Spiritual formation in the Nazarene churches, universities and seminaries is NOT a biblical endeavor. It is merely a nice sounding way of introducing contemplative mysticism to the masses without using terminology that might scare some people. It is a cancer on the church that will continue to cause great damage unless it is cleaned up. Yet, you will find spiritual formation, including occultism, being taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary and practically all the Nazarene universities. Lessons are not being learned; warnings are not being heeded; administrators have bought into it; and national leaders continue ignoring the many signs of spiritual decay.
We have seen it trickle in by way of seemingly harmless practices and rituals that used to be solely the purview of Roman Catholic tradition. It sneaks in under the umbrella of celebrating the Lenten season; it sneaks in through the use of Sunday School quarterlies and such programs as Ashes To Fire. It is evident through the programs being used for the youth, primarily promoted through the extremely dangerous Barefoot Ministries as well as Nazarene Publishing House. But the warnings fall on mainly deaf ears, and most likely the following issue will also. It all points to the severe compromise of church leaders today.
What am I talking about? Point Loma Nazarene University, along with San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, is encouraging mysticism, ecumenicalism and interfaith worship with unbelievers to its college students.
A summer retreat called Taize 2013 is being offered to students. The website states the following:
A unique trip is being offered through San Diego First Church (the church on campus) during the summer of 2013. A cross-generational group will be taking a pilgrimage to Taizé, France to spend a week in community, in worship and in spiritual reflection. This will be followed by a week of service in a nearby location.
Students will be spending a week Taize (pronounced Ta-zay), a monastery in France, and the stated purpose is that it is a
“spiritual formation trip, aimed at those seeking intentional devotional time, Sabbath, fellowship, and space to seek and listen for God in a cross‐cultural setting. Taize is a community made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. From its beginning the community has been inspired by two aims: to live in communion with God through prayer and to be a leaven of peace and trust in the midst of the human family. A stay at Taizé is an opportunity to seek communion with God in prayer, singing, silence and reflection.”
I have previously written about Point Loma’s fascination with Taize, and Northwest Nazarene University’s embrace of Taize worship. Their explanation at best waters down what Taize stands for, although please note that there is no emphasis mentioned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s because Taize does not stand for, and never has stood for, the spreading of the Gospel. Not the true Gospel anyway.
The following is excerpted from LightHouse Trails Research:
“Taize is a form of contemplative worship that incorporates mystical practices and interspiritual beliefs” [an odd term? Probably means, “all roads lead to the same Heaven,” or something similar.]
“’Short chants, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character,’ the brothers explain in a brief introduction printed in the paperback songbook. ’Using just a few words, [the chants] express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being.’”
The entire matter is “just another indication that contemplative spirituality is no respecter of denominations. Nearly all are affected and influenced.”
Taize Worshipers: “Practicing the silence with icons, candles, incense and prayer stations, this very contemplative community is attracting young people from around the world.”
In John Henderson’s post on my blog on Nov. 11, 2011, he states the following to which I am in agreement:
“I find it enormously puzzling as to why Nazarenes, especially in a Nazarene university or a Nazarene church, would have so easily abandoned the simple faith in Christ for this satanic form of the worship of strange gods and evil spirits—and then call them by God’s names. An even greater wonder is how they unabashedly resort to mauling the Word of God to force-fit those precious words of life to this spiritual sludge. They seem to sense no shame in it but, rather, boast in it and lie that God is pleased with it. It is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah and I fear that God’s judgment will not tarry much longer. I had rather be in Heaven when it breaks open but He might keep me here to witness it and I just do not look forward to that.”
It’s more than Taize that is going on here, in spite of the school’s recent rejection of an on campus LGBTQ group, which most likely they had no choice. This school is being corrupted daily and is rotting from the inside out, taking students with it down the road of apostasy. And once again, while “Rome burns”, our irresponsible leaders at all levels do nothing.
A Host of Problems
It is the promotion of contemplative spirituality by way of other retreats, such as the Jesus Prayer Retreat at Point Loma Nazarene University, conducted by Frederica Matthewes-Greene of the Orthodox Church. What Matthewes-Greene promotes is nothing more than Roman Catholic style mysticism, including praying to icons, as I noted in the post Blind Guides. She also spoke at a student chapel the week of the retreat, where she promoted these false teachings, with the approval of college leaders.
In a post on May 9, 2011 entitled Would Jesus Attend PLNU?, problems were addressed such as: false teacher Brian McLaren speaking in a chapel service; universalist Rob Bell speaking at a pastor’s retreat; a biology professor promoting Darwinism and evolution; the failure to immediately as a gay activist student chaplain to step down from his position; the retreat sponsored by Richard Foster’s Renovare organization, which promotes mysticism.
And in his article on spiritual formation, Dr. Gary Gilley concludes:
“The “face” of the Spiritual Formation Movement, as well as contemplative spirituality and emergent Christianity, is often first noticed within evangelical churches by the incorporation of traditional Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practices and liturgies. Many of these practices are being introduced at special events and eventually find their way into the regular services of the church. Worshippers are often confused by what they are experiencing and do not understand what is taking place. It should be understood that when traditions borrowed from errant groups such as Catholics and Orthodoxy are taken into evangelical worship and life, and are done so without a careful examination of Scripture, what is being adopted is more than just methods. There is a comprehensive, and in many ways wrong, theology upon which these practices rest. Methods do matter, and we are naïve to think that we can take techniques from false religions and not eventually embrace their theology.”
I cannot explain to you exactly why all this is happening. I do know that these things are not of God, and yet it is being condoned over and over again by our supposedly mature spiritual leaders.
I will conclude with a few admonishments from Holy Scripture that address the problem with Taize worship and this upcoming summer retreat:
James 4:4-5 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Spiritual Formation (Dr. Gary Gilley) http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/133-spiritual-formation-movement/783-spiritual-formation-at-worship