A Dying Denomination? A Nazarene Pastor Speaks For Many Nazarenes

The following commentary by an ordained Nazarene pastor is reflective of not only many Nazarene pastors, but also Nazarenes in general who have been watching the incremental downgrading of a holiness denomination. The Church of the Nazarene is fractured and divided, and yet many Nazarenes are still not aware of the danger. But to those who are aware, this speaks for them:

Speaking as someone who feels completely helpless, I love the church of my youth. I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene, was educated in a Nazarene University and then went on to Nazarene Seminary. It was there that my eyes were first opened to the truth of what was happening at the higher levels. I had several prominent professors (who I will not name) who around 1990, I remember them explicitly saying that there is no hell. Hell is just a scapegoat for our own evil. This professor has written several books and been lauded among the leadership for years and asked to speak at many events including camp meetings etc. In other words, he has a far reaching arm due to his position.

On another occasion I recall sitting in a theology class and hearing my professor (also a distinguished and published author in the church) say quite openly that the Genesis account of creation is just a myth, a simple story to relate complex information to simple-minded people. In other words, those of us who believe that God can do anything, including creating all the created order in a literal 6 day period of time complete with age built in, are actually simple-minded morons who should shut up and let the scientists lead us in another round of worship and determine our theology.

I remember calling home to my mother (she was the stalwart person of faith in my life), who herself was a life-long Nazarene, and literally sobbing over the phone. Through tears I told her of the things that I was being taught and really, told to believe. She encouraged me to hold on to the things that I had been taught as a child, the first things. I have done that through the years as I have watched in horror how things have gone from bad to worse. Now my own child who attended a Nazarene University called me in absolute horror as she recounted one of her theology professors whom she really loved, said in class, “There is no such thing as the Devil.” I told her I had heard the same malarkey and was not surprised that she had now been encountered with it at the college level.

I am a Nazarene elder (credentialed), but I am at a crossroads. Currently, I am not in the capacity of full time ministry as a pastor. My heart aches to minister again, but I feel almost bound by my credentials (not in a good way) to remain in the COTN despite what I see as a slippery slide into the wasteland of once great denominations. When I say, “bound,” I don’t mean that I can’t break away because the bond is too strong in my heart. What I mean is that the system is such that I either surrender my credentials, which then leaves me with no ordination credentials at all, or I am funneled back into a system which I believe is dying a slow agonizing death due to its willingness to compromise on what I see as the major issues, or rather one issue, namely: The Word of God. This is the foundational issue all the other beliefs must stand upon.

It has been the article of faith concerning the Word of God that has been so damaging and so detrimental to so many in the faith. I ministered in another denomination for a short period of time. It became apparent to me that when I went to their equivalent of General Assembly and was met with a dose (a heavy dose) of LGTBQ tolerance and heard leaders from the platform refer to the Holy Spirit as “She” that I could no longer allow myself to be aligned with this denomination. It was also in this denomination that I was told by a mentor that we should not insist on 6 days of creation because the denomination allows that the Word of God is not explicit on this issue and the denomination has taken a stance that allows for the Christian to have a myriad of views. Ironically, this denomination is now embroiled in the whole homosexual, same sex, no gender controversy so prevalent today.

Sounds eerily familiar to the stance the COTN has taken. “Infallibility” over “Inerrancy.” The COTN has taken the position that scripture is infallible only in matters concerning soteriology (salvation). Anything that falls outside of the realm of “what must I do to be saved?” is now up for grabs and called into question. How can anyone deny that this undermines the authority of scripture and (the Holy Spirit’s) ability to speak into our lives is beyond me. It is obvious to me that there will be a coming UMC-like battle to the COTN because of this weakness to ascribe ultimate authority to the scriptures rather than science and the latest spiritual fads.

Here’s one thing that I would really like to say and I hope that it is heard: Over the years pastoring in the Nazarene denomination, as a pastor, I can say with great assurance that the rank and file, the membership as a whole (at least those not indoctrinated at the colleges, universities and the seminaries) do not know that the article of faith is a weak article of faith. They do not know the difference between infallibility and inerrancy. Most of them believe the scriptures to be 100% trustworthy in all things and in all areas of our lives. I don’t believe the rank and file, you know the ones that “fund the mission”, have the slightest idea of how their denomination’s article of faith has totally undermined their once great denomination and is leading them to be among those who will be found in apostasy when the Lord returns. Don’t even get me started on eschatology. Apparently, there’s a right and wrong way to believe about that too. One way if you’re highly educated (by Nazarene professors of course) and the wrong way, according to belief in the scriptures.

At present, I feel stuck. I don’t know what to do. I am a mere peon without any teeth.

8 responses to “A Dying Denomination? A Nazarene Pastor Speaks For Many Nazarenes

  1. I have been very disappointed in the University of Point Loma. My daughter transferred this year as a junior. The very first day in her bible class the teacher said, “in the class we refer to God as neutral be God does not have a penis. In her literature class she was required to read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel who is an openly gay cartoonist. The book has comic strip drawings of women having sex. We came here to get something different and set apart. The book has no redeeming value

  2. To the minister who is not currently pastoring:
    I am a layperson, most of my extended family, with the exception of 2 cousins, are also laypeople. From our side of things: please hang in there, find a church and begin again. We need you, and many of us are out there actively looking for you! When you do, please advertise your ministry clearly as to the priorities, so those of us who are searching in your area, can come find your Church, on the internet and elsewhere. (Words that indicate a solid Bible basis are helpful.) I have spent hours on the internet trying to figure out whether a Church is Bible based in it’s teaching from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.
    My other suggestion to you would be DON’T TRUST THE LITERATURE. Not the quarterlies or “lobby papers” from Nazarene headquarters, and certainly be very cautious of what yourself read, and consider the background of who wrote it, in your private time. Just because it comes from a Christian bookstore doesn’t make it Biblical. Does this author treat the Bible with the respect it’s entitled to? Not adding to or taking away from? Not even a little?
    Thank you very much for your service.

  3. This part really stood out to me, “ Sounds eerily familiar to the stance the COTN has taken. “Infallibility” over “Inerrancy.” The COTN has taken the position that scripture is infallible only in matters concerning soteriology (salvation). Anything that falls outside of the realm of “what must I do to be saved?” is now up for grabs and called into question. How can anyone deny that this undermines the authority of scripture and (the Holy Spirit’s) ability to speak into our lives is beyond me. It is obvious to me that there will be a coming UMC-like battle to the COTN because of this weakness to ascribe ultimate authority to the scriptures rather than science and the latest spiritual fads.”

    My prayers will be with this hurting pastor. I can feel the pain in his words. May God bless him for caring enough to reach out & get this message to the Nazarene Church. It’s something we all need to hear, & pray about. May God help us!

  4. my heart breaks over what is happening within the church. I don’t know what to do. I hunger for Gods word untainted by emergent teachings and a denomination that is not lukewarm. how do I print these postings so I can get them to other people?

  5. I deeply admire and respect this Nazarene pastor for his transparency to reveal the truth of what is happening in our denominational higher education institutions. Although that truth is deeply disturbing and I long for our leadership to address these disturbing issues. We served as Nazarene missionaries for ten years. Our daughter wanted to attend PLNU since she was ten years old. However, a WW team from PLNU came to visit in Africa. Our daughter shared how she wanted to attend PLNU. One of the students said to her, “Do not study religion there. You will lose your faith.” She was deeply disturbed by this since she had a call to pastor in the COTN. Her faith waned and she went to law school instead.

  6. Hi Yvonne,
    It is not easy to print directly from the site, unless you copy and paste into a word processor first and then just print to your printer. Feel free to do that if you can.
    However, I do have some comprehensive samples of articles, in PDF format, from the past 10 years, which I could send to you. It highlights various topics including dome of the General Assembly doings.
    My email is mannyrsilva@hotmail.com if you want, send me a note and I can send you the documents.
    Blessings,
    Manny

  7. My name is pastor Luke Oakes. For 7 years I wandered alone in the wilderness after pastoring in the Nazarene church. Like the author above. I felt the immense struggle to stay even through all of the brokenness I found. This year, God has empowered me to write a book to help the many pastors like us who have been called out of the established church. The thing that we need to realize is that we are many not few. And we are not the rebellious breed we have been made out to be. We are lovers of God and uncompromising men and women of faith. Revival is coming if those who see this movement of the Spirit will have the faith to walk away from that which is perishing and embrace a reformed tool to do effective ministry. I believe that the way to repair the fellowship found within our denominations will not come from those in the center of its influence, rather it will come from the power of those God stands with in the fields and homes of those who have not given up the hope that God’s Word Truth and full of life. The plans are in place to set aflame the authority in our pastors once again as we rip of the bridal that has turned the mouthpieces of God into mere employees and CEO’s. As the established church continues to fade, new growth will bring joy to those who follow the Spirit wherever He leads: even if that is outside of the traditions we have grown to love. I pray for all of us who feel this tension, and I race to share the vision God is revealing to give direction to those waiting for it. Holiness Unto the Lord…

    If you do want to chat about these things you can add me on Facebook or email me at lukejoakes@yahoo.com

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