Replying To An Open Letter By A Pastor

Dear Rev. Barnard,

This past week, I read your Open Letter To Concerned Nazarenes.  (Your letter in it’s entirety is the end of this response).  As always in such letters to us, it fell flat on its face, and I would think that you even possibly regretted it later.  Perhaps your emotions got the best of you, or maybe an unhealthy admiration for your friends has clouded your judgment, and instead of taking an opportunity to refute our claims using Scripture- well, you went the easier route of character assassination.  It clearly lacked substance, there was no verifiable support for your accusations, and you simply used personal attack on us, instead of attacking what we believe and showing where we are wrong.  I am responding primarily because perhaps it can be a eye-opening moment for some of your friends who may be on the fence, and don’t really know what’s going on.

Our efforts from day one have been to expose false teachings in the church, and to wake up people to what is happening in our denomination.  We certainly have tried very hard to elicit some kind of biblical defense from those who oppose us, but all we seem to get in return are such writings that have no merit biblically. So you missed a great opportunity to refute what we believe with scriptural support; instead all you used was personal attacks, which is the substance of your letter.

You said at the start, “… someone needs to speak truth to you.”  Yet your letter is only infused with personal and unsubstantiated attacks throughout, finishing with words such as: “I wish you the best in life”, “Grace and Peace.”  What a contradiction to end your letter in such a manner.

 

So let’s see some of the things that were “clearly and lovingly” said by you:
“you are THUGS.”  “you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine”; “you choose personal and vile attacks; “your bitter hyperbole”;  “we are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.”

And here is how some of your friends responded:

Former Eastern Nazarene College professor Karl Giberson said “Their righteous rants are nothing but thoroughly carnal and self-centered acts of hate. In another era they were the people who physically persecuted people for their beliefs.”  (This is a man who does not believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word and has deceived many students over the years).
One of your supporters considers your letter as an example of “civil discourse.” And yet another said that your letter is “Clearly and lovingly said.”  Pastor John Brickley agreed with Dan Boone’s characterization of us as “Nazarene Taliban…. their actions are shameful and they bring shame to the cause of Christ.  David Wesley, a professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary said  None of us should put up with our brothers in Christ being beaten up by a group of thugs.” Pastor David Pettigrew said, “The only response to bullies is to stand up to them. They won’t go away on their own. They have absolutely no courage or shame.”

We’ve been called other names before, but never a THUG until now.  ( You changed THUGS to BULLIES later, but… is that supposed to make us feel better?).  You are apparently upset at how Concerned Nazarenes have “attacked” some “good and Godly men and women in the Church of the Nazarene”.  You seem to think that to judge and challenge their ideologies and beliefs is, in your words, “un-Godly behavior” and “un-Biblical.”  You defended Rev. Gabriel Salguerro, who some of us recently rebuked for praying at the Democrat National Convention, and for his promotion of the un-Godly Wildgoose Festival.

We will take a look at some of these friends you mentioned.  Remember, no one is above scrutiny, and the Bible gives us instructions to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), and also tells us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim 4:2-5)  There is also Paul’s sobering words in Galatians 1: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  We are warned in Ephesians 5 to “let no one deceive you with empty words.”  And in Colossians 2:8, see this warning: “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.”

So these are the words of God, and I could cite even more examples that clearly gives warning to us that we should not fall asleep spiritually, and for us to “contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  The only question remaining is, who is rightly dividing the word of truth, you or us?  Both cannot be correct.

 

Here are short summaries of some of the friends you defended:

Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University: Promotes a prayer labyrinth at Trevecca.  He changed the name to “prayer walk” when we exposed it.  Promotes yearly trips to a Roman Catholic monastery where students practice contemplative mysticism (the silence).  He uncharitably calls fundamental Christians jihadists and intolerant and suggests that people “stun them (CNs) with our silence”, while ironically writing a book called Charitable Discourse.  Allows many books by contemplatives to be available at Trevecca’s campus.  Claims that some of the Psalms were borrowed from pagans cultures.  Wrote a few years  ago that “I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.”  (Since then that has been removed).

 

Thomas Jay Oord, professor at Northwest Nazarene University: Promotes the twin heresies of open theism (God does not know everything) and process theology (God learns from His mistakes).  Supports evolution.  Does not believe sin and death came by way of the disobedience of Adam (as told directly to me).  Questions propositional truth and attacks the doctrine of inerrancy in the book Postmodern and Wesleyan.

Doug Hardy, professor of Spiritual Formation at Nazarene Theological Seminary:  Teaches occultism to future pastors at the seminary (Celtic Spirituality).  Promotes many books written by Roman Catholic mystics.  He is on the board of Spiritual Directors International, which promotes spiritual direction regardless of religion, and also prayer labyrinths.  Their mission statement says: “Throughout human history, individuals have been called to accompany others seeking the Mystery we name God. In this time, Spiritual Directors International responds to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”

Karl Giberson, former professor at Eastern Nazarene College: Promotes the heretical teaching of evolution, which denies the biblical account in Genesis.  Does not believe Adam and Eve existed in the Genesis account.  Believes that much of the Bible is fiction.  He openly mocks fundamentalist Christians, including one of his big critics, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.  He wrote Saving Darwin: How To Be A Christian and Believe In Evolution.  Sadly, Dr. Randall Stephens has taken up his mantle at ENC.

Kevin Ulmet, Pastor of Nashville First Church: Wrote a scathing article in Holiness Today, attacking us with even more ugly words than you have used.  He too was praised by many Nazarenes for writing such a loving and “spirit-filled” article.  Amazing what some people can make themselves see, even if it is not true.  It was far from spirit-filled.  His words were an insult to the many Godly men and women I have met in the past four years during our work in alerting Nazarenes and other Christians.  As were his words, Rev. Barnard, your words were also unbecoming for an ordained elder in the church.

Jon Middendorf, Pastor of OKC First Church: One of the prime pushers of the emergent church movement in the Nazarene denomination and son of a General Superintendent.  His church used to, and perhaps still does, share communion services at a Roman Catholic Church.  He and his friend, Rev. Scott Daniels, promoted the emergent church and its mystical false teachers at a seminar at General Assembly in 2009.  We sat in the front row and eagerly waited to ask questions, but it was not offered except for personal questions after the seminar. (See Conversation With An Emergent Pastor).

Jesse Middendorf, General Superintendent: Dr. Middendorf was there that day at General Assembly, as he proudly (I assume) sat in the room to watch Jon promote the emergent church.  When pastor Joe spoke up and asked Dr. Middendorf if any Nazarenes who had concerns about the emergent church would ever get the chance to voice their opinion, his response to us was: “That’s not likely.”  Dr. Middendorf is a supporter of the emergent church and spiritual formation, whether through promoting the retreat back in 2009 at General Assembly, or through his silence.

 

So these are very brief summaries of a few of the folks you defended. The challenge before you, if you would take it, is to defend these specific teachings and practices that I mentioned.  However, your defense would not be acceptable unless it is with the use of Holy Scripture, and not by your own personal opinion.  You must not take scripture out of context as well (for example, using Matthew 7:1 to “prove” that we should never judge; or, using Psalm 46:10 to justify the mystical practice of “the silence”, as Dan Boone did).  If you accept the challenge, that’s great.  If not, that’s fine also, we will understand.

The same trend has continued for several years now, and it is the same.  You see, those who criticize us and call us “unloving” and “hateful” and “dividers”, have never really tried to correct us, as loving Christians ought to.  Instead, they have resorted to the only arrow in their quiver: personal attacks, like yours. We go after the false teachings, and yes, we do sometimes sound harsh, because when going after false teachings, we are commanded in scripture to “reprove, and rebuke”, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5), and to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 2:1).

So if you or your friends are to respond, please do so without meaningless, unsupported and baseless attacks.  What I really pray for is that you will look seriously again at what we are saying and compare it with Scripture, that’s all.  We are not concerned about feelings being hurt; we are concerned for the truth of God’s word.  We are concerned for you.

Manny Silva

 

 Additional Resources: Why People Hate Those Who Expose False Teaching (Tim Wirth)

Deluding Influence by John Henderson

 

 

Rev. Barnard’s Original Post: An Open Letter to Members of Concerned Nazarenes:

If you are part of that “group”, you may want to stop reading now and unfriend me. It will save you some anguish. But someone needs to speak truth to you. Since you BLOCK your FB page and only allow those that support your cause to post there, and since I can’t message you, I’m forced to break my own rule and use my page to express my thoughts without first engaging you privately (though I’m sure it would be of little use).

I have followed your comments, rants, ravings, posts, and visual media since you debuted your DVD around our General Assembly in 2009. I have read what you write on blogs, posts, comments, Twitter, Facebook, NazNet, and NCNNews among other outlets. I believe I have formed an accurate and honest perspective on your cause. 

You aren’t Concerned, you’re angry. You aren’t Nazarene, you’re judgmental. 

In short – some of you are THUGS.

 I watched today as you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine and fellow Nazarene pastors, Gabriel & Jeanette Vargas Salguero, on the NCNNews Message Board. You have attacked good and Godly women and men in the Church of the Nazarene, such as Dan Boone, Thomas Jay Oord, Doug Hardy, Mark Maddix, Kevin Ulmet, Loren Gresham, Jon Middendorf, Jesse C Middendorf, Karl Giberson, Dan Bohi, Diane Cunningham Leclerc, among others. In doing so, you don’t enter into constructive dialogue, you choose personal and vile attacks. It’s un-Godly behavior; it’s un-Biblical; and it’s time someone stood up and told you so. That’s where I come in.

Feel free to google me (you won’t find much), listen to my conversations (all on-line and in iTunes), read my FB page (it’s public), follow me on Twitter (again, public), and in general add me to your list of those that deserve your bitter hyperbole. I’ll gladly take it if it means I’m in the likes of those YOU currently call “enemies of the church”. These General & District Superintendents, faculty and college presidents, chaplains and officers in our military, student leaders on our Nazarene campuses, and pastors and parsonage families, have done nothing TO YOU, yet you feel the need to RISE up against them. Shame on you. Shame on your cause.

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you want to UNFRIEND me. No problem. In fact, if you are friends with me AND part of the FB Concerned Nazarene group, I’ll likely UNFRIEND you. It’s not that I don’t value my FB friends who have differing opinions than me, or that I don’t learn from them (just read my recent political posts) – but they truly are interested in TRUTH. You are interested in getting your own way. I don’t need you in my life.

I’ll pray for you. I’ll fast for you. I’ll care what you do with your life, and how God will respond to you on judgment day (though if I were you I wouldn’t hold out hope for mercy). But I won’t waste time trying to understand you. We are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.

I wish you the best in life…HONESTLY, I do!

Grace & Peace — Bruce Barnard, a HOPEFUL NAZARENE!

PS – this is a NOTE, not a post…it’s sharable if you so choose…

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11 responses to “Replying To An Open Letter By A Pastor

  1. Thank you, Manny, for a very well thought out response that is not only substantiated by scripture, but by researched facts about those who are introducing the emergent ideas into the Nazarene church. I pray that God will open eyes to the truth. Sadly, some will cling to these false teachings and refuse to see what is right before their eyes. A wise friend messaged me recently with the following:
    . It only goes to confirm the synopsis of John 6. The hard teachings of Jesus and the Truth of Him is only revealed to true Believers by the Father. May He continue to guide us in all truth, even if if means that we will stand alone.

  2. I even looked at Bruce’s church website which again lacks scripture. What alarmed me the most was this on his page when we go to other countries, we don’t take them plants, we take seeds. Those seeds are then allowed to grow in their own culture. We don’t expect YOU to come to US and be like us; our hope is we engage you where you are, and we both are changed because of the intersecting of our lives. Our roots are in the holiness tradition -end of quote Roger Oakland states
    If Paul had been adjusting (contextualizing) the Word of God to fit the culture and context of the lives of those he spoke to, he would not have said “the aroma of death leading to death.” He took the spiritual state of these people very seriously, and he had full confidence that God’s Word, unaltered and unchanged, could reach into the heart and soul of any person who would receive Christ by faith. Whether a person is young, mentally challenged, or of a different culture or ethnic group, the Gospel is God’s Gospel, and He made it so that all who receive it
    In his book, Models of Contextual Theology(1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:
    …a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.1
    In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”2 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today. faith will understand His love and forgiveness and have eternal life Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:
    Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. 3
    These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:
    Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth … we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.4
    There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:
    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. (Hebrews 4:12)

  3. Manny, this is among the fairest approaches I have read. It dealt with the issues at hand and never once personally disparaged those you quoted. You used their words in context and I know that you have offered them ample opportunities to respond in kind only to receive more of the same personal attacks as before. You will not likely convince them very much until they are willing to objectively accept the entire Bible as God’s Word. Once they do that, there will be a basis for dialog. Until then, look for more of the same because they will have much to hide from the unsuspecting.

  4. In regards to Bruce Barnard’s open letter, and in his response to Concerned Nazarenes who oppose humanism in the form of emergent ideoloogy being syncretized into the Nazarene denomination via some of the people he listed; this response by
    Bruce is understandable, because as I recall, up until recently, he was the administrator for a FB site called: Emerging Nazarenes.
    (No, I didn’t google this. I remembered it.)

    It is no longer an active group on FB after the new FB format went through.

    So, it is good to be aware from what perspective this open letter comes. I understand Bruce’s anger and frustration with the Concerned Nazarenes. We expose emergent ideology for what it is, liberalism/humanism.

    This is why the ISSUES were not addressed by Bruce.

    Strange how it is wrong to call people out for aligning with godless agendas…..and further, it is strange how people justify aligning with those who promote a godless agenda/platform, as IF they were bringing conviction on the people they publicly prayed for, which, was not the case.

    A prayer that is vetted and approved before it is presented before people that had to vote God back into the platform, and/or vote to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and a platform that presents speakers who cannot seem to understand that sex is a gift that God gives to a MARRIED couple (um, man/woman), and a platform that looks at conception as a curse on woman, and DEMANDS the right to end the life of a baby at ANY time before the child is born……..unless the goal of the prayer is TO BRING CONVICTION on such a group, and renounce such atrocities, then the prayer is nothing more than empty vain words.

    Let it also be known that Gabriel Salguero is on the board of known communist sympatizer, Jim Wallis’….Sojourner’s publication.

    Associations DO matter.

  5. Manny,

    I won’t bother putting a ton of effort into this response, because I know you won’t post it because it disagrees with you. I would just like you for once to open the comments to someone who is wiling to respond to you. And I won’t even challenge you here at least on theological grounds. But I will instead challenge you on American freedom grounds.

    It is completely un-american to control the message the way you do on this blog. You would never allow someone who responds with “biblical evidence” to be published on your site. I refuse to believe that NO ONE will respond with scriptural evidence to your charges. I certainly would given the chance. However, I know that will never happen. You will not engage with anyone who can actually refute your charges against the church. You blast someone for giving a prayer at the Democratic National Convention yet on your blog you provide nothing but propaganda. In case you would like to refute this charge the definition of propaganda the third definition from dictionary.com: the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

    This is exactly what you do. You completely control the message. You can justify it by saying you are only keeping “inappropriate content” off the blog, which is exactly the same argument China uses to control the content its people can view on the internet. The question is what do you deem “inappropriate.” If you want to be heard and do so in a way that brings glory to the Constitution and God, OPEN YOUR BLOG and let people who disagree with you, freely express themselves. I don’t know if this is also true of your facebook and other forms of media, but if it is the same plea goes for that as well.

  6. Hi Manny,
    I was not suprised by the content of the open letter. After reading the letter my first thought was the hymn Called unto Holiness Church of Our God. This is the hymn my husband and I sang this past Sunday as we had our worship service in our home. We only read the Old and New Testement Scriptures and sang hymns from the hymn book “Hymns of Faith and Life” the old Free Methodist hymn book. We are unable to find believers to fellowship with, which is fine. We are still praying for the scales to be removed from others eyes. We had man who was our prevoius pastor, he sends us his sermons. As I have saiid before the Free Methodists have gone done the same broad way. Sadly this is now the new normal. The way of the believer is clear Matt. 5:48, Lev 20:26, 1 Peter 1:16 “Be Holy !s I am Holy” Be encourged and steadfast Manny, we are in prayer for you and your service to Our Lord. Thank you.
    In Christ,
    Beth

  7. Well, you certainly wasted an opportunity to respond with scripture to defend what we are opposing, Joseph. Actually, for over three years on this blog now, I have been waiting for someone to give biblical support for things such as: contemplative mysticism, open theism, process theology, evolution, etc. None has ever been given. The few that supposedly tried, failed miserably, and I did approve the posts. Many other replies are never allowed, because they end up being an effort to spread emergent propaganda and lies- instead of appealing to scripture.

    It is not un-American to do what I do- it is American. Feel free to start your own blog and allow anyone to post anything they feel like. For me, I refuse to allow some to come in here and possibly deceive a new Christian with their false doctrines.

    You said, “You will not engage with anyone who can actually refute your charges against the church.” Well, here’s your chance. Please do so, but if your post is not approved, it will be because you will have given a false argument, and not a scriptural argument.

  8. Joseph -Manny is being heard and he does bring glory to God by exposing false teachers. Now whether or not it brings glory to the Constitution well you have the freedom to start your own blog to counter whats being said here and other places. People have the right to free speech but you know what with freedom comes responsibility. We have rights to start our own blogs and say what we want to say. You do not have the right to come into someones house however and vomit all over the place with whatever you want to say because you may not agree with that person. And even more important is that Manny is following scriptural admonition. Acts 20:28 states “Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.”
    Acts 20:29-31
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    All Manny is doing here is guarding the flock from wolves. Something that really lacks in the Body of Christ today by pastors who allow wolves and false teachers like Brian McLaren, Len Sweet, and allow many others to teach our children in school who would distort scripture or a very low view of scripture such as folks like Karl Giberson and Dan Boone etc.. There is also those who let guys like Dan Bohi in who teaches and other gospel and promote’s an agenda that the Nazarene denomination has rejected.
    Acts 5:28-29
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

    29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

    Manny and all of us in discernment ministry are accountable for what we say and what we allow to be said on our blogs and websites.
    We are to guard the flock and we all take that very seriously.
    You Joseph have the right to not agree with what we say.
    If we err in scripture point that out.
    If you have flaming rhetoric against us open your own blog and speak against us.
    We have the right to let who we want into our house.
    The same right you have.

    2 John 1:9-11
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    9 Whoever transgresses[a] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

  9. manny, just finished reading the book ” billy sunday evangelist on the sawdust trail” found it most interesting reading.pages 186-190 is where you will find him fighting the exact battle you are fighting. written by rachael phillips, barbour publishing, inc. please read it and you will realize you stand in a great cloud of witinesses. respectfully , mark

  10. Manny,

    Thank you for confirming what I suspected by refusing to post my Biblical argument against inerrancy. I presented a well-thought out and salient argument using ONLY Biblical evidence and of course you did not post it.

  11. “Biblical argument” and “inerrancy” are oxymorons, Joseph. Those arguments you gave have been done ad nauseum by many others. I won’t repeat them here. I suggest you simply trust the word of God. Feel free to start your own blog and promote your lack of believe in the Bible as the actual fully inspired word of God.

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