A Biblical View Of Creation From A Scientist And A Student

I rarely have good news lately, but today I have two encouraging stories to share.

The first was originally posted at Answers In Genesis.  We need more Christian scientists like Dr. Georgia Purdom to give their testimony and also demonstrate how science does NOT contradict the Bible and its historical accounts, but affirms it.
The second story was written by Christina Wilkins, a biology major at Mid America Nazarene University.


Genesis And Biblical Authority: Challenging Nazarenes in West Virginia

Original Source: Answers In Genesis)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Dunbar Church of the Nazarene in Dunbar, West Virginia. This was a special privilege for me because I was raised in the Nazarene church and taught for six years as a biology professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. On Saturday I presented twice to the women of the church, sharing my testimony and the foundational importance of Genesis to biblical womanhood. On Sunday I gave presentations on the importance of Genesis to biblical authority and the eugenics movement, both historical and modern. The pastor of the church, Greg Hudson, taught on the Seven C’s in seven sermons before my arrival, so the congregation was well prepared and very receptive.

Pastor Hudson shared with me that he heard Ken Ham speak at a chapel service at God’s Bible College (Cincinnati) back in 1994 (just as AiG was beginning). He said the service greatly impacted him and made him realize how important Genesis is to biblical authority. From my conversations with Pastor Hudson and the members of his congregation, I know that he has a great love for God and the truthfulness of His Word. He is gravely concerned—as am I—about the theological liberalism that is beginning to take hold in the Nazarene denomination. Both of us throughout the weekend challenged the congregation with examples of this liberalism as it concerns not only Genesis but also other areas such as homosexuality and the existence of a literal hell. (I encourage you to read Ken’s recent blog post about an article written by two professors at Nazarene universities). We pray that those we spoke to will become equipped and uphold God’s Word within the Nazarene denomination.

This trip was also special for me because my daughter Elizabeth got to accompany me as my “assistant.” She unpacked DVDs, helped organize the resource tables, handed out materials, and more. I was very proud of her (in case you can’t tell), and I look forward to her coming to future events when possible. We also enjoyed eating several meals with and attending a minor league baseball game with Pastor Hudson and his wife Julie and daughter Hannah. Hannah and Elizabeth got to spend time together, especially when I was speaking, and I am grateful for the friendship they formed.

This is an exciting week, as I’m really looking forward to the Answers for Women conference beginning Thursday at the Creation Museum. If you haven’t registered, don’t worry; you can still register at the door! Please be in prayer for this conference, that many women will be encouraged and equipped to defend God’s Word.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

 

Creation is no joke: MNU Biology Major Comes Clean

(Source: Christina Wilkins: http://trailblazer.mnubox.com/2012/04/09/creation-is-no-joke-mnu-biology-major-comes-clean/)

Last week, I wrote an April Fool’s article with an opinion that no one on campus would believe was truly mine: that I was an evolutionist.

I am a biology major, so I’ve studied evolution. At my first biology class, I was hit hard with the fact that there is no clear consensus on this issue among Christians.

I’ve come to realize that even though I don’t agree with theistic evolutionists about origins, there is still a lot that we do agree on. I have a special bond with biologists, who marvel at God’s creation. I can respect them as believers and as intelligent people.

My April Fool’s article was a joke because it was written by me. The day after publication, my fellow biology majors told me how they laughed at my article. Strangers, however, didn’t think it was so funny.

Last summer at the Creation Museum, my spirit was refreshed. I saw Biblical truth come to life in a way that doesn’t contradict what I’ve learned from science. I felt stretched as well as uplifted.

In fact, some of my fake arguments were inspired by one room in the Creation Museum walk-through. One side of the room shows the modern family in church, and the pastor is preaching that Christians shouldn’t get caught up in the debate because the Bible wasn’t meant to be a science textbook.

The foundation of Biblical truth is being undermined, resulting in a gospel stripped of power. If Genesis isn’t historical fact, how can we trust that the resurrection is a historical fact? The point is that what we believe about Genesis matters.

Yesterday was Easter, when we celebrate that Christ’s death and resurrection redeemed us from our sin. That sin was made an inherent human trait when Adam and Eve sinned, ruining the world that God described as good.

Romans 5:15 says, “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” The sin and death that entrapped me before I knew Christ came from one man’s sin, and I was saved through one man’s sacrifice.

In Romans 5:12, it is clear that death came into the world through the first sin. If it took billions of years of death for humans to evolve, and then have sinned, how could death be the result of that sin? In this view, God must have described the death, and associated suffering, as good.

And what about the wages of sin? Sunday school taught us Romans 6:23. If the wages of sin isn’t death, where is the need for the gift?

I can’t believe that the creation vs. evolution debate doesn’t matter.

God said that he created whole organisms to reproduce after their kind, so I believe that complex systems could not have been created by small steps. (Genesis 1:25)

God said that the fountains of the deep were opened up during the worldwide flood, so I believe that the Grand Canyon is evidence of that. (Genesis 7:11)

God said that he created everything that flies, whether we call them reptiles or birds, on the fifth day, so I believe Archeoptryx was created on that day as well. (Genesis 1:20)

God said that he created organisms to be fruitful and multiply, so he provided genetic variability within each kind. “Junk DNA” implies that if we don’t know the function of something, it has no function. God also created man, including every strand of DNA, out of the dust, so I don’t assume any of that was junk. (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:7)

I’m going to run the risk of being long-winded to throw one last real opinion out there, and one that I first heard at the Creation Museum. When I read Genesis, I see that the first attack on God from the devil was an attack on God’s word. Genesis 3:1b says, “’Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’” He questioned something that should have been clear to Eve because God said it. Genesis is just as clear and more than just an elegant narrative.

I would rather ask, “Does the evidence really say…?” than “Did God really say…?”

Christina Wilkins


Addendum: Excerpt From Dr. Henry Morris

(Thanks to David Cloud who sent this out this today)

The following is excerpted from The Beginning of the World by Dr. Henry Morris, pp. 12-15. Morris had a Ph.D. in hydraulics and hydrology from the University of Minnesota. For thirteen years he was Professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Head of the Civil Engineering Department of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University. He was a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and the author of the textbook Applied Hydraulics in Engineering.

_________________

It is significant that present processes, which are the only kinds of processes which can be tested by the scientific method, are not in any way creative processes. That is, the basic laws of modern science, which describe these present processes, are laws of conservation and deterioration, not of creation and integration. These laws deal with the fundamental behavior of matter and energy, which actually include everything in the physical universe, and are known as the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

 

Thermodynamics (from two Greek words meaning ‘heat power’) is the science dealing with the conversion of heat and other forms of energy into work. It is now known that everything in the universe is energy in some form, and everything that ‘happens’ is basically an energy conversion process. Thus, the first and second laws of thermodynamics could just as well be called the first and second laws of science. All processes in the universe, as far as known, have to obey these two laws.

The first law of thermodynamics is also called the law of energy conservation. This law states that, although energy can be changed in form, it is not now being either created or destroyed Since all physical phenomena, including matter itself, are merely different forms of energy, this clearly implies that creation was an event of the past and is no longer going on.

The second law of thermodynamics, stated in nontechnical form, says that all physical systems, if left to themselves, tend to become disorganized. Thus, machines wear out, processes run down, organisms get old and die. Any temporary increase in organization requires an input of energy from outside the system itself.

These two universal laws are basic in all disciplines of modern science. Verified by thousands of experiments, from the nuclear level to the astronomic level, with no known exceptions, they clearly indicate that nothing is now being created and taht the original creation is ‘running down.’

This all proves, as well as ‘science’ is able to demonstrate anything, that evolution, which requires a continuing universal process of development and integration, is simply not true at the present time. This is why no one has seen evolution occurring.

There is nothing whatsoever in science to prevent us from accepting the revealed fact that God created all things, calling them into existence ex nihilo … in a fully developed and functioning state right from the beginning. This fact is confirmed not only by Scripture but also by the two laws of thermodynamics. The second law states, in effect, that the universe must have had a beginning: otherwise, since it is now running down, it would already be dead. The first law, on the other hand, states in effect that the universe could not have created itself. It must have been created, therefore, by some adequate Cause beyond itself. ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’ is the most scientific statement that could possibly be made about the origin of the universe, based on the known laws of science.


The Word Is Nigh Thee

[Note:  My appreciation to Mike Jobbins and others for making this data available to me.  You people did a fantastic job in bringing this together.  I am honored to have received your work to comment on.]

Deuteronomy 30:14: “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

Romans 10:7-9: “Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

One of the issues that fully convinces me that the Church has entered the predicted falling away, where men prefer deception to revelational truth and are willing to essentially sell  their souls for the flesh pots of the Great Apostasy, is the pretentious and hypocritical assault on the Scriptures by those who should know better.  The most tragic of it is that most of this assault comes from within denominations and their people that once preached and lived a Scriptural holiness that was unapologetic, unashamed, and relied on the full authority of all Scripture to prove their claim.

The most insidious error is the massive subtlety in how the Scriptures are maligned.  Their disparagement of the Scriptures furnishes the basis upon which all of the rest of the whimsical inaccuracies of all postmodern emergent teachings rest. By corrupting the plain statements of the Word of God, they attempt to turn the Bible against itself.  They resort to a system of inconsistent ideas and statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act of holding them to be true based on nothing better than assumptions.  In plain English, they not only put their theological foot in their mouths, they only open their mouths to change feet.

Regardless of any other claims they may make, they always throw back to logical fallacies and human reasoning based on those fallacies.  That is where they stop.  They go no further. 

Jason R. Bjerke, wrote a paper April 11, 2011 titled, “Limited Inerrancy and Its Theological Issues.”  It is published by Gospel of Christ Ministries at www.gcmin.org.  Page 40 is a chart of this kind of false reasoning that is the topic of his paper.  I have named the chart for my purposes, “A Heretic’s Decision Tree on Scripture Inerrancy.”  Since the chart does not copy into emails and other places, I will furnish a brief description of it, along with some of Bjerke’s comments on the issue.  One can take any passage from the Bible and follow down the decision tree to decide if that passage is “inerrant” or merely “accepted as truth under the big tent approach.”

The decision on the inerrancy of any given passage or verse is made by subjectively answering the question, “Does the Bible passage relate to salvation.”  I say it is subjective because no guideline or authority is presented for determining the answer; and the answers (“solutions”) are all subjective.  I should say about legitimate decision trees that they depend for their usefulness on answers based on evidence or a common understanding of the facts.  This tree offers no such basis for the answers at all.  Bjerke provides a scholarly and comprehensive response to many of the false, often adamant, explanations offered by proponents of limited inerrancy.

The “Yes” answer leads you to the statement:  “The Bible passage is Scripture and is inerrant.”  The “No” answer leads you to the statement: “The Bible passage is not Scripture and is not inerrant.”  Notice that both answers offer an up-front determination about a passage of the Bible without the slightest offer of data.  Under the “No” answer, it supposedly “becomes the Word of God as it is read.”  Under both are two similar statements that the passage is supported by experience, church tradition, and critical thinking (reason), with a possibility of yes and no answers that lead to other conclusions.  Again, no authority is offered for those conclusions.

If you have grasped this gobbledygook by now, you are three steps ahead of me.  I have absolutely no idea how they came up with those answers, especially considering the previous paragraph I just presented.  It is clear they did not go to the Scriptures for their authority.  That means they went elsewhere, somewhere way outside of the Book of God.  They meandered into human reasoning capabilities and experiences.  In fact, they as much as say so on both sides of the so-called determination path to either “Accepted as Truth under the Big Tent Approach” or “Accepted as Scripture which is inerrant”—the final answers for both answers.  Even the “inerrant” decision has a lot of wiggle room on this chart.

The first question, “Does the Bible passage relate to Salvation?” offers no objective way to determine that answer.  Apparently, that is left up to the subjective judgment of the reader of the Bible passage.  I have had that thrown at me before with such remarks as, “You have your opinion and I have mine.”  Opinions, however, are not evidence.  Personal choices or personal preferences are opinions.  Thus begins the path to error, no matter how you answer the question because “thus saith the Lord” is completely disregarded.  Revelation is a non-factor in this approach.

We already know that God does not have a library on a cloud so we can find out which parts of His Word are inspired and which are not.  We only have from Him that 66-book library we call the Bible.  All that other “information” has its origins somewhere besides Him.

As far as I can tell at this point in time, this notion is the foundation for all claims to limited inspiration, including “only in matters pertaining to our salvation.”  They call it Scripture one moment and then call it not Scripture almost at the same time.  Which is it?  Both answers are based solely on experience, tradition, and “critical thinking.”  Do I need to go into that to show that each are among the most unreliable aspects of proving or disproving anything, let alone the Word of God.  They are tenuous aids at best and far from strong in making a believable point.

There is a world of difference between saying that “Scripture is not everything contained in the Bible, but rather the passages concerning salvation” and the clear teaching of Scripture that everything inspired by God is Scripture and therefore inerrant, as Bjerke pointed out on page 12.

It is dangerously presumptuous to take a position that comes up short of the Bible being anything but fully inspired and fully inerrant in all matters whereof it speaks.  It is apostasy on parade that is more shameful than a gay pride parade in New York City on a sunny summer afternoon.  We can wrack our brains with myriad of philosophical approaches and pseudo-scientific “proofs” and never be able to either prove any jot or tittle of the Bible is erroneous or to prove any position other than it is totally inerrant and that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”.  It is to call God a liar or stupid.  We know He is neither of those.  All of the sanctimonious babble on it is plain hooey, and that is far more than just my opinion versus another’s.

The notion of judging the Bible by an arbitrary standard such as “pertaining to our salvation only” is man-concocted—purely imaginary and arrogantly condescending upon the Word of God.  It does not come from God and can be found nowhere in the Scriptures. It comes down to the fact that many among us are pushing the boundaries of revelational truth and trying to make it into what God has never said that it was. It is vital that we pull back those artificially extended boundaries created by conceit and spiritual depravity and return to the simple truth of “thus saith the Lord,” and nothing else.

If no one objects (or even if they do), I will just stick with a favorite Bible verse and John Wesley on this:

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Wesley:  “…if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand.  If there be one falsehood in that Book, it did not come from the God of truth.”  Just so we are clear:  Wesley was not making allowances for any error in the Bible.  One flaw discredits and nullifies all.

If I am to take seriously Deuteronomy 30:14 and Romans 10:7-9, the only conclusion is that every jot and tittle of the Scriptures are indeed inspired Scriptures and, in truth, pertain to our salvation so that it is an exercise in sinful futility and carnal arrogance to try to nit-pick the holy Word of God and claim differently.

Ravi Zacharias has said that argument will take you in all kinds of directions but that people naturally need to go beyond argument to actual experience, observation, things that elicit emotions.  Oddly, postmodern emergents rely on just that very thing.  If they can get you to feel good, they have won the argument with you.  That means that those who hold firmly to spiritual truth must understand that logical argument alone will not win the day.  We can talk all day about the legitimacy and wonders of marriage, for instance, but love must be there as well; otherwise marriage is just a concept.  I have heard holiness preached precept upon precept and watched the constant glaze-over in the eyes of the congregation.  I have also heard holiness preached and watched the enthusiasm in those who were listening.

One of my daughters reminded me of the need to express these matters in simple concepts and terms.  That is so true.  Much of this error is convoluted and camouflaged in clouds of terminology that superficially sounds so wonderful but lacking in substance.  We counter-emergents tend to fall into their trap and respond in kind, further confounding the issue for the ordinary person who does not spend a lot of time researching these things as others do. 

Once we have the idea, we are duty-bound to translate it all into the common language we all understand.  We need to get into the habit of not only appealing to the intellect but also to the heart.  A young man who seeks to win the affections of the girl of his dreams does not tell her, “I hold dear, adoring, and enduring affections for you.”  All she needs to hear is, “I love you.”  She will respond more favorably to simplicity than clouding the message.  Keeping it simple can be challenging.

Dr. Gran’pa
(John Henderson)
[NOTICE:  ANYTHING I write over this signature may be copied or shared with others
and is deemed as published material unless otherwise stated herein]

Responding To A Nazarene Pastor’s Attempt To Discredit Bible Believers

Rev. Ulmet,

This letter is in response to your article (“I Am A ConcernedNazarene”) in the March/April edition of Holiness Today, the premier publication of the Church of the Nazarene which reaches Nazarenes across the world, in print and on the internet.  After reading it several times, I hardly knew where to begin to respond.  I do not especially like to correct a pastor who is in error.  It is not the first time I have had to do this, and it is never enjoyable.  A pastor is charged with the responsibility to lead and teach his flock as an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd.  But undershepherds are not perfect, they are susceptible to error like anyone else, and must be corrected when necessary, even by a layman without a theology degree.  (I recall the Bereans who were commended by Paul for making sure he was in line with Scripture, even though from the viewpoint of men, he was of greater stature then they).

You posted your article publicly, therefore this response must be public.  Please understand that this is intended for the purpose of correction, for reproof, to help you see the errors of what you have written to many Christians.  I have no animosity towards you, but many Nazarenes believe that what you and other pastors and college professors are promoting is very dangerous and unbiblical.  You have only succeeded in attacking and questioning the integrity and sincerity of many more than you know, but you have not succeeded in destroying their integrity.

There is no Matthew 18 imperative here to confront you in private.  When serious error is put forth publicly to Christians, it must be refuted publicly for the benefit of all, and for reproof and correction of the one who is in error.  Paul the apostle saw the need to correct Peter in public, because Peter had been promulgating incorrect teaching to other Christians.  Paul did not concern himself with Peter’s credentials as an original apostle of Jesus Christ; he did not worry about what others would say about him criticizing such a great man as Peter; he was only concerned with the truth, and correcting any false teaching, no matter who it came from.  And as I recall, Peter humbly took this public rebuke, and learned from it.  I pray that you do the same.

You said that you are a fourth generation Nazarene born into a Nazarene pastor’s family, the son of a district superintendent, and you have a BS and MS from Nazarene institutions.  I’m a second generation son of a Nazarene pastor who was rescued from the bondage of the Roman Catholic Church and who preached holiness for 50 years, and I have a BS and MS from non-Nazarene institutions.  But it really does not matter, does it, our heritage or educational pedigree?  Whatever credentials or background you or I have are irrelevant to any of these issues; let’s judge them only by the word of God.

There are a few areas I wish to address:

1. The Personal Nature of Your Attacks Against Many Nazarenes

This was I believe the most irresponsible thing you did, and for a pastor who is charged with greater responsibilities, it was doubly shameful.   What was worse was that not one of these words you used had one ounce of substantiation and had no documented information and proof.  Here are just some of the words you used to characterize a lot of Nazarenes:

“driven by categorization, guilt-by-association”;  “gotcha” tactics that more represent radical politics than anything remotely biblical, Christian, or certainly holiness”;  “Internet rumormongers”; “Salem-witch-hunt”; “Inquisition-type atmosphere”; “Our presidents…  are under direct and often slanderous attacks from various sources”;  “full of self-righteous piety”; “great derision and mistrust in the scurrilous E-mail exchanges”; “mistrust and gossip”; “no regard whatsoever to biblical conflict resolution principles”; “inflaming the emotions of the faithful”; “unjustly and manipulatively ratcheted up by the fully-aware bloggers”; “special-interest-political-action-group thinking”.

May I suggest that if you have even read the things we all have been saying, that you have simply ignored the substance, and resorted to your only strategy available: demonize those who disagree!  You said all these words simply because we are speaking out against what we believe to be false teachings according to God’s word?   With these words and more, what you have done is not only vilified the obvious and more visible “Concerned Nazarenes”, but you have attacked the integrity, honesty, and sincerity of the many Nazarenes who you do not know, and who have sent me many testimonies.  “These people”, as you refer to them, have written to me many times to tell me of the heartbreak they have experienced as they have watched their denomination of many generations slowly being infiltrated from within with false teachings like a cancer.  Some have told me of being demonized, of being called the divisive ones, and forced to leave their churches of many years, simply for daring to be Bereans and questioning the “new” teachings of their pastors.  Others have left the denomination because they could not find another Bible believing Nazarene church to go to.  Some still struggle on in their church, hoping that they can still make a difference.

These are the very people you speak of when you use those words.  Some of these godly and saintly people have served the Lord faithfully long before you were born, and for you to paint them all like this is an insult to them and their faithful testimony.  Most of them have risked a lot more than I have risked, including pastors who have stood up for the truth.  You have no idea what kind of destruction has occurred because of those who promulgate a theology of emergent openness to everything under the sun, which is doing nothing but watering down the Gospel, and is destroying our churches and our Christian universities.  You owe these people a sincere apology for the false words that were uttered in your attack piece, and you need to repent to God for painting them all in this light.

I quote here a former Holiness Today editor, the late Rev. William McCumber, who wrote in his book This Jesus:

“… I am troubled by “emergent theory” that is moving toward an “emergent church.” Leaders of this “conversation” or “movement” call themselves “post-modern” and I guess if you need a tag that one is about as good as another. My concern about them springs from their distortions of Scripture and their diminishing of Jesus …. More disturbing to me is the fact that the Jesus they talk about is not the Jesus of Scripture … Only the Jesus disclosed to us in the New Testament is relevant to our times and adequate for our salvation. To diminish Him is to destroy ourselves.”

I could give you further examples and quotes from God-fearing, Jesus-loving men and women of God in the Nazarene denomination, as well as other denominations who have rejected the godless ideology of the emergent church.  Perhaps someday, with their permission, I will publish their testimonies, as a witness to those who are siding with God’s word, not man’s word.  I prefer to be on their side of the issue, not yours.  I ask you, who then has been led by the Holy Spirit, and who has not? It can’t be both, can it? (See point #3).

After some people read your article at the Holiness Today FaceBook site, I was amazed at what some of them said, in spite of the caustic words you used to describe so many Nazarenes.  I have attached a running dialogue of that Holiness Today Facebook Discussion. Here are some of their words:

Excellent, Kevin!”
It was such a well-thought out, even-handed look at the whole issue. If anything could bring about true and charitable conversation, it would be this.”

Thank you for this timely article.”

This article is a needed statement that has been long in coming. I commend the editors of Holiness Today for the courage to publish what they knew would be a controversial article. The way in which many in the church have had to suffer under unfounded attacks often based on second hand information or on ignorance has been heartbreaking. I know that on my own district one church was divided by these unfounded attacks and a young pastoral couple suffered greatly because of it.”

I agree with you, David, an article meant to reconcile and bring civility has brought out such animosity, anger and personal attacks.”

Best article I have ever read in H.T. Maybe there is hope!”

No longer only saddened, now I am outraged that good pastors are being subjected to attacks such as this. I don’t even have words to express my disgust. It’s not a defense of truth or correct doctrine, but an outright assault on those who do not kowtow to a narrow interpretation. Pastor Ulmet, HT, thank you for the article. I might otherwise have never known the vitriol many of our pastors and professors are facing. Pastor Brickley is correct in that we have a way to settle differences. This is not it.”

And finally, Rev. Ulmet.  These are your words:

“We can handle these challenges in biblical ways. We can sit down and reason together.” (K. Ulmet)

You call this diatribe that you wrote a biblical way of handling these challenges?  This is how you like to sit down and reason together?  Have you actually taken up anyone on their offer to sit down and discuss these issues with you, in front of others, and let them decide for themselves?  I know others have accepted your offer, so let me do the same.  I would travel to a venue of your choice, let you select whomever you wish to help you, and bring the same number of people with me.  Sure, let’s sit down and not necessarily just reason together, but compare our ideologies and let others decide which is biblical.  Would you accept this challenge from someone who has no theology degree?

There have been quite a few “Likes” for your article on the HT FaceBook page.   It was more than 100 the last time I looked.  (There have been over 2,000 on the Holiness Today website).  And yet, these folks who complimented you somehow looked past the vitriol that flowed from your pen, and complimented you on how kind and loving and wonderful your words were.  They thought that this was a great example for others to see.  Yet, they switched on the condemnation immediately upon any Nazarene who dares to say a word against the ungodly movement called the emergent church.  Is this where our denomination is heading, that discernment is thrown out the window, and the ones who are insisting that we stand for biblical truth, and believe in the Bible, have become the enemy of the church?

It is no wonder that I truly believe that we are in the last days, and that satan has already started sending a great delusion into the minds of many Christians.

2. The Sol Alinsky-Like Tactics Of Diversion From The Facts

That being said, I want to also point out that this is no surprise to us.  This is a tactic that my friend John Henderson spoke of in his response, which is the tactic of personalizing the issue against your opponent, much like Sol Alinsky promotes in his book Rules For Radicals.  If you have no substantive argument against your opponent, just go after him personally, and divert the attention of your readers from the core issues, like the facts of the matter, and how they hold up to scripture.  Rev. Ulmet, I believe you are guilty of that tactic, but it’s no surprise, because I have yet to see one person who promotes this emergent foolishness defend his positions and beliefs using Holy Scripture, which is the ONLY source of authority for our Christian faith.  Our infallible authority is not the Church Manual, nor a professors’ theological musings; it’s nothing else but the word of God, and if the Church Manual goes against God’s word; we ought to correct it, not hold allegiance to it.

This diversionary tactic I have no doubt will fail, because the truth of God’s word will overcome the false attacks against those who love God and respect His word.

3. You Said That The Holy Spirit Prompted You To Write Your Words

You said in a posting to your congregation:

“This article was prompted by the Holy Spirit some months ago after observing for some time the tactics and approaches of a few who are critical of our denomination, our pastors and leaders, our Universities and other entities.”

And now compare this quote:

“After the truth was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, and being prompted by the Holy Spirit to be in obedience to God’s word, I went out determined to refute the emergent church and its’ false teachers in our denomination, exposing their tactics and approaches to as many Nazarenes as I could, in order to keep many from being deceived.” (A concerned Nazarene)

Rev. Ulmet, the prompting of the Holy Spirit never leads a man to error, because the Holy Spirit always leads a trusting believer into truth, and will never contradict the Scriptures.  If it does lead to error, then it is not the Holy Spirit.  It is another spirit that leads a man to say two opposites in one breath: that the Bible is God’s inspired word, BUT that it is also only inerrant in “matters that pertain to salvation.”

The implication from your “Holy Spirit” statement is obvious: since the “Holy Spirit” guided you to write what you did, then everyone should accept that all those who do not agree with you are wrong.  If that is the case, we ought to all repent of what we are doing, and join your “side.”  But wait, how does one determine who is correct, when two people claim the Holy Spirit prompted them to opposite conclusions?  One must compare what they claim with the word of God.  I will leave it to informed readers to make up their minds as to which statement is Holy Spirit inspired.

4. Your Own Words Tell Us That You Do Not Trust All Of Scripture

Quotes:  “To those who would deny full inspiration of all 66 books or dispute inerrancy “in all things necessary to our salvation” we must lovingly but firmly respond with our deep conviction of this Word being God’s Word!”  and  “We subscribe to God as Creator, the Bible as the fully-inspired and with regard to all things salvific the inerrant Word of God.”

I find it incredible that you start out with an affirmation of the inspiration of Scripture and that it should be defended firmly; but then you weaken that very affirmation by qualifying inerrancy as being only in regards to those things necessary to our salvation!  First, I reject that revision of our official statement because it reveals your distrust in all of Holy Scripture.  Secondly, who or what has given you or anyone else the authority to declare that Scripture is inerrant ONLY in matters of salvation?  And thirdly, who or what is the arbiter of what is or is not necessary for salvation?

You also seem to have an unusually high esteem of the Church Manual, perhaps too high.  You said: “our precious Articles of Faith”, and “”we must boldly declare our allegiance to Article IV of the Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene.”  Perhaps that is the problem today in our church.  We are almost holding up the Church Manual as equal to Holy Scripture, and that surely we must hold allegiance to it, in spite of the fact that we fallible Nazarenes seem to change the meaning of that very Manual every four years!  So our final allegiance should only be to one set of words, and that would be the Holy Bible, not the Church Manual.

 5. Your High And Misguided View Of What Our Schools Should Teach Our Students

This I really had to address, because one of the major problems with our schools today, including our seminaries, is the reckless and careless teaching (all documented by the way) of unbiblical practices and ideas.  These are not taught as things to avoid, but as good things, and this is destroying the solid foundations these schools once had.  It is troubling what you said:

“But we must also remember that higher education requires exploration of many ideas and various traditions. Our professors must be supportive and encouraging of our theological and doctrinal positions, while also carefully leading students through a necessary and healthy process of critical evaluation, as well as personal growth and maturity.”

Unfortunately, the way you phrase this is not the way it is being done.  You and many of your colleagues instead promote and encourage an “anything goes philosophy under the guise of “we are a liberal arts institution.”  A Nazarene school should not be claiming to be a Nazarene school, if it does not reflect and teach its students the core values that the denomination says that it holds and teaches.  Under this excuse, our schools have introduced our students to dangerous teachings by Tony Campolo, Tom Oord, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and many others.  Instead of promoting the equipping of our students to combat and refute the false teachers, you promote the indoctrination of our students with these false teachings.

This pastor’s words reflect the same philosophy, which is what is coming out every year from our seminaries as they are being themselves indoctrinated with emergent (aka missional) ideology:

“A fine quality Christian Liberal Arts Education like the one you will find at Eastern Nazarene College, Northwest Nazarene University, Nazarene Theological Seminaryoperate with an educational philosophy that equips the next generation of nurses, doctors, lawyers, ministers, business men and women, musicians etc. to engage our post-modern world as effective and exceptional young Christians.  The fact of the matter is that neither the world nor the church of the Nazarene operates under this closed system of thought that you have chosen for yourself and continue to promote with your e-mails and blog.  Some denominations and many bible colleges find it their purpose to operate within these strict confines and that is fine for them.  I believe they have a valuable place in God’s Kingdom.  But a liberal arts education and a missional church do not operate that that way”

That is exactly what is wrong today with many of our pastors and professors today, captivated by liberal post-modern thinking, in exchange for the simple truth of God’s word.


6. You Seem To Have An Aversion To “Test All Things, Prove That Which Is Right”

Quotes:
“Our ability to historically separate the biblical from the unbiblical-while at the same time loving the person and leaving the judgment to God…”
“Under the guise of protecting the church from ‘emergent ideas and concepts, whatever those are…”

“We can sit down and reason together.”

“Even when we disagree, we can do so agreeably without casting dispersion and eternal damnation on someone else.”

“discourage others from division…”

These are things that jumped out at me, so I ask you: as a pastor, do you not wish to preach the whole council of God?  I think we all know that at some point in time any Bible believing pastor is going to confront error filled beliefs or false teaching.  Are you saying that we should always just simply agree to disagree?  If so, you have an incorrect understanding of the many passages in Scripture that command us to reprove, rebuke, to even shun and cast out of the church, those who would cause divisions by their false teaching.  You see, the dividers are not those who are trying to keep God’s word pure.  The real dividers are the very people Concerned Nazarenes are fighting to either correct and lead to repentance, or if not, to make them leave the church so as not to cause any further harm to God’s people!

Another concerned Nazarene read your article and here is what he said about a few of your thoughts:

“Apparently the author considers “emergents” mavericks that God has raised up to be used by God for His Glory and the advancement of His kingdom.  Really?  It is my opinion that none of the emergent leaders are in the class of those the author cited and I cannot believe the author includes the “emergent” leaders in his reference to “God’s servants” that are responsible for the “explosion of new and creative ideas” today.”

I assume also that is what you meant in your reference to mavericks, and if so, I believe that the “mavericks” of today do not come close to being called God’s servants.  In fact, in most of these mavericks’ cases, you will find a real disdain for the Bible, and a pick and choose attitude as to what is relevant.  They all ignore many parts, and particularly the passages that warn of false teachers, which is no surprise.

If you refuse to obey the Scriptural commands to expose and refute false teaching, you would be just as guilty as those who promote false teaching.  The only question left is, are you simply in error, or are you purposely and knowingly promoting the false teachings of the emergent church?  And so, your plea for Christians to stop using words such as “heretic” and “unorthodox” and “emergent” and “threat” should be ignored by Bible believers in exposing the dangers to the church.  We will not accede to this request to keep silent, for we will be as guilty as the watchman on the wall who fails to blow his trumpet at the sign of danger.

You were so correct when you said “our Wesleyan-Arminian and Holiness Movement history that have guided us well for over a century are under attack. Not from those outside our Christian faith, but from those inside.”  How right you were, but little did you know that this “inside attack” is coming from folks who are redefining John Wesley in ways that fit their emergent ideas.  This attack comes from those of you who reject true holiness and invent one that is based on social good deeds.  This attack is from those who reject the Bible as fully God’s word, instead qualifying it as “containing” God’s word.

My prayer is that those who are reading this will have a better understanding of what we are fighting.  I am fighting your ideas, not you personally.  However, since you are promoting these ideas, I have a responsibility to respond when these ideas run contrary to Scripture.  If you truly want to help out in these situations, then I suggest that the next time you write something, please use specific quotes and specific documented information if you are going to accuse a bunch of Bible believing Christians of such things that you have.  It is only fair, because what we strive to do is document everything, state what the person is saying or teaching- and make our opinion known based on the Bible only.

I conclude with these quotes of Dave Hunt, which reflect solid biblical doctrine and teaching:

“The Bible allows for no compromise, no discussion, no dialogue with the world’s religions (emergent) in search for common ground. Remember, Christianity is not a religion but distinct from all of them.

Jesus didn’t say, “Go into all the world and dialogue about faith. He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.

A reasonable and genuine faith must take very seriously what Jesus said – not what somebody says about what Jesus said, but His very words as recorded in the Bible.”
(Dave Hunt, The Berean Call)

Manny Silva

How Far Will We Go?

Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  Rom. 1:25

“How far will we go?”  This is what one pastor asked upon viewing the video excerpt below from an Easter Sunday morning service presented at Beavercreek Church of the Nazarene in Beavercreek, Ohio.  The video shows a young woman dancing to a song by an artist called Gungor.  The original video was about three minutes long,  I describe the dance as very seductive in form, with the dancer at times displaying less than modest poses.  I have tried to show less “revealing” parts of the full video.  To celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ is something we ought to do every day, but of course Easter Sunday is particularly a day where all Christian churches can collectively celebrate and rejoice that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross, but three days later, showed that He was God, and was resurrected from the dead.  So how did you celebrate?  How did you worship that day?  What is true worship, and what is not?

When you view the video, I would suggest that the first 30 seconds should be enough.  How far will the Church of the Nazarene go?  I don’t think we have seen the worst yet.  Believe me, there is much more to report later on that will astound some of you; but sadly, this report will not bother many of you in the least.  Perhaps some of you have become so comfortable sitting in a pew that might even have your family name on it, that absolutely nothing will move you anymore to tears of repentance and sorrow for a church that is hurtling down the road to Rome and is probably in first place in the league of disobedient evangelical denominations.

* Update: I have added a short 30 second clip of the video, without the music, under the Fair Use Act:

I was reminded by a friend who first alerted me to this “worship” performance, of the words from a FaceBook post on the General Superintendent’s page from this past February:

“If by chance some churches are waiting for “permission” to reach out in different ways, then you have “permission” and encouragement from the general superintendents to do so.” (D. Graves, 2012 General Board Report)

Well, no need to lay all the blame on this particular church, is there?  They were probably taking some advice from our leadership and running with it.  And by the way, there are other churches that for quite a while have been doing performances during Christmas and Easter and other special days, that would rival a secular vaudeville act. Actually that’s what they were!   Christmas plays that had nothing to do with the real Christmas story, but done for the purpose of entertaining the community.  Dance performances that end up being nothing but self worship, not God worship.  Yet, how can we blame them?  Perhaps this philosophy of  trying anything to reach the world is not such a bad thing.  Perhaps this performance would have brought even more people back to this church if it had been embellished with a few more worldly things.  This performance reminded me of the pagan style services that you might find in a PCUSA General Assembly.

This is just a symptom of a long running problem in the Church of the Nazarene, it is not THE problem.  You are in denial if you have been reading my blog and emails and still think all is well.  If you are in denial, how long will it take, and how much more decadent, pagan, and downright worldly (to put it mildly) will it get before you admit that there is a serious problem?  It’s been gradually creeping up on us since 40-50 years ago when the leaders in our churches and universities starting denying little by little, the full authority and power of God’s word.  It continued when the power of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin was not enough, and we decided we needed more and more special, innovative programs to bring the people to church.  It continued when we let in the wolves of the emergent church infiltrate our seminaries and prepare Bible rejecting pastors, powered not by the Holy Spirit, but by another spirit.

Among various responses to the General Superntendent’s “permission” statement, the very first comment says it all:

“Reach out in different ways as in non holiness/Wesleyan? Why don’t we just remove ourselves right now from being a Holiness Denomination?”
We have abandoned practically all vestiges of holiness teaching and preaching while pretending that is what we are all about, in exchange for the lies of the emergent church, social justice and creation care programs, and mysticism.  This video, this church performance, is again, just a small symbol of the cancer that eats from within, the cancer of apostasy.  It has been promoted by, as the late Walter Martin called them,

“the corrupt and apostate shepherds who infest our theological seminaries and our colleges, and fill our pulpits throughout the United States and Canada, and who know not God…”
Church of the Nazarene, you’d better wake up.  You will continue to bleed yourselves of Bible believing Christians, even while you happily increase your numbers- maybe- with those who will listen to anything that tickles their ears, even as they sit sleeping in their pews, and one day wake up in an eternal situation that will be too hot for them.  Because of your inaction and lack of leadership (yes, you the leaders),this emergent garbage will continue to rip apart and divide families.  You, the leadership, seem to be doing nothing while this gets worse and worse, and you say nothing is wrong.

Please let us know when you finally see that something is terribly wrong.  But by then, it will be too late for many.

“We have become enthralled by our own pleasure and we are obsessed by our own prosperity.  Many American churches have become shamefully man-centered.  When we ought to solemnly enter the church to worship the great and mighty God in fear and trembling, the One who spoke us into existence and has the power to snuff our lives out like a candle, instead, we enter the church focused on ourselves.  The church has become like a psychic smorgasbord for those who are experiencing difficulty or for those who feel the need for more satisfaction in life.  We want recreation for our kids, we want financial and emotion counseling for ourselves and we want the services of the church to focus more on man-centered entertainment rather than God-centered worship.”  (Source, Highest Branch)

Helpful Links:

No Lukewarm Christians In Heaven (Kevin Probst)

A Response To Holiness Today’s Attack On Scripture

” But the underlying issue in everything else he raises as a concern is the authority of Scripture. If all of Scripture is Divinely inspired and thereby inerrant as Article IV clearly and repeatedly states then each one of his concerns crumble like a house built on sand.”

by Nyk Edinger (Original source: The Black Horse Inn)

In the current issue of HT (Holiness Today, April/May 2012), the Church of the Nazarene’s only official magazine, is an article by Pastor Ulmet, the pastor of Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/ISsnnM

   This article must be responded to with force. There is so much in it that is really peripheral to the real issue that I cannot even begin the task of sorting it all out with any brevity. I would encourage you to read a more fully orbed response by one who is very close to Pastor Ulmet and the situation here: http://bit.ly/INkMw7

   I would like to focus on one specific item in this article; Pastor Ulmet’s butchering of Article IV of the Church of the Nazarene’s Articles of Faith.

   The absolute disdain for the truth that Pastor Ulmet demonstrates with his opening sentence under the heading “Doctrinal Heritage” is staggering. He dares turn to Scripture as the basis for our statements of doctrine as if he is writing this article to defend these articles and likewise Scripture itself when the undermining of the authority of Scripture is actually what he is espousing throughout. He calls the theological concept of the inerrancy of Scripture “insidious”. He then invokes the names of Wesley and Wiley and others as if they would side with him in this discussion. He is counting on the ignorance and laziness of the readers of HT to allow him to get away with such outlandish statements.

   In trying as delicately as he can to define Article IV of the Articles of faith of the Church of the Nazarene without letting on how he truly views Scripture he explains it as the “full inspiration of all 66 books…(inerrant) ‘in all things necessary to our salvation.” Of course that is not what it actually says and much less what it actually means.

   Here is how it actually reads: “We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.

   H. Orton Wiley, the architect of Article IV explains clearly what is meant by the phrase “plenary inspiration”.

   He writes: “By plenary inspiration, we mean that the whole and every part is divinely inspired…We conclude that the Scriptures were given by plenary inspiration, embracing throughout the elements of superintendence, elevation and suggestion, in that manner and to that degree that the Bible becomes the infallible Word of God

   He goes on: “Superintendence, by which is meant a belief that God so guides those chosen as the organs of revelation, that their writings are kept free from error. (Scripture is) infallibly preserved from all error.

   The theological definition of plenary inspiration is “that kind of inspiration which excludes all defect in the utterance of the inspired message.” That is the definition. “Excludes all defect” means inerrant.

   These quotes from Wiley, the first and foremost Nazarene Theologian explain in clear terms and leave no doubt that the Nazarene church, by stating our belief in plenary inspiration, believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the whole of Scripture, which is all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and everything contained therein.

   To reiterate: Wiley defines inspiration as having three elements; superintendence, elevation and suggestion. He says that superintendence must be present in ALL inspiration. And he defines superintendence as the fact that God guided the writers to such a degree that the writings were inerrant.

    All of that is contained in just the first six words of Article IV! But it does not stop there. It goes on to refer to the Bible as the “Holy Scriptures”. The word Holy in this context is no empty word. Going all the way back to the beginnings of the Lutheran Church this word was used in combination with Scripture to specifically denote that the scripture referred to as Holy was of divine origin and therefore reliable and inerrant. I do not think this point was lost on Wiley.

   If we yet have any doubts Article IV continues on by specifically stating that it was “given by Divine inspiration”. This is the third time within Article IV that it makes the point that Scripture is inspired, Divinely so, and therefore inerrant. And twice it makes clear that this belief is applied to ALL of Scripture. First by the use of the word plenary which means “fully” and second when the Holy Scripture is defined as the “66 books of the Old and New Testaments.”

   This brings us to the phrase which Pastor Ulmet and countless others like him in our Denomination have seized upon to undermine everything the Article IV has just laid out so emphatically; “inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.

   This statement simply is meant to further emphasize, in case there were any doubt, that contained within Scripture is everything we need to know concerning our salvation and that it is inerrantly revealed. This is of utmost importance because our salvation is the purpose for the entirety of Scripture. This is it’s core message and the writers of this article wanted to make absolutely sure that future generations would understand that.

   Nowhere in Article IV does it even suggest that we believe that Scripture is ONLY inerrant in “things necessary to our salvation” as Pastor Ulmet states.

   The very next phrase puts into context what is said about “all things necessary to our salvation”. It is this: “so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.”

   What this means is we need not look to anything outside of Scripture in regards to our salvation. Everything we need is found in Scripture and inerrant in its revelation. This of course doesn’t mean that everything else found in Scripture is errant. But that is what Pastor Ulmet would want you to believe or at the very least that it has the possibility of being errant. Article IV tells us three times that all of Scripture is inerrant and we see that by Wiley’s own written explanation of the terms and then for added emphasis tells us that not only are the Scripture inerrant but also its message and we need not look anywhere else but to Scripture for our salvation.

   All of this is very convincing but let’s take a look at the actual Scriptures cited as foundational to Article IV. Let’s go to the source that Pastor Ulmet so rightly pointed out our Articles of Faith are based upon.

 Luke 24:44-47 (HCSB) 
 44 Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Here Jesus is speaking and referring to the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms as Scripture. This of course comprises nearly the entire Old Testament, including Genesis which would be the first book that Pastor Ulmet would exclude from inerrancy. Yet Jesus says it is Scripture. Scripture that He fulfilled. If it were a fable that He fulfilled, what exactly would that make Him?

 John 10:35 (HCSB)
 35 If He called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 

The poignant phrase here is the statement of fact by Jesus that Scripture cannot be broken. In other words, it is true. In other words, it is not in error.

 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (HCSB) 
 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 

Here Paul is verifying that the Gospel he preached to them is indeed found in Scripture. This only matters of course if Scripture is reliable. And it is only reliable if it is true.

 1 Peter 1:10-12 (HCSB) 
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. 

Here again we have an affirmation that the prophesies found in Scripture regarding Jesus and our salvation were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is interesting here that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was not simply what to write but who they were writing it for. This is quite a revelation! If the Holy Spirit is willing and able to provide this kind of detailed information to the writers of the Old Testament, I suspect He could handle getting accounts of the Creation and the Flood correct. After all, He was there.

 2 Peter 1:20-21 (HCSB)
 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 

This one is fairly self explanatory.

 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (HCSB) 
 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

I left this one for last because it contains everything. Scripture is efficacious for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, all of Scripture is inspired by God, (and remember that Wiley, the architect of Article IV, says that inspiration is synonymous with inerrant) and that Scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. It cannot be profitable if it is not true. It is also interesting that not one of the things that this verse says Scripture is profitable for is pertaining to our salvation, they would all be things that would take place after or apart from our salvation. So from the Scriptures (the ones that Article IV cites as the foundation for the Article itself) we see that all Scripture is indeed inspired by God through the Holy Spirit directly and is without error.

   But Pastor Ulmet believes something completely different. He says in this article “the Bible as the fully-inspired and with regard to all things salvific the inerrant Word of God.” Do you see the clever word play? According to Pastor Ulmet the Bible is only inerrant with regard to all things salvific. That is very different from what Wiley wrote and what Article IV states.

   This isn’t a new idea though. There were those in Wesley’s day that put forth this exact idea concerning Scripture and this is how Welsey responded to one of them: “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”

   In fact, Wesley wonders aloud if this person might actually be an atheist. So maybe Welsey and Wiley would not view those who support the authority of Scripture as being insidious as Pastor Ulmet contends. In fact, it is clear they would not.

  He then again misrepresents what those who stand by the Church of the Nazarene’s belief in the authority of Scripture by saying that they want the Bible’s primary purpose to “define all science and research.” I would challenge Pastor Ulmet to produce proof of this accusation.

   He then tells a bold faced lie. “We have never, for example, taken an official position on a certain view of Creation or a certain timeline of other events. Never in our history!

   In the very Articles of Faith that he previously referred to as “precious” the affirmation of the Genesis story of Creation is seen over and over again. In Articles 1, 5, 5.1, 6 and 7, the Genesis story of Creation is taken as literal and foundational to our very salvation or the need of it. Wiley, himself, makes a special point of stating that the truths and facts of the Creation and the antediluvian times had to be inspired. And in his view, inspired and inerrant are synonymous.

  So we DO have an official statement on Creation and that is, it happened the way the Scripture says it happened and not only that but the Genesis account of Creation is foundational to our salvation and our need of it. If that wasn’t our official statement on Creation then four of our Articles of Faith would be baseless.

   Pastor Ulmet brings up many things he is concerned about and some of them such as his position on what I call the “worship wars” are included as a means of distraction even though I actually agree with him on that issue. But the underlying issue in everything else he raises as a concern is the authority of Scripture. If all of Scripture is Divinely inspired and thereby inerrant as Article IV clearly and repeatedly states then each one of his concerns crumble like a house built on sand.

   Pastor Ulmet and many others like him want to recreate a church built on human wisdom, not Scripture and if we sit idly by in our seats in our churches and let them do this then we only have ourselves to blame for the inevitable destruction of our Denomination. As Nazarenes, we are not there yet but the battle is raging on the hill and this is one hill to die upon.

Nik Edinger

A Response To “I Am A Concerned Nazarene” Article in Holiness Today

The following is by John Henderson in response to an article posted by Rev. Kevin Ulmet in the March/April edition of Holiness Today.  Here is the link to the online version of the article by Rev. Ulmet: “I Am A Concerned Nazarene.

I have added several headers in bold blue text for navigation purposes.
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Dear Pastor Ulmet:

I have read your article, “I Am a Concerned Nazarene,” at least twice.  I will have referenced it a few times more before completing this letter to you.  Please understand that, in view of your published comments in Holiness Today, a Nazarene magazine, this is an open letter and will be shared with others.  Many will likely redistribute to their addressees and some will publish this on websites.  I am responding only to your article and will neither say nor imply anything personal.  I have asked several people to go over this very carefully and tell me if I have observed the following guidelines for myself:

1.      Did I demonstrate an accurate understanding of the contents of the article that I referenced and responded to?

2.      Were my responses dispassionate and unbiased, and did they accurately address the questions I brought up?

3.      Was I respectful towards Dr. Ulmet concerning his character, position, and personhood?

4.      Did I reference the Scriptures appropriately to the questions and issues being addressed?

5.      Did I misrepresent anything?

Also understand this:  I am always open to questions, corrections, and positive criticisms.  I take those things seriously and respectfully from the one who directs them to me. 

I assume many of your references are fed by your perception of the frequent counter-emergent articles I have written and the material I have forwarded to you as a recipient on my email list.  I also know that you have relatives who have posted on Concerned Nazarenes Facebook and expect that they have kept you informed—if indeed you have not done so yourself.  I have no issue with that.  You and they are more than welcome to do just that.  You should know what the other Concerned Nazarenes are thinking in their own words. In fact much of what I present is borrowed from several others who have shared their own research and thoughts with me, so this is essentially a composite of several opinions.

It has been important to me that I acknowledge the spirit in which I write and send this.  I cannot send it from a spirit of resentment and bitterness because I have seen my friends unfairly maligned.  I have no such feelings about it.  There are no “gotchas” in this.  That goes against my grain.  I don’t need to win an argument.  Clear facts are enough for me no matter who happens to “win”.  I don’t need to correct your misunderstanding and misapplication of facts.  You appear to be running on a different wave length than I and there is possibly no base of reasoning that we share on these issues.  I don’t feel I need to convince you of anything.  You have convinced yourself of these matters and I not asking you to be willing to reconsider your own decisions.  The only thing I think I need to do is just set the record straight for the sake of those who will read your article and my response.  If they also read my response, it will still be up to them as to how they will judge this matter.

I should emphasize that “Concerned Nazarenes” is not an organization.  It is no more than a network of like-minded Nazarenes, Wesleyans, Evangelical Friends, other Wesleyan types, and anyone who shares the same concerns about the influences of the postmodern emergent movement in our denominations.  They come together on the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook and other similar sites.  Some post on other sites that exist solely to publish online.  There are Baptist and independent groups as well and there is congenial dialog among them and the Wesleyan groups.  It is all best described as a volunteer alliance or network of Christians who have a problem with the tenets of the Emergent Church Movement and its influences on traditional churches and Christians in general.  They have no significant power over others or within their denominations.  They function only to inform and encourage a return to the evangelical traditions of their churches. 

Besides all of that, there are a host of Nazarenes; including elected leaders, pastors, and members; and other Christians who are not a part of Concerned Nazarenes or any other similar network who nonetheless grieve in spirit over the direction our denomination has set upon.  Some of them say something from time to time and many just keep to themselves and make private remarks or say nothing at all.  I am aware of a handful of those folks from across the country whose opinions reach me privately from time to time.  I am also aware that many of that kind sit in First Church and other pews every week. Concerned Nazarenes is only a segment of that massive network.

Allow me to say in that regard that there are a lot of people who post on Concerned Nazarenes Facebook, and the number is growing.  I would say that most are pretty solidly traditional Wesleyan-Arminian; a few are shallow and driven by unreasonable biases and prejudices, inadequate information, and lack of research—they are extremely nerve-wracking; and some are emergent infiltrators.  Tares grow with wheat and it is hard to distinguish between them most of the time.

(Regarding NazNet and Other Emergent Groups)

In all fairness, have you read the many comments coming out of NazNet that fit your list of objectionable behaviors and attitudes every bit as well as you say about Concerned Nazarenes?  I am not prepared to generalize and say that everyone who posts on NazNet is vitriolic just because there are numerous responses on that site that are crotchety, snappish, sarcastic, impertinent, and irreverent in tone and manner towards those who object to the Emergent Nazarene movement.  Those who post like that on NazNet against “fundamental” or Concerned Nazarenes do not usually hold their punches.  Some are more reasonable. 

Of course, there may still be the Emergent Nazarene site and others that follows that same pattern.  They are also a network that appears to be committed to putting Concerned Nazarenes in their proper place by whatever means possible—just as you essentially did in your closing remarks by your invitation to others to join you in the effort you espouse, wherein you principally invite people to a fight, not anything that actually resembles compassionate discourse.  Is that discourse reserved only for the postmodern pagans that our leadership often seems eager to cozy up to?   A Nazarene in Ohio who has read your article believes that you are confused as to who the enemy within is and referenced your appeal to Martin Luther by discussing the widespread record of his public battles, implying (my interpretation) that Luther more resembled Concerned Nazarenes than any sort of established entity, referring specifically to his use of the printing press (a precursor to the Internet).

Now permit me to address your article.  My comments are only what I intend as a dispassionate response to those things you have written.  Actually, I have included thoughts from a number of Concerned Nazarenes that have been shared with me after they read your article.  Nothing I received from them was subjective.  They dealt only with factual matters, as I hope to do here.

(The General Nature Of Your Article)

I view the general nature of your article as being a frontal attack on counter-emergent Nazarenes.  That is indicated by your frequent characterizations of those with whom you are disagreeing. You frequently used derisive descriptions of them (stubborn, Internet rumormongers, involved in “a Salem witch-hunt or Inquisition-type atmospheres,” narrowly and selfishly defining worship, slanderous, rumor-spreaders, “full of righteous self-piety,” judgmental, critical attitude of mistrust and gossip, unjustly manipulative, involved in special interest-political-action-group thinking and their tactics, and having divisive and disruptive behaviors.  I think that covers all of the adjectives of your opinion about what typifies Concerned Nazarenes.  Some calls your list the “Dirty Dozen” because there are twelve of them.)  In fact, the quantity and quality of negativism towards those whom you say are attacking the Church of the Nazarene from within sets the tone for your article.  It puts me in mind of Saul Alinsky’s 13th rule for radicals in using conflict tactics:

“13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.  In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’… any target can always say, “Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?” When you “freeze the target”’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the “others” come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” (pps.127-134).

It is interesting that you refer to counter-emergents as being more in the mode of political activism than of holiness.  It is the view of many Nazarenes and others that the emergent church movement is precisely that—the religious arm of Marxist progressivism and carrying out the political designs of the Marxist agenda by infiltrating the churches.  It is blatantly apparent to many Nazarenes, including Nazarenes in leadership, not just those few of us who rant on the Internet.

I certainly give you credit for not intending to directly adhere to a Marxist rule of Alinsky’s.  Nevertheless, it comes across clearly as being just that sort of conflict tactic against those other Concerned Nazarenes who do not see things as you choose to see them.  Your inference, just the same, is that the angels are on your side and the devils are on their side.  I might go so far as to say that you appear to be assuming that God is on your side and opposes those whom you seem to believe dishonor the Holy Spirit by not letting Him do the work He wants to do and by their not seeking the Spirit’s direction.  How you happen to know that escapes me.  That sort of statement leads me to assume that you already presume to know what that direction is.

I must immediately ask, therefore:  How do you know that?  I assume, from the frequent references you make on nFocus and elsewhere as to your being led by the Holy Spirit and your references to the Holy Spirit in the article, that you see yourself as being led by the Holy Spirit.  You certainly said so in a recent nFocus as to why you wrote the article in the first place:

The March/April issue of our denomination’s official magazine features an article I wrote entitled ‘I Am A Concerned Nazarene.’  This article was prompted by the Holy Spirit some months ago after observing for some time the tactics and approaches of a few who are critical of our denomination, our pastors and leaders, our Universities and other entities.” 

A New England reader of your article observed that someone else made that very claim of being led by the Holy Spirit to be a part of Concerned Nazarenes in order to oppose the postmodern influences among Nazarenes.  He went on to say that you both cannot be right on the same matter.  I guess our respective readers must decide that for themselves.  I would suggest, however, that the best way to determine if someone is actually being led by the Holy Spirit is to look at the fruit of their activities from a biblical viewpoint and to be alert as to whether or not there is genuine evidence of the power of the Spirit in their lives.  In addition, the Holy Spirit never speaks outside of His written Word, i.e., everything He says to the heart is verified in the Scriptures.

I should insert here that your section on music is peripheral to the issue at hand as I understand it, so will not address that.  The portion on “heritage of worship” could, however, be a reference to your support of what you allow and take part in at First Church.  You call it ancient/future worship.  But you do not specify that so I cannot respond to it in that context.

Following our two-hour meeting shortly after your arrival in Nashville, I went home with one of the clearest memories in my lifetime of any meeting.  I had not audio-recorded the meeting, as I normally would have with your permission, so had to rely on memory.  I wrote the exchange in accurate detail for my own record immediately upon my arrival home. 

Some of the things you say in the article reminded me of what you said in that meeting.  You convinced me then, as you do now, that you are in full support of the concepts of theistic evolution, limited inspiration of the Scriptures, and Catholic mysticism and other matters emergent.  You as much as say so in your article and actually reference “full” inspiration of Scriptures as “in all things necessary to our salvation” and “a certain view of creation” in making your point.  

In a short few months, you also have established a known record of frequently incorporating at First Church practices directly from the “ancient church fathers” (post-A.D. 200) and 20th Century emergent innovators and other activities that clearly identify postmodern emergent doctrines and practices, both in fact and in the minds of many First Church Nazarenes. After all, as one NFCN member recently stated in complaining about all the “new” things going on there: “singing an invitation hymn, being moved by the Holy Spirit to repent, accept Christ’s free gift of salvation, and go forward to confess Him before men is so old fashioned,” but it still works best.

(Your View of The Manual And Of Scripture)

One might surmise from the article that you put preeminence on statements from the Manual as though the Scriptures are amenable to the Manual statements and not the other way around. You may claim that those things you talk about are traditionally Nazarene, but I say unequivocally that they are heretical, postmodern, unorthodox, emergent, new age, and a clear affront to revelational truth.  I can prove my claim from the Scriptures because the Scriptures are my final—no, only—authority. 

How do you justify your support of these things?  I make a distinction between exegetical interpretation of the irrevocable authority of all Scripture (all of it being relevant to our salvation wherein it speaks on any subject) and the weak philosophy-based theologies. What equal or superior authority do you claim outside of the Scriptures, and why would you?  Philosophical theology will let you down, if that is where you go for understanding.  You suggest we stop using “emergent”, “unorthodox”, “heretic”, and similar terms.  I see no need to do so because a stinkweed that is called a rose is still a stinkweed by nature.  We did not come up with the term “emergent” anyhow.  They were chosen by that crowd to identify themselves. Their doctrines, when examined in the light of Scriptures, show them as unorthodox and heretical.  How else should we define them when the Bible is the authority?

(Fundamentalism And its Meaning In The Church)

You say the Church of the Nazarene was never fundamentalist.  I understand how people define “fundamentalist” as Calvinistic—as you do in the article—and that much is true to a point.  However, being fundamentalist did actually characterize the Church of the Nazarene, at least in R. T. Williams’ mind in 1928 at the 7th General Assembly.  The term was later abandoned to draw a distinction between Nazarenes and Calvinism.   We had also dropped “Pentecostal” from the church name for similar reasons. That didn’t make us less Pentecostal in the New Testament sense.  I think both actions were a surrender of important terms of identification.

The term is not actually the point, but you might want to consider my footnote #1 to get a more accurate perspective of fundamentalism.[1]  What is fundamental to the truth of the inspired Scriptures is and has always been the concern in these times of uncertainty about where our denomination is going.  No one among the Concerned Nazarenes I know favor having the Church of the Nazarene become Calvinistic in theology.  If they and the Calvinists happen to agree on basic truths such as the unqualified full inspiration of the Scriptures, just as they do on many biblical truths, that does not mean that Concerned Nazarenes are advancing the notion of becoming Reformed in doctrine.  They are very content to remain Arminian and Wesleyan. They just want to also remain truly biblical and evangelistic.  Calvinists do not have the exclusive right on defining inspiration as absolutely full inspiration.

At the same time, I find it odd that you censure fundamentalists and Reformed believers as objectionable while embracing a “new thinking” of emergent principles and practices as somehow appropriate to traditional Nazarenedom.  If I should have to make a choice between the two, please give me Calvinism over emergent theology or anything “new thinking” in character.  At least the evangelical Calvinists are truly and thoroughly Christian and their doctrines are much more scriptural than anything coming out of the so-called “new thought” of postmodernism.  Despite Thomas Oord’s suggestion on his website, we Nazarenes have absolutely nothing to learn from postmodernism and everything to avoid with haste. 

One North Carolina Nazarene reviewer of this article and responding to your article said the following in an email to me:  “I would definitely stress that we are not Calvinist, even though it is definitely preferable to his ideologies which lean towards mysticism and Catholic rituals.  It does not have to be an either/or – holiness can stand on its own scriptural merits.”

I never dreamed I would ever be defending Calvinism against inaccurate accusations; whose major tenets on salvation, as defined by the T-U-L-I-P theory, I do not subscribe to!  At least, T-U-L-I-P is internally consistent.

(The Inspiration Of Scripture)

You make an issue of inspiration of Scriptures whereby you decry “Calvinist” ideas of inspiration in favor of a supposed extra-biblical[2] notion of partial inspiration (“in all things necessary to our salvation”).  I should say that every other idea of inspiration, verbal, literal, plenary, dictation, etc., are in total support of every word of the Bible coming under the definition of divine inspiration. Their only discussion is how inspiration came about and not what was and was not inspired. The inaccuracy of “pertaining to our salvation” is in the statement itself.  None of the Scriptures are specifically pertaining to our salvation.  They pertain to Christ (John 5:39) and our salvation is included (verse 40).  I know that the Nazarene statement has been essentially the same since 1908.  There was never a problem with is being understood as anything but one-hundred percent inspiration of Scriptures until modern liberals began to twist it to mean as it is often touted these days as limited inspiration—something the Nazarene Manual never says.

Your idea selectively eliminates any sections that you or anyone may not for any number of reasons deem as “necessary to our salvation” and therefore open to challenge.  In doing so, you are saying that what is called the Bible is a mixture of inspiration and error. Of course, the so-called “not necessary to our salvation” parts have never been definitively identified by anyone who makes that allegation, except those parts they want to question—like the creation account.    

Another Nazarene (not part of Concerned Nazarenes) views your line of reasoning as consisting of what is called an etymological fallacy.  That is, you are arguing that the present-day meaning of “fundamentalist” is necessarily identical to its historical meaning.  By that is implied that the present meaning of “fundamentalist” is based exclusively on its etymology. I have demonstrated that such is not the case.

(Middle of The Road)

You say that we are a middle-of-the road Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.  If I may insert a bit of humor here, someone said that if you stand in the middle of the road, you will get run over from both directions.  Put into a political context, I would say that a moderate is a liberal masquerading as a conservative.  In a biblical sense, however, there are no moderates in God’s kingdom.  The narrow way to His place of bliss has no room for moderation.  There is ample space, however, on that other broader road.  All kinds of riff-raff can be found there.

Your Reference To Christian Leaders Of The Past)

You referenced Christian leaders of the past for your support:  John Wesley, Phoebe Palmer, H. Orton Wiley, and William Greathouse, and said they would blanch in concern if they were aware of “the insidious theological and ecclesiastical battle going on through the Internet, driven by categorization, guilt-by-association, and ‘gotcha’ tactics that more represent radical politics tactics than anything remotely biblical, Christian, or certainly holiness.”  I knew one on that list, Greathouse, and he was pretty much solid, except in one matter when he and Dunning wrote that the Church is our mother if God is our Father.  He might have been more in agreement with you than the others because of that one remark but I doubt even that.  I can easily quote references from Wesley that would contradict your claim about him.  Wiley tended to be immensely profound but the substance of his writings that I have read would contradict your assertions about where he would stand.  Palmer would not agree with you either, and I do not subscribe to some of her positions on Wesleyanism.  Even those positions I disagree with do not support your claim.  I think that many of her contemporaries would call you on it.

You appealed to Martin Luther as being something of a “maverick” as you see yourself.  Martin Luther’s foibles are not related to what you are supporting.  He came from a different mindset and experiences that were basically opposing much of the Catholicism of his day, things that some emergent Nazarenes are attempting to turn to in an effort to change our denomination into what it never has been—more Middle Ages Catholic and less evangelical and fundamentally biblical.  Anyhow, not only would I object to his ripping the Epistle of James from the Scriptures, but I also disagree with him on transubstantiation, his callousness to the tragic death of Zwingli, and his acceptance of the possibility of “soul sleep.”  You might notice that when he translated the New Testament into German in 1522 that James was included and was still there when he translated the rest of the Bible two years later.

On the other hand, Luther held no resemblance to what you are propounding according to any records I have seen about him—and I have read a lot.  I am inclined to have great respect for him because his life was in almost constant jeopardy and because of the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  He fought battles you I and will never have to fight.  He never deviated from his theme that people are made right with God in his emphasis on Sola Gratia (“by grace alone”) – Sola Fide (‘by faith alone”) – and Sola Scriptura (“by the Bible alone”).  

Augustine said a lot of good things that are worth remembering.  Also, he made some highly outlandish assertions in his “new thinking,” as you call it, which must be rejected as unscriptural.  He is considered the father of Roman Catholic theology, not Protestant—certainly not Nazarene—theology.  It is possible that he, along with other so-called church fathers after AD 200, has been responsible for many of the Hindu mystical and unscriptural practices advanced by emergent church leaders today.  I prefer to go back prior to AD 200 for better guidance on understanding truth and proper Christian behavior.  That period of “distinguished” early church fathers was responsible for martyrdoms that dwarfed the Roman persecutions and spawned the eventual Reformation.

A Nazarene in Illinois had this to say about Augustine and Luther in an email to me:

“I know that Augustine published a list of retractions late in life. So when quoting Augustine, I think it important to know when in his walk that he stated whatever is being quoted and whether or not he later retracted it. From my limited understanding of Luther, the same is true, it is important to know when he did or said whatever you happen to be quoting. I surmise (given limited knowledge) that Ulmet’s Luther statement is well out of context.”

(Your Defense of Various Nazarenes In Leadership Positions)

You came to the defense of those fine Nazarene administrators, professors, and pastors who have entertained questionable speakers on campuses and pulpits and were criticized for doing so.  You didn’t say their guests were solidly Nazarene-like and seemed to agree they were often questionable.  You should understand that when people hold those doctrinal positions as you described, those who invite them must take the responsibility for the results of their own actions and decisions.  If they are caught off-guard, that is one thing.  To embrace them and support them (as a chaplain from one of our mid-western universities did in an email to me); that puts them in the same camp, even the same tent, as the objectionable guest.  My dad would have said they were in cahoots (they shared equally; become partners in the same thing).

When I raised the question in conversation with you that Rob Bell’s book had just been presented in a study at First Church just prior to your arrival, you didn’t even blink.  You did, however, bristle and passionately denied my request to present a counter-emergent, pro-Nazarene study in a similar format that others in the church had asked me to do.  You told me emphatically that it would add to the disruption already going on in the church that you had inherited.  Rob Bell, who openly advocates the false doctrine of post-mortem salvation, is okay but a Nazarene elder wanting to advise Nazarenes of the risks of following postmodern/new age heresies is disruptive?  Is that what you mean by people such as I am as being “full of self-righteous piety”?  Was I being “under the guise of protecting the church from ‘emergent’ ideas and concepts” or was I really being a Concerned Nazarene who genuinely cares about the direction towards Hell that our people are being lured?

(Critical Thinking)

You express support for what you call critical thinking.  You do not define it so I assume you refer to what is normally understood by “critical thinking” as coming from “Higher Criticism.”  While higher criticism was originally associated with the study of the literary structure of the various books of the Bible, and more especially of the Old Testament, it has degenerated into arrogant attacks upon the Bible and the supernatural character of the Holy Scriptures.  It fosters subjective conclusions and world-friendly opinions.  To say that Nazarene college students must study and learn to evaluate situations of life by that standard is absurd. Christians are not of this world and have no need to understand it and dialog with it other than to know that it is filled with lost souls that need the Savior.

(Textbooks In The Universities And Accountability)

My wife and I ran into that problem when we objected to an offensive textbook being used in one our daughter’s classes at Trevecca.  The excuse they gave us was like the one you offer—they needed to let students know what it was like out there in the real world.  What nonsense!  It doesn’t take a Christian college curriculum to inform kids of what is going on around them.  They already know more than we know about such things.  Anyhow, the real notion of “critical thinking” is not about teaching students the processes of logic and reasoning.  It teaches them what they should “reason” and the conclusions they are expected to reach in a compromise of biblical truths.   This kind of thinking is the antithesis of “Thus saith the Lord.”  It has nothing to do with intelligent awareness and everything to do with being rebellious to God’s truth. 

That drivel has brought us to the point that we now teach them that homosexuality is normal unless you act it out.  The next thing we will be telling them is that even the act is okay.  We already tolerate openly homosexual Nazarene “ministers” who boast of it.  The wedge is in the door and the homosexuals are pushing it open while we step aside and just let them walk right in without a murmur of objection.  Even the recent “invasion” by a homosexual advocacy group on some of our Nazarene campuses turned out to be squandered opportunity to share the gospel.  Our educational leaders pandered to them instead of witnessing to them.  Suppose that same group had been there as child-molester advocates.  What would have been out people’s response to that?  If your response would be what I think it would be, I say we should have done with the homosexuals what we would have done had they been advocating child molestation.

Why shouldn’t our college presidents and administrators be called to account over this absurd acquiescence along with their other compromises?  Why are they not being called on the carpet by those with oversight of them?  Why are people like Concerned Nazarenes demonized for bringing it up?  Could it be that we speak up because we are the only ones who really care about our church and harbor no vested self-interests?

(The Battle Is From Within)

You are right about one thing.  “Our greatest battles are from within—from those who name themselves among the people of God and the people called Holiness and Nazarene.”  You just have the finger pointed in the wrong direction.  Disruption, hurt, and damage is not from those of us who have been here all along and instinctively care deeply about holiness.  It comes from the infiltrators who pretend to be of us but whose hearts are far from us. It comes from the backsliders and compromisers among us, and from those who have never been born again but who have slithered into positions of power and prestige and presume to decide what we Nazarenes are expected to think and do.

A lady in the state of Washington wrote me the following: “I didn’t believe these things were happening before I investigated.  And I investigated because I wanted to prove these “concerned” ones wrong.  I found out they weren’t so wrong after all.  I’m a layperson.  If I were a minister or leader in the church, I’d be checking all the more.”

This following is information that you might not really care about.  Maybe you do.  The Church of the Nazarene is viewed largely by the Christian community as having lost its way as demonstrated by the preponderance of emergent-postmodern-new age teachings and practices among us.  They see our churches, pastors, universities, and publishers as willfully compliant in the emergent error and as having carelessly abandoned the faith that was once delivered through the gospel message that brought us into being in the first place.  That is from non-Nazarenes!

(Are You Willing To Have An Open Discussion?)

One reader of your article observed:  “In two locations in this article, the writer claims to make the offer of open discussion.”  He goes on to say that he has sought an open discussion with you but that you have systematically found ways to avoid it.  He views it as your not actually meaning what you say. 

May I make an alternative offer? Since you did say in the article, “We can handle these challenges in biblical ways.  We can sit down together and reason together,” I find that very appealing.  Therefore, I would gladly meet in an open (public) forum with you and any two or three people of your choosing, and I with any two or three people of my choosing.  The number is only a suggestion.  It can be any number as long as both sides are represented by the same number.  Both sides would, in my opinion, be free to say anything on their minds and hearts in the matter by following agreed-upon rules that suit both sides equally and moderated by a neutral party. I suggest it be open because it should not be secretive.  I would want it recorded as well.

I should thank you for submitting the article to Holiness Today and should thank Holiness Today for publishing it.  You have unintentionally done what Concerned Nazarenes would have never been permitted to do—to inform Nazarene readers to a greater extent beyond our meager resources and capabilities.  

It is possible that many Nazarenes who once never knew about the emergent problem will now do as I did less than two years ago and start searching for themselves.  I am eager for them to do that and will respect their final analysis as far as it concerns their own choices.  I prefer that they are enabled to make informed decisions one way or the other.  After all, that is all Concerned Nazarenes have ever wanted to accomplish. That could hardly be called hurtful and disruptive.  With that in mind, I share a thought from one of my sons in an email:

“Effectively, by allowing this article to be published in our only official magazine … Kevin’s article right now is the de-facto official opinion of the Church of the Nazarene. Some might claim it is not truly ‘official’, but since there is not a published counter-point to this article, this is the de-facto ‘standard’ for Nazarenes. I’m not sure our BoGS truly want this to be that authoritative. But, for now it is.”

The goals you express at the end of your article are, indeed, noble.  As stated, they are goals that anyone who eagerly pursues holiness of heart and life would happily agree to.  The only problem I see with them is the context you place them in and the implications you make of them. 

You have already raked Concerned Nazarenes over the coals—those counter-emergent ones that you claim are trying to drag the Church of the Nazarene into Calvinism; those Nazarenes who believe in the literalism of the creation account as reported in the Bible, who faithfully adhere to the total inerrancy of the entire Bible without reservation, and who reject the imposition of Eastern mysticism as replacement for a Biblically prescribed lifestyle of praying. 

By that appeal, you ask your readers to subscribe to what you have just written as true and join you in rejecting fundamental Nazarenes through a kind of “holiness” that sounds biblical but is actually counterfeit.  Why not invite them to evaluate your assertions by doing their own research?  Those who will read your article are grown-ups.  They can handle it.

(Conclusion: The Holy Spirit)

One more thought.  The Holy Spirit is never up to something new.  That is unscriptural.  God’s mercies are new (fresh) every morning but they are not different from day to day.  The Holy Spirit is consistently involved in the old-fashioned gospel that has always worked.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He has no need to be innovative so the gospel message can go forth.  Of course, we already know from the Scriptures that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  The “Holy Spirit” that is “up to something new” is an imposter.  The people who subscribe to that notion will find out they are heeding seducing spirits, not the Holy Spirit.  Gimmickry can never replace evangelization. Christianity is not a novelty.  It is a message of salvation to whosoever will accept Christ as Savior through faith alone.  Sin is old-fashioned and so is the remedy.

A Personal Note:  This is the only time I will be getting personal.  All that has gone before was not meant to be personal in any way.  It was only about the issues and nothing else.  Having said that, I still fully expect to be meticulously excoriated—personally and publically—for what I have written here, and that it will come largely from many who support a holiness denomination moving towards emergent postmodernism. But I have already considered that as something I may have to accept as inevitable. 

I want you to know that it is my deepest desire to get behind you in a ministry that will bring glory to God in every respect.  What I see at this point includes so much of postmodernism that I am hindered from giving you the full support I dearly want to give.  I challenge you, not because I want to get in the way, but because I care enough about you to tell you the truth as I understand it.  You are pastoring a church filled with wonderful people and it is my prayer on your behalf that you will more than meet the task in being faithful to their souls.  I do not want you to be hurt in any way because of me.  You and I will stand before the same Judge and neither can answer for anyone but themselves.

Because I care about you and your ministry, I will not indulge you and tell you things I know are not true.  I once told you that I can be your best friend.  I still mean that.  I trust that you do not feel you have arrived at the pinnacle of possibilities.  There is still a long way to go and there always will be that for anyone.  I pray for you but cannot ask God to bless you in doing the wrong things, but only in the right things.  I do not always know the difference but He does.  I pray for you and trust Him to sort it all out. 

You are headed in the wrong direction with what I call postmodern emergent error and maybe you just don’t realize it.  I am sure you understand that people who believe deeply as do Concerned Nazarenes and other counter-emergent evangelicals also feel deeply committed to biblical truth.  I have learned from our youngest son’s outlook about his ten years at war and life itself that if you don’t let opposition destroy you it will strengthen you.[3]  I sincerely do not believe God will bless you in the pursuit of “new things” and that you will eventually find that out if you continue in them.  I honestly wish God’s best for you.  May I offer a single consideration that is expressed well in an old gospel song that has expressed my life-long goal:

Let me lose myself and find it, Lord, in Thee.

May all self be slain, my friends see only Thee.

Though it costs me grief and pain, I will find my life again.

If I lose my self I’ll find it, Lord, in Thee.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20


“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14

Respectfully submitted,

John Henderson

April 11, 2012


[1] “Online Etymology Dictionary: 1920 in the religious sense (as is fundamentalism), from fundamental + -ist. Coined in American English to name a movement among Protestants c.1920-25 based on scriptural inerrancy, etc., ….Fundamentalism is a protest against that rationalistic interpretation of Christianity which seeks to discredit supernaturalism. This rationalism, when full grown, scorns the miracles of the Old Testament, sets aside the virgin birth of our Lord as a thing unbelievable, laughs at the credulity of those who accept many of the New Testament miracles, reduces the resurrection of our Lord to the fact that death did not end his existence, and sweeps away the promises of his second coming as an idle dream. It matters not by what name these modernists are known. The simple fact is that, in robbing Christianity of its supernatural content, they are undermining the very foundations of our holy religion. They boast that they are strengthening the foundations and making Christianity more rational and more acceptable to thoughtful people. Christianity is rooted and grounded in supernaturalism, and when robbed of supernaturalism it ceases to be a religion and becomes an exalted system of ethics. [Laws, "Herald &Presbyter," July 19, 1922]  The original opposition to fundamentalist (within the denominations) was modernist.

[2] Extra-biblical refers to teachings, concepts and practices claimed to be supported by or taught in the Bible, but which are based on incorrect interpretation. (www.apologeticsindex.org)

[3] “I definitely do need the struggles that I face these days. In fact, in spite of how impossible they may appear on the surface most times, I highly value them for the potential they will forge in me” (Karl Henderson, April, 2012).

Dr. Gran’pa
(John Henderson)
[NOTICE:  ANYTHING I write over this signature may be copied or shared with others
and is deemed as published material unless otherwise stated herein]

 

Beware The Leaven Coming Into Your Church Curriculum

Colossians 2:8-12 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Reflecting God is an adult Sunday School journal with daily devotionals written for each month by various writers, prepared by the WordAction company.  It is not only prepared for Nazarenes but also for churches that are in the Wesleyan tradition.  They state that: “WordAction is the world’s leading provider of Wesleyan Sunday School lessons and curriculum for children, youth, and adult Sunday School, as well as a leading provider of small group resources and devotional material for family or personal daily devotional times.”

I have read these lessons many times, and have used this or similar curriculum books in teaching Adult Sunday school classes.  For the most part, it has solid reliable material.  However,  a friend alerted me to this particular lesson, which I had not seen.  I am working on another edition that a good friend also sent me a few months ago to review.  So now its time for a word of warning, and a word of serious caution.  The caution is this: WordAction may possibly be gearing up to slowly start promoting contemplative spirituality practices that are at the core of the spirituality of the emergent church movement.

 Here is an excerpt from the Feb 8 lesson titled Center Down (and for those who don’t understand this yet, I will explain what this means:

“The Quakers quiet their hearts and spirits before God when they gather for worship through a meditative state they call “centering down.”  When they rest in the Lord and “wait” on him, they believe that he will bring understanding, direction, and peace.”

In addition to serving God, Brother Lawrence, the author of the book “The Practice of the Presence of God,” advises that we stay in touch with him.  He said, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

This is a blatant promotion of mysticism!  And I point out the elitist-like last sentence that suggests that only those special people who practice and experience contemplative prayer will truly understand God!  This is the mindset of the mystics, that they are special.  My friends, I have come to the point in my last three years researching that anyone using the word EXPERIENCE must at least be scrutinized as to what he means by it when he uses the word!  It more often than not means an experience that is outside the bounds of Scriptural teaching.  Please remember this.  It is essentially a type of experience whose goal is to reach some kind of union with God.  And please note again what they said: “they believe.”  Not, “Scripture says”.

 First of all, the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) are a religious group that claims to be Christian, and they promote a weird doctrine that we have some sort of “Inner Light” within us.  The founder was George Fox, who at a young adult age, had a strong mystical experience.  He became convinced that “person requires no spiritual intermediary but can receive direct understanding and guidance through one’s own “inward light,” which is supplied by the Holy Spirit.” (Source)  He believed that everyone has a divine spark within them that can respond directly and personally to God. 

The Inner Light, according to respected Quaker author Howard Brinton, “can be reached only by ‘centering down,’ to use an old Quaker phrase: that is, by concentrating our attention on the inward side of life where the soul’s windows open toward the Divine.…” (Brinton, 1953). “Centering down” means turning away from ego-driven pursuits, from selfish individual concerns, and allowing oneself to be moved by a spiritual intelligence greater than one’s everyday consciousness.  (Source: Paths of Learning.net)

Their most famous member today is perhaps Richard Foster, the modern day guru of contemplative spirituality, who believes that anyone (not just Christians) can be a “portable sanctuary for God”; who recommends contemplative prayer but at the same time warns that we need to pray a prayer of protection before participating; and also warns that novices should not do it.

So when they promote centering down, they are promoting a practice that is part and parcel the same as the practices of Eastern mysticism.  Here is a description of the Quakers’ practice of centering down, as explained by the Rev. Sue Annabrooke Jones on her website:

Meeting actually begins when all are joined in that silent “waiting upon God” that the Quakers call “centering down.” With mind and body stilled, members sit in deep contemplative silence together for one hour, each person attuned to his or her own inward light.
During a meeting someone may feel moved to speak. When this happens, it comes from a deep religious experience and a conviction that this experience must be shared. This spoken ministry, which is usually brief and simple, requires no response, and is intended as meditative seed for everyone else in the group. This unique cross-fertilization component distinguishes Quaker meditation from other forms of meditation which, even when practiced in a group, remain ultimately a solo activity.
  (Source: CosmicLotus.org)

Is this a biblically sound practice that belongs now in a Nazarene holiness publication?

And then there is Brother Lawrence. Who is Brother Lawrence?  He was a 17th century monk who “developed a technique–mostly through inspiration and intuition–which leads to results akin to those developed by the continued practice of either Zen or mindfulness meditation.” (Source: Lighthouse Trails)

He was part of the Carmelite Order, which was run by the very contemplative Teresa of Avila, another monastic practictioner who was also influenced by Jewish Kabbalic mysticism.  His “practicing the presence of God” as he coined it leaves much question as to how this can be verified as real or not.  It is not because it is too subjective, and leaves a wide open door for anything to be conjured up in ones imagination.

In his document, “Evangelicals Turning To Catholic Spirituality”, David Cloud describes the epidemic that is racing through the evangelical world, which is one of embracing more and more the monastic Eastern mysticism of the Desert fathers and early “church fathers”, although this clearly does not include the real early church fathers, i.e. the apostles themselves.  You will not find anything close to this that they ever wrote about in Scripture.  However, in this report by Cloud, you will clearly be disturbed by seeing some well known names of today who have favorably promoted some of these practices.  It is what it is, and we have to deal with the facts.

In Scripture, we are told that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  (Gal 5:9).  Satan attacks us from within, after he slips into our churches in disguise, often through the undiscerning and sometimes well meaning minds of many Christians.  I consider this an attack upon the church, even if the rest of this curriculum book is on solid ground.  We cannot allow Satan to grab a foothold in any way in our church literature, just as we cannot allow him to gain a foothold in our universities, churches and pulpits.

So beware, you have been warned to watch what you read, and judge it by the word of God.  Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to “practice the silence” and “wait for God to speak.”   Reflecting God is a wonderful sounding title, but this particular lesson truly does not reflect God, but rather subtly reflects the doctrines of demons being promoted in our denomination today.  Do not tolerate this for one second.  Do not compromise a bit on any of this.  This is being sent to the publishers of WordAction, so that hopefully with this warning, they will take great care that they are not becoming complicit in the infiltration of ungodly teachings in our Christian books.  No excuse will be acceptable for this.  I pray it was a mistake that will not be repeated.  But if so, it will be exposed again for what it is.