NazNet’s Pastors and Their Dubious Theology

What is NazNet? As I wrote before, it is an online website discussion group, founded by Nazarenes. Although not officially sanctioned by the Nazarene denomination, they were allowed to have a 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.

Okay, so that is Naznet. And their thinking is still becoming more and more bizarre every day. And as my friend Tim Wirth described it, NazNet is a breeding ground for emergent heresy.  I agree.  And I applaud the writings of Grant Swank, a hardhitting, former Nazarene minister, who is doing the hard work of exposing the many heretical viewpoints that are being allowed to go unchallenged by the moderators of the “supposedly Nazarene-friendly” forum at NazNet.  Some of their stuff is really outrageous and heretical, including one of the moderators himself stating that there is no hell, but that sinners are annihilated! Please check out Grant’s commentaries on some of the worst of NazNet: http://naznetdistorts.blogspot.com/


Recently, this group started a new topic- about me.  Yes, they like to talk about me from time to time, and about my concerned Nazarene friends, a group that just keeps on growing every day- thank the Lord!  The title of the topic was, Dan Boone engages with Manny at his reformednazarene blog, and was “inspired” by my issues with Trevecca Nazarene University and Dan Boone.  I read some of it, which was started by Rich Schmidt, a regular on NazNet.  Here is how he started the discussion:


The other day I realized it had been quite a while since I’d heard anything about the Concerned Nazarenes, so I decided to hop over to their Facebook group and Manny’s “Reformed Nazarene” blog… where I was surprised to discover that Dan Boone, president of Trevecca Nazarene University, had engaged with Manny on his blog!

It appears to have started with Manny’s post on February 1 about Trevecca “promoting mysticism and pagan practices.” I guess Dan left some comments on that post and may have emailed Manny directly as well. The next couple of posts (Feb. 8 and Feb. 12) brought some of that conversation to the surface.


Later on was where I stumbled upon yet another set of comments from another pastor on NazNet, that made me wonder, yet again, where does this thinking come from?  Where does all this postmodern type of talk originate from, or is inspired from, the Bible? Here is his first comment:


One of the comments I am most interested in is the promise of an “Open Letter” from TNU that I hope will bring more clarity to some “confused Nazarenes” who might be caught in the middle. I really appreciate Dan’s responses and thought, “wow, if you had any reservations about sending your kid to a Nazarene School . . . I guess you would be more confident now than ever.


I certainly beg to differ with that last opinion! I would think that after my warnings, any reasonable parent would have second and third thoughts about attending a Nazarene university!  Especially when heretical practices are being pushed all over the place, and false teachers like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, (not to mention books by mystics like Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen) are applauded at many of these schools. I know I have lost confidence for now, and so have many other Nazarene parents.

Then came another comment by this pastor later on which raised even more eyebrows- at least from me!  His comments are in blue, and my comments are in red so that you can follow with my thoughts in reaction to his writing.  The occasional biting sarcasm that you may see in my writing is basically the way I try to reflect my response to what this pastor is implying or saying.

FROM A NAZNET PASTOR:
Gary, although it saddens me quite a bit it doesn’t really surprise me. Remember that the move toward post-modernity has literally ripped the carpet out from under many who just don’t understand what is going on.
Translated: we’re just so stupid compared to the post-modernists.  This is a typical attitude they have, that we just aren’t educated enough, or don’t have the wisdom that post-moderns have.
The affect it has on the church has left many laypeople grasping for something that’s nailed down.

(Like solid, never changing biblical truths perhaps?)

Concerned and reformed Nazarene folks offer the
illusion of stability that rings of familiarity.
(Sure, how could I be so insecure? What Christian in his right mind wants stability?)
In increasingly changing times we can see how people would overreact (panic)
and grasp out for a Word that never changes,
Overreact, panic?  Absolutely not!  We just simply get outraged at false teachings, that’s what we do!

And heaven forbid that the Word NEVER changes!  Are you saying what it seems you are saying?  That God’s word changes over time?  Will what it means change five years from now?
a God who is fixed and predictable and a church that fights to keep it that way.

Note these verses, pastor, regarding God’s changeability.  You may have forgotten them or overlooked them (and there are much more):

James 1:17 (NKJV)Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

or Malachi 3:6 “ For I am the Lord, I do not change. Therefore you are not consumed, you sons of Jacob.

I think the motivation for many is not anger but fear.
(Perhaps it is pastor- but maybe its fear that souls will be lost due to the heresies in our denomination.  I think I would call it a healthy fear!  Oh, and I am angry also– very angry that these emergent ideologies, including a disdain for God’s infallible word, is being spread on your wonderful Naznet forum).
Although, I do have to admit that for some it does seem that
power and control ARE motivating factors.
(Yes, you would have to admit that, of course.  Why… look at me.  Some of you on Naznet have heard of  my personal story… and you know, I’ve always dreamed of having power and control- so when I had the opportunity last year, I jumped at the chance for power and control- risking the 36 years I spent at my church, risking my relationships, my family, losing contact with many friends at church, all for POWER and CONTROL.  That’s it!  The emergents have nailed it, we seek power and control!  Certainly not the purity of the gospel, certainly not staying faithful to all of God’s infallible word.)


I am reminded of a comment made by David Troxler in an unrelated thred about ministerial practice and preparation: “Hauerwas indicates the difference between medical training and ministerial training. A physician has to have his courses well in hand or we would deem that practictioner’s risky and a danger to patients. Hauerwas reminds us about the Church needing to insist on the Christology courses, otherwise the practictioner of ministry is also a risk to patients (the congregants of local parishes).”

The minister must have his courses well in hand in order to navigate the tension caused by culture and concerned/reformed nazarenes in the local church. (Is this the same as saying, he needs to be in full control of the situation?  And what about the minister who has his courses well in hand, and thoroughly refutes your ideology!  What do you call them?  Oh yes, I guess… concerned Nazarenes)
If not our churches might become more and more harassed and helpless.

(Possible meaning of what you are actually concerned with: “if not, our churches might actually see behind the facade and expose us for what we are”.)
It really is a privilege to minister in these challenging times. I hope I can do it with the grace, courage and conviction of someone like Dan Boone (a deceived college president), Ron Benefiel (a deceived seminary president) and others of you (the rest of the deceived who I like to hang out with now, doing a lot of backslapping and affirming of our false, man-centered ideology).

END OF COMMENTARY

That’s it.  Yet another sad example of confused and misguided emergent speak within our own denomination.  Let us pray for those on NazNet who have been deceived and truly believe they are following Gods word.  Their disrespect for the word of God who is revealed to us in the Bible is unbelievable.  May God help them.

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22 responses to “NazNet’s Pastors and Their Dubious Theology

  1. I too am amazed at how far from the truth some have strayed.
    This is last resort, but after repeated appeals using Scripture fail, 1 Timothy 1:20 comes to mind.

    Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

  2. Manny, for clarity, people who believe in annihilation, believe this happens in hell. I today’s world there are many people who do not believe in hell, but these are two different issues. I myself believe in the reality of hell. We may not like it, but it seems to me the Bible is quite clear about it.

  3. Manny,

    I’m sorry they have to start a thread about you. I lurk on Naznet occasionally and their views/comments drive me nuts. The CoN is just NOT what it used to be in my youth.

    In His Grip,
    Mike

  4. Reformed Nazarenes,

    I think it’s great that these “Nazarenes” have become so comfortable and bold. My advice is to let them keep talking because we see exactly who they are. Here is what I have found while I have watched them for 10 years:

    1. They keep the conversation subjective.
    2. They keep the conversation emotional.
    3. They take – make rabbit trail after rabbit trail.
    4. They have to re-invent – invent Christianity because the basic tenets of the faith are too simple for them.
    5. They seek the assets of the church.
    6. They isolate and taunt the older people and elders of the church.
    7. They are consumed with their own “wisdom”.
    8. They will never answer a direct question like. “Do you believe the Bible is true.”
    9. They seek to persuade and entice the young.
    10. They are very good public speakers.

  5. Hans,

    Annihilation is nowhere taught in the Bible- so even if you believe it, it is not biblical- so why believe in something it clearly not taught in scripture, whereas scripture tells us what happens to those who are condemned to eternal punishment.

  6. Manny, I wasn’t arguing about annihilation. You wrote about people saying there is no hell. There is.

  7. Steve, no problem but it’s quite a subject and we’re Manny’s guests.
    Manny, are you okay with us delving into this subject here?

  8. After a visit to NazNet, I’m totally amazed at the spin they apply to subject matters to confuse innocent parties that may venture on their website.

    They make statements that they are accused of not believing the Bible. Of course, they are taking the partial statement out of context, which seems to be a normal tactic by NazNet. They are asked if they believe the entire Bible and not just parts that relate to salvation only.

    One comment was interesting about theology. One person on Naznet made a comment that Manny only reads the Bible. Lets see exactly how one learns about theology. Theology is learning about God as he is revealed in the Bible. And how do you go about this? By digging into the Word of God to understand/discover what God has revealed about himself in the Bible. Talk about an oxymoron on their part, that one is priceless.

    I see Manny and other Concerned Nazarenes as defenders of true Christianity. They are watchmen on the wall per se.

    Ezekiel 33:3-6 KJV
    3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

    Could it be that the emergent church/post-modernism thinking are examples of a sword?

    Brad

  9. Brad,

    Seeing this is a spiritual battle (Eph 6:12) nothing could be farther from the truth. Although it does start in thier “thinking” it manifests in the mouth.

    Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: Psa 64:3

    Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Psa 52:2

    Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear? Psa 59:7

    (How’s that one for Hot air?) “They belch”

    And my favorite “diarrhea of the mouth”

    As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones. Psa 109:18

    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Cor 10:4-5

    The tongue exalts itself against the knowledge of Gods and becomes a sword.

    This is a biblical fact with more scripture references than the creation of man or the sanctification of the saints.

    Fight on!

  10. Steve, thank you for making this much easier! I was afraid I’d had to discuss a 500 page book on the subject. Hence, my question for Manny. Thankfully, that isn’t necessary and I hope he has no problem with discussing one single verse only..
    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
    In other words, eternal life is not innate in humans, it is a gift from God for those who believe in Jesus. So if you don’t believe in Him, you will not live eternally in whatever state that would be. You will perish, and like the garbage on Gehenna, be utterly destroyed.

  11. Hans,

    I think you have misunderstood my question. In your comment you said that you believed in the reality of hell and it appeared to be dynamically opposed to the position of annihilation in which you said that they also can believe in hell. I asked for one verse on hell that would validate your position (as it was very obscure.)
    The verse you gave is equally obscure in ascertaining what in the world you personally believe. The word “perish” is used by all annihilationists.

    The issue is the eternal “state” of the lost. You yourself differentiated between not believing in hell and annihilation. You said “but these are two different issues.” Then you stated that you believed in the “reality” of hell. Which defined nothing, neither committed your position, nor has your verse on perishing. You keep leaving yourself room to wiggle. If you do not want to be pinned down then just say so.

    Is there, or is there not, a verse that teaches eternal punishment not annihilation?

    Steve

    PS I thought references to a “worm” might help you.

  12. Hans,

    I think you put a light meaning to the your description of hell. You made a comment that “if you don’t believe in Him, you will not live eternally in whatever state”. That is annihilation that you are describing.

    Actually, it is described as a place where “their” worm never dies and of fire never to be quenched.

    Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimsotne, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    Brad

  13. Steve, are you pointing us toward Mark 9, where Jesus quotes Isaiah 66 in reference to Gehenna (often translated into English as “hell”)? The phrase Jesus quoted is:

    “Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

    You might want to look at that in the context of Isaiah 66, where in verse 24 it says:

    “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

    Earlier in the chapter, in verse 16, it says:

    “For with fire and with his sword
    the LORD will execute judgment upon all men,
    and many will be those slain by the LORD.”

    These seem like verses that support an annihilationist understanding of hell more than an “eternal conscious torment” understanding of it. The worm won’t die, and the fire won’t go out, but the bodies the worms are chewing on are dead, bodies of people “slain by the Lord.”

    Just checking. If you were referring to some other passage, maybe you could be more clear.

  14. Rich,

    Actually Isaiah 66:15-16 is referring to the battle of Armageddon if you want to keep things in context. Revelation 16:14, 19:11-16.

    Also reference Revelation 20:10. To me for ever and ever means never ceasing.

  15. Steve, I may have misunderstood you. I’m not even sure I really understand what you are asking now, but I’ll try to clarify what I believe, how I got there and also comment on the “worm” verses, is that okay?

    Yes, I believe in the reality of hell. As anyone does who would believe in annihilation, because hell is the place where that happens. So I do not belong to the people who think there is no hell. There most certainly is, I cannot see how one would doubt that, reading the Scriptures. BTW, I’m using the word hell as standing for what the Lord terms the “gehenna”, not for the “hades”.

    You know, for many years this subject was never really on my horizon. I believed there was such a thing as hell and that some people through God’s judgement would end up there and that it would be a most fearsome and dreadful place. I didn’t think the medieval pictures like those of fellow country man Hieronymus Bosch did much justice to it, and generally thought that the Bible speaks about it in images that probably indicate a dreadful reality that is beyond words. I guess the study of hell is nobody’s favourite topic, and it isn’t mine either.

    Then a couple of years ago I got a book in my hands that studied the subject quite extensively. It wasn’t really conclusive, showed how different verses pointed towards different realities, but having read it and weighed the Biblical evidence, it seemed to me that annihilation in hell is the most likely thing to happen to those who are sent there by God. I learned the term for that view was conditionalism, it meant that eternal life was only given at a condition, that of course being faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
    Like any other theory, like those of the atonement, eschatology, etc etc, you accept the one that appears to make the most sense considering of the Biblical data. So this is how I got where I am today. Now I understand this view may actually change through time. I’m 52 right now, and I have changed my views on several issues through time. Which only makes sense, because hopefully, we learn in life. Nothing essential has changed, I still subscribe the the old creeds of the church and very much plan to do so till my dying day. But beyond those essentials, things are more fluid.

    On to the worm verses. The Lord quotes Isaiah 66:24 – “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” The image reminds us of what happened in Isaiah 37:36 “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!”

    The image of the worms speaks about death and destruction. Check for instance Isaiah 51:8. The image of the fire that will not be quenched is also used frequently.

    For instance: Ezekiel 20:47 “Say to the southern forest: ‘Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north will be scorched by it. 48 Everyone will see that I the LORD have kindled it; it will not be quenched.’ ”

    It would be worth reading all the verses that talk about this image, but the general line is that of Ezekiel here. An unquenchable fire is one that will not be stopped till it has totally consumed it’s subject. It is not that it will burn for all eternity, it simply goes on till the end.

    So what Isaiah is saying here in 66:24 (and our Lord is quoting) is an image of total loathsomeness, and of utter destruction of corpses. Which of course was a huge disgrace in OT times.

    Of course there is lots more to be said and there are many more verses to discuss, but you specifically asked for the ones with “worm” in it. I hope this helps.

    Blessings,
    Hans

  16. Hans wrote:

    “but having read it and weighed the Biblical evidence, it seemed to me that annihilation in hell is the most likely thing to happen to those who are sent there by God.”

    Hans, your original post distorted this opinion and could be viewed as dishonesty.

    Hans wrote: (Capitalization is mine.)

    “the Bible speaks about it in IMAGES that probably indicate a dreadful reality that is beyond words.”

    “It would be worth reading all the verses that talk about this IMAGE, but the general line is that of Ezekiel here.”

    Hans you forgot to quote Eze 20:49

    Eze 20:49 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?

    The fire is not an image, a parable or different realities. And the Lord knew ahead of time what men would say.

    Mar 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    Rich- You accidentally misread “the worm” like “the fire” when it said “their worm.”

    Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

    Job 25:6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

    Hans, thanks for clarifying your position.

    Hope to see you all in Heaven,
    Steve

  17. Brad,

    Thanks for the context of Isa 66. I just like to fish with worms.

    Your verse in Rev 20, with a few verses showing the second death and the innate eternal existence of the soul will put this to bed.

    I wonder how hot the lake of fire will be that will burn hell itself, the devil and his angels. The devil has stood in the presense of God (a consuming fire) and lived to tell about it.

    His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. Job 41:21

    Glad I’m saved!

    Steve

  18. Steve,

    Will these work?

    Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).

    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

    If emergents don’t believe the Bible is absolute, they will have trouble believing what it says about the horrors of Hell and the Lake of Fire. I believe that society would have a greater respect for Holy Scripture if they clearly understood eternal judgment.

    Brad

  19. Steve, I was happy to clarify and had no intention whatsoever at dishonesty. Thank you for allowing me room to correct that impression, much appreciated and yes, I do hope to see you in heaven as well.

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