From The Heart Of A Godly Pastor, R.B. Acheson

From October 10, 2010 until sometime just before he passed away on July 10, 2012, I got to know a man named R.B. Acheson. He had previously requested a dvd and other information from me regarding the problems in the Church of the Nazarene. He had also been a District Superintendent and had pastored the Westside Church of the Nazarene for 18 years. I truly believe that if the General Board of Superintendents was composed of men like R.B., there would be a lot of cleaning up done, and there would be hope for the Church of the Nazarene.

R.B. and his wife Dolly

I did not know him for very long, but I knew that R.B. Acheson was a man of God.  His character was such that he was not afraid of speaking complete truth about the Nazarene church and its problems.  He sent his thoughts to General Superintendents and other church leaders without concern of being slighted. He first sent a letter to me via postal service, and then we continued corresponding back and forth via email until he passed away.  During that time, I was honored to know him. I don’t use the words “man of God” lightly. 

I recall when I found out he was in a rehab clinic recuperating from some treatment, and I was able to call him and speak to him personally. It was a joy to talk to him, and to tell him how much I appreciated his encouragement, which meant so much to me. R.B. Acheson was already past 90 when I met him, but age never let the fire for God’s truth die out in him.

The only paper letter he wrote me is shown below, and it included a $100 offering to my ministry.  I am sure that was a lot of money for a retired Nazarene pastor to send to anyone. I was more grateful for his thoughtfulness and kindness, than the amount he sent. What gives me hope, besides the Lord Jesus Christ, are people like R.B. who put Christ first above everything and everybody. I like to think he has already had the opportunity in heaven to converse with two other godly men, my father Rev. Ilidio Silva, and my father-in-law Rev. Eudo Tavares de Almeida.

So below is what R.B. shared with me regarding some concerns he was addressing to then General Superintendent J.K. Warrick, sometime after receiving some of my documented information.  R.B. Acheson was a man of God who did not mince words. I am grateful for servants such as he. I have added a few other emails he sent to me.

Manny, I sent this note to Dr. [J.K.] Warrick today:

You are right, J.K., your note of December 22nd did not give me peace nor calm my concerns about the heresy surfacing in my beloved church. Your statement “the church never required everyone to get in line and stay in line,” certainly doesn’t mean that we should be careless about trying to correct unscriptural practices.
If I read Manny Silva right, he is concerned about college professors and other Nazarene leaders who stray from the truths intrinsic to our Nazarene heritage, and the lack of our Generals taking a strong stand in public rebuke and rebuttal.

In a recent issue of Holiness Today, David Felter’s article on “One Holy Faith” addressed the subject in kid-glove fashion. He wrote: “Since Christendom is increasingly under attack by the forces of atheism and unbelief, it is important for the Church of the Nazarene to periodically review her story.” While there is certainly truth in his statement “that God is always at work fashioning and shaping a people for Himself,” it shouldn’t excuse those who would like to introduce strange practices into the church, calling them “truths that our church has lost along the way.”  Dr Felter states: “We resist trends and fads, knowing that passing fancies do little to enhance awareness of our connection to the story of God calling, fashioning and preserving His people… Some focus on making religion the equivalent of Play-Doh that can stretch, shape and make its content into a religion that fits…and can sever its connection as a branch from the true vine of the Body of Christ.” (However, I don’t consider the heresies that trouble me as mere fads and fancies).

Felter is right in his conclusion: “Any congregation or clergy that no longer affirms in faith and practice these confessions, stands rightly condemned and is presenting to the world a spurious expression of a religious community that has become disconnected from the Body of Christ. No amount of technology, altruistic service to humanity, or polished rhetoric can absolve such clergy or churches from the guilt of compromise.”

It would be difficult to squeeze some post-modern practices into the Nazarene Manual: watering down our belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, making the vagaries of science and evolution trump the inspiration of the Word of God, open theism, making excuses for those in our midst who “find spiritual help” in studying pre-Reformation Catholicism – and much more. I am glad, J.K., that you are talking privately to those who lead our youth astray, but the church needs to hear what you admonish in private. Gullible seekers after truth need their trusted leaders to show them the path of tried and true orthodoxy, and to know that our leaders are doing their best to stamp out error. Attacking the problem obliquely as Dr. Felter did is not enough. Someone in authority needs to take off the kid gloves and speak clearly and forthrightly.

This is also true when the life of the church is being throttled by a pastor who thinks more of himself than he does the church. (What Peter called “little tin gods.”) I was once a D.S. and am aware that his power is limited, but sometimes the District Pastor needs to talk to an aberrant pastor as the proverbial “Dutch uncle” would talk to his unwise and inexperienced nephew.

I wouldn’t class Manny Silva or Orville Jenkins as “reformed fundamentalists.” Having been liberated myself from Calvinism through the study of the Word of God, I know what reformed fundamentalism is, and to believe strongly in the fundamentals of our faith would not brand one as a Calvinist Fundamentalist.  I think I understand how Jude felt when he found “it was needful to write (and exhort) that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Pastor R.B. (P.S. I don’t have your email!)

An encouraging email R.B. sent to me in November of 2011:

Dear Manny,

     I am so grateful for what you are doing in this Laodicean age. Your ability to ferret out the lies and hypocrisies of the growing number of wolves in sheeps’ clothing, especially those that operate within the church structure, is so needed today. You are a modern day John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!.” You have done more to heighten my awareness of these things than any other person. I have loved being a member of the Church of the Nazarene for 75 years and the heretical ideas that are being propogated in some areas of the church break my heart. You are doing a much needed work – be encouraged – and we pray that God will give you strength to keep going for a long time to come. We pray that your efforts will help to cause the church to to turn back to God – a Holy Ghost revival is really what we need. But perhaps we are too close to the reign of Antichrist to expect this to happen – we may get the call to “come up higher” at any moment now.

       Your friend,   R. B. Acheson

An email from January of 2012:

Thanks, Manny, for your answers to Warrick’s note. He appears to be making excuses that don’t cover the facts. I don’t know what’s going on with the Generals, I think they are divided on these issues and don’t want the church to know it. I have known J. K. Warrick to be rather conservative and a straight shooter – I hope he isn’t being won over or muted by the liberals.

Do you get the new periodical Grace and Peace? There is an interview with Mark Quanstrom beginning on page 29 that you need to read. He wrote a book on holiness several years ago that I didn’t care for, and he admits to a Catholic bias in this interview. He has studied extensively under patristic scholars and states: “my immersion in Catholic theology formed me into a more confident proclaimer” of holiness.

I also noted on page 35, Elaine Heath recommended a book on The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr.  Are you acquainted with that book?

I never had expected that the day would come when I would find it necessary to read our periodicals with such a critical eye! I am sure you are getting a lot of flack from many quarters, but you are certainly not alone. God has anointed you for such a time as this – I wish I could be at least 30 years younger.

     R.B.Acheson

An email from August, 2011:

Thank you, Manny, for the article on Horatius Bonar. He, and others like him, helped me develop my preaching ministry in the early years of pastoring. The letter from Meldora Rapp brought back memories of the old Pittsburgh District when I was the D.S. there. Jerome and Johnstown were churches on my district when we preached and lived and enjoyed old-time religion.

The May’June issue of Holines Today, page 24, the report of the Nazarene Publishing House: “Barefoot ministries continue in the focused direction of helping youth workers guide students into spiritual formation for the mssion of God. Barefoot is experiencing growth, reflected in increased sales….etc.”  Could you update me on Barefoot ministries. I checked your website but didn’t find anything.

I remember you writimg about them – are they doing better?

   Sure appreciate what you are doing,

            R.B.Acheson

More about R.B. Acheson:

Herald of Holiness editions with R.B.’s articles:
https://nnu.whdl.org/en/browse/resources?f[0]=author:2464

Wesleyan-Holiness Digital Library:

https://whdl.org/en/browse/authors/r-b-acheson-2464

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s