What I Saw At General Assembly: ​Fri​day June 2 1​

This is my first quick summary report of General Assembly 2013 of the Church of the Nazarene.  We will do a more complete assessment at the end of the convention.  For now, here is what essentially I saw on the first day I was there:

Attended A Workshop: Scripture As Spiritual Formation.  It was led by Mark Maddix of Northwest Nazarene University and Richard Thompson.

Shortly after it started, I think we knew where it was going.  Professor Maddix later promoted lectio divina, one of the contemplative spirituality rituals.  He later ended the session by encouraging people to investigate more into learning about spiritual formation.  At the end, I was the last person to ask a question, and I asked Mr. Maddix:

“My father was rescued from the bondage of the Roman Catholic church years ago as a young man, and became a Christian.  He preached for years as a Nazarene pastor until he died.  So why is it that the Nazarene denomination is welcoming and promoting mystical practices that come straight out of  Roman Catholicism, which is a false religion?”

Mark Maddix strongly disagreed with me.  Mr. Maddix unequivocally stated that the Roman Catholics are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  He does not believe it is a false religion, even though it is clear that the RCC preaches works-based salvation.  Mr. Maddix does not know what he is talking about regarding the history of the Roman Catholic Church.  He made an erroneous claim that we got the Bible from the RCC, which is dead wrong.

A man then came up to me- and said he was grieved at my comments and  my “attack” against Roman Catholics, because he has many friends who are Catholic.  I said so did I, and what does that have to do with telling the truth that it is a false religion.  I asked if he would be willing to show me through Scripture that I was wrong, but he walked away.  I sensed much disapproval after I asked my question, and when Bev Turner followed up with pointing out the teachings that are being promoted in the universities, a man across the room yelled at here disrespectfully, asking if she had read those books.  She responded yes, I did.  Telling the truth to these people touches a real never with them, but I thanked the Lord I had the chance to witness to the truth.  A young lady approached me after and thanked me for stating something and this issue, which was troubling her also.  It made it all worth it.

If we can reach one person in these sessions by voicing our biblical objection to what is going on, then I give praise to God for obediently following His command to “bring light into the darkness.”  I firmly believe that Mark Maddix, and a whole lot of other leadership in the church, have bought into these lies and have been deceived.  I believe if the question was asked of some of our General Superintendents, they might be forced to admit the same belief Mark Maddix expressed.

The church is embracing the rituals and beliefs of a false religion.  It is embracing a religion that actually teaches that we ourselves are lost, unless we come back to the “mother church!”  We are told in Scripture to come out, to be separate, not to join them.  As I think of my dad, and how he returned to preach to the very people who were lost as Roman Catholics, I continue to think how ironic that this has turned around this way.  It was a sad moment I experienced as I attended my first workshop at GA.

 

Attended A Workshop: Making Christlike Disciples in the LGBT Community

Led by Andy McGee, pastor of a LGBT Nazarene church.  Much was said how they reach out to the LGBT community, and about their “methods of reaching them, making them feel at home, or feeling comfortable and not threatened.  Much was said, but not once was the word sin used.  I asked a question at the end:

“Is there any instance at your church where some of these folks have actually given a testimony as to how they were forgiven and freed from the bondage of their homosexuality, as with all other sins?”  I honestly cannot remember the details of the answer, but it dot not really answer the question.  Rev. McGee characterized what I said as being the “Exodus International” approach- right after which I interjected that no… this was my biblical approach.

Later on another man asked “what about what Romans chapter 1 says about this?  How do you answer that question?”   Again, I don’t believe the answers very biblical.  I hope to be able to provide you with audio, because they said it was being recorded.  At the end, he and his folks received a loud, sanding ovation- probably on a par with the kind of ovation a General Superintendent gets when newly elected.  I thought the entire presentation was very strange, and left many questions unanswered.  Yet, this was received very warmly, and my impression was that, except for a few here and there, no one really cared to hear my question about being saved from sin.

I believe something like this church is a first step towards gay affirmation.  In fact, Rev. McGee erroneously said that people are born with homosexuality and cannot help that.  He actually used statement by the General Superintendents to support that view- and sadly, it may be true that they believe this as well.

There are other examples of this kind of softening of the biblical message to appease sinners.  The acceptance of homosexuality will probably be very complete by the time the next General Assembly happens.  This does not bode well for the Church of the Nazarene.

Master Plan

This program, which is the same as the G-12 movement, is inflicting great harm to the church.  At least five pastors have sent me reports on this problem in the last few years.  Their churches have been damaged, and parts of this seem very cult like.  One of the big movers of this thing spoke Friday, and my friend Charlie was not impressed with the presentation by Rev. Craig Rench, apparently one of the experts on the Master Plan.  To find more about this movement, please read this recent blog post by a Nazarene who has seen and experienced this:

http://themastersplannazarene.blogspot.ca/

 

Signs And Wonders In the Church

This seems to be another phenomenon which is catching on in the church with greater popularity, spurred on by the teachings and preachings of Rob McCorkle and Dan Bohi.  Sine Tim Wirth was there with me, he wrote some notes on this which I will share, but there will be further indepth reporting on “Fire Schools” which are being promoted at one of the General Assembly booths.

IHOP IS HERE, and so is the NAR, Kansas City Prophets, Rick Joyner. For those unfamiliar with the terms and the people, I will be posting articles on all these topics as a follow up to my Fire School article. The false signs and wonders are here folks. I will post articles on the other false revivals such as Lakeland with Todd Bentley, Toronto, Brownsville, etc… I will also do an article on impartation and the false pretense these folk use. Trust me the Holy Spirit is not limited to what man desires to conjure up and He is not at man’s beck and call to do our bidding. He is God and He goes and does at is His good pleasure, not ours. The Holy Spirit does not need to get a piggy back ride to your church through impartation. But a familiar spirit often does.

A Conversation With A Fire School Enthusiast

The following​ description by Tim of an encounter we had at the Fire Sachool booth, I believe, is ​a sad indication of how someone can be deceived so easily.

This was the big Fire School/Bohi promotion.  Manny and I had a very interesting conversation with a young lady,​ and Rob McCorkle had ​left before we had a chance to speak with him. I’m going to write a more detailed article on this Saturday​. The gist of it was I tried to ask this young lady where she found these manifestations in scripture. She said people fell forward. I said exactly. Only Jesus’s enemies fell backward when they came to arrest Him. This girl was really trying to control the conversation often cutting us off, trying to not let us speak. Manny bought up that no preacher is above scrutiny. Then on that point I went into what Dan preached giving exact quotes and I asked her if she thought the teaching matched up to scripture. I also pointed out where Dan actually stated he didn’t like the definition of faith expressed in the book of Hebrews and than gave his own definition of faith outside of scripture (by way of revelation knowledge perhaps?).  She stated she knows the Holy Spirit and almost implied I wasn’t saved. She said she fell to her knees and her arms were so heavy she could not move her arms.

We questioned her experience and Manny asked her if it was possible that she could be deceived. She stated no way because she knows the way the Holy Spirit moves. I asked her where is this found in scripture?  She could not answer.

Than an older lady came by and stated she never believed in the stuff either until she went and was bought to her knees, feeling a heaviness and was actually paralyzed and could not move either. I asked again where is this experience in scripture? I asked the young lady again about Dan’s teaching and how the Nazarene founder distanced himself from Azuza street and its manifestations. She than informed us we are not to “touch the anointed”. I explained to her that if you are saved you are anointed by the Holy Spirit for service. She than stated “I’m done here and I want you both to leave this area right now”. Even though her young man counterpart wanted to talk more. I apologized to her for upsetting her. She said “leave now”.  We left.

Tim will be reporting more on this soon.  I will try to update tomorrow night as needed.  Please pray for the COTN, it is really in deep trouble.

Manny

Friday, June 21, 2013

 

Roman Catholic Ritualism Corrupting Nazarene Schools and Churches

The Lenten season is upon us once again. As I have reported before, spiritual formation is one of the key avenues of the demonic influences coming into evangelical churches and universities.  Where spiritual formation is mentioned (another red flag is spiritual disciplines), it is more likely than not that it is an unhealthy emphasis on things other than what God has prescribed for our growth in spiritual maturity.  Christian spiritual formation would be that which is supported by Scripture and follows the model and examples given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles.  The problem is that today’s spiritual formation strays far from God’s word and incorporates inventions of man that goes back as far as the Desert Fathers, who introduced unscriptural methods of “getting closer to God.”  This is being taught at every Nazarene university and seminary.

The following, which I received  last week from an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene University, is a reflection of the sad decline of the Church of the Nazarene.  We are moving away from a biblically based tradition, to a mystical, ritualistic and experience-based tradition based on man’s inventions.

“So this evening at Point Loma Nazarene University and most likely in other so called Christian universities they will have a “Traditional Ash Wednesday” chapel service.

Today’s chapel service speaker said that “Lent was needed.  The practice of Lent and the ritual of Ash Wednesday is the invitation for God’s spirit to come to you.”

Where does it say that in scripture!?!  He then said that this was a practice to “undo unholiness” a “seasonal affection time”. Really!?!

God does not ask us for a season, but if I recall scripture says DAILY…

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:22)

Yes! I’m going to say it! If you are at Point Loma , any university, or any church service that is offering you a “Traditional Ash Wednesday” service, DON’T GO! The Word of God does NOT require this ritual or practice of you! God keep us in His TRUTH!!!  END QUOTE

In listening to that chapel service (Wednesday Feb. 13) with speaker Jamie Smith, I could barely finish it without hearing in almost every other sentence a promotion of Lenten practices that I had never before seen in my dad’s ministry or in any other Nazarene pastor’s ministry, nor during my years at Eastern Nazarene College.  Although the speaker mentioned Psalm 51, he used it erroneously to justify the practices of “spiritual disciplines” during a prescribed Lenten season, as if they are biblically mandated and necessary for spiritual growth.  I can smell this stuff a mile away it seems, because these people consistently have the same goal: move away from clear doctrine in Scripture, and embrace a lifestyle of experientialism and ritualism.  The result is a rejection of clear instruction from God, and a welcoming of your own personal “experience” of God, and a formulaic, unbiblical way of “doing” things to get an outcome.

Consider more of what Jamie Smith said in light of Scripture:

“So the church… is a peculiar people who are sort of stretched… which is why we keep time differently.  One of the ways the church has tried to embrace this peculiarity, this difference, is by inhabiting different calendars, different rhythms and seasons, with feasts and fasts, which are all meant to regulate and circle us back to the life of Jesus Christ.

“And so, around the world today, Christians will observe what we know as Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the season of Lent.  It’s a season of disciplined denial and focused confession.”

“I want to encourage you to see the spiritual disciplines associated with Lent as the answer to the prayer of Psalm 51.  The spiritual disciplines of denial are the answers to prayer in Psalm 51.”

“So the Psalmist’s prayer “create in me a clean heart”… that prayer now is answered in the gifts that God gives us, of bodily tactile disciplines, the visceral ritual of Ash Wednesday, and the ascetic practices of denial that accompany Lent.”

“Friends, I encourage you to receive in a way the ritual of Ash Wednesday and the disciplines of Lent as yet another way that our gracious God meets us right where we are.”

“This is how the Spirit of God creates in us a clean heart,  by meeting us in the practices and disciplines that are invitations into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God actually knows that the way to our hearts is through our bodies.”

“And there is something tangible and bodily and visceral about the practices of denial, and the rituals of Ash Wednesday that are a way of God marking His love on our hearts.”

“We tend to assume that we will think our way into holiness.  We assume that we will get some information that will finally trigger a way for us to follow Jesus in the way that we’re supposed to do.” 

“We don’t think our way into holiness…. But what primarily drives our behavior… our actions… what moves us in the world is not for the most part the outcome of some logical conscience deliberative choices we make, it’s in fact governed by the power of habits we’ve acquired.” 

“It’s a season in which the Holy Spirit wants to tap into your affections and order them to the Kingdom of God.”

“…to see these rhythms and rituals as the conduits of the Spirit’s power is because I really think we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about sanctification.”

Very little of this is Scripturally sound, if any.  But I was not surprised by any of this, considering that Jamie Smith wrote a book called Desiring The Kingdom.  In the book, he makes the premise that ritual, or liturgy, is that which comes first, before someone’s Christian worldview or theology is formed.  In other words, he believes that “doing things” first, will then formulate what you believe inwardly.  This I straight out of works based Roman Catholic theology.

There is nothing Scriptural about Ash Wednesday rituals, or ashes to the forehead, or giving up something for Lent.  There is nothing “traditional” about it, other than it being man’s tradition, not God’s.  Yet, the Nazarene denomination and its leaders are defying God’s word and are shamelessly going forward with another year of Ashes to Fire, Lent, and the various mysticism based practices we have been warning about.  I have warned many times that the Nazarene leadership seems to be complicit with efforts to mix Roman Catholicism and mystical practices into a denomination that claims to preach holiness.  Should not the leaders, whose duty it is to interpret church doctrine, either explain how these practices are Scriptural, or if not, speak out against them?

Some Nazarene churches last week had Ash Wednesday services complete with the ritual of ashes being placed on the forehead.  There is no doubt it is happening, the only question is, what is the motive?  And what of those Nazarenes sitting in the pews who felt a bit awkward as others got up to receive their ashes?   Did they feel less pious for not going up?  And did the recipients feel good about a practice which never existed before in a denomination that preaches “holiness unto the Lord?”  Is this a way of attracting those of the Roman Catholic faith, by saying, “look at us, see, we are just like you.”

A Church Now Focusing On Experience, Instead of Doctrine

All these things are part of the “experience” that comes with the contemplative mysticism being introduced, and even some charismatic based revival. It’s prayer stations, and prayer labyrinths, and lectio divina, etc, etc. Do this ritual, or do that ritual, follow these steps, and you will get closer to God. We are exchanging a real experience with God through knowing His word and through prayer, for activities that are not prescribed by the Lord. Instead, the focus is taken away from Jesus, and becomes a focus on ourselves, and what WE do, not what He has done for us.

As many Nazarenes now focus on that magical goal of 40 days of Lent, what then after that?  How is your life after this specified time period going to look like?  Is this like the Super Bowl experience, where the hype builds up over time until the big event, and then we go back to “normal” until the next time around?  Do you really think that this is a “special” time God has set aside for you to grow spiritually, or is not God’s desire that we grow spiritually every day, without any gimmicks?

The bottom line is that no ritual can make our hearts become right with God, and instead, we may end up being only filled with personal, sinful pride for thinking “look at me, I’m better because I did this, and you did not.”

In his article Spiritual Formation at Worship, Dr. Gary Gilley states:

 “Deliberate asceticism, harsh treatment of the body and abstinence from acceptable activities, actions and food, may have the appearance of spiritual activity but have no effect on our souls, nor do they enhance our spiritual development. Lent is a hold-over from ascetic practices of the past that have no direct spiritual value.”

The danger of participating in these practices is that the Nazarene church will also eventually tell you, as the RCC does now, that these “new” liturgical practices are required for our “spiritual formation,” thus resulting in the practices of man once again casting aside the teachings of Holy Scripture.

I close with a word from Colossians 2:20-23 which I believe speaks to these issues:

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

 

Recommended Resources:

 Spiritual Formation at Worship, by Dr. Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel

Point Loma Summer Retreat Encourages Interfaith Worship With Unbelievers

Spiritual formation in the Nazarene churches, universities and seminaries is NOT a biblical endeavor.  It is merely a nice sounding way of introducing contemplative mysticism to the masses without using terminology that might scare some people.  It is a cancer on the church that will continue to cause great damage unless it is cleaned up.  Yet, you will find spiritual formation, including occultism, being taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary and practically all the Nazarene universities.  Lessons are not being learned; warnings are not being heeded; administrators have bought into it; and national leaders continue ignoring the many signs of spiritual decay.

We have seen it trickle in by way of seemingly harmless practices and rituals that used to be solely the purview of Roman Catholic tradition.  It sneaks in under the umbrella of celebrating the Lenten season; it sneaks in through the use of Sunday School quarterlies and such programs as Ashes To Fire.  It is evident through the programs being used for the youth, primarily promoted through the extremely dangerous Barefoot Ministries as well as Nazarene Publishing House.  But the warnings fall on mainly deaf ears, and most likely the following issue will also.  It all points to the severe compromise of church leaders today.

What am I talking about?  Point Loma Nazarene University, along with San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, is encouraging mysticism, ecumenicalism and interfaith worship with unbelievers to its college students.

A summer retreat called Taize 2013 is being offered to students.  The website states the following:

A unique trip is being offered through San Diego First Church  (the church on campus) during the summer of 2013.  A cross-generational group will be taking a pilgrimage to Taizé, France to spend a week in community, in worship and in spiritual reflection.  This will be followed by a week of service in a nearby location.

Students will be spending a week Taize (pronounced Ta-zay), a monastery in France, and the stated purpose is that it is a

“spiritual formation trip, aimed at those seeking intentional devotional time, Sabbath, fellowship, and space to seek and listen for God in a cross‐cultural setting.  Taize is a community made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations.  From its beginning the community has been inspired by two aims: to live in communion with God through prayer and to be a leaven of peace and trust in the midst of the human family. A stay at Taizé is an opportunity to seek communion with God in prayer, singing, silence and reflection.”

I have previously written about Point Loma’s fascination with Taize, and Northwest Nazarene University’s embrace of Taize worship.  Their explanation at best waters down what Taize stands for, although please note that there is no emphasis mentioned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That’s because Taize does not stand for, and never has stood for, the spreading of the Gospel.  Not the true Gospel anyway.

The following is excerpted from LightHouse Trails Research:

“Taize is a form of contemplative worship that incorporates mystical practices and interspiritual beliefs [an odd term?  Probably means, “all roads lead to the same Heaven,” or something similar.]

’Short chants, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character,’ the brothers explain in a brief introduction printed in the paperback songbook. ’Using just a few words, [the chants] express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being.’”

The entire matter is “just another indication that contemplative spirituality is no respecter of denominations. Nearly all are affected and influenced.”

Taize Worshipers:  “Practicing the silence with icons, candles, incense and prayer stations, this very contemplative community is attracting young people from around the world.”

In John Henderson’s post on my blog on Nov. 11, 2011, he states the following to which I am in agreement:

“I find it enormously puzzling as to why Nazarenes, especially in a Nazarene university or a Nazarene church, would have so easily abandoned the simple faith in Christ for this satanic form of the worship of strange gods and evil spirits—and then call them by God’s names.  An even greater wonder is how they unabashedly resort to mauling the Word of God to force-fit those precious words of life to this spiritual sludge.  They seem to sense no shame in it but, rather, boast in it and lie that God is pleased with it.  It is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah and I fear that God’s judgment will not tarry much longer.  I had rather be in Heaven when it breaks open but He might keep me here to witness it and I just do not look forward to that.”

It’s more than Taize that is going on here, in spite of the school’s recent rejection of an on campus LGBTQ group, which most likely they had no choice.  This school is being corrupted daily and is rotting from the inside out, taking students with it down the road of apostasy.  And once again, while “Rome burns”, our irresponsible leaders at all levels do nothing.

A Host of Problems

It is the promotion of contemplative spirituality by way of other retreats, such as the Jesus Prayer Retreat at Point Loma Nazarene University, conducted by Frederica Matthewes-Greene of the Orthodox Church.  What Matthewes-Greene promotes is nothing more than Roman Catholic style mysticism, including praying to icons, as I noted in the post Blind Guides.  She also spoke at a student chapel the week of the retreat, where she promoted these false teachings, with the approval of college leaders.

In a post on May 9, 2011 entitled Would Jesus Attend PLNU?, problems were addressed such as: false teacher Brian McLaren speaking in a chapel service; universalist Rob Bell speaking at a pastor’s retreat; a biology professor promoting Darwinism and evolution; the failure to immediately as a gay activist student chaplain to step down from his position; the retreat sponsored by Richard Foster’s Renovare organization, which promotes mysticism.

And in his article on spiritual formation, Dr. Gary Gilley concludes:

“The “face” of the Spiritual Formation Movement, as well as contemplative spirituality and emergent Christianity, is often first noticed within evangelical churches by the incorporation of traditional Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practices and liturgies. Many of these practices are being introduced at special events and eventually find their way into the regular services of the church. Worshippers are often confused by what they are experiencing and do not understand what is taking place. It should be understood that when traditions borrowed from errant groups such as Catholics and Orthodoxy are taken into evangelical worship and life, and are done so without a careful examination of Scripture, what is being adopted is more than just methods. There is a comprehensive, and in many ways wrong, theology upon which these practices rest. Methods do matter, and we are naïve to think that we can take techniques from false religions and not eventually embrace their theology.”

I cannot explain to you exactly why all this is happening.  I do know that these things are not of God, and yet it is being condoned over and over again by our supposedly mature spiritual leaders.

I will conclude with a few admonishments from Holy Scripture that address the problem with Taize worship and this upcoming summer retreat:

James 4:4-5 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Romans 12:2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Amos 3:3  Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

 

Resources:

Spiritual Formation (Dr. Gary Gilley) http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/133-spiritual-formation-movement/783-spiritual-formation-at-worship

Mysticism In The Nazarene Church: A Response to Elaine Heath

Yesterday, I started reading an article by Elaine Heath that is in the current online issue of Grace And Peace Magazine, a Nazarene publication that describes itself as a resource for Nazarene clergy.  That being said, after reading it, I was appalled at what she wrote.  The boldness of our Nazarene leadership, including our General Superintendents, that continues to recklessly allow the promotion of contemplative spirituality, paganism and methods of Eastern religions is disgraceful.  Unless you are spiritually blind as a professing Christian, you should also be appalled after reading John Henderson’s assessment below.  The question for you is, if you are silent now after these last four years, will you continue being silent in the face of all this apostasy?  I will follow up in a few days with a detailed summary of the “spiritual giants” Dr. Heath has studied and admired.

A Response to Elaine Heath

By John Henderson

Spiritual discernment is a special gift for some (1 Cor. 12:19) but is also necessary for all believers in Christ in a more general sense.  We must allow ourselves to be influenced only upon the will or heart and not on the fantasies of imagination or speculation.[1]  It involves a right relationship with Christ, familiarity with the Word of God, and a commitment to taking notice.  Proverbs 17:24 says:  “Wisdom is directly in front of[2] the discerning person, but the eyes of a fool run to the ends of the earth” (NET).[3]

I am confident that the majority of heresy issues we encounter these days are when speculation is presented and seen as on par with biblical revelation, especially when an ill-informed group fails to see the difference.  To an alarming degree, this is the case among the entire spectrum of what is called the church on earth.

One of the things that makes current error so deadly as compared to the former falling away is that today’s heretics have learned to not be so obvious, but are rather much more devious by their slick use of well-known evangelical terminology and concepts that they skillfully weave together with the deceptions of the emergent church movement.  This satanic cobra charms the victims into a spiritual and mental lethargy until they are ready to punch the fatal poison of deception into the life-system.

“Grace and Peace” Issue 7, Fall, 2012 has an article that caught my immediate attention just by the title:  “The Mystic Way of Evangelism: An Interview With Elaine A. Heath.”  I read it through and immediately recognized the blending of postmodern emergent error with concepts of truth.  Maybe I was alerted because of the title, but it dripped with new age postmodernism.  I knew it needed a public response.

You may read the article on the magazine’s website, http://www.graceandpeacemagazine.org/magazine/current-issue/303-the-mystic-way-of-evangelism-an-interview-with-elaine-a-heath. If it becomes removed, I have it saved on my computer.

Who is Elaine Heath?[4]

Dr. Elaine Heath is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, New Mexico Annual Conference.  She is Director of the Center for Missional Wisdom (formerly the Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of Evangelism) at Perkins School of Theology.  She has published several books mostly in the emergent doctrine genre, if the titles are any indication.  Her research interests are evangelism and spirituality, evangelism and gender, the church in emerging culture, and the new monasticism.  Dr. Heath’s work, writings, and philosophy are clearly tied to emergent leaders and emergent mystic forerunners from the medieval to modern times.  They notably include Henri Nouwen, a late 20th century Dutch-born Catholic priest who is considered one of the godfathers of the modern emergent movement.  He is reported by his biographers to have struggled with homosexual tendencies.  Another is John Woolman, an eighteenth century “North American itinerant Quaker preacher who traveled throughout much of British North America and in England, advocating against cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, conscription, military taxation, and particularly slavery and the slave trade.”[5]  One of his dominant themes was “economic injustice and oppression” (a precursor to modern Marxist “social justice”).

She also saw Phoebe Palmer, a 19th Century Methodist holiness leader, as a mystic in the same sense as the others mentioned—something Palmer’s biographical history does not support.  Although Heath wrote a book supposedly defining Palmer’s mysticism, Palmer’s actual history, although deeply spiritual in quality, demonstrated nothing like the modern ideas of mysticism.

Palmer was neither a medieval mystic nor involved in Catholic mysticism.  She was very Wesleyan in her approach, although she did enhance some of Wesley’s doctrinal concepts that were picked up by the 19th and 20th Century Wesleyan holiness movement.  None of Palmer’s reported spiritual experiences were anywhere near Eastern, medieval, or Catholic mysticism.  Dr. Heath appears to be the only Palmer “historian” who mentions anything about mysticism in connection with Phoebe Palmer.  It makes one wonder where she found her “information”.

The nearest thing to “heavenly experiences” about Palmer was her early tendency to rely on feelings for assurance of sanctifying grace.  She conquered that error when “Finally she learned to trust to faith, which she defined in terms of her understanding of biblical promises. Once she stopped cross-examining her feelings and accepted the possibility that Holiness would come as the Lord dictated and not as she hypothesized, the dam burst.”[6]  Of course that is dynamic, but it is not mysticism.  There is nothing mystical about perfect love poured out on a soul, even when it is thrilling.

The Emergent Heresies Demonstrated in the Article.

The complete absence of references to the Scriptures or any biblical authority is the principal clue to Heath’s emergent ideology in the article.  Heath never went farther back than medieval personalities in historical references as her presumed sources of authority.  She never mentioned the Early Church at all.  Those references included at least two histrionics that were given to unbiblical visions.  She compared them to Old Testament prophets without offering any sort of evidence for the associations.

She referenced so many Roman Catholic clergy and theologians that one was left wondering why she was still a Methodist.  There are many godly theologians from the Methodist movement that would have put her on a different track.  Admittedly, she did reference Phoebe Palmer but did so in a way that misrepresented Mrs. Palmer by dragging her over into a scenario that was never true of Palmer or the holiness movement which she helped to lead.

Heath’s spiritually fatal mistake in referencing medieval “saints and mystics” as she called them is her apparent reliance on the assumption of their having innate authority alongside of or instead of the Scriptures.

The only authority for the Christian is the Word of God and all else must be judged by that.  Nothing outside of the inspired Scriptures has its own internal authority as was supposed by Heath’s comments.  There were saints (Christians) through the medieval period to be sure but they were still human beings and always subject to the authority of the Scriptures.

Heath used a telling phrase that clearly defines her perspective of “evangelism”.  She referred to “the matrix of the contemplative path, the three-fold contemplative path of purgation, illumination, and union.”  The term contemplation does not need defining here.  It is the emergent variety.  “Purgation, illumination, and union” are taken from Catholic practices and carry those meanings.  The phrase itself defines one of the approaches to the labyrinth.  They are three stages in one form of a labyrinth walk:

“1. Releasing (Purgation). From the entrance to the goal is the path of shedding or ‘letting go.’ There is a release and an emptying of worries and concerns.

“2. Receiving (Illumination). At the center there is illumination, insight, clarity, and focus. It is here that you are in a receptive, prayerful, meditative state.

“3. Integrating (Union). Empowerment and taking ownership. The path out is that of becoming grounded and integrating the insight. It is being energized and making what was received manifest in the world.”[7]

 

The three stages are considered as one path but one that is presumably different for everyone.  They don’t say how that is.

“Purgation” refers to purging or purification in a sense similar to a laxative or induced vomiting.  In the Catholic sense it is a self-effort of clearing oneself of a chargeable offense after which priestly absolution (pardon) is granted.  This, of course, is dissimilar and antithetical to the Protestant understanding and the evangelical’s biblical doctrine of grace by faith, the very thing that motivated Martin Luther.

There is enough empirical evidence to show that any form of the labyrinth leads into an exposure to the influences of demonic mysticism and it is the very thing Heath is advocating here, whether or not she realizes it.  Most importantly, none of the elements of this walk are based in the Scriptures by precept or implication.

Heath made the assumption that the “decline of the Church” could be corrected by this process.  If she meant the Church (capital “C”) as compared with the organizational church, she was very far afield from the Word of God, even in opposition to it, as she advocated mystical passivity versus conscious purposeful response to the Scriptural guidelines of spiritual prayer and growth.

Her definition of evangelism is dubious as well as her approach to evangelism through the labyrinth.  She defined evangelism is terms that, on the surface, could be accepted in any evangelical circle:  “…a holistic process of initiating a person into the reign of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and anchored in the Church for the transformation of the world.”  The term holistic is the operative word and that word defines all she talks about in the remainder of the article in terms of a Marxist social justice, caring for the earth, and humanitarian services through the prism of a socialist agenda.

Holistic is a word that means all-inclusive.  For the emergent postmodern/new ager, that means a social agenda that essentially sets aside the mission of the gospel in order to be carried out in its intended context.  The gospel really isn’t all that included except as a come-along.  Whatever gospel there may be is secondary to the socialistic agenda of earthy objectives.

She does use the popular term, missional, and its meaning is as it is defined by the emergent postmodern mindset of socialism despite all of the cloaking definitions that have been offered so they sound more Christian.  Biblical mission is not present in this discussion by any term.

Heath says that God is a mystery because we cannot know all there is about God.  If she had stopped at that, there would be no disagreement, but she goes further and uses that statement as support to denigrate the traditional approaches to evangelism by implying they have been inadequate since medieval times.  Therefore, God has more of Himself to reveal in our times.  What does she offer instead?  Mysticism (a form of mystery of which God has nothing to do with) is the new answer.  It will do what centuries of the scriptural methods have failed to accomplish—so she assumes.  It is as if she had said that God has been hidden in part all these centuries and now reveals more of Himself through mysticism.  Never mind that the Bible clearly says:

Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high….”

Her social and community involvements are substitutes for traditional evangelism instead of natural outcomes of evangelism.  Planting community gardens and caring for the earth is the new approach to witnessing. Whereas traditional evangelism has always preached repentance through the Word of God first and spiritual conversion is followed by social services and benevolences, she joins the emergent concept of reversing the approach.  Even if it should work at all, the gospel is still diminished and most conversions in a postmodern context are absent of repentance and the forsaking of sin along with faith in Christ for salvation.   She thinks that if you are growing food together in a community that you would form relationships with people you would never form otherwise.  She says this gives a unique opportunity “to connect your lives in ways that allows the gospel to be spoken.”  In other words, she describes it as a prop that makes possible the sharing of the gospel not otherwise likely.  Christian benevolence is never a prop.  It is a vehicle in service.

That may sound like a great idea, but it doesn’t work all that well for bringing people to Christ when done first in order.  Those are good things to do and the opportunities for witnessing will be present, but that should not be the key to approaching others with the gospel—as if you could not do it by any other means.  It is more likely to promote selfish dependency in others just as those who followed Christ for the food He fed them unless we make “preaching Jesus” the essential thing in what we do.  Even then many will care only for the freebees.  They will take what you give them then walk away back into whatever life they had before you came along.

Heath seems to not understand that the Holy Spirit needs our obedience, not our methods.  If people’s hearts are not challenged for Christ, if they are not pricked in their consciences, our efforts will be futile.

I have heard Christians say that they will give to a bum on the street knowing he may drink it up but that they are not responsible for anything but their own benevolence in good faith.  I strongly disagree.  Such giving that predictably perpetuates a sinful lifestyle is highly irresponsible. If you do not have time to share Christ in some way, you are not giving or serving as a Christian.  It may still be squandered, and you may be unable to control that, but you can share Jesus in some significant way.  That makes all the difference.

The message matters the most.  All that we do for others hangs on that.  I had to learn that the hard way in my years of social services.  It is true that Christians should provide for those in need as best they can, especially in emergencies.  That is not the problem.  The problem is when that becomes all we do or the most of what we do.

Dr. Heath is not uncommon as a postmodern emergent advocate.  She covered just about every major aspect of the emergent agenda that is being espoused. That, however, is not the tragedy of it.  I expect an emergent to talk as an emergent.  The very fact that it was supportably published in a Nazarene periodical is the heartbreaking tragedy since most Nazarenes are not emergent in their thinking—so far.

           

 


[1]From a Jonathan Edwards sermon: sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=21262&forum=34&0

[2] NIV “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view.”

[3] He has no power to concentrate and cannot focus his attention on anything.

[4]This information may be found at http://www.smu.edu/Perkins/FacultyAcademics/DirectoryList/Heath

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Woolman

[6] http://www.teachushistory.org/second-great-awakening-age-reform/approaches/phoebe-palmer-1807-1874-holiness-theology

[7] http://www.lessons4living.com/three_fold_path.htm

 

Northwest Nazarene To Welcome False Teacher Dallas Willard, Promoter of Contemplative Mysticism

Northwest Nazarene University will be welcoming false teacher Dallas Willard in February of 2013, continuing a trend of inviting speakers who promote contemplative spirituality or mysticism.  The desire to replace sound bible study and prayer in the Christian life, with “experience-based” practices rooted in Eastern mysticism, continues to grip undiscerning leaders at our “Christian” universities and seminaries.  There is a shortage of sound Christian leadership at most of our Nazarene and Christian universities.  Students and parents must use great discretion in considering a Christian college.

So who is Dallas Willard?  He is a philosophy professor, author, and speaker.   He is known also for his writings about spiritual formation.  This less offending title that is simply another name for contemplative spirituality is being spread throughout all the Nazarenes universities to one extent or another.

The following quote shows how he elevates silence and solitude over prayer and Bible study:

“Indeed, solitude and silence are powerful means to grace. Bible study, prayer and church attendance, among the most commonly prescribed activities in Christian circles, generally have little effect for soul transformation, as is obvious to any observer. If all the people doing them were transformed to health and righteousness by it, the world would be vastly changed. Their failure to bring about the change is precisely because the body and soul are so exhausted, fragmented and conflicted that the prescribed activities cannot be appropriately engaged, and by and large degenerate into legalistic and ineffectual rituals. Lengthy solitude and silence, including rest, can make them very powerful.” (Dallas Willard,Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation and the Restoration of the Soul,”Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring 1998, Vol. 26, #1, pp. 101-109.

Here is some more you ought to know about Dallas Willard, whose books can be found in our Christian universities and seminaries.

From Lighthouse Trails Research:

Dallas Willard is a proponent of contemplative spirituality. Here are a few facts to show this:

1. Dallas Willard Helps Launch the Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible. The Renovare Study Bible Released at Renovare’s With-God Conference in April of 2005

2. Willard has written the foreword to Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

3. Willard recommends several contemplative authors including Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Jan Johnson, and Evelyn Underhill.

And here is more documented from LHT:

The following is an excerpt of an article written by Dallas Willard, in which he hypothetically responds to a college girl who was raised a Christian but has now rejected the Christian faith and believes all paths lead to God …

“What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say “he can’t save them.” I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”—Dallas Willard, Apologetics in Action

LTRP Note: Some have expressed concern that Lighthouse Trails has not posted the statement Dallas Willard made after the above statement, in which he says that anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus. While we do provide a link so people can read his entire article, we believe Willard has been very misleading in saying that it is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. We must keep in mind the context of Willard’s statement, in which he is talking about the works of man in relation to salvation. And given his adherence to spiritual formation, this completely aligns with the view that man ( born again or not) can become Christ-like (and worthy of salvation according to Foster and Willard) by doing certain disciplines. It is in that context Willard makes that statement; he wasn’t referring to those who had never heard the gospel.

In addition, it is the role of Christians to preach the gospel, calling out for people to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.  His instructions are very clear. And the apostle Paul always pointed to Jesus Christ and man’s absolute need to turn to Him in order to be saved and written in the Book of Life.   If such a statement was right to say, then Jesus or the disciples would have said it. On Dallas Willard’s website, he recommends mystics who have panentheistic and universalistic affinities. His seemingly ambiguous statements and his recommendations resonate, and they should not be ignored.

How ironic that in Willard’s article, he was addressing it to a college girl who had been a Christian and had turned away from and rejected the gospel, saying that all paths lead to God. This was Willard’s answer to her.
(source: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/dallaswillard.htm)

Among the books he recommends are books on mysticism, books by Richard Foster, one of the most dangerous promoters of contemplative spirituality, visualization, and other false practices.  He also recommends books by proponents of mysticism such as Agnes Sanford, Teresa of Avila, George Fox, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Ignatius of Loyola and Madame Guyon.

So beware of Dallas Willard, another in a long line of false teachers who have infiltrated our Christian universities.

Here are the email addresses of several leaders from Northwest Nazarene, if you wish to address any concerns, or ask them to explain why Dallas Willard, a false teacher, should be exposed to young Christians.  You may want to also verify whether anyone would have equal opportunity to challenge his beliefs about contemplative spirituality, or will he have a captive audience?

NNU Contacts:

President Alexander: president@nnu.edu

Fred Fullerton, Vice President for Spiritual and Leadership Development: ffullerton@nnu.edu

Rev. Gene Schandorff, Dean of the Chapel: meschandorff@nnu.edu

Julene Tegerstrand, Director of Student Ministries: jtergerstrand@nnu.edu

Related Articles about NNU:

 

False Teaching In A Christian University- A Shocking Example-
http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/false-teaching-in-a-christian-university-a-shocking-example/

NNU: Symbol of What’s Wrong In Our Christian Schools:
http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/author-of-heretical-book-proudly-welcomed-at-northwest-nazarene/

The Road to Catholicism- Mindless Retreats-http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-road-to-catholicism-in-the-nazarene-church-mindless-retreats/

Don’t Forget Our Students On YThe Front Lines:
http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/dont-forget-our-students-on-the-front-lines/

Taizé: Interspiritual Worship at NNU- http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/taize-interspiritual-worship-promoted-at-northwest-nazarene-university/

Author of The Shack Welcomed At NNU:
http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/author-of-heretical-book-proudly-welcomed-at-northwest-nazarene/