Proclaiming The Gospel, Or Leading Sheep To The Slaughter?

“and with all the deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thess. 2:10-12

My last post talked about Jay McDaniel and his lecture at Northwest Nazarene University.  This lecture took place in October, 2006, although only recently was it made public. Yet, it is still a relevant example of the extreme liberal ideology and emergent thinking that has permeated this and other Nazarene universities and is still going on, therefore its relevance.  Brian McLaren was there in 2008 with his three day Everything Must Change tour.  It seems the university has a penchant for inviting very liberal speakers to the campus, with little opportunity for debate from anyone with traditional Christian and/or Nazarene theology.
Now comes Sister Helen Prejean.  She is scheduled to speak Wednesday night (1/27) on campus, and I wonder if there will be an equally opposing viewpoint presented in a significant way?  Sister Helen is the Catholic nun on which the movie Dead Man Walking was based.  She has since been shown to be at least very erroneous in many of her writings, or even purposely deceiving, in her work to oppose the death penalty by defending murderers who have clearly been found guilty of their heinous crimes.  Her support for the gay lifestyle and ordination of gays is certainly not a standard Nazarene position, and she is a supporter of ecumenical interfaith movements.

Scheduled to be the headline speaker at the annual Wesley Center Conference in February is Philip Yancey, author of “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”  Yancey is clearly not Wesleyan in his thinking, and he equivocates on or supports the gay lifestyle as well as ordination of gays.  He also is an advocate for the contemplative spirituality movement.  So the beat goes on to bring in speakers with aberrant views to NNU on a regular basis, to say whatever they want, and most likely, without anything but a token opposition by way of a weak disclaimer.

I encouraged everyone to view Dr. McDaniel’s lecture and see for themselves the kind of heresy that is being presented to our students at some of our Nazarene universities. I viewed it again and took notes, so here you can have the opportunity to learn of some of the more outrageous and unbiblical things that were said by Dr. McDaniel.

Many today are being led as sheep to the slaughter because of all the false teachers and preachers who are perverting the word of God.  By the very words that he spoke in that lecture, I cannot see how Dr. McDaniel can even be called a Christian.  Jesus said in Matthew:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

What is the fruit of Dr. McDaniel’s teachings, and of those who were complicit in allowing him to bring such false teachings to vulnerable, impressionable students who are not grounded in the word of God?  Are we ourselves complicit in some way, if we don’t speak out?  If you have a college bound child right now, ask yourself this: could he or she be in this precarious position someday, and will you regret sending them to a school such as this?  Are you willing to take the chance that your child will be exposed to this kind of teaching in such a way as to have it passed off as truth to them?  Perhaps it would be better that they go to a secular school instead.  At least there, they would know that what they listen to must be judged carefully; whereas, how many students would even think to distrust any professor or lecturer at a Christian school?

One of the most painful things I heard from the lecture was not from Dr. McDaniel, but from a student, who asked him: “How do we merge our faith… how do we gather these truths and make it available to our congregations, to our people without making people nervous?” Let me translate what she is really asking, even though she may not realize it: “How can I bring this heresy you are passing off as truth, back to my church, without upsetting those who still believe that Jesus is the only way to God?”

If some think that Dr. McDaniel is bearing good fruit, let me give you some more detail of what is coming off his tree, and being presented to gullible students, much like what satan presented to Eve in the garden.  In fact, it is the same thing, because either the fruit being produced in our lives is of God, or it is of satan.  It can’t be both, because a lie cannot be mixed together with truth, and produce good fruit.  Dr. McDaniel was clearly feeding lies to students at a Nazarene university.  Who will be held responsible for this now, and more seriously, later on in front of God and His judgment?  I pray that the blood of these students will not be on my hands or yours; instead, will you meet the challenge to be a watchman on the wall for the Lord?

Here are just a few of Dr. McDaniel’s “best” thoughts, and if you do watch the video, most of you will be very upset.  During his lecture, I do not recall a single quote from scripture.  I do recall repeated uses of the phrase “I think.”  That is how it is with false teachers like this.  They want to teach you what they think, rather than teaching you what God thinks, and what God clearly speaks through His word.  In 2 Timothy, we are given a serious warning of these kinds of men:

“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.”  2 Tim. 4:3-4

And instead of asking him, “but what do the scriptures say”, undiscerning students take it in as easily as a small child being given poisoned candy, without question.  They instead praise his “wisdom.”

1. Here Dr. McDaniel is talking about his story, and some of the things he learned in life:

“So I went looking for writers who would give me an image of a more open kind of Christianity- and I turned to this writer named Thomas Merton.  He’s a Catholic.  And he was one of the first Christians who I encountered who I would say had deep roots in Christianity-and strong wings- he was open to truth wherever he found it.

Dr. McDaniel tells us he has learned much from a man who was into mysticism, worshipped Mary, and believed all kinds of heresies, and who saw no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity- and who was accidentally electrocuted shortly after beginning a search for “wisdom” during a pilgrimage to several Eastern countries.
But truth is not found “wherever” you find it.  Truth is found in only one source: God.  And that truth is manifested in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and also through the only written source of Truth, the Bible.  Yet this professing Christian chooses to ignore the Source of truth, and declares that truth can be found in many places.  And if you watch the lecture, you will be simply amazed at how he twists the meaning of John 14:6, and fails to answer the question: “Is Jesus the only way to God?”

2. He talked about a Buddhist friend, and he says that he once asked his friend the following:

“What do you know that I don’t?  And his Buddhist friend answered, “I know that I am you, and you are me too, but you don’t know that.”

This comment is a reflection of what this man believes in: panentheism, the teaching that God is in all, and that really means ALL; all people, all trees, all rocks, everything.  He believes this, as shown in this link to a piece he wrote: In Pan-entheism, God Exists in Beings Everywhere.  So that would include satan I suppose, because he is a being, and that would include those who reject God outright.  But this is simply a lie, and God is not IN all things, but rather when we repent and turn to faith in Christ, he gives us the Holy Spirit, which guides us into all truth.

He goes on to say, “maybe my Buddhist friend can help me think about God in a fresh way.” Really? Let’s have a Nazarene pastor say this during a sermon, and let’s see how many discerning Christians will buy into this foolishness.  Remember again, he claims to be a Christian.  But so did Thomas Merton, who blended his Roman Catholic beliefs with Eastern religions.  If this is good for Northwest Nazarene University, hey, let’s bring it to all of our schools and seminaries and churches.

He continues:

“And so the simple point I am explaining to you is, I, to this day, feel grateful to a Buddhist  for helping me understand my own faith more deeply.  He knew something I needed to know.”

Where does it come close in the scriptures where it teaches us such nonsense?  We can understand our faith better from the teachings and life experience of a Buddhist, or perhaps a Daoist, Hindu, or Muslim?  Can you see why I and some others who viewed this lecture struggled with watching it in one sitting?  This lecture started going down the wrong road in the first five minutes when he was being introduced.

He goes on:

” And can our receptivity- indeed even our vulnerability- You have something to teach me…..can that be a part of our good news to the world?  Can our good news to the world be that… we will listen, with a willingness to be touched.  With a willingness to be moved? With a willingness to be in a way, converted into deeper forms of love, with their help?”

This man is a universalist, or at least sympathizes with that ideology, as will be evident if you listen to all that he says.  Later on, he answers the question: “Who goes to heaven?  Is Christ still the only way to get to heaven? Does John 14:6 still apply?”

I can tell you that he never answered a straight yes or no.  But read one part of his three part answer here:

“I think my Hindu friend can be open to Christ, without confessing Jesus.  And if she is saved… in a way she is saved through Christ, even if that does not mean that she believes in Jesus. I don’t know who goes to heaven. And I don’t think it’s important to know that.  I don’t think its important to be able to say to yourself or to the world…I know who goes to heaven, and I know who doesn’t.

Again, a universalistic philosophy is being taught here by a professed evangelical Christian, to students at a Nazarene university.  And I’m afraid, some of them are soaking it up as truth!  Because that is clearly what he is espousing here.  But that’s okay, because after all, it’s a liberal arts school, right?  And because it is, that gives us the excuse of throwing every kind of false teaching at our students, and even if some are being led to the slaughter… well, at least we made them think, right?

4. Here is another quote as part of his answer to that question:

“And I know that God meets me through Jesus…but not only through Jesus.  God meets me through the hills and the rivers and the trees and the stars. God meets me through my family.  God meets me through John Coltrane (he’s a jazz musician).  God meets me through music.  I’m not going to restrict the ways God meets me- to Jesus.  And I don’t think Jesus would want me to.  But who goes to heaven… let’s just wait and see.”

5. Finally, from a report by the editors at Lighthouse Trails Research:  McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled  as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible).

Perhaps from this, more Christians will become aware of just one example of the evil being fed our students at some of these Nazarene universities.  Got a child close to college age?  Beware, you had better do your homework, if you are of the same mind as me, that this is dangerous stuff, and it does not belong in our Christian universities.  If you don’t have a child going to school soon, you ought to still be concerned.  These kids are either our brothers and sisters in Christ, or they are unbelieving students who will be led to believe in another Jesus, another gospel, which will lead them straight to the gates of hell.  But we ought to care about all of them, not only those we know personally.

Sorry if my directness and bluntness might disturb anyone, especially folks at NNU, but this is the truth of what is happening almost everywhere, in all denominations, and this is a deadly, serious game that we cannot afford to allow to continue unchallenged.  To those who believe we should speak the truth in love, this is what exactly what some of us are doing.  When it comes to false teachers, remember what the scriptures say:

Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

I pray that more of us will wake up to this, and voice their strong concerns to our leadership and to those who are inviting these wolves in sheep’s clothing into our schools, where so many vulnerable sheep are awaiting for real truth to be spoken to them, but may instead buy into a lie.  Those who are responsible for bringing these speakers and professors to our universities should be held accountable, and perhaps the way to start doing that is by using the power of the checkbook- and withholding it!


False Teaching Welcomed At NorthWest Nazarene University

I thought I had seen the worst in this emergent/extreme liberal/man-centered movement that is creeping into our denomination ever so quickly and quietly as each day goes by.  But I have not yet, and I’m afraid there will be worst to come.  The infiltration of emergent ideology and all its various cousins of  New Age, universalism and pantheistic thought is just marching on, seemingly with nary a word from our leadership.  One major concern is the influence on the universities, and the students that are being introduced to heretical teachings- but not with the intention of showing them what is wrong with these ideologies.  Oh no, my friends, believe me, this is a trend which has been going on for a while, and these professors (some are guests, some are Nazarene professors) are being welcomed, and allowed to spread their poison, unchallenged, masquerading their teachings as if they should be accepted as part of normal Christian belief!

My friend Pastor Joe has posted a link on our FaceBook site to a video of a guest lecture by Dr. Jay McDaniel at Northwest Nazarene University.  I have attached the video at the end of this post.  Feel free to go there and read some of the dialogue and concerns amongst Nazarenes and other Christians, especially as each of them viewed the video and had difficulty getting through it all.  I went back several times to Dr. McDaniel’s video, and have not yet finished it.  In the introduction alone, I heard enough that turned my stomach, and I asked, what else is coming in the rest of the lecture, which lasts about an hour, plus some questions and answers after that.

Northwest Nazarene University has its own Dr. Tom Oord as a professor there.  He is known for his support and advocacy of the twin heresies of Open Theism and Process Theology.  At the lecture, you will see Dr. Oord later towards the end as he walks around with a microphone for questions for the audience.  I had been to a lecture by Dr. Oord at Eastern Nazarene College, where he spoke as a guest speaker.  I challenged him on some issues related to death and how it came into the world, and I recall that his response to me when I quoted Romans 5:12 as the reason why death came into the world, was that he disagreed with me on that answer.  Dr. Oord also supports evolution and does not believe in the biblical account of creation.  If I am wrong, I hope he can correct me on that.  (Disclaimer: not all professors at NNU  have bought into this emergent/contemplative ideology, but NNU is a hotbed of emergent and contemplative false teachings).

Here is the link to the lecture by Dr. McDaniel.  It is 80 minutes long, including the Q&A, but I urge you to watch as much as possible, because this goes to yet another level that many of us would not have imagined as Nazarenes.  This man is promoting heretical ideology to our students, unchallenged as far as I know, and I believe he is another false teacher, based on his very words.  He is apparently a big admirer of Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic monk who mixed Eastern religions with Christianity and was a panentheist, which is the belief that God is IN ALL THINGS.

Dr. Jay McDaniel at Northwest Nazarene University

From an excerpt of his writings, and the lecture, it seems Dr. McDaniel is an advocate of pantheism, the belief that God is in ALL.  He apparently is also a universalist, based on listening to his lecture.   Just for starters, here is a brief transcript of the introduction of Dr. McDaniel.  This was disturbing enough, but you really need to see the entire lecture in order to see the impact of it:

Introduction: “….Theology of Reverence For Life, and Ghandi… See More’s Hope of Learning From Other Religions as a Path to Peace. While a student at a Methodist seminary many years ago he was influenced by the writing of the late Catholic monk, Thomas Merton, whose interest in other religions, especially Buddhism, began to shape his own life. At the same time, he was asked to be the English teacher for a Zen Buddhist monk from Japan and their friendship affected him deeply, as well. He began to believe that Christianity can be and is a way of living in the world that is open to truth wherever you find it, including other religions and including the felt presence of the Earth.”

Here are some additional transcripts which I had written down (my words in red):

“I was influenced by the Catholic writer, Thomas Merton who was a monk.”

“Thomas Merton was a wonderful writer”

“I was interested in Merton because I wanted to be a Christian with roots and wings.”

“I had fallen into a kind of Christianity that I would say had inflexible roots, but no wings. Now that is a metaphor for a way of being Christian that is so tied to a tradition or a set of beliefs that they become a box. And you can’t learn anything new. You can’t look outside the box.”

McDaniel admired Merton
“because he was open to truth wherever he found it.”

He quotes a Buddhist who he spent some time teaching English “I know that you are me, and I am you too, but you don’t know that.”

“By the way, if one of my children happens to go to hell, I would like to go there with them.”

“Maybe my Buddhist friend can help me think about God in a fresh way.”

“I, to this day, feel grateful to a Buddhist for helping me understand my own faith more deeply. He knew something I needed to know.”
And so that made me begin to wonder: can we Christians be more open? Can we be more receptive to people of other religions, than we so often have historically?
Can that be part of our good news to the world?…can our good news to the world be that we will listen, with a willingness to be touched? With a willingness to be moved? With a willingness to be in a way, converted, into deeper forms of love, with their help?”

Finally, here is a link that shows you some of his clear affinity for panentheism, the belief that God is IN ALL:

These are just some short excerpts.  The rest is very disturbing, and I believe a great majority of Nazarenes will be upset as well.  Particularly if you have children who are going to, are will soon go to, a Nazarene university, you will want to, at the very least, ask some hard questions of the administrators at NNU and other colleges.   If NNU and any other schools refuse to uphold Nazarene principles, then they ought to the Nazarene name from the school, and  not call it Nazarene.  I for one will not give a penny to NNU if they asked, until they repent from the direction they are going.  How much more should we tolerate and allow to go on without raising our voices?  What else can we expect our universities to bring in, in the name of “educational freedom?”

I have sent a link to this video to our General Superintendents, and I hope they will be able to see this.  I have asked them if they could possibly sent me their thoughts on whether they believe this is acceptable or not at any Nazarene university or seminary.

May God open the eyes of many in our denomination, and bring them discernment.  We are fighting heresy, plain and simple.
I urge all Nazarenes who are as concerned about this, to start asking more questions of our leadership, until we get answers.

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent.” (Isaiah 62:6)

Do I Worship The Same God As Emergents Worship?

Emergents worship a god who is imperfect and learns from his mistakes.  I worship a God who is sovereign and never stumbles.

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” Psalm 147:5

Emergents worship a god who does not know the future.  I worship a God who knew me before I was born, and whose prophesies are always right.

“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:4, 16

Emergents say we should not judge (even though they do), and scold others who dare to point out the obvious, unbiblical errors of their theology and “doctrine”.  I obey Jesus’s commands to beware of false prophets, and the apostle’s teaching that we should be like the Bereans and hold everything up to the light of scripture.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-20

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”  Acts 17:11

Emergents believe we need to accommodate and change according to the culture, in order to reach the post-modern world.  I believe that we need to bring the gospel to all people and all cultures, and allow the unchanging gospel to change them.

“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”  1 Cor. 9:16

Emergents have compared God with the modalistic, magician-like god of that blasphemous emergent bible, The Shack.  My God is the “one God in three persons” revealed in the Holy Bible, and He will always be addressed with fear, reverence and complete respect.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4

Emergents believe that “relationships” and “community” are the key to bring people into the Kingdom.  I believe that the gospel is the only effective and true way to bring people into the Kingdom.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,  “The just shall live by faith.”  Romans 1:16-17

Emergents believe the church is for the unbelievers.  The church is for the body of Christ, who are to feed on God’s word so they can bring the gospel to the unbelievers.

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”  1 Cor. 12:12-13

Emergents cast doubt on the Holy word of God, and call it a book of “stories” or “narratives” whose meaning changes based on the whims of our changing culture.  I trust in God’s everlasting and unchanging word completely, and believe in it’s inerrancy and timeless truths for all cultures.

“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” Psalms 119:89

Emergents trust the fancy and scholarly words of skeptical professors in order to learn what the Bible “might” be saying to them.  I trust completely the “God-breathed” words of the scriptures to teach me what is right, and to keep me on the narrow road.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Emergents do not like to preach or hear sermons on sin and repentance and eternal damnation.  We (especially unbelievers) need to hear ALL the hard truths, that we were born totally worthless sinners in the eyes of God, undeserving of anything but punishment, but by the grace He offered us we are made righteous.

“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27

Emergents will sometimes close their churches on a Sunday, and go around fixing neighborhoods without preaching the gospel.  I believe our churches should remain open for the brethren to be fed God’s word, and that we not forget that all our righteousness and good deeds, by themselves, is as filthy rags in the eyes of God.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”  Romans 10:13-14

Emergents say they rely on scripture to guide them, but we must balance that with experience, tradition, and reasoning.  I depend on and trust only one source completely: God’s infallible holy Word.  All other sources can and will fail.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”  2 Tim. 3:16

Emergents need to bring in pagan rituals and contemplative prayer (extra-biblical methods of prayer) in order to pray to God and “experience” Him in a “deeper” way than we’ve ever experienced.  There is only one way prescribed by the Bible to pray.  Prayer is comprehensible communication with God, not a mystical meditation.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

“The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Psalm 119:160

NazNet: A “Good” Example of Bad Emergent Theology

How do Nazarenes who are emergent in their ideology, actually go about discussing theology, and how do they think?  Emergents rarely focus much attention and importance on things such as sin, repentance, and doctrine, and end times prophesy, when those words are like a third rail for them.  Instead, like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, they are much more at home talking about less offensive things such as: community, being missional, ecumenical, friendship, “understanding and accepting our differences”, love, peace, and on and on.  So one answer to the question is a website called NazNet.

I did not think I would ever write something about NazNet, but I believe that it is a microcosm of emergent ideology, and how they think and believe.  What is NazNet?  It is an online website discussion group, founded by Nazarenes.  Although not officially sanctioned by the Nazarene denomination, please note that they had an official booth at the General Assembly in 2009. A statement on the site describes NazNet: “The NazNet Fellowship Forum is an Internet-based forum for members and friends of the Church of the Nazarene. Dave McClung, G.R. “Scott” Cundiff, and Hans Deventer are moderators of the Forum.” Here, members ( of which I am still one) can post topics for discussion, generally about community or theological issues, among other topics that  include sports, prayer requests, technology questions, and other categories.  I joined NazNet last year as a way to participate in discussions regarding the Bible and mostly regarding the emergent church movement.  What is disturbing to me, is that many of the participants on Naznet, including pastors, are trying to pass off some very distorted thinking as orthodox Christian doctrine, or as traditional Nazarene doctrine and beliefs.

After less than a year on this forum, I have spent much less time on it, other than occasionally reading what they discuss with each other.  In my opinion, it is, as a friend has coined it, a “breeding ground for emergent ideology.”  I seriously  believe that an appropriate motto for this site would be the quote from the serpent, “Hath God indeed said?”  However, I will point out that there are members here also, who are opposed to the emergent ideology, and who engage emergent Nazarenes often in their discussions.

I’ve also likened NazNet to an Emergent Theological Seminary for emergent Nazarenes, for here they will find a comfortable place to be properly schooled in the “non-doctrinal doctrines” of the emergent church, and with a good pat on the back for your thoughts- if you are in line with emergent-speak.  The approved manner of communication seems to encourage you to show deference to anyone’s opinion- unless it goes against the emergent grain.  Most of the time, you can pretty much state any opinion- as long as it is not perceived to be “too dogmatic.”  This is taboo for the most part on the site; dogmatism is not tolerated much.  The reason I spend less time commenting there, is not because of the many emergents who are there, but because of the “toxic” atmosphere that often arises when you dare to declare things such as the following:

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God,
2. There are absolute truths in the Bible that cannot be “interpreted” in more ways than one,
3. The emergent church is a movement that is filled with doctrinal error and therefore contradicts biblical teachings,
4. Adam and Eve were really historical figures created directly by God, as narrated in the Bible, and did not evolve through multiple series of changes over millions of years,
5. God is sovereign, He does not make mistakes, and He does know the future.

Now, I don’t mind a good healthy discussion and even disagreement- that is not my problem with NazNet.  I could give more examples of what I listed, but when arguments like these are made by me and others, and we refuse to compromise from our stance on such things as biblical inerrancy, and instead be “open-minded”, then the reaction by some of the more “militant” emergents would be words like: “you are intolerant”, “you don’t have the educational background”, “you are just another extreme fundamentalist who should leave and join the fundamentalist Baptists”, “you do not reflect the normal views of the denomination”.  Rarely do they use scripture to refute your positions, unless of course they are using it out of context to justify their beliefs (such as misusing “Be still, and know that I am God” to justify contemplative prayer).  By the way, there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Baptist, so frankly, I welcome being put in the company of a Bible believing Baptist or any other such Christian.

I’d like to give you a few samplings of just some of the outrageous theological statements and beliefs that have come across this forum.  There are many more, and keep in mind, I said that the atmosphere there can be very toxic because of content that flies in the face of sound Bible teaching and doctrine.  Again, NazNet is not sponsored by the Nazarene denomination, but I would strongly recommend the General Superintendents to read some of the really bad stuff they write.  I guarantee they would be shocked to see what some of the writers post and try to pass off as “standard” Nazarene belief, or Christian belief for that matter.  And much of it is written by pastors!  Let me just give you a few examples.  All of their original postings can be very long, but the selections I give here are representative of some of the most unbiblical thinking that goes on there.  I have been very careful not to show you anything that is taken out of context, and the excerpts speak for themselves, on their own.

“I agree, no part of us is immortal. That is why I believe that hell is annihilation and immortality is conditional.”
This statement was originally reported by Grant Swank, who now has a blog, NazNet Distorts, dedicated to critiquing what they write, which I believe reflects the spirit of the emergent ideology accurately.  This comment by Hans Deventer, who is a moderator on this forum, was part of a discussion on hell and what happens to those who are eternally condemned.  As Rev. Swank, a former Nazarene, rightly says,
The Bible states nowhere that the damned go to annihilation. Christ Himself speaks repeatedly of eternal damnation. Those familiar with the Bible know these passages. Those in the Church of the Nazarene know these passages.”….So NazNet preaches that heaven is not without end. Hell is not eternal torment. The Scriptures are not reliable. Yet so far this and similar comments have gone unchallenged by any other person on NazNet, and especially the other moderators.

“We human beings are just not perfect enough to define God and absolute Truth in any infallible way. Even those who claim that all of the Bible is infallible do so as fallible human beings, not realizing the irony and oxymoronic nature of that claim (it has been called “the doctrine of immaculate perception”).
Here, (and in many other posts) Dennis Bratcher, who is a professor at Point Loma Nazarene University who believes in Open Theism, shows his utter disdain for the Bible as God’s infallible word.  His position is one shared by every emergent worth his salt that I have run across, and is almost a doctrinal requirement for being in the emergent club in good standing.  This and many more statements similar by Bratcher and others, reveals what I believe to be the underlying, driving philosophy for emergents, and that is, that the Bible is not infallible, it can be questioned, and most of it cannot be settled, but rather is open to a variety of interpretations. If you fall for this, then you have simply destroyed the only sure basis for putting trust in God’s word, that it is fully reliable and infallible in all it teaches.  And this from a professor at one of our Nazarene universities.  How’s that for confidence building in our students?  Would that make them want to trust the Bible, or cast serious doubt that any of it is true?

The following is also by Mr. Bratcher:

I read nowhere in any of Scripture that anyone has been or will be cast into hell because they believed the wrong thing. That is a total rationalistic misconception of the nature of God and what grace is about. We are not saved, or condemned, based on what we believe.”
In my opinion, this is the kind of talk that gives an “out” for emergents or emergent types to reject much of what the scriptures teach, especially in the New Testament.  So here you have it. We are saved by grace, therefore the conclusion is that we don’t have to have belief in any certain way?  That is also incredible. Here’s just a few scriptural commands on the importance and necessity of doctrine and belief:

For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.  Prov. 4:2

If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.  John 7:17

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  Romans 6:17

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  Romans 16:17

that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  Eph. 4:14

If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.  1 Tim. 4:6

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  1 Tim. 4:13

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Tim. 4:16

Reminds me of the scripture that states they they are “always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7).

Finally, this comment by a Nazarene pastor on the site is just mind boggling and again an illustration of the way they hold a disdain for Biblical inerrancy and the authority of God’s word.  This came following during a discussion of infant baptism (which is also yet another problem with some of these emergents!  Some believe infant baptism saves a person!)  Here is the excerpt:

“I believe that the true problem is that we as a church struggle with being sufficiently Christocentric.  My fear is that we as a Church too often succumb to the temptation to make peripheral issues central and push the central issue to the periphery (by the way scripture has a term for that, it is called idolatry).”

” an example of this, when we look at the teachings of the Concerned Nazarenes and others they will often make the assertion that the Bible is the only reliable revelation of God (even while the Bible itself consistently points beyond itself to Christ as the only reliable and ultimate revelation of God), and that God’s word must be without error for if we cannot trust God’s word then we cannot trust God. This assertion places the word of God in a position of authority over God in that the trustworthiness of God is dependent upon scripture being factually correct and internally consistent in every jot and tittle.

Moreover it places the highest standard of authority in our hands in that we must demonstrate or prove that it is completely accurate and true so that it can be trusted and therefore God can be trusted. It places both the interpreter and scripture in a position of authority over God, and that by definition is idolatry. In one fell swoop the Concerned Nazarenes have removed God from His throne and placed the interpreters and the scriptures on it. Christ has been removed from the center and pushed to the periphery and the result is division and dissension in the body.”

This is absolutely incredible, yet it represents not only this pastor’s view, but many others on NazNet.  First, I would like to know what emergents might consider are other reliable revelations of God.  Could it be signs and wonders demonstrated today?  Would books written by Dennis Bratcher be reliable revelations of God?  Could a reliable revelation of God come from a few hours of sincere emergent “conversations” with enough people who come to a consensus on a particular topic?  Perhaps if you hold enough theology PhDs, would that be enough to give reliability to every word that comes out of your mouth?

So if this pastor says that the words in the Bible are not the real reliable word of God, but Jesus Christ Himself, is he saying that we cannot rely on the Bible, and must rely on Christ?  Okay, so if we do, is he saying that he hears the “reliable” voice of Christ speak to him, and that is what he trusts?  If so how does he know he is hearing the voice of Christ?  I’ll stop on this point for now, because any reasonable person will see that this is absurd, but it seems to be the prevailing emergent position- by emergent Nazarene pastors!

This pastor asserts that we have to prove that the Bible is completely accurate and true.  We have to prove it?  When we read the Bible over and over, we see so many places where it confirms and declares that it is totally reliable and trustworthy- yet his assertion is that the pressure is on us to prove it is trustworthy?  Does a person come to Christ as a result of reading a book that is full or errors?   You either believe it is true, or you don’t.  If you doubt that the Bible is completely accurate and true, how can you possibly believe then that any of it is true?  And of course, he says that if you believe that, then the logical conclusion is that you are an idolater, because you trust completely in the word of God.
Frankly, his final comment about causing division and dissension in the body of Christ applies only to one group of people: those who have a complete disdain and disrespect for God’s holy word, and it is shameful what the emergent breeding factories such as NazNet are putting out.  I pray that this and many other pastors wake up from their delusion and look to the word of God as His true revelation, and repent from their misguided ideology which is nothing more that what is based on human pride and intellect.

In response to Mr. Bratcher, Mr. Deventer, and others who try to lower the standard of the Bible, here is a quote that is well put by my brother in Christ, Pastor Joe Staniforth, who has written an excellent paper called Inerrancy and Wesleyanism. His comment below rebuts this flawed and devilish thinking about the scriptures:

As intellectual as they may sound, they all arrive at the same place -distrust in the Word of God.  They are ashamed to put their reputation at risk, and lose their respect among secular scholars by faithfully putting their name to an inerrant Word!  The word “inerrancy” is not in the bible.  Neither is the word “trinity” (an argument of Jehovah’s Witnesses), but it is a word that expresses a truth that we find in scripture again and again.  The inerrancy of scripture is a fundamental belief of the Christian faith!  It is an absolute truth that the Spirit assures us of in our hearts when we are born again.  This is why we are troubled when people speak against it.  In simple language, when man would even hint that there are errors in the Word of God, it is nothing more than a satanic revolt against it’s Author.   He is attempting to put his head above our sovereign God.  He has become judge of that which will judge him.  I am convinced that some of these people will even argue when God breaks out the record books of Heaven, and lists every evil deed they have ever done.  I can guarantee there will be an accurate record of all their doubt.

Warning: Unless you are strong in your faith and are biblically discerning, stay away from NazNet.  There are some true Bible believers there who are very brave and continue to engage emergents, but it is a dangerous game for some to play.  I would love to know what the General Superintendents might think if they read some of this stuff, and more, that is posted on this site for Nazarenes.  I would hope that they would be appalled at the disrespect for God’s word expressed on NazNet.  This group (the NazNet emergents) does not represent true holiness principles and doctrine of the Nazarene denomination.

Open Letter #2 to Holiness Today

Dear Reverend Felter,

First of all, I wish you a Happy New Year!  I had previously written to you in an email on Oct. 9, 2009 in response to your editorial in Holiness Today, entitled “Are The Emerging Church Folks Stealing the Church?”  I was very concerned about what I understood from your editorial, because Holiness Today is so very influential and reaches so many Nazarenes across the world.  I realize that it is difficult to respond to every email, but I believe, based on the enormous audience that the magazine reaches within the Nazarene denomination, that it would be very helpful for you to clarify some things that are written in Holiness Today that are not so clear to all readers.  And it seems that your editorial is one of those that still needs clarification.

Previously, I had asked you to read my article, and then if possible, respond to some of the questions I raised in my critique, which was posted on September 26, entitled “Does Holiness Today Endorse The Emergent Church?”  Some things you wrote did not necessarily give clear answers to the questions in my mind, and I believe in the minds of other Nazarenes who have written to me, or who have posted questions on our blogs and FaceBook group.  Perhaps it might be easier if I asked a few specifically targeted questions, and you could answer them.  I do understand you are busy every month with new editions to put out, but again, I believe many Nazarenes are awaiting some answers that will clarify where Holiness Today really stands on the emergent church. So here are some questions that I hope you will be able to answer for us.

One of your comments that gave me pause was this one: “These [emergent] 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.”

1. Question: For you, does “new expressions” include any or all of the following:  prayer labyrinths, prayer stations, Walk To Emmaus, use of prayer beads, lectio divina, ecumenical services with the Roman Catholic church (which I am sure you know teaches a lot of false doctrines), and rejecting the Bible as the infallible, inerrant word of God?  Many emergent Nazarene churches and some universities are actively doing some or all of these things.  What is your position on these?  Is that part of what you meant when you used the term “new expressions?”  If not, what are some of the new expressions that you referred to?

Another quote stated: “they believe we more closely resemble our beloved founders than at any other time since the beginning of our history.”

2. Does this statement mean that those emergents who are using all these expressions I mentioned in question #1… that they are truly reflecting the holiness tradition of our founders, even though none of these practices were officially in use in our denomination, and still are not officially sanctioned or recommended by our leaders?  (Regarding our founders, my position is that even though they were great men of God, that even they are not infallible, and whatever they wrote, should always be scrutinized in light of what the infallible word of God says, would you agree?)

3. Regarding scriptural authority: (This was not mentioned in your article by the way)  I have noticed a trend amongst emergent Nazarenes, particularly those who I have interacted with on NazNet (a Nazarene discussion site, although unofficial), of lowering the bar regarding scriptural authority.  Many of them say that the Bible only CONTAINS the word of God, instead of stating that the Bible IS the word of God.  Some have incredulously said that holding the scriptures to the highest level is idolatry! (They say that Jesus is the real Word.  Well… yes.. but.. aren’t the scriptures the only sure way for us to really know what God has revealed to us?  Yet this is a strange position many of them take, including pastors!)
My question is: is it your position that the entire Bible IS the word of God, as opposed to those in the emergent movement who seem to be casting doubt on the complete veracity of all scripture?  In other words, do you believe that ALL of the Bible is trustworthy in ALL it affirms, and not the view of emergents that it is probably allegorical in the creation account, in the global flood account, when saying Methuselah lived 967 years, etc?

4. You also stated: “the bold lengths to which these innovative Nazarenes are prepared to go in order to be the people of God in a changing world.”
Would you agree with me that we Christians ought to be as bold as possible to reach out to the world with the gospel, as long as we do not violate, change, or water down the gospel message itself? (I believe the only way people are changed by the gospel is when the power of the Holy Spirit is behind it).
And also, would you agree with my statement that “we should NEVER change or compromise the gospel in ANY way, in order to accommodate the world, or our “changing post-modern culture.”
Would you instead agree with me that we ought to follow Romans 12:2 in its admonition:

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.”

In other words, cultures may change, Rev. Felter, but the true gospel and its effectiveness and power NEVER changes, no matter what culture we are in. Would you agree?

5. Finally this statement from you: “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.”

Can you please give us some very specific examples of this so-called exaggeration and disingenuous rhetoric? I am so perplexed with this statement, Rev. Felter, because surely you know by now that there are many Nazarenes all across the denomination, including internationally, who are extremely concerned abut the direction of our denomination with these new emergent and contemplative spirituality practices, which never were around in the past, but now in the last ten years or so, have filtered in, under the radar of many Nazarenes.

I truly feel it is an insult to those Nazarenes (which includes pastors like you, evangelists, and ordinary laypersons like me) who are grieved tremendously by the fruits of this movement, to simply imply that we are exaggerating and being disingenuous.  Did you know that there are many Nazarenes across the country who have been forced to leave their churches, because of these emergents and their “joyous expressions of faith”?  Did you know that even though there is no official position by the leadership or even in our church manual about the emergent church, some pastors cannot readily speak out against this movement without risking some level of intimidation or pressure?  I could tell you some real life stories I have received, that would make you cry for those families who have had their lifelong relationships and fellowship with other Nazarenes totally disrupted and severed.  It is real, and that fact cannot be ignored forever without real long term consequences to our churches and universities.

I wonder if the revenues into our denomination have not reached its projected targets lately, and if not, I wonder how much of that has been affected by long time Nazarenes giving up and leaving their churches in disgust, because of emergent ideology and these “new expressions of faith.”  Or perhaps there are churches who have decided not to submit their budgets to their designated university, until that university cleans up its act and stops the indoctrination of our youth with contemplative spirituality practices, or with teachings that God does not know the future (Open Theism), or that He makes mistakes. Perhaps these new teachings about God are what you mean by “new expressions?’  But we just don’t know for sure..

So that is something to think about, Rev. Felter, and perhaps I may be able to get those financial statistics from headquarters.  I think this is a big problem that may continue to show itself more prominently as more Nazarenes become aware of what seems to be a quiet behind the scenes operation to weave emergent ideology into the fabric of our denomination, without ever hearing any official announcements that it has been welcomed. If people are not aware, how can they make good decisions, especially the kind that determines what university their child will go to?

But, I digress.  I’ve written more than I had planned.  Were you able to read the 3,000 word post I sent out last month, called “Nazarene Denomination Losing It’s Way?” It was written as an introduction to our many concerns, and mainly targeted those who have never heard of the emerging church.  I am praying that the paper copy of the newspaper also reaches many in New England who were not yet aware of the emergent church problem.  If you also have time, let me know what you think of it. And do you think it is just a matter of time until there is a formal declaration that the emergent church ideology has been welcomed into our denomination?  If so, would we expect new training programs denomination-wide to introduce all Nazarenes to the emergent church and its practices?

I sincerely ask that you are able to spend a few minutes of your time and answer these questions.  I believe a lot of Nazarenes around the globe would really appreciate it.  Please keep in mind you are not the only person I am asking for answers.  I realize you are one part of our large denomination.  Rest assured I and others will be asking questions of our leadership as well, until we can get some answers.

I think we deserve that much.

All the glory to Jesus,

Manny Silva

Contemplative Christians: “Victims of Seducing Spirits?

Following is an excerpt from Ray Yungen’s highly recommended book, A Time of Departing, which is the best book I have read that will educate you on the influence and rise of New Age and mystical practices in the evangelical Christian church today.  If any Christian is reading Richard Foster (who had a featured book at General Assembly in 2009), Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Sue Monk Kidd, and others, beware.  You are flirting with material by authors who claim to be Christian, but who are influenced by the occult, and who practice mystical and occult-like methods of “experiencing” God.  Sue Monk Kidd is a tragic example of what can happen even to supposedly mature Christians: she once was a solid Baptist Sunday School teacher, was given a Thomas Merton book to read, and now is a goddess worshipper and writes books on the subject.  She is now a very popular author, but she has clearly walked away from the faith.  The excerpt below details how this happened.
Another author to beware of is Neal Donald Walsch.  If I wrote a book called “Conversations With God”, and told you that it was actually a record of my real, direct conversations with God, would you buy it?  Or would you run the other way as fast as you could?……. I thought so.  So why is he so popular now, including in Nazarene circles?  How can anyone know if these conversations are with God, or with something else?  This is occultic stuff, yet Christians buy it and love it, along with The Shack as well, a book full of blasphemy and heresy.
Brothers and sisters, you need to be discerning when you buy so-called “Christian” books, and stick to the Bible as your primary and only reliable source of Christian faith and practice.  Do not allow yourself to be in a position to be a victim of seducing spirits.  The more grounded you are in the scriptures, the less chance you will have of being deceived in this way.

Dear “Contemplative Christian”: Are you the victim of seducing spirits?

by Ray Yungen

I once heard a radio interview with Richard Foster that revealed the high regard in which many influential evangelicals hold him. The talk show host made his own admiration obvious with such comments to Foster as, “You have heard from God . . . this is a message of enormous value,” and in saying Foster’s work was a “curriculum for Christ-likeness.” I found this praise especially disturbing after Foster stated in the interview that Christianity was “not complete without the contemplative dimension.”1 Of course, my concern was that Foster’s curriculum would result in Thomas Merton-likeness instead.

When I look ahead and ponder the impact of [what I am saying], unquestionably there are some very sobering considerations. The contemplative prayer movement has already planted strong roots within evangelical Christianity. Many sincere, devout, and respected Christians have embraced Thomas Merton’s vision that:

The most important need in the Christian world today is this inner truth nourished by this Spirit of contemplation . . . Without contemplation and interior prayer the Church cannot fulfill her mission to transform and save mankind.2

A statement like this should immediately alert the discerning Christian that something is wrong. It is the Gospel that saves mankind, not the silence. When Merton says “save,” he really means enlighten. Remember, Merton’s spiritual worldview was panentheistic oneness.

Some will see [what I am saying] as divisive and intolerant—especially those who share Merton’s view of the future. Pastors may be set at odds with one another and possibly with their congregations; friends, and even family members may be divided on the issues of contemplative spirituality. Nevertheless, having weighed the pros and cons, I am prepared to receive the inevitable responses from fans of these contemplative mentors. And although I sincerely feel goodwill toward those I have critiqued, I am convinced the issues are of vital importance, leaving me compelled to share them regardless of the cost.

After taking an honest look at the evidence, the conclusion is overwhelming that contemplative prayer is not a spiritually-sound practice for Christians. The errors of contemplative spirituality are simple and clear for the following three reasons:

• It is not biblical.

• It correlates with occult methods (i.e., mantra, vain repetition).

• It is sympathetic to Eastern mystical perceptions (God in everything; all is One—Panentheism).

These are well-documented facts, not just arbitrary opinions. Furthermore, the contemplative prayer movement is uniform, indicating a link to a central source of knowledge. Based on the above facts, we know what that source is.

The apostle Paul warns us of seducing spirits in his first letter to Timothy: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (I Timothy 4:1)

The operative word here is “deceiving” or seducing which means to be an imposter or to mislead. It is plain to see a real delusion is going on or, as Paul called it, a seduction. How then can you tell if you are a victim yourself? It is actually not that difficult.

The doctrines (instructions) of demons—no matter how nice, how charming, how devoted to God they sound—convey that everything has Divine Presence (all is One). This is clear heresy—for that would be saying Satan and God are one also (i.e., “I [Lucifer] will be like the Most High,” Isaiah 14:14). If what Henri Nouwen proclaimed is true when he said, “[W]e can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is,”3 then Jesus Christ and Satan are also united. That is something only a demonic spirit would teach!

An even more subtle yet seductive idea says: Without a mystical technique, God is somehow indifferent or unapproachable. Those of you who are parents can plainly see the falsehood of this. Do your children need to employ a method or engage in a ritual to capture your full attention or guidance? Of course not! If you love your children, you will care for and interact with them because you are committed to them and want to participate with them. The same is true of God’s attention towards those He has called his own.

And, we must not forget the most decisive indication of the Deceiver’s handiwork: the belief or doctrine in question will undermine the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as both God and man and His atoning work on the Cross. The apostle John brings out this distinction with clarity in his first letter:

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:2-3

It is evident then, that the whole idea of a Christ consciousness where we all have divinity, is completely unbiblical in that it negates who Jesus was and what He came to do.

The central role of a shepherd is to guide and direct the sheep. The sheep know the voice of their Master by simply following Him in faith (John 10:14-18). The Shepherd does not expect or desire the sheep to perform a method or religious technique to be close to Him. He has already claimed them as His own.

Remember! Religiosity is man’s way to God while Christianity is God’s way to man. Contemplative prayer is just another man-inspired attempt to get to God.

When we receive Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit—thus we receive God. Christians do not have to search for some esoteric technique to draw closer to God. The fullness of God has already taken residency in those who have received Christ. The Christian’s response is not to search for God through a method but simply to yield his or her will to the will of God.

When looking at principles like these, Paul’s warning becomes clear. A seduction will not work if we are wise to the ways of the seducer.

Christians must not be led purely by their emotions or a particular experience; there must be ground rules. A popular saying is: “You can’t put God in a box.” That is correct in some ways, but it’s not true if the box is the Bible. God will not work outside of what He has laid down in His message to humanity.

The answer to the contemplative prayer movement is simple. A Christian is complete in Christ. The argument that contemplative prayer can bring a fuller measure of God’s love, guidance, direction, and nurturing is the epitome of dishonor to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. It is, in essence, anti-Christian.The late Dr. Paul Bubna, President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, wrote in an article, “Purveyors of Grace or Ungrace”:

Knowing Christ is a journey of solid theological understanding. It is the Holy Spirit’s illuminating the Scriptures to our darkened minds and hearts that give birth to the wonder of unconditional love.4

The contemplative message has seriously maligned this wonderful work of God’s grace and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who guides the Christian into all truth. Those who have the Holy Spirit indwelling them do not need the silence. It is one thing to find a quiet place to pray (which Jesus did) but quite another to go into an altered state of consciousness (which Jesus never did). The Christian hears the voice of Jehovah through the Holy Spirit, not through contemplative prayer. Again, Jesus made it clear He is the one who initiates this process, not man:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17)

Scripture instructs us to “try the spirits” (I John 4:1). Let’s test them, using Richard Foster’s teachings. In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Foster devotes a number of pages to what he calls the biblical basis for this form of prayer. He makes reference to many instances throughout the Bible where God talked to people,—in other words, encounters between man and Divinity. But Foster then jumps straight into contemplative prayer, leading the reader to think this is how it is done when, in fact, he has not really presented a biblical basis for using the repetition of sacred words at all. He looks to the contemplative mystics to legitimize his teachings when he writes:

How sad that contemporary Christians are so ignorant of the vast sea of literature on Christian meditation by faithful believers throughout the centuries! And their testimony to the joyful life of perpetual communion is amazingly uniform.5

That is the problem. The contemplative authors are “amazingly uniform.” Even though they all profess a love for God and Jesus, they have each added something that is contrary to what God conveys in His written word.

Contemplative mystic John R. Yungblut penned the following observation that rings true for almost all such contemplative practitioners. He concludes:

The core of the mystical experience is the apprehension of unity, and the perception of relatedness. For the mystics the world is one.6

Panentheism is the bedrock of the contemplative prayer movement; therefore, the establishment of whether or not it is biblically valid is imperative.

Foster also believes, that God’s ability to impact the non-contemplative Christian is limited. Foster expresses:

What happens in meditation is that we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart.7

But the Trinity already has an inner sanctuary in every Christian. It is being in Christ (via the Holy Spirit) that allows every believer to receive guidance and direction.

Furthermore, when Richard Foster cites someone like Sue Monk Kidd as an example of what he is promoting (as he does in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home), it is reasonable to expect that if you engage in Foster’s prayer methods, you will become like his examples.

Monk Kidd’s spirituality is spelled out clearly in her book When the Heart Waits. She explains:

There’s a bulb of truth buried in the human soul [not just Christian] that’s “only God” . . . the soul is more than something to win or save. It’s the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the God-image, the truest part of us.8

Sue Monk Kidd, an introspective woman, gives a revealing description of her spiritual transformation in her book God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved. She shares how she suffered a deep hollowness and spiritual hunger for many years even though she was very active in her Baptist church.9 She sums up her feelings:

Maybe we sense we’re disconnected from God somehow. He becomes superfluous to the business at hand. He lives on the periphery so long we begin to think that is where He belongs. Anything else seems unsophisticated or fanatical.10

Ironically, a Sunday school co-worker handed her a book by Thomas Merton, telling her she needed to read it. Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically.

What happened next completely reoriented Sue Monk Kidd’s worldview and belief system. She started down the contemplative prayer road with bliss, reading numerous books and repeating the sacred word methods taught in her readings.11 She ultimately came to the mystical realization that:

I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us . . . When we encounter another person, . . . we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.12

One could come to Monk Kidd’s defense by saying she is just referring to Christians and non-Christians sharing a common humanity and the need to treat all people well. Yet, while respecting humanity is important, she fails to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians thereby negating Christ’s imperative, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7), as the prerequisite for the indwelling of God. Her mystical universalism is apparent when she quotes someone who advises that the Hindu greeting namaste, which translates, I honor the god in you, should be used by Christians.13

Monk Kidd, like Merton, did not join a metaphysical church such as the Unity Church or a Religious Science church. She found her spirituality within the comfortable and familiar confines of a Baptist church!

Moreover, when Monk Kidd found her universal spirituality she was no teenager. She was a sophisticated, mature family woman. This illustrates the susceptibility of the millions like her who are seeking seemingly novel, positive approaches to Christian spiritual growth. Those who lack discernment are at great risk. What looks godly or spiritually benign on the surface may have principles behind it that are in dire conflict with Christianity.

Since the original edition of A Time of Departing came out [in 2002], two major discoveries have come to my attention. First, Sue Monk Kidd has become a widely known author. She has written a bestselling book titled The Secret Life of Bees, which has sold millions of copies. Her latest book, The Mermaid Chair, is also on the bestseller list. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I found even more profound evidence that my conclusions about her worldview were right. It seems that just a few years after she had written the book I’ve quoted, she wrote another book on spirituality. This one was titled The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. If ever there was a book confirming my message, this book is it.

In her first and second books, Monk Kidd was writing from a Christian perspective. That is why the back cover of God’s Joyful Surprise was endorsed by Virtue, Today’s Christian Woman, and (really proving my point) Moody Monthly. But with her third and fourth book, Monk Kidd had made the full transition to a spiritual view more in tune with Wicca than with Christianity. Now she worships the Goddess Sophia rather than Jesus Christ:

We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness. . . . Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred. . . . Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.14

There is one portion in Monk Kidd’s book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter that, for me, stands out and speaks right to the heart of this issue. I want my readers to grasp what she is conveying in the following account. No one can lightly dismiss or ignore the powers behind contemplative prayer after reading this narrative:

The minister was preaching. He was holding up a Bible. It was open, perched atop his raised hand as if a blackbird had landed there. He was saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. The sole and ultimate authority.

I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!

It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period.15

If Foster uses these kinds of mystics as contemplative prayer models without disclaimers regarding their universalist beliefs (like Sue Monk Kidd), then it is legitimate to question whether or not he also resonates with the same beliefs himself. At a Foster seminar I attended, a colleague of his assured the audience that when they were in this altered state, they could just “smell the gospel.” Based on the research of this movement, what you can smell is not the Gospel but the Ganges [River]!16

(This has been an excerpt from A Time of Departing, chapter 7)

If you would like to order the book, go to the Lighthouse Trails website)


1. Interview with Richard Foster, Lou Davies Radio Program (Nov. 24, 1998, KPAM radio, Portland, Oregon).

2. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York, NY: Image Books, Doubleday Pub., 1989), pp. 115-116.

3. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey.

4. Dr. Paul Bubna, President Briefings, C&MA, “Purveyors of Grace or Ungrace,” March 1978.

5. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Franciso, CA: Harper, 1988), p. 19.

6. John R. Yungblut, Rediscovering the Christ (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1991), p. 142.

7. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1988), p. 20.

8. Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1990), pp. 47-48.

9. Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1987), p. 55.

10. Ibid., p. 56.

11. Ibid., p. 198.

12. Ibid., pp. 233, 228.

13. Ibid., pp. 228-229.

14. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996), pp. 162-163.

15. Ibid., p. 76.

16. The Ganges is a famous river in India, thought to have holy powers but is actually very polluted.