[Updated Aug.31, 8:30 pm, added comments in red, contributed by John Henderson]
There is a pastor’s conference scheduled for September to be held at Trevecca Nazarene University. Upon reading the agenda for the conference, and being familiar with some of the views of Dr. Dan Boone, I thought I might help some pastors who are considering attending. I believe I can save them some money at the same time, and save time away from family and congregation. Instead of spending $150, plus travel and hotel and other expenses, I will provide the answers to the questions listed below, and I suggest a donation of $10 to Stand For Truth Ministries, which will go towards the production and distribution of resource DVDs to Christians who are standing against and exposing false teachings. Below is a portion of the press release, followed by my answers to these questions:
Trevecca offers new conference for pastors
Trevecca Nazarene University offers pastors an opportunity to discuss with TNU President Dan Boone those “thorny” issues that can divide congregations at its September conference.
During “A Charitable Discourse: Forming Mature Congregations in a Contentious Culture” September 19-21 pastors can grapple with the issues that can divide congregations…
Boone will define what is at stake in these issues and will provide resources to help pastors guide their own charitable discourses with congregants and communities.
Below are some of the questions they will “grapple” with, and my answers which do not require a one hour discussion:
1. How does a pastor preach the gospel to a congregation with deeply-held, diverse opinions?
Answer: Boldly, uncompromisingly, without regard for who will like him, or which side he should take, or how many he can retain in his congregation, or whose feelings he might hurt, or whether the world will be pleased with him. The truth is all that matters, not diverse opinions.
Further Questions: Define “deeply-held, diverse opinions.” In terms of what: biblical vs. non-biblical? biblical prayer vs. mysticism-based prayer? Scriptural inerrancy vs. “inerrant as it relates only to salvation”
2. How are believers formed in a church of differing political persuasions?
Answer: Through the preaching of the gospel without any personal and extra-biblical views inserted, such as the liberal and social gospel views of the post-modern church of today. Just “preach the gospel once delivered to the saints.” That is sufficient.
Further questions: What do political persuasions matter? Do those who listen to Rush have different religious opinions than those who listen to Obama? If so, what are they? Also, what examples do you have that political opinions do or ever have impacted on Christians together in the same church? Has there ever been a church split between Democrats and Republicans? Have they not more likely been over what color of carpet to install?
3. How does a pastor survive the pressure of competing demands from opposite ends of the creation debate?
Answer: “Survival” is not the concern. A pastor must boldly and clearly teach that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God, and therefore there is no need for debate as to whether God spoke the truth when He inspired Moses to write down the creation account. The only pressure a pastor should feel is the pressure to be 100% faithful to God’s word, without concern for the pressures of man’s opinion. Even so, it should not even be “pressure”; it ought to be a love for God’s truth that motivates him.
Further Questions: What opposite ends of the creation debate? The Church of the Nazarenes and other evangelical/fundamental churches have traditionally held to a literal creation as described in Genesis and restated throughout the entire Bible. The only “debate” has been whether the six days were literally 24-hours each or some other longer period, but never about whether it was literal. Evolutionism never had a chance in that discussion.
4. How will the church respond to homosexuality?
Answer: Like any other sin. Homosexuality is disobedience to God, and the scriptures teach that those who deliberately rebel against God, regardless of the sin, are choosing a path of destruction. The church should not condone any sin including homosexuality, and should not water down sin, by differentiating between “orientation” and the actual practice of homosexuality. If a man has desires for another woman, yet does not sleep with her, is that okay? Why then treat homosexuality any different or more special than any other sin, whether of thought, or of deed? There is no “conversation” needed here, the question is settled.
Further Questions: What do the Scriptures say about homosexuality every time it is mentioned or referenced? Should that not be as far as you go with it? If the official statement of a denomination contradicts the Scriptures, which is to be believed?
Those of us who are determined to stay the course and advance uncompromising biblical truth believe that what is at stake in these issues (as Dr. Boone plans to define at the conference) is simply the following:
The true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is at stake, and souls are at stake.
It would also seem that Dr. Boone believes the following:
A. That those who disagree with him are religious jihadists.
B. That unless you support a strictly liberal progressive ticket (which he did publically despite declaring he voted otherwise), you are on the wrong side of the issues.
C. That the “scientific” data on the side of evolution is more accurate than the fable of creation in Genesis.
D. That we should apologize to homosexuals for the hard time they have had getting accepted as homosexuals and that as long as they think it (orientation) and don’t do it (you can imagine that for yourself), they are without guilt or sin. Never mind those pesky Bible passages that say things like, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
I realize Dr. Boone and many others in Nazarene higher education have more educational and religious credentials than I and others have. Does that make them automatically more qualified to discern truth and error than us? Of course not! Do their credentials allow them to promote open theism, process theology, limited scriptural inerrancy, and evolution without being challenged? No, since other men of equal credentials have already challenged them on these and other positions. I wonder, does he consider them extreme fundamentalists?
Dr. Boone has a very popular following in the Nazarene schools today, but he is being challenged by some on his positions regarding many biblical issues today. He has urged others to “stun them with our silence”, yet he continues on in his book “Charitable Discourse”, (which it is not) to be amazingly uncharitable towards those that he considers are “fundamental Christian Nazarenes.”
I am one of those who are challenging him and many other leaders today, as evidenced by our back and forth on several issues a couple of years ago. I don’t believe Dr. Boone is qualified to lead this conference, based on statements he has made that are very suspect at best, and his beliefs.
Dr. Boone believes, for instance, that the Psalms were just different renderings of Babylonian myths, and that parts of the Bible were just the Israelites copying what they heard the pagans say. If that is the case, then Dr. Boone clearly does not believe that the scriptures are wholly inspired by God, but that some parts come from pagan traditions! Here is the quote I refer to, which he sent in an email to a concerned Nazarene:
“The Hebrew creation account is a re-telling of the Babylonian tale. Their Hebrew feast days are re-interpretations of the Canaanite days. The Royal Psalms in the collection of Psalms were once Canaanite songs.”
Dr. Boone has also referred to both Thomas Merton and Ignatius of Loyola as spiritual giants, so it is erroneous logic for him to state: “To leap from renting a retreat facility to embracing the Catholic theology or the works of Thomas Merton is like saying that someone who stays in a Marriott Hotel is being Mormonized.” (This was in response to my critique of sending students to the Abby of Gethsemani every year for retreats. Included in the activities was participation in “practicing the silence”, and ecumenical activities with the monks.)
We find that statement to be absurd–you don’t get Gethsemani without getting Merton. It isn’t benign like staying in a hotel; keep in mind as well that he has referred to Thomas Merton as a spiritual giant. Yet, Thomas Merton was a blatant universalist who mixed Eastern religions with Christianity! But Dr. Boone calls him a spiritual giant?
I obtained a copy of a letter (from 2009) to pastors warning them about certain concerned Nazarenes. In it, Dr. Boone erroneously claimed that the Roman Catholic church was the only church for 1500 years after Christ. That is clearly not the fact, although he continued to insist that it is accurate. In the same letter, he states that “While Nazarenes are different from Catholics in very significant ways, we believe that we will share eternity with them in the presence of the Christ who prayed that we might be one.” I wonder if Dr. Boone feels the same way about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also claim to know Christ. And does he not know that officially, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize Nazarenes and other denominations as true Christians? This is compromise with anyone who claims the name of Jesus, but that is not the kind of unity Jesus prayed for.
Dr. Boone has also allowed the practice of the prayer labyrinth at Trevecca, and when this was exposed, changed the name to prayer walk. It’s still the same pagan practice, yet he believes apparently that we can take pagan practices and use them in a Christianized way to worship God. And he shows his support for the contemplative mysticism he denies, by favorably quoting and reading such authors as Richard Foster, who is the leading contemporary promoter of contemplative mysticism.
He also has a very erroneous understanding of Psalm 46, which many use as an excuse to justify “practicing the silence”, which is nothing more than contemplative prayer, one of the Christianized versions of transcendental meditation. Read Psalm 46, and you wonder how he and so many others get this passage wrong! Dr. Boone is in denial that mystical practices are being encouraged at his school, while at the same time proving it with his approval of mystics such as Merton and Foster!
Dr. Boone also discusses jihad in the church, and apparently that is a reference to folks like us who dare to challenge his views that we believe are damaging the church. Not very charitable, is that? I quote him:
“Religious fundamentalism is one of the hot topics in the world today and this website has given me the best model, other than Islamic fundamentalism, to demonstrate to students how religious fundamentalism works.”
He goes on to qualify that, but that is a typical thing that is done: attack, then soften the statement, but the accusation sticks anyway. Finally, he says also:
“Now, I must confess a sin. I did not listen to some friends who told me that I would not find a rational conversation here. I am most likely viewing these websites for the last time and would urge all thinking Christians to join me in the exit. Maybe we can stun them with our silence.”
Again, not very charitable. Dr. Boone does not seem to practice what he preaches.
Dr. Boone is not an exception. Our Nazarene schools have many leaders who are now allowing the promotion of just about anything without question, and that should not be so. I have pointed them out many times, and will continue to do so. Dr. Boone and others can call us jihadists or extreme fundamentalists all they want, but we will continue exposing their dangerous ideologies to Christians who do not believe that ANY man should go unquestioned, just because they have a bunch of degrees and honors. I challenge Dr. Boone and all others to accept the word of God as what it is: inerrant and infallible, and the only authority for our faith and practice.
Some would say I am not being charitable in my words. But we are to call out those who are in error, are we not? Dr. Boone is no exception. He is just one of many of our leaders who have been in error for a long time. Popularity notwithstanding, I will continue to call them out. I’ll conclude with quotes from his book. You can make up your own mind:
From chapter 5:
“Hinduism. I even reminded the writer that God’s people have often taken elements of other religions and sanctified them for Christian use—Canaanite songs became Jewish psalms, pagan feasts became Christian meals, and so on.”
From chapter 6:
“My concern is that we have diminished God by elevating the Bible.” (???)
“I believe that God is pained over the tenor of the discussion between the literalists of seven-day creation theories and the evolutionists of the slow creative-process theories. To prove either one correct is not a saving act. God is not wringing his hands hoping we defend the literal interpretation of Gen. 1.”
“What I find more exciting and authoritative is the thought that the people of God were exiled in the pagan land of Babylon, listening to pagan stories about the origin of the universe, and the breath of God spoke through a prophet giving them a different understanding. They hijacked the Babylonian tale of creation and declared God to be the one who, in the beginning, created creation and came to take up residence with us in the cosmic temple. Now that’s authority”
A Charitable (To People Who Think Like Me) Discourse:
Dan Boone’s Comments on Trevecca: