2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; 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. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
The purpose of this is to warn every Bible-believing Christian about a certain kind of “Christian leader and pastor”, who is always ready to vilify you at the slightest sign of dissension towards their unbiblical views. This is to warn you and prepare you to deal with these people, some who may be leading your church now. This is to show you what kind of men are being sent out from the seminaries, to pastor churches with the watered down social gospel and with messages that lack biblical conviction. These men are blind to the very poison coming from their mouths, which they accuse all discernment ministries of, and which they accuse Christians who dare challenge their belief system.
NazNet is a Nazarene discussion forum on the internet, of which I am a member (from which I received a one week suspension for “laughing” at two comments). It includes a mixed group with varying theological leanings, although it is predominately a haven for emergent church and social justice types. It also allows Bible believing members, although as you will read here, many NazNetters are highly intolerant of outspokenness from the likes of me and others. A good number of these liberals do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. Many of them reject the facts of Genesis 1-11 as a true historical account of creation, and instead have bought into the ungodly theory of evolution. They have a disdain for those who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible word, often labeling us as “bibliolaters.” These are the men I am talking about, and I will point out that very few on NazNet act like they do, so this is not a blanket indictment.
Last week, as I perused some NazNet topics, I came across one that dealt with the suicide of the son of Ergun Caner, a former administrator at Liberty Baptist University. Caner had claimed to have been a former Muslim terrorist turned Christian, and when the facts came out that it was a lie, he was let go by Liberty. He is now the president of another Christian college. When his son committed suicide this year, not too long after he was confronted online by a longtime critic of Dr. Caner, many were very upset over what looked like an unwarranted attack of this young man. I have read details of this encounter, and I agree that the verbal attacks by Baptist preacher J.D. Hall were unnecessary and reckless. But what followed on NazNet turned into a blanket condemnation of any Christian who calls out false teachers or Christian leaders who are in error.
So here is where I got in trouble on Naznet. The topic only had three comments. I read the first one which mentioned that tragic death, and the writer, David Pettigrew, a Nazarene pastor, ended with this:
“This phenomena of “discernment ministries” – those who feel it is their divine calling to expose “error” – is doing real damage to real people. I am convinced it is psychologically driven. It becomes a compulsion for those with this “calling” to attack.”
I then read the next two comments, which said the following:
“I’m convinced it is some kind of mental disease. At least, let’s hope it is. For if these folks act with full mental powers, I would not want to stand in their shoes at judgement day.” (Hans Deventer, Nazarene licensed minister)
“IMO most “discernment ministries” are nothing more than bullying and most “discerners” are self-justifying bullies.”(Jon Bemis, Nazarene pastor)
I then clicked the “laugh button”, to imply that I thought that this was an absurd, blanket condemnation of all discernment ministries. Sometime later is when the attacks started, and the rest of the discussion is a perfect illustration of the complete hypocrisy of these people. Keep in mind that quite a few of them are ordained elders and pastors of churches; leaders who are supposed to be examples of Christ-like conduct. The following quotes are other examples of their “Christ-like” conduct and their truly hypocritical behavior and blindness to the very things they accuse me and others of.
“This is why they are called online discernment mafias. They operate in secret and have no accountability whatsoever.” (Bob Hunter)
“I’m increasingly convinced that when we spend time and energy on peripheral issues such as eschatology and witch-hunting in the name of the Lord, aka ‘discernment ministries’, we’re setting ourselves up for some real problems.” (John Kennedy)
“Self proclaimed holy wars never have a problem sacrificing life at the alter of “truth” (Cam Pence, Nazarene pastor)
“It’s the mean spirited, sarcastic, loveless, prayerless presentation, both online and in person, that causes the Concerned Nazarenes to not be taken seriously by anyone outside their facebook club. Nobody can hear your message because of your methods. This will be my only response to you, as I find exchanges with you are pointless.” (David Pettigrew, Nazarene pastor)
“I think the fundamental problem with discernment ministries is that those involved fail to see that they are not actually very discerning.” (Kevin Rector, Nazarene pastor)
“You’re like Hamas, crying over the casualties they have created themselves by their tactics. Very sad for the casualties, but Hamas is the real cause of their suffering.” (Hans Deventer, Nazarene licensed minister)
I gave my argument for posting the laugh icons, noting that it was unfair to paint all discernment ministries this way. I argued using scripture, showing them how time and time again, we are commanded to expose false teaching, thus what we are doing is biblical and necessary in these times. I pointed out how I was criticized for using these laugh icons, yet the moderator did not scold anyone else about the comments they made that were, shall we say, over the top? (mental disease? bullies? discernment mafias? witch hunting? comparing me to the terrorist group Hamas?)
In reading through the topic, I noticed the same things that they do on a regular basis:
- Taking Scripture out of context. They select certain scripture passages in order to reprimand me, but ignore the very scripture I showed which validated my position. They refused to address that at all. These people are purposely ignorant of the truth, and often use what they accuse us of- cherry picking scripture, or proof-texting. They are guilty of that tactic, over and over. In another proof-text, pastor Kevin Rector quotes Heb. 13:17 to emphasize that we should obey our spiritual leaders and do what they say (touch not mine anointed, perhaps?). Yet he apparently conveniently ignores any scripture which warns us to watch out for the wolves amongst us, such as Gal. 1:6-10.
- They use personal attacks. I understand why they do this, because they have no other basis to argue with. They lack the scriptural understanding (or perhaps ignore it) that would allow them to correct those who expose their false teachings. They are desperate to protect their territory, and will try to destroy your character in order to do it. They hypocritically judge a pastor’s mean use of words that led to the suicide of a young man, yet they have no problem using mean words on others. How ironic!
- They employ emotional tactics to get sympathy, such as telling a touching story. When David Pettigrew gave an example of what he says was the devastation caused by a discernment ministry to a pastor and his family, I returned the favor by giving an example that I knew of, of a pastor who caused great harm to a family. Instead of acknowledging this story as legitimate also, he scolded me for telling it, perhaps unable to admit that there have been a lot of people from “his side” who have brought damage to many Christians also.
- Their insincerity. Take for example, Bob Hunter, one of my most vicious attackers over the last few years. He followed up later with this: “I pray for you. I pray your family is well and your life is blessed. I really do.” This is the same Bob who had no problem labeling discernment ministries as mafia types, and who has called me some of the worst things over the last few years. Why would someone pray for my life to be blessed, when I am supposed to be someone who is tearing apart the church, according to many of them?
- Their dependence on the “Church manual” more than scripture. As an example, here is what Kevin Rector said:“if it creates division in the body of Christ over non-essentials then it is of Satan and not of God (By the way, the church decides what is “essential“, not the individual – for example, you and I don’t have the spiritual authority given by God to define that which is essential for the Church of the Nazarene – that is done by the General Assembly).”
So Kevin Rector and others apparently believe that if the General Assembly declares something, we should accept it without question, because it is “the church” that decides! To these people, it is the denomination that decides what is essential, not the Bible! This is outrageous, but this view is perhaps the norm now in the Church of the Nazarene.
- They don’t understand scripture. Bob Hunter misuses Matt. 18 when he said this: “Yes, the online discernment ministries have earned a bad reputation among reputable Christian leaders. They have a track record of being ruthless, unsympathetic, and mean. They never follow Matt. 18 and privately conduct matters.” Bob apparently has
never read such passages as Gal 2:14 that describes Paul scolding Peter publically for teaching a false doctrine. These people constantly misapply the principles of Matthew 18. Again, no correction by using scripture at all; just giving opinions unsupported by God’s word.
- Their hypocrisy. They scold me for using the laugh button, eventually delete my laughs, and then suspend me for a week, for violating NazNet laws. Not rules, but laws! Yet, they never scold their own publically (or very rarely). They tend to look the other way unless it is an extremely outrageous comment, and make the excuse that since they did not use my name, it is not a problem with what they said. Quote Kevin Rector: “You did not say that what they said was “funny” you said it was “laughable”. That is a put-down, not a compliment.” Apparently, to them, it is not a put-down to compare me to Hamas, or to imply I have a mental disease, accuse me of being on a witch-hunt, or that I am loveless, hateful, and just plain mean. Don’t correct us with scripture; just call us names.
Please understand, these people have not hurt my feelings. I don’t lose sleep over their insults. I am not looking for sympathy, because I don’t need it. I confess I am not perfect and do not know everything. I am trying to follow scriptural commands which tell us to protect the flock from false teachings. And if they are proud of what they write, I am glad to expose that to other Christians, and let folks decide if their behavior as pastors is Christ-like or not. In my opinion, they have disqualified themselves as pastors with their behavior.
So my purpose is to show you how sad the state of the Nazarene church is today, as well as most denominations, in regards to those who are supposed to be leaders. These men speak their words publically in front of hundreds of other Christians, therefore they are accountable for their words. I have no problem pointing out their hypocrisy, and the false teachings coming from them, when it is clearly seen. There is no Matthew 18 directive with their public comments; we are not to “go to each of them” as they often say we should; we are to expose them publically, because they have committed these wrongs publically.
I have no doubt that if you are a member of a church led by men such as these, that someday if you decide to question what they are doing, and what they are teaching, please be prepared for the worst. They will be gentle at first, even kind and understanding. But if you persist, they will go on to follow the same advice Rick Warren gives in the Purpose Driven Church book, and that is to get rid of those who don’t go along with the crowd. You will be painted a troublemaker, you will be ostracized, and you will need to leave. They will attack your character and try to smear your reputation. In the end, these kinds of people are only thinking about themselves and their agenda. It has nothing to do with following the will of God and obeying His word.
Pray for the repentance of some of these men, who are demonstrating they are a real danger to the church.
Addendum: The entire conversation thread at NazNet: