Does Holiness Today Endorse The Emergent Church?‏

Holiness Today is a big voice in our denomination.  Perhaps hundreds of thousands subscribe to it and read it on a regular basis.  It’s articles have great weight and are taken seriously by Nazarenes.  So it is that it is a great responsibility for those who prepare and submit articles, and even greater responsibility for those who decide what is published in the magazine. Most Nazarenes would assume that what is written in what used to be called Herald of Holiness, is based on sound principles and doctrine as written in the word of God.

Rev. David Felter is the editor in chief of Holiness Today, and recently he wrote an article titled “Are The Emerging Church Folks Stealing The Church?”  My overall opinion of this article is: it was disappointing, much of it was very hard to decipher and come to any conclusions, and my impression is that Rev. Felter supports the emergent church agenda.  The problem with this article being read by thousands, is that for many of them, they will read it, and because of the generalities in which he mostly writes, they will move on and not think much harm from this.  But to those of us who have been studying and researching the emergent church movement, this article said a lot by not saying much, and it is not encouraging.

(At the end, there is a link to his full article, and you can read it in it’s entirety and context).

In his second paragraph, Rev. Felter says this in reference to the emergent Nazarenes:

A group of Nazarenes, sensitive to the winds of change, have taken heart from the pulsing optimism of our Wesleyan message… Like structures built before hurricane standards or earthquake specifications, some congregations may wither and die before the blasts of change.

His “structures” reference makes me wonder if after all these years, does that mean our churches have been doing the wrong thing, and have been weak structures in everything?
As far as change, it is certainly a big, big word in the emergent church vocabulary.  Brian McLaren’s  “Everything Must Change” tour really showed what the “guru” and default godfather of the emergent movement means by change.  Eric Barger’s description of what went on at Northwest Nazarene University tells about some of this type of change:  (Excerpt from Eric’s DVD, “Errors of the Emergent Church.”)  And the wither and die reference sounds much like the philosophy of Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Church book (see Purpose Driven Resistors Must Leave-Or Die).  And this is a sad reality that has happened to many Nazarenes across the country.

And this:

They seek not to tame the winds nor to shutter the fortresses, but to respond to such challenges by courageously engaging our times.

The passage in Romans 12:2 comes to mind: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We should be “shuttering the fortresses”, in other words, we are “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”.  There is way too much desire by many Nazarenes to cozy up to the world so they can like us.  Jesus said otherwise!  He said we would be hated for His name’s sake!  If we are to engage the world, it is to give the undiluted gospel of man’s sin and his need for repentance, not to give feel good sermons that are not offensive, because the gospel is offensive to those who are perishing.

Rev. Felter continues:

These Nazarenes, not content to simply lock the shutters or man the battle stations, are joyously dreaming new expressions of the Body of Christ that can thrive in the arid deserts of cultural change.

Well, dreaming can sometimes get us in trouble, whereas following the word of God cannot, because God’s word is always reliable; but our dreams may not be in line with His word, and therein lies the problem.  The days of the prophets and apostles are gone, and this almost sounds as if he likens these emergents to those who are of the New Apostolic Reformation movement today, who say that now there is a new continuation of what the original apostles were doing, and that their ideas, visions and dreams are as authoritative as the apostles in the New Testament.  Unfortunately, his statement also is unclear because of the fact that Rev. Felter does not give any details whatsoever of the “new expressions” and what they are.  Allow me to list some of those “new expressions” that Rev. Felter omitted, or perhaps is not aware of (and they are not really new):

  • Pagan prayer labyrinths in use at universities and Nazarene churches.
  • Unscriptural contemplative prayer methods such as lectio divina and breath prayers, being taught in churches and universities.
  • Books sold by Barefoot Ministries instructing youth how to pray with prayer beads (aka the rosary), how to build prayer labyrinths, and how to go on pilgrimages to interspiritual prayer centers.
  • A pre-teen “Best Practices” retreat sponsored by NTS with instruction on using prayer beads, prayer stations, and other unbiblical Roman Catholic methods.
  • Welcoming false teachers like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones to university chapels to speak unchallenged to our youth, or using their textbooks for courses.
  • Using books full of doctrinal error, such as “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster for weekly small group study and “Bible” study in churches.

These are just some of the “new expressions” that the emergent church movement has brought into our denomination.  I have not even touched on the open theism and evolution teachings, and frankly, the most serious, which is the blatantly low view of  scripture that these emergents have, while at the same time elevating human reason and tradition to the same level of importance.  So unless Rev. Felter plans to clarify what he means specifically by “new expressions”, I have to do the job for him and let you know what the emergent movement stands for, and therefore these are some of the expressions that they are about.  My question for Rev. Felter is this: are you on board with these “new expressions”, and are you willing to state unambiguously to all your readers that you support the emergent church movement and all these practices?

Another quote:

They have accepted the challenge of change with a spirit of optimism for they are certain that the message of scriptural holiness is the only message that can redeem our times. Indeed, by doing this, they believe we more closely resemble our beloved founders than at any other time since the beginning of our history.

No!  Not so! I do believe Rev. Felter is terribly mistaken or just plain uninformed.  The emergents are trying to move us far away from our holiness roots, just by the challenging and questioning of the word of God alone, not trying to get us closer! Look at the people they emulate and heap praise on, such as McLaren, Bell, Tony Jones, Phylis Tickle, and more.  Look at all the heretical mystics they use as resources for spiritual inspiration, such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, and the Desert Fathers.  Look at what seems to be a push towards an ecumenical joining with Romanism and other world religions.  These “mentors” of the emergent church proponents do not respect the Bible, and some even deny that Christ is the only way to the Father.  They claim that Christianity is “mysterious to the core” (Rob Bell) and cannot be understood, and therefore neither can God be understood in any way; and they are attempting to totally re-write Wesleyan history and portray John Wesley as an emergent, which is a lie!  They claim he also did not believe in biblical inerrancy, and that is a lie as well, but frankly, they are not about to let the truth stand in their way.  So the claim that they believe that “scriptural holiness is the only message” is clearly not backed up by their actions and teachings.

Rev. Felter goes on to say:

Because their actions seem so different from the status quo, fear of loss and a sense of disequilibrium have ensued. Others, for whatever reasons, have chosen the caricatures of exaggeration and the use of disingenuous rhetoric to assail both the character and the efforts of a new generation of visionary Nazarenes.

I have a suspicion that his reference to “others” includes folks like me.  I would ask Rev. Felter to expound on the details of the kinds of exaggeration he is talking about, so I and others can be corrected if we are wrong.  Also, I ask for the same explanation of “disingenuous rhetoric”.  What does that mean, and can he give specific examples?  This kind of accusation without details is typical of how the emergents themselves talk when they do not like criticism.  Has Rev. Felter spoken to the many Nazarene evangelists, pastors, and laypeople across the country who are opposed to emergent ideology, and asked them why are they “exaggerating and using disingenuous rhetoric?”  Better still, has he spoken to just one of the many loyal Nazarenes who have been forced to leave their church because they had to choose between either faithfulness to the congregation and pastor, or faithfulness to the Lord’s teachings and correct doctrine?

And who are these visionary Nazarenes, Rev. Felter?  Are they boldly preaching about the new visions at District Assemblies and General Assemblies so that ALL Nazarenes will know of this wonderful new Reformation that is going on?  Or do they prefer to bring in these teachings as slowly as possible, because they know that countless Nazarenes will not stand for such new visions?
Why don’t more Nazarenes know about this?  Is there a fear that prayer labyrinths or prayer ropes are really not a Nazarene thing to do?

And then he says:

This is a generation seeking to respond to the voice of God in a decidedly different generation and social milieu, with faithful expressions of grace, faith, and holiness. Because they are different does not mean they are aberrant.

True, different does not necessarily mean aberrant.  In this case, however, it does!  The emergent ideology is slowly  spreading poison like a cancer throughout the Nazarene denomination, and no amount of “soft speak” will make the outcry grow silent or go away as more voices rise up against this movement.  The emergents are not seeking “faithful expressions”, they are seeking expressions based on their own selfish and unbiblical  concepts of what Christianity should be, or as some of them call it, “a re-imagined Christianity.”  If they truly want to respond to the voice of God, let them go back to the scriptures, instead of trying to “hear” the voice of God in aberrant practices that have no basis in scripture.

Finally, he concludes:

Assuredly, you too are sensing the rising velocity of the winds of change. Together, we can retreat into the sheltered security of our fixed, inviolable constructs of church, fastening the shutters in order to brave the coming storm. Or, we can don the full armor of God, braving the gales of change in order to witness the new manifestations of the Church that God is bringing forth in our changing times. Above all, we must know that those folks, dripping wet in the hurricane squalls of cultural change, are not thieves among us. They are our brothers, our sisters, and our children!

They are perhaps not thieves among us, because a more apt phrase for many emergents is “wolves dressed like sheep”.  Putting on the full armor of God is precisely why so many of us are at this point in time, trying to warn Nazarenes about the errors of the emergent church.  This is a time that many Nazarenes are practically begging and pleading for clear answers from leadership.  Rev. Felter, if you fully support the emergent church movement, please say so.  Do not let anyone keep on guessing what you mean. If you do support this movement, then start writing articles in praise of prayer labyrinths, prayer beads for our youth, and praising such “Wesleyan” writers as Richard Foster, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell.  Whatever you truly believe about the emergent church, be perfectly clear with all Nazarenes who read Holiness Today, so we know where you and perhaps other leadership stand on this issue.  You have a responsibility to be clear on such a critical matter.

In Christ,

Manny Silva

(Link to Rev. Felter’s full article in Holiness Today:  Are The Emergent Church Folks Stealing The Church?)


Understanding the Error of Spiritual Formation

Source:  Understand the Times with Roger Oakland

When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction.1-Richard Foster

A move away from the truth of God’s Word to a mystical form of Christianity has infiltrated, to some degree, nearly all evangelical denominations. Few Bible teachers saw this avalanche coming. Now that it is underway, most do not realize it has even happened.

The best way to understand this process is to recall what happened during the Dark Ages when the Bible became the forbidden book. Until the reformers translated the Bible into the language of the common people, the great masses were in darkness. When the light of God’s Word became available, the Gospel was once again understood.

I believe history is repeating itself. As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise in mystical experiences escalates, and these experiences are presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for fostering spiritual formation. This term suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate Him. Thus the idea that if you do certain practices, you can be more like Jesus. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite. In a DVD called Be Still, which promotes contemplative prayer, Richard Foster says that contemplative prayer is for anyone and that by practicing it, one becomes “a portable sanctuary” for “the presence of God.”2

Rather than having the indwelling of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, spiritual formation through the spiritual disciplines supposedly transforms the seeker by his or her entering an altered realm of consciousness.

The spiritual formation movement is widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader. It teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with long-standing reputations of teaching God’s Word seem to be succumbing. In so doing, many Christian leaders are frivolously playing with fire, and the result will be thousands, probably millions, getting burned.

It isn’t going into the silence that transforms a person’s life. It is in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and allowing Him to change us that transformation occurs.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)

We are reconciled to God only through Christ’s death (the atonement for sin), and we are presented “holy and unblamable and unreproveable” when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ’s life in the converted believer that transforms him. (from chapter 6, pp 90-92, Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)

1. Richard Foster, “Spiritual Formation: A Pastoral Letter” (January 18, 2004,
2. Richard Foster, Be Still DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, 2006), section titled “Contemplative Prayer.”

This article or excerpt was posted on August 23, 2009@ 2:24 pm.

The Labyrinth: A Walk To Life Or A Walk To Death?

I have commented previously on the labyrinth.  it is clearly one of the most visually obvious practices that are being embraced by the emergent church movement.  And now, of course, by Nazarene universities (see Trevecca Nazarene University) and Nazarene churches (see example video from a Nazarene church’s annual District  report).  Here is a commentary on this pagan practice being embraced by Nazarenes and many other denominations.  It should leave you asking a few questions: why is this happening in a holiness denomination?  Why is there such an abysmal lack of discernment amongst Nazarenes?  If this is good, why then don’t we just start announcing it at the next District or General Assembly as a standard practice of the Nazarene church?  Have you thought of that?

(from Steve Muse at Eastern Regional Watch)

Many participants at Gorbachev’s State of The World Forum in 1997 also walked the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

The Labyrinth

A Walk to Life or a Walk to Death?

By Steve Muse

See also The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

Is it a coincidence that within the last 20 years an ancient practice that had been abandoned by the “Church” has once again been introduced within its very walls that is impacting thousands? Why now is it being welcomed with open arms with such great enthusiasm by an unsuspecting church populace? This is another of many deceptions that have risen up within the body of Christ to bring delusion upon those who do not love the truth of God’s word. What affect will this ancient practice have upon we the believers in Christ?

I am reminded of a sci-fi movie I had seen recently where the main characters discovered a device that has been buried in a field for centuries and once it had been unearthed, the quest to find its purpose began in earnest. Many experiments were done to determine what this device was all about and once they thought that its purpose was known it was decided that one or more of the group would take the risk and use the device hoping to unveil its secrets.

At first everything goes well, many new and wonderful things are revealed, opening up an unending source of knowledge for its users. After coming to fully trust this device with many using it to gain knowledge and enlightenment, strange things are beginning to occur around those who were brave enough to have taken this journey themselves….but then the obvious.

As with most movie plots such as this one, it is very predictable as to the eventual outcome. What they had originally thought about this device, hoping that it was a good thing for all and would enlighten the people who used it, the device was created for evil purposes, thus capturing the users in a world of darkness and confusion, eventually leading to their destruction.

Across the country and throughout the nations a practice is being revived within the church, which has been dormant for centuries. In effect, an ancient tool has been “unearthed” or re-discovered and people have begun to experiment in the practice of walking the labyrinth. This is a practice that seems to bring a sense of spiritual well being for those participating in it but in reality it has trapped and is snaring many in darkness because of the labyrinth’s Occult origins.

According to Peter Corbett, in his article ‘Pathfinders, Walking Medieval Labyrinths in a Modern World,’ “labyrinths predate Christianity by over a millennium. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread. Turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia, and are thought to be linked with local feminine deities and fertility rituals. The adoption of labyrinths into the Christian Church is not very well documented, but they were used traditionally as a site of pilgrimage. Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives. During the Middle Ages, as the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, other means were needed to honor that sacred commitment. Labyrinths were adopted by the Roman Church to offer the congregation a way of fulfilling their sacred vows. Christians made their pilgrimages to the cathedral cities of Chartres, Rheims or Amiens, completing their physical and spiritual journeys in the cathedral labyrinths.

Even though the labyrinth is a Western concept, it shares some similarities with Asian monastic and spiritual practices. The patterns of the labyrinth are similar in design and conception to the mandalas of South Asian Buddhism, which are physical representations of the spiritual realm designed to aid in meditation. Labyrinths blend their visual symbolism with the process of walking, which is similar to the Japanese Zen practice of kinhin, literally “walking meditation,” where all of the attention is focused on the process of each step, one foot in front of the other, and the breath is controlled and regulated. Both of these techniques are used in Buddhist meditation, which combines the elements of calming and insight into the single goal of samadhi, or “awareness.””

It was recently, in the early 90’s, when Jean Houston, one of the leading New Age teachers (, introduced the Christian world again to the use of this practice for seeking spiritual enlightenment through walking the labyrinth. Jean Houston has been able to gain access within the “church” because of her doctorate in the Philosophy of Religion even with her apparent New Age Occultic teachings.

In one of her seminars in January, 1991, Jean Houston introduced the experience to the Reverend Lauren Artress. In 1992, the Reverend Lauren Artress brought the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral in an effort to bring people back to their center and allow them to experience “Spirit” for themselves. ( and

Most of the practicing New Age occult world has known and still does, that the introduction of the labyrinth prayer walk is a victory for their cause, bringing the unsuspecting Christians into agreement with the overall plan of the Aquarian Age, where those participating in this practice could be captured or ensnared into the ways of Satan. (‘The Labyrinth: The Occult Has Truly Gone Mainstream’ can be found at )

After researching the many websites on today’s use of the labyrinth, most agree that the labyrinth is a tool or device created to bring one into a higher spiritual realm through the use of meditation whether your are a practicing Zen Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a New Age Occultist, a Satanist, an atheist or even a “Christian.” My question now as it was at the beginning of this article is what is this labyrinth all about and how will it affect the believer in Christ?

If someone were to hand you an Ouija Board telling you that it had been thoroughly redeemed and that other Christians were successfully using this board to bring them to a greater experience of God, would you also begin to entertain the thought of using this well known Occult method to seek God? Would you then use this Occult device, knowing full well that this is a tool or rather a gateway and portal to bring you into communication with “higher” spiritual entities (demons and familiar spirits). The labyrinth is much the same as the Ouija Board in its intent and purpose, to open one up to the influences of the demons of darkness, to supposedly gain wisdom and knowledge of the mysteries of life. Then why even begin to experiment or experience the sacred walk of the labyrinth?

In Deuteronomy 12:1-14 and again in Exodus 34:10-17, God commands us clearly not to participate in anything that has ever been used in pagan ritual for worship or for any other use, for that matter. The labyrinth has been from the very beginning a demonic temple, a Kundalini energy source, a tool of divination, a gateway and a portal to communicating with other spirits and was incorporated into the Roman Catholic experience at a time when there was little understanding of the Bible and little or no discernment.

Throughout the ancient history of the labyrinth divination was used to find the proper location based on many Occultic spiritual factors. Dowsers (those who use divining rods) and geomancers (diviners) were used then (and are still used today) to locate the earth energy center point for many of these labyrinths and then the cathedrals were constructed around the labyrinth. If one will study the use of these spiritual gateways (the same function as the Ouija Board) throughout history, very little emphasis was given to its use within the church. As the church gained a better understanding of the word of God, the practice was discontinued. (Research in Geomancy, White Paper, 1990-1994, Jeremy Harte)

People are drawn to the labyrinth by the subtle seductions of the spirit world trying to convince us that anyone can get to know “God” through some kind of spiritual experience. If this were the case then we have all been duped as Christians. If I knew that I could have a “God” experience just by walking the labyrinth then all that God did through the sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross is really unnecessary to bring us into relationship with the Father, I just have to have an “experience” and all will be well.

Many believe that the labyrinth is the beginning of a “spiritual journey” opening up relationships with the ancient masters who will in turn offer the knowledge and wisdom of the ages to all who will take the first step or “the initiation” to enlightenment. Most Christians know or should know that the ancient masters are really “familiar spirits” or seducing demons and the initiation is a bonding with the powers of hell itself. Is this really a walk to life or a deception that will lure us onto a path to death?

Carl Teichrib describes “the initiation” in his article ‘Lucifer Rising: Occult Initiation,’ “Within the world of the New Age and the occult, initiation is the principle key used in advancing the student of mysticism along the path of occult learning. Practically all esoteric societies employ initiation. Freemasonry, Rosicrucian orders, hermetic societies, spin-off Masonic bodies such as the Shriners, Eastern Star, and the Order of DeMolay, all use initiation as a means of bringing candidates into their organization. Once inside the group, the society uses initiation as a way of advancing members into higher degrees of “illumination.” Within each of these rites, mystical concepts are passed down by means of symbol, myth, and legend woven throughout the initiation experience. The candidate, for the most part, does not understand its significance or meaning. Only as one climbs the ladder of ritual and esoteric work does the member comprehend what the initiations really entail.”

Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries, gives us additional insight from his article ‘The Initiation’: “For one to be part of the world servers in the New Age, they must first have an initiation. This does not come necessarily from joining a specific group, but by ones own spiritual experience. The common denominator for those who are enlightened is the experience of light. It does not matter how one receives it. Whether it comes by meditation, or a spirit guide or from their Astral traveling, as long as they have experienced it.”

As we walk the labyrinth we are in some cases knowingly or as with most people we are unknowingly entering into a covenant agreement with the demonic being initiated just by using the labyrinth as one innocently uses an Ouija Board thinking they are just playing a game. We become joined with the powers of darkness and we put ourselves at the mercy of the spirits who will lead us to destruction.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and 7:1 we read:

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?

“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.’ Therefore, ‘COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,’ says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

We as Christians have become like moths attracted to the flame, continually seduced to ever so slowly draw nearer and nearer until we finally are burned up in a flash. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “prove all things” or “examine everything carefully” and to hold onto those things which are good. We are also told in 1 John 4 “believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
Why would you even take the chance that you might be taking a walk leading to death?

Originally written by Steve Muse
August, 2004 – Eastern Regional Watch

Be Sober, Be Vigilant, Watch, Warn, Rebuke As Needed

(At the end of this commentary are some words of warning from the scriptures).

As the evangelical world is heading down the road of ecumenical oneness and togetherness, led by the likes of Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, and others, in cooperation with Rome’s leaders, we need to be ever more vigilant.  We cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel.  We need to watch out for the false teachers that are all around us, and we should warn people often.  But keep in mind that these teachers have become very well-liked and very popular, so it is hard to reject a false teacher who has become so endearing to many Christians.  In fact, warning others will generally make you very unpopular, but should that be a reason to stop you?  But it is not so surprising according to the scriptures.  We are warned about the wolves in sheep’s clothing, and how Satan himself appears as an angel of light.  We read about the  great signs and wonders that will deceive, if possible, even the elect.  (Matthew 24:24)
Although he is not all-powerful and all-knowing as God is, Satan is truly deceptive.  The greatest example of that is how he so smoothly deceived Eve in the garden, as he asked her in Genesis chapter 3 “has God indeed said?”  He’s doing the same now, to countless millions, through his sometimes unwitting accomplices, who think they are on the right path to God, not realizing they have long ago fallen into the ditch on the side of the wide path. Yet there are other accomplices who know exactly what they are doing, who are indeed the false prophets that we have been warned about.

One of the mistakes Christians are making now in ever increasing numbers, is that they are following a person, rather than following the Lord Jesus Christ AND what He commands.  They have dropped the ball, and stopped being Bereans, and sadly, some never were Bereans.  You remember the Bereans, don’t you?  They were highly commended by Paul for taking care to scrutinize and listen carefully to all that he taught, and then making sure he was teaching the true gospel.  But do most Christians do that now?  I’m afraid not, and the increasing lack of discernment is a serious major problem for Christians today, and could very well be the most critical problem we are facing in the Christian church. Part of this lack of discernment seems to result from a fear of what might happen if you stand for the truth.  But what is worse, standing for the truth and dealing with what happens, or closing the eyes to truth, and sweeping the dirt under the rug for a little while, covering up the decay that is not apparent on the surface now, but it will eventually surface, perhaps even more ugly?

When Christ returns, which by the way is not a very important doctrine in emergent ideology, it will not happen until His return is preceded by the great deception, or the great falling away or apostasy in the church.  I believe we may be seeing it happening right now.  If anyone tells you that in the end times, we will see great revivals happening all over the world, rest assured it is a lie, unless those “revivals” are part of the great deception that is guaranteed to occur, according to scripture.  The real problem we will be facing, is not persecution from the outside, but we will be facing a threat which has already started and is already within the Christian church of today, whether Nazarene, Baptist, or any other evangelical church.  The practices that are being welcomed so readily in the Nazarene church, such as pagan prayer labyrinths, prayer beads, and lectio divina, would have been rejected years ago by those who call themselves holiness people.  But not now, apparently.  It seems that anything that is introduced now, is coming in almost without question.  Although many are silent, many are also speaking out against this apostasy that is happening.

So how do you warn a church that is heading into apostasy?  I was reminded of this very question posed in a commentary I read last December at Herescope, of a lesson written by Jeremiah Burroughs, a minister of the gospel in the 1600s, where he writes an extensive commentary on the book of Hosea.  In Hosea 2:2, it says “Plead with your mother; plead with her. She no longer acts like my wife. She no longer treats me like her husband. Tell her to stop acting like a prostitute. Tell her to remove the lovers from between her breasts.” As the writer of the post states, “Hosea’s wife is an intense illustration of how individuals and churches leave their First Love and wander off pursuing lovers and lusts, passions and idolatries”. So the story of Hosea is a fascinating but sometimes little known story, of how God commands Hosea to take on a prostitute wife, and Hosea watches as she treats him with utter contempt, cheats on him, and then is sold into slavery later.  But Hosea even after all that, goes and pays the greatest price he can pay, in order to bring her back to him.  Thus this serves as an illustration of the great patience God has, how He wants to restore Israel, in spite of their great turning away to false idols and rejection of the true God.  Perhaps that is the case here that we must make.  We must plead to those who are deceiving many, or are being deceived, so that perhaps they may return to the true God, and cast aside the false idols of feel-good theology.

Finally, I believe we are seeing signs of the great delusion when the full authority of scripture is challenged by the post-modern intellectual elites who sit in their ivory towers, consulting not the scriptures, but consulting each other’s self-proclaimed masterpieces of enlightenment.  They self-congratulate each other in their inner circles and then proceed to feed their poison to naive students who are starved for lack of sound doctrine that God’s Word can give them.  These deceivers will have a lot to answer to the Lord, for allowing even one of these young people to be deceived into believing in a false Jesus, or to reject Christ completely. (Note Matthew 7 in the scripture references below). Those who claim to be believers have a whole lot more responsibility to God than an unbeliever.

What is the remedy?  Quite simple.  Get back to the Word of God, and stop depending so much on books and videos and other resources that only give someone’s personal take on the gospel, and instead let’s focus more on what the scriptures themselves teach us.  Some books and resources are excellent and of great value, but when they seem to perhaps only mention one or two scriptures, and then the rest is 99% personal opinion with heartwarming stories, you could be in danger of being deceived by a very clever person.  Don’t fall for it.  Stay in God’s Word, and insist on being fed God’s Word, not someone else’s take on what God’s word is.  That’s how you can avoid being deceived, and you can start to discern, and in turn warn others who might be deceived.
Will you close your eyes, cover your ears, and shut your mouth to this reality, or will you obey the Lord’s commands and expose, reject, and shun those who would betray the gospel “once given to the saints?”  Your answer might very well determine where some people will be headed to for eternity.

2 Peter 2

1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

1 Peter 5
1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

Matthew 18
7“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.
9“If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11[“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]

1 Timothy 4
1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;
5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

Acts 20:28-31
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Are Church Leaders Affirming Allah?

My friends, I am posting this as a continuing commentary on the issue of Brian McLaren’s celebration of Ramadan and the implications of it.  He is clearly not the first “evangelical” to get too cozy with a false religion, and we as Christians need to clearly point this out, and bring to light all those prominent, influential Christian teachers and leaders, who are violating the biblical mandate to “be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers”.

By Joe Schimmel, © 2009, August 28, originally posted at WorldNet Daily

Has anyone noticed how hundreds of professing Christian leaders are compromising their faith by uniting with Muslims? Could it be that we are witnessing the formation of the prophesied one-world religion under the Antichrist? (Revelation 13:1-18)

For example, Brian McLaren, a prominent Emerging Church leader, announced plans to celebrate the Islamic holiday Ramadan, commemorating Muhammad’s reception of the Quran. On the Fourth of July, when most Americans were celebrating the birth of our nation, Rick Warren, “America’s Pastor,” addressed the Islamic Society of North America, which, the Department of Justice categorized two years ago as a co-conspirator in financing a foreign terrorist group!
Another Emerging Church leader, Tony Campolo, a proponent of the so-called “evangelical left” claimed that “even if” Muslims “don’t convert, they are God’s people.” Campolo further declared, “A theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” (“Speaking My Mind,” page 149). Campolo, like McLaren and Warren, has a habit of compromising biblical truth to forge unholy alliances with sworn enemies of the Gospel. Campolo admitted, “Consequently, anyone who accuses me of violating the biblical message is correct!” (“A Reasonable Faith,” page 190)
Even more chilling is the fact that over 300 prominent Christian leaders signed a letter issued by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture claiming that world peace is dependent on Muslims and Christians recognizing “Allah” and “Yahweh” as the same God. This letter, titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” was written in response to a signed document by 138 Muslim leaders titled “A Common Word Between Us and You.”

McLaren, Warren, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels were just several of the signatories to this outright betrayal of Christ!
(Others included emergent leaders or supporters like Tony Jones, Scot McKnight, Jim Wallis, and Mike King.  Also signing was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson.)

Furthermore, both of these documents affirmed Muhammed as a “Prophet” of God and declared that world peace was dependant on mutual affirmation of the “unity” of God. Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading Christian apologist and philosopher, correctly stated that by signing this document, Rick Warren and others were, in effect, signing up to become Muslims! This is because an affirmation of Allah as God is a denial of the Triune God revealed in Holy Scripture. Moreover, the Quran denies that Jesus is the Son of God no less than nine times.
The Islamic “Common Word” document, in effect, calls on Christians to affirm the Islamic understanding of the unity of God as a precondition to achieving world peace. Part and parcel of implementing Shariah law around the world is the imposition of the worship of Allah worldwide:

Believe in Allah and say not “Trinity.” Cease! It is better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son. (Quran, Sura 4:171)

Incredibly, the very title of the Muslim document, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” is actually taken from a Quranic verse that calls for Christian’s (“people of the book”) to deny the Trinity (so-called “partners”) and to submit to Allah as the one true God:

O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. (Quran, Sura 3:64)

Could it be that this “Common Word” document is part of a master deception? Islamic scholars teach that Muslims may engage in “taqiyya,” which holds that Muslims may lie to unbelievers to defeat them. After all, the Quran states that “Allah is the best of schemers” (Quran 3:54), and Muhammad used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans while preparing for their defeat just two years later, executing many who had given him their misguided trust (Quran 9:3).
The “Common Word” document was issued from the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought of Jordan. This same Institute has posted a number of fatwas condemning Christians to death for leaving Islam. So much for peace and tolerance! The Islamic concept of peace is tied to submission to Allah. However, God forewarned that the world would be saying “peace and safety” and given over to a “strong delusion” in the last days prior to Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). This is very significant because the Bible states that the last days’ delusion will revolve around the spirit of the Antichrist, identified in Scripture as denial of the Father and the Son! (1 John 2:18-22; 4:1-4)

Joe Schimmel is senior pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Southern California and president of the apologetic ministry Good Fight Ministries, a Christian outreach exposing apostasy in pop culture and media. He is best known for “They Sold Their Souls for Rock n Roll,” which exposes the satanic influences behind much of yesterday and today’s popular music and how it is negatively influencing our youth. Pastor Schimmel recently partnered with award-winning director Christian J. Pinto to release “The Kinsey Syndrome,” a documentary showing how “The Kinsey Reports” have been used to change the laws concerning sex crimes in America.