1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
I was not sure exactly where to start with this, and it might take you about 10 minutes to read it all, but this is important. After you finish this, please come back and ponder these questions: Are these books the kind of reading material and teaching that I want to have as a Nazarene? Do these books reflect the holiness tradition of the Nazarene Church? Why in the world would anyone in the Nazarene church want to use books about Roman Catholic figures whose practices and teachings are clearly heretical and false? Is the Nazarene denomination proclaiming traditional holiness teaching “on paper”, while going in a totally different direction under the radar of most Nazarenes? Will I as a Nazarene just close my eyes to this since it’s not “affecting me” anyway? Do I care about what just might be happening in my local church, or do I care about all Christians who may be touched by false teaching? What is going on with our seminary that at least one professor is recommending this kind of reading material? What would our General Superintendents have to say about these books? If the practices of all these Roman Catholic mystics are so good, why are they not openly promoted at District Assemblies, or widely announced in places like our Holiness Today magazine, as something good for ALL Nazarenes? When did all this start coming into the Nazarene denomination, and why?
With that in mind, I have stumbled onto some really disturbing information that comes right out of the Windsor Hills Camp and Retreat Center in New Hampshire, in our New England District.
On their website, the Neilson Renewal Center is asking people to donate books to the The Hardy Library for Spiritual Formation. These books are being suggested by Dr. Doug Hardy, a graduate of ENC and currently professor of spiritual formation at our Nazarene Theological Seminary.
I downloaded the pdf file at the website with a list of books they are looking for, and when I opened the file, that is where my jaw figuratively dropped to the floor. I have already written two articles asking whether Roman Catholicism is being taught to Nazarene youth. I will now ask the same question here for adults: are Roman Catholicism mystical practices and ideology being promoted openly now to our pastors and adults? Apparently, it is at Windsor Hills Camp!
From reading the list of books that are being requested, a great majority of them are books written about or by Roman Catholic monks and mystics, or they are books written by modern day proponents of “spiritual formation”, which many Nazarenes are still not aware of what that term really means. Spiritual formation as it is being used now by the emergent and New Age crowd, is nothing more than the use of unbiblical contemplative spirituality practices and ancient Roman Catholic practices and rituals in order to supposedly experience God and become one with God.
So what books are being asked for, and why are they so bad? As a quick summary, a great many of the titles are books about such Roman Catholic monks, saints, and mystics as: St. John of the Cross; St. Theresa of Avila; Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity; St. Therese of Lisieux; Madeline de St. Joseph; Aelred of Riveulx; Catherine of Sienna; Richard Foster (the modern day father of spiritual formation), George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement; Bernard of Clairvaux; Ignatius of Loyola; Meister Eckhart; Julian of Norwich; Mother Teresa. There are some Wesleyan related books as well, but not much compared to these others. It is interesting to note that one of the goals for the library is for “the increased understanding of the scriptures”, but ironically, many of these mystics are the very people who have twisted the scriptures, or substituted their own warped thinking in place of the scriptures! The other goal is for “the spiritual encouragement/formation of God’s servants”. How?
I have a followup page (Mystics Who Are Being Promoted To Nazarenes) where I give some brief biographical data and highlight the false teachings and heresies of many of these mystics. Granted, there are some good books listed here, but there is no excuse for mixing in the bad ones! Ironically, the only Bible asked for here is the Spiritual Formation Bible, which came out of the Renovare project affiliated with… Richard Foster of course.
Let me just give two short descriptions of some of the mystics promoted by these books. Are these appealing to you as a Christian?:
Nouwen, Henri (1932-1996)
Roman Catholic monk who believed that there are many paths to God and each individual can claim their way to God. Was deeply into contemplative prayer, lectio divina. Has a vast influence within the emerging church and evangelicalism. He claimed that contemplative meditation is necessary for an intimacy with God. He taught that the use of a mantra could could take the practitioner into God’s presence. He said that mysticism and contemplative prayer can create ecumenical unity because Christian leaders learn to hear “the voice of love”. He combined the teaching of eastern gurus with ancient Catholic practices. He taught a form of universalism and panentheism (God is in all things). He claimed that every person who believes in a higher power and follows his vision of the future is of God and is building God’s kingdom. He also taught that God is only love, unconditional love (of course that also is contradictory to scripture) (Contemplative Mysticism, by David Cloud, pg. 317-321)
St. Teresa of Avila
She was part of the Carmelite order, which was devoted to Mary. She hated Protestants, and believed that they brought damnation to themselves by rejecting Rome and the Mass.
She was greatly influenced by books on mystical asceticism. She believed in works salvation. She was devoted to Mary, other saints, and especially to Joseph. She believed that the consecrated wafer in the Mass is Christ. She believed in purgatory. She inflicted tortures on herself and practiced extreme asceticism. She practiced mindless meditation and often went into ecstatic “raptures.” She often feared that she was possessed or influenced by the devil. She alleged to have seen Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father. She also claimed to have seen many demons, and that the most effective thing against them was holy water. She claimed to have seen and talked with many dead people. (Contemplative Mysticism, by David Cloud, pg. 374-384)
Following is the original list as published at the Camp website.
I highlighted the more troublesome authors and titles in red, that I know of. My comments are in green.
There are a couple of links you can go to to see what some of these are about, but I will have a more complete summary of most of these people on my blog… go to Lack of Discernment From Our Seminary.
The Wesleyan resources were listed last.
From the website of Windsor Hills:
Send us a book! Buy us a periodical subscription! Here’s how and why . . .
The Nielson Renewal Center will include the Hardy Library for Spiritual Formation. It is our dream to create a library that will encourage and support pastors, while providing resources for the tasks that are theirs. We also want this library to resource spiritual formation events that take place on the campground.
While we do have some money set aside for book purchases, we can maximize our funds if we also receive donations to the library. All material in this library must meet an important test. These books are for (1) the spiritual encouragement/formation of God’s servants or (2) for increased understanding of the scriptures.
If you would like to donate any of the works listed below, please mail them to Dan Whitney.
If you decide to purchase any of these books at Amazon.com, please access Amazon through the Reynolds Institute (www.reynoldsinstitute.org) website, so that the district can get credit for these purchases.
In addition to the books listed below, we would love to receive donations of any biblical commentaries published after 1980. We will keep a list of books received. You may want to call ahead to make sure you are not purchasing a duplicate.
We thank you for this investment in the life of our ministers and their families.
Suggestions for a Spiritual Formation Library
Windsor Hills Renewal Center
New England District Church of the Nazarene
Compiled by Dr. Doug Hardy, Nazarene Theological Seminary
Spiritual Life: A Journal of Contemporary Spirituality. Published by the Discalced Carmelites. www.spiritual-life.org
A publication of the Carmelite Friars. Among other pursuits, it focuses on “examining the meaning of the lives and writings of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and St. Edith Stein.
Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality. Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
http://muse.jhu.edu/journal/scs (This link seems to be missing)
Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. Published by Upper Room Ministries.
Benson Sr., Bob & Michael W. Benson. Disciplines for the Inner Life. Henderson, TN: Deeper Life, 1989.
deSilva, David A. Praying with John Wesley. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2001.
Job, Ruben P. A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader. Nashville: Abingdon, 1998.
Job, Rueben P. & Norman Shawchuck. A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People. Nashville: Upper Room,1990.
The Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church). New York: Seabury, 1979.
The Book of Common Prayer is the common title of a number of prayer books of the Church of England and of other Anglican churches, used throughout the Anglican Communion.
Basic Reference Works
The Spiritual Formation Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.
Isn’t this something? The one Bible recommended, and it is the Renovare version of the Bible, right out of Richard Foster’s Renovare Institute. Not KJV or NKJV, but Foster.
Series: Christian Spirituality, Vols. 1-3 (Volumes 16-18 of the series, World Spirituality: An
Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest). New York: Crossroad, 1987-1990.
Beasley-Topliffe, Keith. The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation. Nashville: Upper Room, 2003.
Cunningham, Lawrence S. & Keith J. Egan. Christian Spirituality: Themes from the Tradition. New York: Paulist Press, 1996.
Downey, Michael. Understanding Christian Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.
Holmes, Urban T. A History of Christian Spirituality. Seabury Press, 1980.
Holt, Bradley P. Thirsty for God: A Brief History of Christian Spirituality. Augsburg, 1993.
Wicks, Robert J. (ed.). Handbook of Spirituality for Ministers (vol. 1 and 2). Paulist Press, 1995.
Classic Spiritual Readings
Series: The Classics of Western Spirituality: A Library of the Great Spiritual Masters. New York: Paulist Press. Includes writings by the Catholic mystic Madeleine de Saint-Joseph
Series: Upper Room Spiritual Classics. Nashville: Upper Room
Includes John Wesley, but also has writings by Theresa of Avila- Catholic mystic! and John Cassian also!
Aelred of Riveaulx. Spiritual Friendship, tr. by Mary Eugenia Laker. Cistercian Publications, 1974.
He was Abbot of Rievaulx in England, homilist and historian (1109-66), became a Cistercian monk. This is a link related to Aelred: http://www.glbtq.com/literature/aelred.html
Asbury, Francis. Journals and Letters, ed. by Elmer E. Clark, J. Manning Potts, and Jacob S. Payton. (3
vols.) Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1958. (1821)
Augustine. Confessions. New York: Penguin, 1961. (387)
____. The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love. Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway, 1961. (d. 430)
Baillie, John. A Diary of Private Prayer. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1949. (1936)
Barclay, William. William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975. (1971)
Baxter, Richard. A Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live. Baker Book House, 1976. (d. 1691)
Bernard of Clairvaux. The Steps of Humility. tr. by George B. Burch. Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1940. (d. 1153)
Another Roman Catholic monk and mystic.
Bonaventure. The Soul’s Journey Into God,The Tree of Life, and The Life of St. Francis, tr. by Ewert Cousins. New York: Paulist Press, 1978. (1259)
A Franciscan Friar, venerated Mary, promoted mysticism.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. New York: Macmillan, 1972. (1951)
Calvin, John. A Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1982. (1550)
Caternia da Genova. Purgation and Purgatory: The Spiritual Dialogue. tr. by Serge Hughes. New York: Paulist Press, 1979 (Classics of Western Spirituality). (1551)
A Roman Catholic saint.
Catherine of Siena. The Dialogue, tr. by Suzanne Noftke. New York: Paulist Press, 1980 (Classics of Western Spirituality). (1377-1378)
Another Roman Catholic mystic!
Gregory of Nyssa. From Glory to Glory, tr. & ed. by Henry Musurillo. New York: Scribner’s, 1961. (d. 394)
A Roman Catholic saint from around 400 A.D.
Fenelon, Francois de Salignac de La Mothe. Let Go, Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1973. (c. 1600’s)
French Roman Catholic theologian. One of the main advocates of quietism, a philosophy with much influence on many mystics.
Foster, Richard J. and Smith, James Bryan (eds.) Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups, Harper San Francisco, 1993.
Foster, Richard J. and Griffin, Emilie (eds.) Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, Harper San Francisco, 2000.
The “godfather” of spiritual formation. Some quotes from his book Prayer:
“Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire …”
“What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer? … union with God…. our final goal is union with God, which is a pure relationship where we see nothing.”
“Christians … have developed two fundamental expressions of Unceasing Prayer. The first … is usually called aspiratory prayer or breath prayer. The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer. It is also possible to discover your own individual breath prayer…. Begin praying your breath prayer as often as possible.”
Fox, George. Journal of George Fox. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, LTD, 1924. (d. 1691)
Founder of the Quaker movement. A universalist, here are a few statements by him to illustrate how he thought:
“Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.”
“The Light shines through all.”
“There is that of divinity in all things.”
Hugh of St. Victor. Selected Spiritual Writings. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. (d. 1141)
Mystic philosopher from around 1000 A.D.
John of the Cross. Dark Night of the Soul, tr. by Allison Peers. Doubleday, 1959. (d. 1591)
Again, another Catholic mystic!
Julian of Norwich. Showings, tr. by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh. New York: Paulist Press, 1978, (Classics of Western Spirituality). (d. 1443)
Again, another Catholic mystic from England, thought to be one of the greatest!
Kempis, Thomas A. The Imitation of Christ, paraphrased by Donald E. Demaray. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1982. (1471)
German Augustinian monk. This book is filled with Roman Catholic heresies.
Kierkegaard, Soren. Purity of Heart, tr. by Douglas V. Steere. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1938. (d. 1855)
Law, William. A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and The Spirit of Love, ed. by Paul G.
Standwood. New York: Paulist Press, 1978 (Classics of Western Spirituality). (1728)
Leech, Kenneth. Experiencing God: Theology as Spirituality. San Fransico, CA: Harper and Row Publishing, 1985.
Loyola, Ignatius. The Spiritual Exercises, tr. by Louis J. Puhl. Loyola, 1981. (1521)
Another Catholic mystic! He wrote mystical heresy which can be found in the Barefoot Ministries book! This same book is actually recommended and quoted in one of the Barefoot books.
Luther, Martin. Letters of Spiritual Counsel, ed. by Theodore G. Tappert. Westminster, 1955. (d. 1546)
Meister, Eckhart. A Modern Translation, tr. by Raymond B. Bla. New York: Harper, 1941. (d. 1328)
A German Dominican priest. Taught that man at his highest level is one with God.
Murray, Andrew. The Inner Life. Whitaker House, 1984. (d. 1917)
Muto, Susan Annette. John of The Cross For Today: The Dark Night. Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1994.
____. John of The Cross For Today: The Ascent. Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1991.
Pascal, Blaise. Thoughts, ed. by Thomas S. Kepler. Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1955. (d. 1662)
Philo of Alexandria. The Contemplative Life, tr. by David Winston. New York: Paulist Press, 1981 (Classics of Western Spirituality). (c. 50)
Rahner, Karl. Theological Investigations, Vol 3: The Theology of the Spiritual Life. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1967.
Sales, Francis de. Introduction to the Devout Life, tr. by John K. Ryan. Harper, 1950. (1608)
Scupoli, Lorenzo. The Spiritual Combat, tr. & rev. by William Lester and Robert Mohan. Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1945. (1589)
Roman Catholic priest and writer
Steere, Douglas V. Doors Into Life: Through Five Devotional Classics. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948.
____. (ed) Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings. New York: Paulist Press, 1984 (Classics of Western Spirituality).
Steere is a Quaker. Among other things, Quakers teach that all Christians have a special “Inner Light”. Also, that God is IN ALL human beings. Many of them believe in universalism.
Here is a quote from their UK website:
“Quakers share a way of life, not a set of beliefs. We base our faith on silent worship, and our own experiences of the divine.”
Teresa of Avila. The Interior Castle, tr. by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otiho Rodriguez. New York: Paulist Press (Classics of Western Spirituality). (1577)
Roman Catholic mystic, practiced a lot of heresy including scourging herself daily.
Mother Teresa. A Simple Path: Compiled by Lucina Vardey. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
Roman Catholic nun, who led many astray by mixing Christianity with all religions as being equal.
Walsh, James (ed). The Cloud of Unknowing. New York: Paulist Press, 1981 (Classics of Western Spirituality).
This contemplative mysticism book is by an unknown Catholic mystic from medieval times, but is popular with emergents and pastors alike. It is considered a classic in contemplative mysticism.
The Way of a Pilgrim, tr. by R. M. French. Harper, 1952.
Weil, Simone. Waiting for God, tr. by Emma Crawford. Harper Torchbooks. (d. 1943)
Wesley, Charles. The Journal of Charles Wesley. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (1980), 2 vols. (1736-1756)
Wesley, John. The Journal of Rev. John Wesley, ed. by Nehemiah Curnock. London: Epworth Press, 1938. (1790)
Whaling, Frank (ed.) John and Charles Wesley: Selected Writings and Hymns. New York: Paulist Press, 1981 (Classics of Western Spirituality).
Woolman, John. The Journal of John Woolman. Seacaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1972. (d. 1772)
Resources for Guided Retreats
Job, Rueben P. A Guide to Retreat for All God’s Shepherds. Abingdon Press, 1994.
Payne, Joseph A. Befriending: A Self-Guided Retreat for Busy People. New York: Paulist, 1993.
Rupp, Joyce. Meeting God in our Transition Times: A Five-Part Group or Person Guided Retreat (Audio tape & book). Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria, 1995.
You can check out her homepage here: Rupp, Joyce
Spiritual Formation of the Pastor
Harbaugh, Gary L. Pastor as Person. Augsburg, 1984.
Hinson, Glenn E. Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leaders. Nashville: Upper Room, 1999.
Holmes, Urban T. Spirituality for Ministry. Seabury Press, 1982.
Job, Rueben P. A Guide to Retreat for All God’s Shepherds. Abingdon Press, 1994.
Nouwen, Henri. The Wounded Healer. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1972.
You remember him perhaps. Roman Catholic monk who believed that there are many paths to God. Was deeply into contemplative prayer, lectio divina.
Peterson, Eugene H. Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. William B. Eerdmans, 1987.
Author of The Message- a very corrupted “paraphrase of the Bible even Peterson does not consider it a true translation.
He has lots of New Age / occultic ties and influences.
A sample corrupted version from the Lord’s Prayer: instead of “on earth as it is in heaven”, he writes “as above, so below”, an exact quote of an occultic phrase!
____. Subversive Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.
____. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 2nd Ed. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Rice, Howard. The Pastor as Spiritual Guide. Nashville: Upper Room, 1998.
Series: The Works of John Wesley. Nashville: Abingdon.
Chilcote, Paul. Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit: 52 Prayers for Today. Nashville: Upper Room, 2001.
Clapper, Gregory S. As if the Heart Mattered: A Wesleyan Spirituality. Nashville: Upper Room, 1997.
deSilva, David A. Praying with John Wesley. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2001.
Dunnam, Maxie. The Christian Way: A Wesleyan View of our Spiritual Journey. Zondervan, 1987.
Dunning, H. Ray. Grace, Faith, and Holiness. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1988.
Greathouse, William M. Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1998.
Harper, Steve. Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition. Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1983.
Harper, Steve. Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition: A Workbook. Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1995.
Harmon, Mark A. The Warmed Heart : 30 Days In The Company Of John Wesley. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1995.
Job, Ruben P. A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998.
Langford, Thomas. Practical Divinity: Theology in the Wesleyan Tradition. Abingdon, 1983.
Maas, Robin. Crucified Love: The Practice of Christian Perfection. Abingdon Press, 1989.
Matthaei, Sondra H. Fatih Formation in the Wesleyan Tradition. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2000.
Tracy, Wesley D., E. Dee Freeborn, Janine Tartaglia, and Morris A. Weigelt The Upward Call. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1994.
Wynkoop, Mildred A Theology of Love. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1972.
END OF LIST —————————————————————————————
May God help the Nazarene denomination.
Sincerely in Christ,
I quickly scanned this list, again quickly being the key word here. I found it disturbing that only 4 books/works appeared to have been published through Beacon Hill in Kansas City. One would think that a denomination spanning now more than 100 years, establishing a library intended to promote spiritual growth and having compiled a list of desired resources that perhaps there may be more than this insignificant amount of works written by authors from within our circle or at least within the Wesleyan Holiness school of thought.
Although I grow weary of this one sided dialogue (the emergents and the concerned group failing to find a forum to openly dialogue about these critical issues of faith and the general church not taking a much more defined stand) I guess it will continue.
I long for the day when we can state truth and do not feel obligated to rationalize or defend it. If my fellow Nazarenes would stop reading more books and pop culture Christianity and read the Word a bit more we would avoid so much of this non sense! Scripture does not advocate “creating” these new ways to be more like God, that is unless you buy into the serpent’s distortion of the truth.
May God bless the reading of HIS WORD!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you for your reasoned response. I long for the day when my pleas with the leadership- any leadership – to talk about these things will come. And it is not only me- many Nazarenes, some in pastoral positions or evangelists, have sent letters, and asked the Generals for any kind of response. Very little has come so far. Including my own letters to them, not one single response.
I do not like this one-sided dialogue much at all either. I would prefer to speak with the leadership, to once and for all, get answers as to where they stand.
I wonder if the good Gary Baker would venture a list of books produced by NPH over the past 100 years that he would recommend to fill the Nelson Renewal Library. Of course I can’t speak for the staff of Windsor Hills but It seems to me that anyone taking advantage of the Renewal Wing for the purposes of spiritual formation would most certainly have a well worn bible of their own. In addition, having taken advantage of the renewal wing myself I can personally testify to the presence of scriptures in that place. You need not worry about the absence of the Bible on the grounds of the New England District Camp and Retreat Center.
It seems to me, that much of your frustration with the growth of spiritual formation in the lives of Nazarenes stems from a distorted definition of what spiritual formation is. “Your post defines it as “nothing more than the use of unbiblical contemplative spirituality practices and ancient Roman Catholic practices and ritual in order to supposedly experience God and be one with him.” A grossly misleading caricature of Christian Spiritual Formation as taught by Professor Hardy and the Nazarene Seminary to be sure. I know this to be true because Dr. Hardy and his lovely wife were very influential in my spiritual formation as a college Student at ENC and I have personal, first hand, experience from both his class and his home. Quite simply put, the truth is that Christian Spiritual Formation is nothing more or less than the process of being formed and shaped after the likeness and image of Christ. With this in mind it is not difficult to see the essential role that Christian Spiritual Formation plays in our mission – To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations.
I’m sure there are scriptures found in the Renewal Wing, but that is no excuse to have all these other books- especially when their stated purpose is apparently to inspire others and help us learn about scripture- not to warn them about the heresies taught by these people in those books. Perhaps you are not familiar with the heresies many of these people taught- see here for further information on them:
Because of this, I don’t believe Dr. Hardy has the proper discernment to figure out what is good and what is bad reading material for Christians, for the purpose of inspiration and Christian growth. In my opinion, and many other Christians, he ought not to be endorsing these books as anything good for our spiritual growth. His intention obviously is that these books are good examples for us; I beg to differ strongly!
I wonder if you went back to my questions at the top of the post and were able to ponder on them? Why has no one honestly brought out the emergent ideology to all Nazarenes? I’m still waiting for that answer.
And frankly, there has been no scriptural refutation of any kind from anyone who I have asked, to tell me where I am “off” in criticizing this emergent church movement and this ecumenical nonsense that is leading many astray. I know I am being blunt here, but now is no longer the time to dance around these issues.
So if anyone wants to point me to where I am wrong, according to the scriptures, I will listen.
I stand with what I said- spiritual formation as practiced by the emergent church followers, is wrong, and unbiblical. Show me otherwise, but please use scripture to back up the emergent ideology. Spiritual formation should not be involved with using such textbooks that use heretics as examples of Christian living- the facts about them bear it out, or am I wrong?
Finally, I was not worried about the absence of the Bible in the library- I was worried that the only Bible recommended was one from Renovare, and Richard Foster is who he is- so that is concerning to many Nazarenes- whether you realize that or not.
Admittedly, I did not go back to the questions at the top of your post. Frankly they are not really an issue for me. But I will venture a personal response to your question: You ask: Why has no one honestly brought out the emergent ideology to all Nazarenes? I have not spent my efforts there because emergent ideology doesn’t change or detract from the mission. I choose to concentrate my efforts and resources in a direction that best fulfills the mission. I am about making Christlike disciples in the nations. This mission consumes me. I have not the time, the energy, the passion or desire to undermine others because they are about their mission in ways that differ from me. I believe there are saints from many other religious traditions and periods of history who were also consumed by the mission. I recognize that they are part of the great cloud of witnesses and members of a diverse Body from whom I have a great deal to learn. If they are Christian then they are part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-13). Therefore, I will not spend my time or resources in an attempt to prove they are not Christian and therefore not a legitimate part of the Body. Neither will I support, endorse or encourage others to do so. Instead, by grace and in his power, I will be about the business of making Christlike disciples in the nations.
Good job Manny. Thank you very much for your research and warnings.
Seeing the list of books reccomended was just disgusting. As you reminded us, “Evil company corrupts good habits”.
“He who has ears…”
May God help us.
Your sarcastic tone further proves my point. It seems everyone on the sides (both sides) of this dialogue often employs proof texting as the fundamental basis of formulating their argument.
Since people seem to have a difficult time reading a clear statement and not distorting it let me try again and perhaps you will read what I said and not what you chose to “restate” for me.
I wrote, “I quickly scanned this list, again quickly being the key word here. I found it disturbing that only 4 books/works appeared to have been published through Beacon Hill in Kansas City. One would think that a denomination spanning now more than 100 years, establishing a library intended to promote spiritual growth and having compiled a list of desired resources that perhaps there may be more than this insignificant amount of works written by authors from within our circle or at least within the Wesleyan Holiness school of thought.”
Here are the abbreviated facts as I wrote them:
1) I am disturbed at the small number of works that come from Nazarene authors, pastors, evangelists etc. represented on this list.
I did not say I thought ALL the books should only come from NPH or Beacon or Nazarene authors. I simply thought there would be more represented as viable resources to assist people with spiritual growth. Is observing such a large list of resources containing so few works from within our denomination challenging or offensive or combative to anyone? I am surprised at the response by Pastor Jim. He seems to have been irritated by my observation. If however you would like a list of good material that can be acquired from NPH or Beacon Hill I would be willing to offer some suggestions to help you in your spiritual growth.
And who is a Christian? It is not anyone who has a specific tradition or teaching that has become popular through the centuries- no, the measure of that is whether they obey Christ:
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. John 3:24
You say “frankly they are not really an issue for me”. Is that the answer you would give to anyone who asks you, even someone who is seriously concerned from your own flock? Even someone who shows you scripturally that some of these practices are wrong, and you would still say you are unconcerned? Where is the scriptural justification for using prayer labyrinths? Where is the scriptural justification to fellowship with those who preach a perverted gospel?
If emergent ideology is driving your mission, or part of it, then it is wrong, and the mission is wrong. I am about making Christlike disciples also, but not to go about it in the way emergents do- I go about it by testifying that the entire Bible is THE word of God, not just CONTAINS the word of God – not just part of it. That’s a start. That is something emergents refute and deny to me all the time. God help those who don’t trust the Bible COMPLETELY.
So I will continue my promise to try to undermine anyone who is deliberately preaching another gospel- that is my desire to do, because it is scriptural! Too many pastors are ignoring their scripturally commanded responsibility to care for the flock and warn them about false teaching. We must preach the whole counsel of God, not just part of it. I believe in Christian love, but that also entails warning others, and also rebuking those who twist the gospel.
2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
So are you saying you will never expose people for teaching false teachings? Well, okay. You are, if you are saying that, refusing to obey scripture. That is your choice. Then let’s have an ecumenical service with all religions, including those of the Mormon persuasion, and Jehovah’s Witnesses! Do you think they are part of the legitimate body of Christ? Are Mormons worshipping the same Jesus, based on their official teachings? If someone asked you about them, what would you say? That they are brothers and sisters in Christ? I hope not. God help us otherwise, if the Nazarene church is going to start embracing any church that preaches “anything is acceptable, even if it goes against the Bible.”
You also said: “I have not the time, the energy, the passion or desire to undermine others because they are about their mission in ways that differ from me.” The question is really: are the ways they are going about the mission, unbiblical? If so, then you have a responsibility to undermine them. That is scriptural also! I urge you to do the same, pastor.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 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. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
May God help the Church of the Nazarene.
With all due respect Pastor Jim, the word of God is still the absolute best source for making Christlike disciples. Are you saying that after all your education and preparation for ministry, the only way you can truly be effective is learning new ideas from people that are teaching contrary to our Nazarene doctrine. I tell you what, since the Bible does not seem to be enough, pull Phineas Bresee’s biography and tell me in there where he says we need help from anything but the word of God. We need to go back to what we were when our church was founded. An on fire group of people that knew what God was telling them to do. They did not go out and copy the latest growing church. They did what God told them to do. I attend a contemporary Nazarene church and if the new thinking is what contemporary is then I will find a church that will uphold our beliefs and not water them down. If you want to call that traditional then do so.
I am also tired of people saying that the Nazarene church has nothing to offer and are constantly looking outside the denomination for resources. We need to be very cautious of anything that takes our church away from the Wesleyan- Holiness doctrine that is the foundation that the Nazarene church.
God help us!!
I applaud your comments regarding your decision and commitment to make Christlike disciples in the nations.
You wrote, “I have not spent my efforts there because emergent ideology doesn’t change or detract from the mission. I choose to concentrate my efforts and resources in a direction that best fulfills the mission.”
I believe God is pleased when it is our focus to make disciples in the nations.
May I offer something for consideration? .
Often in the “church world” many things are taught or passed along that deviate from Scripture. I will go so far as to say it is certainly not always the intent of the pastor, author, teacher, etc. to lead anyone astray. I think you would agree that there have been times in the past when you heard a teaching or a sermon that didn’t seem to line up with the light you have been given, correct? I think in those times a proper biblical response is to search the scriptures, pray for wisdom and discernment and allow God through the Holy Spirit to illuminate His Word (Hebrews 4:12) and therefore allow it to truly be a lamp unto our feet. Argument for arguments sake does detract from our focus, energy and mission. I agree with you, however, it is proper for you (and I) to take teachings when appropriate and see if they hold true based on Scripture, not on history, popular teaching or traditional theological positions. My point is not to discredit those things but rather to say those areas of religious history are best applied when confirmed through the Holy Scriptures.
SOME of the teachings of those who by their own words align themselves with the emergent church movement as a whole, in my opinion, do not line up with Scripture. Certain teachings or statements that pertain to the reality of hell for an example are fundamental concepts to the Christian. I do not think there is too much room for error or varying theologies, would you not agree. Now there certainly are other issues that perhaps have far less eternal consequence and I think we both would agree rather than let these issues divide us, we should embrace biblical truth and work hand in hand for the salvation of the lost.
Part of being in ministry can be frustrating. One of the hardest decisions is to know when (always best when prompted by the Holy Spirit but man have I missed that at least a time or two…) to give an issue, a discussion, a decision my time, energy, focus and full attention and when to simply agree to disagree and move on. By your comments I sense you to seek wisdom in knowing this as well. I just encourage you as a brother in the Lord to help your flock stay balanced in the Word and to disciple them so they can test approve what God’s good and pleasing will is for their lives as they become fully devoted followers of Christ.
Your brother in Christ.
To the good Garry Baker,
I did go back to reread my comment to with an extra eye toward sarcasm. It is true I have a tendency to lean in that awful direction but I’m working on that. In the single sentence in which I addressed Mr. Baker’s comments directly (I wonder if the good Gary Baker would venture a list of books produced by NPH over the past 100 years that he would recommend to fill the Nelson Renewal Library.)I fail to see the sarcasm – sorry if I offended you. Nevertheless I would still be interested in books you have read from NPH that have had a deep impact on your spiritual formation.
I did not take any offense to your comments in fact I quite agree that over our 100 year history we might have spent more time concerned with the Christian spiritual formation of our people. Had we had done so we might have more works represented on the list – I can’t say for sure, just a guess. Thank you for your last comments and encouragement I quite agree.
1 Peter 2:15-16
Who is Christian you ask? Ok, I’ll play a little prooftexting game with you this one time.
Romans 8:8-13 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Is this sufficient or shall I offer more? You see many of the authors you are opposed to are in fact Christian brothers and sisters. Again 1 Corinthians 12-13.
No need to worry Manny, emergent ideology is not driving my mission; neither is it driving the mission of my church. Our mission is driven by the great commandment. Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are compelled by the love of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:13-19
I do not think you will find the proof text you are looking for to justify prayer labyrinths. But if you need the references that enjoin us to pray, to pray continually, to pray without ceasing, to pray for all things at all times . . . Well, I am quite sure I can give you those.
I understand that you might need a clearer scriptural justification to fellowship with those who in your opinion preach a false gospel. One of the things I love about the scriptures is how clearly they unfold the heart of God. I find in the incarnation a God that condescends all the way down and is compelled to reach out and fellowship with people who have been known to perpetuate a false gospel. Manny, I want to be like Jesus. Furthermore the mission compells me to take the initiative and go to them in love.
If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:13-19
I am not saying that I will never expose people for teaching false teaching. It is those kinds of jumps in logic that misrepresent people and their positions. I will confront it as it has a direct impact on our ability to fulfill the mission.
As Mr. Garry Baker has pointed out there are “teachings or statements that . . . are fundamental concepts to the Christian.” Mr. Baker used Hell for an example. I would suggest things like the Holy Trinity, the complete humanity and deity of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body and life in the world to come as other examples. So that if someone were to ask me about Mormons or the JW I would be equipped to address it. So far no one has.
If the question really is (I doubt that it is) “are the ways they are going about the mission, unbiblical?” I would say that I am not clear on who “they are”. I will say that Dr. Hardy and Windsor Hills are following biblical principles in an effort to fulfill their biblical mission.
Thank the Lord he is helping the Church of the Nazarene
With all due respect Mr. Krauter it is quite possible to make a Christlike disciple in the absence of the written word. However, it is impossible to make a Christlike disciple without the direct involvement of the Holy Spirit. I wonder where you get the notion that the only way I think we can truly be effective is learning new ideas from people that are teaching contrary to our Nazarene doctrine? What do you know of my education and preparation for ministry? Have we met? It is funny you should mention Dr. Bresee’s biography – I just picked one up. Tell me, which one of his biographies have you read? What did you enjoy most about it? I look forward to reading it soon.
I am not prooftexting. Thank you. I just gave one example of what it truly means to be a Christian- someone who obeys Christ’s commands, that’s all. Not all who say “Lord, Lord” will inherit the Kingdom of God, correct? We confess with our mouths, but if we don’t obey the Lord, we are deceiving ourselves, and rejecting Him.
I believe the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they practice their doctrine of who Jesus is, are not Christians. Do you?
At the same time, many doctinral teachings of the Roman Catholic church are against scripture- clearly! I am not talking about “non-essentials.” Why should we have fellowship with them, when they teach so many heretical doctrines: the worship of Mary and other saints; the praying to the saints; that the wafer is the actual body of Christ; that there is a purgatory; works salvation. I could go on and on.
Isn’t that enough? You would not rebuke their leaders for teaching such things? Then you ought to welcome those teachings also into the Nazarene church, if that does not stop them from being true brothers and sisters in Christ for believing those teachings.
I will give one verse, out of many, that justifies my position on the Roman Catholic Church hiercharchy:
There are many more, and they are not prooftexts- they are the scriptures, and they tell us clearly to have nothing to do with those who preach another gospel.
Gal 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
(Do not misunderstand- I will be the first to gently, kindly and in love, help guide a Roman Catholic out of these misguided teachings, to understand that they truly can receive forgiveness, and do not have to work for their salvation. I often get slammed by people for “attacking’ Catholics. I am not. I am attacking the heretical positions the RCC takes- nothing else).
Oh wow reading these comments reminds me of that old joke: put two Protestants in a room and what do you get? A new denomination.
Hmmm. Simone, I debated whether to allow your comment, but since the best humor always is based on truth, I said… why not?
I think I understand where you were coming from there.
Thank you. I was hoping you would take it as I meant it, that is, lightly.
I’m glad I found your site. I don’t know anything about your church so I appreciate the opportunity to learn. No, don’t get your hopes up, I won’t be converting :- )
Thanks for allowing it. I found it made me chuckle a bit.
Although I still have a frustration that the two sides of this issue are finding it hard to find a platform where healthy and Christ centered dialogue can take place. I am equally frustrated that the higher you go in the CON, the more you get systematic, planned and “politically correct” canned responses you receive even if you can get a response. In spite of this I am actually grateful that this dialogue has been taking place. It has caused me to search my heart, search the Scriptures and has reminded me how important it is to know what you believe.
To all involved in this dialogue (however one sided it seems to me all too often) I encourage us all to seek truth, to share truth and allow the peace of Christ to be evident to all. I am not suggesting compromise or applying for the job of a door mat but rather that we all maintain the heart and attitude of Christ. Even those that I disagree with, even those I feel are wrong in their teaching (in part or in whole) I am reminded Christ died on Calvary for them as well. Apart from Calvary I too may be lost and without hope of heaven.
I am grateful that you would consider my thoughts, experience and reasoned opinions on this matter. I hope that in my efforts to serve the Lord, I am able to propel others toward faith in Jesus Christ and also able to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
My friend Reinaldo sent me this comment:
Would there be a protestant church today if someone as courageous as Martin Luther had not rightly rebuked the erroneous ways of the Catholic Church? Definitely not! Praise be to God whose Spirit acts on those who search him with all their hearts and minds.
Today, to talk about judging has become an offense to many people. “Everyone must be included” is the new fad. But the Bible tells us to “not sit with mockers”! “Everyone is included” is actually not what the Bible has ever taught, but that there would be a ‘narrow door’, and many false teachers. That is a guarantee.
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!
I am so disappointed (and I believe God also) when I hear people, Nazarenes included, giving examples of so many ‘humble people’ who are not even evangelicals or Nazarenes. Can’t we find enough examples within the Nazarene denomination? Perhaps not, if today’s preachers and missionaries are following the teachings of others who are not even close to the true message of the cross.
I always heard my father preach of those Nazarene missionaries who walked up mountains and miles to preach the gospel. That is how the Nazarene church became a big organization. Today, unfortunately, some disciples and preachers frequently mention pagans and others who pray the rosary, who use labyrinths and other methods to get close to God, and who worship idols and the Virgin Mary as symbols of humility and Christendom. What a shame and embarrassment to see where this organization of 100 years is going and leading its flock. One particular thing about the Nazarenes is that in its formation it did not follow the majority, it was a union of churches that had something in common, a search for true holiness. Can others teach a Nazarene to be holy? Can the Catholics or emergents?
Praise God for Martin Luther’s attitude. Because of him we are what we are. He had the guts to preach the right thing. That’s why many churches are dying today; many preachers refuse to talk about clothes, about holiness, about modesty, about judging with righteousness, about false teachers, or anything else, because all these topics offend people. Too bad!
1 Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Unfortunately many people who are not Nazarenes are the ones teaching the Nazarenes what they should believe and how they should behave according to their own philosophies or points of view, which most of the time, viewed upon biblical research, are dangerous.
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Others, who should know that the Nazarene church was founded on some imperative biblical principals, insist on working for such an organization, but not wholeheartedly, as it used to be with former Nazarene employees.
Martin Luther left his organization for specific reasons, for the right reasons. Unfortunately we have some who will not repent, who will not leave the organization, but who will unfortunately stay in it to follow the teachings of their non-Nazarene mentors.
Is your pastor a Nazarene or is he a double-minded professional?
To get an honest answer for such a question might take months and lives away from churches. That is ‘too personal’!
May God help us
Thanks again for the thoughtfulness of your comments, and the good advise. I appreciate it.
Simone, thank you also for contributing. I always pray that even though sometimes I may be harsh in my words, that I will always do and say things out of love for the true gospel. I always pray that God gives me a heart of true love for His word. And don’t worry… not trying to convert you… at least to be a Nazarene. That’s not what matters.
I find myself increasingly grieved these days by what I see taking place among those who profess to be evangelicals. I know the term “evangelical” has undergone radical changes regarding its meaning and practice. Yet when I use the term, I’m referring to those who claim to accept the Bible alone as their authority for knowing and receiving God’s way of salvation and for living their lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.
According to the Word of God, anything that is added to Christ’s finished work on the cross is a denial of the gospel: that Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of humanity.
The Roman Catholic Church, which claims infallibility in its Councils and theological teachings, clearly and emphatically denies the biblical gospel. The Council of Trent declares:
6th Session, Canon 9: If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification…let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 12: If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 30: If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.
7th Session, Canon 4: If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [canons and decrees of the Church] are not necessary for salvation but…without them…men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification…let him be anathema.
“Anathema,” in these decrees (which are still in force), condemns anyone who rejects the Roman Catholic Church’s false gospel of works.
Starting with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, where only superficial changes were made (because infallible dogmas cannot be changed!), Rome launched an ecumenical program aimed at seducing Protestants worldwide and, specifically, evangelicals in the United States. The goal was and is to bring all of Christendom under the rule of the Roman Catholic Church with the pope as its spiritual head. Predictable progress has been made in Europe and the U.S. among liberal denominations that have long abandoned the Scriptures. Astonishing, however, is the success the scheme has had among American evangelicals. Now, we have the RCC moving into conservative/fundamental Evangelical denominations.
If Evangelicals follow the teachings of these questionable authors, it will inevitably lead to asceticism and immorality, a fact of prior church history, by those who practiced such things. Christ Jesus proclaims in His Word “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear…take heed what ye hear.” (Mark 4:23-24) Not only are we to hold to the Gospel, but also the Lord commands us to give due regard to what we hear. To be true to the Lord, we must be perceptive to what is happening and diligent to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)
It grieves me and many other Nazarenes in the South to see what is happening at Trevecca Nazarene University in regard to the Roman Catholic Church and Emergent Church movement.
Yes, very sad that Trevecca, Point Loma, Northwest Nazarene and others are so egregiously moving towards contemplative spirituality practices and emergent heresy.
More recently, in The New Catholic Catechism (1994) it dogmatically declares: “The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beautitude…. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism”.
Rome also denies justification by faith in so many other ways: by its doctrine of confession, its doctrine of the papacy, its doctrine of Mary, its doctrine of the saints, its doctrine of purgatory.
Sadnly, years ago, evangelical (New Evangelical really) Billy Graham began his ecumenical venture with the goal of bringing Roman Catholics to true saving faith, but his compromise actually started early in his life as a college student. He was already being influenced by modernists in the the late 40s and 50s.Many people have simply watched his sermons but never realized how close his ties with the RCC are. He was warned many times by many fundamentalist preachers that he was compromising the gospel by his close association with the pope, but he did not listen. And so it went. The video I have that shows his declaration to Larry King that there are other ways to God, is a sad exclamation point to his career. Those in the New Evangelical movement have compromised for along time for the sake of holding hands with everyone who claims to be true Christians.
And so it is going the same way with many Nazarenes, compromising for the sake of “unity”. It is a false unity, and we are going down that slippery slope very quickly. Where is the leadership in the Nazarene church? Why are their voices not denouncing this egregious relationship with the apostate RCC?
I grew up in the Nazarene Church. I am not a member now because I accepted a pastoral position in another denomination with similar doctrine.
These problems are not unique to the Nazarene Church. Pray for Protestant churches as a whole. The spiritual battle rages and too many of us have prayer fatigue. I know that I certainly fight against it.
One thought which is on the applicational side of this topic: The church of the Nazarene started by specifically putting into practice the Biblical commands to reach out to the broken, poor, and helpless. Over the years they have been materially blessed. Yes, the Nazarene Church has Compassionate Ministries which is a start but I think that the Biblical mandate is that the majority of people be willing to get involved personally (other than giving money so that a few people can do it full time). I see a shift where people feel that if they give their 10 percent then they are good and can spend the rest on their pleasures. (As I pastor though I am also learning to factor in a few other truths into my perspective of this subject.)
1. It is always a mixed bag. There are people really involved. There are people totally uninvolved. There is everything inbetween. I think the shift is too much towards being uninvolved though.
2. The Bible challenges us to do our works of service in secret. There is more going on than I can see because that is how we are supposed to do it.
3. Still with those two truths to balance my statements I see a growing discomfort in people in that they are very uncomfortable helping themselves up close and personal for a long period of time.
As I ask God to use me in people’s lives I find a few truths:
A. I can be very selective and only help people who are quite stable. Yes, I helped them but they also probably would have pulled through without my input although maybe not as easily.
B. I can ask God to point me to people who are not going to make it without serious help. As I learn this in my life I find that it almost always is very involved, has personal costs to me, and is almost always long term.
So, to anyone who may read this I ask you to ponder these questions.
I. Are you willing to have the same attitude as Jesus, giving your life away to others so that they may live?
II. Are you willing to continue if it costs you personally in sacrificial ways?
III. Will you keep on keeping on even when it is very involved and long term?
(Yes, I know all the conversations about enabling. Tell me, how many of the thousands and thousands of people who listened to Jesus do you think followed Him long term? So, if you answer that most probably didn’t follow Him then how enabling was it when He fed them, healed them, and so much more? Just think, out of 10 lepers who were healed only one came back. God knew that would happen even before He healed them but He still healed the 9 who would not come back.)
I am a dedicated and loyal Nazarene pastor who loves the heritage of my church. With all due respect intended, have you folks all forgotten the formational background of the Church of the Nazarene? Furthermore, have you forgotten John Wesley’s background? Wesley wasn’t a Nazarene, in fact, he was an Anglican priest. Do you know the background of the Anglican Church? It’s the Roman Catholic Church. I am not for the emergent church at all, but there are benefits to meditation and reading the spiritual classics. As a matter of fact, Wesley read the classics and the Nazarene scholars listed here are all well-read in the classics. We can learn a great deal from various Christian spiritualists. There are going to be other Christians in heaven besides Nazarenes. Therefore, other Christians are allowed to have genuine spiritual experiences. Why can’t we learn from them?
One of the reasons that I believe these books are wrong to use, is that many of them are written by people who were clearly heretical in their teaching and living- see the brief biographies of them I have listed.
I know its short- but intended as just a brief summary.
I do not believe that a responsible Christian ought to be recommending reading books that have some good in them, when the writers themselves have such horrible theology, and some of the teachings in these books are clearly not scriptural- when they teach unbiblical practices. It hurts especially the new or immature Christian, who then might think everything by that author is good.
If you are against the emergent church, then you have to be against their form of “meditation”, which is nothing but Christianized TM. It is ritualistic repetition of words at times, that is spoken out against in the Bible. I am for the proper kind of meditating that is prescribed in scriture, which does not involve emptying your mind, which some of these practices dangerously flirt with, or involve rituals that take away the focus from Jesus, and focus on yourself- i.e. walking a prayer labyrinth, etc.
From what I understand, those who will be in heaven will be those who do the will of the Father- these will be the true Christians- not those who invent their own ideas on how to commune with God, That is what the emergent church is doing- besides questioning the authority of God’s word.
It is very hard to know when a spiritual experience is authentic or not- how do we know it was from God or not? We ought to stay grounded in what God’s word says and obey it- and stay away from trying to get some new experiences which may not be from God. That is what the emergents want- experience over scriptural authority.
That’s what I think about these books anyway. I’m not a pastor or theologian, but I believe strongly that we should avoid authors with serious theological issues.
I appreciate your thoughts, Doug.
This list of books is deeply troubling.
The Renovare Bible, for example, calls Genesis “prehistoric borrowed Near Eastern Mythology”. It says that Isaiah’s prophesy about Jesus is “the Church’s inspired imagination,” that is, they say Isaiah did not prophecy about Jesus. The Bible commentary says homosexuality is up for debate. It says that Adam, Eve, Noah are archetypes (not real people).
Their commentary on Matthew is about 11,500 words in length, or about half the length of Matthew itself. However, they “bypass inconsistencies found in Scripture” (Foster’s own words), and their commentary uniformly ignores the topics of hell, weeping/gnashing of teeth, the activity of demons, and Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the New Testament. For example, they completely ignore two entire chapters in Matthew (24 and 25).
Foster derives the bulk of his meditation method from Thomas Merton, who says things like “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity”, and “I am deeply influenced by Sufism” (mystical Islam). Foster affirms and says of Merton, that Merton’s goals is to bring Zen to the West.
Foster recommends “contemplative prayer” highly. But be warned, Foster says, the “contemplative prayer” puts you at risk of obtaining “supernatural guidance” from “dark and evil spirits”. So pray “prayers of protection” before you pray contemplatively, Foster says.
Where in Scripture do we see any warning that God gives us, that we might get zapped by a demon when he come to Him in pray? Nowhere.
For “going deeper”, Foster recommends “centering prayer” in which you use a single word, repeated over and over again, to drive away your own thoughts. “Don’t change the word during meditation, because that would be to starting thinking again.”
Foster also places the words you get (literally) from Jesus when you talk to him in your imagination during meditation above Scripture itself. Scripture is 2nd place.
The things I’ve listed above in this comment are not my opinions, but direct quotes from Renovare material (or Scripture). You can read more details at http://whateverispure.org , which lists the exact sources and citations of the above quotes. I’m not making this up.
Below are my conclusions and opinions – based on Scripture, however.
Paul “did not give in for a moment” to the false teachers in Galatians. Not everything the false teachers said was false – they did not deny Christ. Paul had to argue that if the Galatians accepted circumcision, then Christ would have no value for them. If the false teachers were openly abandoning Christ, then Paul would not have made such an argument.
And in Genesis, Job, and the Gospels, a uniform 46% of the exact words from Satan’ mouth are in fact truth (the exact figures range from 44% to 48% in the 4 passages). False teaching is always a half-truth, since it’s easy to detect a pure lie. Pure lies never hold up to any scrutiny anyway; they must always be mixed with partial truth. It’s Satan’s native language.
Conclusion: Renovare delivers a false teaching, with partial truth and partial error, and must be entirely and totally discarded.