Just Who Is Dividing The Church?

“It is better to be divided by truth than united in error.”
 “It’s better to be hated for telling the truth than loved for telling a lie.”
“It’s better to know the truth and to stand alone than it is to be wrong with a multitude.”
“It’s better to speak truth that hurts and then helps than falsehood that comforts and then kills.”
“It’s better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.”

Yes, peace and unity are very high in my hierarchy of values. But in my value system, “Truth trumps peace and unity.” You see, in the long run, there will be no lasting peace and unity without truth. How grateful I am for grace and forgiveness. But in my value system, if there is a conflict, “Truth trumps even grace and forgiveness.” For without truth there is no grace or forgiveness.  (Mrs. Joyce Rogers, wife of the late Adrian Rogers)

Over the last few years, the Concerned Nazarenes group has come under criticism from its opposition within the church.  Typical descriptions include “unChristlike behavior”, “causing division”, “dividing the church”, “who are you to judge?”, or the unscriptural “you should never judge” admonition.  Those of us who believe in exercising biblical discernment need not fear any Scriptural refutation of our concerns, because there is none.  The response is either false accusations and misused Scripture references such as Matthew 7:1 to say we should not judge, or Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative spirituality practices; or no response at all.

When we explain how prayer labyrinths, ashes to the forehead, and lectio divina are unbiblical; the opposition says we are causing division.

When we speak out against ecumenism and the embracing of Roman Catholic mystical practices and state the biblical reasons why; they say we are causing division.

When we point out the false teachings and doctrinally-challenged theology of Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet and others… they say we are causing division.

When we expose a Nazarene pastor (Gabriel Salguerro) for promoting an ungodly “spirituality” festival, we are met with silence because they cannot defend that type of behavior… or we are called dividers.

Recently, I posted on our Facebook Group page a request for anyone who might be able to help translate articles into Portuguese and/or Spanish.  About a month later, the following was posted publicly on the Facebook page of Rev. John Brickley, an ordained elder in the church and a NazNet member, who apparently sent out the same message to a list of Portuguese-speaking Nazarenes.  Below is the English translation of his message:

“To all my friends in the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona). Recently a group called Concerned Nazarenes asked for help to translate their material into Portuguese. This group already has done much harm to the Church of the Nazarene here in the United States.  Churches have been divided because of them, and many good leaders including Presidents of Universities and the Seminary, some District Superintendents, and also Generals were attacked by name by this group. Even If some of you agree with SOME of the concerns of this group, they act in a manner which is dividing the Church. So I’m warning you not to help this group or with the translation or with the propagation of their material. I am praying constantly for you all and I know God has great things for the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona).” God Bless, Your Brother John  (my emphasis in bold)

This is another typical example of the kind of attacks that we should expect more and more in the future, for anyone who dares to continue to expose the truth of what is happening in our denomination as well as many others.  Rev. Brickley, who has posted this type of invective publicly before, is not an exception.  He exemplifies what is standard procedure for even some ordained elders in the church, and for those who support and promote the emergent church movement, contemplative spirituality and other dangerous ideologies.

These Are The Ones Who Claim To Be Understanding and Loving?

There were the attacks that came from Trevecca President Dan Boone that lacked any biblical defense  (See here) Dr. Boone is also an ordained elder who wrote a book called A Charitable Discourse, and then ironically in the very book he wrote uncharitably equated fundamental, Bible believing Christians to Muslim jihadists!  He also said this in response to some of our exchanges:

“Religious fundamentalism is one of the hot topics in the world today and this website has given me the best model, other than Islamic fundamentalism, to demonstrate to students how religious fundamentalism works.”

“I am most likely viewing these websites for the last time and would urge all thinking Christians to join me in the exit. Maybe we can stun them with our silence. In the meantime, I am working on a book called “A Charitable Discourse on the Things that Divide Us”. I’ll discuss Jihad in the church.”


So much for practicing what you preach.  Note that if you don’t agree with Dr. Boone, you are not a “thinking Christian.”  Yet he has received much praise for a book that attacks Christian fundamentalists.

And remember the more recent diatribe written by the Rev. Kevin Ulmet in Holiness Today, where he used a few dozen nasty ways of describing those of us who dare to criticize what is happening, and leaves out any biblical defense of his position.  I don’t know what was more shameful: his article, or the many Nazarenes who complimented him on such a fine, “Christlike” and loving piece.  It really was simply another attack piece without biblical foundation, yet he was praised for it.  Some of his “best” loving descriptions included:

“driven by categorization, guilt-by-association”;  “gotcha” tactics that more represent radical politics than anything remotely biblical, Christian, or certainly holiness”;  “Internet rumormongers”; “Salem-witch-hunt”; “Inquisition-type atmosphere”; “Our presidents…  are under direct and often slanderous attacks from various sources”;  “full of self-righteous piety”; “great derision and mistrust in the scurrilous E-mail exchanges”; “mistrust and gossip”; “no regard whatsoever to biblical conflict resolution principles”; “inflaming the emotions of the faithful”; “unjustly and manipulatively ratcheted up by the fully-aware bloggers”; “special-interest-political-action-group thinking”.

And then there were the personal attacks from Olivet theology head, Dr. Carl Leth.  (Responding to Dr. Leth’s Open Letter) He wrote a critique which also followed the Dan Boone method of claiming love and concern for us, but which devolved into yet again the same pattern: baseless attacks with no Scriptural foundation.  When you view the many comments of those who praised his article, it is astounding how people can be blind to Dr. Leth’s baseless and un-Christlike accusations.  As we proved with objective facts in our response, Dr. Leth was either horribly ignorant of the facts, or he deliberately ignored the facts and made false accusations about me as well as the folks at Lighthouse Trails Research.

Then there are the many colleagues of Mr. Brickley over at NazNet.  There are those such as Dennis Bratcher, former professor at Point Loma, who has in the past said some very nasty comments about me and Tim Wirth and anyone else who challenges his version of the truth.  There is the kindly sounding Professor, Dr. Tom Oord, who has expressed a disdain for fundamentalists in some of his writings.  However, even as he has avoided direct vicious attacks on us, he nonetheless exhibited a strange tolerance for one of his Facebook friends, who wrote the following during a discussion of Rev. Ulmet’s article and the Concerned Nazarenes:

 “Pray for what? Insight as to WWJD? Victory over the Enemies of the Church? Assimilation? If so, who is to be assimilated? What’s up with ‘personal sameness’? With Jesus? I am curious. How do you determine if/when that occurs? Do you offer the same advice to the CN’s? What if they don’t listen? What if the opponents to the CN’s don’t listen? Please explain, as I do not, given human nature, see your ‘solution’ .  I abhor strife and violence, but sometimes it boils down to the simple fact that some people just need killing … figuratively if not literally.”

It is amazing that Dr. Oord did not call out this man for making such a hateful and threatening statement on his Facebook page.  It is ironic as well, because Dr. Oord loves to write and talk about love, and has a blog called For the Love of Wisdom, and The Wisdom of Love.  Apparently he has no problem allowing this kind of comment to go unchallenged.

These are just a few examples.  I could go on, about those who brought false accusations against Pastor Joe Staniforth for simply preaching against emergent ideology, leading to his dismissal from his pastoral duties and missionary service.  I could go on about the General Superintendent who dismissed me out of hand in an email to Dr. Boone, after he realized I was not budging easily from my position.  All these attacks serve to illustrate that these people will go to great lengths to protect their turf, at the same time pretending to be the understanding and loving ones.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

They Will Go After Anyone

The NazNetters, and the emergent Nazarenes who claim that they are part of a  so-called “big tent” denomination, will go after anyone.  I recall the disrespectful comments they dished out when a well respected District Superintendent dared to write and speak out against emergent ideology and radical liberalism in the church.  Just as they attacked his integrity for refuting their ideology, so they will someday even go after a General Superintendent who might speak out and stand up for biblical truth in the church.  They don’t care, because their sole interest is to protect the turf that they are trying to permanently claim as theirs, and theirs alone.

To those who are working hard to defend the truth and expose the lies, you have not seen the worst of it yet.  You need to prepare for even worst in the future, and the worst will continue to come from within, from the wolves inside the church.  Do not be afraid of them, do not give an inch to them, do not be intimated by them.  Just keep calling them out for what they are doing to the church of God.  Regardless of the consequences, your obedience to Christ is not an option.

To those who are in the company of Rev. Brickley, Dr. Leth, Dr. Boone, Dr. Oord, Rev. Ulmet, and others who are attempting to silence us by their false accusations of dividing the church:

1. There is a division that is good.   Jesus Christ mentioned it.  He said that He has come to divide with a sword.  He will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.  There will not be a “big tent.”  The way is narrow that leads to life, but the path of destruction is wide and looks very comfortable and full of those who love “conversation.”

2. The division that is happening in the church is coming naturally, because what you teach and promote throughout the denomination is causing many Nazarenes to react to your unscriptural teachings, and they are calling you out on it.

There Are Two Things We MUST Do

The Scriptures clearly teach us that we are to be discerning, and to defend the faith once given to the saints.  Paul says in Galatians 1 that if anyone else preaches another Gospel, let him be accursed.  We are to be Bereans, and question our very own pastors or leaders if necessary when we hear strange doctrines and “new” ways of “experiencing” God.  It is not hateful to do that; it is because of love that we ought to do that, for their own sake, and especially for the sake of Jesus Christ and obedience to Him.

But Jesus also commands us to love our enemies.  There are enemies of the Cross within the church, and yet, we are to love them, and to pray for them.  And so we will.  To those reading this who have been misled by false teachings, we will lovingly and prayerfully reach out to you and show you what God’s word says and help bring you back to the truth.  To the ones who are deliberately misleading other Christians, we will not be so gentle with you, because false teachers will not be given a free pass.  We will call you out for what you are doing against God’s word.  We will reprove and rebuke, but we will also pray for you, and we still love you.

But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.  Jer. 20:11

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  1 Peter 4:12-14, 16

Advertisements