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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.”
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.