This is my second open letter that I am writing to you, and my third letter overall. I pray all is well with you.
I am writing this in a spirit of great concern and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe, with all humility, that I speak on behalf of a good number of Nazarenes as well.
The Church of the Nazarene manual states that your duties include:
317.1.1 “To provide supervision of the international Church of the Nazarene. The Board of General Superintendents shall provide appropriate attention to leadership, guidance, motivation…”
318. “The Board of General Superintendents shall be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene…”
Many are still seeking guidance and clear answers in these very troubling times within the church. The influence of the emerging church movement is growing, and is causing an ever widening theological rift, as many Nazarenes see it as an apostate movement. It has torn apart fellowship and brought chaos to many church families, including mine. It has resulted in the departure from the Nazarene denomination by many who have been watching a holiness church turn to teachings and traditions that years ago would have been unthinkable; teachings and practices that were rejected by the very people who started the Reformation. We are reverting back to pre-Reformation behavior, and incorporating teachings and practices that were rejected by Martin Luther, and those who gave their very lives in defense of the true gospel. We have lost more than 10,000 Nazarenes in the last four years in the U.S. and Canada. Although I cannot tell you how much of that is due to emergent ideology or the embrace of Romanism and mysticism, I do have personal stories from dozens of people who have related to me that these movements have been the cause of their departure, or the cause of their current state of distress in their own church.
There are many things going on that are dividing our denomination and creating chaos among the believers, who are either unsure or afraid of the direction we are headed. Many have become anxious because our leaders have not provided them with clear and unambiguous explanations of various concerns. We believe that the main problem that is unfolding is a great separation between Bible believing Christians, and those who do not believe in the full authority and inerrancy of God’s word. If this continues, there will be many more permanently separating from the church, who will not abide with a continuing further erosion in trusting all of the Bible’s teachings.
I would like to submit just a few questions to you and ask for some absolute clarity as to what you as a governing board believe about the following issues, because unless we get complete clarity on where our leaders stand, the bleeding will continue anyway, and you will see more and more Nazarenes leaving. Sure, some will leave no matter how you answer, but at least you will fulfill the mandate that the church manual has given to you, to be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. Here are my questions:
- Celtic Spirituality class taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary
For the life of me, I cannot understand why this course is being taught at a Christian seminary! If you have no information on this subject, I wrote a post. Is this teaching appropriate and within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy? If yes, please explain it, because this is occultism being taught here, and we are very concerned with this kind of teaching to those who are going to be our future pastors. I have attached a syllabus from the class, and it is not just a study of the topic- it is for future pastors to fully participatein this pagan discipline.
- The teaching of Open Theism and Process Theology at our Christian colleges.
Is it scripturally sound to teach that God does not know the future? Is it within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine to teach that God makes mistakes and learns from them? Is this the new Nazarene teaching about the nature of God?
- Is the use of pagan prayer labyrinths, the placing of ashes to the forehead and other Roman Catholic ritualsin Nazarene churches now acceptable and within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine, in your opinion?
- Finally, what do each of you believe regarding the inerrancy of scripture? With all the troubles within the Nazarene denomination, I believe it can be traced to the lessening of the authority and infallibility of God’s word. My question is simple and straight for each of you: do you believe that the Bible- all of it- is fully inspired by God, and IS actually God’s word? Furthermore, do you agree or disagree with those who are promoting the teaching that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not necessarily true, and that much of the Bible is not necessarily true? Do you believe Christians can actually reject the literal account of creation, and accept the idea that man evolved, including Adam and Eve?
If so, what is the biblical justification to arrive at these conclusions, and how can we trust the Bible if parts of it are not true? Does that not make God a liar? This is the most important area I wish to get clarification on, and I pray that you will take the time to write a clear response, not just for me, but for many Nazarenes who are wondering about this.
That last question, by the way, is important for many reasons. One was the astounding fact that a licensed minister in the New England District was told last year that he would probably not be approved for ordination. For what reason, you may ask? Was it for incompetence? Did they tell him he just did not seem to have a genuine calling from God? Did he have some kind of serious moral failure that discredited him?
No, it was none of that. They simply told him that his view on the Bible- that it is the inspired and inerrant word of God- was not acceptable. To his credit and courage, he has told the licensing board that he would not seek renewal of a District license, because of the lack of confidence within the denomination in the very word of God. How shameful is it that this kind of thing can happen? How many more young pastors will be rejected unless they fit into the mold that is being formed, a mold that apparently rejects scripture as fully divinely inspired. Instead, pastors are being ordained if they believe in open theism, process theology, or that we came from apes. Does that sound like the Christian world turned upside down to you? And let me remind you of the pastors who have been faithful to God’s word, but have been summarily dismissed for preaching against the emergent church movement.
It is my prayer that you will provide clear answers to these questions and finally help many Nazarenes understand where our leadership stands on these issues. The church looks to you for guidance, yet those of us who see the scriptures as the only true authority for our faith and practice, must be Bereans and even hold you up to the standard of scripture. It is not personal, it is only obedience to the Lord’s teachings that compels us to ask these questions.
May God bless you and I look forward to your response.
Sincerely in Christ,