Dear Dr. McGee and leadership of Eastern Nazarene College,
In what direction is Eastern Nazarene College heading? I attended ENC back in 1973-1976, although I did not graduate, having transferred to Barrington College and finishing there. I have some fond memories of my time at Eastern Nazarene College, and I became a Christian while attending a service at the Wollaston Church on campus when I was a teenager.
Dr. McGee, is ENC promoting Roman Catholicism, the emergent church movement, contemplative spirituality, Open Theism, and Process Theology?
I have been quite concerned for some time about changes that I have noticed happening in our Nazarene denomination, and especially in our universities.
I am writing to see if I can get some feedback on these concerns, which are shared by many other Nazarenes as well. We love the Nazarene denomination and what it has meant to us over the years, which is why we are trying to get some direct answers from our leaders in the schools and our denomination. I believe we are owed at least a clear answer as far as the direction of the school.
Some of these issues could seriously affect the long term success of the school as a Nazarene sponsored institution. Many of us believe that any university or college bearing the name Nazarene should adhere to the same principles that the Church of the Nazarene teaches, and if not, then why have the name Nazarene? Personally, I would not send my son to ENC at this time if he was old enough. My recommendation to anyone else who is planning to send their child to ENC, is that they ask plenty of questions first and find out what direction is it that ENC is heading towards, and where it stands on such matters as the emergent church movement, contemplative spirituality practices, and open theism. Seeing how some of the other Nazarene universities have moved into practices that are either not biblical or very dubious at best, nor are reflective of our Wesleyan-holiness tradition, I am very concerned for the future of Eastern Nazarene College.
Here are just a few:
1. Books at ENC bookstore. During District Assembly, I spent some time in the college bookstore and saw quite a few titles that made me wonder why were they being sold at a Nazarene school? I asked myself, how are books selected for the bookstore, and what criteria is used? Especially with youth, it is critical that we provide them with good books that will not cause doubt in their minds about the Christian faith and doctrine, and some of the books I saw potentially will do just that. I did not see any indication that these books would be considered anything but recommended books with sound content. I believe this is potentially a very serious problem. Here are just some of the titles that caused me to be alarmed:
Sex God, Velvet Elvis, and Drops Like Stars, by Rob Bell, a pastor who has clearly denied the complete veracity of the Bible, and questions openly much of its doctrine. He reflects the basic distrust in scripture that emergent ideology espouses. He has said that the Bible “is mysterious to the core.” He is a very engaging speaker whose NOOMA videos have appealed to many youth, as well as to senior pastors and youth pastors, which is why I believe he is so dangerous. He has appeared with the Dalai Lama and a host of other non-Christian religious leaders in what looked like a very compromising situation that Christians should never allow themselves intentionally to be in (Seeds of Compassion event). I have heard some of his NOOMA videos and how they twist scripture. This man can make some Christians practically depressed after finishing with one of his talks about “the mystery of the Bible” and how we cannot know just about anything for sure. For additional information on what Rob Bell is about, see the following links:
Rob Bell’s Abstract Elvis, Rob Bell: A Modern Day Gnostic, Rob Bell: More Messed Up Emergent Ideology.
If you don’t know Rob Bell, any of these posts will show you why I am so very concerned that his books are in the ENC bookstore.
Another book is PostModernism For Youth, with contributors like Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and other emergent authors who have dubious ideologies at best. In fact, many of Brian McLaren’s teachings are clearly false, and I believe he has shown us that he is a false teacher, based on his very words. If you read some of his positions on scripture, such as the blood atonement of Christ, and his views on eschatology, hell, and other core doctrines of the Christian faith, you cannot come to the conclusion that he is a good influence for our ENC youth. Although we have not heard much from the General Superintendents regarding the emergent church, they have themselves strongly criticized his teachings recently.
I also saw several versions of the Roman Catholic Bible, including one with a bonus rosary inside. Why are these being sold in a Nazarene bookstore? Surely you are familiar with the many false doctrines that are promoted by the Roman Catholic church. If not, I recommend you read the following link for a summary of the official Catholic church teachings, and how the RCC has been brought into evangelicalism in many ways: Roman Catholicism and its Heresies, and here is a video by Richard Bennett, a former RCC priest Roman Catholic Mysticism and the Emergent Church.
There were quite a few other books that disturbed me, but I hope you can understand my concern just from these few I mentioned. I am not sure if there are books there written by Nazarenes or authors from our holiness and Wesleyan tradition, but I would hope there are, instead of books by Bell, McLaren, and others of the emergent-contemplative spirituality philosophy.
2. Recommended List of Churches on the ENC website. On the ENC website, I noticed at least two Roman Catholic churches as part of the recommended local church list. The opening comment says: “We encourage you to find a church home while you are in college. It will help you to grow in your faith and your presence will uplift the congregation where you worship.”
How can listening to heretical teachings, for example, that says that the bread and wine become the actual body of Christ, help someone grow in their faith? This belief, called transubstantiation, is seen by the RCC as a “re-sacrifice” of Christ, when the scriptures clearly teach that it was a “once for all” sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10, 1 Peter 3:18, Heb. 7:27). This official Catholic teaching does not hold up to scripture- that the wafer and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. John 6:54, often quoted as justification for this teaching, does not support it. The Bible declares that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial to the body and blood of Christ (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25). It is not the actual “eating” of Christ’s body and blood. Jesus had not yet had participated in the communion supper with the disciples, in John 6. He instituted the Lord’s Supper later on. This is just one example of many false teachings. I pray that not a single Nazarene pastor or theology professor is teaching this and other heresies in their church or their school as acceptable Christian doctrine.
Let me make it clear, I do not have a dislike, hatred, or disdain for Catholics or anyone for that matter, and I do believe there are probably individual Catholics who are truly saved, in spite of the official doctrine of the church. I am talking about the official organization and its dogma.
So here is another question: is Roman Catholic teaching and doctrine in accord with scripture and with Nazarene teaching as a holiness denomination? Why would we want to steer students to a Roman Catholic church when much of its teaching is indisputably false and heretical? I’m sure some students will decide on their own to find one, but should we list them on the ENC website, thereby giving some kind of tacit approval as if the RCC believes and teaches the same as the Nazarene church does? I had to scroll down to the bottom of the list before I could finally see our own Nazarene churches listed. There are a whole bunch of churches listed first, including some other churches of which I don’t know what they exactly teach also, and Nazarene churches are last!
3. Lecturers at ENC. I was concerned last year with the hosting of Dr. Tom Oord of Northwest Nazarene University for a lecture at ENC, and I know that I am clearly not alone amongst other Nazarene parents and supporters. Dr. Oord is a proponent of Open Theism, a heretical teaching that says God cannot clearly know the future and thus denies His sovereignty. At his lecture, when I pointed out to him that sin and death came to the world through the sin of Adam, he clearly disagreed with me, even though the scriptures plainly state that fact, and I believe the apostles and Jesus Himself referred to Adam and many other Old testament figures as actual historical figures, and not allegory. ENC also helped sponsor a seminar on Open Theism a few years ago, with the support of Dr. Karl Giberson, a science professor at ENC. Dr. Giberson believes that evolution is compatible with Christianity, even though it contradicts the biblical account of creation. He has recently called creationists “cult members”, in an article at USA Today, as mentioned at Sola Sisters blog. You will find that there are many Nazarenes who take exception to his teaching and his obvious disdain for Christians who dare to believe the biblical account for what it says.
4. Chapel Speakers at ENC. My most recent concern is regarding Dr. Tony Campolo, who is scheduled to speak on Oct. 29. Why is Dr. Campolo being given a forum to speak to our students? Perhaps you and the leadership are not aware of his brand of “Christianity.” First, Dr. Campolo is a practitioner and proponent of contemplative spirituality and mystical practices. On his blog, he has described how he prays every morning, repeating the name of Jesus for up to half an hour as a way to start his day (the Jesus Prayer). He described it this way:
“In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time—sometimes as much as a half hour—to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.” (From the book Letters to A Young Evangelical)
This is unbiblical prayer! It ignores the scriptural admonition to not pray with vain repetitions, and it is just a Christianized version of transcendental meditation! He actually has said that “mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” And did you know that it is his view that “rigid” Christians who believe in the possibility of Jesus’ soon return are the real problem for the world? He believes these kinds of Christians are to blame for wars, and all sorts of other evil things in the world. In his book, Speaking My Mind, he says: “I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?” p. 149-150. He is also a promoter of the social justice gospel and that man can solve the world’s problems, rather than someone who preaches about the gospel of repentance and turning to Christ as the only solution for the world. Finally, these quite intriguing quotes:
“I am saying that there is no salvation apart from Jesus. That’s my evangelical mindset. However, I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.”
“Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who is saved by him is aware that He is doing the saving.”
I’m sure someone will complain and say that I am taking Dr. Campolo out of context. Perhaps then, if he does come to ENC in October, someone could ask him to explain to our students what he actually means by these statements?
There is a whole lot more I could tell you about his ideology. But the question is this: if ENC leadership is well aware of what I have stated about Dr. Campolo, does this mean that they are supportive of speakers with his kind of theology? If you are not aware of what he is all about, then I recommend finding out more, and suggest that you could find speakers for the students to listen to, who are more in line with solid Christian doctrine, rather than dubious theology and practices. I believe those who might have a possible future invested at ENC for their children, have a right to know on what basis does the leadership at ENC decide who is to come and speak to very impressionable students in chapel services. From my research, it is clear that Dr. Campolo is closely connected with Brian McLaren and others who push the emergent church agenda.
I have more concerns that I would like to share later.
I know that as the College President, you most likely do not directly oversee book selections at the bookstore, but I thought it was best to bring this directly to your attention and ask if you, the instructors, or the school chaplain approve of these things. My goal is to help in the best way I can, to keep Eastern Nazarene College focused on reflecting the same principles, ideals, and doctrinal stances of the denomination of which it bears its name.
Should you have the time, I would be glad to meet with you personally to further discuss additional concerns.