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?)

63 responses to “Does Holiness Today Endorse The Emergent Church?‏

  1. Manny, you may not realize it, but here in this blog post you have provided yet more examples of the “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric” that David Felter referred to in his article.

    If you really don’t see it, let me know, and I’ll point out to you the parts of your post that fit those two descriptors.

  2. Rich,
    Everything I have said here is fact, based on what the emergent ideology is, and what its supporters actually do. What I would like is for someone to explain the specifics of the “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric” that Rev. Felter said there were. That is too vague to just let it go at that without explanation. There are far too many concerned Nazarenes to not explain these accusations. I hope that Rev. Felter himself can explain it, since these were his words.

    I stand by everything I said- especially the specifics that I mentioned about the ” new expressions”.

  3. The reliance upon Eric Barger as any type of source demonstrates how utterly uninformed this post is. Eric Barger has publically been endorsed by unscrupulous Bob Larson.

  4. Mr. Hanna,

    I allowed your comment just to show how disappointed I am in you. After reading my article, the only thing you can do is continue your baseless and unwarranted attacks on Eric Barger, as you apparently will continue to do whenever he is referenced? Are you on some kind of crusade against him, and is that just the only thing you can say, since you obviously cannot defend emergent ideology with scripture?

    I believe you have also defended the likes of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and other mystics, some who are clearly heretics and in no way represent the holiness standards of the Nazarene church.
    Is it true you also defend Richard Foster, whose teachings are filled with New Age thought. You are also a defender of Brian McLaren and most of the emergent leaders, are you not, many who are clearly false teachers. Do you support Leonard Sweet also? He is a big proponent of New Age style revisioning of Christianity. How about Rob Bell? Are his teachings biblically sound? I could go on and on, sir. Defend them please if you can, but don’t attack a person as a diversionary tactic. I don’t fall for that.

    This is non-Nazarene like again, even though you criticize me for referencing Non-Nazarenes who expose false teachings.

    How about if you defend some of the emergent “expressions” that I pointed out, and tell us if you support them, and on what basis? Certainly not scripture, sir. I wait to see if you can come back with a substantive defense of the emergent ideology, instead of your usual personal attacks on people.

  5. Mr. Hanna,
    I would love to get your responses to the specifics in my article, that would be great. Otherwise, I won’t be sidetracked with your attacks on people. This article is an opinion piece which is based on facts, and if you disagree, please tell me why.

    If you would like to tell us all where you stand on all those folks I mentioned and their teachings, and justify your support, I would love to read it.

  6. I hope you can provide a defense of the specifics I mentioned in the article. I look forward to it. But I will not pay much attention to it unless you provide good biblical support for the things I mentioned above that the emergent church is promoting.

    Any Christian with good discernment can come to an accurate conclusion of what kind of false teacher Brian McLaren is, without reading any of his books! That is the same tired argument I get from emergents, that someone’s book must be read in its entirety to get the full context. It’s a weak argument.

  7. Let’s take a look at what’s happening to us in another dimension–the Spirit world. Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. There’s a battle raging right at this moment for our very soul. God is calling us to “awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14). He tells us in Romans 13:11 that it is “high time to awake out of sleep:” Today, you need to choose “whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). It’s time for us to wake up and join the battle. Fall down on our knees before God and confess your sins. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I personally choose to expose the emergent church movement for what it is…a false religion.

  8. Maybe Rev. Felter should think about this verse for awhile.

    Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. –Jeremiah 6:16-17

    The new paths of the emergent movement are leading down the path of destruction and can/will lead many to be spiritually lost. This is why we fight the good fight.

  9. Rich, by all means, please specify the “examples of the “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric” that I have written.

  10. There are several characteristics of New Evangelicalism that define it as apostate.

    They are:

    Repudiation of separation;
    Replacing separation with dialogue;
    Love for positivism; a judge-not philosophy by a dislike of doctrinal controversy;
    Exalting love and unity over doctrine;
    Pragmatic approach to ministry;
    Desire for intellectual respectability, by pride of scholarship;
    Attitude of anti-fundamentalism;
    Division of Biblical truth into categories of important and unimportant;
    Exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission;
    Mood of softness; a neutrality toward spirit warfare.

    Are these the changes that Rev. Felter is referring to when he mentions that some Nazarenes are “sensitive to the winds of change”?

    New Evangelicalism has replaced the Bible’s specific instructions for living and relating to God with shallow, loose, soul-condemning concepts that have moved away from the Bible and have united with the world. This is why the Church as an institution has lost its salt and light that has become powerless and silent in the current culture where it once stood as a pillar of right and wrong.

  11. That about says it all, Brad. Much of that describes many Christians from a former church of mine.

    I pray that Rev. Felter will give more details about what he believes, and also that the Board of General Superintendents will have time to give me a response to my email.

  12. Manny,

    Here are some of what seem to me to be obvious examples of “exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric” from this post. This is only a partial list. The post was getting too long.

    But first, I think it’s important to note that Rev. Felter is talking about fellow Nazarenes, referred to in the title as “the emerging church folks.” He’s not talking about the folks at, or Brian McLaren, or anyone else. There’s a lot of variety within this emerging church conversation. I find myself continually referring people back to Scot McKnight’s article for Christianity Today titled, “Five Streams of the Emerging Church.” Here’s a link: It looks to me like Rev. Felter has read the whitepaper submitted this past May to the Board of General Superintendents by six “emerging” Nazarene pastors/leaders titled, “Is There Room at the Table? Emerging Christians in the Church of the Nazarene.” It’s available online in multiple places and is a good source for knowing what actual emerging Nazarenes are thinking.

    So — and this covers multiple examples I’d initially written about separately — the fact that you deal repeatedly in this post with things said by folks like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, instead of dealing with what is actually being said or taught by these emerging Nazarenes seems disingenuous.

    OK, first specific example: Your linking of Rev. Felter’s acknowledgment of our current cultural changes to Brian McLaren seems disingenuous. It’s widely acknowledged that we are in the midst of dramatic cultural changes, both by people who are celebrating those changes and by those who are fighting against them. Rev. Felter is doing nothing more than acknowledging that changes are taking place in the culture around us, yet you try to link it with Brian McLaren.

    Second example: It’s clearly exaggeration when you jump on Rev. Felter’s description of these emerging Nazarenes as “joyously dreaming new expressions of the Body of Christ.” You follow this with “Well, dreaming can sometimes get us in trouble,” and then link this to the idea that some people think their dreams are “as authoritative as the apostles in the New Testament.”

    There isn’t a hint of this train of thought in Rev. Felter’s article… nor have I ever seen a hint of that type of thinking in anything I’ve read or heard from anyone connected with the emerging church conversation.

    I think you recognize just how tenuous this connection is, because you use words like “sometimes” and “may not be” and “this almost sounds like.” But you put it out there, nonetheless… which is why it gets labeled with words like “exaggeration” and “disingenuous.”

    You then go on to list some “expressions,” labeling all but one with words like pagan, unscriptural, unbiblical, false, and full of doctrinal error. I know that you think it is well-established fact that these things are pagan, unbiblical, false, etc. But I think it’s fair to say that many of our Nazarene professors (who invite the speakers and put on the retreats and teach the classes) and pastors (who write the curriculum) disagree with your assessment.

    Finally, it’s in this list that we find the simplest of examples: “…how to pray with prayer beads (aka the rosary)….” I’ve been in online conversations with you where others point out that there are MANY examples of using prayer beads that are NOT the Roman Catholic rosary. Your continued linking of it to the rosary, in spite of knowing otherwise, is the definition of disingenuous.

    I’m afraid I’ll have to stop there. I have the feeling even this is too long for the blog’s comment form. We’ll see!

  13. Rich,
    1. I do realize Rev. Felter is talking about Nazarene emergents, not emergent village. There is no difference, at least not for me. They all share the same values and ideology.
    2. The white paper- I have read most of it. Don’t like it, but it does not say everything about the emergent ideology. I am talking about the practices that are coming in to the Nazarene church as well. Those that I mentioned are unbiblical. I would love to see if Rev. Felter or even you could defend these practices, scripturally.
    3.I am not disingenuous about speaking of McLaren, Bell, and other non-Nazarenes, because they are the heroes of Nazarene emergents! I have said this to you many times. You folks admire them as if they were full fledged Nazarenes. Yet you criticize me for admiring folks like John MacArthur. That is disingenuous!
    4. These expressions that I listed are unbiblical, and just because some Nazarene professors say that they are okay, does not make it so. And in fact, I have previously stated that these professors are a serious part of the problem, and should be removed!
    5. Changing the name of something to call it a prayer rope, when it is simply teaching a ritual that is not scripturally sound, is what I meant. I don’t care if it’s from the Catholic church, Hinduism, or anywhere else.
    It is the unbiblical ritualism of doing these things that is the problem, NOT what group they necessarily came from.

    Thank you for your comments.

  14. Manny,

    I have been told that many people are very frustrated with the current state of Holiness Today. This is straight from the words of a 70ish year old Christian lady that I hold dear to my heart. If this group can discern something is odd without being knowledgeable of the emergent movement, then there is definitely something brewing in Rev. Felter’s articles.

  15. No problem, Manny. If I might reply quickly to your 5 comments:

    1. In their whitepaper, the emerging Nazarenes clearly state that they have some differences with the “emergent” folks. So for you to say that “they all share the same values and ideology” really isn’t fair.

    2. I’ve seen people on Facebook defend some of the “unbiblical” practices to you, using Scripture. I participated in that conversation. You didn’t find our arguments convincing, and we didn’t find your arguments convincing. I’m not sure what more you want.

    3. I don’t think that I, personally, have ever criticized you for “admiring folks like John MacArthur.” And I’ve never pretended that Bell or McLaren were Nazarene. But just like I can’t quote MacArthur and say, “So that’s what Manny believes, too!” it’s not really fair for you to quote McLaren and assume that the emerging Nazarenes agree with him on that particular point.

    4. As I’ve said before, if a fellow Nazarene with 10,000-20,000 hours of Bible study under their belt and an intimate knowledge of Scripture in its original languages and context (like our Nazarene professors) says something is biblical, and another fellow Nazarene with 1,000-3,000 hours of Bible study in English tells me it’s not, who do you expect me to believe?

    5. Then say that. Don’t say they’re teaching Nazarene kids to pray the rosary when they’re not.

    Thanks for being willing to interact on this, Manny. Hopefully I can help hold a mirror up for you just like you can hold a mirror up for me so we can see ourselves (and our ideas, and our lines of reasoning) more clearly. Iron sharpens iron, etc.

  16. On your points that you made:
    1. Regarding the white paper, did the emerging Nazarenes give specifics on what they disagreed with? And if so, do they ever mention things like: McLaren’s denial of the substitutionary atonement of Christ as something they disagree with strongly? Or do they simply disagree on some minor thing that he said that is not as important as his more blatant statements that are contradictory to scripture? Do you agree with his assessment that John 3:16 meant that Jesus came to save the earth, not people? That people can be followers of Christ and still remain in their original faith (Budhists, Hindus)?
    I can clearly say that the share the same core values as McLaren and others, even if there are some “minor” differences which I don’t seem to ever hear from them.

    2, None of these defenses you guys have made are anywhere close to be convincing to the average Bible believing Christian. You mean there is a convincing defense of prayer labyrinths based on scripture, for instance? Don’t you know the Bible forbids us to use pagan practices borrowed from other religions that as a means of worship?

    3. Emerging Nazarenes support Brian McLaren in almost everything he says or does, including his decision to fast alongside of Muslim unbelievers. Why does he not instead present the clear gospel message to them, while at the same time calling them brothers and sisters?

    4. “Professing to be wise, they became fools”. You can go ahead and equate spiritual wisdom and discernment with how long someone has studied, but that does not seem to be the case, because so many emergents with thousands of hours of study, have been completely deceived by satan; whereas “foolish and less educated” people like me almost immediately have been able to discern what is evil in this movement.

    5. Prayer ropes… prayer beads… rosary… all fall into the same category: rituals which have no basis in scripture.

  17. My responses to your responses to my responses… 🙂

    1. If you’ve read the whitepaper — and I can’t imagine that you haven’t, since it’s been available for months now, and I’m sure you want to know what emerging Nazarenes have to say for themselves — then you know that they don’t go into detail on their differences. The paper is largely a positive articulation of what it means to be an “emerging Nazarene.” McLaren is only named once, in a quote from Hal Knight, whose 2007 article in Preacher’s Magazine, “John Wesley and the Emerging Church,” provides the framework for the whitepaper. So while I’ve read things written by emerging Nazarenes on blogs and whatnot about some of the various things McLaren has said and done, including areas of agreement and disagreement, they aren’t spelled out in the whitepaper.

    2. I’m not going to try to summarize pages of the Facebook discussion we had on prayer labyrinths here in this comment. But I have yet to find your arguments against them convincing. For the record, the church I pastor doesn’t have one, nor do I encourage people to use them. It’s a non-issue for me. The only labyrinths I’ve seen Christians use have been explicitly focused on Scripture and Christ. I will say that the church has a long history of borrowing what is helpful from the cultures in which we find ourselves, from the Apostle Paul quoting pagan poets to Reformation-era hymn writers borrowing bar tunes to churches today setting up Christmas trees in their sanctuaries. Perhaps I should also point out that the church is not Israel and that one or two of the rules seem to have changed with Christ’s arrival.

    3. I can’t answer for Brian McLaren, nor am I privy to the contents of his conversations with his Muslim friends. I will say, however, that the first book I ever read by McLaren was his book on evangelism, “More Ready than You Realize,” in which he describes how he believes Christians can effectively share their faith with non-Christians in today’s postmodern context. I remember liking it, though I haven’t read it recently enough to say much more than that.

    4. I think you’re trying to “have your cake and eat it, too” with this one, Manny. On the one hand, you tell people to do their homework and research the emerging church. On the other hand, it seems you think it’s possible to study “too much”… if it means that one ends up disagreeing with your take on these issues. You say they’re deceived by Satan. They say you don’t understand the issue quite well enough. (I’m trying to speak for our Nazarene professors here, not for others who might wear the “emergent” label.)

    5. Again: then say that. Don’t say that Nazarene books are teaching kids the rosary when they’re not. Say that they’re teaching them “rituals” or “a ritualistic approach to spiritual growth.”

    Thanks again, Manny, for being willing to have the conversation. Hopefully we will both find ourselves helped by the interaction.

  18. 1. I know they don’t say anything specific- that’s my point! They never do, in the white paper or anywhere else. They cannot bring themselves to do it!
    2. For the record, labyrinths are used at Trevecca Nazarene Univ, perhaps others, and also at many Nazarene churches which I have documented. They are in our denomination, and they are unbiblical and dangerous.
    So are a host of other things, including the habit of favorably quoting heretics such as Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and false teachers such as Richard Foster, sometimes from the pulpit!

    In a post I put up a few weeks ago, Steve Muse makes these points:
    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.

    He also references these scriptures:
    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.”

    I don’t know what else to tell you. Emergents refuse to look at the scriptures which condemn these things, because they like them, regardless of what we are commanded to avoid.

    3. I refer you again to 2 Corinthians in regards to McLaren “fellowshipping” with unbelievers. We as Christians ought not to do it- or did McLaren meet with them and then preached the gospel to them? No, he did not, unless he has not reported it.

    4. I stand on what I say, and certainly there are many Nazarene professors who absolutely agree with me- not all have been deceived.

    5. Again, its all the same stuff. If you want me to be more precise, well, I think I just made it in the previous comment I made. They are all unbiblical practices, no matter what kind of name you call it.

    I don’t know how long I can go on with this- because you and I have been through much of this before, and I don’t think whatever I say again will make a difference with you right now. I am writing this primarily for the sake of others who may be reading this.

  19. Manny;

    Thank you for your website and for waging the good fight. I was greatly disappointed with the Holiness Today editorial as well, and alerted several of my friends to it. I am also alarmed with the state of affairs with our WordAction adult curriculum.

    When I questioned a reference to Lectio Divina, I was told, yes, some do it wrong, but we have made sure we do it correctly. I was referred to the practices of Guigo II. My research shows this 12th century monk is considered the first western Christian mystic.

    Then there is the WordAction facebook page that has a discussion thread on the emergent church. Find it here:

    The editor admits ignorance on the subject, while Schwanz tries to say Wesleyan theology demands it. I’d like your take on this thread.

    I believe most of the laity, and probably most leaders are ignorant of the real issues. I have seen some who still generally speak sound doctrine privately, but buy into emergent methodology for outreach. By this I mean they are addressing felt needs rather than actual needs and they also push for a sensual relationship with God. I have seen a speaker so infatuated with God that he could not actually communicate a coherent message in two hours time. I find it deeply disturbing so many of our teachers lack the discernment to differentiate shadow and substance. I can only assume a lack of personal digging into the Word and a willingness to simply take for granted whatever an authority figure says.

    From my experience, much of this battle is against well-intentioned people blindly going with the latest fad. To be sure, there are false teachers doing so with intent, but I fear a large number are simply poor teachers. My prayer is we handle the truth well and know the proper course, whether rebuke or correction.

    Again, thank you.

  20. Hi Jim,
    Good thoughts.
    just about to leave work tonight and checked this. I will take a look at that thread and get back to you. Thanks for the link.

  21. In my opinion, the Emergent Church seeks to bridge with Rome in its practices and doctrines. Also, the EC does not study or promote Bible prophecy as part of its doctrinal philosophy; in fact, they believe prophecy will only hinder the great revival that is already underway. Is this scriptural? Well, no: the Bible states that before Christ’s return, there would be a great “falling away” from the faith (2Thess. 2:3-11); and that many who once held to “the faith” based on the Holy Bible would come to embrace a false faith that contradicts God’s Word. It was predicted in Scripture that Christianity would be re-invented when people fall away and embrace “doctrines of demons” (1Tim. 4:1). Important, essential Biblical teachings on sin would be replaced by psychological self-help and self-empowerment programs that promote loving oneself rather than devotion to God and glorifying Him as our Creator, Savior, and author of our Faith (2Tim. 3:1-5). It was also predicted that some Bible-believing Christians would be seduced by doctrines of demons and embrace man-made philosophies that are antichristian (2Tim. 2:23-26). This all can only lead to a counterfeit body set up for a counterfeit “Christ”; that is, the Antichrist. Another result is that so many people, because of rampant deception, are completely unprepared for the future and have no idea what the Bible really says about those who follow false systems and false doctrines. Many people are scoffers about the return of Christ (2Pet. 3:3-4), and regard those who are standing on the truth of Scripture as crackpots, troublemakers or worse. (2Tim.3:12).

  22. This is an excerpt from an article about Brian McLaren.

    In an April 2009 article in Sojourner’s magazine by emerging church leader, Brian McLaren, McLaren clearly has targeted Christians. But not just any Christians. McLaren is talking about Christians who believe Jesus Christ is coming back again, suggesting that these type of Christians are the reason there is no peace in the Middle East. He says what these end-time believing Christians are doing is “terrible,” “deadly,” and “distorted.”

    Mr. Schmidt is supporting Brian McLaren’s book on evangelism, but how can you do that when McLaren is guilty of making statements as above.

    McLaren believes that Evangelical support for Israel is an obstacle to interfaith harmony. While largely unwilling to criticize radical Islam by name, he has condemned the “terrible, deadly, distorted, yet popular theologies associated with Christian Zionism” that “create bigotry and prejudice against Muslims.” He urged Christian Zionists bravely to abandon their prejudice, just as white segregationists had to shed theirs 50 years ago, even if the result was rejection from morally blind church friends.

    Another excerpt from Prophecy News Watch.

  23. I appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation, Manny. As you said, even if we aren’t convincing each other, we’re helping others who read your blog to see our different lines of thinking and perspectives on these issues. I entered into this particular thread because you expressed curiosity in your post about what Rev. Felter was calling “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric.” I wanted to help you see what your post looks like from the perspective of this 34-year-old Midwesterner who grew up in a Nazarene pastor’s home, was called to pastoral ministry while attending ONU, graduated from there and from NTS, and has been pastoring now for 10 years. From my perspective, Rev. Felter’s description is accurate. You may disagree… but it’s always helpful to know what we look like and sound like to others.

    I didn’t hop in here to be an apologist for Brian McLaren… or for anyone else, really. I’ll let McLaren defend himself over on I don’t frequent that site, but I did notice that he’s been offering some responses lately to questions people have asked him.

    I’ll try to quickly reply to 4 things (2 of yours and 2 of others):

    1. Re: the Scriptures you quoted against labyrinths and pagan practices — I’ll have to look those up and do some more research and get back to you.

    2. Re: eating (or fasting) with unbelievers — In light of Jesus’ frequent eating with sinners, I’m not sure we can draw the line where you’ve drawn it.

    3. Re: Jim’s comments on the facebook thread — I just read the thread, and the editor who is expressing her current ignorance on the subject there is Judi King, editor of Illustrated Bible Life. As far as I know, Illustrated Bible Life hasn’t put out anything related to the emerging church or postmodernism… have they?

    4. Re: Brad’s comments on prophecy — As far as I know, every emerging Nazarene is in hearty agreement both with the ancient creeds and with our Nazarene Articles of Faith. Thankfully, both the creeds and our Manual leave a lot of room for various interpretations of how and when Christ is returning. The Church of the Nazarene has, from its inception, purposefully not “taken sides” in the pre-/post-/a-millenialism debates. But we all believe and agree that Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

  24. Mr. Schmidt,

    Which One Are You?

    The liberals are amillennial and couldn’t tell a rapture from a rupture. Pentecostal, charismatic, and emerging congregations are often dominionists, although for different reasons. Catholics and some conservative protestants are post-trib. Almost all have been tainted by replacement theology, and hardly any study prophecy. That leaves the evangelicals and even among us there’s growing disagreement.

    It’s popular to just smile and say of the protestant church, “On the essentials of salvation we all agree, but in the non-essentials there’s room for lots of different opinions.” Baloney. The Bible is not a document written to provide a debating society with lots of different positions. It’s the Word of God and it’s not subject to man’s opinion. Though we may not like it all, we don’t have the right to re-interpret it to suit our desires.

    But while we sit around arguing about what it says, the world is falling apart and the time is getting short. The Lord’s coming back and 90% of the Church is distracted by the world and doesn’t have a clue it’s about to happen.

    God said, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please … what I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (Isaiah 46:10-11) It’s not that He’s stopped performing on this promise, it’s just that most of the Church has stopped believing it and no longer expects it.

    Of the 5 crowns believers can win as rewards for the way they live, one will be given to those who long for His appearing. (2 Tim. 4:8) It has always fascinated me that it’s called the Crown of Righteousness. Most folks would think that one would go to those who led exemplary lives. Not so. Our righteousness is imputed to us by faith. Longing for His return is a sign of faith in His promise that He will. (John 14:1-3) I wonder how many of those they’ll be handing out

  25. Rich;

    To my knowledge, Illustrated Bible Life has not published a statement of belief about the emergent movement. At the moment, it appears Judi is trying to gather information to make a personal decision. That could impact the publication later, of course.

    IBL does employ commentators involved with spiritual formation, which will raise red flags for many. However, to date their exposition has neither openly pushed, nor denied emergent thought.

  26. Like I said, Brad, all Nazarenes, emerging or otherwise, believe in Christ’s soon return. What “soon” means, and the details for how that fits in with all the rest of what Scripture says (that we end up referring to with words like millenium, tribulation, rapture, etc) has been debated ever since Christ ascended into heaven. While God “make[s] known the end from the beginning,” the ways he has made it known through the OT and NT writers is not as clear as modern readers like you and I would like. How about a date and time I can put on my calendar? Part of me would love that kind of clarity! But I believe Jesus’ answer to his disciples’ “Is it time?” question is instructive: “It’s not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”

    Anyway… the Church of the Nazarene has intentionally never asked its members to commit to any particular theory of end-times events. If you’re unhappy with this, I’m sorry, but that’s how it is.

    But I do long for Christ’s return. And with John the Revelator, I say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus,” in reply to Jesus’ statement, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Of course, it was nearly 2,000 years ago now that Jesus said that. So his idea of “soon” and ours must be radically different. Yet still I say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

  27. Rich, regarding what you said: “Rev. Felter’s description is accurate”, in reference to his comments “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric.”
    How can you say his description is accurate, when he does not provide any example of what those things are? That’s the problem. I wish Rev. Felter would not just throw that out there without explaining what that means. It’s too easy to do that without backing it up.

    RE: Eating and fasting with unbelievers: Brian McLaren has no interest in trying to witness to Muslims, from his own admission. He just wants to fast with his fellow “brothers and sisters.” Do you think Jesus had no interest in teaching the truth to the sinners he ate with?

    RE: Jim’s comments on the thread- still trying to work through reading it. I started last night, need to finish it later- Don’t know about Illus. Bible Life much to say.

    RE Prophesy: One of the big problems with McLaren, who again, is well liked, well read, and defended by most emergent Nazarenes, is that he rejects a literal return of Christ and he focuses on a Kingdom Now ideology which is not only unbiblical but of course focuses on man’s ability to make everything right in this world.

    So I’m glad you believe Christ is coming literally again; Brian McLaren dismisses that belief, and has commented that this belief is one of the major problems with many “fundamentalist” Christians (there are Nazarene fundamentalists also)! How do emergents keep defending this man’s teachings when this and so many other things he says does not line up with the Bible? (And please, don’t say I am taking him out context).

  28. Manny,

    As far as I’m aware, McLaren has never said that he has “no interest in trying to witness to Muslims.” Also, I’m not aware of him saying he “rejects a literal return of Christ.”

    I *have* seen him say that he is fasting with Muslim friends as an act of obedience to Christ’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” particularly when that neighbor is on the other side of religious/social/political boundaries (like Samaritan of Jesus’ story). And I’ve seen him affirm his “whole-hearted faith in, love for, and commitment to Jesus Christ” and his belief that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (not “a” way, “a” truth, etc).

    And I *have* seen him reject a pre-tribulation rapture/pre-millenial view of Christ’s return, in part because he doesn’t believe it fits with Scripture and in part because he sees some seriously negative consequences of holding to that view. If he has completely rejected the idea of Christ’s return, I’d be interested to see it. I certainly haven’t read everything he’s ever written.

    Oh, and re: the accuracy of Rev. Felter’s descriptors — like I said, they seem accurate to me, based on my own observations of what you’ve said here in this post and in many others… though you are by far one of the more reasonable of the Concerned Nazarenes that I’ve dialogued with online. It may be that Rev. Felter had others in mind, not you specifically. As I said back on Sept. 24 (in a comment that’s still “awaiting moderation”), if you want to know what specific examples Rev. Felter had in mind when he wrote those words, you’d have to ask him. As for me, I find myself able to simply say, “Yep, that’s been my observation, too.”

  29. REGARDING THE SECOND COMING, here’s Mclaren: “”This eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we’ve said before) that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly,”

    And he says also: “The book of Revelation does not actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but that a new way of living is possible within this universe if humans will follow Jesus’ example.

    What does the Bible say?

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
    – Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

    Here is just one many insightful reviews of Mclaren, by Trent Thornton:

    ** As far as no interest in witnessing (perhaps “little interest” is a better word), I take that from statements he has made, such as:
    “I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).

    See how so ambiguous and unsure his language is? And he is a pastor charged with teaching biblical truth?

    As far as Rev. Felter, I don’t have his email- but I will send him a copy of my review, and ask for his examples if he has any, especially if I personally fall in those categories. I don’t really expect to get an answer, but I hope so.
    I wonder if you could give your own examples of “caricatures of exaggeration” and “disingenuous rhetoric” ascribed to folks like me who oppose emergent ideology.

  30. Rich,

    The worst effect of date setting is that it cools people’s attitudes toward the Second Coming. It’s the old wolf story all over again: If you shout “Wolf!” enough times when there is no wolf, people will stop paying attention to the shout.

    Likewise, when there is an epidemic of date setting — as there is now — people stop paying attention to the dates and grow apathetic about the Lord’s return. Then, when a responsible prophecy teacher comes along and says, “I don’t know the date of the Lord’s return; all I know is that we are in the general season of His return” — the apathetic and the burned-out respond by thinking, “Oh sure, I’ve heard that line before.”

    And Satan sits on the sidelines and laughs.

    God is not interested in catching anyone by surprise with the return of His Son. That’s why He has given us so many signs to watch for. The sad thing is that most people will be caught by surprise, “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), because they will refuse to read and believe God’s Word.

    The signs God is providing are found in both the Old and New Testaments, and there are a great number of them. For example, one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament specifically covers the Second Coming. But what is not so well known is the fact that there are over 500 prophecies in the Old Testament which also relate to the Second Coming of Christ.

    A great variety of signs are revealed in these scriptures. There are signs of nature, spiritual signs, signs that relate to the nature of society, international political signs, signs of technology, and signs that concern the Jewish people.

    Many if not most Christians have ignored the study of these signs because they believe that since ” Jesus is coming like a thief in the night,” it is a waste of time to try to interpret the signs to anticipate the time of His coming.

    It is true that Jesus said He would come like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-43). But Paul later explained that Jesus meant this statement for non-believers, and not for Christians.

    Paul makes this point in his first letter to the Thessalonians. In chapter five he says that although Jesus is coming back like a thief in the night, there is no reason for His return to surprise any Christian (I Thessalonians 5:4). Why? Because, as Paul puts it, “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day” (I Thessalonians 5:4-5).

    What does Paul mean by this seemingly enigmatic statement? I think he was referring to the fact the when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit we receive the power to become spiritually enlightened. John says in I John 2:27 that the Holy Spirit can illuminate our minds to understand the Word of God.

    In other words, Paul is saying in I Thessalonians 5 that we can know the season of the Lord’s return because we have been given spiritual discernment through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, Paul says point blank: “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day [the day of the Lord] to surprise you like a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:4).

    But the spiritual discernment Paul is talking about is not gained by praying for God to zap us with it. It comes through the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we study God’s Word. And because the study of prophecy has been so sorely ignored, many, if not most, Christians are going to be surprised by the return of Christ.

    In Matthew 24, Jesus compared the signs of His return to the signs of a pregnancy. Think of it this way. You may not know the date when a pregnant woman is to deliver, but sooner or later, as you watch the development of her pregnancy, you will think to yourself, “That baby is going to be born soon!” Why? You can tell by looking.

    Jesus said the sign pointing to His return would be like “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). Any woman who has ever given birth knows what Jesus meant by this remark. He was referring to the fact that as the time neared for His return, the signs would increase in frequency and intensity.

    This is a crucial point that is usually overlooked. Thus, people often scoff at the signs by saying, “There have always been wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes and famines.” Yes, there have always been such calamities, but they are now increasing in frequency and intensity, just as Jesus prophesied.

    Peter tells us that one of the signs of the end times will be an outbreak of scoffing at the idea of the return of Jesus (2 Peter 3:3-4). We live in such times. The tragedy is that so much of the scoffing comes from Christians who are ignorant of God’s Prophetic Word.

    Peter also tells us that “God does not wish that any should perish but that all should be brought to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). That’s why God has given us so many signs to watch for. As the prophet Amos put it: ” Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

    Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His time because they refused to heed the signs of the times. On one occasion they came to Him and asked Him to perform a miracle to prove He was the Messiah. Jesus rebuked them severely. “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,” He said, “but you can not interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3).

    Jesus was trying to point out that although these men could predict the weather by reading the signs of nature, they could not interpret His significance by reading the signs of God’s Word. What did Jesus mean by the “signs of the times?” He was referring to the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures contain more than 300 prophecies about His First Coming.

    As I have already pointed out, these same scriptures contain many more signs about the Second Coming of Jesus, and those signs point to this day and age as the season of our Lord’s return.

    I personally believe we have been in the season of the Lord’s return for almost 80 years — ever since the beginning of World War I in 1914. My conclusion is based upon the fact that God worked through that war to begin the implementation of His end time program to regather the Jewish people and re-establish them in their land. World War I resulted in the land of Palestine (as the world called it) being transferred from the Turks to the British. The British immediately proclaimed it to be a homeland for the Jews.

    But the Jews did not return in large numbers because they had become acculturated to the nations where they had been dispersed. God worked through the horror of the Holocaust of World War II to provide the motivation for the Jews to return to their land to create their own state.

    The Old Testament prophets teach that the Messiah will come in triumph to reign over all the world at a time when the Jews have been re-established in their land and in their city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:10-12; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Ezekiel 37; and Zechariah 12).

    The state of Israel was proclaimed to the world on May 14, 1948. The Jews reoccupied the city of Jerusalem on June 7.

    Jesus emphasized the significance of these two signs in His teaching. He mentioned both of them in His “Olivet Discourse,” delivered to His disciples during the last week of His life.

    Regarding the re-establishment of the state of Israel, He told his disciples to watch “the fig tree,” because when it blooms again, all the things prophesied about the end times will come to pass (Matthew 24:32-34). The fig tree is one of the symbols of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea 9:10, Jeremiah 24:1-10, and Joel 1:7).

    The day before, while walking with His disciples, Jesus had spotted a fig tree with no fruit. He pointed to the tree and put a curse on it. The tree immediately withered (Matthew 21:19). This action was a symbolic prophecy pointing to the fact that the wrath of God would be poured out on Israel because the nation had rejected its Messiah.

    The next day Jesus referred back to this fig tree and said to watch for it to rebloom one day. “When it does,” He said, “the generation that sees it bloom will not pass away until all the end time events take place (Matthew 24:34).

    The fig tree bloomed on May 14, 1948. We are the terminal generation.

    In the same discourse Jesus said for His followers to watch Jerusalem. “The Jews will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all the nations,” He prophesied. Then, He added, “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

    Forty years after He spoke these words, the first part of His prophecy was fulfilled as the Romans conquered Israel, destroyed Jerusalem, and scattered the Jews worldwide. Jerusalem passed from the Romans to the Byzantines, and from them to the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks, the British, and — finally — the Jordanians.

    For 1,897 years Jerusalem was under Gentile control. The liberation came on June 7, 1967. It is the surest sign that our time is short.

    No, we cannot know the date. Yes, we can know the season. Jesus is coming soon. All the signs point to it. He is at the very gates (Matthew 24: 33), and for all those who have studied God’s Prophetic Word, He will return as their “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13) and not as a thief in the night.

    We are in the season. We are living on borrowed time. Therefore:

    Be dressed in readiness and keep your lamps alight. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes . . . — Luke 12:35-37

    Also, Manny is correct that there are many Nazarene fundamentalists and they were around at the inception of the denomination. I totally disagree with your comment regarding the denomination not accepting a pre-trib, pre-millennial approach to scripture. I’m a third generation Nazarene and the Second Coming of Christ has always been taught in this manner in my surroundings.

  31. I guess you can tell what I’m most passionate about these days. What better way to tell about the Gospel of Jesus Christ then through the actual fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

  32. Brad,

    I didn’t say that the denomination does not accept a pre-trib, pre-millenial approach to Scripture. I said our denomination has never asked its members to hold to a particular view of how the end times will play out. While other denominations were getting very specific in their articles of faith that they believed in a pre-tribulation rapture and a pre-millenial return of Christ, the Church of the Nazarene did not. Much like the way we have “agreed to disagree” on the baptism of infants and the mode of baptism (sprinkling, pouring, immersion), we have also left room for differing views on the end times.


    Thank you for the quotes. I’ve read them before… and in none of them did McLaren say he does not believe that Christ will physically return or that he has no/little interest in witnessing to Muslims. Quite the opposite! In the quotes you provided, he talks about helping them become disciples/followers of Jesus. He wonders if that requires conversion to the “Christian religion” or if it’s possible that in some circumstances they may be better served to trust and follow Jesus within their existing cultural context. But, again, in one of your quotes, he says clearly that he wants everyone “to experience life to the full in the way of Jesus.”

    Rev. Felter’s email address is

    As for giving my own examples of exaggeration & disingenuous rhetoric… I believe that’s what I did earlier in this thread. If you’d like, next week I could look around and grab some other examples from your blog, the Concerned Nazarenes facebook group, etc. If you think it would be helpful, I can carve out time to do it, I suppose.

  33. By the way, Brad, our music & youth guy here at Living Hope feels much the same as you do, re: your comment, “What better way to tell about the Gospel of Jesus Christ then through the actual fulfillment of Bible prophecy.” His take on the end times sounds very similar to yours. He’s been leading a small group Bible study in his home going through Revelation for… over a year, I think.

    Just thought I’d toss that out there…

  34. Rich, I guess I missed your examples of exaggeration that you gave.

    As for McLaren, I will no longer give you anything else from him- it seems to me that whatever I give you, you just don’t see what he is saying. You are either ignoring what he is saying, or you just cannot see what he means in his very words. I’ll let others who are finding out about him to see him for who he is, a false teacher. I hope you see that someday.

    Here, one last time, I’ll just repeat one of his quotes:

    He says: “The book of Revelation does not actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but that a new way of living is possible within this universe if humans will follow Jesus’ example.”

    Does that sound like a clear gospel being preached, and does that sound like he affirms what the scriptures say?

    I just posted a new page with his full interview with Lief Hansen. I’ll let folks decide by reading this and much more about him. Here it is:

    Thank you for the email address. I will send my concerns to Rev. Felter and see if he will provide more details.

  35. And thank you for the link to that interview, Manny. It’s interesting. I wish I could watch the video of it.

    You’re right that we read McLaren very differently. I think we come to him with different assumptions. It appears to me that I assume the best while you assume the worst.

    I assume (based on his own testimony) that he really loves Jesus and wants to be faithful to Scripture, so when he sees hints that our traditional understanding of some concept (like hell or what it means for there to be a “new heaven and new earth”) might not be based on what Scripture is really saying, he goes digging to try to find out what that Scripture really meant, to discover if there’s some context we’re missing, or some other Scripture we’ve been ignoring that sheds light on it, etc.

    So if he reaches a conclusion that challenges my understanding of a text or of an idea, I think, “Hmmm, I wonder if there’s any merit to that. Maybe he’s onto something. I’ll have to do some more digging.” And sometimes, I find that there is, in fact, merit to his ideas.

    You assume (it appears to me) that his testimony of loving Jesus and wanting to be faithful to Scripture must be either lies or self-deception, because the questions he raises and the conclusions he arrives at are so different from your own. You can’t seem to imagine that he’s reaching these conclusions based on an honest desire to understand the Scriptures and to follow Jesus Christ. When he reaches these conclusions, all you see is that he is deviating from the traditional understanding, and you think there must be some other agenda driving it.

    I’m sure there are other factors, besides our assumptions, that cause us to read him so differently. Maybe part of it is due to the fact that some of my own understandings of Scripture changed as I went through college and seminary and learned more about the Bible in its original context & languages. Some of the passages I’d thought were clearly saying “A” turned out to be saying “B.” In other words, “I’ve been wrong before. Maybe I’ve been wrong about this one, too.”

  36. Here is the link to the audio interview:

    Rich, you misunderstand me- I don’t come to McLaren with any assumptions- I simply listen to or read what he says- that’s all. I compare what he says with scripture- if you can’t see what he says in that quote I just gave you, what can I say? It is plain as day what he means there.

    You mean to tell me you agree with this?… He says: “The book of Revelation does not actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but that a new way of living is possible within this universe if humans will follow Jesus’ example.” (Really?)

    If you don’t agree with it, please say so- this is clear what he says hear, and he contradicts scripture! You ignored the scripture that I quoted that clearly refutes what he just said!

    That’s all I will say, because if you can’t understand what he just said here, you won’t understand anything else.

  37. Why does it seem individuals defend the likes of McLaren, Bell, Warren and others like them when shown the actual words they speak and their words contradict scripture?

  38. Hi Jim,
    I finally read about 95% of the WordAction thread. It was difficult- it was, seriously, like reading much of what I have read on many emergent leaning blogs- extremely difficult to stay with completely.

    But what clearly jumps out is the lack of discernment in terms of the recommended authors that are suggested by several of the folks on this thread:

    Nazarene professor Tom Oord- an open theist; believes God cannot know all of the future- also believes in evolution as compatible with Christianity.
    Nazarene professor Michael Lodahl- open theist also if I’m not mistaken- has written that God probably made mistakes in some things He did- like the flood!

    Phylis Tickle- wrote a book called “The Great Emergence”. She likens Brian Mclaren to Luther- that he will bring on a new Reformation in Christianity!
    Here is Ken Silva’s look at her:

    Len Sweet- New Ager! It is very hard to consider that this man is a Christian with some of the things he has written.

    If these are the some of the best sources for these folks at this Facebook thread, then they are seriously deceived, or very naïve and do not know their Bible. But I see this everywhere! It is incredible, and we need ot pray that folks do not fall for this stuff that these people write. It is deadly dangerous!

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB)

  39. Brad,
    If there is one answer to your question, it is the scripture I just mentioned:

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB)

  40. I’m not sure why you keep asking me to defend McLaren. But I went ahead and followed the links to try to find the source for the sentence you’re quoting from him, because I’m not willing to assume I understand a person based on one sentence without its context.

    It appears that the quote you’re attributing to him comes from the tenth paragraph of this Baptist Press article: In that article (and in Trent Thornton’s article which quotes it), this sentence doesn’t appear in quotation marks. It appears to be a summary statement by the author of the article, not an exact quote of McLaren, and no source is given for it — other than to say that it comes from somewhere in his book, “Everything Must Change.” If these aren’t even McLaren’s actual words, then I’m *definitely* not going to try to draw a conclusion based on it!

    I think I might have that book somewhere here at the house. If I can find it, I’ll see if I can find what he says about the “new heavens and new earth” image from Revelation and get back to you. Or, if you have a page number, that will save me some time.

    The fact that this may not be an actual McLaren quote is causing me quite a bit of unease right now, since you’ve “quoted” it twice as evidence that McLaren is clearly contradicting Scripture. I would hope you’d be a little more careful than that.

    So let me explore, off the top of my head, a possible line of questioning. Tell me if this offends you or crosses some line in your mind:

    What does Revelation mean when it says there will be a “new heavens and new earth?” Does it mean that we’ll live on a different planet in a different galaxy? Or will all of the created cosmos be destroyed… and then be replaced with a brand new created cosmos? Or is this image being used to convey the total transformation of all of creation, in the same way that the Apostle Paul says that in Christ we are “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come?” Is Revelation picking up this imagery from Isaiah, where this same image seems to be speaking of the restoration of Jerusalem within history (with people who live to be much older… but apparently still die)? If so, is this image being used in Revelation to say that all of creation will be restored in this way?

    I’ll look for McLaren’s book and see if I can find the relevant part of it. I have no idea if his line of questioning is similar to what I just laid out, nor do I know what conclusions he has reached.

  41. I lay most of the blame for the emergent movement at the feet of so-called theologians who’ve let themselves be influenced by Satan while charged with the responsibility of teaching the Word of God. Remember, Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

  42. I’m going to leave it at that, Rich. As I said, I’m not the one who is ever going to convince you and many other emergents of anything. The emergent church loves Brian McLaren, and for them to respect him and quote him so much, they clearly know what he teaches. I’ll let everyone else do their reading and research, and they can decide for themselves, not from reading a long running discussion between you and me. I have other folks to bring this information to who are confused about this movement in our denomination, and I will concentrate on them.

  43. Manny;

    The Len Sweet reference jumped out at me too, especially since this was the first time I ever saw the familiar “Len” instead of Leonard. I’m not sure where Keith Schwanz is coming from. On the one hand he mentions so-called missional books filled with tricks just to get numbers in the door and then endorses the emergent.

    From what I have seen with a former pastor in my own church, the emergent approach to missions is to invite people for the warm-fuzzies. There was no preaching with the intent to give the message of salvation. The sermons were more entertainment than enriching. Even Bill Hybels was forced to admit this builds numbers, but not disciples.

    I grew up with the message of personal accountability for witnessing. The church used to know the harvest field existed outside, where the church body (laity included) gave itself to the use of the Holy Spirit to reap souls; then they were brought into the church assembly for instruction and discipline and fellowship.

    The current approach is to make the assembly a place of comfort for the sinner, where magically they become strong Christians all without sound preaching that God could actually use to convict them and save them. All this method has done has been to keep the church on a parallel path with the world, rather than staying fixed on God. It doesn’t take much looking at the Barna surveys to bear this out.

    I also took exception with the need for a new paradigm every 500 years. While there is new technology under the sun, people have not changed or evolved and God has not changed. We may see different prevailing attitudes in a culture, but the gospel remains the same as ever. When Paul became all things to all men, he spoke of surrendering personal freedoms, not finding a new message. Today’s current fad places the burden on us to build a cult of personality where we are the bridge to salvation rather than the trinity.

    I agree with your assessment of the knowledge of the Facebook group. I too see this condition as wide-spread. It is particularly disappointing it goes so far up the hierarchy and has infiltrated our colleges, universities, and seminaries.

    I join you in prayer.

  44. OK, Manny. As you talk to folks about it, I hope you’ll encourage them to “do their reading and research,” and go to the sources, not just taking my word or your word for it… and not relying on third-hand “quotes” passed from one online source to the next.

    Brad, saying that people have “let themselves be influenced by Satan” is a pretty strong charge. If you’re talking about our Nazarene theologians — like Oord and Lodahl who were mentioned by Manny a couple comments prior to yours — I hope you have good reason for making such a charge against them. These are members of your own church family, committed to the same Christ, the same mission, and holding to the same Articles of Faith, Covenant of Christian Character, etc. There are plenty of verses that could be quoted about “biting and devouring each other,” too, you know.

    God’s best to you both. Have a restful Saturday and a blessed Sunday!

  45. Thanks Jim,
    One emergent pastor recently told me that the church is for sinners.

    Your comment: “The current approach is to make the assembly a place of comfort for the sinner” is all to often the case. It should not be a place to make sinners feel good about themselves, or get comfortable. In fact, it’s not a place for Christians to feel good about themselves necessarily. A pastor’s job is to preach the word of God, and if some are offended, so be it. Some will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and repent; others will walk out and look for a place that will not “judge” them.

    I feel blessed by the many who have joined me in prayer, and likewise I am glad to do the same.

  46. Manny,

    Have you ever given any thought to an end times posting? Not in reference to gloom and doom, but geared towards the blessed hope?


  47. That would be a great topic. For the Christian, it is not something to dread, but to look forward to!
    I had not thought specifically of writing one yet- but hey, I’d be delighted if you contributed one to the blog- and so would my wife! 🙂

  48. Do I have permission to use your personal e-mail to contact you more on this subject? I’d be happy to work on this subject for you.

  49. Manny,
    after over 2000 hours of research since 2007, in relation to what has taken place in our Universities; NTS; NPH; Barefoot Ministries; etc. I find we are in an apostate condition as a denomination.
    When it comes to Oord being a brother in Christ (as was mentioned by someone on your blog) try to convince the Nazarens who sat in his Sunday School class and heard what he taught. Several left Nampa First Church because of the heresy.
    According to the apostle Paul, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you then that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:8-9)
    We are not dealing with brothers, we are dealing with the “Accursed”, that must be PUT OUT FROM AMONG US. Look at the MANY SOULS of our youth sitting under men like Oord and others.
    May the Lord use us to do all we can to expose and help get rid of thes impostors, yet may we pray for their souls.



  50. Manny and Rich:

    I’m not sure if this will help, but it appears that you may be discussing two different things yet calling them one.

    Rich makes the point that Jesus acquainted himself with unbelievers.

    “2. Re: eating (or fasting) with unbelievers — In light of Jesus’ frequent eating with sinners, I’m not sure we can draw the line where you’ve drawn it.”

    This is valid, yet I’m not sure if this was where Manny’s objection is. I’m thinking that the problem is not fellowship with sinners or unbelievers. Rather the problem is in regard to fellowship with believers of other faiths.

    We are instructed not to enjoin ourselves with them.

    2Jo 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed:

    And we are also instructed not to partake with them in their rituals, harmless or not.

    1Cr 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

    1Cr 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

    Unless i am mistaken, this is more in line with Manny’s worries about McLaren’s Statements.

    I haven’t read McLaren myself, I’ve only read quotes attributed to him. Perhaps they have been taken out of context but he does worry me.

  51. Brad, thanks for your emphases on the Lord’s coming.
    It was because the religious leaders of Christ day were not students of the Prophetic Scriptures that they
    failed to recognize Him when He came, and if the
    religious leaders of our day despise and reject the study of Prophecy they will not be ready for Christ’s
    Second Coming.
    Truly His coming draweth nigh! With all of the prophecies being fulfilled in relation to Israel being brought back as a nation (1948) and then the fulfilled prophesy of Joel 3; 1-2, “FOR BEHOLD, IN THOSE DAYS, AND IN THAT TIME , WHEN I SHALL BRING AGAIN THE CAPTIVITY OF JUDAH AND JERUSALEM, I WILL GATHER ALL NATIONS, AND WILL BRING THEM DOWN INTO THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT AND WILL PLEAD WITH THEM THERE FOR MY PEOPLE AND FOR MY HERITAGE ISRAEL, WHOM THEY HAVE SCATTERED AMONG THE NATIONS,AND PARTED MY LAND.” June 1967, Six Day War
    Jerusalem and Judah were back into the hands of the Jews. How far are we from Armageddon? Not far!
    In the Church we are being seduced back to “The Great Whore”of Revelation 17:1-18 ( The Roman Catholic Church) Rev.18:4 says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
    The Roman Catholic practices that are being promoted in our denomination through ‘Spiritual Formation Classes” and the “Emergent. ideology,”
    should be of great concern for every Nazarene.
    This is what the “Emergent Nazarenes” have bought into; not realizing that they have been taken by this Great Deception.
    My prayer is that God will deliver them before it is everlasting to late.
    May we all be living ready for His coming!

  52. I don’t think anything is taken out of context when it comes to McLaren.

    This excerpt from World Net Daily says it all about McLaren and others like him.

    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!

    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.

    This is apostasy in its truest sense. I do not see it as sharing or teaching the Gospel to others. McLaren and others are guiltyof what is said in 2 Timothy 4:4 (KJV) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    There is no sugar coating their actions. There is no defending their actions through the playing on words. These men are supporters of false doctrine that is poisoning the Nazarene and other Christian denominations.

  53. Re: Brad & the “Loving God & Neighbor Together” document…

    Anyone who wishes can read the document and the list of signatories here:

    Looking at it just now, I find it strange that WorldNetDaily would say “both of these documents” say world peace is “dependent on mutual affirmation of the ‘unity’ of God,” with “unity” in quotes like that, since the Christian response document never uses the word “unity” at all. Also, it refers to “the Prophet Muhammed” a total of three times, using the word “Prophet” as a title. I don’t see it as too different from saying, “Rev. So-and-so” or “His Holiness, the Pope,” or some similar title. The document does not “affirm” Muhammad as a Prophet of God any more than referring to “His Holiness, the Pope” is an affirmation of the Pope’s holiness. It’s the title by which he’s commonly known.

    Also, if you’re going to be displeased with all who sign the document, be aware that it was also signed by the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson, as well as by at least one past president, Don Argue. Is the NAE now suspect as well?

    For what it’s worth, the document very clearly notes that we are Christians, you are Muslims, and there are very real and substantial differences between us. But it celebrates the common ground that does exist.

    Manny, since you were asking for examples of exaggeration — this counts as one, in my book!

  54. Rich,
    Sorry, I disagree- this is not exaggeration. You either don’t understand the implications of all that, or you do, and you refuse to accept it.
    Too many “Christian” leaders are dancing a dangerous dance with unbelievers and rejecting the biblical imperative to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

  55. How can I post on your site?

    I am pro-traditional Nazarene and write about the Nazarene confusion daily on one website or another.

    Thanks for getting in touch with me.

    J. Grant Swank, Jr.

    Note my blog per above which posts my feelings about Naznet in particular.

  56. Hi Rev. Swank,
    Thanks for checking in- I did not think my email got through.
    NazNet… ah yes, have not posted there in a while… I think some of them miss me by now. 🙂

    Just read the post actually. Have to agree- Hans is way off base as is many of the NazNetters, including some well known college professors. Hans already has a low opinion of me, so he can;t get much more angry with my comments anymore.
    The idea of infant baptism seems to be gaining popularity with the emergent crowd also.

  57. I read with interest this article and thread. This has been a burden on my soul for over 30 years. Emergent is just one form of challenge against the Church. All sound doctrine is presently being challenged. 2Tim. 4:3 The breakdown of any trust in authority, world or ecclesiastical has set this generation up for the strong delusion. I believe we are witnessing the formation of a one world order and a one world religion. Christianity, and evangelicalism are in a challenging time. There are many arguments to be made in defense of all orthodox doctrines but it is essential that all who profess the name of Christ realize what the core issue is at stake, regardless of differences in denominational doctrine. It is the exclusivity of the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and salvation in His name, alone. This is the crux of the matter being challenged. This ultimately is the offense, the stumbling block, that will lead and is leading to the division in the church, and persecution of the church. I am not a last days fanatic but a simple observation will tell you we are witnessing this. Many will fall away but I believe many will also come to the Lord. The harvest is being ripened as we speak. The Spirit expressly reveals that the flood and the harvest are connected {Joshua 3:15} Revelation 12:15-17 refers to a flood the serpent pours out against the woman{church} who bears the Son, and that the target of his wrath is on those who, keep the commandments, and hold fast to the testimony of Christ. We may be witnessing the end of the church age, the times of gentiles but it may be the time of the greatest harvest ever seen not built on the strength of a denomination but on the power of Christ, as we are seeing in many parts of the world.

  58. Thanks, Raymond. I appreciate your comments on this.
    I strongly agree with your thought that the view of Christ as the only way to God, will be the most critical issue, amongst all the other heresies that are being spread.



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