Olivet Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality

“It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. (Lighthouse Trails Research)

It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly.

The following specific facts are extracted from a post at Lighthouse Trails Research regarding Olivet Nazarene University:

Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, is used in a required freshman course.
Spiritual Formation is part of the school’s major theology curriculums
Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses
The Vice President of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors

This is troubling news, and if we dig deeper and get closer, I’m sure we would find that there is no denying that these sources are used because those at the school who use them, have no problem with them.  No professor or school leader is going to use or recommend any of these books I mentioned, unless they have no problem with what these authors teach!  These books are not being used as examples of what to avoid, but examples of what can supposedly help us grow spiritually.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That Olivet is considered by many to be one of the more conservative Christian colleges is not a very good sign.

As the writers mention below, practically all Nazarene colleges and the seminaries are promoting spiritual formation (aka contemplative spirituality), and these kinds of writers.  Foster has appeared at seminars in some Nazarene universities, such as at Point Loma.  He is considered the leading promoter of contemplative mysticism today within the “evangelical” community.  Nouwen was a universalist Catholic monk who mixed Christianity with Buddhism.  Tony Campolo has spoken at Olivet, even just recently, and apparently no one there has any problem with him.  Campolo is a big promoter of centering prayer, the mantra like Jesus Prayer, and also promotes the occultic practices of Celtic Spirituality.  I sent my concerns about him to Dr. Carl Leth, dean of the School of Theology, but apparently he has no problem in having Dr. Campolo speak there.

I agree with the conclusions of Lighthouse Trails, and again I commend ministries like them who are consistently exposing what is going on in not only the Nazarene denomination, but in practically all denominations.  The only question that remains on the table is this: why are some of you okay with it, and if you are not, why are some of you so silent?

This post is being forwarded to Olivet president Dr. Bowling, and to Dr. Leth.  I would like to get a reasonable, biblically supported explanation of why these kinds of authors are used in a required freshman course, and in other theology courses.  Perhaps they are using these authors as examples of bad theology?  But if not, and Olivet claims to be “theologically grounded in the Wesleyan tradition”, what does that have to do with Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen’s promotion of unbilical contemplative spirituality?

I am also sending this to the Board of General Superintendents for comment.  What they think about these issues is still unknown to me and many others who have asked them to comment.

Olivet Nazarene University 105th School Added to Lighthouse Trails Contemplative School List

February 11th, 2012 | Author: Lighthouse Trails Editors

 

On Saturday morning, Lighthouse Trails received an e-mail from a concerned parent whose child is attending Olivet Nazarene University. The parent told us that Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline is part of a required Freshman course. We have also discovered that Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) is integrated in various aspects of the school including their Christian Education program, Practical Ministries, Youth Ministry, and the School of Theology. Thus we have added Olivet Nazarene University to our list of Christian schools that promote Spiritual Formation.

In addition to Richard Foster’s book, Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses. In two of those (CMIN 116, COMM 300), his contemplative promoting book In the Name of Jesus is used. This is the book that Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, recommends saying it “hits at the heart of the minister . . .  I highlighted almost every word.”1 It is in that book of Nouwen’s that he says:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.2 (emphasis added)

In almost every school that promotes Spiritual Formation, Henri Nouwen is used. This is because the spirituality that Nouwen advocated for is the same spirituality that Spiritual Formation (contemplative) inhabits. When you think of where Spiritual Formation took Nouwen before the end of his life (after years of practicing mysticism), it is sobering to see the majority of Christian colleges and seminaries embrace him. In the last book he wrote, he stated:

Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”3

What Nouwen says here illustrates the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality. It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly. We have documented this for years. If you want to see one of the most shocking signs of where evangelical Christian schools will end up, read our article Buddhist/Universalist Sympathizer Woos Nazarene Students at NNU and watch the video we link to of Dr. Jay McDaniel’s visit to Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.

Nouwen’s influence is obvious at Olivet. The VP of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors. This of course could have a profound influence on many students. Parents, please remember, when you are looking for a college or university for your son or daughter to attend this coming fall, please check that school out carefully beforehand, and make sure your child understands what the underlying roots of contemplative and emerging spirituality are before they leave your home. It is by no means just Nazarene Universities that are being affected. This is happening in virtually every denomination to one degree or another.

Original link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8761

Additional Resources:

1. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, (http://web.archive.org/web/20081227044856/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54).

2. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.

3. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, Hardcover edition, 1998, p. 51.

 

Pastor Nadakharni Facing Execution Threat

Many of us have been praying for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for a long time now.  For those who are not aware, Pastor Youcef who is from Iran, was arrested a couple of years ago and charged with apostasy (abandoning the Islamic faith).  According to Shariah law, this “offense” is punishable by death.  Most of the international community is outraged at this threat to those who become Christians and leave Islam.  Pastor Youcef has bravely refused to give in to demands to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam.

I have attached a video update here from Jay Sekulow’s program, which gives you a further update on the situation.  Please be in prayer for Pastor Youcef, his wife and family, and for all persecuted Christians around the world who are standing firmly for their faith in Jesus Christ, even to the point of death.

Update from ACLJ:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AtjJ43Qv-I&feature=related

Manny

The New Face Of The Church of the Nazarene

21I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.  23Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.  24But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.  25Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.   Amos 5:21-26

Ash Wednesday And Lent

Ash Wednesday is actually of pagan origin and was admitted into the church beliefs of the Catholic Church a few hundred years after Christ. This was the era when Constantine was attempting to weld pagans and Christians into a unit within the Roman kingdom.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  Roman Catholic churches of the Latin Rite use this service to prepare themselves for the passion and resurrection of Christ through self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Ashes from the burned palms of the preceding year’s Palm Sunday are blessed. With these ashes, the priest marks a cross on the foreheads of those who come forward and kneel, saying, “Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3:19 KJV)

1. Putting ashes on the forehead is not hinted at in the Bible. Jesus and the apostles never thought of such a thing: it was adopted from paganism. African and Indian pagan rites have involved ashes on the forehead. This man made tradition of the Catholics makes the worship of God of no effect and adds to the commandments of Jesus Christ (Matt 15:7-9; 28:18-20).

2. God’s people sat in ashes or covered themselves with ashes to show deep grief and repentance before God. They did not make a little mark on their forehead to pretend grief and repentance. The marking of a cross on the forehead merely shows pagan superstition and man made tradition (Esther 4:1,3; Job 2:8; Is 58:5; Jer 6:26; Dan 9:3; Jonah 3:6; Luke 10:13).

3. Why is the forehead chosen for ashes? Why not the left elbow? Why not the right knee? Jesus condemned publicly disfiguring your face to indicate you were fasting (Matt 6:16-18). Catholics defy the teaching of Jesus Christ in their self-righteous show of religion. And their practices are as repulsive to God as were those of the Jews (Is 1:10-15; Matt 23:1-39).

4. Why is the forehead chosen for ashes? The only Bible reference to men marking their foreheads, other than Pharisee tradition with phylacteries, is the mark of the antichrist beast (Matt 23:5; Rev 13:6; 20:4). God-fearing persons would not want to follow Rome with a mark on their forehead!

5. Why is the forehead chosen for ashes? Because it has the third eye chakra of the Hindus. Surely you have seen Hindu women marked between their eyes. Tilaka is the mark of auspiciousness of Hindus, which may be done by marking the forehead with sacred ashes. Ash Wednesday did not come from the Bible, and it appears by similarity to have come from Hinduism.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.   Matt. 6:16-18

What About Lent?

Paul warned us to beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Col. 2:8-10). Jesus never commanded his apostles to observe Lent, but to observe the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Lent’s Ancient Roots

Coming from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten, meaning “spring,” Lent originated in the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. “The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz” (The Two Babylons).

Tammuz was the false Messiah of the Babylonians—a satanic counterfeit of Jesus Christ!

The Feast of Tammuz was usually celebrated in June (also called the “month of Tammuz”). Lent was held 40 days before the feast, “celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing.” This is why Lent means “spring”; it took place from spring to early summer.

The Bible records ancient Judah worshipping this false Messiah: “Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz” (Ezek 8:14-15). This was a great abomination in God’s eyes!

 

(Source: Unknown author, excerpted from Christine Willard’s website)

Open Letter to the Pastor of Community Emergent Church

The following is from John Henderson.  The letter expresses much of what many Christians have said, or been wanting to say, to their pastor or former pastor, who has been promoting the emergent church, mysticism, Roman Catholicism, and all the rest.  Feel free to send this along to your emergent pastor if you believe this expresses your own thoughts about what is happening in your church.  (I have added additional links).

Open Letter to the Pastor of Community Emergent Church

by John Hendersonon Wednesday, February 15, 2012 

[NOTE:  This is not an actual letter but represents reality as it exists in many modern church environments]

Dear Pastor:

     I am deeply perplexed about the direction you are taking our church in your promotion of the many principles of the emergent church movement.  Maybe I just don’t understand or am not all that willing to go through change.  Perhaps you can enlighten me. 

My family and I have been members here for many years; we raised our children in this church.  It has been the most important thing in our family’s life for a very long time.  We started coming here after being visited by Pastor Jim.  He was canvassing the neighborhood and came to our door.  It was a simple introduction.  He handed us a small tract with information about the church on one side and a short gospel message on the other.  Pastor Jim invited us to the services and then did something we were not expecting from a typical church visitor.  He asked if he could tell us more about Jesus Christ.  Of course, we agreed.  Before Pastor Jim left, he had given us the story of salvation we deeply had wanted to hear but didn’t realize ourselves how much we needed and wanted the Savior.  That, more than anything else, brought us to this church.

We have had several wonderful pastors since then and seen great revivals over the years.  Our church grew because of it.  Somehow, before you came, I sensed a drift among us.  We became more program-focused than evangelism-committed.  We went through “church growth” programs and had many motivational speakers come our way.  In fact, we stopped scheduling revivals with regular evangelists like we used to do and replaced all of that with conferences of some sort or the other.  It was all very exciting but something important always seemed be missing.  I think our life was draining from us—the life that comes through prayer and obedience to the simple gospel.

By the time you arrived and began to initiate the emergent practices among us, we were ripe for the picking.  There were some among us who were more alert and courageous than I who raised questions.  I watched as you and your staff dealt with them rather indifferently and insensitively until they felt forced to go elsewhere.  Those were people who had been a significant part in the grown of our church but suddenly they were out of place.  Those of us who remained gathered a little closer together to fill in the vacancies and kept going with what remained.

When someone on your staff suggested what we needed was to start fellowshipping with those of other “faiths” [ecumenism], I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all that wise, especially when I learned it had nothing to do with winning them to Christ but just hoping to get them to start coming to our church to help fill the empty places.  They were being told they could keep their false ideas about Jesus and be just fine in our non-judgmental fellowship.  I think someone brought up the word postmodern and I had to look it up to see what it meant.

It wasn’t long until you were telling us we needed to walk something called a labyrinth.  It seems it was some sort of adaptation from a Hindu practice whereby we were instructed to walk a prescribed maze of sorts, and pause at pre-determined points and utter some sort of prayer or contemplate on something spiritual.  I went along with it, but felt increasingly uncomfortable because there seemed to be every sort of presence except that of Jesus.

Then you told us we needed to engage in something you called centering prayer.  You told us we should look deeply within until we found ourselves and discovered God.  Well, I looked deeply within but all I found was a wicked, rebellious heart.  I found myself alright but God wasn’t there.

You took a group of us off to a nearby monastery where a group of monks and nuns hosted us and walked us through a method of contemplative prayer.  They were very cordial and nice people and seemed very committed and they were very appealingly aesthetic.  I returned home with a sense of an unusual experience but still felt I had not really met Jesus there.  Maybe I expected too much or had the wrong experience.

Your messages have been filled with a lot of talk about something you frequently call spiritual formation.  Your definitions and descriptions of spiritual formation sound very evangelical but the spiritual (Christ-like) substance is simply not there.  You speak often of the presence of the Holy Spirit—as if we would not notice ourselves that He was present—but, frankly, I just have not noticed.  I know I have not backslidden and have often been aware of the Spirit’s presence in past services at our church.  What you say is His presence resembles nothing like I once knew of His presence among us.

You told us that we needed to enter into some sort of deep silence; something you said was a method of praying whereby we became so silent that we could hear God speaking to us.  About all I ever heard was the ringing in my ears, but God never spoke to me that I could tell.  Maybe I was being too focused on being silent that I never heard Him.  I do remember, however, the other times I would go to Him in earnest prayer and sometimes could not even express myself but I knew He was listening and answering my prayers.  I was never in some sort of silent trance or anything like that and was always keenly aware of communion with Him. I always went away from that very strengthened in my soul.   It worked very well for me but that silence thing was a complete failure, except it seemed to me at times there were spirits I could not recognize trying to say things to me that did not resemble what I knew about the God of the Bible.

I have noticed lately that you have been teaching us things we once rejected in this church.  Pastor Jim led my spouse and me to the Lord in our living room that day he visited and he used the Bible an awful lot.  He answered all of our questions and objections by opening up his Bible and showing us the answers right there in its pages.  But you are now saying to us that not all of the Bible is inspired—only those parts that pertain to salvation.  Was Pastor Jim wrong to tell us it was every bit as inspired as any other part?  Also, what parts pertain to salvation and what parts do not?

You mentioned in one of your recent sermons that Adam and Eve were not actually real, that the creation story was actually a fable.  Why is it in the Bible if that is true?  Why does Luke trace the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam if it is a mere fable of some sort?  You added that the idea of creation evolution is more scientifically accurate.  How do you know that?  Is not “science” itself replete with errors and more subjective interpretation than irrefutable “facts”?

Pastor, there are many more questions I would like to ask, and perhaps we could discuss them openly at some point.  I have one very important question, however, that I must ask.  Are you really a born-again Christian?  If you say you are, why would you discredit so many things the Bible teaches—things that your very salvation must hinge on in order to be validated?  Why would you embrace postmodern and new age concepts that offer no proof of anything they promote while the Word of God stands as its own proof?  Why would you embrace any of that over what the Bible teaches?  If you are really so convinced of all of that stuff, why are you here?  Isn’t there somewhere you could be where you would be better received and we could just be left here to go our simple ways by believing the Bible and holding to those old-fashioned “traditions” that have identified us all these years?

I am sure there are many others just as I who long for those old days, as it were, when you heard prayer in the house of God instead of partying; where there were revival meetings once more instead of special topic study groups; where sinners were convicted for their sins, repented, and were converted at our altars instead of being coddled in their sins because they felt misunderstood and mistreated.  I am sure there are many such as I who long to once more walk into any of our churches and know we will hear the gospel sung, preached, and prayed.

Oh, well, none of this may ever change for the better.  It might get even worse until Jesus comes again in judgment.  I just thought I would ask in case you or anyone else cared.

Ashes To Fire: Baby Step To Apostasy And Spiritual Damage

Ashes To Fire is another baby step to apostasy.  If Christians are waiting for Satan to get right in their face and say, “here is the false teaching I am spreading, here are the evil doctrines that I want you to believe” – they don’t understand Scripture.  What Satan does is mix 99% good with 1% evil, and so he appears as an angel of light to the unsuspecting, undiscerning Christian who has not been grounded in the word of God, or has lost his grounding.  He hooks you in with something that looks good. It’s no wonder that even some of the most well known and once solid, doctrinally sound preachers and teachers that we know, have now themselves been corrupted by doctrines of demons.

The infiltration of heresy is so much clearer to me now, looking back.  I was taken in by it.  I became highly aware of it after leading a small group study of the Purpose Driven Life book.  After the group ended, some things just did not sit right with me about Rick Warren’s book.  Soon I discovered the book was full of scripture twisting gymnastics, quoting of New Agers, and convenient use of verses from The Message, a paraphrase (not a translation) of the Bible with its own occultic references.  I remember apologizing later to a fellow employee to whom who I had given the book.

Darkness and Gloom

But it had already started a few years back.  Now I can see what was happening.  Have you ever been to a Maundy Thursday service?  Well, the one I attended at my church was held almost in total darkness, with a few candles, and loud banging noises to simulate the crucifixion, to get you in the right “mood”.  And you were told that as soon as the service ended, you were to walk out solemnly in total silence.  I remember some folks scolding others for whispering; they took it quite seriously, as if it was a biblical mandate.  That was Maundy Thursday.  Never saw it before in my many years as a Nazarene, certainly never experiences such a dark, somber event, and I hope I never do.  But I went along with it, even though it seemed a bit strange.  I remember my father-in-law was not at all comfortable with it, describing it as Roman Catholic-like.  His discernment antennae were already up a long time ago, as I found out later.

“In the emerging culture, darkness represents spirituality. We see this in Buddhist temples, as well as Catholic and Orthodox churches. Darkness communicates that something serious is happening.”  Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church, p. 127

Rituals and “Experiencing God”

Then came the rest over the next several years, a little at a time; the new emphasis on Advent services, Lent, Ash Wednesday, the lighting of candles again.  I guess it seemed okay to me at first.  Then there were the books given out to church leaders.  For example,  “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby.  Turned out he is a mystic who promotes contemplative prayer. Then I spotted the Henri Nouwen books, and many of his sayings were written in several Advent booklets.  Nouwen was a universalistic Roman Catholic monk who in his final book wrote that his desire was to help everyone find their own way to God.  So why is his book being given away by pastors?  Then the Rob Bell and Richard Foster material and videos that were used for Wednesday night “Bible” study.  Whatever happened to real Bible study?

“This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true.”  Rob Bell

A Full Stomach, A Clean Planet, But Empty Souls

Then there is the increased involvement in community service such as food banks, with little focus on feeding the gospel to the people.  Then there is the new terminology being used, like the “Eucharist” instead of communion.  And then there are the ecumenical services with Roman Catholic or Episcopal churches that still continue with my old church.  I attended one of them initially, but it did not feel right, not for me or my wife.  She said how could she sit there in the service and be praying to Jesus, while the woman next to her is perhaps praying to “Mother Mary?”   Why do we do this now in even more Nazarene churches, where we fellowship with folks who are in darkness, and then just simply walk away after the service, leaving them still in darkness?  Are we not to be a light to them?  What is wrong with us?  Is this how we show our love for people who are in serious error?

“My sense is that “what is trying to be born” in the pregnant Christian faith will involve a convergence of Roman Catholic, Evangelical/Charismatic, and Mainline Protestant Christians (along with, I hope, some Eastern Orthodox as well).” Brian McLaren, from his website

And how can I forget the worst District Assembly service (in 2009) my brother and I ever attended, when we heard two songs that were more fit for a Wiccan service, or perhaps an environmental conference, than for a worship service; we saw video advertisements for cleaning up the environment; packets called “I’m A Naz-a-Green” passed out to the youth; and the District Superintendent recommended a heretical novel, The Shack, as a great missional book for pastors.

We “ought to read Revelation through environmental eyes.”  Dan Boone, M7 Conference.

Looking back, I see how it all was coming together.  It’s all part of the road to Rome.  Come back to the Mother Church, and many Nazarenes are tripping over themselves falling for this.  And I did for a while, but I am thankful for the grace of God and His mercy in opening my eyes.  And He did not speak to me directly in an audible voice while I practiced the silence.  He simply told me in His word, guiding me to the truth through the Holy Spirit.

Ashes To Fire: The Latest Tool Of  The “Angel of Light”
Ashes to Fire is in its second year, and fits in nicely with the big plan to join with Rome. Most will fall for its allure and not see the big picture.  It is just a matter of time when at your local Nazarene church (unless it is led by a pastor who does not bow the knee to Baal) you may have to decide whether to go up and get ashes put on your forehead, or to flee, or worst yet- sit there and say nothing.

This year’s Ashes To Fire YouTube video, from Beacon Press, omits any reference to ashes on the forehead, which is seen on last year’s video promo that was created by Nazarene Publishing House.  From their website, you can download instructions (Planning Resources) on how to set up a prayer walk at your church.  Perhaps your church will do that this year.  Will you follow along with it, just to get along with what your pastor wants?  Will you be drawn in to seek that EXPERIENCE?

Ashes to Fire is just another of the many feel-good EXPERIENCES you now can have, courtesy of the compromisers who have invaded the church.  And so, with all the other “new ways”, you now may have the opportunity as a Nazarene to:

- Do a prayer walk (labyrinth),

- Walk a prayer labyrinth (same as prayer walk)

- Do a prayer station (Stations of the Cross),

- Use prayer beads (rosary),

- Light a lot of candles,

- Sit in darkness more often,

- Proclaim the bread and wine as the ACTUAL body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation),

- Repeat scripture over and over without gaining understanding (mantra),

- Join with priests and nuns in a retreat to practice the silence,

- Put ashes on your forehead,

- Replace the Bible with Love Wins by Rob Bell,

- Sit in silence while waiting for the voice of God,

- Pray alongside someone who trusts in works for their salvation,

- Feel like you did something good after you prayed alongside someone who trusts in works for their salvation,

- Work at the community food bank and not once give the gospel to the poor empty soul with the full stomach who is heading straight to hell.  But you will feel good.

The Apostates Among Us

THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED APOSTASY.  This is a small portion of what has been ushered into the church.  Some of these people were not compromisers before, but they have been seduced by “deceiving spirits”. Some of them are leaders in our universities and in our pulpits who have facilitated this deception to our youth.  And they wonder why we are so “divisive?”   The answer is simple: they are the real dividers who are damaging the body of Christ, and they need to repent, or to be expelled from our fellowship.  The other thing we need to do is pray that even now, those being introduced to these things for the first time, will have the discernment, and will heed the warnings we are sending out.

Additional resources:

Prayer Stations, Dark Sanctuaries, and Multi-Sensory “Worship” (Lighthouse Trails Research)

The Emerging Church: Another Road To Rome  (Roger Oakland)

NPH Endorses Catholic Practice Of Ashes On Forehead

 

Leonard Sweet Continues Promoting Mystical Heresy

“We err greatly if we think of intimacy with Christ as some lofty level of mysterious, feelings-based communion with the Divine–as if it involved some knowledge of God that goes beyond what Scripture has revealed. That idea is the very heart of the gnostic heresy. It has nothing in common with true Christianity.” ~ John MacArthur


Who is Leonard Sweet?  He is described as an author, preacher, scholar, futurist and ordained United Methodist clergyman.  On his  website is this: These are but a sampling of responses to Len’s three-ring mission: as a historian of American culture; as a futurist/semiotician who “sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;” and as a preacher and writer who communicates the gospel powerfully to a postmodem age by bridging the worlds of academe and popular culture.

Is it not a bit frightening that a pastor, or any other self professing Christian for that matter, claims that he sees things others cannot see?  And that their imaginations are limited compared to his?  If we believe what he says in one instance, how do we know when he errs in his pronouncements?

Leonard Sweet is a big hit in evangelical Christian circles.  He is very popular among Nazarene emergents and with many Nazarenes in general, and has spoken at Pastor Leadership seminars.  He spoke at a leadership conference at European Nazarene University last year, along with Jon Middendorf, one of the leading emergent church promoters and ecumenists in the Nazarene denomination.  He uses the cool sounding hip terminology of “follower of Christ” instead of Christian.  He calls John Wesley the founder of my “tribe”, another cool hip emergent word instead of…denomination?  In many places where he is a conference speaker, there often seems to be a connection with other Nazarenes.  Recently he was a speaker at a conference called “Synergize 3!”, which had a theme “Where The Global Church Gathers To Save the World.”  (Can someone explain to me, what is synergizing??)  There were several Nazarenes as featured speakers, including a Nazarene General Superintendent, Dr. Stan Toler.

Leonard Sweet says that he is not emergent.  He has written a defense of his theology at his website, called A Response To Critics.  He claims that his theology has been “minsinterpeted.”  He rejects the thought that he supports emergent thinking, or that he is a New Age sympathizer and promoter.  He says, “Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote.”  (As a pastor, is it wise to quote in your sermons someone who is a false teacher?)  Then he tries to make the case that the apostle Paul did the same thing!  And he says about his book Quantum Spirituality: “Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say some things differently? Yes.”

Here is one of many quotations from Quantum Spirituality:

A surprisingly central feature of all the world’s religions is the language of light in communicating the divine and symbolizing the union of the human with the divine: Muhammed’s light-filled cave, Moses’ burning bush, Paul’s blinding light, Fox’s “inner light,” Krishna’s Lord of Light, Bohme’s light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus’ fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini’s fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on.” P. 235


Yet in all this defense, he did not renounce, and has not yet done so, this book and others such as Soul Tsunami; he continues to sell these books on his website, which does not make sense; and now he continues with more of his mystical mumbo jumbo.  Yet, look for him to be a featured speaker again at the next Pastor’s Leadership conference.

On his website, you will find him promoting a series of retreats called “Advances”, with this description supposedly derived from Scripture:

“Read the Gospel of Mark. In many ways the gospel is organized according to the “advances” Jesus took. Count the number of times Mark says “And Jesus came apart.”

Now look deeper into where Jesus “came apart“:” the mountains, the desert, and the water. Three different bons vaux, sacred spaced, landscapes of the sacred. The three natural places which have the power to help restore us to physical, mental and spiritual harmony. Your soul needs three sacred spaces. Which one depends on the state your soul is in.”

Where does Leonard Sweet come up with the teaching that “your soul needs three sacred spaces?”  Is there really power in these natural spaces to restore us spiritually?  Christ is not enough and all that we need?  Apparently this is part of his ability to see things the rest of us can’t see!  Can you see the problem here though?  None of this is Scriptural!  Can we all please wake up to the absurdity of this man’s imaginations?

The time is long overdue for Bible believing evangelical leaders, including Nazarenes, to part ways with Leonard Sweet, until he repents from all this foolishness that he is trapped in and is disseminating to countless Christians.  Until then, we should not be associating with him as if his theology is sound.  It clearly is not.

So here below is the latest example of more heresy from Leonard Sweet, as reported by David Cloud.  Do our Christian leaders agree with Sweet that we too can “breathe God?”


“EVANGELICAL” BELIEVES IN BREATHING GOD

(Friday Church News Notes, January 27, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143) – Leonard Sweet, a very influential “evangelical,” believes you can breath God in your nostrils. In his 2012 book I Am A Follower, Sweet quotes Sufi poet Kabir who says, “God is the breath inside the breath.”

Sweet then makes the following blasphemous, pagan comment: “All of creation is made alive with the holy breath of the Creator. Breathing Yahweh breath is breathing the holy breath of life. Yahweh. … Our breathing and heartbeat are in tune with the name. Breathe in ‘Yah’ and breathe out ‘weh’ … I guarantee you will relax.”

This heresy is the product of contemplative prayer, which Sweet is recommending in this passage. Sweet is the author and co-author of more than 30 books. He was twice voted “one of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport magazine. Rick Warren recommends Sweet’s book Soul Tsunami (his recommendation is printed on the cover). Warren and Sweet collaborated on an audio set entitled Tides of Change, and Sweet spoke at Saddleback Church in January 2008 for a small groups training conference. Sweet has spoken at Bill Hybels’ Willowcreek Community Church. Sweet’s book Jesus Manifesto (co-authored by Frank Viola) was recommended by Southern Baptist Ed Stetzer, who has spoken at Southwide Baptist Fellowship and Trinity Baptist College, Jacksonville, Florida.

David Cloud, www.wayoflife.org


For further research:

Rick Warren, Leonard Sweet, and “New Light” Leaders

For a thorough treatise of many of his quotations from various books, I recommend you read Sandy Simpson’s article at his website: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/leonardsweetquotes.html.  I have attached the same article for those who want to add to their resource library.

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet Influencing Nazarenes
Leonard Sweet And His Continuing Emergent Influence

Diverse? Yes. United And Strong? No

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6

“We are united. We are diverse. We are strong.”

Those are some of the words of Dr. Stan Toler, General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, which he wrote recently in a message titled “Unity Not Uniformity”.  What does that mean in the context of this article (see all of it at the end).   After reading it, I have come to the conclusion that it sounds nice, but the facts speak to a different reality.  Dr. Toler I’m sure is sincere in these statements, but the Church of the Nazarene is far from being united and strong.  Oh, it may be diverse, as we see all sorts of diversity around us today.  But united and strong?

Here are a few quotes pulled from the article, and my comments follow:

“Success in our mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations will require strong unity as a body of believers; yet unity does not mean uniformity.”
We reject the notion that we must be uniform in our expressions of worship or music or liturgy.Yet we have varying convictions. We refuse to rebuke one another for that which God has not condemned. And we respect the convictions of those with whom we disagree

How can we be united when:

1. Emergent church ideology is breaking up local churches, and pastors who speak out against it are forced out, in a denomination that is claiming to be diverse.
2. Leaders at our seminary and other colleges are willingly joining hands with pagan interfaith groups and Roman Catholicism.
3. College professors are freely indoctrinating students with the heresy that God cannot know the future, and that He learns from His mistakes.
4. Pagan prayer labyrinths are now being used in Nazarene churches and at least one Nazarene university.
5. Professors who teach occultic Celtic spirituality are okay, but allowing ordination of pastors who believe in biblical inerrancy is not okay.
6. A prominent, radical, leftist “social justice” pastor who speaks at a homosexuality-promoting “Christian” festival continues to be rewarded, instead of being disciplined.  The same festival also was organized by Mike King, adjunct professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
7. Ashes to the forehead is promoted in a Nazarene devotional from Nazarene Publishing House; youth devotionals promote how to design your own prayer labyrinth, prayer beads, pilgrimages to interspiritual centers, and contemplative prayer ; Roman Catholic terminology and Lenten practices are making us look more like the Roman Catholics.
8. “Bible” study groups are more and more using books written by false teachers like Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Rick Warren and William P. Young, and less and less using… the Bible.
9. Centering prayer, practicing the silence, lectio divina, and other Eastern based prayer methods seeking to “experience God”, are taking the place of true biblical prayer.
10. Emergent Nazarene pastors praise Marcus Borg, who denies the atonement of Christ on the Cross; and they recommend the heretical novel The Shack as a great missional book for pastors; yet they disparage and insult those who believe in biblical inerrancy and the fundamentals of the faith.

I could give dozens of more examples, but I think I’ve made my point.

Dr. Toler said that we ought to refuse to rebuke fellow Christians for that which God has not condemned.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is, we are NOT rebuking those who are practicing and teaching that which God has condemned.

Yes, we are certainly diverse in the Nazarene church now, the evidence for that is solid.

But united and strong?  Tell me, how is that possible?  It is NOT possible to have unity with anyone who claims the name of Jesus, yet who does not live in obedience to His word.  This denomination is far from unified.

Manny Silva

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We are united. We are diverse. We are strong.
We are making Christlike disciples in the nations.

— Stan A. Toler
General Superintendent

Unity Not Uniformity
By Stan A. Toler

In one edition of Charles Schultz’s beloved Peanuts cartoon, the irascible Lucy demands that her little brother, Linus, change the television channel, threatening him with her fist to get him to comply.

“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.

“These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Then he looks at his own fingers and asks, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

Success in our mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations will require strong unity as a body of believers; yet unity does not mean uniformity.

One Faith, Many Expressions
We are a Christian church. Our faith is placed in a single source for salvation—the Lord Jesus Christ. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

Yet we may honor our Lord in a variety of ways. We reject the notion that we must be uniform in our expressions of worship or music or liturgy. There is room in the Body of Christ for every people, every language, and every culture.

One Passion, Many Convictions
We are a holiness church. We are united in our hunger to experience the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to live new, victorious lives. Yet we have varying convictions. We refuse to rebuke one another for that which God has not condemned. And we respect the convictions of those with whom we disagree, making “every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19, NIV).

One Mission, Many Contexts
We are a missional church. We are united in our purpose to make Christlike disciples in the nations, and we pool our resources in this pursuit. Yet we live and minister in diverse settings. We understand that a variety of methodologies and strategies will be needed in order to make Jesus known to every culture, nation, and people. With the Apostle Paul, we have “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22, NIV).

We are united. We are diverse. We are strong. We are making Christlike disciples in the nations.

Colossians 3:11 reminds us that Christ is all! And it is this Christ who brings us together in message and mission. He alone is our inspiration. Fourth-century African bishop Augustine summed it up this way:

The one who has Christ has everything.
The one who has everything except for Christ really has nothing.
And the one who has Christ plus everything else
does not have any more than the one who has Christ alone.

Our faith, our passion, and our mission are found in Him alone!

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