Is Lectio Divina and Mysticism The Future Of Nazarene Theology and Practice?

[Evidence: Lectio divina is promoted by Nazarene Publishing House and Barefoot Ministries.  Lectio divina is promoted by at least one theology professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Lectio divina is part of at least one theology degree program at NTS.  It is also either part of a degree program, or it is promoted in many of the books and authors recommended as spiritual formation resources.  So the evidence is there.  I am planning a deeper study of all the components of these programs, but it’s there.  Let’s not pretend it does not exist.  Spiritual formation, aka contemplative spirituality is here, and every one of us will have to answer the question sooner or later: is it biblical or not?]

If any pastor preaches a sermon, it must always be assumed to be good and biblically solid, right?  If the professor at the university says something is okay, he must be right, right?  If a District Superintendent recommends The Shack as a great book for pastors to read, we should not question that, should we?  If a speaker comes to your Christian university or church, students should take for granted that he is biblically sound, right?  Why else would he have been invited in the first place?

In fact, does not the Bible teach us to never question our leaders, never question our pastors, no matter what they say?  I’ve been told that by several teachers.  Does not Matthew chapter 7 give us clear teaching that we should never, ever judge anything any leader, pastor, preacher, or church administrator say?  I do recall something about Bereans in the books of Acts, but perhaps someone can clear up what that passage means to us as Christians.  Must we accept at face value anything that is taught by a Sunday School teacher or a pastor, because if we challenge what he says, we are violating scripture?  “Touch not mine anointed” is what is often said, right?

So then… if the Nazarene Publishing House or our seminarypromotes it, it must be good, right?  I mean, after all, it is THE Nazarene Publishing House, which has put out new “solid” books such as the one titled 180.  Just read Pastor Peter Migner’s review of this book, or the review by Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries.  Once you read the reviews, you will have a good idea of the discernment at Nazarene Publishing House, or the lack thereof.

But I have a problem, which has been bugging me for a long time.  I’ve already posted several times on this issue, and what vexes me is that lectio divina is not as flat out blatant, in-your-face stuff like prayer labyrinths, which is why it is so dangerous.  It has that ability to fool many people that it is a biblically sound practice.  Such is what good deception is all about.  Satan does it very subtly, very cleverly, and with smooth words, as he did with Eve so long ago.

Doug Hardy, professor of religion at Nazarene Theological Seminary, gives much praise to the practice of lectio divina.  In his article, Lectio Divina: A Practice for Reconnecting to God’s Word, he explains lectio:

It means “sacred reading” of Scripture and its roots are with the Benedictines, a religious order founded by St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century c.e. It is still a vital presence throughout the world today. You may already be familiar with this classic Christian practice, or at least heard of it.

So here is at least one Nazarene theology professor (oh there are more) who is drawing on a Roman Catholic ritual that was invented by Benedictine monks in the sixth century.  So much for the Protestant Reformation.  So much for Luther’s theses nailed to the doors of the church, protesting the very rituals and man made practices that brought so many of us out of Rome and its false systems.  Now Nazarenes are borrowing from Roman Catholicism to help us “grow” as Christians, and where is the outcry?  And Professor Hardy calls it a “classic Christian practice.”  But is it a classic Biblical practice?  The answer is no, because you won’t find anything like this taught in the Bible, instead it’s origins are from man’s imagination, not God’s word.

Another quote:

As with all classic Christian practices that are “re-discovered” and “brought forward” for use in a contemporary context, lectio divina is not just another spiritual technology that can be easily learned and applied.

Was this practice lost, and if so, where was it when it was lost?  Again, it was not in the Bible.  And would God really make it so that whatever He wants us to learn, would be hard to “learn and apply?”  Is it really difficult for someone to learn how to pray, if they simply read what the Bible has to say about it?  Or do I need guidance by specialists in doing a new kind of method or ritual so that I can unlock the secrets of God’s word?  What about the Christian who has his Bible, but there is never anyone around to teach him this practice?  Is he losing out on personal spiritual growth, and therefore the sufficiency of scripture does not really hold true?

This practice like all the other contemplative practices, has in it the flavoring of Gnosticism, that idea that only a few have some special knowledge and special practices to get closer to God, but don’t worry, they will teach us.  It is dangerous, and can easily invite us and entrap us into other mystical practices that draw us away from focusing and relating directly with Christ, and instead brings us into a more closer relationship with ourselves in “how” we do something, and possibly with familiar spirits that are not of God.  It’s Christianized transcendental meditation, just re-packaged for Nazarene consumption.  But hey, if the publishing House says its okay, don’t question it, right?
When did lectio divina first get started in the Nazarene denomination?  What do our General Superintendents think about lectio divina?  Have they studied what contemplative spirituality is all about?  How many Nazarenes know about this practice?  Has it been officially introduced, or is it really still flying under the radar to most Nazarenes?  It is growing in popularity, because I had previously written some posts on the outrageous promotion of several books by Barefoot Ministries, which is the youth arm of the NPH.   In my opinion, they have proven themselves as recklessly irresponsible as the leadership of NTS and all the other schools who are pushing this practice into the Nazarene denomination and in our seminaries.  And by the way, Doug Hardy is a member of Spiritual  Directors International.  On the following page, you see Lauren Artress at the very top.  She popularized prayer labyrinths in America.  Scroll down more, and Doug Hardy is one of the panelists for the organization’s magazine.

So if you go to this site, you ought to ask yourself, why is a Christian professor, who belongs to a holiness denomination, part of an interspiritual organization that promotes prayer labyrinths and contemplative spirituality practices?  Professor Hardy also has a famous list of recommended books for Windsor Hills Camp, of which the vast majority at the time were books by Roman Catholic monks and mystics.  What happened to the holiness material, and biblically sound resources?  Instead, books by heretical writers who practiced asceticism, worship of Mary, and teachers of false doctrines.

Frankly, I find it all appalling, dangerous, un-Nazarene, and most importantly, unbiblical. And I am not saying Doug Hardy is the problem, far from it.  Dr. Ron Benefiel is the President of NTS, and perhaps some letters or emails could be sent to ask some questions.  This goes much deeper than one person, he is just an example of the many who are pushing the new spirituality onto so many students and church members.  But I’m just one uneducated Nazarene sticking his nose into business left to the educated, and I suppose I ought to trust them unconditionally and without question.

Perhaps a “House” cleaning is in order?


I conclude with some thoughts from my friend Brenda about Spiritual Directors International:

The attraction today is to become….one. For all the religions of the world to unite and connect through a form of commonality. Spiritual formation and contemplation is the cement to unite the world religions. There is a call for ecumenism and interfaith spirituality networks to meet the needs of society, not with …the gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins settled at a blood-stained cross, no….the new gospel of grace (only) leaves sin out of the equation. It’s an offense. Spiritual Directors international will help realize world peace through their ecumenical efforts via contemplation techniques and spiritual direction…….

A look at their logo reveals that it’s all about sharing “the light”…..be it from a Catholic mystic, like Henri Nouwen, or from Buddha. Spiritual Directors find common ground in the light. (Hmm…..now who is that angel of light, again spoken of in scripture?)

Remember that the last Sunday in January is set aside for churches to give to Nazarene Theological Seminary because as this links states:

“The Seminary Offering – annual church giving – is the lifeline of NTS.”
http://www.nts.edu/seminary-offering

In order to bring about world peace, social justice through an economic level playing field, and unity of all faiths…..you must continue to fund professors like Doug Hardy and the Spiritual Formation major offered through NTS so students can continue to be enlightened.

After all, it’s ultimately about a one world peace and unity of faiths….which is a good thing, right?
http://www.nts.edu/dr-douglas-hardy

Related links And Study Resources:

Here is a link by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr explaining how Spiritual Directors International can lead to world peace and liberating the world of its social problems.
http://sdiworld.org/resources/videos/spiritual-directors-international-le…arns-from-franciscan-father-richard-rohr-ofm.html

In this link, you can learn how to be at peace with ecology through finding God in everything via Spiritual Director International’s Sister Alexandra Kovats.

http://sdiworld.org/resources/videos/spiritual-directors-international-learns-from…-alexandra-kovats-csjp.html

Yes, it’s all about Nazarenes, Catholics, and Muslims together as they connect to a higher reality through their association through Spiritual Director’s International.

What is lectio divina?

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/emergent-church-what-is-it/lectio-divina/

Listen to what is really being said here by Richard Foster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKvdUZ6c074&feature=player_embedded

Sojourners staff describe contemplative practices:

The Apostate Church

A lesson from my friends at Mission Venture Ministries
(Also available in Portuguese and Spanish)

THE APOSTATE CHURCH

“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

The church has changed so much in recent years and has “left her first love”. An astounding number of churches today, teach doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1 – “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”).

We see in Revelation Christ’s rebuke of the church at Laodicea, the “lukewarm” church, which reflects the likeness of the church of the last days. (Revelation 3:16 – ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth’).

The candlestick of this church is still in place (note Revelation 1:20 – “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” and in (Revelation 2:5  – ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent”), but it has become a neutral church, “neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15 – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot”).

The reason for its lukewarm witness is because it has become “rich, proud and increased with goods”. The churches may have acquired large and beautiful facilities, developed special programs of many kinds, featured a variety of theatrical performances, and even gained a measure of political power. Yet, Christ calls it poor, blind and naked!

Not all churches become like this, of course, but the apostasy of the end times is leading many away from “our first love”, and that is the real danger. The desire for large congregations can easily lead to compromising biblical standards of doctrine and practice. Paul instructs Timothy to “remain in Ephesus, in order to instruct certain men NOT to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3)

The warnings to the churches shows us that the development of such complacency in any church, be it large or small, is the neglect of these three doctrines – the sufficiency of Christ, the inerrant authority of God’s Word, and the special creation of all things by God.

The letter to this church ends with the sad picture of Christ standing at its door, seeking admission (v. 20 – ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.) and continues in (v. 22 – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches”.

http://missionventureministries.wordpress.com/

Biblical Warning About False Teachers: MacArthur

The fact that false teachers (servants of Satan) appear as ministers of righteousness and speak with smooth sounding and pleasing words is why such as Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell have fooled so many who have lost the ability to discern truth from error.  These are the most dangerous, because they don’t openly reject the truth, but claim to be Bible believing Christians, but as is emphasized in the following article, they are liars.  Brothers and sisters, we really do need to keep speaking out about these people.  Who says we need to protest only once or twice, and then go away?

They certainly won’t  go away, and our church leadership needs to continually hear our cries on behalf of those many students in our universities being exposed to these liars every day.  Some of our pastors are still being introduced to Leonard Sweet as a reliable teaching source, who is trying to remake himself in a better light even as he is being exposed like the emperor without clothes was exposed.  The truth, however, is making these people try to dodge the bullets and hide their real ideology, but lack of true repentance and changing of their ways is evidence that they are still wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Please do not fall for this makeover that Leonard Sweet and others are trying to do.  It’s not genuine, because there is no genuine repentance.  And for an exposé of Sweet’s fake makeover and his attempt to set aside his New Age thinking, listen to the CrossTalk online discussion, or read the article from CrossTalk Blog.  Sweet is scheduled to appear at a Mid-Atlantic District Event.

JOHN MACARTHUR: BIBLICAL WARNING ABOUT FALSE TEACHERS

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Sep 16, 2010

1. The warning against false teachers

Christ then said, “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). For every true prophet calling people to the narrow way, are a multiplicity of false prophets calling people to the broad way that leads to destruction. Christ’s warning [about false teachers] was not new. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 documents the presence of false teaching during the days of Moses. In Isaiah 30:9-14 chronicles its existence in the kingdom of Judah. There are many warnings about false teachers in Scripture.1. 2 John 7–John said, “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

2. Romans 16:17-18–Paul said, “I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own body, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the innocent.” They are dangerous because they claim to be from God and to speak God’s Word.

3. Jeremiah 5:31–God said, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so.”

4. Jeremiah 14:14–God said, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision.”

2. The description of false teachers

False teachers are dangerous because their deception is damning. And it comes from that most damning deceiver of all, Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Some false teachers are heretics–those who openly reject the Word of God and teach contrary to it. Others are apostates–those who once followed the faith but have since turned away. Then there are deceivers who pretend to still believe the truth. They want to look like orthodox fundamental evangelical Christians, but they are liars.

3. The revelation of false teachers

In Matthew 7:16 Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” It’s not what they say but what you see in their lives that matters. A false teacher cannot produce good fruit because evil cannot produce good (v. 17).

False teachers will produce evil fruit, but they will try to cloak it. Inevitably they hide their bad fruit under ecclesiastical garb or isolate it from accountability. People can’t get near enough to them to see the reality of their lives. Some of them hide their evil fruit under a holy vocabulary or an association with fruitful Christians. Some of them cover their evil fruit with biblical knowledge. But they can’t hide it from everyone all the time. If you closely examine a false teacher, you will see his evil fruit.

CONCLUSION

How can we be alert to the infiltration of false teachers? Ask yourself these questions about the Bible teachers you encounter.

A. How Is the Teacher Using Scripture?

Is there error in his understanding of Scripture? Is his interpretation sound? Is it biblical? Is it legitimate? Don’t look at his personality. Don’t look at the religious trappings. Don’t only look only at his associations, although that will tell you something if those associations are negative. Listen to what he says. Do what 1 John 4:1 says: test him to see if he’s from God. What is his approach to Scripture? Is he teaching things that go beyond Scripture? Is he saying things that sound good but you can’t find verses to support it?

B. What Is the Teacher’s Goal?

Does he have a spiritual goal? Is his primary desire in life to produce people who consummately love God? Or is he characterized by self-love, self-aggrandizement, possessiveness, and materialism? What is his objective? Is it love for God and for everyone else? Is his objective holiness, a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith without hypocrisy?

C. What Is the Teacher’s Motive?

Does he demonstrate a selfless motive? Can you see humility, meekness, and selflessness in his life? Or does it appear that while he’s helping others he is also becoming quite wealthy? Is he self-indulgent at the expense of the people he is supposed to be ministering to?

D. What Is the Teacher’s Effect?

Does his followers clearly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do they understand the proper use of the law?

Check his doctrine, check his goal, check his motive, and check his followers. As you do, you’ll sense the need for urgency in dealing with false teachers.

Dr. John MacArthur

(Adapted from Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters – Part 1 and Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters – Part 2)


Shake The Dust Off And Don’t Look Back

Today was a day of decision.  Allow me to share, and it is my hope that this will help someone understand a little bit of what we are dealing with in the fight against emergent church ideology.  I am convinced that the biggest threat to Christians is coming from within the church, not from the world.

After over a year of battling it out with so many pushers of the emergent poison, over issues such as contemplative spirituality, pagan practices, open theism, evolution, and the inerrancy of scripture especially, I have decided to leave.  I have come to the conclusion that enough is enough, and I have done all I can.  When my good friend Tim picked up the phone and called me yesterday, and slapped me on the head to wake me up to reality, I realized again, that I was wasting my time.  I just did not want to admit it, I guess.  So, I decided last night to make the decision to leave NazNet. So what made me decide to leave, and what can those who read this learn from me telling you this mostly personal account?

My relationship with some of those at at NazNet has been rocky at best, to put it mildly.  I have called it in the past “a breeding ground for emergent heresy.”  Not exactly diplomatic, but true, in my opinion, based on what many there believe.

My final “conversation” with them was from a topic that was titled “Praying For Those That Persecute Us.”  If you read the beginning parts of the thread, there is no doubt that this was directed at me, Tim Wirth, Grant Swank, and others who have been very critical of them. After reading through the comments, I responded to one person, who, although he and I are worlds apart on inerrancy of scripture and other things, at least he did his best to keep things civil, and to try to dialogue.  But it did not last long, and it broke down again, because of others coming in to take some personal pot shots.  So this last attempt at dialogue, although for a while looking promising, simply crashed and burned as all the rest have.  And I came back to reality very fast.

You see, there are some non-emergent members of Naznet there who have the patience to deal with this nonsense.  I admire them for it, and don’t know how they can do it.  They are a kind of missionary to NazNet, doing their best to “dialogue.”  But for me, I’m not built that way.  After a while, I end up saying, enough of this nonsense!  Yet after a while, I have at times tried to contribute to some of the discussions, answering questions from as biblical a perspective as I can.

So NazNet, goodbye.  I’m not seeking comfort from anyone because of this “breakup.”  I’m not trying to act self-righteous; just saying what I believe, as you yourselves do as well.  The main purpose of this post is to warn others who believe the way I believe: don’t stay too long in these “conversations” with the emergent pushers.  It can be harmful to you, and it most likely will be unproductive.  There are too many wolves in this sheep pen, and some of them are very good at twisting scripture. That has been my experience, and hopefully, at least one person will understand that the ones who call themselves the tolerant ones, are far from being tolerant. The bottom line, they have much to defend which is indefensible, and they will rip you apart if necessary.  Not all are like that, and those have tried some civil dialogue, but there are far too many that go the other way.

So the Following Was My Final Comment On NazNet, I Pray It Is A Good Warning:

I’m going to wrap this up here, since some suggestions were made that perhaps we may have a good dialogue going on here. Not so, however. It’s only an illusion.

I realize- yet again- that this is all an exercise in futility for me. So to continue trying to talk to some of you is a waste of time. I have used scripture in a very sound and proper way to illustrate some things to you, but it seems there is always an argument for everything with me, so scripture is twisted again for your purpose. Some of you arguing with me here don’t even believe in the full inspiration of scripture by God, only parts of it.

Dennis Bratcher quotes scripture to scold me, and says he passionately believes the Bible, yet he does not believe the entire Bible- only what he wants to believe. The fact of the matter, there are many of you here who have the same position, evidenced by the fact that some of you have excoriated me and others who believe in the inerrant, infallible word of God, the Book that is God-breathed; God’s word, not man’s word. Yet some here, including ordained pastors, accuse me of practicing bibliolatry, because I believe in the authority of scripture. You reject scripture as infallible, and instead give us this baloney of “only in matters of salvation.” How pathetically sad that any ordained pastor can hold to that position. Well, if you really can say that to me on NazNet, then be consistent and make sure your congregation has NO doubt where you stand on the infallibility (or not) of scripture. Don’t keep on fooling them to think otherwise.

You know I have called this site a breeding ground for emergent heresy, and I stand by that. That is what I believe, based on what many of you state, promote, and defend.

We are in a battle for right doctrines of the Church of God- not just the Nazarene church, so the argument of “this is not what the Nazarene manual says”, is a weak one. Some of you here do not have much respect for doctrine- you seem to focus only on certain “articles of faith” as the minimal requirements for “unity.” Well, that does not make sense biblically, and I have given my position based on scripture, that we are to obey Christ in all that he commands us. Yet some of you have argued to the contrary, and have decided to jettison such teachings that are not convenient for your ideology to prosper.  One that certainly comes to mind are the countless exhortations by Christ and the apostles to “beware of false prophets”, or to “test the spirits, to see if they are of God.”

Many Nazarenes are fighting alongside me against the pagan, anti-Christian practices that have come into our churches and universities, of which we are saying is disobedience to the Lord and sinful. We fight a perverted social gospel that is watering down the true gospel. We fight against an environmental gospel that seems to worship the created more than the Creator. We are fighting against compromise in joining hands with apostate groups and even non-Christian groups, which goes against the word of God. Yet many of you reject the separation that is commanded in scripture. You trust in man-made ways to get closer to and “experience” God, diluting the power of God’s word and our trust and faith in Christ alone, and diminishing the power of the Holy Spirit to teach you through God’s word. And yet, all this that we fight, you call non-essentials.

For these beliefs, we are called uneducated, hate-filled, divisive, extreme fundamentalists. Thus the irony of the topic of this latest post, persecution. Many Nazarenes reject the heretical belief in evolution, because it contradicts the word of God- the very word that Dennis Bratcher says he loves! It does not make sense, Dennis. I believe you love only what you want to love- and throw away the rest. You yourself teach that God is capable of making mistakes. That is heresy, Dennis. And so is open theism, which says God does not know the future. And you either decide to believe evolution, or believe Jesus Christ’s very words.

So for those NazNetters who thought and hoped that we were making some progress here, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is none of that happening now. And I realized that, when we cannot even agree on the infallibility of scripture, there is no starting point. When many of you here deny that God’s word can be fully trusted, there is no starting point.

When I mentioned Jay McDaniel’s lecture, instead of even one of you condemning his heresy, you can only say something like “he’s not a Nazarene, and its not relevant to the discussion.” That is so sad, that even teachings that are obviously heretical to some of you, cannot be condemned. Is there a fear of calling out those who pervert the gospel, who dare to indoctrinate our youth with heresy? Some of you are pastors, but where is the questioning of the judgment of allowing such a speaker to poison the minds of our youth? Yet all there is, is silence, nothing but silence. If the Dalai Lama came to your seminary, would you welcome him with open arms also, to preach his universalism, with a phony disclaimer that you don’t necessarily agree with his beliefs? Do any of you draw the line at anything at all when it comes to what is allowed in our schools?

So I am sorry to disappoint some of you, but there will no longer be any further attempts for dialogue from me. There is too much of a gap. This is not about “non-essentials”. This is about obedience to Christ, obedience to the word of God. Not obedience to a church manual, or of caving in to political correctness in exchange for “getting along” with everyone else.  That is not a biblical concept, but instead, flies in the face of scriptural admonitions to reject worldly philosophies.

So I will continue to fight for what is right, what is true; to fight for the Nazarene church and what it has traditionally stood for, holiness; in practice as well as in the statements of faith. But this fight is larger than the Nazarene church, and if at some point God tells me its time to leave the denomination, then it happens. Sadly, many of you are aware of the disastrous results so far.  But your agenda seems to blind you to anything else.

I will continue to pray for those of you who need prayer.

Point Loma: Where Is It Heading?

 

Where is Point Loma Nazarene University going, spiritually, along with many of the other Nazarene universities and seminary?  Let’s review a few things that have transpired recently just at Point Loma, which I believe speaks volumes.  You decide.

Ligonier Ministries sponsored a conference this year called Christless Christianity: 2010 West Coast Conference.  One of the session speakers was Dr. Peter Jones of truthXchange, who spoke on the topic “A Gnostic Gospel”.  I encourage you to view his entire session (about one hour), it is very good.  There are also other sessions by various speakers, and you can even purchase the entire conference on audio or video for under $15.00.

I purchased Dr. Jone’s session, and at the link below to an excerpt,  you can see what he had to say about two issues; one was about PLNU’s hosting of the Prophetic Imagination Conference, and then he follows that with a short talk on the guru of emergent heresy, Brian McLaren (who is also popular with Point Loma, and has spoken there).  Some of us have been sounding alarm bells about Point Loma for a long time, and for good reason. The Prophetic Imagination Conference was just another downhill slide by a Christian university which apparently is sorely lacking in discernment.  Point Loma also illustrated this by hosting Richard Foster’s Renovare Covenant Retreat on campus this year also.

Here is the link, which is 16 minutes in length:  http://standfortruthministries.podbean.com/peter-jones-gnostic-gospel/

Related posts on Point Loma Nazarene University:

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/point-loma-nazarene-university-welcomes-brian-mclaren-and-embraces-contemplative-spirituality/

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/with-richard-fosters-renovare-conference-point-loma-continues-on-a-downward-slide/


http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/from-evolution-to-imagination-have-our-universities-lost-it/

Welcome To The Battlefield, Friends

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Eph. 6:10-13

Since jumping “into the fray” almost two years ago, i.e. the battle against emergent ideology, and all sorts of other man-made phony movements like the social gospel, the environmental gospel, and gimmicky social club style ways to “do church”, I’ve made many friends.  There’s no time here to tell you about them all, but that’s perhaps part of a book.  God has blessed me with plenty of new brothers and sisters in the Lord, from the West coast to the East; from Canada to England; from Australia to Argentina and Brazil, and many more places around the world.  From pastors, to street evangelists, to full time apologists, to ordinary laypeople in the church like me.  And most likely, I would not have met any of them, if I had not decided to step into the spiritual warfare I find myself in.

“New” Soldiers On The Frontlines

In the past few days, I have processed the usual number of requests for the Concerned Nazarene DVD on the emergent church.  It is still exciting to get these requests, and I pray for each person that asks for one, that they will first and foremost be quipped with God’s word, for the challenges they are willing to face.   From the past few days, I would like to mention two groups that have “joined the fray”, but only from the perspective of not having known about them until this week; they certainly seem to have already thrown themselves into the spiritual battle zone for quite a while now.

The first is a group of folks that have started a new website.  It is still developing, but you can go there now and read what they have posted, and it is very disturbing what they have uncovered.  They are called Nazarenes-Standing Firm, and their website is www.standingfirmnazarenes.org.  After reading the first document they have published, it is clear that they will need to have their spiritual armor all in place.  The enemy will soon launch his attack.  It is inevitable, because satan does not go after those who are spiritually dead, but he viciously and relentlessly does battle with those who have decided to take a stand uncompromisingly. Oh, he tries to keep the spiritually dead or complacent from waking up, but he hates to see people on fire for exposing his many lies.  So these new friends will need much prayer and support from all the rest who have been in this spiritual warfare.  They will soon be called dividers, liars, slanderers, hateful, and disrupters of Christian unity (those might be the gentle words).   I urge you to go there and read what they have to say, because they are putting a lot on the line by telling the truth.  I think I can speak for all the friends who I have joined up with, that we will stand with them on the frontlines.

The second group is a young couple who are near a Nazarene university that has embraced much of the emergent ideology, and are concerned about the many students at this school that they often talk to.  I’ve heard this kind of story in the past year, but it’s still difficult to hear again.  What they have experienced and seen is not what belongs in a Christian school, and they are saddened by the possibility that every day, some young person at that college will be roped in by Satan’s deception (1 Pet. 5:8), via his accomplices at the school who themselves have been seduced by the devil.  They are determined to stand firm as well.  As I spoke to them last night, I sensed again the excitement of finding new brothers and sisters willing to put all on the line, for the truth of God’s word.  They also understand that they WILL be persecuted for the sake of Christ.  And they assured me that they would have it no other way.  We will stand with them also in this warfare, and we will encourage them as they will encourage us.

What Kind of Peace And Unity?

I love peace and quiet just like everyone else.  I’m sure these new friends want that also.  I want a sense of stability, predictability, security for me and my family.  What reasonable person would not?  But if it is the kind that the world seeks to have, forget it.  God did not plan for that, and God does not give us the phony peace and so-called unity that the world seeks. It seems that those who have jumped into the fray, understand this more clearly than anything.  They have signed on for something that does not make sense to the world, or to biblically naive Christians.  It only makes no sense to those who are expecting a worldly kind of peace, a worldly kind of unity, that comes from a compromising acceptance of evil, or worst yet, an embrace of it.  God’s kind of peace “passes all understanding”, and that is what I want to have, in spite of the price that comes with it.  These friends understand this:

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

They understand this hard truth as well:

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother.” Luke 12:51-53

This Is No Joke, This Is A Battle for the Souls Of Men and Women

Everyone who has made the decision to “stand for the truth, no matter what the cost”, realizes what is at stake, and that is the salvation of many; many who are sitting in our church pews, and perhaps especially the students in our universities and seminaries.  They are in deadly peril, and we understand that.  Time is of the essence, and now its a rescue operation without the “red tape” holding us up.  We cannot wait for “those who in charge” to decide to do something anymore.  That time has come and gone, and we are determined to warn as many as possible; to snatch as many from the flames as possible.  To neglect them would be reckless endangerment, not in the worldly legal sense, but according to God’s word (Ezek. 33:1-20).

This army that has formed has not been led by men.  I believe it is led of God, formed as a result of complete obedience to His word, and He has been bringing His own together in this battle to fight side by side against the assault on the Christian church, coming from within.  I finish with some words from my friend Pastor Joe:

“God does not scatter his remnant, but gathers it.   In Amos today, I read this verse:

“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” (Amos 9:9)

Though God would shake the Southern Kingdom of Israel, like a man sifts corn, He would not let one seed fall to the ground.  God will preserve those who are true to his Word (the good seed) though a great shake up must come to the Nazarene denomination.”

We need to pray for these “new” warriors, as well as all the rest.  This is spiritual warfare, and to truly join the battle, we need to do it uncompromisingly.  Will you join the fight?  If so, let us know, we’d be glad to fight alongside you.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.  Eph. 6:14-20

Contemplative Prayer: Coming Soon To Your Church?

Contemplative prayer is the spiritual part of the emergent church movement.  Without it, and without the Roman Catholic rituals and pagan practices, the emergent movement would just simply be a philosophical movement that rejects the authority of the Bible.  So to make it look more legitimate, there has to be a spiritual component, hence contemplative spirituality, or contemplative prayer (also called centering prayer).

CS is spreading out through all denominations in one form or another, being taught in seminaries and Bible schools, under the guise of “Spiritual Formation”.   Degree programs are sprouting up for new positions called “spiritual director”, a kind of evangelical equivalent of priests who hear confessions.  Dr. Doug Hardy is a spiritual director who teaches at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  He is a part of a group called Spiritual Directors International, which promotes contemplative prayer, and he is listed as a member of the review panel for their journal called Presence.    His fundamental calling is apparently to ” come alongside others to help facilitate their alignment with God.”  Not sure what that means.
This organization serves many purposes, including helping people find their own spiritual director.  They provide videos from various “experts” on spiritual direction, including such notable contemplatives or emergent promoters as Richard Rohr and Brother David Steindl-Rast.
One of their leading members is Lauren Artress, who wrote Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool. Artress, who is a Reverend, helped popularize prayer labyrinths in the United States.  Now they are spreading into Nazarene churches and into other denominations, as well as at least one Nazarene university (Trevecca).

In the opening description of their definition of spiritual direction, SDI emphasizes that spiritual direction involves “growing closer to God (or the sacred, the holy or a higher power“. It is significant that Jesus Christ or the God of the Bible is not specifically mentioned, because this is clearly an ecumenical group whose goal is to promote spiritual direction for any religion.  You will have no doubt about that as you move through many of its pages.  I wonder how many pastors reading this would say yes to an offer to join this organization?  It certainly bothers me that a Nazarene theology professor is clearly involved with this group which welcomes collaboration with any religion that wants to provide “spiritual direction.”

The following 6 minute video (Reaching Out To The World) gives you a good idea of centering prayer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTAwBs_9D3c

At around the 3:20 mark, Father Keating says “centering prayer is the point of unity between the Christian denominations”, and then “we’re in a better position to dialogue with the great spiritual traditions of the Eastern religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, who also have a very rich and contemplative tradition…”.   Well, at least they don’t hide their agenda and purpose!
(Ray Yungen comments on Fr. Keating in this 1 minute clip from the Emerging Church DVD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7fCjhRD8UI&feature=related)

This is coming into our churches, in very subtle ways, and sometimes not so subtle.  It’s certainly not “my father’s church”, as many of us may be saying right now to ourselves.  This is all part of the contemplative spirituality movement which is sweeping evangelicalism today.  I believe it is just one of many deceptive tools that good old Satan is using to fool a lot of Christians, and not just those who are young and naive.  A lot of “seasoned” Christians, the elect if you will, are buying into this Christianized transcendental meditation.  It seems to be born out of a desire to reach new heights of communicating with and getting closer to God.  Gone are the old days of steadfast study of God’s word on a regular basis.  Gone are the days of prayer to God, submitting our requests and praise to Him, and trusting in His word for guidance, and trusting in the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Now we need to experience God in a way we have never experienced through regular prayer and Bible study.  Now we have spiritual directors, and now we have new methods of getting that “experience” that no one can have, unless we “practice the presence”, or “walk a labyrinth”, or do the Jesus Prayer that Tony Campolo (who is coming to Eastern Nazarene College in October) does for 20 minutes each morning like a magical formula.

If we don’t do these new things, we are so lacking in spiritual nourishment and insight, aren’t we?  Studying God’s word and prayer is not enough.  Now we have “new disciplines” introduced, with the excuse that we are just resurrecting ancient, time honored practices from the enlightened Christians of old.  Never mind that in light of scripture, they are unholy practices.  What they will say that these are traditions that we ought to bring back, in order to get closer to God.  If “they” practiced these things way back, we ought to bring them back so we improve the future by bringing back the ancient past.  That’s part of the idea behind these movements.

What kind of role models are we bringing in now to our churches and universities?  Does Tony Campolo preach holiness, and will he emphasize a return to scripture when he speaks to ENC students next month?  Or will he proudly talk about his morning prayer mantra that flies in the face of scriptural admonition? (Mat. 6:7)
Where is the discernment in our leadership today?  Or is this a deliberate, intentional move to “Roman Catholicize” our churches and universities?
Have we really got it all wrong after 2,000 years, and these ancient practices are going to re-awaken us?  Is this what we might call a new revival being moved by the Holy Spirit?  Or is not placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ enough, and are these new methods saying that “Christ is not sufficient for me to experience all God wants me to.  “I need more, I need an extra boost, and I can get it through contemplative prayer.”

What an absolute insult to the One who gave His life for us, and who has taught us that He is all sufficient for us in our daily Christian walk.  Do you really want or need a prayer labyrinth, or lectio divina, or prayer beads, or a prayer station, in order to get closer to God?  Where in scripture do we find the justification for “practicing the presence of God?”  Nowhere is the answer.  Jesus Christ is all we need.  We are complete in Him! (Col. 2:10)

May God give us discernment not to fall for this unbiblical foolishness.  Contemplative prayer: no.  God’s word: yes.

  • “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word” (Psalms 119:113,114).

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND VIDEOS:

What is Contemplative Prayer?- from KarensFaith (8 min)
Contemplative Prayer- with Brannon Howse of WorldView Matters (10 min)

The Occult Infiltration Into Today’s Professing Church: Johanna Michaelson (10 min)

Mysticism and God’s Word, Part. 1: a discussion between Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer (10 min)
Mysticism and God’s Word, Part. 2: a discussion between Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer (10 min)

Invisible Denomination, the New Age: Ray Yungen (10 min)

The New Age, Purpose Driven, and Deception in the Church – Part 1: Warren Smith (10 min)Occult Infiltration Into Today’s Professing Church: Johanna Michaelson (10 min)

Mysticism and God’s Word, Part. 1: a discussion between Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer (10 min)
Mysticism and God’s Word, Part. 2: a discussion between Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer (10 min)

Invisible Denomination, the New Age: Ray Yungen (10 min)

The New Age, Purpose Driven, and Deception in the Church – Part 1: Warren Smith (10 min)