Revisiting The Question: Where Is The Leadership?

Note: Eric Barger still has dates open for his Take A Stand! Conferences, for March 25-28, 2012.  In what area?  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin – anywhere in the upper midwest USA.  If you are interested in hosting a local “Take A Stand!” Seminar/Conference in your community or your church, please contact Eric via email or call at 214-289-5244.


The following was originally posted at Eric Barger’s Take A Stand Ministries, and re-posted at Ex-Nazarene’s blog sometime in March, 2010.  However, many of you will be aware of this for the first time, and this is one of those reports that need to be refreshed from time to time.  It is important in several ways, one being to illustrate the continuing issue of practically nothing but silence from the leadership of the Church of the Nazarene.  Another is to illustrate what so few have done, and that is to stand up to leadership under the pressure to conform to practices that run contrary to Holy Scripture.  Rev. Rick is not the only one, however, and of that I am thankful, to those pastors who are protecting their flock today by rejecting the nonsense of the emergent church movement.  (Update: Rick Headley and his congregation left the denomination and now worship together and serve God in their community with the freedom they need to preach the Gospel without being forced to compromise biblical principles).  Here is Eric’s report from almost two years ago:

Nazarene Pastor Resigns while Church Officials Attempt to Ignore Heresy (by Eric Barger, March 2010)

Many of you have tracked my research and involvement concerning the Church of the Nazarene and the alarming inroads that Emergent leaders and philosophy have made into this once-sound denomination. Though I am not a Nazarene (and never have been), I speak regularly in solid Nazarene churches and it is no secret that I am a friend and supporter of many inside the Nazarene Church who are engaged in fighting heresy throughout every tier of the denomination, in particular the hierarchical leadership and the extensive Nazarene university system. (See “The Church of the Nazarene and the Emergent Church” for an extensive menu of information concerning this.)

In a newly released position statement, Nazarene General Superintendents acknowledge the controversy and extreme disagreement within their church concerning Emergent teaching and practices. However, according to one District Superintendent, the General Superintendents of the denomination have decided not to take a position concerning Emergent ideas and theology. This is a sad and troubling turn of events.

Bluntly put, one has to wonder how those leading such a large body of Christian believers can ignore the Bible’s strong exhortations to those who would lead God’s Church concerning what can only be described as blatant heresy.

Exposing and routing false teaching was nothing foreign to Jesus, His Apostles and the early Church. Nearly every book in the New Testament outlines a struggle for truth or a warning about apostasy, false teachers or the disastrous outcome of theological error. Paul instructed the Galatians to accept only the authentic Gospel (as represented in the Scriptures) and pronounces a double curse on those who would purvey false doctrine (Galatians 1:8-9). The letter written by the Lord’s half-brother, Jude, is consumed with warnings over false teachers, including the famous statement that Christians are to contend earnestly for the one true faith. Jesus Himself points out that the end of days will be signaled by an exponential increase in false teachers (Matthew 24:11). He caps this by warning that, because of the work of false prophets and their perverted views, the love (for truth) of many (in the Church) will grow faint. Paul clearly instructs Titus that the mouths of those who oppose accurate teaching and doctrine are to be stopped! This is the very crux of biblical apologetics – a reasoned statement of truth and a defense of the true faith in the face of what is false. Thank God that many are vigorously engaging in apologetics inside the Nazarene Church at this time.

One pastor told me recently that he has personally challenged his own District officials concerning Emergent radicalism and when told that there will not be an official denominational position concerning Emergent error he bluntly replied, “No position IS taking a position. To take no position on Emergent isn’t leadership!” I agree. We are also now told that Nazarene university officials are being instructed to try to play down Emergent thought in their midst and, at least for a season, they should cease having Emergent leaders as guest speakers on their campuses. It may be too little, too late, regarding trying to keep key Emergent leaders off the premises however. Emergent philosophy is heralded by many professors and has broad appeal to many unsuspecting students. The unorthodox teaching of Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Phyllis Tickle, and Alan Roxburgh (among others) has spread like wildfire in the bible colleges and seminaries associated with nearly every denomination. So any effort to limit the appearances of Emergent leaders by the Nazarenes really can’t be construed as any sort of refutation of Emergent teaching but rather only an effort to allow the existing controversy surrounding them to wane.

The Results of Ignoring Heresy

In one of his most emphatic and corrective letters, the Apostle Paul warned, “A littleleaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) That is, if we allow heretical views to gain ground and spawn, it won’t be long before the entire loaf (the Church) is corrupted with heresy.  Nothing better illustrates the deep divide present in the Church of the Nazarene than the fact that solid, bible-believing churches and leaders are now seeing their only recourse to be to leave the denomination. One would hope and pray that the international leaders of the Church of the Nazarene (and nearly every other denomination including the Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God) would wake up and stop courting Emergent heresy as nothing more than just a “new way to do church.”

I have been in constant touch with others who have now been threatened, intimidated and, in one case, actually put out of his ministry position, by Nazarene officials intent on stifling any negative discussion opposing Emergent philosophy. Now there is the case of Pastor Rick Headley from Ohio. Here is the letter he wrote to Rev. Jerry Porter, one of the General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene.


Dear Rev. Porter:

On May 5, 2000, after 10 long years of studying and working to finish my studies and complete necessary service time, you ordained me as an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene. At the altar of Grove City (Ohio) Church of the Nazarene you looked me in the eyes and charged me to be faithful to the Word of God and its ministry. You then placed your hand upon my head as I knelt at the altar and you prayed that God would help me carry out the charge that you had given me. I took that charge seriously, Rev. Porter. I have faithfully attended to this charge as a local pastor for a total of 20 years.

I have been disheartened to see our great denomination travel a very slippery slope as it has allowed emergent thinkers to infiltrate our educational institutions, publishing house, and our districts. The heart of this movement is an open denial of the inerrancy and relevancy of God’s Word. The very Word of God that you charged me to be faithful to. I have waited for you and the General Board to refute the leaders of this movement in our denomination and reaffirm the Church of the Nazarene’s commitment to scripture. The General Board’s silence on this issue has been deafening.

Rev. Porter, I am conflicted by the idea that you charged me to be faithful to God’s Word and its ministry and yet you choose to be silent as well known Church of the Nazarene leaders such as Jon Middendorf, Dan Boone and others use their influence to propagate the emergent ideology. I am compelled to believe that the silence of the General Board on this issue is communicating an acceptance through tolerance.

“How much further will they go?” was the question that was asked by the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon in his magazine “Sword and Trowel” in August 1887. He asked this of the Baptist Denomination – a movement that he had faithfully served for 35 years and in which he was the most prominent preacher. For some time, he and others in the Baptist Union had been concerned that apostasy from earlier standards might be showing up in the denomination. They were also concerned at the character of the teaching being given in some of the Baptist colleges. After asking the above question, the great soul-winner said, “It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the truth once delivered unto the saints should fraternize with those who have turned to another Gospel.”

 After much prayer and deliberation I have decided to return my ordination document to you. I can no longer tolerate the idea of being associated with a denomination that openly allows an ideology that promotes disdain for God’s Word, ancient mystic practices, and pagan catholic traditions.
 

Sadly Submitted,
Rev. Rick Headley


(To read the rest of the original post, click here.)

The original question was: where is the leadership?  In the next week or so, I will have a report on a specific issue that I reported on last year.  It will be sent to the leadership for comment as to the acceptability of this matter I will bring up.  It will shock even the most skeptical of those who think I am just one of the many who are “crying wolf”.  Will the leadership respond and answer my question, one way or the other?  Or will they continue to avoid giving a definitive answer?  We’ll see.

Biblical Separation Is Not A Non-Essential

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”  (1 Cor 1:10)

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11)

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”  (2 Cor. 6:14-17)

“But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:13-15)

A recent post, Preparing For Separation And Loss, gave some advice for those who are struggling with false teaching in their church, and the difficulty of coming to a decision on when to leave.  The doctrine of biblical separation clearly can be applied in these situations, yet, it does not seem to be a doctrine taught much anymore.  With the influence of the ecumenical movement, pastors and churches have compromised biblical principles for the sake of fellowship with any group that proclaims the name of Christ.  However, that should not be the case.  I have seen examples in the Nazarene denomination where there are ecumenical services with Roman Catholic churches* and Episcopal churches** (which condone homosexual clergy).  These and other apostate denominations are being allowed to blur the lines of what is a biblical church or not, and the logical conclusion then should be to also have fellowship with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also proclaim the name of Christ.  So what’s the difference?  A few weeks ago, “evangelical” churches across the country allowed passages of the Quran to be read in their services, in a misguided show of “understanding.”

The ecumenical movement’s philosophy is clearly contrary to scripture.  This philosophy believes that “diversity” amongst many groups makes for good fellowship.  Ecumenists often justify their ungodly associations with any group that calls itself Christian, with that familiar phrase, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.”  But as David Cloud states in A Limited Message or A Limited Fellowship, “Some things are not essential to salvation but they are essential to full obedience, and the Christian has no liberty under God to sort out the Scriptures into essentials and non-essentials! It is our duty to declare the whole counsel of God, and to do it wherever we are.”  This is absolutely true, and we have no right to try to parse out and decide what commandments the Lord has given us as “non-essential!”

The following is a letter from a reader which I am re-posting by permission:

“Dear Brother Manny,

       We totally agree with your six points  regarding what to expect when one separates from apostasy and/or implements biblical separation whether ecclesial or personal. We can attest that they are universally true, regardless of denomination. The effects on most who choose to separate are complex and varied as you have summarized, but we believe it is a way the Lord baptizes us into genuine and increased separation/holiness/sanctification, by using what might be called “tough love” by which the Lord paints the extreme contrast between Himself and man’s ways. Our own experience over several years in the Nazarene church was a reminder to us of just how far the Nazarene church and other denominations large and small have sunk in the name of ecumenism and emerging growth methods, although at the time we knew nothing about the “new paradigm of doing church”.
      As I told you before, we attended and were members of a large Nazarene church in the early 1990s outside Norristown, PA, close to Philadelphia. I was in the choir and my wife headed a “sort of biblical” if you will, 12 Step ministry. After a lot of “grief given and taken” with leadership and loyal Nazarenes over the decline of a biblical/holiness focus and the mental illness of the then pastor which was denied, we made a complete break with this church, which now already had a new pastor who was implementing the Warren/Drucker business model and the Hybels modelof the new emerging growth movement. It was more painful to stay and silently acquiesce to this new “enlightened” and arrogant authority structure than to leave.
      Subsequent church experiences outside the Nazarene church were not much better and generally worse. We were adrift for a long time. Each time we were branded as negative and divisive if we dared even question the leadership about the decline in Bible focus and content. Sometimes it was so bad we left a particular church almost immediately without contesting what was happening therein, thinking again that our standards were way too high.
      There was a long period when I did not go to church due to bitterness and also failing to find a truly biblical church that was not also extremely legalistic. My wife would try going somewhere just to “keep in fellowship” which was no biblical fellowship at all. Sometimes our very young daughter would sense there was something wrong and refused to go, or go reluctantly.
      A move to Delaware six years ago did not improve matters. Trying several “Independent Baptist” churches and one Southern Baptist church also disappointed. Both the Southern Baptist one and two of the Independent Baptist churches have and still do accept Freemasons into membership with either ignorance or dismissiveness about the occult nature of Freemasons yoking with true believers.
      Now we know that these churches as well as the ones in PA typically never taught separation/sanctification/holiness. We also know now that those doctrines do not fit well in a church committed to inclusiveness and ecumenism, but rather are relegated to a vast and growing group of “non-essentials” of the faith, a downgrade if you will from doctrine to an optional status. With the aim of unity at the expense of purity, all these churches are willing to incorporate unregenerate persons into fellowship, ministry and programs on the strength of the recitation of a “sinners prayer” usually devoid of the need for faith in Jesus Christ along with concurrent repentance, and the misguided hope that they will grow into the faith. After all, they need these people to staff all the numerous and sundry programs heavily covered with fun and entertainment, at the expense of the Word of God and the truth contained therein.
       Praise God He has led us to an “Independent Fundamental Baptist” church in PA which is all it says it is. And finally, we have a pastor who believes in biblical separation and teaches it. Not the legalistic set of rules common among many, but separation TO the Lord, for His sake and glory.
      Put aside all the hurts and disappointments. See that the Lord always has something better for us and wants us to grow in Him, not stagnate spiritually where man has put himself on the throne.
      For your readers we would recommend two websites in addition to Manny Silva’s that have greatly helped us understand where we’ve been and where we’re supposed to go. They are:

Trust in Him and Him alone”

Footnotes and  Resources:

* Roman Catholicism And It’s Heresies
True Christian Unity (David Cloud)


** Why would Bible believers fellowship with the Episcopal church, along with its support of homosexuality in the church, and when its Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, says the following: “The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention.” (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/78703_112035_ENG_HTM.htm)  And imagine your denomination joining up with the United Nations, a godless anti-Christian organization.  That’s exactly what the apostate Episcopal Church has done: http://kjvbiblebelievers.com/episcopal.php