John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
Monday is the start of the Church of the Nazarene’s M11 Conference, in Louisville, KY. Here is the description from the conference website:
M11 is the successor to the highly effective Mid-quadrennial conferences on mission and evangelism. You will benefit from exciting services, meetings, and workshops. Connect with district superintendents, pastors, the General Board as well as NMI, NYI, and SDMI leaders from the USA and Canada. Once again, we are anticipating the power, presence and glory of God upon us. We hope the theme of: Igniting Our Passion for Making Christlike Disciples will energize you.
There are five key strategies that the leadership of the church has identified:
* Intentional Leadership Development – Recognize, develop, train and release passionate leaders with a Wesleyan-Arminian focus.
* Vibrant Church Renewal – Help each local church discover new missional life.
* Clear and Coherent Theological Identity – Facilitate communication and collaboration between GMC, educational regions, educational institutions, ministers and laity through print, electronic media, civil conversation and clear preaching.
* Passionate Missional Outreach – Release and encourage our people to embrace with open arms and hearts both the needy and the new people groups among us.
* Multi-faceted New Church Development – Foster an environment and enthusiasm for starting new churches through districts and local churches.
I don’t know what is behind all these strategies. You can get the workshop schedule here. Quite a few of the sessions have already raised questions for me, and some of the speakers are the same ones who spoke at the M7 conference and General Assembly and promoted emergent church ideology. Will this be the same thing all over again? Is the Nazarene church on a direction that has already been determined by many in leadership, and which has filtered into practically all the universities and seminaries, and into many of the churches. That remains to be seen, and I wish I could be there to listen, take notes, and perhaps ask questions. However, others will be there who will try to get answers.
My friends, I ask each and every one of you who is committed to full obedience to God (and obedience, not words, is the true measure of our love for God) to pray for God’s Holy Spirit to speak and move all who are attending. What happens at this conference could indicate a great revival and turning back to biblical standards, or it could very well signal a further decline of a once strong holiness denomination, of which I have been a part of all my life. I personally believe the Nazarene denomination, as a whole, is no longer a strong group of people. Oh, perhaps it has grown in numbers, and in membership. Perhaps its bank account has grown, or perhaps more churches than ever have been built across the world. But are those indicators of a strong God fearing people who love God? No, because according to scripture, those who truly love God are those who obey His commandments.
It has been nearly two years since the General Assembly in June of 2009. I, along with several other Nazarenes, descended into Orlando in a less than shy and welcomed fashion. We distributed over 6,000 DVDs to warn fellow Christians about the dangers of the emergent church, and of mysticism, and of Nazarene pastors and leaders who teach a very low view of scripture. We warned of false teachers like Rob Bell, who recently spoke at Point Loma- not just to students- but for Pastor’s Day! We spoke with as many people as we could. Some were alarmed and genuinely concerned as we were. Others looked at us as troublemakers, and we remember being ushered away from the premises by the General Secretary, and urged to stay as far away as possible. We confronted a leader in the church at one of the seminars, and his answer to us indicated that the emergent church agenda was no problem and would go on, and that dissenting voices would not be allowed to speak out. So much for being allowed into the “Big Tent.”
So after nearly two years, what have we seen, and what have we heard? We have seen more and more condescension and vilification towards those who wish to voice their concerns even more. We have seen statements by our leaders that only result in more head scratching and wondering where they really stand? We have seen the supposed “understanding ones” dig in, call in reinforcements, and continue onward with their apostate movement which is emerging and morphing into an unrecognizable social justice and environmental loving agenda at the expense of the true gospel of Jesus Christ being preached. We have seen the “educated ones” lording it over those of us who have no degrees, forgetting themselves that unless their eyes are opened and directed by God’s Holy Spirit, 10 theology degrees do not matter a hill of beans. We have seen many of the “young ones” at our schools sadly being duped, their faith in God replaced with a faith in rituals and mysticism, their understanding of scripture twisted and revised into another gospel.
Even the word of God is not being spared in this assault, as it is being viewed by many pastors in our own denomination as only a product of man that “contains” the word of God. Yes, they no longer are able to speak the words “the Bible IS the word of God.” They no longer trust God’s written historical record, and instead tell us that somehow, they know they parts of the Bible that are true, and the parts that are not. Instead, this “missional” movement, or whatever they call it now, this Big Tent, only truly embraces those who go along with the new program, the new religion according to man. And while all this new revelation of fresh new ways to worship and serve God is being expounded in fancy and often confusing words that have new meanings (incarnational, missional, community, Christ follower ), those who call this movement blasphemous and apostate are fired or asked to leave- quietly if possible.
I believe that the window of opportunity is closing. God can do anything that He wants to do, but He does not force people to do things. He does not need us to accomplish anything he wants, but He does want our obedience. And through our obedience… man, will he bless us beyond anything we imagined! But through our disobedience, make no mistake, judgment will come- sooner or later, it will come. It will come in God’s time, and in God’s way.
So what will come about from M11 this week? There are those who are attending who want to be a voice in opposition to what is going on. How will they be received? Will their voices be drowned by those who are clearly on the agenda of emergent/missional /environmental/social justice religion? Will the Big Tent philosophy embrace these dissenters, these concerned Nazarenes? Will leadership listen more closely to the people, and give more serious thought and prayer to what is slowly killing a holiness denomination, and which I fear is daily damaging the spiritual health and even salvation of so many young people in our “Christian” universities.
What we can do is pray- and then pray some more. Do not cease praying, no matter what happens, no matter what direction this goes. But also, keep warning. Both these things are our duties as Christians.