Dear Rev. Barnard,
This past week, I read your Open Letter To Concerned Nazarenes. (Your letter in it’s entirety is the end of this response). As always in such letters to us, it fell flat on its face, and I would think that you even possibly regretted it later. Perhaps your emotions got the best of you, or maybe an unhealthy admiration for your friends has clouded your judgment, and instead of taking an opportunity to refute our claims using Scripture- well, you went the easier route of character assassination. It clearly lacked substance, there was no verifiable support for your accusations, and you simply used personal attack on us, instead of attacking what we believe and showing where we are wrong. I am responding primarily because perhaps it can be a eye-opening moment for some of your friends who may be on the fence, and don’t really know what’s going on.
Our efforts from day one have been to expose false teachings in the church, and to wake up people to what is happening in our denomination. We certainly have tried very hard to elicit some kind of biblical defense from those who oppose us, but all we seem to get in return are such writings that have no merit biblically. So you missed a great opportunity to refute what we believe with scriptural support; instead all you used was personal attacks, which is the substance of your letter.
You said at the start, “… someone needs to speak truth to you.” Yet your letter is only infused with personal and unsubstantiated attacks throughout, finishing with words such as: “I wish you the best in life”, “Grace and Peace.” What a contradiction to end your letter in such a manner.
So let’s see some of the things that were “clearly and lovingly” said by you:
“you are THUGS.” “you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine”; “you choose personal and vile attacks; “your bitter hyperbole”; “we are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.”
And here is how some of your friends responded:
Former Eastern Nazarene College professor Karl Giberson said “Their righteous rants are nothing but thoroughly carnal and self-centered acts of hate. In another era they were the people who physically persecuted people for their beliefs.” (This is a man who does not believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word and has deceived many students over the years).
One of your supporters considers your letter as an example of “civil discourse.” And yet another said that your letter is “Clearly and lovingly said.” Pastor John Brickley agreed with Dan Boone’s characterization of us as “Nazarene Taliban…. their actions are shameful and they bring shame to the cause of Christ.” David Wesley, a professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary said “None of us should put up with our brothers in Christ being beaten up by a group of thugs.” Pastor David Pettigrew said, “The only response to bullies is to stand up to them. They won’t go away on their own. They have absolutely no courage or shame.”
We’ve been called other names before, but never a THUG until now. ( You changed THUGS to BULLIES later, but… is that supposed to make us feel better?). You are apparently upset at how Concerned Nazarenes have “attacked” some “good and Godly men and women in the Church of the Nazarene”. You seem to think that to judge and challenge their ideologies and beliefs is, in your words, “un-Godly behavior” and “un-Biblical.” You defended Rev. Gabriel Salguerro, who some of us recently rebuked for praying at the Democrat National Convention, and for his promotion of the un-Godly Wildgoose Festival.
We will take a look at some of these friends you mentioned. Remember, no one is above scrutiny, and the Bible gives us instructions to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), and also tells us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim 4:2-5) There is also Paul’s sobering words in Galatians 1: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” We are warned in Ephesians 5 to “let no one deceive you with empty words.” And in Colossians 2:8, see this warning: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
So these are the words of God, and I could cite even more examples that clearly gives warning to us that we should not fall asleep spiritually, and for us to “contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). The only question remaining is, who is rightly dividing the word of truth, you or us? Both cannot be correct.
Here are short summaries of some of the friends you defended:
Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University: Promotes a prayer labyrinth at Trevecca. He changed the name to “prayer walk” when we exposed it. Promotes yearly trips to a Roman Catholic monastery where students practice contemplative mysticism (the silence). He uncharitably calls fundamental Christians jihadists and intolerant and suggests that people “stun them (CNs) with our silence”, while ironically writing a book called Charitable Discourse. Allows many books by contemplatives to be available at Trevecca’s campus. Claims that some of the Psalms were borrowed from pagans cultures. Wrote a few years ago that “I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.” (Since then that has been removed).
Thomas Jay Oord, professor at Northwest Nazarene University: Promotes the twin heresies of open theism (God does not know everything) and process theology (God learns from His mistakes). Supports evolution. Does not believe sin and death came by way of the disobedience of Adam (as told directly to me). Questions propositional truth and attacks the doctrine of inerrancy in the book Postmodern and Wesleyan.
Doug Hardy, professor of Spiritual Formation at Nazarene Theological Seminary: Teaches occultism to future pastors at the seminary (Celtic Spirituality). Promotes many books written by Roman Catholic mystics. He is on the board of Spiritual Directors International, which promotes spiritual direction regardless of religion, and also prayer labyrinths. Their mission statement says: “Throughout human history, individuals have been called to accompany others seeking the Mystery we name God. In this time, Spiritual Directors International responds to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”
Karl Giberson, former professor at Eastern Nazarene College: Promotes the heretical teaching of evolution, which denies the biblical account in Genesis. Does not believe Adam and Eve existed in the Genesis account. Believes that much of the Bible is fiction. He openly mocks fundamentalist Christians, including one of his big critics, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. He wrote Saving Darwin: How To Be A Christian and Believe In Evolution. Sadly, Dr. Randall Stephens has taken up his mantle at ENC.
Kevin Ulmet, Pastor of Nashville First Church: Wrote a scathing article in Holiness Today, attacking us with even more ugly words than you have used. He too was praised by many Nazarenes for writing such a loving and “spirit-filled” article. Amazing what some people can make themselves see, even if it is not true. It was far from spirit-filled. His words were an insult to the many Godly men and women I have met in the past four years during our work in alerting Nazarenes and other Christians. As were his words, Rev. Barnard, your words were also unbecoming for an ordained elder in the church.
Jon Middendorf, Pastor of OKC First Church: One of the prime pushers of the emergent church movement in the Nazarene denomination and son of a General Superintendent. His church used to, and perhaps still does, share communion services at a Roman Catholic Church. He and his friend, Rev. Scott Daniels, promoted the emergent church and its mystical false teachers at a seminar at General Assembly in 2009. We sat in the front row and eagerly waited to ask questions, but it was not offered except for personal questions after the seminar. (See Conversation With An Emergent Pastor).
Jesse Middendorf, General Superintendent: Dr. Middendorf was there that day at General Assembly, as he proudly (I assume) sat in the room to watch Jon promote the emergent church. When pastor Joe spoke up and asked Dr. Middendorf if any Nazarenes who had concerns about the emergent church would ever get the chance to voice their opinion, his response to us was: “That’s not likely.” Dr. Middendorf is a supporter of the emergent church and spiritual formation, whether through promoting the retreat back in 2009 at General Assembly, or through his silence.
So these are very brief summaries of a few of the folks you defended. The challenge before you, if you would take it, is to defend these specific teachings and practices that I mentioned. However, your defense would not be acceptable unless it is with the use of Holy Scripture, and not by your own personal opinion. You must not take scripture out of context as well (for example, using Matthew 7:1 to “prove” that we should never judge; or, using Psalm 46:10 to justify the mystical practice of “the silence”, as Dan Boone did). If you accept the challenge, that’s great. If not, that’s fine also, we will understand.
The same trend has continued for several years now, and it is the same. You see, those who criticize us and call us “unloving” and “hateful” and “dividers”, have never really tried to correct us, as loving Christians ought to. Instead, they have resorted to the only arrow in their quiver: personal attacks, like yours. We go after the false teachings, and yes, we do sometimes sound harsh, because when going after false teachings, we are commanded in scripture to “reprove, and rebuke”, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5), and to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 2:1).
So if you or your friends are to respond, please do so without meaningless, unsupported and baseless attacks. What I really pray for is that you will look seriously again at what we are saying and compare it with Scripture, that’s all. We are not concerned about feelings being hurt; we are concerned for the truth of God’s word. We are concerned for you.
Additional Resources: Why People Hate Those Who Expose False Teaching (Tim Wirth)
Deluding Influence by John Henderson
Rev. Barnard’s Original Post: An Open Letter to Members of Concerned Nazarenes:
If you are part of that “group”, you may want to stop reading now and unfriend me. It will save you some anguish. But someone needs to speak truth to you. Since you BLOCK your FB page and only allow those that support your cause to post there, and since I can’t message you, I’m forced to break my own rule and use my page to express my thoughts without first engaging you privately (though I’m sure it would be of little use).
I have followed your comments, rants, ravings, posts, and visual media since you debuted your DVD around our General Assembly in 2009. I have read what you write on blogs, posts, comments, Twitter, Facebook, NazNet, and NCNNews among other outlets. I believe I have formed an accurate and honest perspective on your cause.
You aren’t Concerned, you’re angry. You aren’t Nazarene, you’re judgmental.
In short – some of you are THUGS.
I watched today as you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine and fellow Nazarene pastors, Gabriel & Jeanette Vargas Salguero, on the NCNNews Message Board. You have attacked good and Godly women and men in the Church of the Nazarene, such as Dan Boone, Thomas Jay Oord, Doug Hardy, Mark Maddix, Kevin Ulmet, Loren Gresham, Jon Middendorf, Jesse C Middendorf, Karl Giberson, Dan Bohi, Diane Cunningham Leclerc, among others. In doing so, you don’t enter into constructive dialogue, you choose personal and vile attacks. It’s un-Godly behavior; it’s un-Biblical; and it’s time someone stood up and told you so. That’s where I come in.
Feel free to google me (you won’t find much), listen to my conversations (all on-line and in iTunes), read my FB page (it’s public), follow me on Twitter (again, public), and in general add me to your list of those that deserve your bitter hyperbole. I’ll gladly take it if it means I’m in the likes of those YOU currently call “enemies of the church”. These General & District Superintendents, faculty and college presidents, chaplains and officers in our military, student leaders on our Nazarene campuses, and pastors and parsonage families, have done nothing TO YOU, yet you feel the need to RISE up against them. Shame on you. Shame on your cause.
If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you want to UNFRIEND me. No problem. In fact, if you are friends with me AND part of the FB Concerned Nazarene group, I’ll likely UNFRIEND you. It’s not that I don’t value my FB friends who have differing opinions than me, or that I don’t learn from them (just read my recent political posts) – but they truly are interested in TRUTH. You are interested in getting your own way. I don’t need you in my life.
I’ll pray for you. I’ll fast for you. I’ll care what you do with your life, and how God will respond to you on judgment day (though if I were you I wouldn’t hold out hope for mercy). But I won’t waste time trying to understand you. We are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.
I wish you the best in life…HONESTLY, I do!
Grace & Peace — Bruce Barnard, a HOPEFUL NAZARENE!
PS – this is a NOTE, not a post…it’s sharable if you so choose…