Big Tent Christianity: Just An Illusion

Many in the Nazarene denomination, including prominent leaders, talk much about the “Big Tent.”  It is a term used to describe the way Christians are said to accommodate a wide range of differing views while still peaceably working together for the good of God’s Kingdom.  Dr. Thomas Oord of Northwest Nazarene University was a speaker at the “Big Tent Christianity” conference which included Brian McLaren and other notables from the emergent (apostate) church movement.  Dr. Oord’s obvious “fondness” for fundamentalists (Bible believers) can be read at his blog, called Christian And Scientific Fundamentalism.

In an article from Grace and Peace magazine titled The Value Of Our Collective Ideas, Nazarene and executive editor Bryan McLaughlin says the following:

“We are looking for pastors, theologians, educators, and church leaders who are willing to share their thoughts and ideas for the benefit of our greater church and God’s kingdom. If we are going to make Christlike disciples in the nations, we need everyone in our big Nazarene tent to get involved.”

Sounds like a good thing, does it not?  We need everyone!  That could possibly include me, and that would be great, because I have a lot of thoughts to share with a lot of people I have been trying to reach out to.  However, for some reason, they don’t return my calls or emails.

At the aforementioned Big Tent Conference, I noted such names as Tony Jones, Phylis Tickle, Peter Rollins, Jay Bakker, Nadia Bolz-Webber, Tim King, Spencer Burke, Greg Boyd, and godfather of the emergent church, Brian McLaren.  I searched real hard, but did not notice a single name of anyone that could be called a conservative, orthodox or fundamental Christian.  Hmmm…  Big Tent?  Seems a bit small to me, in terms of ideology.  Frankly, I consider every single one of these people to be heretics, based on what they believe and teach! Spencer Burke is an outright universalist!

Tony Jones believes that practicing homosexuals are no problem in Christianity, and denies the doctrine of original sin.  Brian McLaren likens the Cross to “false advertising for God.”  Jay Bakker and Nadia Bolz-Webber are part of the new brand of “outlaw preachers”, and that is an apt name for them.

Yet apparently their Big Tent cannot accommodate anyone else but extreme liberal thinkers who share a disrespect for biblical authority!  And for further confirmation, look who is on the schedule for the next Big Tent Conference in Arizona, including the blasphemous heretic Marcus Borg1, and Richard Rohr.  You can cautiously follow these Big Tenters on FaceBook.

In an official statement on the Emerging church issue, the Board of General Superintendents said the following:

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…

That sounds like it might be a Big Tent philosophy to me, does it not?  Nowhere in this statement can anyone read that emergent church philosophy is THE sole ideology that is acceptable in the Nazarene denomination, correct?  So, it seems, at least in word, that we are a Big Tent denomination that allows many viewpoints, doesn’t it?

Smoke And Mirrors

Well, I believe it is all smoke and mirrors, this concept of a Big Tent, which I do not agree is a good thing anyway.  Those who claim to be part of the Big Tent, and therefore say they welcome all kinds of dialogue and viewpoints, are saying one thing, and practicing another.  Big Tent Christianity, frankly, seems to be an oxymoron in practice.  And, it certainly does not “jive” with Christ’s words regarding entering in “by the narrow gate.”  So Big Tent seems to be another way of saying “the wide road.”  You know where that leads.

How can our denomination be a Big Tent, when in December of 2009, just before Christmas, a Nazarene pastor in Texas was not only relieved of his duties as a missionary, and then as pastor of his congregation, but then was asked to turn in his credentials?  Why?  Simply because he preached against the emerging church, and a few “tolerant” pastors could not stand hearing him speak the truth about their Bible-mocking ideology.  Does that sound like a big tent to you?

Where was the Big Tent at General Assembly in 2009, when Pastor Joe asked General Superintendent Jesse Middendorf, “will we be allowed to have a voice in this discussion about the emerging church?”  The answer was, “that’s not likely.”  Does that sound like a Big Tent philosophy to you?

Sometime also last year, a Nazarene pastor in Marietta, Ohio, along with his church, refused to drink the emergent coolaide, and instead, severed their ties with the Nazarene denomination, and became independent.  You see, they apparently did not fit within the parameters of the Big Tent people, and made them uncomfortable when they said no to the district.

Just this past December, another Nazarene pastor was fired and subsequently turned in his credentials.  This was apparently his Christmas present, as a result of preaching against the dangers of the emergent church.  Obviously, his views could not fit inside the Big Tent of the “tolerant ones.”

Finally, a young pastor-to-be in my own New England District was told by the credentialing board that he would probably not get his ordination.  Why?  Because his views on the inerrancy of scripture- that he actually believes in the complete truthfulness and infallibility of scripture- just could not be accommodated!  Are we to assume then that some New England leaders do not believe in scriptural inerrancy?

I could also go on and on about the many Nazarene laypeople who have emailed me with their stories of “tolerant, understanding” pastors and leaders, who all of a sudden turned on them, when they would not stop asking questions about what was going on in their churches.  Apparently these pastors and leaders did not get the memo that the Nazarenes are supposed to be a Big Tent kind of people!

Hypocrisy

I sense hypocrisy here.  If so, it is a result of the slow but steady apostasizing of the Nazarene church.  Perhaps we need to start calling all of this “the apostasy movement”, because there are a whole lot of other heretical things coming into the denomination,  such as mysticism, soaking prayer, Dominionism theology, open theism, social justice, environmental justice, and many other heretical teachings.

Will there be a Big Tent welcome for my like-minded colleagues at the M11 Conference in February, or just more smoke and mirrors?  Will it be the beginning of the end for many in the Nazarene denomination?  I would love to go and ask some questions, and get some real answers.  For those committed to going, I pray that you will have the chance to ask questions without any retribution.

For now, there is no such thing as a Big Tent in the Church of the Nazarene.  It seems that those in leadership will accept only two things: churches that promote the emergent movement, and churches that keep their mouths shut and don’t make a noticeable fuss over the emergent or apostasy movement (aka missional).  All others need not apply, and you may as well leave.

Manny

Related article on Big Tent ideology:  Big Tent Or The Broad Road (Pastor Jason Bjerke)

End Notes:

1. Marcus Borg, a member of the infamous Jesus Seminar, does not believe Jesus was virgin born, or that He rose from the dead, or that Christianity is exclusively true.

Quote: “I would argue that the truth of Easter does not depend on whether there was an empty tomb, or whether anything happened to the body of Jesus. … I DO NOT SEE THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION AS EXCLUSIVELY TRUE, OR THE BIBLE AS THE UNIQUE AND INFALLIBLE REVELATION OF GOD. … It makes no historical sense to say, ‘Jesus was killed for the sins of the world.’ … I am one of those Christians who does not believe in the virgin birth, nor in the star of Bethlehem, nor in the journeys of the wisemen, nor in the shepherds coming to the manger, as facts of history” (Bible Review, December 1992).

No Other Option: Speak Out Clearly And Unambiguously

Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Recently it was suggested to me (again) that perhaps I and others should not specifically mention the emergent church and other similar problems within the Nazarene denomination.  Why not just point out these things in a general way, for all Christian denominations, goes the suggestion.  The inference was that maybe I am not following sound biblical principles when I “attack” or “criticize” certain people or institutions within the Nazarene denomination.  Some have said that it is hurtful to many people, or that it is causing divisions in the denomination. I don’t like to bring this up again, but it seems that this idea continues on, and even among those whom I have clearly explained my position on this and backed it with scriptural authority.  Not my opinion, but scriptural authority.

First, the issue we are dealing with has to do with false teachers and false doctrines in the church, and I have never had a problem exposing false teaching in any denomination.  It has nothing to do with management style, or classroom teaching styles, or the color of the carpeting, or how many people should comprise a church board.  The issue is only one thing: are we uncompromisingly obeying Christ’s commands and what we are taught clearly in scripture. And we can all agree that there are things taught and practiced that are either from God, or from satan.  Scripture clearly teaches us that we are to expose false teachings and teachers, does it not?  The only question, of course, is… what is false, and what is good?

The Poison In The Drink

If I notice that someone is putting in a drop of liquid every day into my co-worker’s coffee, I might get concerned.  So perhaps I may do some investigation first to make sure that nothing is wrong.  I may find out that this liquid is harmless, and is actually part of something good that all parties were aware of.  But if I find out that this is being done surreptitiously, and that this liquid may cause harm to the person over a long period of time, what is my duty?  I should report this to my boss, right?  Now here’s the problem.  My boss thanks me for letting him know, and he assures me that he will deal with the problem, and take care of it.

But over the next few months, nothing is done.  My boss becomes annoyed with me, and gives me the run-around, and some new excuses.  So now I have a problem, and that is, because my boss seems to be totally uncaring about this problem, I need to make a decision.  I may risk my job and reputation, but for the life and safety of that person and others at the company, I start notifying as many employees that I can, and let them know what’s going on.  Perhaps I might get fired, but frankly, I would be glad if even one or two lives were saved, because I spoke out, even when my boss told me all was well and in control.

I’m sure you might know by now where I am going with this.  So the question is, what should a Christian do when he finds out that there are false teachings coming into a church or an entire denomination?  In my case, I tried to go through “proper channels.”  I tried to warn leadership within my own local church, but was inevitably met with resistance time and time again.  A heavy price was paid for speaking up, but that goes with the territory, as we are so clearly told in scripture of the consequences.  So I moved on.  I and many others have tried to warn other leadership in the denomination, but to no avail.  It did not seem to be of much concern, and at the same time, we have never been given any biblical justification for the teachings and practices we have been concerned about.

There Are Only Two Choices

Now, here we are.  I am writing or posting more and more articles on the dangers of the emergent church, both within the Nazarene denomination, AND  other evangelical denominations.  My concern has been for all Christians, but I’m sure most people will understand that I have a vested interest as a lifetime Nazarene.  It’s akin to the denomination being my closest relatives in a large family of other Christians.  My choice was clear to me.  Being a lifelong Nazarene was not going to hinder me in any way in my attempts to save even one soul from being lost, or at least from being terribly compromised and damaged in their Christian life, because of false teaching.

The reputation of the Nazarene denomination is frankly, of little concern to me, when I am faced with this kind of choice.  Ignore false teaching that could damage many Christians?  That to me is the “safe decision.”  You will keep your friends with that decision.  You will  most likely preserve your position at your church, be it as a pastor, board member, or other leadership position.  You will not be labeled a troublemaker and a divider.  You will be admired by many for your ability to unify others regardless of any differences.  The downside of that “safe decision” is this.  If you knowingly close your eyes to false teaching, in order to “protect” yourself, or your denomination, you have just decided to betray the One who sacrificed His life in order that you may be saved, and that you could serve Him in complete obedience to His word.

My question is this: how can anyone be completely obedient to Christ, when he or she makes a deliberate decision to shut his eyes to false teachings, in order to maintain favor or good relations with friends, family, and church?  The answer is, it’s impossible to do that without betraying the Lord Jesus Christ.

So the answer is clear to me: we must point out errors in the church, and we must point out which denomination is spreading those errors.  If we do not, then those in that denomination will not have a clear warning about what is happening, and that could cost souls, maybe your own child or grandchild.  Therefore to answer the suggestion that I should not be naming denominations, the answer is, you are sadly mistaken.  We must point out error as commanded in scripture. We must be specific as commanded in scripture, so that others know who and what to avoid within that denomination.  We must be willing to stand for the truth, no matter what the cost.  We have no other option.  I encourage you to boldly speak out against false teachings, and do not be swayed by fine sounding arguments from anyone.  Not even those who are “more learned” than you.  (Remember Psalm 119:99).

  • Titus 1:9  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.  

  • Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Rick Warren, New Age And Globalism

Rick Warren continues his push for globalism and his approval of New Age.  Last week he hosted a health seminar at Saddleback Church, and here is one attendees report on it worth noting.  There still seems to be a huge lack of discernment amongst evangelical Christians when it comes to Rick Warren.
by Jennifer Pekich
Re-posted from Ponderings From Patmos

Saturday Jan. 15th, 2011 will go down in the history books as the day Saddleback Church was sold a bill of goods. The masses had come out in droves for answers to their weight loss difficulties & health problems, but unbeknownst to them, they were being given a prescription for restructuring society & population control . . . ‘Saddleback community’ would be an example of “sustainable living” and would set the course to “change this world” … and the crowd went wild!”

I first arrived to Saddleback’s campus only to be told that “all parking lots were full.” I drove across the street to see if there were any spots available in the business lots, and they were full too. I ended up parking in a housing tract and walked a mile or two back to Saddleback’s campus. As I arrived, I overheard a parking lot attendant say they estimated about 6,000 people had come to the seminar.

I was a little late, so I was grateful to my nephew who went online and began to relay what was being said in the opening comments, as I didn’t want to miss what was to be the foundation of the talks that day. I was a little taken aback when my nephew told me the first speaker, Dr. Amen, made reference to the Egyptian pyramids and how they were built upon an “idea,” and if man could build something like that all those thousands of years ago, what could he do today if he put his mind to it? I found that to be somewhat disturbing, as the pyramids, no matter how impressive they were, represent the ancient pagan religions which got their start in Babylon when Nimrod gathered men (the community) together to commit idolatry by building a tower to honor themselves as gods (Gen. Ch. 11). [1] And yet here it was, the analogy that was chosen to illustrate this new “idea” Saddleback would launch their 52 week program with. No matter what Dr. Amen’s intent was, I believe the analogy was appropriate, and the subtle message is telling…”MAN CAN DO ANYTHING HE PUTS HIS MIND TO.” Sound familiar? (Read Gen. 3:4-5). [2]

As I began to head up the hill toward the main sanctuary, a Saddleback tram pulled up and the driver asked if I wanted a lift. I said I preferred to walk, but thanks. The driver yelled, “Let’s all give her a hand folks, she’s started the Daniel Plan already!” And the people on the tram cheered. Never mind the fact that I have been walking my entire life because I enjoy doing so, not because of some health and fitness campaign. I sensed I was entering a nightmare.

The main sanctuary was full, & it was standing room only. They told me the overflow areas were full too. So I found a spot on the patio outside the main sanctuary looking in. I had a good view and could see the stage perfectly. Their outdoor sound system made it so I could roam around, observe the audience, continue to listen to the guest speakers, and take notes.

To begin, I’d like to state that Saturday Jan. 15th, 2011 will go down in the history books as the day Saddleback Church was sold a bill of goods. The masses had come out in droves for answers to their weight loss difficulties & health problems, but unbeknownst to them, they were being given a prescription for restructuring society & population control.

The prescription goes by the name Agenda 21, a.k.a. “Sustainable Development” or “Smart Growth.” Agenda 21 is a published document put out by the United Nations with the intent to put limits on population and to restructure nation-states into a global society. [3] Rick Warren’s “new friends” had dubbed it, “The Daniel Plan – God’s Prescription For Your Health.” A more appropriate title would’ve been, “Sustainable Living – Destroying Inalienable Rights, One Community at a Time.”

By the time I settled into listening more intently, the second speaker, Mark Hyman, began. It didn’t take too long to figure out what the basis of his message was: We “need to heal with community” (he termed this “accompaniment”), “we’re here for the sake of each other,” this plan “is our way out,” this plan “saved me,” and in fact will “change the world.”

Saddleback was being told they were a “test community” to show the world how to live “healthy and sustainably.” When I heard these words, my heart sank. It was as I’d feared. I knew which buzzwords to listen for, and he was hitting them all. The audience was told they would be champions in health to show the world what “living sustainably” was all about, but Dr. Hyman is a leftist who is more than a champion in health, he’s a change agent for the global elite, as is Dr. Oz & Dr. Amen. Dr. Hyman is the founder and medical director of the Ultra Wellness Center, he advises Dr. Oz’s healthcore group, and he’s a nominee to President Obama’s advisory group on prevention, health promotion, and integrative and public health. [4] Hmmmmmm. I smell an agenda.

Dr. Hyman practices what’s known as “functional medicine,” which means he uses a “whole systems” approach to medicine; in other words, he practices medicine “wholistically,” This is also known as “Mind Body” medicine. At Saddleback’s seminar, “mind body” or “functional” medicine was presented as if it’s completely scientific. Any scientist worth his salt will tell you that yes, the body can be measured scientifically, but the mind falls into an entirely different category which can never be measured by science. As stated by Dave Hunt in his book Occult Invasion – The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, “Physical science, by very definition, can make no judgments concerning a nonphysical realm” as is the mind & the soul. [5] In other words, the mind and the soul are scientifically immeasurable.

It’s the same with the religions of “Mind Science.” Calling a religion “Mind Science” or “Scientology,” when there’s nothing scientific about it, is the same as calling a cereal “Grapenuts” when it contains no grapes or nuts. But we live in an era when the masses have been sufficiently dumbed down, and all it takes to impress is clever packaging and branding. If “they” say it’s science, then dog-gone-it, it’s science! After all, “these doctors are on television.”

As I sat through all 3 presentations by Dr.’s Hyman, Amen, & Oz, what came to mind were the traveling salesmen of the 1800s. They talk fast, so fast that the message that’s really being given, goes right over people’s heads. They used tactics to tug at the heart strings such as videos of sick little girls who suddenly got well from being on “the program” and have been “set free” from relying on medications. Then they flooded the audience with “facts” and “statistics” to scare any grandmother, such as “a tsunami of disease is hitting us,” “life expectancy is going down,” “1 out of 2 people are diabetic or pre-diabetic,” “70% of all agricultural land is taken up by growing animals to feed all the people,” “the bigger your body gets, the more your brain shrinks,” etc.

I about fell off my chair when Dr. Hyman stated, “The key to the success of the “Daniel Plan” is “group living” … “individuals” will not succeed, our only hope lies in “community.” [LT Note:This is exactly what the emerging church is teaching.]  And with that, it was announced that the “Saddleback community” would be an example of “sustainable living” and would set the course to “change this world” … and the crowd went wild!  [LT Note:talked glowingly about a critical mass needed to change our world?] Remember, when we reported how Rick Warren

Dr. Hyman said that he is a Jew, Dr. Amen said he is a Christian, and Dr. Oz said he is a Muslim. And doesn’t that represent the demographic of “most of the population of the world”? But then he said, “we’re all the same underneath.” True to his salesman fashion, Dr. Hyman didn’t define his terms. What in the world does he mean “we’re all the same underneath”? That can mean a number of things. Since he was speaking to a religious crowd, I’d venture to say some of the folks present took that to mean we’re all children of God (Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.), which is patently false according to the Bible. The Bible says there are only two groups, children of wrath and children of God. You’re either one or the other, a believer in Christ Jesus, or a non-believer. We aren’t “all the same underneath.” (Ephesians Ch. 2). [6]

The only way in which we’re “all the same underneath” is we’re all sinners in need of a Savior; and the Savior isn’t “sustainable living.” [LT Note: Remember, the New Age says the era of the single savior is OVER!] The Savior is Jesus Christ, and He is the only way unto salvation (John 14:6). [7] And to become a child of God, Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John Ch. 3). [8] The tragic thing about this day at Saddleback is, Jesus was never mentioned … and I mean NEVER. There were a few passing references to God; Daniel Amen mentioned that our bodies were “a temple of the Holy Spirit and the brain is the inner sanctum” [Amen means that all humans are the temple of the Holy Spirit], but Jesus never made the cut –  ”sustainable lifestyles” and “group living” did.

Following Dr. Hyman’s talk, my best friend arrived to observe the day with me, only to hear Dr. Amen mention in his presentation that he did a brain scan on one of his clients who had a habit of cheating on his wife. The brain scan showed that there were “holes in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain” which controls the impulses. In other words, this man wasn’t sinful, he was “mentally ill.” All he needed was to get on the “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” program, and his personal struggles with sin were remedied. Once again, Jesus was removed from the equation. My friend and I were dumbfounded when we listened to the Saddleback crowd cheer. My best friend couldn’t contain it any longer and let out a, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” My thoughts exactly!

Dr. Hyman recommended Yoga and meditation to the crowd. Dr. Amen gave a diplomatic denunciation of Yoga (which is contradictory since he has recommended it himself), but about 5 sentences later mentioned a study done by a friend of his named Andy Newberg who did brain scans on Tibetan nuns and Franciscan priests while in “prayer and contemplation” and the study showed that “spiritual connection” is healthy. Dr. Amen has been an advocate of “Sa Ta Na Ma” meditation. [9]

If by chance any attendees of the Saddleback “Health and Fitness Seminar” read this blog post, I encourage you to educate yourself about what globalism truly is. You also need to research Agenda 21. As stated earlier, the purpose of Agenda 21 is to restructure society. Sounds conspiratorial, I know. But it isn’t a conspiracy; it’s a published document of the United Nations that’s in full swing. Anywhere you hear the terms, “Sustainable Development,”  ”sustainable living,” “smart growth,”  ”going green,”  etc., rest assured you’ve just been exposed to the U.N.’s Agenda 21. [10]

It shouldn’t surprise us that Rick Warren would allow a seminar of this nature at Saddleback; after all, he himself has “GONE GREEN.” [11] He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. [12] This illustrates the natural progression of one being unequally yoked with non-believers & buying into heresies such as “Kingdom Now,” “Dominionism,” or “Restoration Theology.” Where these heresies reign, as they do at Saddleback, you will find that the focus subtly shifts from salvation in Christ alone, through faith alone, to misguided efforts to restore mankind & the earth through “community” works, sustainable living, and social justice. How convenient that these just happen to be the vehicles which the United Nations is using to further it’s own agenda to restructure society & unite the world under its governing body of global elites.

TRUE TRUTH:
2 Timothy 4:3-4
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.

(I found it to be slightly humorous that, on page 9 of the booklet which Saddleback passed out to attendees, the symptom of “itchy ears” was listed in the “Medical Symptom/Toxicity Questionnaire”…oh, the irony!) (source: Ponderings from Patmos)


Lighthouse Trails Comment: We encourage Christian leaders and pastors, such as Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel who in front of thousands of people allowed Rick Warren to give the opening prayer of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade and called him his ”good friend,” to publicly speak up in this matter. Thus far, Christian leaders are remaining utterly silent about Rick Warren’s New Age health fair done in the name of Christianity. The silence of Christian leaders is deafening.


Related Articles:

Special Report:Rick Warren’s New Health and Wellness Initiative Could Have Profound Repercussions on Many

Emanuel Swedenborg’s Occultic Beliefs Influence Rick Warren’s Health Advisor and Now the Christian Church

Feedback About Reiki – Many Christians Have Already Been Influenced!

SPECIAL REPORT: Rick Warren’s “Apologetics” Weekend Should Apologize for Representing “Another Gospel”


Yes, Let Us Reason Together: A Response To The Covenant Statement

Last year, I had a meeting with someone who is a leader in our denomination.  This leader had read my article (Nazarene Denomination Losing It’s Way), which had been printed in The Good News Today, a Christian newspaper that is distributed to over 300 churches and businesses.  Shortly after, some Nazarene churches cancelled their subscription.  (The editor knows of these kinds of risks, yet I know him as a man who only seeks to print the truth, sometimes at the cost of readership).

This Nazarene leader said to me (not an exact quote): “I was grieved to find out that you published this article, because I know many people in the areas around us that are considering joining the Nazarene denomination, and they may not because of this.” My response was that “I too am grieved.  I am grieved because of knowing about all the Nazarenes who have been forced to leave their beloved churches of many years, because of the false teachings of the emergent church.  That is what grieves me.”

As I think of that day, I remember that neither this leader, nor any other, has ever taken the time to point out any falsehoods that were in my article, to this day.  They just simply were not happy with it.  In retrospect, I would have added more to my statement that day.  I would have also said to this leader, “And furthermore, until the Nazarene denomination rights the ship, cleans out all the heresies being taught and promoted, and proclaims loud and clear that the entire Bible is the infallible, inerrant word of God, I in good conscience before God, must advise any person considering joining the denomination, to put off that decision indefinitely.  In addition, I do not recommend that any Christian send their child to any Nazarene university, college or seminary, unless they verify that that school stands solidly for biblical truth (in word and practice) and actually teaches a belief in the entire word of God.  This nonsense that the Bible is “infallible and inerrant only in matters of salvation” must be rejected by all Bible believers, once and for all.  It is not scriptural, and therefore, it is wrong.”  Yet, if somehow I am wrong about all this, I sincerely ask for a solid scriptural correction of my wrong thinking.  That is what Christians ought to do for each other, is it not?

So having just read the previous paragraphs, how many of you think this was from an unloving and uncaring Christian?  Is what you just read insensitive?  Is it un-Christlike?  Was I disrespectful to this leader?  Did I violate scripture in any way in what I wrote?  The reason I ask is because of a document called A Covenant of Community Conversation that was released by the Board of General Superintendents last Fall of 2010. You can read the entire document at the end of this post, and also download it here: COVENANT-COMMUNITY

When I read the statement, I had two impressions.  First, I can agree with the contents as expressed.  But I could not dismiss the thought in my mind that it seemed to be written to address those, like me, who are speaking out in a louder voice than many may want to hear.  Recently a friend of mine submitted the same kind of thoughts that I personally was having trouble articulating, and posted them to the Holiness Today website.  I do not know if her comment ever was approved, but here is what she said:

“I would like to comment on the article “A Covenant of Community Conversation” from the General Superintendents (Nov/Dec, 2010 issue).  I am in full agreement with the premise that as Christian holiness people, we should treat each other with loving kindness and with respect as Christ would have us to do.  Yet, in the article, I sense an undercurrent of criticism directed at those who disagree with the premises of the Emergent Church Movement being promoted by a growing number of our people, including our leadership and educational institutions.  (It is being promoted in all Christian denominations.) To disagree is not to be unkind, as when searching the Holy Scripture, I can find no scriptural justification for the practices embraced by the Emergent Movement – but rather unscriptural.  I MUST base all that I believe on the Word of God, as it is TRUTH.  I am reminded of Martin Luther’s statement “Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen”   Thank you for allowing me to speak.”   Naomi Gilroy

I agree fully with this statement, which reflects the attitude and approach that concerned Nazarenes everywhere are taking.  I have been prayerfully considering since the “Covenant” statement came out, as to what I would say in response to it.  I believe it is missing additional statements.  It seems incomplete, and as my friend pointed out, has an undercurrent of criticism towards those of us who love the Nazarene church and yet stand ready to question what we see as unscriptural practices and teachings, for the sake of those who need to be warned, and for the sake of those who are erring in their ways and rebelling against God and His Holy word.

But there you go again, Manny, some will say.  “You are being judgmental, because we are told in scripture we should not judge.”  Of course, that is totally incorrect and unscriptural.  But of course we are to judge, but we are to judge righteously.  We are to have spiritual discernment, and that is impossible without the ability to judge whether something stands on the word of God, or whether it is trying to subvert the word of God.  To be a “watchman on the wall”, you must discern between what is evil, and what is of God.  Then you must go further, and warn, and teach, and if necessary rebuke and reprove those who perpetuate and allow the evil to spread.  If what I have just said is true, please don’t become my enemy because I speak the truth.

Anyone who has any common sense, and knows what is going on, should know that the vast majority of those who are raising their voices, have a great love for the Church of the Nazarene.  Some have never been anything but a Nazarene.  That’s why we raise our voices!  We are trying to be watchmen on the wall.  We are doing like the Bereans whom Paul commended for scrutinizing his sermons.  Imagine that, “run of the mill” Christians scrutinizing the words of the great apostle Paul!, and what does he do?  He praises them!

Is anyone in our denomination claiming to be better than Paul, or Peter, and that they are above reproach or scrutiny?  Do any of our leaders claim to be God’s vicar on earth, whose very words that are spoken unquestioningly represent God’s will?  Does anyone claim that the very words of any of our leadership are inerrant- while some in leadership claim that the Holy scriptures are not completely inerrant?  Does anyone claim that our church manual is a perfect document, and that Article IV is a perfect expression of what is taught by God’s word?

I am not a theologian or pastor, but I (and many others like me) went to the same kind of schooling Peter did.  And we certainly are not hateful, or vindictive, or uneducated, or ignorant.  That would be recklessly incriminating a whole lot of people in the church; laypeople, pastors, district superintendents.  Let me remind many of you, that we are grieving for all of those committed Nazarene folks who have left, or been forced to leave their church, and never returned to any other Nazarene church.  Let me remind you of the price several pastors that I know have paid, for standing against the emergent movement, and standing for biblical truth.  I remind you also of the pastor and his congregation who severed their ties completely with the church, and refused to bow the knee to Baal.  And lest we forget, we also grieve for the many students whose trust in the word of God has been completely shattered by the false teachers in our universities.  Oh, may God forgive us for allowing this to happen.  May God give us all His light in this dark moment.  Judgment will indeed come to those who turn a blind eye to all this apostasy.

And so I ask the General Superintendents to consider an additional covenant that I will submit to them in the next week or so.  It will address the area of discernment, of guarding the flock, of being watchmen on the wall, of standing against apostasy at all costs.  It may cost our denomination members to do so.  It may result in the loss of revenues.  But all that would be nothing, compared to the tragic cost of disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ in even one area.  Full obedience to Him is the only option.  Will we respond to the call for full obedience, no matter what the cost?  Or will this denomination go the way that many apostate denominations have gone?

Come, let us reason together- for real. We’re ready to have a real conversation.

Manny

HERE IS THE FULL STATEMENT BY THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS:

A COVENANT OF COMMUNITY CONVERSATION

Come Let Us Reason Together

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NIV).

The Church of the Nazarene offers a message of hope, transformation, and reconciliation to a world that is deeply divided by political, theological, and cultural differences. We are radically committed to our Articles of Faith and to our Core Values as a Christian people, a Holiness people, and a Missional people. We passionately embrace our mission “to make Christlike disciples in the nations!”

In our efforts to maintain our identity and fulfill our mission we are always open to any grace-filled respectful communication. We are grateful for the conversation with each other in the Church of the Nazarene and with other brothers and sisters in the broader Christian community. Too often, however, our communication has reflected the divisions of our cultures rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul urges all those who claim the name of Christ to “let your conversation be always full of grace… so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6 NIV).

In an effort to fulfill Christ’s purposes:

I. We affirm that each of us is created in and reflects the image of God. The respect we owe God should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness … this should not be” (James 3:9–10, TNIV).

II. We recognize that we cannot function together as brothers and sisters of the same community unless we are mindful of the way we treat each other. In pursuit of the common good in our life together, each of us must therefore “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25, NIV). “Give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10, NASB).

III. We commit that our dialogue with each other will reflect the Spirit of Jesus. We are encouraged to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32, TNIV).

IV. We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully. We will not falsely impugn others’ motives, attack others’ character, or question others’ faith; instead we humbly recognize that in our limited, human opinions “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV). We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle … patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2, NIV).

V. We will embrace Christ’s admonition that we speak confidentially TO others prior to speaking ABOUT them to the church. “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you” (Matthew 18:15, MSG).

VI. We will carefully guard our hearts and the language we use in expressing our differences. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

VII. We commit to pray daily for our political and spiritual leaders—those with whom we may agree, as well as those with whom we may disagree. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made … for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2, ESV).

VIII. We believe that it is more difficult to hate others, even our adversaries and our enemies, when we are praying for them. Together we strive to be faithful witnesses to our Lord, who prayed “that they may be one” (John 17:22, ESV).

IX. We pledge to God and to each other that we will lead by example in a time where civil discourse seems to have broken down. We will model a better way of treating each other in our faith communities, even across religious and political lines. We strive to create safe congregations that are sacred spaces for common prayer and community conversation as we come together to seek God’s will for our future together. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NIV).

X. We commit to bear witness to Christ’s presence and the Kingdom of God in this world.

Recognizing that the world is watching, we seek to be authentic Christ followers who recognize “how good and pleasant it is when the people of God live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1, TNIV).

Beware Richard Foster And Friends Who Practice Mysticism From The East

They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. (Isaiah 2:6)

Richard Foster, modern day guru of contemplative prayer, is very popular in Nazarene and other evangelical denominations.  One of his books was featured at the Nazarene General Assembly in 2009, on a table situated in one of two “Prayer Rooms.” You know (for those who were there), the prayer rooms that had that good old Roman Catholic feel to them with their prayer stations, icons, and candles.  The post has a short video of the room.

In a recent post, I questioned the wisdom of the leadership at Point Loma Nazarene University for allowing Richard Foster’s Renovaré group to come and spread their false ideology at a Christian school.  Recently the coordinator of Renovaré posted the following comment on my blog in defense of Renovaré, which was founded by Foster, the guru of this “new” spirituality, which is not really new.  Here is what he said:

“While I really appreciate and admire the energy you put into this work, it is very discouraging to think of all that is being done to “correct” what is perceived as the wayward ways of others as opposed to casting a positive vision of life with God in his kingdom for Christians and non-Christians alike.

On Renovare specifically, we promote a balanced vision of Christian life and faith that encourages growth in six areas of faith and practice:

Contemplative: Prayer-Filled Life
Holiness: Virtuous Life
Charismatic: Spirit-Empowered Life
Social Justice: Compassionate Life
Evangelical: Word-Centered Life
Incarnational: Sacramental Life

We do draw on Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox persons and practices from the past, as do all Christians. There was no other church before the 10th Century! And, believe it or not, there were no Protestants before the 16th Century! And, I believe, Nazarenes are part of this Protestant branch of Christianity. So we all gain from the legacy that is the Roman Catholic Church. It cannot be avoided.

In any case, I would very much appreciate it if you would discontinue referring to Renovare as a “contemplative spirituality” ministry. While this is something that we care about and promote, as did Jesus (what did he did for 40 days in the desert? build sand castles? no, he prayed and contemplated the goodness of God), it is not the only thing. We are as much about helping people grow in holiness and compassion and other areas as in the life of prayer.” (Emphasis mine)

I thanked Mr. Graybeal for commenting and for at least having the courage to defend his position, albeit I believe an incorrect defense that is not based on scripture.  I am particularly bothered by the stunning silence of those Nazarenes who promote this stuff in the college seminars, conferences, course, and retreats, but have yet to defend this biblically, other than stating that these are biblical practices, without further supporting their positions with a sound defense.

I know what he means by contemplative.  He describes it as “prayer filled life”, but our contention has always been that it is not the kind of prayer that is biblically sanctioned.  This contemplative life he references is the same as that of people like Tony Campolo with his Celtic mysticism, or folks like Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, and goes all the way back to the Desert Fathers of old.  It cannot be traced in any way to scripture, no matter what they say.  “Be still”, from Psalm 46, does not cut it as an excuse for mindless meditation, which contemplative prayer leads us into.

He also says, “We do draw on Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox persons and practices from the past, as do all Christians.” No, we don’t all draw from these traditions.  It was these and other deviations from orthodox biblical Christianity that spurred Martin Luther to nail the 95 Theses to the church walls.  And Martin Luther himself hated these kinds of mindless practices, and yet the contemplatives of today along with the emergent church crowd, insist on telling lies to justify these practices.  I would ask any Nazarene pastor or leader today, can you tell me when we started drawing from these traditions, and why?

Mr. Graybeal justifies contemplative spirituality and “meditation” with reference to Jesus praying out in the desert.  The problem is that Jesus prayed not in the way of the Eastern mystics, but instead prayed directly to God, with a conscious mind, not a mind that He emptied!  Sure, I can contemplate on God’s goodness, on God’s word, and think about it and learn from it.  That’s biblical contemplation.  The contemplation of today’s “Christian” mystics leads to emptying the mind.  It’s not the kind of contemplation you will find anywhere in the Bible.  In fact, it’s the kind of contemplation that led Richard Foster to warn us that before we enter into contemplative prayer, that we ought to pray a “prayer of protection”, because the spirits involved may not be of God!  And, he warned that he does not recommend this practice to novices!  Furthermore, he also believes that even non-Christians can practice this kind of prayer just as Christians do!

So… where is the discernment from our professors, our pastors, and our national leaders, to thoroughly reject Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, and all the other false teachers who are peddling this false “New Spirituality?”  Why would Point Loma Nazarene University host a retreat sponsored by Renovaré this year?  I think I know the answer, but the question still needs to be asked.  Yet, in almost all our Nazarene universities and the seminary, you will find a fascination with Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Brother Lawrence- almost anybody but a good old solid holiness author, who might be thrown in there just to say they have some of them too.

And finally, “So we all gain from the legacy that is the Roman Catholic Church. It cannot be avoided.” No, we don’t all gain from the legacy of the Roman Catholic Church, and it CAN and SHOULD be avoided.  As we start incorporating the Roman Catholic mysticism that the Reformation rejected, we are actually attempting to go backwards to a time of inward turning, works-based Christianity which cannot save anyone, instead of a Christianity focused solely on Christ and the redemptive work he did on the Cross.  The Five Solas came out of the Reformation:

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”), Sola fide (“by faith alone”), Sola gratia (“by grace alone”), Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”), Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)

Contemplative spirituality practices are a rejection of these five principles.  These principles are all taught in scripture and therefore are founded on God’s word.  The same cannot be said of contemplative prayer, mindless “silence” or “the thin places” of Tony Campolo, no matter how much its supporters protest.  That’s because it is not based on the word of God, but on doctrines of demons.

I sincerely would like to know from our General Superintendents, what are the biblical justifications for these kinds of practices, and for allowing blatantly false teachers like Richard Foster? Since our top leaders sets the tone for our denomination, I believe we have a right to get a clear, unambiguous answer from you.  And… are we becoming Roman Catholic?

Manny

For further insight into Foster and others, the following article by Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries explains the roots of this dangerous spirituality:

CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY OF RICHARD FOSTER ROOTED IN THE EASTERN DESERT AND THOMAS MERTON

Don’t Show Them the Money: Maybe They Will Listen

Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16 (NKJV)

I watched a Charles Stanley sermon several months ago, entitled “What You Believe- Does It Matter?”  Here is a short excerpt towards the end in regards to sending your child to college:

“And I want to say it again to parents.  You owe it to your children to teach them the truth of the word of God….It’s your responsibility as a parent to find out what does that school teach.  Do you want to spend 60 to 100,000 dollars getting your child educated in things that destroy them, instead of educating them in things that build them up and strengthen them and make them godly? Where you send your kids to school is a very important thing….they want freedom to choose.  But freedom that is knowledgeable, freedom that is intelligible, freedom that knows the truth about a school, and about the president, and what they teach and what they don’t teach.”

This reminded me of what I had mentioned in a post last year, which was not well received by some, including a few pastors.  That article I wrote ended up leading to a major turning point for the future of me and my family.  It was a critique of Dr. Tom Oord and his lecture at Eastern Nazarene College.  Dr. Oord teaches the heresy (yes, heresy) of open theism, and as a Christian parent with a future college child or two, I did not take kindly to this ideology he is indoctrinating students with, nor to the fact that he was speaking at Eastern Nazarene, nor to the fact that the leadership at the school welcomed him and apparently agree with, or at least tolerate with, this heretical teaching.

I recall that I made some people very unhappy just for simply suggesting that they call or write, and ask questions of the ENC leadership, if they were concerned.  It continues to amaze me, how those who claim to be the “understanding ones”, the ones open to all ideas and beliefs, the so-called “Big Tent” people, are the very ones who try to silence or intimidate any Christian who has serious concerns about a school’s teachings and who ask questions and want straight answers!  These “understanding ones”, the post-modern types, are the very people who one minute promote an open dialog and an embrace of tolerance for all viewpoints, but then turn around and slander you!  But there is no doubt that these tolerant ones are really the intolerant ones.  And they are like that simply because they are trying to defend their biblically indefensible ideologies that they espouse at our Christian universities.  They know who they are, and I expect at least a few of them will get a little meaner and nastier if they manage to finish reading this.  I can understand it, however, because they have no other substantive defense for their ideology.

But I think we need to go a step further beyond just continually asking questions, which most likely will not be answered, or answered adequately.  I have concluded that the power of the checkbook is the only way to get some heads turning at these schools that are letting in all sorts of aberrant teachings whose source is clearly not God, but from satan.  They are apparently comfortable with the idea that it’s more important to expose our kids to false teachers and teachings, than to protect them from what might lead them away from the faith.  Hence  barely a word said about guest speakers like universalist Jay McDaniel (at Northwest Nazarene University) who claims to be a Christian.  Or Tony Campolo who is shamelessly embraced at ENC by Nazarene pastors and school leaders while he spouts his mysticism, his support for the homosexual lifestyle as compatible with Christianity, and his occultic doctrines of demons.  And our premier theological seminary, NTS, reflects the same occultic tendencies as Campolo does, by providing a course in Celtic spirituality, which is a system that is nothing but a perversion of true Christianity.  There is Point Loma Nazarene University, with its ill-advised support and promotion of Richard Foster and his contemplative mysticism; and Trevecca Nazarene University and its promotion of prayer labyrinths, Roman Catholic monastic mysticism, and practicing the silence.  I could go on and on, including the teaching of theistic evolution, which is totally incompatible with biblical teaching, and contradicts the words of Jesus Christ Himself!



For the Nazarenes who know what’s going on and support all this stuff, you cannot with a straight face tell me that some of what is happening is from our heritage of Nazarene holiness teaching, or even from a Wesleyan tradition, which you often reference, but which you often misquote and twist.  So perhaps more parents, alumni, and even churches and districts, may need to start sending a message, that their dollars will no longer go to these schools, until they straighten their act out.  I believe some have already done this.  I also have heard testimony that some individuals have paid a price for standing up against these practices and ideas.  So, if asking questions politely does not even merit a substantive response, perhaps politely but firmly telling them that enough is enough, and they won’t get a dime anymore, might work.

Perhaps some parents might want to demand a refund from these schools, because of false advertising.  “Prayer labyrinths, monastic mysticism, practicing the silence, evolution, open theism is not what I signed up my daughter or son to learn!  Please return my money.”


Unless you don’t see any problem with any of the things I and others have clearly reported on and documented, I believe it is Christian negligence and disobedience to God if you DO know there is a serious problem, and do absolutely nothing and turn a blind eye to this.  If someone knows that their child’s future or current Christian college is allowing or promoting false teachings, or allowing false teachers to come into the school unchallenged, to brainwash their children, they have a Christian obligation to say or do something about it.

And if you are willing to risk your child’s eternal salvation, just because it’s always been the school you supported, I think you need to pray about this.  If you are very worried about these things, ask God for the strength and the words to challenge the leadership, and the board of directors at these schools, until they start listening to you, until they do something about the heresies being welcomed and embraced.  If that does not work, perhaps we need to start asking the Lord to shut down these schools, for the sake of our children.

There is hope for some of these schools that have not gone too far off the deep end yet.  But some of these others that I have mentioned apparently have swallowed the poison cup of apostasy and are in critical condition, on spiritual life support.  And they will not care a bit no matter how much you complain, unless the threat of loss of money is hanging over their heads.  Oh, they may send you a nice form letter back, thanking you and stating that the school is committed to the ideals of our denomination and the “stated” mission of the school. Then they turn right around again and continue with the transformation of the school into something that is a breeding ground for future pastors that do not even believe in the entire word of God.  So I believe that the only practical weapon remaining is the power of the checkbook, in addition to the ultimate power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds.  Saying  “God is in control, don’t worry, let Him take care of it”, does not absolve us of our Christian responsibility to do and say something.

Each one of us- individually, not collectively- is accountable to God.  And one day, each and every one of us will answer to God in His presence, for all the things we did or DID NOT DO.  If anyone thinks that it is only the overt acts of a Christian that will be judged by God, heed the words of Ezekiel 33:7-9.

Some of you remember the movie with Tom Cruise and his famous line: “Show me the money.”  You see, the bottom line for him was the money.  Well, some of us have come to the conclusion that the bottom line for these universities and colleges is the money.  And what will assist in improving their hearing is a good old fashioned statement from a lot of parents, or from an entire church or district:

“Change your ways.  Enough is enough.  You will not get a dime from us until your school reflects the true values and doctrines of the denomination whose name you carry.  Otherwise, we will not show you the money, and we will not send our children to this school.”



“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.

You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent.” (Isaiah 62:6)


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Below is a 10 minute summary of Dr. Jay McDaniel speaking at Northwest Nazarene University in 2008.  Please watch it.  Contrary to objections that have been made, I saw no evidence that this lecture was for nothing else than to further indoctrinate students into a pluralist and universalistic type thinking, and this should be a sober reminder of what will continue to happen at our Christian universities, if we stay silent.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9GgRy741A8