Falling Away

The following is from a brother in the Lord, Troy Wright, of Foundations Research Group.  With his sons Aaron and Adam, they work diligently at providing information, as well as teaching, about the many dangers that have come into the evangelical church.  I met them finally last year at an Eric Barger conference in Canton, Ohio.  If you are in Ohio and you need resources or any kind of help in dealing with false teaching, please contact them.

Falling Away

(Troy Wright)

 

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2: 1-2)

 

         The Bible predicts a “Great falling away from the faith” in the last days shortly before the return of Christ to earth to establish His earthly kingdom. Foundations Research Group is an apologetics/discernment ministry of under-shepherds (sheepdogs) committed to the protection and guarding of the sheep. We seek to support local pastors (shepherds) by providing research and support tools that time prohibits them from gathering on their own.

Our prayer is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to the apostasy that is prophetically sweeping over the church in these last days. May He give you unashamed courage to stand up for Biblical truth in your own church and to expose these false teachings wherever they pop up.

         Do not be naïve about the reception you will encounter. You would think that in light of Paul’s instructions throughout his letters to call out and expose deceivers and Christ’s example with the religious leaders during His ministry, committed Christians would have unashamedly cried out the truth long before these teachings established their footholds in our churches. But in the name of Christian unity, love, and meekness the silence has been deafening. But let one small voice boldly speak truth in the face of the deception and suddenly all the Christians grow vocal chords and are emboldened with courage to shout their disapproval…….not at the false teachings……..but at their Christian brother for voicing his “mean-spirited” judgment and stirring up dissension in the church. Thanks to the “seeker friendly” mentality they don’t want to offend anyone by disagreeing openly and suggesting absolute truth. That would appear too “narrow” and would be disrespectful to the heretics……….and we are talking about heresy. The teachers of these apostate movements attack the very foundations of historic, apostolic Christianity as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

         Those of us who have been serving Christ for a generation or more remember when the Bible was revered as the very Words of God Himself throughout the pulpits all across America. We knew that a day was soon coming when the world would forsake the God of the Bible and swear their allegiance to a one-world ecumenical religious system. We recognized through Bible prophesy that we were living in the last days of men’s rebellion against their creator and that the soon return of Christ for His church was right at the door. We assumed that the “great apostasy” preceding His return referred to all those liberal churches of the last 2 centuries and of course Roman Catholicism. Because of the Biblical foundation of our faith, it was easy to discern false doctrine and heresy.

         What is so alarming to all of us is that in just three short decades or so, we have watched one Bible-believing church after another fall into disbelief and even paganism until now it’s difficult to find anyone who is willing to stand up for truth in our pulpits. Our fundamental denominations are caving in to ecumenical pressures as their seminaries are filled with liberal professors and new age thought. Due to the feel-good-gospel and the you-can-have-it-now message, our churches are full of false converts who are oblivious to Bible truth and are offended when they hear it. Since they are clueless about Bible prophesy and what’s really going on around them, anyone who sounds a warning is considered a nut, not to mention politically incorrect and socially despicable.

         Our war is with the lies of the enemy of our souls. We aren’t directly fighting the wolves who are attacking the flock with their false teachings and books. Our main battles in this war are with the goats……..those church members and leadership who God has permitted to live among us until he separates us at the rapture. They sit in our pews with us and sing our songs. They like hanging out with sheep. Though never really surrendered or regenerated, they intellectually and logically ascent to the same beliefs as we do. They do all the same stuff as sheep but without a life or death commitment to Biblical truth. They actually think they are sheep because of the great works they do…..sheep stuff. They even try to convince the Lord at the resurrection that they are sheep but He tells them “I never knew you.”

         Because goats have not surrendered lordship over to Jesus, they are very possessive of their environments. They don’t want anyone messing with their territory. If you try to spiritually take a goat where he doesn’t want to go he will buck you. Goats aren’t concerned about the welfare of the flock but only with the comfort of their own stall. Doctrine is of no importance to goats. You see, sheep eat sheep food…….the pure milk of the gospel of truth. They feed from the hand of the Good Shepherd. They know His voice and eat of The Word. Goats, “on the other hand,” will eat anything. They even eat garbage. They don’t care where it comes from or how clean it is. If they can get it down, they will eat it. Goats especially like goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is that watered-down, low-fat gospel fit for goats who are lactose “intolerant” of the nutritious, pure milk of the gospel. When a pastor offers sheep food from the pulpit, he will fill his church with sheep. If he offers goat’s milk he will fill his church with goats. 

         I cannot stress enough how lonely this battle is for most people. Most of your friends and relatives will encourage you to keep quiet if you disagree with the church’s new teaching and simply leave the church without a controversy. They always bring up Matthew 18:15-17 instructing you to go to the person privately and not to bring reproach on the church. This scripture is for a brother in sin or for someone personally offended and is out of context when used for false teachers in the church. We are never instructed to be quiet or understanding toward wolves attacking the flock in scripture. As Paul, we are to lovingly and with all truthfulness expose, correct, call out by name, print, and warn the other churches about unrepentant heretics as his letters did in the early church and were passed around to the entire body of Christ. God’s Word is offensive to all who love not the truth whether in the church or out and THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW IT.

         Make no mistake about it, these movements have leaked into every seminary and every church to some degree in the form of books, videos, study courses, worship seminars, pastoral retreats, small groups and  youth leaders.

         Don’t be discouraged. There are thousands of Christians in churches all over the country fighting this same truth war with these last-days false teachers. We and many other good ministries across America have lots of materials available for you. You can contact us by internet through our e-mail at frgsheepdogs@hotmail.com. The scriptures warn us to “come out of her” in Revelation 18 referring to the apostate church. If you don’t feel equipped to fight this battle, find another church that stands for Biblical truth. But first find a warrior in your church who you can share this material with who feels compelled to stay and fight for the flock. Pray, pray, pray for our pastors and leaders in these last days. Behold….He comes quickly!


Troy Wright

co-researcher / Foundations Research Group

Canton, Ohio

on FaceBook

A Response to Dan Boone’s Report on SoulForce

by John Henderson

SOURCE: http://trevechoesonline.com/2012/03/15/trevecca-president-dan-boones-written-response-to-the-soulforce-visit/

The same thing is missing from Dr. Boone’s report that was missing from the MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) response as reported in Holiness Today.  There was no presenting the claims of Christ upon the lost, there was no use of the Scriptures with them (as indicated by this response) nor in the response itself except by an inapplicable reference to having been like Egypt, and there was no prayer for the wayward.

Be that as it may, I suppose Dan Boone’s remarks should receive an evangelical-Scriptural response..

I begin with the knowledge (based on a published sermon) that Dr. Boone considers homosexual behavior and homosexual orientation as not being the same in terms of sin.  He says that the behavior is sin and the orientation is not.  He has also publically expressed sympathy and support in the past for those who are “oriented” and are “struggling” with being ostracized, condemned, etc.  This is in line with the Board of General Superintendents’ published position on the same issue.

A simple answer on such matters is never comprehensive and sufficient, but I must settle for that.  My immediate response is that such a position is not in harmony with the Word of God.  It is nowhere taught or implied in the Scriptures that a propensity to any particular sin is unrelated to the act itself.  If anything, the Bible is crystal clear that sin comes out of the inclination.  It actually begins there and, as such, is always sin even in the incubation stages.  As an unborn baby is always a baby, unborn sin is just as much sin as when it emerges into action.  Charles Wesley penned the phrase, “Take away our bent to sinning,” and we Wesleyans should understand that this is exactly what he meant.  While the possibility to sin is always present, the “bent to sinning” (carnality) should not remain and is “crucified with Christ” at the moment of entire sanctification.  This may be explained differently according to various doctrinal opinions, but it all comes to this conclusion.  The former homosexual who is born again has the great privilege and call to holiness so that the “orientation” is no longer a problem.  If being filled the Holy Spirit does not free us from that, then we are preaching a false doctrine and should immediately abandon it and resign ourselves to our own personal rudiments of bondage.

I commend Dr. Boone for not banging the SoulForce people on the head.  That is what they were looking for so they could point accusing fingers at those homophobic Nazarenes.  He didn’t fall into that trap and that is good.  His answers to each issue were fine as far as they went.  However, they came up far short of the opportunity to win them to Christ according to the Scriptures.  It seems that he was content to settle for dialog, conversation, and understanding and let them depart feeling better about their position.  That is tragic because, as Uncle Pek (Richard Gunn) said in one of his poems:  “Out there in the dark, a soul is lost I might have won.”

It is not the calling of the Church to “offer a narrative of life that could be lived out in rich community.”  Getting along and being friendly with one’s fellow creatures is commendable but that is not the salvation mission.

I know of no evidence where any significant groups of Christians are engaged in “bullying” homosexuals.  No committed Christian I know of is engaged in diminishing the personal dignity of homosexuals.  I certainly did not as a practicing Christian psychotherapist in dealing with homosexuals.  I gave them clear and understandable guidelines from the Bible.

Are homosexuals (practicing and non-practicing) lost?  Yes!  There is no difference between the desire and the behavior in God’s sight.  Therefore, they need to be saved, not coddled.  One might as well throw a drowning man an anchor as to tell him he is okay and all he needs to do is talk about it.  He needs to repent, not hug the anchor.

There is one more comment by Dr. Boone I want to address.  It is: “As Christians, we are taught by our own story to care specifically for the marginalized, the forgotten, the minority. In the words of Deuteronomy…’because you were once such a people in Egypt’”.

That sounds really good—on the surface—but does not address the problem.  There is no legitimacy in equating the marginalized, the forgotten, and the minority with self-imposed conditions of the homosexual “community.”  They marginalized themselves and demand that we step over onto that margin and embrace them as mainstream by abandoning every value we have on the matter.  They are certainly not forgotten or overlooked.  Even the Word of God has clearly identified homosexuality as receiving the same judgment as all other rebellious sins against God and they are offered the same opportunity to repent, or else perish.. Also, they make sure we don’t forget they are there.  They might be a minority but that is only because the majority of us are repulsed by homosexuality in its various forms (orientation or behavior)—forms that they admittedly represent in SoulForce:  gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and “queer.”  By the way, in case no one noticed, Biblical Christianity is more of a minority in this world than they are.

It should be noted that SoulForce has not distinguished orientation from behavior.  That distinction has been ours.  I am fully convinced that whenever a homosexual gloms onto the term orientation it is only to distract and intimidate you and me into submission to their way of thinking.  They don’t actually see a difference but demand that we “see” it by turning a blind eye to clear Scriptures on the matter.

If I may be plain, it is past time that we stop fiddling with this thing and go Scriptural.  It is the gospel they need—desperately need—and we are handing them devilish drivel.

 

John Henderson

How Do You Deal With Apostasy?

1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

   These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

   4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 3:1-6

When I posted on Monday “A Full Salvation Holiness Church No Longer: Apostasy of the Church of the Nazarene”, I had more than double the usual amount of visits to my site.  Oddly, I had a very low number of comments, both via email and at the website.  I was in total agreement with the conclusions of the author, Mike Jobbins, and had no problem in using the word apostasy as he did.  I have used it before in describing how the Nazarene denomination (as other denominations), is sliding deep into what I can only describe as apostasy.  Were regular readers so shocked to see this word that they did not know what to say?  Should I have changed the title of the post to something more palatable, less offensive, less horrifying?  As a lifetime Nazarene, I don’t relish the idea of describing my denomination as one that has sunk into the depths of apostasy.  But if the evidence is there, and the emperor has no clothes, how can one suppress the truth and remain faithful to the Lord?

What is apostasy?

Apostasy – The abandonment or forsaking of faith or commitment to follow the Lord, often described as a turning away (Jer 8:5 NASB, NET) or falling away (Heb 6:6 NET). Apostasy results in punishment (Jer 2:19 ESV), hence the many warnings against it (2 Thes 2:3; 1 Tim 4:1f; 2 Pet 3:17; Jude 1). Apostates include Hymanaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:19-20), Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15). By Jesus’ word one may avoid falling away (John 16:1). The word is a transliteration of the Greek term, apostasia. (Source: Blogger and author Randal Matheny, Walking With God)

So apostasy is a walking away from, a turning away, in a deliberate manner.  It is turning away from the truth and pursuing a different path, whether it is from being blindly deceived, or knowingly choosing to turn away.  So based on this, is the Nazarene denomination, within its basic structure, becoming apostate?  Looking at all the facts I have uncovered in the last three years, I say yes, it is.  The biggest indicator to me is the rejection of the full inerrancy of the Bible.  Ask a major leader in the Church of the Nazarene if he believes in the Bible and that it is without error, and there’s a good chance not get a straight yes or no answer, but instead a long explanation that leaves you scratching your head. (Remember that in 2009 at General Assembly, a declaration to clarify the inerrancy of scripture was not even allowed to be brought up for a committee vote, but was postponed for four years).

Scripture tells us that judgment will start in the house of God, not with the world (1 Pet. 4:16-19).  God will start dealing with us first if we fail to confront the false teachers and clean house, and especially will deal with those who profess to follow Jesus in word, but not in true obedience.  Scripture also says that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:31).  How much more for those who are professing believers?

How Should Christians Deal With Apostasy?

If apostasy is the turning away from the faith to doctrines and practices that are unbiblical, and those who are turning away are then teaching it to others, what should we do according to God’s word?  Some have said to “just pray, and let God take care of it.  If those things are not of God, they will go away in time.  Do not judge, and do not criticize others for thinking differently”.  Well, if your son is involved in drug abuse, would you say nothing to him about your concern for his life, and instead “leave it up to God?”

Scenario #1: If the leaders of a Christian school are teaching “santeria” as part of the required curriculum for students, should we simply leave it up to God to sort it out, and hope that our students do not bring those practices into their daily life?  would we be “too judgmental” to object to it?  (Santeria is a mix of various religions including Christianity that includes ritualistic sacrifice of animals practiced in some third world countries).

Scenario #2: If your Sunday School teacher, with the pastor’s approval, is introducing “bingo”, “Christian yoga” and “Eastern meditation practices” to the children in church, should we keep silent and pray for the best, that God will sort it out?  Should we say, “who am I to judge?”  We are a diverse group of people, are we not?

Scenario #3: Finally, if a resolution was approved at the next General Assembly, which says that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God”, should we accept that, if it is something that is approved by our leaders, and that we should accept what our leaders do without question?  Are we throwing stones at others if we dare to criticize such a thing, and call it wrong?

To any of these scenarios, if you said that we SHOULD speak out in order to stop these things and warn others, then what’s the difference with what we are doing here?  If you have decided that a line is to be drawn somewhere, and that we MUST speak at some point, then your only decision to make regarding what we are exposing is this: are the things that are being exposed by concerned Christians false teachings, or are they acceptable to you?  So what you cannot do is say, “you can never criticize, you can never call out false teachers and teachings, you can never judge anyone at any time.  Let’s be perfectly honest: it is right to judge, if we judge righteously.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Cor. 5:12)

If your friends are being slowly poisoned to death by something deliberately given to them by another “friend”, would you pray that God will help them out and save them, and leave it up to Him alone?  Or do you warn them about this supposed “friend” (aka wolf in sheep’s clothing), and tell others who may end up drinking the same poison?

Concluding questions: are we to be like the church in Sardis?  Are we to be like a living corpse”?

Or shall we be like the few in Sardis?  These were deemed worthy, NOT for their own inner righteousness, but for their faithfulness to the Lord.

Is your unwavering loyalty to the denomination and its’ reputation, or is it to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Manny Silva

Addendum:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

3:1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on, that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all the angels, at the great day.

A Full Salvation Holiness Church No Longer: Apostasy of the Church of the Nazarene

by Mike Jobbins

While the inerrancy of Scripture is more than adequate to show the terrible apostasy from the faith and theology of the denomination’s original founders, I want to focus on statements made in “Pastoral Perspective on Homosexuality from your General Superintendents*(sic), which shows more clearly than ever, that:

“Nazarenes no longer hold to the doctrines of Full Salvation and Entire Sanctification!” Indisputable Proof: *(Quote, Ibid, Page 9, Col. 1, Para. 2):

“Sexual orientation is not usually a willful choice. … It is amoral, neither moral nor immoral. Scripture clearly … does not address homosexual orientation. … the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene and the official statement of the Board of General Superintendents make a clear distinction between behavior and orientation. One is sinful, the other is not.”

This is an absolutely astonishing renunciation of Wesleyan-­Armenian doctrine! – What?!

(1.)    The Church of the Nazarene no longer believes in free-­will?!

(2.)    “It is amoral, neither moral nor immoral” ?! – The Church of the Nazarene no longer believes in unregenerate, unsanctified carnality, and sinful human depravity?! (3.)    “Scripture clearly … does not address homosexual orientation?!

(4.)   “One is sinful, the other is not”?!

Holy Scripture begs to differ with the Board of General Superintendents and the official position of the Church of the Nazarene!

“20 And [Jesus] said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” *Mark 7:20-­23.

*(Quote, Ibid, Page 11, Col. 1, Para. 3):

“ .. the reality is that a transformed sexual orientation is not always the case. For those who are not reoriented, they are called to live a life of abstinence that is graced by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

What a peculiar (as in queer) statement that is! – Allow me to Christianize your terminology!
Replace the word ‘reoriented’ with the words ‘regenerate, born-­again’! – If a person is truly born-­again *(Saved), and truly Sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they are no longer a homosexual, transvestite, rapist, adulterer, or anything else you can name!

Replace the word “abstinence” with the words “suppression”, “non-­practicing”.
“Graced by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.” – What is this?! – The maximum Wesleyan-­Armenian twist to this sentence can only mean “prevenient grace”, that is to say “pre-­conversion” grace, but the Board of General Superintendents do not say that!

*(Quote, Ibid, page 10, col. 1, last paragraph.):

“The call to the Christian homosexual …”

This is a direct and heretical contradiction of Scripture. What is a “ ‘Christian’ homosexual”? The term is an oxymoron! It is an illogical, incongruous, and contradictory combination of terms.

Are we now supposed to believe that there is such a thing as a: “ ‘Christian’ rapist and child molester”, a “ ‘Christian’ Mafioso, hit man and gang leader”, a “ ‘Christian’ addict and drug dealer”, a “ ‘Christian’ thief, forger and blackmailer”, a “ ‘Christian’ murderer and bank robber”, a “ ‘Christian’ drunkard and bootlegger”, a “ ‘Christian’ adulterer, fornicator and pornographer”?!

What a terribly messed up perversion of the “Good News” of full Salvation and entire Sanctification this is!

“17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;; behold, all things are become new.” *2nd Cor. 5:17.

“9Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” *1st Cor. 6:9-­11.

If you profess to be Nazarene, even with the artificial limitation set forth by the Board of General Superintendents regarding the non-inspiration of most of Holy Scripture, this specifically deals with “things pertaining to Salvation” – so you are not getting around this verse of Scripture. If the only part of the Bible that is important is “that part which pertains to Salvation”, then this is a divinely inspired, important, and inescapable passage in the Holy Bible.

Until Nazarenes renounce all of Scripture, they are not getting around it. – But then they would not have a job, would they? – As Dr. L. T. C.* informed me in a class on systematic theology: ”This is a theology class, not a Bible class, and I don’t want you quoting Bible in my theology class!” – So I don’t really expect them to care in the least about anything the Bible says in regards to “that part which pertains to Salvation” either! -­ If by some strange happenstance, they really do care about “that part which pertains to Salvation”, then how do they get around the following verses of Holy Scripture?

“18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness … 24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie .. 26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another;; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was [appropriate, deserving]. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” *Rom. 1:18, 24-­28.

“7For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given unto us his Holy Spirit.” *1st Thess. 4:7-­8.

“23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul *[mind] and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.” *1st Thess. 5:23-­24.

– No wonder my theology professor did not wanting me quoting the Bible, or proof-­texting from Holy Scripture, [and using anything besides the preferred “Not Inspired Version”!

Look at “the official position” of the Church of the Nazarene on the subject of homosexual orientation. It is very apparent the official position of the Church of the Nazarene, unstated though it is, is that “GOD is not able to Completely Save and Completely Sanctify.”

Nazarene parishioner: you know this is more than an issue of homosexuality. – The official position applies just as easily to child molesters, rapists, fornicators, adulterers, philanderers, alcoholics, addicts, drug dealers, and every other type of sin.

(Quote, ibid, page 13, col. 1, last para.): “The reoriented or celibate single homosexual will be invited to full participation in the life and ministry of the church, leading ministries, serving on boards, and singing in choirs.”

If they are merely ‘non-­practicing’ – If they are not born-­again, If they are not completely regenerate, If they are not wholly sanctified – by what stretch of the imagination can you possibly say they will not cease trying to be ‘non-­practicing’ perverts, and return to that which they have been suppressing within themselves? – Recidivism – A return to their previous life style is not only possible, it is virtually inevitable – short of being thoroughly Saved and entirely Sanctified!

If they are merely ‘non-­practicing’, as the Board of General Superintendents, and the NIV perversion say, you are putting your wives and children in terrible danger! – Where do you think these perverts are going to scout out, and recruit their next generation of victims from?

This means that all of the above are officially recognized as fully fit and qualified for ordination in your denomination, to serve as your pastor, your evangelist, your choir director, even teach your children, and give “marriage counseling” *(?!) to your spouse.

This is what the Church of the Nazarene has fallen to! The Church of the Nazarene no longer teaches and preaches Complete Salvation and Entire Sanctification of spirit, mind and body; and tangible holiness in thought, word and deed.

I say again: the Church of the Nazarene is no longer a Full Salvation, Holiness Church! Apostasy holds the reins and sits in the seat of authority.

On page 6 of Jason Bjerke’s dissertation, “Limited Inerrancy and It’s Issues”, he quotes the Board of General Superintendents lamenting the fact that  “The Christian Church has faced withering attacks from professed atheists without and the horrific challenges of scandal within.” – And the Board of General Superintendents wonders why? They have set the church up for future scandals that will be far worse than anything in their church’s history – unprecedented scandals, like have never been seen before.

The official policy instituted by the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene sets the denomination up for new and unparalleled scandals in the nation’s papers, tabloids, and evening news. The likes of Elmer Gantry, Amie Simple McPherson, A. A. Allen, Max Vollendorf, Jimmy Swaggart, the B.T.K. killer *(Sunday School Supt.), and “Reverend” Ted Haggard will shrivel and be downright insignificant in comparison!

– mlj.

www.nazarene.org/files/docs/Perspectives_Homosexuality.pdf

www.gcmin.org/veritas/v001:inerrancy.pdf

Additional References:

Irresponsible Christian College Leaders Allowing Normalization of Homosexuality

Homosexuality At Point Loma Nazarene University

Trevecca Nazarene President’s Response To The SoulForce Visit

What’s Missing Here?

by John Henderson  Dr. Gran’Pa)

The following article appeared in the Church of the Nazarene’s official organ, “Holiness Today:”[1]

Note: SoulForce just recently visited Trevecca Nazarene University on March 11 and March 12, 2012, for an afternoon of discussion, fellowship and learning.  It was open only to Trevecca faculty and students.  No reports of the meetings are available at the moment.

Soulforce is scheduled to visit Southern Nazarene University on March 26, 2012

Gay-rights activists target MNU; university responds by respectfully sharing its message

Olathe, Kansas: During a day and a half of meetings with a group of gay-rights activists traveling the country to battle discrimination on college campuses, MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) accomplished its goal of communicating the love of Christ to its visitors without approving of the lifestyle they have chosen.  Soulforce, a national gay-rights organization, initiated a program last spring called Equality Ride in which young adults travel by bus to Christian campuses to confront administrators, faculty, and students with policies and practices that Soulforce considers to be discriminatory against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.

Soulforce Equality Ride was not invited to the campuses, but did give prior notice that they were coming. This year MNU and Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) are among the Christian universities targeted by the organization. The Ride is scheduled to visit NNU on April 13.

Many targeted colleges ban the activists from campus, and in most cases, the Riders have been arrested for trespassing on campus property. Before arriving at MNU on March 15, the Riders were arrested at the University of Notre Dame and Wisconsin Lutheran University.

In contrast, MidAmerica chose to welcome the activists, hosting them for a dinner with student leaders on Thursday night and six classroom presentations on Friday.

“We viewed this as an opportunity to listen to where they’re coming from and share the love of God with them,” said April Hansen, MNU’s director of public information and on-site coordinator for the visit. “We disagree, but there’s no reason to be afraid to talk to each other, to dialogue, and express Christ’s love, even in our disagreement.”

At an exit meeting, several Equality Riders expressed their appreciation for the kindness and openness with which they had been received by members of the university. One Rider tearfully expressed her thanks.

“When you told us you were offering Christ’s love to us and that you wanted to listen to us, we kept waiting for you to say, `but¿.’ and then share your condemnation,” the Rider said. “You didn’t do that. Thank you.”

For some of the Riders, it was their first experience with Christians being willing to love and listen to them.

“[The Riders] expressed how life-changing this has been,” Hansen said. “Those comments were very affirming and meaningful to all of us who helped plan the university’s approach to the visit.”

MNU President Ed Robinson said the visit and the campus’ preparations actually strengthened MNU’s commitment to its policy on homosexuality.

“Our position on the prohibition of homosexual behaviors from biblical and theological foundations was strengthened in the hearts and minds of the administration and, more importantly, students,” Robinson said in an e-mail report to MNU’s Board of Trustees. “You would be very proud of their spiritual discernment. The preparation we invested in students was beneficial and yielded the outcomes we intended.”

One of the Equality Riders wrote in his blog after the visit, “I know many, if not most, of the students differ with us in their views on homosexuality, but we were able to share fellowship. They truly modeled a Christlike response.”

MNU wishes to express its gratitude for the prayers offered around the world by churches and constituents during the visit. Most of all, thanks be to God!

[So... What Is Missing Here?]

On the surface, this would appear to be something that Jesus might do, but it stops short of what the Master would have actually done and has so demonstrated in the Scriptures.  Where they stopped short is what is missing, but apparently that was their goal as stated in the article: “‘The preparation we invested in students was beneficial and yielded the outcomes we intended.’”   Their intended outcome is clearly defined in the article:

“…communicating the love of Christ to its visitors without approving of the lifestyle they have chosen.”

“…to listen to where they’re coming from and share the love of God with them.”

“…to talk to each other, to dialogue, and express Christ’s love, even in our disagreement.”

To strengthen “MNU’s commitment to its policy on homosexuality…” their “… position on the prohibition of homosexual behaviors from biblical and theological foundations.”

The Board of General Superintendents recently issued a statement that essentially affirms a denominational position on the concept that while homosexual “orientation” is “amoral,” it is not the same as immoral homosexual behavior.

“Sexual orientation is not usually a willful choice. … It is amoral, neither moral nor immoral. Scripture clearly … does not address homosexual orientation. … the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene and the official statement of the Board of General Superintendents make a clear distinction between behavior and orientation. One is sinful, the other is not.”

[NOTE:  The Bible makes no such distinction between “orientation” and “behavior.”  It rather says that behavior emits from “orientation’—out of the wickedness of the heart.]

That error in logic and biblical doctrine has been addressed sufficiently by many who see it as the unscriptural compromise that it is, so I will move on with this matter at hand while keeping in mind that position by the General Superintendents as contributing to this response.

The important question about this incident is, “What is missing?”  They expressed Christ’s “love.”  What love?  Was it the love of God who gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish?  That was not mentioned.  Was there a call to repentance, to accept Christ as personal Savior?  That was not mentioned in the article as well as there was no mention of prayer at all.

The missing essential element was not brought up at all. Instead, we see something akin to the message of television’s “Touched by an Angel” that requires no repentance but rather tells sinners that God still loves you; or a Mr. Rogers approach that says, “God loves you just the way you are.”  Well, of course He does but He loves us enough to save us and has shown us the way through His Son as told to us in the Bible.  He will save us FROM our sins, not in them.  He loves us more than we can love or understand but He commands repentance:

2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Acts 17:29-31: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

The only response to all of that effort was someone’s tearfully telling a Nazarene host his or her appreciation for the non-condemning hosting.  What a squandered opportunity to win that soul to Christ!  He or she went away thinking that Nazarenes support them in their sin and the Nazarene went away empty handed.

I can go only on what I have read in this article, but the thought that comes to mind is a verse from the Bible:

James 4:4: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

If that encounter amounted to no more than being pals and no personal evangelism, I would say that the verse applies to tragic proportions.

John Henderson


[1] http://holinesstoday.org/nphweb/html/ht/article.jsp?id=300

Responding To Dr. Leth’s Open Letter To Manny Silva

[Dr. Carl Leth recently wrote “An Open Letter To Manny Silva” in response to my post about Olivet Nazarene University promoting contemplative spirituality. My response to that is below, followed after by the full text of his letter.]

Summary Statement:

Dear Dr. Leth,

1. Instead of attacking the stated facts in my article, you wrongly attacked the integrity and honesty of Stand For Truth Ministries (me) and of Lighthouse Trails Research. You attacked the messenger, but not the message!  I think you could have done better.

2. You did not give a biblical defense for Olivet allowing false teachers like Tony Campolo to speak to students unchallenged.

3. You did not give a biblical defense for Olivet using books by authors like Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster.

4. You demonstrated no Scriptural defense of “spiritual formation.”  Ironically, the only passage you used, Romans 12:2, is actually a reason for not allowing Tony Campolo to speak to the students at Olivet.  He is part of the world!

5. You wrongly accused Lighthouse Trails of some kind of deception.  You said: But I do object to anonymous critique from people without identity or accountability. They operate – by choice – in the shadows.”  Well, you obviously missed the easy-to-find “Contact Us” section that lists David and Deb Dombrowski as the editors.  And you can further read their doctrinal statement, including the opening statement that the Bible is inerrant and historically accurate- a belief that is sadly lacking amongst many Nazarenes today, including many of our college theologians.

6.  John Wesley was not someone who promoted contemplative spirituality. (Although if he did, I would have called him out on it).

7. From your letter, I can only conclude that Olivet Nazarene University has at this time no intention of seriously looking at the implications of what it is doing by promoting contemplative spirituality (via “spiritual formation programs”).  That is why, unless their is a serious change, I do not recommend Olivet for any Bible believing Christian, as I do not recommend any of the other Nazarene schools and the seminary and Bible college as well.

8. I have no problem accepting your invitation to come and visit Olivet.  You can read my answer at the end.

Full Response:

Dr. Leth, although I still have serious disagreement with you on these issues, at least you have responded publicly, and I commend you for that.  Too many leaders in our denomination today are “operating in the shadows.”  The church needs to know the facts of where you and other leaders stand at all the colleges and seminaries, and make their decisions based on the answers.

You stated, “What you failed to mention was our exchange of multiple e-mails and an extended phone conversation discussing Dr. Campolo. You also neglected to mention the multiple page assessment of Dr. Campolo which I sent to you (and which I also shared with our University chaplain), discussing points of disagreement – and agreement – with your concerns.”

Any “omission” of our communications was done out of consideration for your statement of confidentiality, and certainly not to hide anything.  All your emails you sent me marked as confidential, including the one which had your assessment of Dr. Campolo attached.  Your disclaimer says: “This message is from the Office of Carl M. Leth at Olivet Nazarene University and is intended only for the recipient to whom it is addressed.  Please do not share or forward this e-mail without the permission of the sender.”

 So I honored that disclaimer.  If you wish, I would be glad to publicize all those emails that you stated were confidential, as well as your assessment of Dr. Campolo.  There was no failure or dishonest omission on my part, as is implied.

Secondly, I stand by my statement in which I said that you have no problem with Dr. Campolo.  Yes, you did write an assessment of Dr. Campolo that included some criticism, but the bottom line is this.  In allowing Dr. Campolo to come to Olivet, you (and the leadership) are okay with a false teacher coming to the Olivet campus and speaking unchallenged.  You know by now that Dr. Campolo promotes a whole lot of unbiblical ideologies, including contemplative mysticism, mantra prayers, and tacit support of the homosexual agenda.  By allowing him to speak, you (the leaders of Olivet) potentially allow him to poison the minds of your students.  That is irresponsible, and at least says that you and others are willing to tolerate the appearance of a false teacher on campus without giving anyone a chance to refute him at the same time.  I’ll let others decide for themselves whether that is wise or not.

Thirdly, you also said, that “standing for truth” does not require basic courtesy, not to mention following biblical principles for dealing with matters of disagreement.”  I am not aware of any biblical principles I violated.  Surely you do not mean Matthew 18, which does not apply here.  You are a public figure, whose words are read by hundreds of students at a time at Olivet.  A public response to you or any other public figure is absolutely appropriate.  We warn you and the leadership of what your school is allowing.  I am duty bound by God’s word to point out the errors publicly, for the sake of the students who attend your school, and for those who may attend.  I see no biblical basis for keeping my mouth shut publicly.  On the other hand, it would be reckless for me to not give out any warning as Olivet continues on this course.

You Question My Integrity, and That Of Lighthouse Trails

In spite of my serious disagreements with you, I had not (until now) questioned your integrity because I have not had any concrete reason to do so.  I do question your ideas.  I know that you sincerely believe in what you do, although I believe you are sincerely wrong.  A person can be in error and still be a person of integrity.  Yet you are questioning my integrity and my honesty, as well as that of the Lighthouse Trails writers.  That is a disappointment to me, and I believe it is an improper unscriptural judgment of me, Lighthouse Trails, and anyone else who has an opinion of what Olivet is teaching.  And it results , intentionally or otherwise, in trying to deflect away from the facts, which you never refuted.

You said:  “standing for truth” does not require speaking truthfully” …. “It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require a very high standard for truth. The critique of Olivet in a broad, sweeping stroke, was based on the posting of “Lighthouse Trails Research” which you trust and “commend.” 

 I commend and stand by Lighthouse Trails and the work they do, and I stand by my work as well. We bring facts out in the open, and we give our opinion.  Were these facts inaccurate about Olivet?  If so, which stated facts are in error, and why?  Frankly, what you object to is not the facts, but my conclusion as well as LHT’s conclusion, that Olivet is promoting contemplative spirituality.

And it does not matter whether LHT has a Wesleyan background!  John Wesley did not write the Bible!  What matters is if what they post is the truth, and there has been no refutation of any facts, and no biblical justification given for allowing these false teachers to influence our students.  I have no formal theological training, but God has given me the discernment to see what is false, and what is truth.

So I am very disappointed at your accusation that both Lighthouse Trails and myself are lacking in integrity and honesty.  This reminds me of the same technique used by my former pastor, when he did not like hearing the truth from me and could not refute a single thing I wrote.  I’ve seen this often.  When some people can’t refute the truth, they simply try to destroy the integrity of the messenger!  I am not perfect, but my conscience is clear before God.  Is yours?

I suspect that not one theology professor at Olivet, nor any other Christian university, can defend in a biblical manner the ideology of such writers as Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, and many others.  They all share one thing in common, and that is the rapidly growing phenomenon of “spiritual formation.”  I would challenge your professors to come up with a biblical defense for the use of Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster books.  If not, they ought to throw it all out.  Sadly, those who are on the spiritual formation bandwagon are using contemplative practices that are unbiblical and that teach Christians that if they are quiet enough, the voice of God will speak to them; that if they practice “the silence” they will get closer to God.

Dr. Leth, you and some of your colleagues including some at our seminaries, are trying to justify the positive use of books by men who promote doctrines of demons.   We should not be trying to confuse people by saying we can take the good from these men, and throw out the bad.  That is not biblical at all.  You are trying to justify contemplative spirituality, and denying that it is what you call spiritual formation.  Spiritual formation programs are a Trojan horse bringing in contemplative mysticism. You say mystical expressions are okay.  I would ask, how does one know that any of those mystical expressions are from God, or from Satan?  How do I tell which is it? You seem to be pretty much on the same page as Tony Campolo, who said:

 “We must pay serious attention to mystical happenings, and discern, in the context of biblical understanding in Christian community, whether or not we believe they are of God. Discernment is crucial to mystical spirituality. Without it, anything goes. On the other hand, we must learn to doubt our doubts if we are going to be open to the work of the Spirit in our lives” (The God of Intimacy and Action, p. 11).

Finally, you said: “And I categorically reject the position attributed to Nouwen suggesting that there could be any other way to God.” 

How can it be clearer?  In his own words, Nouwen said:

“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” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).

Dr. Leth, let me make it clear: I have nothing personal against you or anyone at Olivet or any of the other colleges.  I believe you and your colleagues have good intentions.  God has long ago removed any personal resentments from my heart.  But I am saddened that the current position of Olivet leadership seems to be one of either denial, or refusal to repent.  I call on you and the leaders of the school to reject the use of these false teachers as good resources, to reject the spiritual formation which is a trojan horse for contemplative spirituality, and to get back to the Bible and nothing else as your source of truth.  It is a call for repentance from what is slowly destroying the Nazarene denomination.  It is a call to turn back to obedience to the inerrant word of God.

Your Invitation to Visit:

Regarding your invitation to come to Olivet.  I would be glad to come sometime with a colleague and have a dialogue with two of your best theologians, in front of all the students in chapel, on the merits of contemplative spirituality (spiritual formation).  I think something like that would be very interesting, and would allow someone like me, who is not seminary trained, to make my case.  I would only be armed with my knowledge of Scripture, my knowledge of those who promote contemplative spirituality, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Besides, would this not reflect the spirit of academic discourse and freedom, and sharing of ideas?

So consider this reply a Yes to your offer for me to visit the campus and speak to your students.  After all, if Tony Campolo, a non-Nazarene, can speak to them, why not a lifelong Nazarene like me?

Sincerely,

Manny Silva


* Additional comments have been added in red within your letter below:

ORIGINAL LETTER FROM DR. LETH

Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 07:29:47 -0800
Subject: An Open Letter to Manny Silva

An Open Letter to Manny Silva

(Please note: This letter will also be published on EpworthPulpit.com)

Dear Manny,

You recently issued a sweeping online critique of Olivet Nazarene University which you sent to Dr. Bowling and myself.  I was saddened and disappointed to receive it. But not by what it had to say about Olivet. It was what it revealed about Stand for Truth Ministries.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require speaking truthfully, or at the very least, is not averse to misleading statements. You wrote, concerning Tony Campolo’s visit to speak in chapel, “I sent my concerns to Dr. Carl Leth, dean of the School of Theology, but apparently he has no problem in having Dr. Campolo speak there.” What you failed to mention was our exchange of multiple e-mails and an extended phone conversation discussing Dr. Campolo. You also neglected to mention the multiple page assessment of Dr. Campolo which I sent to you (and which I also shared with our University chaplain), discussing points of disagreement – and agreement – with your concerns. In the end, our differences were less about the areas where Dr. Campolo is on questionable grounds than the severity of that critique. I shared your concerns about several positions Dr. Campolo advocates but I did not conclude that they disqualify him from speaking at all. That is a different conclusion from yours but hardly constitutes having “no problem” with Campolo.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require basic courtesy, not to mention following biblical principles for dealing with matters of disagreement.  In my multiple exchanges of communication with you I have tried to understand your concerns and respond to them in a serious manner. While we do not agree on every issue I want to honor your concerns and perspective. In those multiple (and wholly congenial) exchanges I repeatedly asked you to contact me if you had any concerns about what we were doing at Olivet. “If you have a concern please let me know.” I extended my personal invitation to Olivet to communicate your concerns directly, offering to personally serve as your host. You have my e-mail address and my personal phone number, both of which you were invited to use freely. Yet this latest, sweeping, critique came without any prior contact from you. Perhaps any explanation I would have made would have been unsatisfactory to you. But it would have been a gesture of simple courtesy to give me that opportunity.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require a very high standard for truth. The critique of Olivet in a broad, sweeping stroke, was based on the posting of “Lighthouse Trails Research” which you trust and “commend.”  So I went to Lighthouse Trails to learn a bit more about my accuser. What I learned was almost nothing. The editors of Lighthouse ministry shine a bright light on folks they disagree with but remain, themselves, in the shadows. The site includes a tab “about us” but it does not include any names, credentials, or church affiliation. Instead, the site freely identifies their purpose as for-profit book sales. I have no objections to free enterprise or book sales. But I do object to anonymous critique from people without identity or accountability. Do they have any meaningful theological training? Are they from the Wesleyan Holiness tradition? Are they active in a local church? Is there an accountability community that can vouch for their character and integrity? I am not presuming negative answers to any of these questions. I am simply noting that I have no basis on which to offer any kind of answer to them. The writers of Lighthouse Trails may be well-trained churchmen, deeply grounded in the Wesleyan holiness tradition and their understanding of our tradition, and persons of high personal, spiritual and moral character. I simply have no way to know. They operate – by choice – in the shadows.

Nevertheless, they have been installed as the authoritative theological source for assessment of the Church of the Nazarene and Olivet Nazarene University whose judgment is accepted without question by Stand for Truth Ministries.
Dr. Leth, I have many reliable sources of information that I use, besides LHT, and I also do my own research and also verify the information.  But how would you know I accept LHTs words without question?  And please tell me, which facts that they reported were incorrect?  Did they not use Richard Foster’s book, and Nouwen’s books, in some courses?  Did not the VP of SPiritual Life favorably quote Nouwen?  Which facts were incorrect?

Among the faculty of Olivet’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry we have over 200 years of ministry experience – on the mission field, as pastors, in local ministry staff positions. I have, myself, over 25 years of pastoral service, including four years in Missions. I have been entrusted with leadership roles on districts where I have served – District Advisor Board, chairman of the district Finance Committee, chairman of the Ministerial Credential’s Board. You can read what I have written, identified by name, in multiple publications easily available to the public (including EpworthPulpit.com). You can hear me preach any Sunday at the multi-cultural church I pastor (as a bi-vocational pastor) in downtown Kankakee. My credentials, experience and service are readily available for public assessment. But for Stand for Truth Ministries none of that matters the moment an anonymous, for-profit, online bookseller makes a condemning critique. That is the standard of truth.  No sir, the standard of truth is Jesus Christ, and His word, the word of God!

LHT is NOT anonymous, and you should correct that and apologize for saying that.  They even explain why they are for-profit, but even so, what s wrong with for profit?  Can they make a living, just as a pastor needs to get some income as well?  Do you earn income for what you do?

As far as your credentials, they look really good to me.  But is that the standard for Christians before they can discern what is right and what is wrong?  Does that mean no one is qualified to discern unless they have gone to theological school and received a degree?  Please read Psalm 119:99 and you will know that is not necessarily the case.

About Olivet

So much for what this reveals about Stand for Truth Ministries. Let me respond to the substance of your expressed concern. The general concern about “spiritual formation” reflects a misunderstanding about what spiritual formation is. You assume that anything identified as spiritual formation must be, or lead to, inappropriate forms of mysticism or non-Christian spirituality. This is simply mistaken. The disciplines of spiritual formation have been a part of the Christian community from its beginning. They reflect the intentional formation of practices and patterns of life to reflect and honor Christ’s lordship. They include practices of prayer, reading Scripture, worship, giving, and service. John Wesley did not use the term “spiritual formation” but emphasized the practices of spiritual formation as “means of grace.”

John Wesley, as far as I know, would not be involved with the kind of spiritual formation being promoted in the universities today, in many of our churches.  But… if he did, I suppose I would have to call him out on it as well.  The attempt to re-write the history of John Wesley, such as the claims of some that he was the first emergent, is outrageous!

The Wesleyan holiness understanding of God’s work of salvation has always included an emphatic insistence that this must include a radical change of life. Justification cannot be the experience of the believer without regeneration, newness of life, or initial sanctification. This means that life change is part and parcel of the New Birth. We must live in a new way. And this includes learning new habits and patterns of life. We need to learn to read the Word, spend time in prayer, spend time just listening to God, learn to act in new and different ways – like learning to serve others and spending time in the fellowship of the church.

All we need is the instructions God has given us in scripture.  We MUST NOT use “new and different ways” if they contradict God’s word.  But your examples certainly are not new.  Serving others, fellowship in the church- those are nothing new, although they are biblical.  Practicing the silence is not.  Using books by heretical authors as good resources are not.   Placing ashes on the forehead are not.

It is the expression of living worship. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

That is one of the points I have been trying to make!  Do not conform to the world!  Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster are part of the world!  Run away from them- don’t embrace them!

This work of life transformation is God’s work, a gift of grace, but it is not done without us. We are called to participate with God’s gracious work in us. And just because it is grace does not mean that the work is not sometimes hard work on our part. We emerge from lives of sin and the powerful influence of this world with deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and habits of life. We have to re-learn how to think of ourselves, what we value, how to use our resources, how to work through our hurts and grievances. All of this is part of God’s work in our lives to make us holy. All the “work” we do is participating in God’s sanctifying work in our lives. This is what “spiritual formation” must always be about – being made holy, reflecting the image and character of the Christ to whom we belong.

This is the work we are purposing to do. No mystic spiritualism. No inner divinity. Richard Foster claims that EVERY human being can be a portable sanctuary for contact with God.  EVERY human being, not just Christians. No universal spiritual being. Just forming hearts and lives around the heart and life of the One who gave himself for me. He alone is our life. He alone is our hope. He alone is the One we seek.

Let me add a word about the language of mysticism. It is easy for someone to misunderstood what is being said when calling for a movement from “moral” to “mystical” Christian experience. There are Christian traditions that see the Christian life as primarily a kind of moral living. Being Christian is, essentially, following the moral standards found in Scripture or expressed by the church. The life of the Christian is a life of compliance with the Law or the Church. “Mystical” expressions of Christianity have called people to a personal experience of God, a living personal relationship that does not require the mediation of a priest or the institutional church.

How is “Mystical” expressions biblical?  Please explain how mysticism is encouraged or taught in Scripture.  Nouwen said this:  “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” (In the Name of Jesus, pp. 6, 31, 32).  How is this scriptural?

In this sense, we of the Wesleyan holiness tradition have always been “mystical.” We have never believed that being Christian is, essentially, about the Law.  Dr. Leth, let me explain what being a Christian means.  Being a Christian is this: someone who has repented of his sins, and placed his faith in Jesus Christ.  He has turned away form his sinful path, and now turns to obedience to Christ.  How do you obey Christ?  Simply by following His word, His law if you will.  Jesus said it Himself: if you love me, keep my commandments.  He did not say, if you love me, become a mystic and experience by practicing the silence.

It is about a personal encounter with the living God. It is what every altar in every church calls out. God, Himself, may be met here.

This is a description of the experiential philosophy of the emergent church and the mystics of today.  That you can “experience” God.   However, this is very subjective, and there is not clear way for us to discern whether someone’s “persona” experience is genuine or not, or if it is demonic.

In this sense I am glad to be called “mystical.” In fact, I refuse to be anything else. As I write this response I am listening to the song that asks, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?” And my heart is encouraged by the ringing refrain, “O yes, He cares; I know He cares!…I know my Saviour cares.”  I know because I have met Him, I know Him. The Christian life is to follow Him and to know Him. This is the “mysticism” we value here at Olivet.

We follow and know Him by knowing His word.  Otherwise, your mysticism and my mysticism can be totally different, and again, how can I tell whether your experience is valid or not?  Or whether the “mystical experience” of 1000 different students at Olivet is valid or not.

That is not to say that any mysticism will do. Absolutely not! Only a life grounded in the life of Christ has found Life. And I categorically reject the position attributed to Nouwen suggesting that there could be any other way to God. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life.

Where is any scriptural support for mystical experiences that can somehow be achieved by our efforts?  All the mystical experiences documented in the New Testament were initiated by God- not by Paul or anyone else going through some kind of procedure or ritual.

Moving Forward

I want to take you and your concerns seriously – as I have tried to do from the beginning. I will ask our faculty who are using Nouwen to carefully consider the texts they are using. I will ask them, specifically, to explore the suggested pluralism in the source you attribute to Nouwen.

They know what Henri Nouwen believed and taught.  There should be no question but that they should immediately remove his material, as well as Richard Foster’s, from the curriculum.  However, I do not fault Olivet alone on this.  I was ashamed to see Richard Foster’s book at General Assembly, AND in a prayer room, which was doubly shameful.

We want to avoid any suggestion that we affirm mystical spirituality or hope of salvation that is not grounded in the life of Christ alone.

But that is what the Nazarene denomination is doing right now, seeking “experiences” instead of remaining int he word of God.  It is no longer sufficient for them.  They must seek more new ways of getting close to God.  That is an insult to the sufficiency of placing our faith in Christ, and relying on His word.

We will not, however, abandon the enterprise of spiritual formation as I have described it. To do so would be to fail to be faithful stewards of the responsibility entrusted to us.

I’m sorry to hear that.  May the Lord bring conviction to you all and repentance from this path that Olivet seemingly has chosen.  It is the wrong way to go.

Nonetheless, I want to repeat my earlier offer to you. You are welcome to visit Olivet at any time as my guest. I will personally serve as your host and we will work to arrange meaningful opportunities for dialogue with you. If you are unable to visit the campus but have concerns you would like to express please communicate them to me and I will try to address them. In whatever we do let us try to honor Christ and be honoring to each other for his sake.

I’ll be glad to come, if I will be allowed to speak to the students in chapel, just as Tony Campolo was.

Revisiting The Question: Where Is The Leadership?

Note: Eric Barger still has dates open for his Take A Stand! Conferences, for March 25-28, 2012.  In what area?  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin – anywhere in the upper midwest USA.  If you are interested in hosting a local “Take A Stand!” Seminar/Conference in your community or your church, please contact Eric via email or call at 214-289-5244.


The following was originally posted at Eric Barger’s Take A Stand Ministries, and re-posted at Ex-Nazarene’s blog sometime in March, 2010.  However, many of you will be aware of this for the first time, and this is one of those reports that need to be refreshed from time to time.  It is important in several ways, one being to illustrate the continuing issue of practically nothing but silence from the leadership of the Church of the Nazarene.  Another is to illustrate what so few have done, and that is to stand up to leadership under the pressure to conform to practices that run contrary to Holy Scripture.  Rev. Rick is not the only one, however, and of that I am thankful, to those pastors who are protecting their flock today by rejecting the nonsense of the emergent church movement.  (Update: Rick Headley and his congregation left the denomination and now worship together and serve God in their community with the freedom they need to preach the Gospel without being forced to compromise biblical principles).  Here is Eric’s report from almost two years ago:

Nazarene Pastor Resigns while Church Officials Attempt to Ignore Heresy (by Eric Barger, March 2010)

Many of you have tracked my research and involvement concerning the Church of the Nazarene and the alarming inroads that Emergent leaders and philosophy have made into this once-sound denomination. Though I am not a Nazarene (and never have been), I speak regularly in solid Nazarene churches and it is no secret that I am a friend and supporter of many inside the Nazarene Church who are engaged in fighting heresy throughout every tier of the denomination, in particular the hierarchical leadership and the extensive Nazarene university system. (See “The Church of the Nazarene and the Emergent Church” for an extensive menu of information concerning this.)

In a newly released position statement, Nazarene General Superintendents acknowledge the controversy and extreme disagreement within their church concerning Emergent teaching and practices. However, according to one District Superintendent, the General Superintendents of the denomination have decided not to take a position concerning Emergent ideas and theology. This is a sad and troubling turn of events.

Bluntly put, one has to wonder how those leading such a large body of Christian believers can ignore the Bible’s strong exhortations to those who would lead God’s Church concerning what can only be described as blatant heresy.

Exposing and routing false teaching was nothing foreign to Jesus, His Apostles and the early Church. Nearly every book in the New Testament outlines a struggle for truth or a warning about apostasy, false teachers or the disastrous outcome of theological error. Paul instructed the Galatians to accept only the authentic Gospel (as represented in the Scriptures) and pronounces a double curse on those who would purvey false doctrine (Galatians 1:8-9). The letter written by the Lord’s half-brother, Jude, is consumed with warnings over false teachers, including the famous statement that Christians are to contend earnestly for the one true faith. Jesus Himself points out that the end of days will be signaled by an exponential increase in false teachers (Matthew 24:11). He caps this by warning that, because of the work of false prophets and their perverted views, the love (for truth) of many (in the Church) will grow faint. Paul clearly instructs Titus that the mouths of those who oppose accurate teaching and doctrine are to be stopped! This is the very crux of biblical apologetics – a reasoned statement of truth and a defense of the true faith in the face of what is false. Thank God that many are vigorously engaging in apologetics inside the Nazarene Church at this time.

One pastor told me recently that he has personally challenged his own District officials concerning Emergent radicalism and when told that there will not be an official denominational position concerning Emergent error he bluntly replied, “No position IS taking a position. To take no position on Emergent isn’t leadership!” I agree. We are also now told that Nazarene university officials are being instructed to try to play down Emergent thought in their midst and, at least for a season, they should cease having Emergent leaders as guest speakers on their campuses. It may be too little, too late, regarding trying to keep key Emergent leaders off the premises however. Emergent philosophy is heralded by many professors and has broad appeal to many unsuspecting students. The unorthodox teaching of Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Phyllis Tickle, and Alan Roxburgh (among others) has spread like wildfire in the bible colleges and seminaries associated with nearly every denomination. So any effort to limit the appearances of Emergent leaders by the Nazarenes really can’t be construed as any sort of refutation of Emergent teaching but rather only an effort to allow the existing controversy surrounding them to wane.

The Results of Ignoring Heresy

In one of his most emphatic and corrective letters, the Apostle Paul warned, “A littleleaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) That is, if we allow heretical views to gain ground and spawn, it won’t be long before the entire loaf (the Church) is corrupted with heresy.  Nothing better illustrates the deep divide present in the Church of the Nazarene than the fact that solid, bible-believing churches and leaders are now seeing their only recourse to be to leave the denomination. One would hope and pray that the international leaders of the Church of the Nazarene (and nearly every other denomination including the Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God) would wake up and stop courting Emergent heresy as nothing more than just a “new way to do church.”

I have been in constant touch with others who have now been threatened, intimidated and, in one case, actually put out of his ministry position, by Nazarene officials intent on stifling any negative discussion opposing Emergent philosophy. Now there is the case of Pastor Rick Headley from Ohio. Here is the letter he wrote to Rev. Jerry Porter, one of the General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene.


Dear Rev. Porter:

On May 5, 2000, after 10 long years of studying and working to finish my studies and complete necessary service time, you ordained me as an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene. At the altar of Grove City (Ohio) Church of the Nazarene you looked me in the eyes and charged me to be faithful to the Word of God and its ministry. You then placed your hand upon my head as I knelt at the altar and you prayed that God would help me carry out the charge that you had given me. I took that charge seriously, Rev. Porter. I have faithfully attended to this charge as a local pastor for a total of 20 years.

I have been disheartened to see our great denomination travel a very slippery slope as it has allowed emergent thinkers to infiltrate our educational institutions, publishing house, and our districts. The heart of this movement is an open denial of the inerrancy and relevancy of God’s Word. The very Word of God that you charged me to be faithful to. I have waited for you and the General Board to refute the leaders of this movement in our denomination and reaffirm the Church of the Nazarene’s commitment to scripture. The General Board’s silence on this issue has been deafening.

Rev. Porter, I am conflicted by the idea that you charged me to be faithful to God’s Word and its ministry and yet you choose to be silent as well known Church of the Nazarene leaders such as Jon Middendorf, Dan Boone and others use their influence to propagate the emergent ideology. I am compelled to believe that the silence of the General Board on this issue is communicating an acceptance through tolerance.

“How much further will they go?” was the question that was asked by the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon in his magazine “Sword and Trowel” in August 1887. He asked this of the Baptist Denomination – a movement that he had faithfully served for 35 years and in which he was the most prominent preacher. For some time, he and others in the Baptist Union had been concerned that apostasy from earlier standards might be showing up in the denomination. They were also concerned at the character of the teaching being given in some of the Baptist colleges. After asking the above question, the great soul-winner said, “It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the truth once delivered unto the saints should fraternize with those who have turned to another Gospel.”

 After much prayer and deliberation I have decided to return my ordination document to you. I can no longer tolerate the idea of being associated with a denomination that openly allows an ideology that promotes disdain for God’s Word, ancient mystic practices, and pagan catholic traditions.
 

Sadly Submitted,
Rev. Rick Headley


(To read the rest of the original post, click here.)

The original question was: where is the leadership?  In the next week or so, I will have a report on a specific issue that I reported on last year.  It will be sent to the leadership for comment as to the acceptability of this matter I will bring up.  It will shock even the most skeptical of those who think I am just one of the many who are “crying wolf”.  Will the leadership respond and answer my question, one way or the other?  Or will they continue to avoid giving a definitive answer?  We’ll see.