All This Fuss About Inspiration

By John Henderson

It is becoming apparent to me that the attempts to discredit and diminish the Scriptures are foundational to all postmodern errors}

Our times (which I believe are the End Times) are replete with openly conflicting ideas about the inspiration of the Scriptures. This is just one among other key issues that are clearly connected. Sadly, the championing of anything other than the complete inspiration of the Scriptures is coming from within the evangelical community, especially the so-called holiness movement—and especially from much of the Church of the Nazarene leadership and those in positions of influence.

I have been around long enough to remember that only “modernists” openly espoused such nonsense as is being espoused by today’s neo-orthodox adherents in our midst. At that time, those of us in the evangelical circles never questioned among ourselves the inerrancy, authenticity, authority, and total reliability of the inspiration of the Scriptures. About all we discussed was how the Scriptures were inspired—verbal, dictatorial, or plenary. Otherwise, we were in complete agreement that the Word of God was the Word of God. That was never questioned among us.

There were those in academia who may have been doing philosophical diggings and speculations but they were so vague to us that we didn’t pay them a whole lot of attention. No one seemed to pay them much mind one way or the other until they had gained a menacing foothold in our organizations and control began to slip through our fingers and into their grasp.

Well, we should have! Slowly—incrementally—they managed to create a major shift in the way many of the supercilious among the evangelicals look at the Scriptures. (I make a distinction between those “among us” and those who were actually of us).

No longer do they take God at His Word, if they ever did. They question His Word. They do not question us. They challenge His Word. They do not challenge us. A pigeon may as well challenge a jumbo jet, but they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Their own deception is deeply rooted in them and they think they can somehow out-maneuver God and bring Him in line with their opinions. Just like their father, the devil, they presume to ascend to the very throne of God. They cannot rise to His level so, in their own imagination, try to pull Him down to theirs. I think they may be stupid enough to think they actually do.

It is a fantasy, to be sure, but they are completely insensible to that fact. The imaginary god they have re-invented goes along with them very well but they do not comprehend that the God of creation will have nothing to do with their foolishness and is becoming increasingly agitated with the whole affair.

It is becoming apparent to me that the attempts to discredit and diminish the Scriptures are foundational to all postmodern errors. That is where it all begins. That is where it is all deeply rooted. A synthetic concept of tarnished Scriptures is the very hub of all modern apostasy. An honored and cherished Scriptures is the obvious antidote.

It has been said that you become what you eat. Someone may have also said that you are what you think. The Scriptures do tell us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). It is a foregone conclusion that a person follows through most readily on the things that occupy the mind the most. Facts—truth—has no bearing on that at all. Most people tend to argue from the standpoint of a prior accumulation of subjective opinion. At some point, arbitrarily biased opinion replaces facts and evidence as the authority in a matter.

There is a reason that Paul admonishes in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Humanity is tragically flawed, especially when it come to the mind and the exercise of free-will. We are so overly proud of our puny mental abilities and boast like a hen that just laid an egg as if that was really something. We desperately need the right guidance and the only source of absolute truth is the Bible.

Some say that the Bible is relevant only in matters concerning salvation. That can be true only in the sense that everything in creation is relative to salvation in some way. Actually, everything is relative to the glory of God and that includes salvation. When the Bible speaks of “scientific” matters, it points to the glory of God. The same is true of all other topics the Bible engages. “Science” and its earthy companions are useless aside from how it all glorifies God. To try to separate them as somehow superior to biblical revelation is a false premise. It becomes a house of cards that is easily tumbled by the slightest breeze of truth.

So the hammers continue to pound against the anvil of God’s Word. The Anvil still stands and the hammers break, one by one, and fall into the dust of fading memories. There will be many more hammers but there will only be the one Anvil. Each hammer will think it will be the one to break the Anvil only to finally break apart itself.

Psalm 119:160 – “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”

​John Henderson

 

Fo further reference: Is The Bible Inspired?

 

Battle For The Mind

The following is a followup article by John Henderson after writing an extensive review of Dr. Harry Rimmer’s book, Internal Evidence of Inspiration.  You can download the entire review here.  You can also read the review on my blog at this link.  Thank you to John for an excellent review of Dr. Rimmer’s book on such an important topic.

Battle For The Mind*, by John Henderson, Nov. 2013

After having sent out a 17-article review of an excellent book on the internal evidence of inspiration of the Bible, I realize it was only a small bit of the information that needs to be settled in the hearts and minds of the people of God.  They are the only ones that will ever grasp its truth, and I am disinclined to debate the carnal-minded and heresy-oriented about it.  It is ultimately a matter of the heart, of a personal relationship with Christ through salvation. That is how we understand the things of God. The heart is the seat of understanding, but the agency God uses to reach the heart is through the mind.  Satan attacks the mind with deceptions and God enhances the obedient mind of the redeemed with truth.

Harry Rimmer acknowledged the agency of the devil in his arguments but did not specifically deal with it at length in his book on internal evidences of inspiration. Satan seeks whom he may devour and does so by attacking the mind. 

A systematic study of Satan and his activities and agencies is known as demonology.  Demon activity is as real as it ever has been but is more subtle than ever, traveling about in many disguises.  It may be rawer in flourishing paganism but is no less dangerous wearing a tuxedo on Park Avenue.  In fact, it may be more dangerous under “civilized” disguises.

Paul expressed his concern to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 11:3 (Amplified Bible): “But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  Eve is a real person of history who is a prophetic symbol of the Christian experience when encountering deception.  Sin may have come through the first man but deception came through the first woman.  It was deception that led to sin.

The most important battle of our times is over the control of the mind, both in the world and among the people of God.  Control for Satan is clear—to oppose God by damaging His Church.  Control for human beings is totally selfish.  Brought together, they are spiritually explosive and destructive in every direction.

We are engaged in a warfare that is not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 19:3-5).  It cannot be won politically, socially, economically, intellectually, or militarily.  It is waged on the spiritual plane and that is where it is won or lost.

This battle attempts to overthrow the strongholds of Christ-centered reasoning.  Either Satan will prevail or God’s forces will make every thought captive to His will and way.  The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe the truth and it takes the light of revelation to shine on such darkened minds and bring them over to Christ.

Humanity by nature is carnal, reprobate, and blind.  It is at enmity with God and opposes Him “naturally” because of people being born in iniquity. They are enemies of God in the mind and then in behavior.

That mind can only be reached and conquered for Christ by the proclamation of the Scriptures.  If the supernatural revelations of the Scriptures are replaced by the deceptive counterfeits of truth and people turn away from the Word of God, there can be no illumination of the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit, God’s only Agent of truth, uses the people of God to express His truth.  Charlatans of deception soon run out of ways to deceive but they can keep repeating and many never catch on.  In very truth, the soul that would know Christ must look and live, just as shown by the lifted serpent in the wilderness.  If the mind is blocked by deception, the revelation of the Holy Spirit will not penetrate until the heart and mind is turned towards Him.

It comes to an important need in the Church—sanctification.  We have well-stated doctrines about sanctification but few seem to actually put it to practice.  A double-minded Christian is hampered by the nature of the old mind and will just as easily distort the truth as an intentional opponent from the devil.  The Christian mind not only needs to be delivered but fully delivered in holiness.  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ” is the command.  Many get new hearts but hold onto the old head.  Worldliness in the believer is more destructive to truth than paganism.

We can win the battle but it takes the full armor of God and a complete readiness to enter the battle.  If we are being distracted by allurements around us, may God save us from ourselves and equip us for this battle.

 


* This article is inspired by a tract by Jessie Penn-Lewis of the same title and follows the general idea of the tract with application for this day and time.

Internal Evidence of Inspiration, Part II

Internal Evidence of Inspiration, Part II

Betrayal is the most treacherous of the undermining of others.  When Rimmer said that higher criticism’s second purpose was to pretend to be Bible-friendly but actually betray what it purported to support, he was describing the deepest sedition possible.  Like Judas, higher criticism and its hell-impregnated whore-daughter, the emergent church, haughtily seek only the downfall of the Scriptures only for its own temporal gain.  Like Judas, the time will come when its own judgment will fall upon its head but it closes a blind eye to that as if that somehow will make it not happen.

Purpose is the core feature of intentions.  Betraying the Scriptures through feigned allegiance is its design, its objective.  It never intends to honor and support the Word of God in any way.  So-called higher criticism may have presented itself as defending the Bible from the attacks of atheists and “radical rationalists”[1] for a while but it actually became agreeable partners with them.  Higher critics are ripe recruits for atheism and many of the character in the church have heartily joined them.  Rimmer states that the Bible “would have suffered untold harm and eternal defeat from these false followers, had it not been the inspired, infallible Word of God.”  Any other document could not have survived the attacks. God’s Word is undefeatable, thank the Lord!

While the methods of higher criticism (equivalent to modern neo-orthodoxy and postmodernism) are varied, their technique “is broad enough to embrace any procedure that eventually will discredit the text of the Scriptures.”  The more in and among us they can be, the more damaging they can be—much like the termites that destroyed that Bible in the picture.

Rimmer describes some and there are others we know of in our own times.  They all follow the same pattern of using some method to discredit the Scriptures:  language idiosyncrasies, incomplete and poor historical “facts”, false applications of scientific theory, etc.  “So, in every case where higher criticism has depended upon literary peculiarity, external evidences, theories of science, and supposed history to discredit the Book, the critics have found a Waterloo in each of these chosen fields.”  They ruled our God and the supernatural and judged His Book by natural means only.  They were big game hunters armed with fishing rods.

The wise student of the Bible “proceeds upon the premise that this Book, being in a class by itself, must be studied by rules peculiar to itself….When a supernatural book is measured entirely by a natural standard, the inquirer remains in ignorance of its content and its purpose.”

The critic of the inspired Scriptures takes the first step in repudiating the Bible by setting aside the doctrine of revelation.  Truth is always revelational and that holds especially for the Scriptures.  This becomes the critic’s lynchpin for declaring the sacred record of God as myth, allegory, poetical imagination, etc. and thus declaring the whole Bible at great variance with modern science.  I still hear exactly that today!  As Rimmer boldly and accurately says, these wolves in sheep’s clothing seek to hand back to the Church an emasculated edition of the Bible that is robbed of its soul-saving and supernatural power.

Although the pattern of attack is similar among them, then as now, there has never been unanimity among them.  The more radical critics admit to infidelity.  They deny Christ’s deity and “offer us a humanistic personage who is the flower of evolution.”  They ask us to “worship a defeated and baffled martyr whose tragedy eventuated because he was born centuries too soon.”  Modernism (and now postmodernism) try to hand us a beautiful and appealing Jesus who is the leader of a lost cause.  This leads to their also setting aside the atonement by calmly ignoring every element of the supernatural in the life of the Son of God.

The more “conservative” critics of the Scriptures will claim to believe in certain kinds of inspiration.  “They even talk of the relationship of Christ to God and profess to see some measure of benefit in His atonement.  They talk glibly of the spiritual benefit of the Bible, as seen from their point of view.”   They stand in pulpits, sit in chairs of colleges and seminaries, and hold high positions in the church while “seeking to arm us with rubber weapons from an arsenal that no longer contains the sword of the Spirit.  They offer a questionable Scripture as the premise of a possible salvation.”

They are void of legitimate logic and use false reasoning to undermine dependence on the Bible as the authoritative revelation from God.  They diminish the records that tell of Christ into something bogus and thus present a faulty concept of Jesus.  If what they claim should be true, the human race would still lost in sin and we must wait for another Savior.

It comes to this.  We have a choice between the orthodox (revealed truth in the Scriptures as self-evident) or the false premise of modernism, postmodernism, and the emergent church heresy concerning the Scriptures.  The difference is this:

“The orthodox hypothesis [premise] is—Almighty God revealed the matter and inspired the writers of the Bible.

“The critical theory [notion] is—The Book is a natural development written by men more or less overruled by God. (It may be said in passing that the ‘more or less’ is determined entirely by the scholar’s own views.)”

There is evidence in the Bible itself, book by book, that proves its own genuineness as being the inerrantly inspired Word of God.  It is a matter of seeing it for what it is and what is on its pages.  It is a matter of being led and taught by the Holy Spirit as the legitimate Revealer of truth.  One needs no other argument than the declaration of the Bible itself.  Any honest and objective analysis of the Bible will support its right to its claim of divine inspiration.

These three articles have sought to establish what the issue is—the question of divine inspiration and absolute authority of the sixty-six books of the Bible and its nature of internal evidence. 

The coming articles will address six key sources of internal evidence under the topics as stated by Rimmer:  Who chose the books of the Bible? The need of revelation; The claims of the prophets; The claims of the apostles; The testimony of Jesus Christ; and The voice of prophecy. I will try to condense key thoughts as much as possible so as to produce as few articles as possible while covering those things that matter most in understanding and internalizing the truth that the Bible proves its own divine inspiration.


[1] Radical rationalists = and extreme form of the theory that holds that reason alone, unaided by experience, can arrive at basic truth.

Internal Evidence of Inspiration, Part I

By John Henderson

“Jesus Christ is God’s last revelation to man….because Christianity is a personal revelation of a personal Saviour from personal sin, Christianity rests upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[1]  Continuing in the next paragraph, Rimmer further asserts:  “But it also rests upon a documentary record.  The sixty-six books of the Bible, as we now possess it, constitute the basis and foundation of Christianity.”  As I quoted him in the previous article, “It is axiomatic that nothing can endure if its foundation is destroyed.”

The author makes the argument that with Christianity the foundation of our faith is the Bible because there is nowhere else where we can learn the precepts of Christ.  External systems of accurate information concerning salvation in Christ do not exist. “It is folly,” he says, “for men to claim that they believe in Jesus Christ, when they reject the sole source of evidence that tells of Him.”  He takes note of the criticism and sneering about the Word of God in liberal pulpits, institutional classrooms, the daily press, and even Sunday supplements “with all the ghastly nonsense produced by a past generation of higher criticism.”

A study of so-called higher criticism is a task in itself and I must presume my readers either know something about it or can easily find out through Internet research.  Suffice to say that it is still about and largely identifies the emergent movement of today.

Rimmer assures us that it was never God’s design that His written Word stand on external evidence alone.  Although natural sciences, when handled faithfully, always add luster and testimony to the value and integrity of the Book of God by providing supporting proof that constitutes them as reserve battalions in contending for the faith, the Bible—every book of it—provides proof of its own inspiration aside from all of that.

The enemies of biblical truth in the 1930s are apparently no different than those of our generation.  Rimmer refers to Jude’s description in verse 4 as being prophetic:  “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Rimmer says that the term, “crept in unawares” is an odd and unusual Greek phrase which, literally, is “to creep in sideways.”  He then says:  “Just so in our generation, the church is troubled by men who are seeking to gain possession of the church and thus displace those who remain true to the ancient foundation of our historic faith.”  He thus paraphrases the Jude verse, “’There are certain men who have crept in crab-wise,’” and comments: “These scuttling crustacea look one honestly in the eyes, as though they were coming one’s way, but sneak off sideways and go on their own way.”  He adds that we are criticized for disturbing the peace when we raise an outcry against the presence of a burglar.  [I have to keep reminding myself that Rimmer is not talking about the early 2000s, but the 1930s.]

Rimmer establishes four principles of inspiration:

1. The Bible is a revelation from God and is, therefore, a supernatural Book.  It is not an evolution of human wisdom but rather an involution by inspiration (God-breathed revelation).

2. The content is verbal and plenary, rendering the Scriptures as hinging on the plenary[2] authority of the Bible.

3. The original manuscripts are inerrant—free from error of any kind, including historical accuracy and scientific credibility.

4. Every book of the Bible is absolutely authentic (Moses did write the books ascribed to him; a man named Isaiah wrote the prophecy that bears his name; and so for every book of both Testaments).  This point is vital because the credibility of Jesus rests on His accuracy in ascribing certain books of the Old Testament to their traditional authors.

Having previously described the principle of scientific inquiry by verifying or refuting an hypothesis based on the evidence, and concluding that the inspiration of the Scriptures are beyond being an hypothesis, having provided its own proof, Rimmer describes the approach by “higher criticism” as an attempt to repudiate the texts of Scripture upon a basis of imagined errors in the structure of the text.  He compares that to trying to study astronomy with a pick and shovel, and states:  “The higher critical method is to presume that the Bible contains error and fallacy, and then seek to establish that premise.”

In other words, they seek to repudiate the supernatural element of the Scriptures with the laws of natural human reasoning and “scores of times their conclusions have been demonstrated to have been rooted in prejudice and error rather than in historical fact.”  Even when faced with their own errors, they hold tenaciously to them, bitterly refusing to surrender to fact.

Part II will pick up where the second purpose of higher criticism is to present itself as a friend of the Bible while betraying it like a Judas.

Dr. Gran’pa

(John Henderson)

________________________________________

[1] This continues the discussion from Dr. Harry Rimmer’s book, “Internal Evidence of Inspiration,” with all quotes from his book unless otherwise indicated.  This is the second article following an introduction article.  Each “part” will be numbered in sequence, beginning with this article.

[2] Plenary = full, complete, unlimited, entire, whole

Square Peg Nonsense in False Theology

In the following guest article by John Henderson, he discusses a recent Nazarene pastoral training conference conducted by Dr. Al Truesdale, and material Truesdale used including a document by theologian Robert Branson.  In a previous post, I refuted Dr. Truesdale’s continuing attempts, along with others, to re-write history and say that Nazarenes were never fundamentalists.  Truesdale was my former Greek New Testament professor at ENC and was an excellent instructor, but he has it all wrong in the matter of scriptural inerrancy and John Wesley’s position on it.  The material from Dr. Branson is also very suspect and does not make any biblical sense, as John points out.  It is no surprise that both men are members of Nazarenes Exploring Evolution, which is trying very hard to make the heretical belief in evolution the de facto, unofficial position of the Church of the Nazarene.  We clearly need more theologians who are true to the Bible, and not their own imaginations.  Rev. Henderson has asked us the proper question here: How absolutely foolish can it become? 

Square Peg Nonsense in False Theology

Oct. 7, 2013, By John Henderson

How absolutely foolish can it become?  If the emergent movement ever beats folks such as I, it will be that they wear us down with foolishness, but never by reason or evidence of truth.  I came across what seemed to be a handout of sorts and assume it was at the recent pastoral training conference for the Nazarene’s Tennessee District conducted by Dr. Al Truesdale.

I actually came across two documents from that event.  One was Truesdale’s outline of his presentation wherein he appears to have attempted to trace the idea of “fundamentalism” historically by tying it into the John Darby movement of a pre-tribulation rapture and Calvinism.  I had received a notice of the event from the district office and responded politely that I could demonstrate historically that Nazarenes were traditionally fundamentalists right along with the Calvinists.  Also, the Church of the Nazarene does not take an official stand on the theories of millennialism but allows all three and their variations.

It seemed, from the outline, that Truesdale was attempting to teach that Nazarenes and John Wesley were never “fundamentalists.”   I do not wish to actually address that issue here because the idea is well-refuted in other places and I think I have dealt with it enough for the moment.  It is the second document that concerns me and I am puzzled that it would have been included in the presentation for any reason without rebuttal by the presenter, unless he supports its assertions.

It is a short document by Robert Branson, Emeritus Professor of Bible Studies, Olivet Nazarene University, August, 2013.  It is titled:  “A Day In the Wilderness (An Illustration of ‘accommodation’ in the Bible).”

It is presented in an imaginary setting of Moses entering the tent of meeting where he uttered a casual “Good morning, God.” And there was a table with parchments and pens.  God told Moses to write how He had created the universe.  I quote:

“’Before time and space began, before anything existed, thirteen billion years ago, I formed a singularity of tightly compacted energy and matter.  In three-thousands of a second it exploded sending energy and matter in all directions.  Time and space began.

“’I commanded gravity to collect the matter into billions of galaxies of stars.  The angels watched as giant red stars such as VY Canis Majoris and white dwarfs such as Siri​us B burst forth​ in light.  They were astonished as subatomic particles such as quarks formed hydrons such as protons and neutrons.

“’I shaped planets out of the remnants of stars and gave particular attention to the one I called Earth.  Four and half billion years ago it was a ball of molten lava which soon cooled.  Out of its toxic methane environment I caused the first living cells to form.  Then a little over two billion years ago blue-green algae formed and began to free oxygen into the air.  A billion years later invertebrate animals evolved and then vertebrate animals.  The Earth was alive with plant and animal life.  The oceans were filled with fish of every kind and description.  Soon humans would appear.’

“’Moses, are you getting all this down.  The parchment looks empty.’

“’Forgive me, God.  I have a question.’

“’Yes?’

“’What’s a billion?”

“After a few seconds of silence, God said, ‘Hmmm.  Get a clean sheet of parchment and write down these words.’

“’In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and…’”

It is extremely difficult to respond to utter foolishness, but I will try.

First, the imaginary setting is plagued with both scientific and theological errors.  The casual meeting between God and Moses is irreverent towards God.  That may have set the tone for the outlandish dialog that followed.  Compared to God, man is certainly not bright but the punch line seems to say that we are too dense to understand what an “educated” scientist easily grasps so God had to resort to a simplistic summary of sorts, knowing that we would manage to misinterpret it with fictional concoctions.

Not only does Dr. Branson need to revisit the Scriptures, but he should consider either getting his scientific data straight or leaving it to those who really understand research and discovery—the only thing “science” can actually do.

This is an anemic and silly attempt to promote the demonic doctrine of creation by evolution—a concept that the atheistic evolutionists reject.  In other words, phony theologians have bought into the atheistic ideas of evolution but vainly try to rationalize beyond reason to force-fit it into a wild idea that God was somehow behind it all.  Dr. Truesdale’s Square Peg  book was part of his presentation.  Talk about a square peg in a round hole, however, Dr. Branson’s attack on revelational truth takes the prize cake.  I wonder why it was part of the presentation.  I have one question.  How far is one willing to go to reject the plainness of the Scriptures?

Resource:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2008/10/20/debate-finally

A Wesleyan Response To The Nazarene Rejection Of Scriptural Inerrancy

At the General Assembly 2013, the Church of the Nazarene’s Scripture Study Committee rejected a proposal to strengthen the statement on Scripture and affirm the inerrancy of the Bible.  I believe that this will prove to be a catastrophic decision for the denomination.  We reported on this decision and commented on its many weak statements and inaccurate reasoning and excuses.  The following is a response to the report by a Wesleyan professor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  There is a serious divide right now between the Wesleyan Church, and the Nazarene Church, in their official positions regarding the infallibility of God’s word.  Leaders of the church should take note.  (The full text of the Committee Report, including critiques, can be read in the Final General Assembly Report I posted).

 

THE NAZARENE SCRIPTURE STUDY COMMITTEE’S REPORT ON INERRANCY: A WESLEYAN RESPONSE

By E. Jerome Van Kuiken
Asst. Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Oklahoma Wesleyan University

WHAT’S INVOLVED AND WHY IT MATTERS

The 2009 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene received a proposal to change the denomination’s Article of Faith on Scripture. The proposed change would have strengthened the Article’s statement on the inerrancy of the Bible.  The proposal was sent to the Scripture Study Committee, which reported back to the General Assembly this past summer. In its report, the Scripture Study Committee recommended against adopting the proposal and gave a rationale for its recommendation. The report has been published at http://didache.nazarene.org. This report deserves the attention of Wesleyan leaders for two reasons: first, The Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene have considered merger in the recent past; and secondly, the report is being discussed on the Wesleyan Pastors Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/WesleyanPastors/. In what follows, I will describe the context of the report and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

 

THE CONTEXT OF THE REPORT

The proposed revision to the Nazarene Article of Faith on Scripture needs to be seen in light of the merger talks that have been going on between the Church of the Nazarene, The Wesleyan Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU), and the Evangelical Friends Church. If the Nazarene Article of Faith were revised to say that Scripture is “inerrant throughout, and the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach,” it would bring the Nazarene Article in line with the Wesleyan, CCCU, and Evangelical Friends’ statements of faith:

“We believe that the books of the Old and New Testament . . . are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority” (Wesleyan Art. 5)

“The Spirit of God guided the Bible writers so that they wrote without error. The Bible contains all we need to know about God, about ourselves, and about life here and hereafter.” (http://www.cccuhq.org/explore/who-we-are/what-we-teach)

“We believe the Bible is the written word of God accurate and fully authoritative in all it says.” (http://www.evangelicalfriends.org/beliefs)

By recommending against the proposed change, the Nazarene Scripture Study Committee has allowed an obstacle to merger to remain in place.

STRENGTHS OF THE REPORT

The report’s rationale for its recommendation begins by building bridges to those who believe that the Bible is “inerrant throughout”: the committee agrees that the Bible is foundational to Christian believing and living. Section 1 of the rationale describes the strengths of the current Nazarene Article on Scripture. This whole section is full of sound teaching on the reliability and sufficiency of Scripture – except for the last two paragraphs, which begin the critique of the “inerrant throughout” position. This critique continues through the remaining three sections of the report. The report’s critique suffers from one major missing piece and several misrepresentations.

 

THE MISSING PIECE

The report nowhere quotes or cites any statement by supporters of “inerrancy throughout.” This leaves the report’s writers free to describe the “inerrancy throughout” position any way they like and leads to several misrepresentations (to be described shortly). In particular, the report never deals with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (accessible, among other places, here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html). The Chicago Statement is the most enduring, ecumenical authority on the “inerrancy throughout” position. It directly addresses a number of the alleged problems with “detailed inerrancy” (round numbers, topical ordering of events, etc.) listed in Section 3 of the Nazarene report.

 

MISREPRESENTATIONS

At the end of Section 1, the Nazarene report equates “inerrancy throughout” with “factual literal accuracy of every part of Scripture.” No one who accepts the Chicago Statement will make that equation: the place of metaphor, hyperbole, and other literary devices in Scripture is recognized.  Belief in full inerrancy doesn’t require a flat-earth view of Genesis, a “Left Behind” view of Revelation, or a hyper-literalistic view of any biblical book in between the two.

Throughout Sections 2-4 of the report there’s a tendency to equate belief in “inerrancy throughout” with Calvinism and fundamentalism, and so as contrary to Wesleyan theology. I’m afraid that this is a caricature. First, on Calvinism: Belief in full inerrancy is held by a number of non-Calvinist denominations, such as:

·      the Wesleyan and Friends bodies named above (plus others)

·      the Free Will Baptists (http://nafwb.org/?page_id=325)

·      the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) (http://www.lcms.org/doctrine/scripturalprinciples#IV)

·      The Roman Catholic Church up to, and arguably including, Vatican II (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8441)

Even if Calvinists pioneered the term or refined the concept, that doesn’t make the doctrine any more Calvinist than using the term and concept “Trinity” makes us all Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. John Wesley learned much from Catholic mystics and Lutherans; did that make him Catholic or Lutheran? Nazarenes and Wesleyans didn’t get believer’s baptism from Wesley; does that make them Mennonite?

Secondly, on fundamentalism: This is a slippery word. To more liberal Christians, anyone who believes in the bodily resurrection of Christ is a “fundamentalist.” The term connotes anti-intellectualism and disengagement from society. Does belief in full inerrancy automatically mean that kind of fundamentalism? Not unless Wheaton College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are “fundamentalist.” The statements of faith of these institutions affirm the full inerrancy of Scripture, yet they are centers of evangelical thought and cultural engagement. I read literature by self-avowed fundamentalists and I find overwhelming differences between them and myself on any number of issues.

 

BOTTOM LINE: “BIG TENT” OR “BIG BROTHER”?

Near the close of its last section, the Nazarene report quotes from an editor of the denominational periodical, the Herald of Holiness. The editor claims that there’s room enough under the present Nazarene Article on Scripture for both those who believe in full inerrancy and those who don’t. This sounds like a tolerant, “Big Tent” approach to the issue. The problem is that the editor, like the report itself, also describes believers in full inerrancy as Calvinist, fundamentalist, and outside the bounds of Wesleyanism. The underlying message is clear: “You can belong to our denomination and still believe in full inerrancy – as long as you accept that you’re wrong.” This demand for doublethink is closer to “Big Brother” than to “Big Tent.” So long as The Wesleyan Church’s affirmation of full inerrancy is viewed by Nazarene leaders as un-Wesleyan, a tragic tension will remain in the relationship between the two denominations. This tension can be relaxed by clearing away the misrepresentations and listening to what responsible, representative teaching on full inerrancy (like the Chicago Statement) has to say.

 

General Assembly Final Report: What Is The Future Of The Church of the Nazarene?

“Was our Lord shooting the first century churches in Revelation 2 and 3 when He walked in their midst and exposed their sins and failures, and commanded them to repent? The kindest and most biblical thing a faithful servant of God can do is expose unscriptural conduct to lead to repentance, lest God step in and judge severely and chasten in a most severe manner. I think the worst chastening that we could receive from the hand of God is if He would just leave us alone and let us go on in our compromise. We are so bent on exalting man and lightly esteeming the Word of God.  One day, we will be like Samson when it is said, ‘he wist not that the Lord had departed from him’ (Judges 16:20). May God be gracious and wake us up to listen to the rebuke of those who see the error in our faith and practice. No man is above rebuke. May we come to see the love and grace in those who would be so kind as to rebuke us.”  (Pastor Wilbert Unger)

 

[Download extended document here: Gen Assembly Report Extended V1.  This includes the GA summary, plus over 150 pages of selected reports.]

Opening Observations:

The General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene concluded June 29, 2013.  There were no big surprises, other than a few “new” things added to the growing apostasy.  The denomination of which I have been a member all my life is a holiness church in word only.  The Church of the Nazarene is dying spiritually, is splitting up into two very different sides, and both cannot be simultaneously obeying God.  It is a sad thing for me to report, and I can imagine friends with tears in their eyes, realizing that I am confirming what they already know.  Except for a few local churches that remain strong biblically, there is no evidence of a sound denomination that is staying true to biblical principles.  The Church of the Nazarene could not be compared to the church of Smyrna, or Philadelphia.  What the Church of the Nazarene has become is a combination of the other five churches that the Lord had very little good to say about.

I do not regret reporting this, although it saddens me.   Who relishes being a bearer of bad news?  I did not ask for all this to happen.  I did not ask to be forced out of a church because I stood up for the word of God, and neither did many other Nazarenes.  I did not ask to see pastors fired for preaching against heresy.  I did not ask for email upon email notifying me of heartbreak as faithful brothers and sisters were vilified and ostracized by pastors or district leaders.  I wanted to live my life as faithfully as I could, and all I was worrying about was keeping the world’s influence from corrupting my children.  Now our bigger concerns are for the children that are being corrupted- from within the Church of the Nazarene.

Like cancer cells, the emergent church disease has infected the major parts of the body of the denomination, and it is here to stay.  It is a done deal, and there should be no delusions that it will go away.  It would take a miracle of God to eradicate this disease.  In four years, the General Superintendents of the church have not tried to stop it, have not even spoken out against it, and essentially, they have enabled it and therefore should take full responsibility for letting the foxes into the henhouse.  The greatest responsibility for the demise of this denomination lies with these men who are charged with protecting the church.

 

The Failure of Our Leaders

General Superintendent Emeritus Jesse Middendorf has been a longtime promoter of emergent ideology along with his son Jon.  Jerry Porter has been a strong advocate of the Master Plan (G12), a program that has torn apart many churches, particularly Hispanic congregations. The denomination has also embraced many elements of Roman Catholicism, a false religion that my father was saved from.  As a Nazarene chaplain once told a student privately a few years ago, “we are becoming Roman Catholic.”  This is true.  Look at the emphasis now on Lent, on giving up something for Lent, on the “Eucharist”, on putting ashes on the forehead; a greater focus on Advent rituals, on Maundy Thursday, prayer labyrinths, prayer stations, and Roman Catholic speakers at the universities.  Yet gullible Nazarenes are watching it unfold before their eyes, sitting in their pews taking in everything without question.

Silence is not an excuse.  Some General Superintendents have been complicit by their silence, or by their participation in endeavors with organizations that have compromised with the world.  Stan Toler and Jerry Porter are advisory committee members of a radical social justice group called the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, headed by a Nazarene pastor who every year promotes a paganistic and unholy festival called Wildgoose.  A third Nazarene leader, Pastor  Oliver R. Phillips, is also on this committee.  And all six General Superintendents from the past four years were signatories to another radical program called The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition which does nothing but divide Nazarenes who are on opposite sides of a serious political issue.  These endeavors by our spiritual leaders is a total waste of time, instead of focusing on preaching the Gospel.  Their complicity in allowing the Roman Catholization of the church is also to be noted.  Recently, Dr. Eugenio Duarte put his stamp of approval on the observation of Lent, a Roman Catholic rite that has become wildly popular in many churches and districts, and certainly all the other Generals must also approve of it.

Nevertheless, whether they are active promoters or silent bystanders, they have all failed in their duty to provide leadership to the church as outlined in the church Manual.  More seriously, they have failed in their duties as shepherds of the church as outlined in Scripture.  In the same manner, many of the college leaders (such as Dan Boone and Dr. Karl Leth) and many district superintendents have been active in their promotion or allowing of the heresies that have damaged the church, while other presidents have stood silently by, as if that would absolve them of any responsibility.

There are the currently uninfected parts (the few strong local churches) that are at times seen as detriments to the “progress” of the denomination, and will most likely be dealt with, one congregation at a time, until they either fall in line, are closed down, or are forced to leave.  One of the most critical moments in these churches will be when a pastor retires, and a replacement is needed.  If the people are not aware of the apostasy around them, they will be vulnerable, and the wrong choice for a pastor could mean the end of a Bible-believing church.

 

We are facing an onslaught of false teachings:

The Bible has been rejected as God’s inerrant word and our only true source of authority; evolution is being taught as fact, replacing God’s account of creation and denying the truth of Scripture; Genesis 1-11 is considered merely allegory and the existence of a literal Adam and Eve is denied; teaching of mystical practices connected to Eastern religions, and a movement towards a Christianity based on feelings, instead of clear truth expressed in Scripture; the promotion of the social “gospel” in place of the Gospel of salvation from sin; softening of the biblical stance on homosexuality, becoming one of “affirmation” and acceptance of homosexual “Christians”; false teachers such as Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, and Rob Bell are invited to speak to students and even pastors, or their books are used in theology courses as “good” resources; indoctrination and acceptance of Roman Catholic mysticism and rituals, and promotion of books by Catholic mystics; environmentalism and “community” being emphasized to the detriment of the true Gospel message; retreats to Roman catholic monasteries to practice the silence; imitating the world with the Harlem Shake dance at the colleges, and even at an Easter church service; an ecumenical joining with radical and unbiblical religious and political groups; the teaching of occultism at Nazarene Theological Seminary; program after program such as The Master’s Plan (G-12) that is ripping apart congregations; and much more that is destroying the church from within.

 

The following assessments and conclusions are based on four years of research and reporting, and on gathering as much information from the events at General Assembly.  There is much more that will not be covered here, so I have attempted to highlight the most critical issues.  The sole motivation for this report is out of love for fellow believers.  I call upon all Nazarenes and other Christians to not forsake their responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God, which includes warning the flock of false teaching.  The church is dividing.  However, what is happening should not be surprising, because our Lord Himself asked Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51

 

A. Two Significant developments from the General Assembly that have further weakened a once strong denomination:

Confirmed By The General Assembly: The Bible Contains Error And Is Not Fully Reliable

The most serious and damaging issue is that which affects the foundation of our doctrine and faith: how the Nazarene church views the Holy Scriptures.  The 66 books of the Bible are God’s written revelation to us, and reveals to us not only the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, but reveals Truth in all aspects of what is written.  God’s infallible word says that “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160).

Yet, the rejection of a simple and clear resolution on Scripture, which was set aside for “study” four years ago, is the most emphatic act a General Assembly and its leadership could do to make a clear statement to all on where it stands.  The finality of their rejection of the resolution shows us that the Church of the Nazarene does not, and may never again, affirm that the Bible is true in all its parts.  If you state that the Bible has errors, then that opens the door to anyone choosing to believe what they want to believe, and reject what they want to reject, and it is calling God a liar.

The Scripture Committee’s Report is appended at the end of this report and also attached as a pdf.  (The text in red and in blue are comments by James Scullin and Allen Marsh).  I will note to you one statement, found towards the end of the document, which perhaps reveals their most urgent reason to reject an affirmation of the inerrancy of the Bible:

“Not only is the detailed inerrancy view at variance with Wesleyan theology, and repudiated by leading Nazarene theologians, but if Article IV were to be amended to restrict us to that particular view of Scripture, the present breadth which can comprehend both views would be replaced by this narrower fundamentalist view. Since Nazarene theologians and biblical scholars as a whole would be very strongly opposed to this narrowing of this Article of Faith, as would many leading pastors and lay people, such a move would threaten a very serious division in the denomination. The division and severe crisis and pain seen in other denominations indicate that this could have very serious results for our unity and could do serious damage to the Church of the Nazarene.”

Three bad pieces of rationale are in this statement alone.  First, inerrancy of Scripture is not at variance with Wesleyan theology.  That is a false statement.  John Wesley himself said, “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.”  The ignoring of this, and much more that they ignore in the writings of Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley and others, betrays their shamelessly selective isolation of passages out of context to justify their faulty conclusions.

Secondly, the reliance on “leading Nazarene theologians” instead of relying on Scripture is a philosophy that is reflected throughout this document.   This is done over and over again as they rely on man’s rationale, and refuse to accept God’s word as it is plainly written.  This is a major error which contributes to the downfall of any denomination.

And thirdly, the concern of any kind of division in the denomination should never be an issue by itself, and I believe this rationale betrays the real reason for rejecting the inerrancy of God’s word.  This I believe is the main reason that they refuse to confess a belief in the truthfulness of all Scripture.  The irony is that this is already causing great division in the denomination, and Bible believers will not put up with this, and many of them will separate from the Church of the Nazarene on this basis alone.  What will eventually be left are two camps: the Bible rejecters, and the Bible believers who will be marginalized by the apostates.

Conclusion: the leadership does not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and so as the leadership goes, so will the rest of the denomination.  In spite of this final document and its attempt to “explain” how the Bible contains mistakes, you will most likely not see any of these folks go to the local churches and tell the congregations that they do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.  I think a lot more people would simply stand up and walk away.

*Members of the Scripture Study Committee: General Superintendent Jesse Middendorf, Thomas Noble , Gary Bennett, Stephen Dillman, Bradley Estep, Thomas King (chair), Joseph Knight, Melvin McCullough, Christian Sarmiento, Arthur Snijders, Alexander Varughese (secretary), and David Wilson; Stan Ingersol and Shirley Marvin also assisted.

Homosexuality: It’s Just A Matter of Time Before A Complete Compromise

On top of the fatal error of sticking the proverbial thumb in the eye of God with the rejection of Scriptural inerrancy, is another fatal error.  The question of homosexuality is one of the biggest issues not only in society but in the church as well.  Countless denominations have succumbed to societal pressure, and have compromised God’s plain teaching about the sin of homosexuality.  The allowing of a workshop at General Assembly with the theme of an LGBT friendly church, but sorely lacking a clear Biblical solution, was bad.  But the telling part was yet again another resolution set aside for four years of study, as if the issue of homosexual sin needs further study.

This will also contribute to the downfall of the Church of the Nazarene while leading many astray.  After a very large majority voted in favor of a resolution strengthening the church’s position on homosexual sin, a motion was made to refer the resolution to the General Board for further study (remember the Scriptural resolution that was tabled four years ago).  The main excuse for this was that the church needed to make sure a comprehensive statement on all types of sexuality needed to be made.  But why not strengthen the statement on homosexuality now, and then add to it four years later?  Sadly, this motion was passed.  In a brave attempt to bring it back for re-consideration, several pastors rose and made their case.  One was a delegate of the Puerto Rico West District, Rev. Ramon Sierra, and another was the D.S. from North Florida, Dr. Orville Jenkins, Jr.  North Florida was the district that originated this well-written and biblically solid statement on the sin of homosexuality.  Speaking in opposition to their motion to reconsider was President Dan Boone of Trevecca Nazarene University.  Upon voting, the motion to re-consider failed by a fairly close vote, and now the denomination will not have a clear, strong statement on homosexual sin for at least four more years.

This is an utterly sad failure on the part of the leadership, notwithstanding one of the Generals rising after the motion was rejected, and saying that the church still stands firm on this issue.  In that case, could not have one or two of the Generals also stood with Dr. Jenkins in asking for a re-consideration?  Lack of leadership again, and perhaps politics ruled the day, or perhaps the desire to not offend someone.  They truly have forgotten that the Gospel is offensive to those who will not believe.  How shameful, and how destructive this may turn out to be for the church in four more years.

With these two critical decisions, along with all the heresies being introduced into the denomination, I believe the Church of the Nazarene is on its way to be part of the ever growing group of apostate churches that are honoring men, rather than God.  In spite of Nina Gunter’s proclamation that the church is “not in crisis”, the fact is that the church is in crisis, and perhaps on life support.  What we are left with is leaders in denial, and other leaders in total collusion with the enemies of Christ.

B.  Brief Summaries Of Other Assembly Issues:

  1. God Makes Mistakes, And Learns From His Mistakes?  A resolution that would have condemned Process Theology was defeated in committee easily.  Instrumental in allowing this heretical teaching to continue was Dan Boone, one of the most dangerous leaders in the church today.  He is president of Trevecca Nazarene University, and has helped introduce contemplative mysticism at the school, field trips to Roman catholic monasteries, error filled theology, ecumenicalism, as well as allowing a pro-homosexual radical group to speak on campus.  His very questionable arguments against the resolution sealed its fate.  Tom Oord and others can now continue teaching this heresy to our students as if it was from the Bible itself.
  2. LGBT Church? A disgraceful workshop was conducted by a church that says it is “seeking to make Christ-like disciples in the LGBT community.  Not a mention of sin until I asked a question at the end: “have there been any instances at your church where people testified that they had been freed from the sin of homosexuality?”  It is interesting that the pastor referred to my approach as similar to Exodus International’s approach, although I corrected him and stated that it was a biblical approach.  The answer was never all too clear as far as I heard it.  I stand by my conclusion that this is bad news, not good news for the church.  A standing ovation was given to this group at the end.

    This seems to be baby steps to eventual acceptance and affirmation of homosexual “Christians”.  With the Eastern Nazarene College chaplain already having boasted of worshipping with an openly homosexual pastor and congregation, LGBT support groups, the welcoming of pro-homosexual groups to campuses, and a weak official Pastoral Perspectives document.… why not?  The doors are opening wider for homosexuality becoming fully accepted in the Church of the Nazarene.

  3. Contemplative spirituality and Roman Catholicism is getting into Nazarene blood, and its all okay with the leadership.  In the workshop conducted by Mark Maddix of Northwest Nazarene University, he promoted lectio divina, and spiritual formation, and at the end, I challenged him and asked why is it the Nazarenes are bringing in all sorts of heresies and practices of the Roman Catholics.  His co-speaker also erred when he stated that the Bible came from the Roman Catholics.  He talked to us later, and when Tim Wirth asked him if he thought the Catholic gospel of salvation was the same as the Protestants he stated ” Yes, they are the same gospel of grace.”
    He did not have an answer to the question: That’s wrong they are two separate gospels, and if they are not why was there a split?”  In other words, why was there a Reformation?  Dr. Maddix apparently does not know much about the history of the Roman Catholic church and what it teaches.   Roman Catholics, as is taught by the magisterium and the Council of Trent, are not our brothers and sisters in Christ- yet, these “learned” professors and pastors have no idea what they are talking about- or are completely overwhelmed with a delusion that is very deadly.
  4. Experiencing Strange Things: Another prayer room was there, complete with the Roman Catholic feel and the icons.  The same oppressive feeling that three of us had as we approached the prayer room to enter it, and the hesitation, was a bit odd for us.  I went in later after praying first, and wrote my message to the church on the table.  There more indications that the church is helping to bring in new problems.  Experientialism is becoming more pronounced, as people are looking to “feel” and “experience” the presence of God, whatever that means. Having rejected Pentecostalism and the Azusa Street movement years ago, especially from the founder Phineas Bresee, now it seems “strange fire” is being introduced to the church again, by way of the Fire School: Living The Supernatural, conducted by Rob McCorkle and Dan Bohi.

    Then there was the encounter we had with one of the young ladies at the Fire School booth.  She insisted that the physical manifestations she had experienced were the mark of the Holy Spirit.  I asked, how do you know it’s the Holy Spirit?  And I asked again, is it possible that you could be deceived?  And we were told we were not to touch God’s anointed when we questioned Dan Bohi’s teachings.  We were finally asked to leave.  If someone thinks that feeling heavy in their arms and not being able to get up is proof of the Holy Spirit working in them, then this person is in serious trouble.  Get ready for a new wave of unsound doctrine similar to the very things Bresee warned about.

  5. Elections: Two new General Superintendents were chosen.  One, David Busic, was president of the Nazarene Theological Seminary, and as far as I know, has done nothing to change the direction it is going: into contemplative spirituality and even the teaching of an occultic course.  He has at minimum some connections to emergent ideology, including his liberal use of quotes by Phylis Tickle in his inaugural address.  I’m afraid we will find out more in time.  The second General Superintendent, Gustavo Crocker, has quite a few connections with Leonard Sweet, an emergent leader who is connected to Rick Warren and also has some strange ideas of spirituality.  I don’t know much about him, but again, time will tell as to how he will lead.  I am not optimistic.
  1. The Board Of General Superintendents: I have absolutely zero confidence in the Board of General Superintendents, nor should anyone else.  These men have failed the church.  I believe that all the evidence shows that those who were on the Board the last four years paid only lip service to the ideals and doctrines of the COTN, while allowing all sorts of heresies to damage the church, perhaps irreversibly.  We must pray that they will repent of their lack of leadership, wake up to the destruction that is happening around them, and speak the truth to the people, even at the cost of losing membership.  If not, we must hold them accountable.

    I am asking every Nazarene who reads this, and is as concerned as we are, to write a letter to the General Superintendents, or email each of them directly, and ask for answers.  Do not be satisfied with anything but direct and unambiguous answers to your questions.  Ask for specifics as to what they believe.  A good yes or no question to start with might be, “do you believe that Genesis 1-11 is allegory and not fact, and that Adam and Eve did not really exist?  And, do you believe evolution to be true?”  For a sample of possible questions, see “Questions For the Leadership.”

  2. A few other notes.  There were debates regarding infant baptism and the atonement; arguments made for not using the Nazarene name for a church, out of fear that people would not come to a Nazarene-labeled church.  We also cannot forget the terrible influence Nazarenes Exploring Evolution is having on the church, although I did not see any presentations by them.  There was a pastor who abruptly walked away from me who would not back up anything with the word of God.  His pastor friend then asked  to pray for me, when he himself is under deception.  I recalled the time when three of us could not for some reason enter into the prayer room, until I finally asked God for protection and then I went inside. There was the joy of speaking to a few pastors who told me that yes, they would hold the line, they would defend the word of God at all costs.  And then meeting with fellow Nazarenes I had known for several years only through email and Facebook.  Spending time with two friends who generously opened their home up to me was an enjoyable experience.  There was some good at this Assembly.

Conclusion

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

I believe there is a strong delusion setting into the minds of many Nazarenes today, and they are believing in many lies.  What else can explain the inexplicable ignoring of so much false teaching by the leadership, and also the deliberate turning a blind eye from the truth of what is happening, by many people in the pews, and by pastors who do not seem to be interested in warning their flock?  They are dangerously living in a bubble, keeping their congregation from knowing the dangers, and thus allowing them to be potentially exposed to error.  The seminary is turning out pastors who are in turn introducing heretical teachings to their congregations.  The pews in turn are being filled with people who are not even saved, or who are saved but are naïve and cannot or will not think for themselves.

Many Nazarenes have given their blood, sweat and tears to the Church of the Nazarene.  I think of those who sacrificed much of their time and resources such as Don and Sue Butler, who with the help of Tim Wirth produced a DVD that has gone out to thousands of Nazarenes and helped many become aware of the emergent church and its dangers.  Countless Nazarenes who for standing up for the truth have been disenfranchised and forced to leave their church, and when no other healthy Nazarene church is available, are forced to leave the denomination.

The Church of the Nazarene has become a denomination that has little interest in the truth of the Gospel and the well being of Bible believing Nazarenes, and instead as one former Nazarene said recently it is “a works-based religion with all sorts of rules and regulations, and the demand for increasing numbers of people, and increasing the bank account.”  Even that is backfiring as the church seems to be in financial crisis, part of it precipitated by the sex scandal at Bethany First Church a few years ago, which cost the denomination an undisclosed amount of money.  There is no interest in truth, because speaking the truth will often turn away people.  If the truth is hidden under the cover of “love” while ignoring the righteous judgment of God, surely more people might be added to the church daily- but how many will actually be saved?

A Message To Those Who Have Been Hurt By The Church

It is difficult to see so many years of enjoyment and pure joy at being a part of a holiness church, turn into times of anguish.  I have received many of your stories, and it is absolutely heartbreaking.  I do not cry too many tears outside, but the sorrow I feel inside is more than I had felt in all my years before four years ago.  But God has promised He will never leave you, in spite of persecution, which He says you would face.  And to the churches that are standing firmly in opposition to the apostasy, we will pray for you.

A friend wrote recently in response to a Christian who was sharing a burden for the church:

“If these are the end times, I only see a further falling away. But God has said His Word will not go out void. Where the Word is still faithfully preached and lived, there will be hope, there will be growth, there will be revival…. Instead of being humbled by the punishment of God, “Christians” are only going farther from God. Rejecting God’s discipline will lead to a seared conscience and a darker walk. But continue working while there is daylight because there is still some harvesting possible, even if these are the end times. I share your broken heart over the state of the church today. May God be with you.”

A Message To The Silent Pastors

You must tell your congregation about these things.  You may be against all these false teachings, but that is not enough.  You MUST tell your congregation the truth about it too.  They must be equipped with the knowledge of what is going on, or they will be in danger someday.  You will retire someday, and then a false teacher comes in to replace you, and soon he will bring devastation upon the church with the revisionist lies of the emergent church and other false movements.  Are you willing to take responsibility for that happening?  You are an undershepherd to the Great Shepherd, and you are charged with a much greater responsibility, and Scripture says that you will be held more accountable by God for what you teach, or what you fail to teach.

A Message To Those Who Say We Should Not Criticize the Church And Its Leaders

We are to look out for those who preach another gospel. Paul warned about those who preached “another Jesus … another spirit … or another gospel” (II Cor. 11:4). How can we know them unless we judge their Jesus, their spirit, and their gospel by the Word of God? Paul called such preachers “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (11 Cor. II: 13). He explains in v. 14-15 that these preachers are the ministers of Satan. The God-called man must be just as faithful today in exposing the ministers of Satan.

Paul warned the Galatians about those who “pervert the gospel of Christ.” He also said, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (See Gal. 1:6-9). Multitudes today are preaching a perverted gospel. Those who teach salvation by baptism, or by works, are teaching a perverted gospel. The charismatics who add signs and wonders to the gospel, Catholics, many evangelicals, and many fundamentalists (?) are preaching a perverted gospel. Yet, we are supposed to cooperate with them in evangelism and Christian work, according to many today. If we fail to expose these false prophets, then we have betrayed Christ and His gospel.”  (Tim Wirth)

 

Resources:

www.reformednazarene.wordpress.com (a blog with articles on what is going in in the churches and universities)

www.concernednazarenes.org (our official website with some basic information and links to discernment ministries)

For a free DVD about the Emergent Church: standfortruthministries@gmail.com

On Facebook:

Concerned Nazarenes (a support and information group for Nazarenes and other Christians; this group will soon be re-named to reflect its diverse mix of Nazarenes, former Nazarenes, and other Christians of like mind.  The new name will be “Nazarenes And Other Concerned Christians United”

Thanks: a great thank you goes to so many people who have endured the difficulties:  Sue and Don Butler and Tim Wirth for producing the Emergent Church DVD that has helped many Nazarenes; the speakers on the DVD; the pastors who have endured hardship and even firings and church closings; the laypeople who have suffered much.  Your reward is in heaven.

——————

 

SCRIPTURE COMMITTEE’S FINAL RESPONSE TO THE 2009 GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION JUD-805, REGARDING ARTICLE IV (THE HOLY SCRIPTURES)

 

(Including several responses by two Nazarenes)

 

[The text of the Scripture Committee report is in black text;

[Responses:  by James Scullin and Allen marsh are in italics]

Resolution JUD-805: regarding Article IV. The Holy Scriptures; to remove the phrase “inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation,” and replace it with the phrase, “inerrant throughout, and the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach.”

RECOMMENDATION

Reject Resolution JUD-805 which seeks to alter the wording of Article IV. The Holy Scriptures. This committee recommends leaving this Article of Faith as it currently stands.

RATIONALE

The proposals at the 2009 General Assembly to amend Article IV of the Nazarene Articles of Faith in order to assert the complete inerrancy of Scripture clearly come from a concern that the Bible be given its rightful place in our life and theology. Having been asked to evaluate these proposals, the committee begins by expressing our appreciation for this concern and wish to make clear our solidarity with all those who have a high view of the place of the Bible in the life of the Church and of each Christian. John Wesley declared himself to be homo unius libri, ‘a man of one book,’ and described the Methodists as ‘Bible-Christians’ determined to preach ‘plain, old Bible-Christianity.’

There is no place below to appropriately insert this, so I’ll do it here.  The Nazarene church schools teach that Genesis 1 is some type of fiction allowing our schools to teach millions of years of evolution.  .  In giving Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, God (Jehovah) said to keep the Sabbath holy “for in six day Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”  In Exodus 31:17 He repeated that: “For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested.”  Therefore the Nazarene Church teaches that God lied.  If God lied about that, we can’t trust anything the Bible says that God said—or about anything else.

1. THE STRENGTH OF ARTICLE IV

We wish to begin by drawing attention to the strength of the present Article IV as a declaration of our commitment to the authority of the Bible.

(a) Plenary, divine inspiration

First, the article clearly states the inspiration of Holy Scripture as ‘divine’ and ‘plenary’: that means that the whole Bible is inspired and that it is inspired, not just in the sense that a work of art may be said to be ‘inspired’, but by God. To say that the Bible as a whole is inspired is to say that we cannot take texts out of context and quote them arbitrarily as ‘the word of God.’  Where do inerrantists do that?   We have to understand biblical theology as a whole.

The Bible as a whole is inspired, NOT the Bible in whole. Theologians determine what the context means. The text IS the Word of God and should be stated as such. That said, an interpretation that denies context is not the Word of God.

 

Nor do we believe that divine inspiration cancels out the human authorship. Each book has a distinct style, vocabulary, and idiom reflecting the quite different human authors and contexts, whether of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Luke, Paul, or even writers unknown. We do not believe in a mechanical idea of inspiration in which their minds were blotted out and they became mere puppets. Rather their mental powers were heightened and their free wills guided by the subtle and sensitive Spirit of God. Whether they were gathering information to write a narrative, or editing what had previously been written, or were putting into writing speech directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, the result was a collection of documents fit for the purpose of revealing God’s will and way, God’s acts, and supremely God’s revelation in his Incarnate Son. We agree therefore with the Cape Town Commitment of the Third Lausanne Congress when they say in their confession of faith:

We receive the whole Bible as the Word of God, inspired by God’s Spirit, spoken and written through human authors. We submit to it as supremely and uniquely authoritative, governing our belief and behavior. We testify to the power of God’s Word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. We affirm that the whole Bible is the final written word of God, not surpassed by any further revelation, but we also rejoice that the Holy Spirit illumines the minds of God’s people so that the Bible continues to speak God’s truth in fresh ways to people in every culture.2

“We receive the whole Bible as the Word of God.”  “The whole Bible is the final written word of God.”  This includes Genesis 1-11 and other historical narratives not accepted by many as truly historic.

We strongly endorse the emphasis in this Cape Town Commitment that we love God’s Word because we love God, love his world, love the gospel, love the people of God, and love the mission of God.

Nothing in the Cape Town Commitment says anything about loving God, His world, etc.  That statement brings in unrelated ideas that sound good.

I find this troubling in light of James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” What God has revealed has been revealed and His methods established; why are we looking for new ways?

(b) Inerrantly revealing the will of God

Secondly, Article IV clearly states that the Holy Scriptures reveal the will of God inerrantly.   True, but it reveals more than the WILL of God.  It also reveals truth in every area of creation about which it speaks.  That means that what Holy Scripture tells us about God and his saving acts and purpose cannot be set aside by any merely human philosophy, metaphysics, or ethics. Human reason and culture are all fallen and therefore suspect when it comes to discerning the will of God, but we each may trust the word of God given to us in Holy Scripture as ‘a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105).  Human reason and experience may guide us in many things, but when it comes to the things of God (which shapes all of life), they must bow to what he has revealed to us in the inspired Scriptures.  So why does the church accept the ideas of modern secular science over the clear words of Scripture?  This belief is what is usually known as the ‘infallibility’ of Scripture, that it ‘inerrantly reveals the will of God in all things necessary to salvation’ as distinct from absolute ‘inerrancy’ in every factual detail.  This is why Bible believers wanted the change. This implies that, while the Holy Spirit guides us as we listen for the voice of God speaking to us through Scripture, no claims to private revelations of the truth of God which are additional to Scripture are acceptable.

The black highlighting in the previous paragraph is mine. I felt its only intent was to weaken absolute inerrancy. Obviously true!  The proper scope of the paragraph should be to establish the Holy Spirit illumines our understanding of Scripture, not our private interpretation. The degree of inspiration deserves its own paragraph. And Scripture goes far beyond implication as to the Holy Spirit guiding us, as John 16:13 plainly states. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come.”

 

This does not imply however that we are infallible in our interpretation of the Bible. Some Christians think that they are merely stating what the Bible says, but that is naïve. Whether we like it or not, every Christian is actually engaged in interpreting the Bible. Accordingly, we must interpret each word in its sentence, each sentence in its paragraph, each paragraph within the argument of the book as a whole, and each biblical book within the Scriptures as a whole. We interpret the New Testament against the background of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament and particularly as progressive revelation leads up to the final revelation of God in Jesus Christ. We follow the guidance of the ancient creeds of the Church as we interpret the Scriptures together. All of this calls not only for careful scholarship, but also for dependence on the Holy Spirit. We expect all preachers and teachers particularly to be committed to the interpretation of the Scriptures given in the ancient creeds and the Articles of Faith, but on other matters we affirm freedom of interpretation provided it is in a spirit of loyalty to the Church. As we interpret Scripture together within the fellowship of the Church, we look to the Holy Spirit to guide us in the future into ‘the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).

(c) All things necessary to our salvation

Thirdly, that brings us to the point that Article IV makes clear the purpose of Holy Scripture: that it reveals the will of God “…in all things necessary to our salvation…” John Wesley was very clear that the purpose of being a person ‘of one book’ was to find ‘the way to heaven.’

One book surely means Wesley would have rejected the volumes by theologians saying the one book he relied on was not totally inerrant. Wesley’s words on the subject:  “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.”  Journal for 24 July 1776

The Bible is not to be treated as an almanac or a magic book or a text book of history or science. Its truth is expressed in the thought forms of the ancient world, in their culture, context, geography, cosmology, and language.  But on the other hand, God’s action in the history of Israel and supremely in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was ‘necessary to our salvation.’ Accordingly, it is part of our faith that the Bible is the God-given account of God’s action in space-time history and therefore an integral part of God’s revelation in history and uniquely in the Lord Jesus Christ. And while science progresses by studying ‘the book of nature’ rather than by biblical study, nonetheless modern science arose in a Christian culture out of Christian convictions, and ultimately we believe that everything we know through science will be seen to be more than compatible with all that has been revealed to us through Holy Scripture. That is, when both science and Scripture are correctly known and understood.

Other than our technology, humanity is the same. The truths expressed are timeless. Man is still sinful and in need of a Savior. The culture dictating what is relevant in Scripture is being used to bless homosexuality in today’s culture. Refer back to James 1:17, God has not changed His mind on what He has revealed in Scripture.

Faith in the word of the gospel of salvation also implies obedience to the law of God. To live intentionally violating the law of God as interpreted by Jesus and the apostles is the antinomian denial of the faith. Christian ethics are formulated as the Church interprets Holy Scripture guided by the Holy Spirit and taking note of the wisdom of the Church through the ages.

Again with implication, what happened to Nazarenes who could proclaim the Word of God?  I John 2:2-3 “And hereby we do know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

(d) What is not from Holy Scripture cannot be a doctrine of the Church

Fourthly, the final compound clause of Article IV is perhaps the strongest of all. Its wording derives (via Wesley’s Twenty-five Articles) from Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England:

 

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man [sic]that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite necessary to salvation.

This asserts one of the cardinal principles of the Reformation, the sola scriptura, that Holy Scripture is the only source of Christian doctrine. It says that only what is read in Scripture or proved from Scripture is to be required as an article of faith or is necessary to salvation. Of course, as Wesleyans we know (as do the other major theological traditions in the one Church) that Scripture has to be interpreted. We interpret Scripture, guided by the traditions of the Church, in the light of our experience as the people of God, and using sanctified reason. But according to this sentence none of these can be in itself the source or basis for Christian doctrine, and as we look at the other Nazarene Articles of Faith, we see that this is in fact true. They are all derived from Scripture. Christian tradition helps us today to interpret Scripture, and human reason and experience are engaged in this interpretation and in articulating our doctrines. Reason and experience have shaped the way these Articles of Faith were formed and they still shape the way we express our doctrines and they may even corroborate them. But every doctrine we profess together as a denomination in our Articles of Faith is in fact based upon and derived from Holy Scripture.

Sometimes interpretation is based on incorrect translation.  Two examples:  “Thou shalt not kill.”  Hindus don’t kill animals, so they are better than we are.  Error: it should read, “Thou shalt not murder.”  Also God told Adam, “When you eat it you will surely die.”  Some say God lied because they didn’t die.  The correct translation is, “When you eat it, dying you will die.”  Solomon said the same thing to Shimei about leaving Jerusalem.  Shimei didn’t die instantly when he left, but he was ultimately going to die.  Adam & Eve began to die and ultimately died.

So, it is implied the Holy Spirit will guide our interpretation, but in practice we rely on church tradition, experience, and reason.

 

Such is the strength of Article IV therefore, that as a committee we believe that when it is fully understood, it is a good and sufficient guard against any theology that departs from Holy Scripture. Its strength and clarity needs to be understood and appreciated by all who preach in Nazarene pulpits and teach in Nazarene colleges/universities. The committee therefore believes that it is not only unnecessary, but that it would be untrue to the Wesleyan tradition, incompatible with Wesleyan theology, and unwarranted by the Scriptures themselves, to add any assertion that the Scriptures are ‘inerrant throughout’ not only in revealing the will of God for our salvation, but in determining the truth of any statement whatsoever. That would be to turn the Bible from the saving word of God into an almanac or encyclopedia. To say that the Scriptures are ‘the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach’ merely raises the question of what exactly the Scriptures teach, and there are numerous unsettled disputes among Christians (and even among Nazarenes) about that. To assert the complete detailed factual literal accuracy of every part of Scripture (‘inerrant throughout’) raises more problems than it solves and diverts people into unnecessary, distracting and futile disputes.

This is truly disturbing. This says we can’t say Scripture is the final authority, because we really don’t know what Scripture teaches. Nowhere do conservatives make the claim that Scripture gives detailed information on each and every bit of minutia of life. Indeed, we would claim the opposite; there are things unknown; we must live by faith where we do not know.

What can be known, we are commanded to find.  II Tim. 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Rejection of Scriptural authority only serves the desire to live outside of Scriptural authority.

To support this conclusion, we need to expand on this key-note paragraph. We need to understand where this demand for complete detailed ‘inerrancy’ comes from, why it is unnecessary and misleading, and what the view of Nazarene theologians has been.

2. THE CALVINIST ORIGIN OF THE ASSERTION OF DETAILED INERRANCY

The debate over ‘inerrancy’ has been particularly strong in North America over the last few decades, sparked off in 1974 by the book written by Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, and at first it might appear that the assertion of this kind of inerrancy is commendable. However, it is necessary to understand that this assertion of the complete inerrancy of Scripture in every detail (‘inerrancy throughout’) comes out of one particular Calvinist tradition.  It is also Wesleyan tradition, and most, if not all, Wesleyan churches except post-1960 Nazarenes continue to believe in total inerrancy. Since this is true, the following argument falls apart.  

 

It is part of a particular Calvinist theological method, and it cannot be understood apart from its place in the rationalism which too often characterizes that theology. The Calvinist theologians who taught at Princeton in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Charles Hodge (1797-1878) and B. B. Warfield (1851-1921), inherited this assertion from previous Calvinists such as the Swiss-Italian theologian, Francis Turretin (1623-1687), and it comes directly from their Calvinist concerns. In their battle with the Roman Catholics, the Calvinist theologians of the century after John Calvin held to the authority of the Bible in order to oppose the authority of the pope and the cardinals. Their apologetic strategy prompted them to assert the authority of the Bible as a basis for faith in Christ rather than as something which was implied by faith in Christ.

This is an ad hominem attack, first on Lindsell, then on Calvin. Calvin believed this, so we can’t. No doubt Calvin believed the sky was above his head, and the earth was beneath his feet. Hmmm, I suppose we have to forget those silly notions.  Show me, Scripturally, why Calvin was wrong.

And placing the Bible in the place of authority instead of the pope, why is that a bad thing? Why tell people not all the Bible is factually inerrant? Why tell them a theologian is required to determine what it says? Why claim entire inerrancy makes it impossible to understand? Intentional, or not, such an approach only places theologians as the real authority and undermines Scripture. Calvin objected to these tactics by the pope. I object to these tactics by theologians.

Their method became to establish first the truth and authority of the Bible, and then build faith in Christ on that. Intellectual persuasion and apologetics therefore came first. Some Lutherans departed from Martin Luther by taking a similar position. Accordingly many of the Reformed Confessions in the post-Reformation period began with the Article of Faith on the Bible. It was in that context that they began to assert the inerrancy of the Bible. In keeping with their deductive method in theology, they argued that since God was perfect, and since the Bible came from him, the Bible must be ‘perfect’ in the sense of being without any error in the smallest detail.

I fail to see a problem here. God’s prophets were held to 100% reliability. If God revealed it, it was true.

It was a presupposition they brought to the Bible rather than a conclusion from the study of the biblical text itself. Not all Calvinists took this position. The Dutch and Scottish Calvinist traditions (Hermann Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, and James Orr) are different and closer to John Calvin and the Reformers. The insistence on inerrancy was particularly strong among American Calvinists, perhaps helping to explain why Fundamentalism is a predominantly American phenomenon.

The continental Reformers themselves, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and the others, made no such claim, and no such claim is made in Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. This was a new claim in the post-Reformation period. For the Reformers themselves, it was faith in Christ which led to trust in the Bible. Martin Luther first proclaimed justification by faith (sola fide) and it was only when he realized that the pope rejected this that he saw the necessity that the Church be subject to the Bible (sola scriptura). For these later theologians in the Calvinist tradition, faith in the inerrancy of the Bible became the foundation for faith in Christ. It was from this Calvinist tradition, passed on through the nineteenth-century Calvinist theologians at Princeton, that the Fundamentalists of the 1920s took their belief in the total, detailed inerrancy of Scripture. Harold Lindsell tried to hold all evangelical Christians to this particular Calvinist belief in the 1970s and seriously divided evangelical Christianity, at least in the United States if not elsewhere. This whole development with its concern with detailed inerrant facts, demonstrates how much the Calvinist tradition was shaped by rationalistic modernity.

Wesleyans are truer to the original Reformation. We know that we are not brought to faith by having the inerrancy of the Bible proved to us, but that our faith in Christ is what leads us to trust his messengers, the prophets and apostles, and all who wrote the Holy Scriptures. It is not that we are committed as a denomination to the opposite view that the Scriptures are unreliable or that they are historically untrustworthy.  No: we are committed to the belief that the Scriptures give us a sufficiently (omit the word “sufficiently”) accurate account of God’s action in the history of Israel and particularly in the birth, life, death, and bodily resurrection of the Lord.

Sufficiency. Used in this sense, good enough, adequate.  Seems a tad inadequate.

It is rather that we do not think that highlighting the issue of detailed factual inerrancy is helpful or necessary to insisting on the full authority and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture.  Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England is therefore entitled, ‘Of the Sufficiency of Holy Scripture’, and this concept of ‘sufficiency’ also appears in the title of Article Five of the Twenty-five Articles John Wesley gave to American Methodism.3

3. WHY THIS CALVINIST BELIEF IS THE WRONG WAY TO ASSERT THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

There are two severe disadvantages in asserting the authority of Scripture by claiming the detailed factual inerrancy of Scripture instead of its ‘sufficiency.’ First, the concept of ‘error’ is not a helpful one since it is impossible to define what constitutes an ‘error.’

Anything that’s not correct.

The word seems to imply the need for absolute accuracy, but what degree of accuracy is appropriate? Do we insist on the kind of accuracy of modern scientific language which is foreign to all ancient literature? Are round figures acceptable? Must every narrative observe strict chronological accuracy? Are metaphors and parables disallowed? Are we going to insist that the stories Jesus told must be factually accurate? Even if we accept that the Scriptures are full of metaphor and parable and other figures of speech, are we going to decree where everyone must draw the line—what is literal fact and what is metaphor and parable, poetry and vision? The concept of ‘error’ is an absolutist word applied to something which is necessarily a matter of degree, and it is consequently a nightmare since it leads us straight into frankly silly and futile questions. That is the second point here: this misguided concept of detailed ‘inerrancy’ diverts attention to unprofitable debates about unimportant details. Was it Abiathar or Abimelech who was high priest when David ate the showbread? Were there two angels at the tomb, or was there only one? Were there several women at the tomb on Easter morning or was there only one? Did Judas hang himself or did he die some other way? There are innumerable debates on points which have no bearing on the truth of the gospel and which are a waste of time. Because we are dealing with ancient literature, we frequently do not have enough information to determine whether an apparent contradiction is truly a contradiction or not. To assert complete inerrancy therefore is to be diverted into petty and unprofitable arguments like those at Ephesus who debated ‘myths and genealogies which promote vain speculations’ and had ‘wandered away into vain discussion’ (1 Timothy 1:4-6).

If there were two angels, there was certainly one. Why one account only mentions the one is unknown. Simply stating the one establishes angelic presence. In keeping with the human will not being overtaken, each author gave his perspective. What if one angel were not in the one’s field of vision? It is wiser to fault our understanding than to claim Scripture is untrustworthy. As these authors insist, if it doesn’t affect your salvation, why the furor? It’s okay to say you don’t have the answer instead of placing Scripture as in error, such that you claim to understand it all. 

Men more intelligent that any of us have declared the Bible inerrant—men such as Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Dr. Gleason L. Archer, and Dr. Robert Dick Wilson.  Check them out.  Dr. Archer expressed the view of all when he said, “I candidly believe I have been confronted with just about all the biblical difficulties under suspicion in theological circles today…as I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another….My confidence in the trustworthiness of the Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened by the discovery that almost every problem in Scripture that has been discovered by man, from ancient times until now, has been dealt with in a completely satisfactory manner by the biblical text itself.” 

What persuades us of the truth of Scripture is that when it is preached in the power of the Spirit we come face to face with the Lord. We not only know ‘that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Paul gives us these as the central facts of the gospel, and we believe that there is no good reason to doubt their historicity. But it is not merely a matter of being given accurate facts. It is rather that through this narrative, we come to meet and know and trust and place our faith in the Risen Lord himself. That is how the narrative of the gospel carries conviction when we evangelize—not by persuading the seeker that we can determine accurately how many angels were at the tomb. The authority of Scripture is validated by the Holy Spirit as we tell ‘the old, old story.’

On what grounds can Peter and Paul be trusted other than the opinion of theologians, if not all Scripture is factually correct? The conclusion is certainly suspect; salvation comes through good narrative (story-telling) that the Holy Spirit can use; it’s an emotional, touchy-feely, experience the “force” encounter with God.

 

We respect our brothers and sisters who love Scripture and want to defend its authority, but as Wesleyans it is our conviction that trying to do so in this Calvinist way is the wrong way to do it.

4. THE UNITED VIEW OF NAZARENE THEOLOGIANS

The following three web sites are academic reviews showing that Wesley and the Nazarene Church believed in total biblical inerrancy:

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/biblical-inerrancy/

http://www.fwponline.cc/v16n2/v16n2reasonera.html

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/inerrancy-and-wesleyanism/

 

It is true that at the height of the Fundamentalist-Modernist battle in the 1920s, Nazarene leaders expressed their solidarity with the Fundamentalists. Given the alternative, a Modernist/Liberal theology in which (as H. Richard Niebuhr put it), ‘A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross,’ that is hardly surprising! But the denomination’s premier theologian, H. Orton Wiley, had a deeper understanding of the issues.

Wesleyans were committed to asserting the authority of the Bible against Modernism, but not in the simplistic way in which Fundamentalists tried to do it. Paul M. Bassett writes that, following in the tradition of the Wesleyan theologians, Richard Watson, W.B. Pope, and John Miley, “Wiley clearly enters the lists against American theological liberalism on the one hand and against fundamentalism on the other.” 5 In his Christian Theology, he criticizes the Protestant scholastics in the century after the Reformation in that they began “to substitute the written Word for Christ the Living Word.” In the context in which he was writing, it is clear (as Paul Bassett argues) that H. Orton Wiley was also criticizing the Fundamentalists of his day who had inherited their view of the Bible’s detailed inerrancy from scholastic Calvinism. He goes so far as to warn against three ‘worthy monarchs’ to whom we can mistakenly give a false position in place of Christ, the Living Word: the church, the Bible, and reason.

Okay, interesting point here, earlier, we are told interpretation is done through church tradition, experience, and reason. Two of the three things Wiley warns about. Were there multiple authors involved in this response, or was it done in two phases that were not compared to one another?

 

There is good reason to conclude that it was H. Orton Wiley who drafted Article IV at the 1928 General Assembly, which is good reason in itself why Article IV should not be amended.

We don’t know for sure, but we are sufficiently sure, but, true or not, Scriptural soundness should be the driving force behind the decision on Article IV, not who the human author was.

Timothy L. Smith, in a letter to the editor of Christianity Today published on March 10, 1978 similarly maintained that Wesleyans reject both the ‘liberal’ or ‘modernist’ stance and also the narrow inerrantist view of Scripture associated with B. B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell. Timothy Smith wrote: ‘…we Wesleyans stand in an older and much broader evangelical tradition than that represented by modern neo-Calvinist scholasticism.’ In a letter to the editor of The Christian Century, he maintained that ‘the roots of the nonfundamentalist view of scriptural authority accepted by many evangelicals’ lay in the writings of the Reformers, and that the Hodge-Warfield view of inerrancy was never held by evangelical leaders such as William Booth, Adoniram J. Gordon, Dwight L. Moody, or the leaders of the National Holiness Association. He rejected the contemporary efforts of the inerrantists, Harold Lindsell and Francis Schaeffer, ‘to impose upon modern evangelicals a view of Scripture which Jesus and Paul renounced in rabbinical Judaism.’Holiness Association. He rejected the contemporary efforts of the inerrantists, Harold Lindsell and Francis Schaeffer, ‘to impose upon modern evangelicals a view of Scripture which Jesus and Paul renounced in rabbinical Judaism.’Holiness Association. He rejected the contemporary efforts of the inerrantists, Harold Lindsell and Francis Schaeffer, ‘to impose upon modern evangelicals a view of Scripture which Jesus and Paul renounced in rabbinical Judaism.’

Really? Jesus and Paul denied Scriptural inerrancy? Show me that chapter and verse!

It’s a shame you have to pick and choose which theologian to believe and quote from because you can’t or won’t make a Scriptural decision based on what Scripture says, because you don’t believe it is totally trustworthy. And after admitting to potential human fallibility!

Similarly, Ralph Earle quotes the early Nazarene theologian A. M. Hills, that the Bible is infallible in what it tells us about God and salvation, not in detailed inerrancy:  Hills was the first Nazarene to present this heresy.  As late as 1948 Ross Price wrote in the Herald of Holiness, “Our Lord…assumed the absolute truth of the Scripture…. The Bible is correct astronomically, geologically, historically, medically, botanically, zoologically, meterologically, prophetically, and spiritually.” (29 Nov. 1948). 

 

What is the infallibility we claim for the Bible? It is infallible as regards the purpose for which it was written. It is infallible as a revelation of God’s saving love in Christ to a wicked world. It infallibly guides all honest and willing and seeking souls to Christ, to holiness, to heaven.8

This is presupposition. The Bible is presumed to not be factual throughout. It is presumed to only be reliable in matters of salvation. It is then merely stated to be true in those matters because we are told it is. Again, if not totally reliable, we are left with the statement of men as to what parts to trust.

Ralph Earle then goes on to defend a fellow evangelical scholar who accepted that there are errors in the Bible in rhetoric, history and science. At the same time he thought that this colleague had made more concessions than he needed to and had accepted that there were factual contradictions where the historical accounts could be harmonized by careful hermeneutics.9

J. Kenneth Grider similarly rejected detailed inerrancy. He takes note of one sentence from Wesley quoted by Harold Lindsell which seems to teach detailed inerrancy, but argues that when that sentence is taken in the context of Wesley’s whole theology, he did not teach inerrancy as part of his theological method in the way of scholastic Calvinism. J. Kenneth Grider argues: “…Scripture itself is not interested in inerrancy. It makes a claim for inspiration, but not for inerrancy—at least, not for total inerrancy.”

And Deuteronomy 18:21 – 22 says, “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing  follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

J. Kenneth Grider examines that claim to inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16, and points out that according to the text it is inspiration specifically for teaching (doctrine) and practice.10

Then why does the verse begin with “All scripture is given by inspiration” instead of for inspiration?

Rob L. Staples contrasts Wesleyanism with Fundamentalism, which arose in Calvinistic soil and insists on ‘epistemological inerrancy.’ Wesleyanism works differently and takes a view which he calls ‘soteriological inerrancy.’  See both of my comments above under “THE UNITED VIEW OF NAZARENE THEOLOGIANS.”

Epistemology deals with truth, I’m fine with insisting the Bible be without lies.  What is the other choice? If the Bible is from God, but not totally accurate, then isn’t that calling God a liar? From Romans 3:4 “…let God be true, but every man a liar;…” 

The point of Martin Luther’s analogy is that Christ, who is the Living Word, is to be found in the Bible, which is the written Word. But the latter is an instrument directing us to the former, and thus not an end in itself.12

Paul M. Bassett argued in an article on the understanding of the Bible in the holiness movement, that its history and inner logic would lead it to conclude ‘that a call like Lindsell’s [for detailed inerrancy] is theologically and spiritually irrelevant.’ Paul Bassett continues:

A fully true Bible is irrelevant, really?

Its history and inner logic would lead it to conclude that, if the term inerrancy be used, as it is, it refers to the Bible’s service as the unique creation of the Holy Spirit, intended by that Spirit to carry conviction for sin, the news of full salvation in Christ, and sure instruction in how to relate to God and neighbor in righteousness and true holiness. In these things the Bible is to be understood as wholly inerrant.

Paul Bassett proceeds to rule out the more detailed inerrancy (‘inerrancy throughout’):

The movement has concluded that, since empirical or scientific exactitudes certainly are not soteriologically ultimate and are not even metaphysically ultimate, they must be accounted for in terms of something other than scientific exactitude itself….  Most holiness people would insist that all such questions must submit to the question of the ultimate purpose of Scripture itself, which is not absolutely accurate knowledge of all things in heaven and earth but soteriological sufficiency.13   Nobody says the Bible gives full knowledge of all things, but we do say the Bible is completely accurate in the facts it does give.

H. Ray Dunning notes that some evangelicals base the Bible’s authority on its inerrancy, but concludes that ‘such rationalistic defenses are less than compelling.’14 H. Ray Dunning goes on to quote A. M. Hills, Clark H. Pinnock, Richard S. Taylor, H. Orton Wiley, and even John Calvin to support the alternative view of the Bible’s authority, that we are persuaded of it by the testimonium internum Spiritus sancti, the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. This he sees as an aspect of the doctrine of prevenient grace.

We have to conclude then that current Nazarene theologians (the intelligencia of the church—academicians) as a whole, with few if any exceptions, are totally opposed to the idea that we need to assert the complete detailed factual inerrancy of Holy Scripture in order to defend its authority. As a body, they are totally committed to its authority in matters of faith and practice, doctrine and ethics. The question of whether the Bible is totally accurate in every statement is not therefore something on which the Church needs to pronounce one way or the other in its official Articles of Faith, for it is quite irrelevant.

In the 1800’s many things in the Bible were thought to be errors including the idea that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch (writing didn’t exist then) and the Hittites didn’t exist.  Science has time and again found the Bible to be correct.  Things many think to be errors now have already been answered (Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions Volumes 1 and 2 by Ken Ham).

Two editors of the Herald of Holiness made the very good point that the present Article of Faith IV is a broad one.  W. E. McCumber commented in ‘The Answer Corner’ that Article IV “does not commit us for or against total inerrancy, and, as one would expect, there are proponents of both concepts of ‘plenary inspiration’ to be found among us.” He himself concluded, ‘It is not errorless, but it will infallibly achieve its purpose when the Holy Spirit uses it to convict of sin and draw to Christ, making possible our salvation.’16 Wesley Tracy, in ‘The Question Box,’ made clear his view that the inerrancy view “has become the trademark and battle cry of rigid, right wing, Calvinist fundamentalists” and does not belong in the Wesleyan tradition. Nonetheless, he comments that Article IV is a “roomy one”: and that both the rigid fundamentalist who believes in inerrancy can assent to the article, while those “who take a less rigid view… also have elbow room.”17  All this has been rebutted earlier.

Creeds should be ambiguous enough to maximize membership.

That brings us to a final thought. Not only is the detailed inerrancy view at variance with Wesleyan theology, and repudiated by leading Nazarene theologians, but if Article IV were to be amended to restrict us to that particular view of Scripture, the present breadth which can comprehend both views would be replaced by this narrower fundamentalist view. Since Nazarene theologians and biblical scholars as a whole would be very strongly opposed to this narrowing of this Article of Faith, as would many leading pastors and lay people, such a move would threaten a very serious division in the denomination. The division and severe crisis and pain seen in other denominations indicate that this could have very serious results for our unity and could do serious damage to the Church of the Nazarene.

Keeping the denomination united is more important than taking a modified stance on inerrancy.  I would think that advertising to the general populace of the church that the church does not believe the Bible is inerrant in its entirety would cause many to leave the church, as a number of those of us who know it have already done.

For all these reasons, the committee strongly advises that these amendments should be rejected. Nazarenes are committed by the present Article IV to the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, its final authority in all matters of Christian faith and living, in doctrine and ethics. That is all we need to say.

 

* Thanks to James Scullin and Allen Marsh for their comments on this document