosopher (copycat syndrome that we are seeing today) by echoing philisophic discussions on any number of topics, portraying themselves as learned or leading authorities in their field of study. This so-called special ability was believed to be “beyond” and not available to the ordinary man, and was usually contrary to the word of God. This newfound recognition or enlightenment has no doubt immersed itself into today’s church culture, and is being touted by many as “experts” in their field of knowledge. Have we reached a point in our academia where man’s teaching has now become superior to God’s and is being touted as the truth, while God’s Word has now become suspect or inferior to man’s by denying the validity of God’s Word. When will we recognize that God is supreme and that our existence depends upon Him, and not in the reverse.
    Paul could not have been clearer regarding those who love their fame and wish to be seen and endeared as men of great learning. This is just as true today! Such as: Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Tony Campolo, Thomas Merton, Tony Jones, and Leanard Sweet to mention a few. Rick Waren in 2005 at the Anaheim Sports Stadium in Southern California, in an extimated crowd of 30,000, said; “That God had personally instructed him to seek for the good of the world, more influence, power and fame.” John the forerunner of our Lord recognized his place among Christ’s followers when he said; John [3:30] “He must increase, but I must decrease.” iT IS NOT ABOUT US AND NEVER HAS BEEN, ITS ABOUT JESUS. I wonder which of these two men got their instructions from God correct, John the Baptist or Rick Warren.
    A warning to those who seek their so-called wisdom of gold will soon discover it is only fool’s gold they have paned for. These men have gained fame by their absence of truth rather than their knowledge of truth by proposing an alternate meaning of truth.
    New is not always better. Today churches want instant gratification of success without sacrifice. I do not believe God’s Word teaches this and the early church is testimony to it. What worked in the past will work again. The answer is in the Word of God not man’s clever devising. God’s Word instructs us to “Search from the book of the Lord and read.” Isaiah [34: 16] Jesus taught His disciples to “Ask, Seek and Knock” with the guarantee of success. I believe this is becoming a lost art among many clergy. Bible study in sermon preparation is lacking in many because it has become easier to read a book and regurgitate what was written without conviction. This is not saying, nor should it be taken, that reading good Bible based books is bad only that one should seek God’s Word first over that of man.
    Today I’m afraid that the style of a beautiful worship service orchestrated to the last note has taken preference over everything else, and parishioners are leaving empty. We have settled for straw when we coulsd have clover. Jesus taught; “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew [4:4] I can only conclude if we are to live by His Word them we will be judged by His Word. I trust this will be taken in the spirit it was written, and I apoligize for its length although you only got about 75% of the article.

  11. I am not a Nazarene, but I have just recently become aware of this sickening trend toward mysticism, etc. I attend a small home church that I thought was sound, until our pastor began to lead us through a book which subtly introduces “contemplative spirituality”. The book contains far more quotes from people than from the scriptures, and I had never heard of most of the people he was quoting, so it didn’t register with me at first.

    Then my father mentioned to me something he’d been reading about churches straying into Catholic mysticism. I thought, hmm, this book had quotes many Catholics, monks, etc, which I thought odd for a Christian book.

    Well, then I started looking up some of the quoted people and, my goodness, I found tons of information about this Catholic mysticism, centering prayer – all the stuff your post is talking about. I was SO disturbed – I felt sick to my stomach that the church (and MY little church) was ingesting this.

    I thought at first that I must warn my pastor – surely he had no idea that this book is spreading an evil false doctrine. But no, he is totally into it! And the other church members seem to be amiably going along with it, either completely unaware of its dangers or even worse, agreeing with it.

    I feel I must warn them regardless. And, if they choose to go merrily down this path, I will have to leave. I am so disheartened that my pastor, the one who is supposed to lead us in the truth, has so little discernment.

    I am, however, encouraged to see that others, like you, are aware of this false teaching and are speaking out. Thank you for doing so.

  12. Jenna,

    That reminds me much of what I went through. It is very sad, and can be quite disheartening. But being faithful regardless of what happens is worth the price.

    Should you need any resources or help, contact me at:
    standfortruthministries@gmail.com.

    I can also send you a few copies of the DVD on the Emergent Church. It is applicable to any denomination and can be helpful in showing others what is going on.
    Blessings,
    Manny

    http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/emergent-church-what-is-it/1-emerging-church-dvd-2/

  13. Hello,
    I was wondering what happened to the letter posted fron Orville Jenkins North Florida District, it was a wonderful letter.
    Thanks
    Beth

  14. Rich,

    Rich said, “Who is “smiling in silence”? The concerned layperson? Or the pastor?”

    Rich, I’ve sat in the pew for too many years smiling with “silent respect for authority”.

    Your premise that “we who speak need to show respect for those in authority” is partially flawed. Scriptures clearly tells us to speak to other Christians who have offended us, but it also tells us to rebuke and hand over to Satan Christians who refuse discipline.

    I don’t have respect for Church leaders who secretly introduce false doctrine and don’t talk about sin. A month ago a Naz Pastor from Atlanta said he doesn’t believe in the first 20 chapters of revelation. Really?!?!

    Why is that man allowed to call himself a Christian Pastor let alone a Nazarene? That Pastor has a huge issue with the wrath of God if he deletes the first 20 chapters of Revelation, therefore he has a problem with seeing or preaching about sin. If that is coming from the Nazarene Theological Seminary then we need to call it something other than a Seminary and let’s not pretend it’s Biblical in any way shape or form. Let’s call it the Nazarene New Age Spiritual Center or NNASC for short.

    A Preacher is a Christian or his is not. Let’s not pretend that New Age Mysticism is Christian in any shape or form even though they use a few scriptures about God’s Love. Satan used scripture to temp Jesus before his ministry and Christ responded with Scripture.

    Manipulation is the signature of Satan and I will not respect those who use it in the Church to glorify themselves as Satan tried to do with Jesus.

    Philippians 2:9-11

    9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

    Lamentations 2:14 The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.

    2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

    1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    All glory and honor to Jesus Christ alone!!

    1 Peter 1:7
    These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

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