Does Nazarene Theological Seminary Support The Interfaith Movement?

Buddhists, Muslims, Native American religions, Hindu, Sufi, Unitarian Universalists, Taoism, Confucianism, Wiccans, and Zoroastrians. 

Would you or your church be comfortable with working closely with these religions as part of an interfaith group whose goal is unity with all religions?  Well, the center for Religious Experience And Study (CRES) is based in Kansas City, KS, states the following on their website:

“Beyond superstition, narcissism, sef-righteousness and violence, we uplift the wisdom of the world’s faiths to heal the three great crises of our desacralized culture- in the environment, in personhood, in society.…  “CRES envisions the greater Kansas City area as a model community honoring interfaith relationships
•  where interfaith relationships are honored as a way of deepening one’s own tradition and spirituality, and
•  where the wisdom of the many religions successfully addresses the • environmental, • personal, and • social crises of our often fragmented, desacralized world.


When you read through much of the website, you will see it is a love fest in ecumenicalism and interreligious and pluralistic cooperation, with the idea that only working together with other religions can we bring healing to the world’s problems.  One would think any Bible believing Christian school or denomination would stay far away from associating with this kind of thinking and philosophy.  We are commanded in Scripture:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  (2 Cor. 6:14).  And we are also told to: “… have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Eph. 5:11


We are not told anywhere in Scripture to come together and hold hands and “dialogue” with other religions, and rightly so, because all other religions are lies, and thus their origin is from Satan, the father of lies.  Yet here on this list of recommended groups and universities is Nazarene Theological Seminary.  I also noted that the site goes out of its way to make sure we know that Midwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary is to be avoided… “as its approach to non-Christian faiths is unreliable and hostile.”  As I suspected, after looking at what MBTS stands for, it seems that it might be the only Christian school worthy of recommending to Bible believers in that area.  I was particularly impressed by their clear, unambiguous statement that the school will reflect AND teach the core biblical principles of their sponsoring denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, including teaching biblical inerrancy.  Would that our schools could only be so bold to do the same!

The question now we ask is, why?  Why is Nazarene Theological Seminary listed as part of a group of approved organizations that CRES has on their website?  That is a question I asked Dr. David Busic last month, in an email to him dated Nov 18.  He is the newly installed President of the seminary, and I thought surely he will correct this error and ask CRES to remove NTS from the approved list.  Furthermore, I would hope that not only would he ask for NTS to be removed from the list, but also that he would clearly distance the seminary from any kind of association and promotion of interfaith or ecumenical gatherings, in accordance with God’s standards as written in Holy Scripture.  I have yet to hear from Dr. Busic, and because of the history of NTS in recent years, I am concerned, and perhaps you should be too.  Perhaps the email got lost, or perhaps he is working on this now.  Perhaps you can send him an alert regarding what could be a misunderstanding.  That is why I am re-sending this to him, in hopes of getting an answer.

I am also concerned about NTS because of what it has promoted in the past.  The previous NTS president, Dr. Ron Benefiel, is directly connected with a group that promotes ecumenical “dialogue.”  The Christian Research/Voice Institute states: “While representing a particular theological tradition (Wesleyan), the goal of CRI/Voice is ecumenical and global.”  The Executive Director is Professor Dennis Bratcher, formerly from Point Loma Nazarene University and a proponent of Open Theism and Process Theology.  Dr. Benefiel is now at Point Loma and head of the Theology School.  Dr. Roger Hahn, a theology professor at NTS, is also on the board of this ecumenical group.

In a recent post (Phyllis Tickle and The New Seminary President), I pointed out how Dr. Busic referred to extensive material from Phyllis Tickle of emergence Christianity fame, in part of his inauguration message.  It is very troubling when you read about her ideology, and when you listen to her in this dialogue with false teacher Tony Jones at Fuller Theological Seminary.  (She starts at around the 27:00 minute mark).
Then there is the seminary’s promotion of contemplative spirituality and ecumenism, not only to adults (pre-General Assembly retreat) but also to young children of middle school age.  Then there is the occultic course being taught by Doug Hardy (Celtic Spirituality), and Dr. Hardy also is heavily involved with another interfaith group, Spiritual Directors International, where he is listed as a “spiritual director”, and is on the editorial board of the Presence Journal.  His bio says that Doug’s fundamental calling is to come alongside others to help facilitate their alignment with God.”  Not to preach the gospel, but alignment with God, whatever that means.
(Note also that the first person on the list is Lauren Artress, who was instrumental in popularizing prayer labyrinths in the United States.)  Oh, but who really cares about all this?

I could go on, but there seems to be a troubling trend at our top Nazarene seminary of promoting interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, emergent church ideology, and contemplative mysticism.  Is this the new face of the main seminary which is training perhaps your future pastor?  How will that bode for you and your congregation?  And what do our General Superintendents (our denomination’s spiritual leaders and interpreters of our doctrine) say about these issues?  Well, in a recent meeting on Dec. 8 with the leaders of NTS and Nazarene Bible College, I quote the article: “in the meeting, the general superintendents expressed their confidence in [Presidents] Busic and Graves and assured them of their unwavering support for the schools.”  The Generals also made the following statement:


“The Board of General Superintendents is deeply and unwaveringly committed to NTS and NBC. They are worthy of the confidence of the entire denomination.”


Unwavering?  Worthy of confidence?  Was this statement made with the knowledge of all these things going on at NTS?  Do the Generals support interfaith dialogue, and contemplative mysticism, and the teaching of occultism?  They have clearly have been informed of these troubling trends at both seminaries and are silent at this point.  One can make a strong case that the Board of General Superintendents may be supporting the very things I mentioned which run contrary to God’s word.  I pray that they will prove me (and others) wrong, but at this point, neither of these seminaries are worthy of the confidence of the entire denomination, that’s for sure.

Manny Silva


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Addendum: 
EMAIL TO DR. DAVID BUSIC, PRESIDENT OF NAZARENE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY:

Below is my email to Dr. Busic.  It seems he has a lot on his hands.  Does Dr. Busic accept or tolerate these things?  Either view would be wrong.  I will FOLLOWUP as these trends develop, and let you know if NTS continues to be listed on the CRES website.  So far, it is not encouraging to see the road that this Nazarene seminary is going down, and I do not at this time recommend future pastors going to the seminary, nor do I recommend any church to consider for pastor anyone graduating from NTS unless they are thoroughly scrutinized and questioned as to their ideology.


11/18/2011

Dear Dr. Busic,

Congratulations on your appointment as President of NTS.  It is my prayer that God will guide you in leading NTS in upholding biblical truth at the school.  I and other Nazarenes have had concerns in the past regarding some things sponsored by, promoted by, or taught at the seminary.

I was concerned about something I ran into the other day, and wondering if you were aware of it.
At the CRES website, the Seminary is listed favorably as a recommended institution friendly to the CRES organization.  My concern is that it is an interfaith group that works closely with practically any kind of religion in the world.

Here is the link to the site where it mentions NTS favorably:  http://www.cres.org/pubs/KCInterfaithOps.htm

Just an observation, I thought that it was really strange that they said this about another school: “We cannot recommend Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as its approach to non-Christian faiths is unreliable and hostile.”  Funny, I went to their website and so far have not seen anything about this Baptist school which would be over the top, unless they have a very consistent biblical approach that CRES cannot accept.  I am not Baptist, but certainly do agree with the core values as stated by that school, so I wonder why CRES would not recommend them.  I’ll have to ask CRES of course, not you.

On their vision statement page, they say this:
CRES values the contribution of each distinctive faith in healing the crises of our age — and finds it important to honor and preserve their distinctions. “  These faiths include: Buddhists, Muslims, Native American religions, Hindu, Sufi, Unitarian Universalists, Taoism, Confucianism, Wiccans, and Zoroastrians!

They also say: “CRES envisions the greater Kansas City area as a model community honoring interfaith relationships
•  where interfaith relationships are honored as a way of deepening one’s own tradition and spirituality, and
•  where the wisdom of the many religions successfully addresses the • environmental, • personal, and • social crises of our often fragmented, desacralized world.

Does NTS have any kind of real connection with CRES?  If so, on what basis?  And if not, would it not be prudent to ask this group to remove any reference to NTS as a good resource?  If this is not the type of group NTS wants to associate with, that would certainly remove any appearance of an endorsement of this organization.  If this is the kind of group that NTS wants to associate with, then I humbly will say that it would be a serious problem that all Nazarenes should be aware of.

Looking forward to your response.  I have CC’d this to a few close friends so they are aware of the same issue regarding CRES and the reference to NTS.

Sincerely in Christ,

Manny Silva