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.
Recently it was suggested to me (again) that perhaps I and others should not specifically mention the emergent church and other similar problems within the Nazarene denomination. Why not just point out these things in a general way, for all Christian denominations, goes the suggestion. The inference was that maybe I am not following sound biblical principles when I “attack” or “criticize” certain people or institutions within the Nazarene denomination. Some have said that it is hurtful to many people, or that it is causing divisions in the denomination. I don’t like to bring this up again, but it seems that this idea continues on, and even among those whom I have clearly explained my position on this and backed it with scriptural authority. Not my opinion, but scriptural authority.
First, the issue we are dealing with has to do with false teachers and false doctrines in the church, and I have never had a problem exposing false teaching in any denomination. It has nothing to do with management style, or classroom teaching styles, or the color of the carpeting, or how many people should comprise a church board. The issue is only one thing: are we uncompromisingly obeying Christ’s commands and what we are taught clearly in scripture. And we can all agree that there are things taught and practiced that are either from God, or from satan. Scripture clearly teaches us that we are to expose false teachings and teachers, does it not? The only question, of course, is… what is false, and what is good?
The Poison In The Drink
If I notice that someone is putting in a drop of liquid every day into my co-worker’s coffee, I might get concerned. So perhaps I may do some investigation first to make sure that nothing is wrong. I may find out that this liquid is harmless, and is actually part of something good that all parties were aware of. But if I find out that this is being done surreptitiously, and that this liquid may cause harm to the person over a long period of time, what is my duty? I should report this to my boss, right? Now here’s the problem. My boss thanks me for letting him know, and he assures me that he will deal with the problem, and take care of it.
But over the next few months, nothing is done. My boss becomes annoyed with me, and gives me the run-around, and some new excuses. So now I have a problem, and that is, because my boss seems to be totally uncaring about this problem, I need to make a decision. I may risk my job and reputation, but for the life and safety of that person and others at the company, I start notifying as many employees that I can, and let them know what’s going on. Perhaps I might get fired, but frankly, I would be glad if even one or two lives were saved, because I spoke out, even when my boss told me all was well and in control.
I’m sure you might know by now where I am going with this. So the question is, what should a Christian do when he finds out that there are false teachings coming into a church or an entire denomination? In my case, I tried to go through “proper channels.” I tried to warn leadership within my own local church, but was inevitably met with resistance time and time again. A heavy price was paid for speaking up, but that goes with the territory, as we are so clearly told in scripture of the consequences. So I moved on. I and many others have tried to warn other leadership in the denomination, but to no avail. It did not seem to be of much concern, and at the same time, we have never been given any biblical justification for the teachings and practices we have been concerned about.
There Are Only Two Choices
Now, here we are. I am writing or posting more and more articles on the dangers of the emergent church, both within the Nazarene denomination, AND other evangelical denominations. My concern has been for all Christians, but I’m sure most people will understand that I have a vested interest as a lifetime Nazarene. It’s akin to the denomination being my closest relatives in a large family of other Christians. My choice was clear to me. Being a lifelong Nazarene was not going to hinder me in any way in my attempts to save even one soul from being lost, or at least from being terribly compromised and damaged in their Christian life, because of false teaching.
The reputation of the Nazarene denomination is frankly, of little concern to me, when I am faced with this kind of choice. Ignore false teaching that could damage many Christians? That to me is the “safe decision.” You will keep your friends with that decision. You will most likely preserve your position at your church, be it as a pastor, board member, or other leadership position. You will not be labeled a troublemaker and a divider. You will be admired by many for your ability to unify others regardless of any differences. The downside of that “safe decision” is this. If you knowingly close your eyes to false teaching, in order to “protect” yourself, or your denomination, you have just decided to betray the One who sacrificed His life in order that you may be saved, and that you could serve Him in complete obedience to His word.
My question is this: how can anyone be completely obedient to Christ, when he or she makes a deliberate decision to shut his eyes to false teachings, in order to maintain favor or good relations with friends, family, and church? The answer is, it’s impossible to do that without betraying the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the answer is clear to me: we must point out errors in the church, and we must point out which denomination is spreading those errors. If we do not, then those in that denomination will not have a clear warning about what is happening, and that could cost souls, maybe your own child or grandchild. Therefore to answer the suggestion that I should not be naming denominations, the answer is, you are sadly mistaken. We must point out error as commanded in scripture. We must be specific as commanded in scripture, so that others know who and what to avoid within that denomination. We must be willing to stand for the truth, no matter what the cost. We have no other option. I encourage you to boldly speak out against false teachings, and do not be swayed by fine sounding arguments from anyone. Not even those who are “more learned” than you. (Remember Psalm 119:99).
- Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
- Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.