“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters,Says the LORD Almighty.”
2 Cor. 6:14-20
Years ago, in the Cape Verde Islands, my father was freed from the bondage of Roman Catholicism, when he found the real Jesus, and repented and became a born again Christian. Shortly after his conversion, he knew God called him to preach the word of God. One of the stories that he passed down to us, was the day he was traveling on a dusty road of one of the islands, seeking to preach to whomever would listen. As he entered a village, he came upon a small Roman Catholic church, and he noticed a crowd of people in the church, just sitting there waiting. He asked them, what are you waiting for? They said they were waiting for the priest to arrive, but he was several hours late. He asked them if he could speak to them, and on that day, practically the whole village heard my father preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. People came to Christ for the first time that day. I miss hearing those stories from him, and only regret I did not ask him to tell all of them to me before he went to be with the Lord.
Then there was the morning after a long night of prayer with Rev. Everette Howard. Walking along the black sands of the beach on Santo Antao, they encountered a young man, a leper, who could not even walk, having to drag himself by the stomach to go from place to place. They both witnessed to him as they told him of the love of Jesus and His love for lepers, and read scripture to him, and asked him if he wanted to pray. He began reciting the only prayer he knew, a prayer to Mary. But my dad said to him, “my friend, we will pray directly to Jesus Christ.” He confessed his sins and repented, and asked Jesus to be his Savior. To make a long story short, they also explained that this same Jesus could heal him. His short simple prayer, “Jesus, will you please heal my disease?”, was answered. Three days later, he walked into the mission, completely healed of leprosy, and after that served the Lord Jesus Christ for years. He was healed by Jesus, not by Mary. Not by anyone else, but the power of the real Jesus Christ. He was free from the bondage of the false doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, of the falsehood of praying to any other than Jesus, and realized the liberating freedom of the only One we ought to pray to. All other is idolatry.
And this past Saturday, at a potluck supper to raise money for missions, with several churches represented, we had a time of giving thanks, and I heard a testimony after the dinner. An elderly lady from one of the churches testified how she had spent 40 years in a convent, captive to the false doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, until she heard the true gospel, and Jesus freed her from the bondage of a works based gospel. It was a wonderful testimony to how Jesus can free anyone from the shackles of relying on your own deeds for salvation, when salvation is by grace alone, one of the prominent affirmations that came out of the Reformation.
Yet, the evidence is mounting ever so daily that indicates that the Nazarene denomination is being led down the road to Rome. Why are some Nazarene pastors being disobedient to God, and thumbing their noses to the biblical doctrine of separation, and leading their congregations astray? The Catholization of the Nazarene church and its universities is happening, and the big question is, which Nazarenes are going to resist this movement and hold to the holiness doctrines of the church, and to the principles that were established as a result of the Reformation. There is no question in my mind, because of the evidence that seems be be getting less subtle, and a more “in your face”, take it or leave boldness. There is no one to argue this anymore, not because I or others are claiming any superior intelligence or knowledge. It is simply because no one is able to refute the evidence that is right there in front of their very eyes. They are either in denial or are shamefully playing a game of “keep the peace”, or they have embraced it all, or they simply don’t know what’s going on.
I call it the Romanization of the evangelical church, in partnership with the emergents, who are thrilled to see this ecumenism unfolding. The signs are all there, but the people are “sleeping in their pews.” These trends I have seen are all helping to contribute toward the coming of the one world religion prophesied in scripture. Here are a few of the trends that are happening:
• Nazarene churches holding ecumenical services at Roman Catholic or other liberal mainline churches.
• The use of Catholic terminology (Eucharist instead of communion).
• The ritualization and observance of Lent and Advent seasons in Roman Catholic style, and other traditionally Catholic observances such as Maundy Thursday.
• Prayer labyrinths in churches and universities.
• Contemplative prayer rituals promoted in youth books, theology classes, and Bible studies.
• Books from Nazarene Publishing House and Barefoot Ministries promoting Roman Catholic rituals.
• Our Bible colleges with professors promoting Catholic mysticism and interspiritual organizations.
• The promotion of Roman Catholic churches and bibles at Nazarene universities.
• College trips to Roman Catholic monasteries, and spiritual formation retreats.
• Use of textbooks in theology courses as good resources, written by heretical mystics and modern day mystics as well.
It’s all there, and it’s obvious, so let’s not keep fooling ourselves, and let’s confess at least to what is happening, and be totally upfront about it. If these are not signs, along with many others, that we may be already in the middle of the “great falling away”, then I shudder to think what that will look like when it comes.
I stopped thinking a little while ago, “am I fooling myself, thinking that these are just little aberrations in small pockets of our denomination?” I know many Nazarene pastors thoroughly reject all these things that are happening, and a few are even preaching against this and the emergent church. A few. But I no longer think that I can keep hoping that this will pass quickly. Instead, I have come to the conclusion that not only will this continue for a while, barring a miracle from God and a revival that sweeps our churches; but that too many in leadership are either turning a blind eye to this and the emergent church heresies coming in, or they themselves have accepted a complete change in a once great holiness denomination. This has become like the proverbial “frog in the slowly boiling pot.” I’m afraid the temperature perhaps has gotten critical, and it may be impossible to reverse the effects. The universities particularly are infected with this problem, and I cannot see it turning around short of a miracle from God moving Christians to speak out.
I confess that I can no longer see this denomination in the same light that I saw it years ago when my father was still alive and preaching. I have no doubt he would be in tears now, knowing that this holiness denomination seems to be heading down the path back before the very Reformation which eventually gave birth to denominations such as ours. It seems we are doing a reverse-Reformation back to the dark ages. All that many of us are asking for now is for some intellectual honesty, some straight answers from our leaders to all Nazarenes as to what is happening, what is acceptable, and whether they consider these things “non-essentials.” Let every Nazarene make up his mind, but with the full facts of what is happening.
An ecumenical spirit (small “s”) is gathering steam in the denomination. A complete rejection of the doctrine of separation is “emerging.” Instead of following the directives of the apostle Paul to “not be conformed to the world”, we are seeing attempts in various fronts to emulate the world, to be “like the world”, in order to win the world. We are rejecting that which is “good and pleasing to the Lord”, in exchange for the admiring approval of any apostate group that calls itself Christian and proclaims by mouth the name of Jesus, but by their fruits are totally lacking in obedience to Christ. If we are to accept the Roman Catholic Church, and the liberal Episcopal church, with its acceptance of openly homosexual bishops, as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, then let’s go all the way. It would be wrong to do that, and then not welcome the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormon church, and even those who practice Santeria. After all, they all proclaim the name of Jesus, do they not?
So what’s the difference? As you prepare for that ecumenical service this week, ask yourself these questions if you will. Why am I going, and what is the biblical justification? Am I going mainly to show everyone in my community how I can get along with everyone, regardless of doctrinal differences? On what basis will I draw the line with whom I should fellowship with, if not the Roman Catholic Church? Will I draw the line with Mormons, and if so, why them, and not the RCC, and what is the biblical basis? Am I being obedient to God’s directives to reject those who preach another gospel, whom the apostle Paul says are to be “accursed” if he or even an angel did that very thing.
As I have been asking, sometimes pleading, if I or anyone else that is speaking out against this are wrong, where is your Christian responsibility to take me figuratively “to the woodshed”, and correct an erring brother in Christ? I will be more than glad to be corrected and repent of that which I am saying is wrong, and accept it myself.
Brothers and sisters, test everything by the word of God.
1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ Ezekiel 33:1-6 (NKJV)
Related Article: Emergent Church: Leading Protestants Back To Rome (posted by Mike Gendron, Proclaiming The Gospel Ministries)