We Cannot Compromise, Even For Nice Guys

I’ll be short and to the point here, because the rest of this post has comments from two friends I want to share.  I have also read some great comments from some of my Facebook friends.  I am a big fan of Glen Beck, politically.  He shares practically all the conservative values I believe in.  He has a strong voice for conservatism, and for Constitutional authority in our laws.  But that’s where it stops for me.  Glenn Beck, by biblical definition, is NOT my brother in Christ.  This past weekend, if I had time and money, I might have gone to his Restoring Honor rally on Saturday.  But I would not have gone to Friday’s event, called America’s Divine Destiny.  This is where we have to draw the line, folks.  The America’s Divine Destiny was just another example of ecumenical holding of hands which according to the Bible, is wrong.  So there it is.  I love Glenn Beck, but I mainly love him because he needs to find the real Jesus.  Let’s pray for him to do that, because all the other worthy accomplishments he manages to do will be worth nothing, unless he finds the one true God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is not the Jesus of Mormonism.

Here are some thoughts on this from Mike:

The Divine Destiny event was especially religious in nature, and also very ecumenical. Sadly, we had a devout Mormon essentially leading many evangelicals, as well as many of other faiths, in basically a Christian (worship) service. I am the treasurer in a local tea party group. I have firmly believed in the tea party movement’s desire to get our government back to the Constitution and electing officials of character who believe in conservative principles and live by them. Many in the tea party movement are evangelical Christians. However, people in this country are getting so desperate for leaders who can help in restoring America that they are throwing discernment, if they had it to start with, out the window. I believe most all conservative Christians backed Glen Beck when he was only speaking politics and our nation’s history and principles, but it needed to stop there. But now that a cult member has moved to the forefront of spiritual leadership, we are in bigger trouble than ever. God will not honor those who compromise truth, no matter how worthy the goal. Fortunately some evangelicals are speaking up and standing for truth, and we need to stand with them. Only by holding to the Word of God can we avoid being deceived. I fear for our nation and our church, and we are all just doing a small part, which I believe God will honor if we hold to His Word, and keep Christ first, and country second.

Many blessings,
Mike

From Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries:

THE JESUS OF GLENN BECK

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Aug 27, 2010

Being an online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries does not involve itself in politics per se; however, there are times when those issues will cross, as is the case with popular conservative talk show host Glenn Beck with his Divine Destiny event. Lately it’s becoming more apparent that Beck, who is a baptized member in good standing with the non-Christian cult of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), has been trying to portray himself as a Christian.

When you meet people from the LDS faith, they will often say to you: “We’re Christians too, because we believe in the Savior Jesus Christ.” However, the defining area concerning whether one is a Christian or not is what they teach concerning the historic Person Jesus of Nazareth, Whom the Bible teaches is the Christ—God Himself in human flesh.

Using the old TV show To Tell The Truth as a backdrop in Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? I used the benefit of my 23+ years in the study of Comparative Religion to “personalize” various Jesuses one is likely to encounter.

Following is the Mormon “Jesus” as he might introduce himself:

I am the Jesus Christ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). My original Church went through a total apostasy and I took the Priesthood from the earth. In 1820 by one account—as there are nine different accounts—I appeared, with Heavenly Father, to Joseph Smith who would be the prophet to restore my Church. I told him that everything the historic Christian Church had taught was an abomination in my sight and that all who believe in those doctrines are corrupt. I am the spirit child who was born first to Heavenly Father, whose name is Elohim, and who has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.

Elohim was once a man who lived on the planet Kolob. He died and was resurrected by his father—after earning his way to godhood—as did his father before him, and so on back. Heavenly Father pro-created all of us through sexual relations with one of his celestial wives, and we are all his spirit children. I was born first; next was Lucifer, and then on down the line comes you. When the head of the gods—of which there are countless numbers—called a council of the gods I came up with a better plan of salvation than my brother Lucifer did. So I became the Savior for Heavenly Father’s children on earth. I was conceived for my earthly mission when Heavenly Father came down and had sexual relations with his daughter the Virgin Mary.

I sweat great drops of blood for your sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then on the cross I finished my work; and because of that atonement, all persons on this earth are going to be resurrected. And so now you have a chance to earn your way to becoming a god, just like me, by working the Gospel Principles taught by the Mormon Church. But be careful because my blood was not sufficient to cover some of your sins as my prophet Brigham Young once taught for me. He said, “There’s not a man or woman who violates the covenant made with their God that will not be required to pay that debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out. [And y]our own blood must atone for it.”

So the question we need to ask Glenn Beck is: Which Jesus Christ do you believe in; Jesus Christ of Nazareth—of the historic biblical record—or one of the myriad impostors; to further answer this question, below you can see for yourself what the Mormon Church, to which Glenn Beck belongs, actually teaches about Christ Jesus. Let us first consider this from Gospel Principles, which is an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The following comes from chapter 2:

God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. “All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body.” (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 78, 80)

Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities. If we choose to do so, we can become perfect, just as they are.
(Online source, emphasis mine)

And then in the next chapter we read:

We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27)… Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).” (Online source, emphasis mine)

How about this from the book Our Search For Happiness–An Invitation To Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—written by Mormon Apostle M. Russell Ballard:

our spiritual selves, if you will — existed along with the rest of our Heavenly Father’s spirit children. Jesus was the greatest of these spirits. He was the first-[one]-born…and He held a special place of honor with the Father “before the world was”… In that capacity He helped implement the plan that would bring us all to earth to obtain physical bodies and experience the vicissitudes of mortality so we could grow in our ability to obey God’s commandments once we heard and understood them. (9, emphasis mine)

In the LDS book of “Scripture,” known as The Doctrine And Covenants, Jesus is alleged to have spoken this to the so-called prophet Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church:

And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; And all those through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are of the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;… (93:21-23).

This is from the official website of the Mormon Church where we read:

Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University, Logan, Utah. On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. (Online source, emphasis mine)

And then finally Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) sums this post up well for us in the following from his classic textbook The Kingdom of the Cults when he points out that the “Jesus” of the LDS Church is clearly not the Christ of Biblical revelation:

The Savior of Mormonism, however, is an entirely different person, as their official publications clearly reveal. The Mormon “Savior” is not the second person of the Christian Trinity,… Mormons reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and he is not even a careful replica of the New Testament Redeemer.

In Mormon theology, Christ as a preexistent spirit was not only the spirit brother of the devil (as alluded to in The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1-4, and later reaffirmed by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 13:282), but celebrated his own marriage to “Mary and Martha, and the other Mary,” at Cana of Galilee, “whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 4:259; 2:82)…[and] the Mormon concept of the Virgin Birth alone distinguishes their “Christ” from the Christ of the Bible. (252, emphasis mine)

Ken Silva

Associated links to read:

From Eric Barger: This is a pdf document with Eric Barger’s statement: http://www.ericbarger.com/An_Open_Letter_Concerning_Glenn_Beck.pdf

From Brannon Howse: Glenn Beck Rally Set Stage for “Christians” to Accept Paganism, and Mormons Say Beck Achieved 200 Year Goal of Getting Evangelicals to Declare That Mormons Are Christians

On Darwin and Darwinism: A Letter to Professor Giberson

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.  In this letter responding to Professor Karl Giberson of Eastern Nazarene College, he points out the dangers of “Christian” professors who erode trust in the Bible with their promotion and teaching of evolution, a theory that essentially says the Bible is filled with lies.  I continue to ask the question, “is this the kind of teaching that exemplifies what a Christian college, in this case a Nazarene college, should be allowing?”  Next week, I will be posting some thoughts on what options are available to those who believe that evolution is totally contradictory to God’s word, that its underlying philosophy is dangerous to the spiritual well being of our students, and therefore has no place in our Christian universities.

On Darwin and Darwinism: A Letter to Professor Giberson

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Originally posted at AlbertMohler.com


An open letter to Professor Karl Giberson, in answer to his posting, “How Darwin Sustains My Baptist Search for Truth.”

Dear Professor Giberson:

I read with interest your posting at The Huffington Post, brought to my attention by friends. I will respond by means of this open letter, though your tone and chosen forum are not indicative of any serious desire for an honest exchange. Your choice of a secular website, well known for its more liberal leanings, is quite a statement in itself. Did you write this in order to gain the favorable attention of the readers at The Huffington Post? If so, presumably you have your reward. But your tone — hardly the tone of a serious scholar or scientist — is even more disappointing.

You make quite a shocking list of accusations. You suggest that I do not “seem to care about the truth” and that I seem “quite content to make stuff up when it serves [my] purpose.” Those are not insignificant charges. You say that I “made false statements about [Charles] Darwin.” I would not want to do that, so I have once again looked carefully at the evidence.

I have read your posting several times, and it seems that your central complaint comes down to one or possibly two sentences in my address to the 2010 Ligonier Ministries National Conference. Indeed, you provide a link to the transcript of my address that was posted at the BioLogos site. You point to this section of my address: “Darwin did not embark upon the Beagle having no preconceptions of what exactly he was looking for or having no theory of how life emerged in all of its diversity, fecundity, and specialization. Darwin left on his expedition to prove the theory of evolution.”

You complain that this was a misrepresentation of Darwin, and you answer that with considerable bombast. In your words: “Of course, Mohler may simply have made a mistake. He is, after all, a theologian and not a historian. He could have gotten this wrong idea from any number of his fellow anti-Darwinians. However, I don’t think so. In his address he read from my book Saving Darwin, in which I took some pains to correct the all-too-common misrepresentation of Darwin he presented. So, unless he was just cherry-picking ideas from my book that he wanted to assault, he should have known better. But let us bend over backwards here and give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps his only real encounter with Saving Darwin was an instruction to an assistant to ‘find something in Giberson’s book that I can ridicule in my speech.’”

No, I can assure you that my encounter with Saving Darwin comes through reading the book quite thoroughly and more than once. You are at great pains to present an understanding of Darwin that will appeal to conservative Christians who are committed to biblical Christianity. You have a great challenge in this respect, and I seriously doubt you will make much headway. You are determined to convince biblical Christians to accept evolution. I seriously doubt you will make much progress through your book.

In making my argument, I did not need to “cherry-pick” ideas from your book. Nor do I need to misrepresent Darwin and his views. I would be most interested and concerned to find that I have in any way misquoted or misrepresented you. I am confident that your larger problem with the Christian public is in being understood, rather than in being misunderstood. You are straightforward in your celebration of evolution, and you utterly fail to demonstrate how an embrace of evolution can be reconciled with biblical Christianity. Your rejection of an historical Adam and Eve is one precise point at which the Gospel of Christ is undermined, and your proposed “new and better way to understand the origins of sin” is incompatible with the Bible’s clear teaching.

The theory of evolution is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ even as it is in direct conflict with any faithful reading of the Scriptures. Darwin’s historic role in the development of evolutionary theory is central and significant, but the theological objections to evolution are not centered in the person of Darwin, but in the structure and implications of his theory of natural selection.

But, given the specific nature of your complaint, I now cite the larger context of the statement from the provided transcript of my Ligonier address:

The second great challenge was the emergence of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Coming at the midpoint of the 19th century, we need to be reminded that Darwin was not the first evolutionist. We need to be reminded that Darwin did not embark upon the Beagle having no preconceptions of what exactly he was looking for or having no theory of how life emerged in all of its diversity, fecundity, and specialization. Darwin left on his expedition to prove the theory of evolution. A theory that was based upon the fossil record and other inferences had already been able to take the hold of some in Western civilization. The dawn of the theory of evolution presents a direct challenge to the traditional interpretation of Genesis and, as we shall see, to much more.

You cannot possibly disagree with any sentence of this paragraph, save one. Darwin was certainly not the first evolutionist. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a well-known evolutionist long before Charles Darwin set foot aboard the Beagle. One difficulty here, of course, is the word “evolution,” which was not even Charles Darwin’s preferred word. In any event, evolutionary ideas were already present within Victorian society in Britain, even if it would be left to Charles Darwin to develop the theory of natural selection. I do not deny the intellectual impact of Darwin’s own theory. Evolution is not often known as “Darwinism” by accident.

The one sentence central to your complaint is this: “Darwin left on his expedition to prove the theory of evolution.” Upon further reflection, I would accept that this statement appears to misrepresent to some degree Darwin’s intellectual shifts before and during his experience on the Beagle. At the same time, the intellectual context of Darwin’s times (and of his own family, in particular) leave no room to deny that some form of developmentalism had to be in the background of his own thinking, presumably consistent with his own acceptance of a natural theology and an argument from design. Long before Charles Darwin reached adulthood, his own grandfather had affirmed the “natural ascent” of all life. I am happy to correct any misrepresentation of Charles Darwin’s intellectual ambitions, but that sentence has no consequential bearing upon my larger argument or on my rejection of Darwinism.

And if a misrepresentation of Charles Darwin is the central issue, I must insist that it is you who offers the truly dangerous misrepresentation. In Saving Darwin, you attempt at great lengths to present Charles Darwin as a rather conventional and orthodox Christian, prior to his later loss of faith. You state that he was “born to a well-to-do British family who, despite having some unorthodox characters listed in the family Bible, raised him in the Anglican Church, educated him in an Anglican school, and put him on the train to Edinburgh to study medicine.”

This hardly seems adequate or straightforward. The “some unorthodox characters listed in the family Bible” included both his father and his paternal grandfather. His mother’s family was Unitarian in belief, rejecting the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. Even as Charles Darwin was nominally involved in the Anglican Church, largely through the influence of his sister and brother-in-law after the death of his mother, his involvement and exposure appears to me largely incidental to his life. He later married a woman of Unitarian convictions as well.

It is certainly true that Charles Darwin was directed to become an Anglican clergyman by his unbelieving father, but this was a social tradition for second sons of the developing British middle class. As Randal Keynes, Darwin’s own great-great-grandson explains, “His idea was to become a country parson, caring for his parishioners but living for natural history.” And, as the authoritative biographers Adrian Desmond and James Moore recount, “Dr. Darwin, a confirmed freethinker, was sensible and shrewd. He had only to look around him, recall the vicarages he had visited, [and] ponder the country parsons he entertained at home. One did not have to be a believer to see that an aimless son with a penchant for field sports would fit in nicely. Was the church not a haven for dullards and dawdlers, the last resort of spendthrifts? What calling but the highest for those whose sense of calling was nil?”

Of far greater concern is your tendency to appear to agree with some of Darwin’s complaints against biblical Christianity. You claim that he “boarded the Beagle with his childhood Christian faith intact,” but then add, “although he had begun to wonder about the historicity of the more fanciful Old Testament stories, like the Tower of Babel.” This is insignificant? Are we to understand that you, too, see that biblical account as “fanciful”? You explain that Darwin, “like most thoughtful believers,” began to distance himself from the doctrine of hell — a doctrine you describe as “a secondary doctrine that even many conservatives reject.”

If your intention in Saving Darwin is to show “how to be a Christian and believe in evolution,” what you have actually succeeded in doing is to show how much doctrine Christianity has to surrender in order to accommodate itself to evolution. In doing this, you and your colleagues at BioLogos are actually doing us all a great service. You are showing us what the acceptance of evolution actually costs, in terms of theological concessions.

I stand by my address in full, and only wish I had been able to address these issues at even greater length in that context. I plan to do that over the next few months. I greatly regret that you have committed yourself to a cause that I can see as incompatible with the Scripture and destructive to the Christian faith.

Sincerely,

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President

Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Divorced From Church: Part 1

(written by “Jane Doe”)

I am sharing this story with my fellow Nazarenes not to be divisive or cause disunity, but to open peoples’ eyes to what they may be occurring in their own church.  I am changing my name, my husband’s name and the church’s name because it is not my desire to cause any problems for anyone involved.

I and my husband were raised in the Nazarene church, went to a Nazarene college and my father-in-law was a Nazarene pastor.  We have always been fairly open-minded. We like hymns, but sing choruses just as well;  we don’t mind drums and guitar; we have attended churches that double as gymnasiums. . . no problem.

When we started attending “X Church of the Nazarene” (XCN) we were immediately drawn in.  We became very involved, and built very, very strong friendships and really felt like we were “growing spiritually”.  This seemed to me like just about the most amazing, alive, growing church I had ever been a part of.  The pastor was wonderful.  We had him VERY high on a pedestal and felt very cheated when we missed his sermons.

We attended that church for maybe a year and a half all together, I guess.  We told everyone we knew how wonderful this church was, how wonderful the people were and how full of love the pastor was . . . and meant every word completely.  We secretly gave. . . we gave to the pastor when he had financial need, we gave to friends who were in need, gave whenever there was a need, tithed over and above.  The pastor called us “one of the pillars of the church”.  He said something to the effect that we were the unofficial leaders of the young adults.

Things changed, however, with three situations:

One was when we started being introduced to the teachings of a pastor named Rob Bell. His series “NOOMA” (which is a phonetical spelling of “pneuma”, meaning breath. . . you’ll understand as you read further) started being used in morning worship.  On the surface, these teachings sounded biblically sound and were deep and thought-provoking.  One couple that we were very good friends with at XCN encouraged us to read his book, “Velvet Elvis”.  She (the wife, who was also on the church board) said that the pastor asked the church board to read this book.  They had apparently read it and been crazy about it.  (More about this later.)

The second was when my husband was at the mens’ Bible study at XCN (he had just started going to this) and they were asked to close their eyes and start meditating. Now we do believe that the Bible says to meditate on God’s Word, but we never understood it to mean clearing your mind and closing your eyes in a group, etc.  This concerned my husband, along with a particular “NOOMA” that stated that Peter sank in the water because he didn’t have faith in himself, not Jesus.  I really scoffed at my husband’s concerns. . . after all this is a NAZARENE CHURCH we are talking about, not Jehovah’s Witness or a(nother) cult!!  When you are born and raised in a denomination, you are much less likely to question its teachings.

The third was when another couple, our close friends, who were new Christians told us that our pastor told them during membership class that the Nazarene denomination did not have a problem with drinking alcohol.

Anyway, I decided to read the book “Velvet Elvis” for myself.  What I read was very shocking (and I sincerely hope and pray that you don’t subject yourself to reading this . . . it is a dangerous lie that will eat away your faith.  It took me several months to recover my ability to read my Bible without seeing it through the “eyes” of Velvet Elvis.  It reminded me of Satan in the garden when he said to Eve “Did God really tell you not to eat from the tree of life?”, and went on to reshape her mind.

In my opinion, the whole premise of Velvet Elvis is that truth is not something you can be certain of. . . including the truth of the Bible, the truth of the story of Jesus (He may have just been a regular guy that got elevated to a tall tale.)  If you have seen the movie, The Da Vinci Code (which, by the way, was recommended by the pastor of XCN and, consequently, I watched), you will understand what I am talking about.

ANYWAY, because our close friend who was on the board told us the following things:

1) The pastor called Rob Bell “HIS pastor”. . . in other words, the person he looks to for spiritual guidance.

2) They said that he listens to the sermons of this pastor online every week and that he wanted to be on Rob Bell’s staff.  And I myself had heard him singing the praises of Rob Bell.

3) I was told (can’t remember who by) that Velvet Elvis was recommended reading for the District.  I never confirmed this either way.

I decided that it was necessary for me to research this Rob Bell, because this was the direction where I saw my church heading.

What I found were sermons that twisted the Word of God into CONTRADICTIONS of the Word of God by going back to the original Hebrew or Greek and then using an alternate meaning of that word.  In this way, he (for example) stated that Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself (A) testifies with our spirit that we are (B) children of God” was interpreted to mean that the Holy Spirit is attained by our spirit, which he took back to the original Hebrew (or Greek?) to mean “breath”.  He went on to say that if we need more of the Holy Spirit, we needed to do more deep breathing.  He actually taught breathing techniques during this sermon and he and the congregation participated in this for several minutes!  This sermon has been taken off of Rob Bell’s church site, but I do have a link that may still work.  He has also invited Directors of “spiritual centers” to come in and teach techniques to the congregation.

Anyone who is grounded in the Word of God and prayerfully prepares themselves can go to the Mars Hill website (this is the name of his church) and listen to several of his sermons.  It takes a discerning ear and the knowledge of the context of the scriptures he quotes to catch the subtle twists of scripture.  He is extremely skilled at making his point sound biblical when, in fact, it is contrary to scripture if read with full knowledge of the scripture. (Most in his congregation are new/atypical “Christians” who have very little knowledge of the Bible.)

All of the above was what led us to leave the church.  We first met with the pastor and discussed our concern about “Velvet Elvis”.  We were first told that this was recommended to the board in the same way you might recommend a book about Muslims, etc., that it was to gain a defense against the ideas in the book.

I asked the pastor to read my critique of the book and give me his thoughts on the same ideas.  He agreed and we set a date to meet again.

In the meantime, I did the above research on Rob Bell and became increasingly concerned.  We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone.  What concerned me the most was that I found an outline of a series of sermons of Rob Bell’s and it was nearly IDENTICAL to an outline our pastor emailed to me during this time regarding the direction XCN was heading.  I took this as God’s confirmation to me that this was a serious problem and that it was not just my imagination.  Also in my research, I began to see a pattern of sermon imitation.  I noticed phrases, ideas and quotes of Rob Bell that were identical to what I had heard preached from the pulpit.

Our pastor was concerned about his credentials (though I never thought of taking this above him).  He was also worried that we would take many of the young people with us if we left.  What we were hoping for is that he would just see something he had missed about Velvet Elvis and renounce it.  We did NOT want to leave our church.  We just wanted to open our pastor’s eyes about the dangerous path we were on.

Unfortunately, when we met the second time (this time with a former D.S. at the pastor’s request so there would be a mediator (and in our case, a witness. . . someone of high respect in the church to help our pastor see the error). . . our pastor took a different stand.  He defended Rob Bell completely and let us know in no uncertain terms that we were wrong.  The former D.S. at first defended our pastor. . . but after we played the “Spirit” sermon I mentioned above, he became very concerned as well.

If our pastor had shown us that night that he saw that Rob Bell was not someone he should look to for leadership and direction, we might still be at that church.

We sorrowfully left that church.  I compared it to a horrible divorce.  We loved those people very deeply and miss them still.

I want to be clear about one thing. . . there is nothing wrong with change.  There is nothing (in my opinion) wrong with music with a beat.  I believe that people who go into a church LOOKING for evil will find it in some form or other.  We are all human and we ALL have failures.  I am not writing this so people will go out and try to sniff out evil in their church.

I am writing so that people won’t just take everything that is presented to them as truth. . . that you will be fully grounded, yourself, in the Bible. . . that you will have your eyes open to what direction your church is heading (and hopefully head it off at the pass if it goes this direction) and most of all, that you won’t be deceived by the lies that are so rampant in the Emergent Church movement and similar movements and books.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Here are some links to insights on Rob Bell:

The Scoop on NOOMA (This was one of the first links I gave in 2008 when i started warning about Rob Bell)
http://watchwoman.blog.ca/2009/09/21/o-who-of-little-faith-7007262/ (includes a video sermon by Cameron Buettle critiquing the “walking on water” sermon by Bell)

http://www.viddler.com/explore/GoodNewsTo/videos/12/ (Watch with care and discernment, this is Rob Bell himself.  He is very good at twisting words and historical accounts)

Additional Resource, Eric Barger’s Article: Divorced From Church

New Statement On Emergent Church By The General Superintendents

“If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:3

A disclaimer of sorts first: today’s opinion may not be well received by some, perhaps even by some of my best friends.  Maybe some of you will ask me to remove your name from my mailing list, but my goal is not the largest mailing list possible, but to seek the truth at all times.  So I can no longer let some kind of polite etiquette hinder me from expressing my thoughts on what many believe to be perhaps the most serious crisis the Church of the Nazarene is facing.

I am not a bigshot; I don’t pretend to be a powerful influential authority, just because I have a blog.  Some of you are much more intellectual than me and know more Bible verses than I do.  All I am is a concerned Nazarene.   In fact, I am really first and foremost a concerned Christian.  This emergent church problem is affecting practically all evangelical denominations, and I do not have any less concern for non-Nazarenes who may be affected by this problem.  So today I am going to give my unvarnished opinion, for what it’s worth, and to whoever will listen to me with prayerful consideration, about the latest statement by the Board of General Superintendents, which they just recently posted on the main Nazarene website.  At the end is a link to the full statement, so you can read the entirety of it in context.

As I eagerly went to the link on the Nazarene website to read the new statement, I did not have a clue as to what would be said. I knew that most likely, I would have two reactions: either one of disappointment, or one of hope or cautious hope.  And so when I finally read it, my reaction at the end was fairly quick: disappointment.  Let me tell you why, and give a few comments (in bold italics) on selected parts of the statement.

I have been fighting the emergent church movement for nearly two years now.  I am not alone, because I have joined many others in this fight all across the country, and even around the world.  In that time, I have seen much that has been truly heartbreaking, as well as frightening.  Much of what I have seen leads me to believe that we are truly seeing the great apostasy that the scriptures have prophesied.

First, the most difficult things for me to handle are not necessarily the factual information about such heretics and false teachers as Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Richard Foster, and Leonard Sweet.  Certainly that is disturbing to see these men being allowed to wield such influence in a holiness denomination.  These are all men who practically spit on God’s word, in one way or another, albeit sometimes with a kind smile as they do it.  Why they are allowed a forum in the Nazarene denomination is one question I would like to ask the leadership.

But there are two difficult things I am having trouble with, and the second one being more troubling.  First, I am very troubled by the many emails I have received over the last year or two.  many, but not all, were from Nazarenes telling me stories of how they were practically run out of their church, because they were questioning why such strange practices were being introduced to the congregation.  Or they simply gave up and left the denomination because there was no longer a Nazarene church within close driving distance that really preached God’s word.  Or churches that “divorced” themselves from the denomination.  Or stories of churches losing hundreds of members in some cases, because of emergent ideology.  Or churches close to closing because of, again, almost everyone leaving.  Or several other churches that have split, with a group of people separating and starting their own congregation.  That has been very difficult for me to process, although I welcome getting these stories, because I actually have been able to help some of them because of what happened to me, and knowing what to advise them.  The second and most difficult thing I have had to wrestle with, will be mentioned at the end of my comments.

So when I read this statement by the Generals, I said to myself, is that all there is?  With so many people’s future in the balance, and more importantly, souls in the balance, this is it?  Have they not received a message from enough concerned Nazarenes to understand that something is terribly wrong?  When they found out that 6,000 DVDs were passed out at General Assembly, and they each received their own copy, did they not have some idea of trouble brewing in our churches and universities?   (I assume they received the DVDs because it was promised by the General Secretary that they would get them).  Did they view the DVDs, and if so, what did they think of the information?  Have they had enough time in one year to assess what is going on in our universities, and if so, what do each of them think about it?  Have they prayerfully considered the content of the DVDs, and the implications of such things if they are truly going on in the denomination?  (Believe me, it is happening).   One would think they have processed enough information coming from not only concerned laypeople, but pastors, evangelists, and district superintendents.  In relation to scripture only, what are their specific thoughts on: open theism, process theology, prayer labyrinths, contemplative prayer, lectio divina, bringing in pagan practices into our churches, secular music played in worship services, trips to monasteries to fellowship and practice the silence with monks, and the big one for me: the infallibility, authority, and sufficiency of scripture, or denial of scripture as the word of God?  There’s more, but I would like some answers to these questions.

Here are a few of their selected comments and my thoughts:

“There are several issues related to “the emergent church.” Some are helpful and positive; others are problematic and troubling.”

Problem #1: They did not specify what is helpful and what is not- again!  This has been the same kind of response in past statements.  So with this statement, we are once again kept in the dark as to what is good, and what is perhaps bad.  I would like to believe that our leaders are responsible for giving us guidance, yet how can they give us guidance, when they do not give specific answers?  How can so many Nazarenes continue walking down a dark road, possibly stepping on harmful things, unless that road has been lit up in front of them?  In other words, this statement does nothing at all but maintain the confusion and uncertainty as to where our top leadership stands.

“There are authors with a significant readership who readily identify themselves as “emergent church leaders.” They are aware of the Church’s need to increase its engagement with society. Some are completely orthodox in their theology and views of Scripture, but others embrace positions that the Church of the Nazarene would view as unorthodox and therefore unacceptable.”

This is the same as problem #1!  Again, I ask, who are the completely orthodox authors, and who are the unorthodox and unacceptable!  Are we left to fend for ourselves for a time again, until the next statement comes out?  In the meantime, many are unsure what is good and what is bad.  Many continue to wonder if  Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen (two heretics) are acceptable in their theology and views of scripture, or not.
And does the church primarily need to engage with society, or is it not clearer to say: “the church’s need to bring the gospel to the lost in society?”

“The Board of General Superintendents neither endorses nor affirms “emergent churches” or leaders who are not orthodox in their theology.”

Again, who is orthodox or not?  Is Leonard Sweet orthodox, and why?  And if not, will they be banned from continuing to spread their false teachings?

“Issues involved in discussions such as these are often complex. The communication is sometimes at inappropriate volume levels.”

First of all, there are some issues that are not complex, such as the use of pagan prayer labyrinths.  Is that compatible with a holiness denomination? And I’m sure folks like me may have sometimes raised the volume a bit higher, but there is a good reason for that, as I will state at the end.

“The Board of General Superintendents is engaged in study and conversations with numerous Nazarene scholars, pastors, districts superintendents and laity on this subject. Each general superintendent continues in prayer and in a careful search for what is true and best in all things related to Scripture and mission.”

With all due respect, how long will this take? So many Nazarenes have made their decision to leave the denomination, because they had the biblical discernment to know what is right or wrong, and could not accept false teachings to harm them or their children.  How long will we wait until our leadership will give us definitive answers?  To me, this is the most important question.  Which leads me to explain what bothers me the most.

While we dance with these issues, and continue in a “conversation”, what happens to some of our students at the universities?  Perhaps it might be one of yours that I’m talking about.  While we wait until some definitive answers come from leadership, perhaps your very own child will walk away from the Lord. That is my biggest concern.  Perhaps a really positive decision will come in two or three years time, but if one child walks away from the faith, what consolation is that, for that child, and also for the parents of that child, who trusted the university to keep them from bad influences.  Who will answer to that?

I believe that much of the evangelical world is watching as we deal with this.

We need specific answers from our leaders, and we need them fast.  Too much is at stake, including the future of the Church of the Nazarene.

Please pray for our leadership that something will be done very soon.

Manny Silva

Concerned Christian

Following is the full statement by the General Superintendents, and the link to the website:

http://www.nazarene.org/ministries/superintendents/statements/emergent/display.aspx


A Statement on the Emergent Church
As a denomination of 2 million members in 156 world areas, there are conversations on a variety of topics taking place within the Church of the Nazarene.

One discussion centers on “emergent” or “emerging” churches. This subject creates confusion and conflict in some circles. There are several issues related to “the emergent church.” Some are helpful and positive; others are problematic and troubling. This is compounded because those who self-identify as “emerging” reflect a wide array of positions and perspectives and differ among themselves.

There are authors with a significant readership who readily identify themselves as “emergent church leaders.” They are aware of the Church’s need to increase its engagement with society. Some are completely orthodox in their theology and views of Scripture, but others embrace positions that the Church of the Nazarene would view as unorthodox and therefore unacceptable.

Some of our pastors, superintendents and lay members believe that there is a certain segment within the Church of the Nazarene who is embracing a new “movement” filled with risks to our theological coherence as a denomination. They fear this direction will only serve to undermine the Church of the Nazarene with heresy.

Their concerns are seemingly reinforced by a few “emergent” leaders who have made statements that to them are troubling. These comments reflect theological positions denying several of the basic tenets of Scripture and orthodox Christianity as held by the Church of the Nazarene in our Articles of Faith.

There are others within our denomination, including pastors, superintendents and scholars, who view the concept of an “emerging” church as a positive and hopeful expression of what it means to be the Church. They are seeking to genuinely come to terms with ministry in a complex and rapidly-changing culture. Their goal is to demonstrate the relevance of biblical truth through incarnational and transformational living.

This latter group is deeply committed to the authority and infallibility of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives, communities, and nations. They are often engaged with the brokenness in society through active, compassionate ministries working diligently to bring renewal, conversion, and transformation.

The Board of General Superintendents neither endorses nor affirms “emergent churches” or leaders who are not orthodox in their theology. “We Believe,” the statement issued by the BGS, clearly articulates the position of the Board regarding the Articles of Faith, the values, and the mission stated in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene, encouraging Nazarenes everywhere to join them in embracing these vital truths. (See “Official Statements” on the nazarene.org website.)

The involvement of many Nazarenes in this conversation reveals a sincere desire to embrace our missional objectives. They are attempting to reach the emerging cultures around us while clearly articulating an orthodox interpretation of Scripture and theology.

John Wesley, founder of Methodism and a firm believer in the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify and cleanse the heart of all unrighteousness, was intentionally and forcefully engaged in the social needs around him. In that same tradition, P. F. Bresee established the first “Church of the Nazarene” with a focus on both the physical and spiritual needs of people while calling men and women to make a total commitment to Christ and to the fullness of the Spirit in cleansing and heart purity.

This is the objective toward which Nazarenes, including those engaged in ministry to emerging cultures, are committed.

Any conversation of this nature carries with it the risk of being misunderstood or being classified with positions that are not healthy or appropriate. Issues involved in discussions such as these are often complex. The communication is sometimes at inappropriate volume levels.

Nonetheless, it is our hope and prayer that those in the Church of the Nazarene who are engaged in this conversation will do so with grace and humility. We believe it is possible to move beyond mischaracterizations, embrace what is legitimate, and reject any unorthodox positions without hesitation.

The Board of General Superintendents is engaged in study and conversations with numerous Nazarene scholars, pastors, districts superintendents and laity on this subject. Each general superintendent continues in prayer and in a careful search for what is true and best in all things related to Scripture and mission.

While the Board does not embrace anything that is heretical it does encourage healthy conversations among Nazarenes who are part of a holiness and Great Commission church.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ who lived, died, and was resurrected to save the lost and broken of the whole world. He is coming again, to set to right all things. The mission He gave to His Church was to announce and embody the Kingdom, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to visit the sick and imprisoned. His mission is our mission as well.

Board of General Superintendents
August 2010
bgs@nazarene.org

Meeting The True Soldiers In the Battle

1 Timothy 1:18-20  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

By tonight, I will have returned from Canton, Ohio, where Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries, spent two days at Grace Brethren Church.  Eric is a Christian apologist who has been traveling all around the country for over 27 years now, warning the body of Christ of false movements, such as the New Age, the emergent church, and many more.  On Saturday, he spoke in the morning on the dangers of the emerging church, and in the afternoon session, the topic was about how the popular novel, The Shack, is deceiving so many Christians today, even though it is a book filled with heresies and blasphemous doctrine.  On Sunday, he preached in the morning on the truth and reliability of the Bible, and finished in the evening with a talk on the “real Jesus vs. the counterfeits.”  Eric is a true soldier in the fight for the true gospel. Eric spent three days with us at the Nazarene General Assembly last June, helping Concerned Nazarenes to expose the heresies being introduced to the Nazarene denomination by way of the emergent church.  Please pray for him and his ministry, as Christians who do what he does are constantly under vicious attack by the enemy from within.  I am hoping that he can soon be invited by someone to speak in New England, where he has never spoken yet.

There were several more reasons to come to Ohio.  In the past two years, I have found many new brothers and sisters in Christ who are true Christian soldiers, while I was undertaking whatever efforts I could to fight false teachings in the church.  And it seems that for every friend I have lost because of standing for the truth, I have gained at least one or two more.  My list is long, but every single person who has joined me in this fight, via emails and the phone, has been a blessing and an encouragement, and in turn, I have also been able to help some of them as well, and I thank God for that, and nothing else.

A few of these soldiers is a small group of men in Canton, Ohio, who helped organize Eric’s seminar.  I met Aaron Wright about a year or so ago via email, and along with his father Troy, and Aaron’s brother, Adam, they have a ministry called Foundations Research Group in the Northern Ohio area. When Aaron and his family encountered false teachings of the emergent church in their former church, they did not close their eyes to it and pretend it did not exist.  They did not say, oh well, we’ll just have to live with it.  No, they boldly confronted the purveyors of false teaching and tried to show them the truth of God’s word.  The end result was that they made the decision to leave, rather than stick around and tolerate false teaching.

Their faithfulness has been rewarded with a ministry that is now helping Christians at their new church and in the community to equip themselves with knowledge of the emergent church, and at the same time, equipping and reinforcing others with a love for the scriptures, which is the best way to combat false teaching.  Grace Brethren Church, led by Pastor Joe Cosentino, is a shining light in this town where there does not seem to be much light, or much of a desire to fight false doctrines.  If you live in the Northern Ohio area, and are looking for a strong, Bible believing church, perhaps you should pay a visit to Grace Brethren.  These kinds of churches are becoming rare in the midst of all this apostasy.

And so God blessed the faithfulness of Aaron and his family, and led them to a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church whose pastor and leadership will not put up with the nonsense of emergent heresy or any other gospel except the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  So one of the reasons I went to Canton was to finally meet Aaron and his family, who are truly another new addition to my eternal family, the family of God.  We have shared information over the past year and helped each other with our ministries, and they have already made a big impact in their community and church.

But there were other soldiers that I just knew I had to meet when I came to Ohio.  There was Becky, her husband and young daughter, who came to the seminar.  I had met Becky over the internet as she was also finding herself and her family being thrown into turmoil, and again, the usual suspects were the purveyors of emergent church heresy. Their eyes were opened to the truth, and they had to walk away from their church as well.

Then there was Angie, and her friend Wendy.  These ladies are true soldiers as well, and for staying true to God, have also paid a price for it.  The tenacity and the determination of these two women, is an inspiration to me.  They will not be moved, they will not be pushed around or bullied by any false teacher.  Not even by the high-minded intellectuals with multiple PHds, nor by the smooth words of deceived pastors or anyone else.  They just want to faithfully compare and contrast everything they hear with the scriptures, and like the Bereans, prove that what they hear is faithful to the word of God.  They are solid sisters in Christ, and I am glad I got to finally see them personally.

There was also my good friend and brother in the Lord, Tim Wirth and his wife Donna, and I thank God for their friendship.  Tim started the Concerned Nazarenes website a few years ago, and was instrumental in helping get the DVD put together about the emerging church.  He was the first person that I actually made contact with when I first started stepping into the emergent mess, and has been a trustworthy friend who has given me solid advice, friendship, and encouragement.  Tim is also not well liked by a lot of emergents, which to me is a badge of honor for him, because he has a knack for exposing their false ideology, just by using the sharp-edged sword of God’s word against them.  I value his friendship; and the impact he has made in this battle as a missionary to the Nazarene denomination is immeasureable, and only God knows.  He and Donna are true and courageous soldiers in the fight against the apostasy of this age.

Finally, the only regret that I had was that there at least a few other soldiers from the Ohio area who could not make it to the seminar.  There was Brenda, who I have known also since the past year and a half.  She and her family chose to leave a Nazarene church because of emergent ideology, rather than stay and tolerate false teaching.  She has been a source of encouragement and advice and a real sister in the Lord.  And Beverly Turner could not make it this time, but I had hoped to see her as well.  She is a very brave Christian lady and evangelist who is not afraid to speak the truth about what has poisoned our denomination.  And then Rick Headley is also in Ohio, but I was not able to see him this time.  But he also has been an example of standing for God first, above anything else, including his own denomination.  He would not compromise, and like Brenda and Beverly, is a true soldier in this battle as well.  Finally, I thank God for a wife who has been behind me all the way, put up with my long hours of writing on some nights, was okay with me going on this trip, and who has also refused to compromise in any way her faith in Christ.  She knows the price that she has paid, but she would not change her mind if she could.  Her support has made this job I am doing a lot easier to do.  She is a soldier in this battle.

Folks, there are many more soldiers in this battle.  I only mention these friends now because of the Ohio connection and my trip there to see them.  There are so many more around this country and even around the world, who I have met, who are standing up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Someday, I will write about many more of them (with permission) and tell you how they have chosen to stand for the truth, and how they have blessed my life with their example.  This is why I call them soldiers.  A true soldier of Jesus Christ is someone who refuses to sit quietly on the sidelines while multitudes of young people and adults walk down the wide path of destruction towards hell, following a different Jesus.  And it does not take too many requirements to be a “true soldier”: just be faithful to Jesus Christ- completely faithful; and trust only in the word of God that is revealed in the Holy Bible.  It does not mean you have to write a blog like I do; it does not mean that you have to be a preacher or evangelist; or that you have to have a ministry like the one Aaron and his family has.  No, all it means is that you are willing to stand up for the truth, with whatever gifts God has given you, and be faithful to Jesus Christ and defend the gospel once for all delivered to the saints.

You see, if you had not noticed, there is a great apostasy spreading throughout the Christian world, dressed in the robes of a false Jesus. It does not matter what denomination: Nazarene, Brethren, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Salvation Army, Calvary Chapel, you name it.

It is here, it is deadly, and it is leading countless people down the road to hell with a false gospel, with another Jesus which is not of the Bible.  Don’t you see it yet?  And if you have seen it, what are you doing?  Are you going to be walking through the narrow gate, or have you been diverted to the wide path?

Are you willing to stand for the truth… no matter what the cost, and be a true soldier for Christ, like these friends decided to do?

2 Timothy 3:12-14 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

MannyAaronEricPastorJoe.JPG
Manny, Aaron Wright, Eric Barger, Pastor Joe Cosentino

EricAdamAaron.JPG
Eric, Adam Wright, Aaron Wright

TroyAndEric.JPG

Troy Wright, Eric

* Note to all emergents and New Agers and other false movements reading this: we will not let up in our battle for the truth.


Emergents Need Not Apply ( Interviewing Prospective Pastors)

2 Tim. 4:1-5 1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

So your church needs a new pastor?  Your longtime Bible believing, repentance preaching, “no-social-gospel nonsense” pastor is retiring?  And what, you are worried now?  I understand completely, although for me, thank God, I am not worrying about it. A true Bible believing pastor is getting harder and harder to find, and pastors eventually will retire or move on, and someone needs to take their place.  But who will come next?  Who can you trust to carry on the title of “undershepherd of the Great Shepherd?”  Well, perhaps some interview questions for anyone wanting the job, might be a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Here are some of my suggestions, and perhaps this criteria needs to be applied to our evolution-preaching, Bible-scoffing professors in the theology departments, at least as a way to screen which schools you send your child to:

Question 1: A simple Yes or No: Do you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God in everything it teaches?
Followup One:
If you answered No to Question 1, who and/or by what authority determines which teachings are in error, give some examples of those errors, and how you or others of like mind arrived at those conclusions.
Followup Two:
If you answered No, explain why any Christian should have confidence in the Bible if  parts of the divinely inspired Book are in error, or are just myths, even when they are plainly written as fact?
Followup Three:
Do you believe that the Bible is the Christian’s sole authority for our faith and practice, and that we need nothing else?
(Open Letter Concerning The Authority of Scripture; Inerrancy And The Wesleyan TraditionNazarenes And Biblical Inerrancy)

Question 2: Do you believe that God cannot know the future? (Open Theism)
Followup: If yes, how can we have confidence in the many Biblical prophesies in the Bible, if we say that God cannot know the future? (Why Bible Prophesy Is Important Today)

Question 3: Do you believe that God makes mistakes, and learns from those mistakes?  (Process Theology)

Question 4: Do you believe in sanctioning official ecumenical gatherings and functions together with a Roman Catholic Church?
Followup:
If Yes, is it okay then to also fellowship with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in their churches?  If not okay, what’s the difference and why, since JWs, Mormonism, and the RCC all teach false doctrines?   (Ecumenism Leads To Compromising The Gospel)

Question 5: Do you believe in evolution?
Followup:
If Yes, what is the biblical justification for denying the Genesis account of creation?  How do you explain the N.T. references to Adam and other Old Testament figures as real historical people, and not myths?  Could you explain Romans 5:12 and what it means?  (Theistic Evolution)

Question 6: In what ways does the Bible teach us to pray?  (Please provide biblical support for each explanation).
Followup:
If you are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, do you believe that it is biblical, and if so, please give solid scriptural reference that supports it.  (Contemplative PrayerLectio Divina)

Question 7: If a person denies the substitutionary atonement of the cross, and has suggested that people can find Jesus and stay within their own faith, and has described the cross as “almost false advertising for God”, please relate or contrast these statements with biblical teaching, and would you ever welcome him to speak to your congregation?  (Brian McLaren)

Question 8: This a test of your understanding of a certain Bible passage (Matt. 14:22-33).  If you heard Rob Bell teach that “when Peter started sinking in the water after starting to walk towards Jesus, that Peter did not lose faith in Jesus- he lost faith in himself”, what would be your reaction?  (O “Who” Of Little Faith?)

Question 9: Do you agree with emergent leader Tony Jones’ statement that unrepentent homosexuals can still be Christians?

Question 10: Is the use of prayer beads or prayer ropes biblical?  In other words, what is your opinion on the fact that Barefoot Ministries sells a book that promotes the use of prayer ropes.  (Roman Catholicism Taught To Nazarene Youth:  Part 1, and Part 2)

Question 11: Do you believe pastors should encourage their congregation to be Bereans, in other words, don’t automatically take their word for it, but search and verify the scriptures, as Paul commended the Bereans?  Or do you believe that pastors should never be questioned on anything they preach?

Question 12: Is it wise for a Christian university to invite a speaker, who comes in unchallenged and welcomed with open arms, when that speaker has promoted dangerous ideas, such as that “perhaps the Muslims have encountered the same God as we have encountered in Christianity?”

Question 13: Do you believe that the Kingdom of Heaven can be achieved here on earth through man’s efforts, similar to Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan?  Or do you believe that the kingdom will not be finally established until Christ’s return?

Question 14: Dallas Willard, whose books are listed as resources at Christian colleges, has said the following: “I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”  Please comment on this statement in relation to what the Bible teaches. (See Lighthouse Trails info)

Question 15: Contemplative prayer promoters have used Psalm 46:10 “Be still..” as a rationale for doing practices like “the silence”, or the repetitive Jesus Prayer.  What is Psalm 46 teaching us, and is it correct when contemplatives use it in this manner to justify their practices?  (Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative Prayer?)

Question 16: Do you ever preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or talk about our responsibility as Christians to judge everything that is taught?  Or do you preach that Christians should never, ever judge, and never ever name false teachers? (Judge Not?)  (Beware False Prophets, sermon by Voddie Baucham)

Question 17: Does a Christian college have the responsibility to protect their students from false teaching, or do you believe in exposing them to anything or anyone that comes in, and let them fend for themselves without any correction?

Question 18: Explain the plan of salvation as clearly as possible, and also explain to us who does, and who does not, get to heaven.
Well, these are my questions.  I’m sure your list might include more, as would my final list.  These days, you just can’t be sure.  It seems that many Christian universities and seminaries are mass producing too many future pastors who can’t even say they believe that the Bible (all of it) IS the word of God!  Perhaps a Bible believing church can save much time and effort, by simply asking the candidate the first question, before even scheduling an interview.  Frankly, why bother with the rest of the questions if your future pastor does not trust the whole Bible?

The answer an emergent pastor might give to Question # 1 may end up being a long, twisted, tortuous string of intellectually sounding words that inevitably means one thing: “no, I don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God.” I’ve seen these type of answers, and it is frightening what our universities and seminary is putting into the minds of these future pastors, and current ones as well.

On the other hand, it’s sadly possible that some people may just do the opposite, and actually want to have a pastor who does not believe in absolute truth; a pastor who picks and chooses what is “inerrant” in the scriptures, and what is not; who recommends books by mystics as good Christian reading; who waters down his sermons and does not hurt any feelings with tough-love gospel messages; who wants to clean up the neighborhood and feed people food, but not feed them what actually will save them for eternity.  In other words, someone who can tickle their “itching ears”, and give them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

My answer to question one is a simple yes.  What is yours?

Prominent Nazarene Theologian Embraces “Big Tent Christianity”

At General Assembly last year, I recall attending a session about the emerging church, presented by Jon Middendorf and Scott Daniels, two of the biggest pushers of this movement within our denomination.  Jon is pastor at Oklahoma City Nazarene, and is the son of current General Superintendent Jesse Middendorf.  In this session, I recall that amongst some of the typical emergent catch phrases I heard, such as “you can’t put God in a box”, and “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”, were some comments that referred to a “big tent” ideology.  In other words, the idea is that the Nazarene church is a big tent, and large enough to welcome and embrace or at least include in the “conversation”, a broader range of theological ideas outside of the stated articles of faith in the Nazarene manual.  I suspect some of those broader ideas would include: mysticism, use of Roman Catholic rituals, teaching of evolution, and even the belief that parts of the Bible are not necessarily true!  If anyone following this emergent drama really thinks by now that all Nazarene pastors and theology professors believe in biblical inerrancy, I have a bridge to sell to you.

The “big tent” concept is nothing more than liberalism.  Liberalism by its definition welcomes a broad range of ideas and beliefs, and theoretically is open to all ideas.  In my experience, that is true… until, of course, someone chimes in with their idea that there is absolute truth, and that some things cannot be tinkered with.  That’s when liberalism shows it’s hypocritical, nasty side, by vilifying those who believe in absolute truth.  It’s pretty easy then to show liberalism for what it is, an arrogant, destructive ideology that preaches openness to any idea, unless that idea says there is only one truth.

So along comes a conference this coming September called Big Tent Christianity: Being And Becoming The Church.  Philip Clayton, one of the big organizers, has written this about “big tent Christianity”:

“[It is] urgent … to reclaim a Big Tent Christianity, a centrist return to ‘just Christian’ in word and action. The two poles are driving each other ever further apart, spawning ever deeper hostilities. The solution — in American society as in the church — certainly is not to let the other’s anger fuel my own. As leaders it’s our task to help break the cycle of anger, of rejection leading to rejection, and to foster a radically different understanding of the heart of Christian faith.”

Huh?  What do you mean, reclaim?  Did we lose something?  What two poles?  What “radically different understanding”, after all these years of Christianity?

Well, anyway, here’s the theme as they post it on the website:

What does “big tent Christianity” mean to you? What does it look like in your context? What are your hopes and dreams for the Church?

So in preparation for the September conference, there is an online, week-long session from August 9-13, where you can go and post comments in response to these questions.  And… as a bonus, 15 bloggers will be chosen at random to receive two books, including A New Kind Of Christianity by Brian McLaren!  I suspect you know where this is going.  And then a big, big winner will get to attend a brunch with Brian McLaren at the conference!

(Just thinking: I wonder if the Holy scriptures and what it says will have any significant part in the “conversation” at this conference)

As I looked at the list of conferees, I saw that a scheduled panelist was Dr. Tom Oord of Northwest Nazarene University.  He is scheduled for the last session on the last day.  It is titled Big Tent Spirituality, and he will be joined by emergent stars Tim King and Spencer Burke, and a few others.  When I saw the other conferees, I said to myself, why would a Nazarene theology professor attend and be a panelist at such a conference, with the list of speakers who will be there?

Here are some of the presenters and either a brief summary, or a link to more on each of them.  They are all radical, committed emergent revolutionaries seeking to change the face of Christianity as we know, all for the betterment of Christians who cannot see with their vision.  See if this is the kind of company you would want to keep, and be seen with, as Tom Oord apparently does.

Brian McLaren: Godfather of the emergent movement, biggest name by far.  Believes that we have not gotten it right in over 2,000 years of Christianity.  Has called for a moratorium on homosexuality for five years, then for us to come back and see what we think about it.  Has described Christ’s death on the cross as “almost false advertising for God.”   And asked about homosexuality, he said this: “’You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.”  So much for clarity from a pastor on that issue.

He endorsed a book by Alan Jones called Reimagining Christianity that called the doctrine of the Cross a “vile doctrine.”  Brian McLaren wants us to learn more about ‘meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer one another’ (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 255.)

He is ecumenical:  in a letter to Chuck Colson, he said: “Several years back, you (Chuck Colson) tried to bring Evangelicals and Catholics together, an effort which I applaud and in which I am involved myself.”

Tony Jones: Promotes contemplative practices, including centering prayer, the silence, Jesus Prayer, the labyrinth, stations of the cross, the Ignatien Examen, yoga, Taize worship, lectio divina.  Has said that unrepentant practicing homosexuals can live in harmony with the Christian religion.

See this: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/tony-jones-of-the-emergent-church-rejects-the-doctrine-of-original-sin/

Phylis Tickle: author of  The Great Emergence
See this: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1785 and this: http://www.alittleleaven.com/2009/05/whats-being-taught-at-rob-bell.html

Peter Rollins: http://apprising.org/2009/05/27/rob-bell-peter-rollins-and-phyllis-tickle-together-advancing-emergence-christianity/

Jay Bakker (son of Jim Bakker): http://apprising.org/2010/01/25/emerging-church-jay-bakker-and-outlaw-preachers/

Nadia Bolz-Weber: http://apprising.org/2009/11/25/elca-pastor-nadia-bolz-weber-and-tattoo-faith/

Greg Boyd: a proponent of open theism and process theology.
See this: http://apprising.org/2009/06/19/bob-dewaay-refutes-open-theist-greg-boyd/

Tim King and Spencer Burke: http://apprising.org/2008/11/26/spencer-burke-im-a-universalist-who-believes-in-hell/
and: http://apprising.org/2010/02/02/in-the-emerging-church-ooze-conversion-is-out/ (This is amazing as Spencer Burke and Tim King spout off their non-biblical nonsense which smacks of universalism at times.  Folks, just listen to this 9 minutes and you will see a great example of what I mean when I say “religion of man.”  These men not only do not mention Christ during their talk, they reject conversion as something good!)

There are more, but this is just part of this star studded, emergent lineup that is very impressive.  All that’s missing is folks like Rob Bell and Tony Campolo to round it out.

All I want to know is, why would a Nazarene theology professor be part of this crowd, unless he agreed with their ideologies?  Will Dr. Oord present at this conference, and then later write a critique on all the warped ideologies these people teach?  Perhaps we can get a hint from one of his posts at his blog: http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/christian_and_scientific_fundamentalism/.  Here you will get an idea of his opinion of “fundamentalists.”  But there’s more, and if you take the time to read many of his posts there, you will get a good idea of where he is coming from.

And I don’t think that he is the only Nazarene theologian who would find himself comfortable participating in this conference.  I know some Nazarene pastors over at NazNet who would feel right at home in this conference, and that is what troubles me.  It is not just one person or professor I am questioning.  It is this heretical ideology (heretical, yes the no-no word) that is sweeping through the Nazarene and other Christian denominations like wildfire.  It is helping to produce our pastors of tomorrow.

Is it too late, and have all the horses been let out of the barn, so to speak?  Is this just an example of the ideology of many who are teaching in our universities today?  Can we reverse this in some way and be able to again produce more and more pastors and professors who preach and teach holiness, and a complete trust in the bible, and not in the religion of man?  It’s a question worth asking and getting an answer, because as I have said before, this kind of thinking and teaching could result in your child walking away from the Lord, and perhaps worshiping another Jesus.

Is that what you want?  If so, then be happy with it.  If not, then…

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Additional resource: Pastor Ken Silva’s commentary on Big Tent Christianity: http://apprising.org/2010/04/21/big-tent-progressive-christianity-as-liberalism-2-0/