The following account is a very accurate picture of the state of mind within the Church of the Nazarene today. All Christians should take warning.
Some of the Reasons I Have Lost Interest in Being Involved with the Church of the Nazarene
My story goes back several years where I saw things that troubled me. Among the first was the time I was challenged in a Sunday school lesson I taught at Nashville First. The topic was biblical creation and the challengers were an Old Testament professor at Trevecca Nazarene College and a biology professor at Middle Tennessee State University, both members of the class. They took the evolutionism side. No one in the Nazarene system seemed to be all that concerned about it.
There were other instances, such as the snickering comments about those old fashioned Nazarenes of years gone by, and a growing interest in things I felt biblically uncomfortable about.
The time came when I encountered something called Emergent Nazarenes and the current pastor was telling me privately that after the upcoming general assembly I would not recognize the Church of the Nazarene.
I began to search for answers and came across much more than I ever expected. I found out that the denomination and its leadership, publishing house, and academic institutions had all but plunged headlong into the emergent heresies. It was everywhere and openly promoted. That plummet continues to this day.
When that pastor resigned, I implored our church board to diligently avoid calling an emergent pastor and gave them abundant examples of what to avoid. My concerns and warnings were disregarded and they brought in a classic emergent who has led that church downward into the emergent abyss since. Where once the church flourished in attendance, spirit, and finances it now is losing and diminishing in every instance.
I had moved on to a smaller Nazarene church before the new pastor arrived and found there a remnant of true believers. As I looked about, however, I found that they were a rare example of old-fashioned Nazarenes, including their pastor. Even smaller churches were taking the emergent plunge and the [Nazarene] Publishing House was getting worse until it finally closed under the cloud of shame of misconduct and mismanagement. Its efforts at recovery are not going well.
Within a matter of months, if that long, the new pastor from Chicago had started the church in a different direction that incorporated postmodern/new age worship styles, Catholic copies, studies in heresy publications such as Rob Bell’s books. Within two or three years he was promoting social justice activities for community “outreach” and more recently promoted “interpretative dancing” with the children in the sanctuary. This all replaced the mourner’s bench activities.
Even at the small church we attended, there was an emergent associate pastor who was spewing his bile of false doctrine among good people. He was arrogant and defiant when my wife and I faced him with it and I had decided to go elsewhere. I had made up my mind that, at the end of a particular Sunday morning service, I would pack up my musical equipment, and go elsewhere.
However, the pastor announced his resignation and I felt I might remain through that interim period until another pastor was called, hoping he could lead the little church to better things. The associate had to eventually be fired because he refused to resign as he was required to do when the senior pastor resigns.
I helped in the search and came up with the name of a man I was convinced would be very suitable. The district superintendent would not allow him to be interviewed because he had been at odds with his current superintendent over the emergent issues and refused to send in his church’s budget payments because of the superintendent’s support for emergent errors.
The Tennessee superintendent had already stated to one of the members that if our church ever stopped supporting itself (paying its budgets) that he would put up a for-sale sign in a heartbeat. The property is valued at two or more million dollars.
I kept up with the minister the superintendent would not allow us to interview. He accepted a call to a church in a neighboring district and is doing well there. He has a fine group of young people (what he had promised to do for us) and is active in district functions. I suppose he is paying his budget there. All he ever wanted was to be allowed to be a Nazarene pastor without having the emergent stuff shoved down his throat.
Nazarene ministers across the country and in other parts of the world are eagerly following after the emergent compromise in large numbers. They discuss among themselves the merits of “creation evolutionism,” homosexual orientation, and question whether they ever got it right on the doctrine of entire sanctification. Many are vitriolic towards other Nazarenes who openly express support for biblical inerrancy and complete inspiration of all parts of the Bible. They demean those who dare to say that friendship with the world is enmity against God. The laity is generally indifferent and compliant.
There is now a group across the denomination that calls itself Sacramental Nazarenes*. They promote Catholic-inspired approaches to “worship” instead of the traditional Nazarene approaches.
The problem is compounded in that this spiritual sickness is an epidemic across the entire Wesleyan holiness movement. Not one major Wesleyan holiness denomination is untouched by these heresies. Not one major denominational school remains true to its holiness heritage. Not one publishing house of those denominations is legitimately holiness anymore.
The so-called splinter groups may hold to the doctrine but they are rotted on the inside with legalism by going to the opposite extreme.
There is a remnant but they are difficult to find because they are so few and scattered. Even those still within the backslidden denominations are subject to takeover by the heretics, so they must always be walking on eggs.
That leaves a lot of displaced Nazarenes—those who have had to leave for the sake of conscience or who have spoken up and been forced to leave their churches. Some have gone to other denominations (themselves plagued with postmodern and emergent heresies) and, in some cases, a few come together in small groups.
That will work to a point but there will need to be leadership at some point. Since Nazarene leadership has essentially jumped ship that means that holiness leadership has to come from among those groups. It is the New Testament Church all over again. Maybe that is a good thing.
*Members of Sacramental Nazarenes includes the president of the seminary, a former general Superintendent, and other leaders in the church.