Out Of Touch With God And Biblical Christianity

Professing to be wise, they became fools.  Romans 1:22

What do Nazarene Publishing House, The House Studio, Barefoot Ministries, YouthFront, and WordAction Publishing all have in common?  They are all promoters of contemplative spirituality (aka spiritual formation).  All of these groups, to one degree or another, have allowed the wolves in sheep’s clothing to infiltrate and then publish and promote books and “Bible” lessons that teach unbiblical practices and techniques that are better suited for those who crave for Eastern mysticism.  If what they are promoting is unbiblical, how can one say that they are being led by the Spirit of God?  This has become a real problem not only in the Nazarene church but all denominations, so Christian beware.

The following example of un-Christian “Christian” material is from The House Studio, a publishing offshoot of Nazarene Publishing House.  They are also co-conspirators with Barefoot Ministries, which is led by Chris Folmsbee, as well as organizations such as YouthFront, whose CEO is  Mike King (editor of Immerse Journal under Barefoot Ministries), who also organizes and promotes the blasphemous Wildgoose Festival (a report coming next week on this). The interrelationship and level of cooperation amongst these groups is quite fascinating but not surprising.  They are actively promoting contemplative spirituality and are brazenly pushing the envelope more and more.  And why not?  What are our leaders doing about it?  Nothing that we can see yet.  What is the Christian in the pew doing?  Either he is still in a strong Bible believing church and is unaware, or he is looking the other way, ignoring the warning signs for the sake of a phoney “unity in the church.”

Here is more proof that the Church of the Nazarene is promoting an occultic version of Christianity called Celtic Spirituality.  There is nothing Christian about it.  In a short post entitled The Celtic Way of Evangelism, the author writes:

The Church, in the Western world, faces populations who are increasingly “secular”—people with no Christian memory, who don’t know what we Christians are talking about. These populations are increasingly “urban”—and out of touch with God’s “natural revelation.” These populations are increasingly “postmodern”; they have graduated from Enlightenment ideology and are more peer driven, feeling driven, and “right-brained” than their forebears. These populations are increasingly “neo-barbarian”; they lack “refinement” or “class,” and their lives are often out of control. These populations are increasingly receptive—exploring worldview options from Astrology to Zen—and are often looking “in all the wrong places” to make sense of their lives and find their soul’s true home.

In the face of this changing Western culture, many Western Church leaders are in denial; they plan and do church as though next year will be 1957. Furthermore, most of the Western Church leaders who are not in denial do not know how to engage the epidemic numbers of secular, postmodern, neo-barbarians outside (and inside) their churches.

—George Hunter III in The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach The West . . . . Again (Source)

These people who promote this pagan Christianity in the guise of “evangelism” are out of touch with God, and have no confidence in the power of His word.  They are causing great damage to the church of Christ, and most of the church continues to sleep right through it all.  To answer their question as to “how to engage the epidemic numbers of secular, postmodern, neo-barbarians outside (and inside) their churches”, the answer is simple: preach the undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing else!  It may get some people angry, but where in the Bible does it tell us to preach the word in a way that does not anger sinners?  The fact of the matter is that the true Gospel will anger many sinners and they will reject Him.  Do you go to plan B and give them a more palatable gospel that brings them into the church that has become a social club?  Or do you stick with the same Gospel?

It is the Gospel, and only the true Gospel, that convicts sinners and brings them to their knees in front of a Holy God, not the tiresome repackaged man-created “other gospel” that seeks to be “relevant to the culture.”  This is how you evangelize.  Nothing else matters, nothing else will help bring a lost sinner to Christ.  Not any special program with a fancy new twist- nothing.  You are a fool if you think otherwise.  You need to throw away your man-made “other gospel”, your “other Jesus”, and repent from all this occultic-like, mystical nonsense!


Where are the leaders of the church?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  Rom. 1:16

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Tim 4: 1-5

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.  1 Cor. 1:18-25

Review: http://exnazarene.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/the-seductive-poison-of-apostasy-2/

http://www.thehousestudio.com/store/thin-places-small-group/

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/tony-campolos-thin-places-occultic-christianity/

Why We Should Care About The Rob Bell Controversy

(A response to Chris Folmsbee of House Studio and Barefoot Ministries)

Chris Folmsbee is one of the staff people at the House Studio, a division of the Nazarene Publishing House which focuses on books and other materials for Nazarene youth.  He is also director of Barefoot Ministries, and is involved with Youthfront.  The House Studio has already come under criticism for some of its books, including the book 180, which was reviewed by Rev. Peter Migner last year as a questionable book for our youth.  Mr. Folmsbee recently posted a new commentary called 4 Reasons Why I Don’t Care About The Rob Bell Controversy.  Here are the four reasons he wrote, followed by my response which I posted at his blog:

I haven’t followed the controversy over the new Rob Bell book called, Love Wins very close at all.  Honestly, it doesn’t even interest me all that much.

4 Reasons Why I Don’t Care About The Rob Bell Book Controversy

1. It seems small to me.  It seems like we should be having controversies over bigger issues if we re going to have them.

2. It is irrelevant to me.  Granted I don’t know much about the controversy but if it is about what I think it is about (no hell?), it doesn’t change the way I live and the way that I participate with God’s mission.

3. Controversy in evangelicalism often seems more about demeaning people than real dialogue so I am skeptical that I will find meaningful, generous conversation anyways.

4. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen “controversy” from Rob Bell/Mars Hill.  To me, what others have classified as “controversy” is largely a misunderstanding or suspicion and speculation without context – and so I’m thinking this is the same kind thing.

So, tell me, why should I care about this controversy?

Dear Mr. Folsmbee,

Let me try to tell you why I believe you should care.  Although we have never met, I believe it is my duty to point out some errors in your thinking.  I assume you are probably a very nice guy, but this is not personal, but a question of right doctrine and discernment.   First of all, I applaud you for at least having the courage to say what’s on your mind publicly, because apparently many leaders in the Nazarene church do not have the courage to say anything lately. But frankly, I also suggest that you and perhaps the entire staff at The House Studio seriously consider resigning your positions, and letting others take over who might have a bit more discernment in these issues.  If not resignation, a serious amount of prayer time should be taken to ask God for wisdom and a return to strong biblical principles, instead of the type of books such as 180 that are being promoted to our youth.

As to your first point, does this controversy really seem small to you?  I believe matters of doctrine are pretty big issues.  Rob Bell is possibly the most popular national pastor among Christian youth today, including the Nazarene denomination which you serve.  It would seem that you should be prudent in keeping pace with these issues, especially since his books are very popular, as well as his NOOMA videos.  I do want to know however, if you like Rob Bell for what he teaches, and how much you really know about him?

What does it mean to participate in “God’s mission”, as you say?  I have never heard a clear explanation of what that term means, as it is being used frequently within the Nazarene denomination.  It sounds good, but what does that mean to you?  Would not defending the gospel, and scrutinizing a pastor’s teachings with what the Bible says, be part of God’s mission?  That’s what many of us are doing, and why many of us have come to the conclusion that Rob Bell is a false teacher!  Yet you seem to cavalierly brush aside the question of hell as if that is not important!  If Rob Bell is implying that there is no hell as the scriptures teach, and that unrepentant sinners might still get to heaven after they die, don’t you think this is worth investigating, especially by someone who is a youth leader and very influential?

You also say you don’t know much about the controversy.  Well, I suggest that you get to know about it because there’s enough noise being made by many Christians around the country, and if you continue to “not know much about it” and not even check it out, then I ask you again, please consider seriously resigning your position!  In such a position as yours, you ought to know what Rob Bell is teaching, and you ought to be able to articulate clearly to us what you believe about his positions on hell, eternity, and who is or is not saved.  Don’t you think that’s important, especially if it is true that he is preaching another gospel, as many believe he is?

Thirdly, you seem to be implying that criticism of a pastor’s teachings and doctrine is a matter of demeaning him.  Are you familiar with the many passages in scripture that instruct us to defend the faith, to judge what others teach, to reprove and to rebuke those who preach another gospel?  Do you remember when Paul rebuked Peter publicly?  Was he demeaning to Peter?  Do you remember the Bereans, who made sure that Paul was preaching according to scripture, in spite of knowing of his reputation?  If you remember, Paul also commended the Bereans, as opposed to accusing them that they were demeaning him.

Finally, I strongly suspect that if the books listed at The House Studio and Barefoot Ministries are any indication, your organization is heavily supporting the emergent church movement and all the baggage that comes with it.  That movement has been seriously eroding our strong  foundations in the church for a long time, and if proper biblical discernment is not your strong suit, then perhaps its time for new leadership at this organization, as well as at Barefoot Ministries and Nazarene Publishing House.

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.  Gal. 1:6-10

NPH Endorses Catholic Practice of Ashes On Forehead

In the story of Chicken Little, the townspeople ignored the little guy because they just did not believe him that something serious was happening.  After the acorn fell on his head, and he panicked, and sent the town into a needless frenzy, they just did not believe he was credible, when the real danger finally came.  I’m not Chicken Little, yet I am only one among a growing number of Nazarenes who are saying that in many ways, “the sky is falling.”  Something serious is really happening, and has really been changing the essence of the Church of the Nazarene for quite a while now.  It’s been happening in incremental, little baby steps.  Like slowly poisoning someone to death over a long period of time.  Or perhaps like the frog in the water slowly heating up, and then its too late when he realizes he’s getting cooked alive.

Enter again the Nazarene Publishing House, which I have warned you about regarding many books it is promoting, as well as it’s youth arm, Barefoot Ministries, which is promoting contemplative prayer practices and Roman Catholic monastic mysticism.  There is a new devotional book that is available at NPH called Ashes To Fire.  Here is a partial description of the book from their site:

This 14-week devotional book includes daily scripture readings from the Old Testament and New Testament, prayers, and each Sunday, a small sermon with journaling space.This book is specifically designed to be used, either individually or for small groups, from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost.

Sounds good: a devotional book for Nazarenes to use for spiritual guidance, and it does have some very good lessons in it, from what I hear.  But, note the emphasis on Ash Wednesday.  As a life long Nazarene, I find it odd that only in the last year or two have I been seeing such a consistent reference to Ash Wednesday or to Advent season, or Lenten season, or other such terms, in a way that I never heard once while my father was pastoring for many years, or a couple of the other pastors I had after he retired.  It’s only in recent years that these terms have come into greater use, and the question is, why?  If you recall in previous posts, it has been my suspicion that the Nazarene denomination is slowly being “Roman Catholicized”, and here is another smoking gun.

If you read the first lesson in the book, some of you will recognize that the concern goes beyond just referring to Ash Wednesday, which the writer of the lesson admits is not mentioned in scripture.  I have not read the book, but I do have an excerpt from that first lesson.  Now this book was the result of a collaboration where several authors contributed to the compiling of the lessons, so I cannot tell you which of them may or may not approve of a blatant promotion of a Catholic ritual, and perhaps some were not even aware of this chapter and its reference.  Contributors include General Superintendent J.K. Warrick, Russell Metcalf, Woodie Stevens, and others.

The book was brought to my attention by two Nazarene pastors, both who are former Roman Catholics as well.  Other pastors have expressed their concern for this.  Here is a portion of that first lesson:

OBSERVING ASH WEDNESDAY

Where is Ash Wednesday in the Bible? It isn’t. But there are plenty of precedents for calling God’s people together for repentance, for fresh anointings, and for renewal. The trumpet sound of the prophet Joel, calling for God’s people to tremble at the approaching judgments of God (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17)… 

 

Why ashes? Ashes in the Bible are a sign of mourning or humility before the holiness of God (see Daniel 9:3; Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6; Matt. 11:21). 

 

The Ash Wednesday service for many denominations involves the reading of Scripture, perhaps a very short message outlining the journey to Good Friday, Easter, and beyond. People are then invited to come forward and the pastor marks a small black cross with ashes on each person’s forehead. Traditionally these ashes are from the burning of the previous Palm Sunday’s palms, mixed to a light paste with pure olive oil. Often the service includes Holy Communion. 

 

Do we need to follow a certain ritual? No. But neither do we need to reinvent the wheel. If your church wants to begin an Ash Wednesday observance, a good place to start is with discovering what is good in established traditions. We can approach these sacred times that belong to all the church with humility and reverence. In them we can realize an opportunity to deepen our awareness of God’s forgiveness and purifying presence. Thus, an Ash Wednesday service invites us to humble ourselves before God as we prepare to follow in the steps of Jesus all the way to Calvary.


We have two biblically ordained “rituals” given to us in the New Testament, communion and baptism.  And so now, putting ashes on the forehead, a Roman Catholic ritual, has gotten the blessing of the official publishing house of the Church of the Nazarene.  But there is also a promotional video that NPH has put on the web.  Pay close attention to the final few seconds of this two minute promo.  If it does not shock you at all, then I don’t know what else to say to you.  If it does bother you, well, don’t expect this to be the end of it.  Expect more Roman Catholic rituals to come into our denomination, along with all the emergent heresies and Bible doubting professors and pastors, because frankly, this all seems to be out in the open, with very little objection at this point.

NPH Promo video:  http://vimeo.com/17291499  (If this does not play well, here is the YouTube link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHuZ9Z5A9fo)


You will also see video thoughts on this program by Pastor Carla Sunberg, Pastor Jeremy Selvidge, and President Bowling of Olivet Nazarene University, and perhaps others.
Is Dr. Bowling and these pastors aware of this first chapter and what it promotes, and if so, what is their position on it?  Has the placing of ashes on the forehead occurred at any of the chapel services at Olivet or any other Nazarene university?  What I do know is this, whoever put this together at the Nazarene Publishing House is certainly aware of the contents, and they need to explain why this little bit of leaven was inserted into a devotional book for Nazarenes.  Perhaps this is why I pick and choose very carefully the devotional books I might read, and why the Supreme devotional book, and the only one we really cannot afford to do without, is God’s Holy word.  No matter how fine a devotional book, there is none that is absolutely necessary for our Christian faith and practice.  None at all.

Finally, this link is an opposing view recorded by Pastor Peter Migner of Florida: Pastor Peter Migner On Ashes To Fire

Dear General Superintendents: You each were charged with a big responsibility of leading our great denomination, and part of that is to lead by example.  So what do you say of putting ashes on our foreheads in the Church of the Nazarene?  What is your view of the seeming Roman Catholization of many of our churches and universities?  What will be tolerated or not tolerated as we seem to continue down the road to Rome, and the leaven continues to grow?  What is “essential” or “non-essential?’  Is it that the “essentials” is not just agreeing on a core statement of beliefs; but the “true essentials” is full obedience to the Lord and all that He teaches and commands.

I just want to know how far this is going to go.  Many Nazarenes have already made that decision, and they no longer fellowship with us, precisely because of things like this that have been coming in.

What’s next?