Recently I replied to Rev. Bruce Barnard’s attack piece on Nazarenes and other Christians who dare to question the status quo in the church; who dare to bring to light the false teachings that have crept in; and who dare to call out those who are false teachers, or those who are turning a blind eye to the false teaching. Since his article came out, there has been a continuing conversation at his Facebook page. They have written enough to bring to light again the devious ways they fight so hard to protect an indefensible ideology. Their testimony is enough to shine a light on the emptiness of their arguments.
There are some typical strategies the emergents resort to in order to deflect the truth and therefore hide their true ideology and philosophy. I am convinced that some of these same pastors who respond to us, are very cautious not to completely show their true colors in public, for fear that they will lose some of their congregation. Many of them have to play a game, and not unveil their full agenda to their flock, but feed them poison ever so slowly. Eventually, unless those in the church are alert and are being Bereans, they will be slowly indoctrinated like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled in water. So here is a list of just some of the tactics of the emergents:
The Emergent Tactics:
1. Call Us Names Without Any Substantiation. One of the most common and popular tactics used by the emergents. The name calling, especially from ordained elders in the church who should know better, is astounding. They use words such as: dividers, unChristlike, mean-spirited, Judaizers, legalists, judgmental, hypocrites, bullies, and recently from Rev. Barnard’s page: THUGS. You can read the examples I gave that came from Karl Giberson and some pastors on Bruce’s page, and you see over and over examples of personal attacks that- and this is important- CANNOT be substantiated in any way.
When they say we should not be judgmental, they catch themselves in the process of being… judgmental! A classic example is from Bob Hunter. He says the following:
“We do, however, think your judgments are misguided and your interpretation of scripture is extremely narrow and perplexing. Moreover, you do not give anyone the benefit of the doubt. According to Matthew 7:1-2 We are not to judge. For with that judgment you will be judged.”
Bob renders his judgment on us, and then proceeds to say, we are not to judge. Nothing could be clearer here as to the hypocrisy from these people, that they are so wrapped up in their own self-defense, that they hang themselves with their very own words. Even those who are ordained or licensed ministers are horribly mistaken, at best. As long as a Christian understands what Scripture says about judging, they will not fall for this trick. Yet, even though I have sent some of these folks lesson after lesson on this subject, they still try it on me. So for sure they will continue this attack on you.
2. They Use The Defense Of A Misguided Goal Of “Unity”. They will often appeal for unity in the church, yet there is a biblical unity, and then there is “unity” grounded in disobedience and the avoidance of confronting people who are in error. That is not Christian unity, it is false unity, and leads to confusion and an “anything goes” philosophy in the church (which lines up with emergent-think nicely).
This is often seen in such examples as the following comments:
“The alarm clock on my cell phone reminds me everyday at 5:10pm to pray for this group and its leader, and for unity in the COTN. I will keep doing so because this is one thing that grieves my heart deeply, the division, hurt, and distraction from kingdom building that is caused by this group.”
“And if you don’t like what they have to say, keep your opinions to yourself, and pray that your heart be changed. The church should be about unity, not about tearing apart.”
“Kingdom building” mixed with serious error and truth results in increasing error. True unity, as I responded, is not about ignoring willful disobedience and living in sin, nor is it about ignoring unsound doctrine as well. However, this ecumenical thinking fits in perfectly with the emergent church and its downplaying of doctrine. They hate doctrine, they don’t want to talk about it, they just want everyone to get along, at the expense of doctrine. Doctrines divide, and emergents do not believe in division. And that is an unbiblical approach. Do not buy the lie that we should never divide.
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matt. 10:34
The false unity in today’s church is chaos and compromise. When a church fails to stand for the truth, in exchange for “unity” at any cost, then it fails to be a faithful church. It fails to truly be in unity.
We are instead clearly commanded to separate from those who preach false doctrine.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Eph 5:11
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” 2 John 1:9-11
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” 2 Thess. 3:6
3. The Art of Diversion, Or Going Off On “Rabbit Trails”:
They will do this to try deflect from the hard questions. They try to turn a question around to discuss something else, and maybe you’ll forget that they never really answered the question. Often, they will do that when challenged for their assessment of someone we have stated is a false teacher. They WILL NOT ever come to the point of agreeing that any specific person’s teachings is false. If so, their whole ideology would fall down like a deck of cards. So the only choice they have is to divert away from the original intent of the question. The following is an example from that discussion, after I asked about Rob Bell, who has been a very major influence on the Nazarene denomination:
I asked: “Is no one interested in defending Rob Bell or any of the other false teachers I mentioned? What are your thoughts, Bruce, on Rob Bell’s video where he becomes yet another “evangelical” to affirm “gay Christianity?”
Answers: “Manny, I’m not a huge Rob Bell fan. We used a few of his Nooma videos awhile back.”…To continue, his videos were good but from what I’ve read and seen, he seems to be more interested in raising questions than answering them. (Greg Farra, a pastor)
“Just doing my best to be like Jesus. I may fall short, but life is too short to constantly point out peoples’ shortcoming and be a critic. I would appeal to you to trust God to correct erring souls.” (Bob Hunter, a licensed minister)
“Rob Bell is not a Nazarene…” “Manny – you are more worried about a visitor to a Naz campus than someone currently pastoring a church.” (Bruce Barnard, an ordained pastor).
Not one Nazarene pastor or anyone else was able to give a definitive biblical answer as to what they thought of Rob Bell’s affirmation of “gay Christians.” What does this tell you?
4. Pulling Out The “Education Card”:
“How long have you studied? What degrees do you have?
These are the questions they sometimes ask us, as if the mark of a faithful Christian is a college degree or two; as if the maturity of a Christian is reflected in how much Greek New Testament they know. Yet, they have no explanation at all for those who have studied as long as they have, or have more degrees, but who totally disagree with their ideology. Odd, is it not?
4. Scolding us For not “going through proper channels.” They love to pull that one. “Why did you not go through the process as outlined in the Nazarene manual? “You must defer to our leaders, because they are the ones who determine in the end if something is false teaching or not.”
What do you do if the leaders decide there is no false teaching going on? We know that many Nazarenes have written to the Generals, and the answers are filled with rhetoric and follows the pattern of non-answers to specific questions. I will tell you this, that it seems their answers are far too often focused on what the church manual says, with its man crafted rules, than what the real Manual (God’s word) says. If I did not know any better, I would almost think they believe the Church Manual is infallible and inerrant, whereas many of them reject the inerrancy of God’s word!
5. Asking us to leave if we’re not happy: “If you don’t like it, leave the COTN.”
More Nazarenes have left than most people realize. But it’s up to each of them, in their own circumstances, to decide. Some have had no choice because after leaving their own church because of false teaching, could not find a single Nazarene church that was not peddling the emergent church ideology. Some are fighting within their churches to make a difference, but often they are in a losing battle and will ultimately leave. However, leaving does not mean losing- it means these folks did their best, and in the end, made a decision to protect their family from false teaching. However, each Nazarene who leaves, will leave on their own terms, and not from any intimidating words from the emergents.
These emergents have shown us again:
1. A lack of discernment, or unwillingness to exercise discernment.
2. A horrible lack of knowledge on the subject of judgment, or a willful turning away from that responsibility.
3. A failure (again) to provide a biblical answer to hard questions a pastor should answer.
4. A failure in providing any biblical justification for their ideology.
5. A failure to correct.
This is partly a result of the years of indoctrination at our Christian colleges, the lack of solid expository Bible preaching in exchange for “story telling,” and the continual drumbeat of “biblical inerrancy ONLY in matters of salvation.” The foundations are crumbling, the Bible believers will leave, and the denomination will become one of the leading spiritual groups in the world. That will be great, I suppose, if you want to be right alongside the ELCA*, the Episcopal Church, the PCUSA**, the United Methodist Church and many more apostate denominations.
*Evangelical Lutheran Church In America
**Presbyterian Church USA
For further research: http://www.wayoflife.org/database/denominationstoday.html