Parents of Nazarene youth need to vet all speakers and music artists at every Nazarene youth event going forward, including NYC. They cannot afford not to do it anymore. The spiritual wellbeing of their children is at stake. To allow young people to be potentially indoctrinated with unbiblical ideas should outrage every Bible-believing parent and church leader.
Scripture talks about the contrast between light and darkness, and these two things, both literally and spiritually, cannot co-exist together. It is impossible. Ephesians 5:11 is a classic admonishment from God’s word: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
There is an attempt to mix light and darkness at Nazarene Youth Conference, 2023, at Tampa, FL in July. Unfortunately, there have been some unwise choices for guest speakers or music artists. I talk about three of them here today, but it’s possible there are more, and speakers should be vetted thoroughly. NYC organizers also should announce their entire speaker lineup before accepting any registration money, or at least be able to offer refunds within a reasonable time period after the final speaker is announced. That will allow parents to make the best decision possible for their teens.
Following are the speakers/music artist in question. Who organized this event, and who scheduled these bad choices? What do the General Superintendents think about these people? Please prayerfully consider this information, and decide if these are the kind of speakers you want your teens to be exposed to.
[Favorably quotes these false teachers on his Twitter page; all of them are pro-homosexual]
Richard Rohr: Pro-Homosexual, contemplative Mystic, New Age panentheist (God is in all things, and all is in God). Does not believe homosexuals need to repent. Denies biblical doctrine of the blood atonement. Believes that people of all religions worship the same God. He is a champion for the idea of a global world religion. Rohr integrates pagan contemplative practices with that of ancient Catholic “saints.” He has adapted practices such as Buddhist koans and Hindu mantras. Many evangelicals, including Gloria Gaither, have been bewitched by this heretic. Does Braatz agree with Rohr’s false teachings?
Brian McLaren: Pro-homosexual. Considered the godfather of the emergent church movement. Performed a commitment ceremony at his son’s “marriage” to another man. Says that the Bible is not clear on homosexuality. (“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.”). Does Braatz agree with McLaren that the Bible is not clear on homosexuality?
Juergen Moltmann: Pro-homosexual. Quoted by Braatz multiple times. Moltmann is a German theologian who is a universalist and believes homosexuality is not a sin. Quote: “I will not say that a lesbian or a homosexual partnership is equal to a marriage, because a marriage is intended to father children, while these partnerships are not intentionally directed to adopt children. But I have no problems in blessing such a partnership. Why should I not bless a partnership between human beings? And homosexuality is neither a sin nor a crime.”
Tony Campolo: Pro-homosexual. A once popular speaker at Nazarene colleges. Campolo is in favor of same sex marriage and has no problem with homosexual “Christians.” Does Braatz agree with Campolo? If not, why does he favorably quote Mr. Campolo?
Rachel Held Evans: Pro-homosexual. Rachel passed away in 2019, but her public support of homosexuality was evident. Her message was that you can be both homosexual and a Christian, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. She was a false teacher who deceived many. Why does Brady Braatz quote a woman who promoted sinful behavior as something good? Quote: “In short, I affirm LGBTQ people because they are human beings, created in the image of God. I affirm their sexual orientations and gender identities because they reflect the diversity of God’s good creation, where little fits into rigid binary categories. I affirm their (healthy) relationships. I affirm them because theology that refuses to accept their personhood is deadly.”
Rob Bell: Pro-homosexual. Bell is one of the foremost leaders to come out of the emergent church movement. He announced his support of same sex marriage several years ago. Does Braatz agree with him?
And Braatz quotes the Dalai Lama, who is a Buddhist Tibetan monk and a self-proclaimed Marxist.
As described on his website, Rich Villodas is the “lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large multiracial church in Queens, NY”. He is the author of several books, including one titled ‘The Deeply Formed Life.’
It is a book grounded on contemplative mysticism as well as racial and other cultural approaches. In the Amazon book description, it says that Villodas “offers an expansive and interconnected vision of spiritual formation based on the five key paths of monastic, multiracial, emotional, sexual, and missional values.”
Villodas is a follower of contemplative mysticism proponents such as Peter Scazerro, who did the foreword for his book. Villodas also leads an online discipleship class using Scazerro’s “Emotionally Healthy Discipleship”, a book filled with contemplative mysticism ideas and false doctrine. Anyone who follows and works with Scazerro so closely is a danger to the spiritual health of Christian youth and adults.
On his website, it says that Villodas “enjoys reading, preaching and writing on contemplative spirituality.” Contemplative spirituality is an unbiblical spirituality system based on Eastern mysticism, which teaches practices such as “the silence”, which is a ritual of emptying the mind as to allow it to be “filled” by God.
No such idea is remotely taught in scripture, yet Villodas promotes this as well as other contemplative practices.
Villodas is listed as a resource on the website of Renovaré, an organization founded by Richard Foster, a Quaker theologian who many consider to be the modern day father of contemplative mysticism. Foster promotes the same kind of Eastern mysticism that Villodas follows. Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, has been used by many Nazarene pastors over the years, and was featured at General Assembly in 2009. David Cloud gives a good synopsis of the false spirituality Foster promotes in this article.
Rich Villodas is also a racial and social justice ideologist. He is obsessed with Critical Race Theory, a racist ideology that blames white people for racism, teaches that all white people are inherently racist, and that America’s institutions are all deeply infused with racism and needs to be completely reformed. As part of this racially charged nonsense, evangelical “white churches” are also thrown under the proverbial bus, and are seen as being complicit in the racial ills of America. Ironically, such views are themselves racist. (See examples in his own words at the end of this post).
Villodas is an ecumenicalist who favors Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. He has praised heretics such as Thomas Merton and Karl Barth. Some of their heretical beliefs are summarized below.
Villodas’ Recent Praise Of Two False Teachers: Thomas Merton and Karl Barth
Quote: “Thomas Merton and Karl Barth. Both have shaped my understanding of God in profound ways.”
How exactly can these false teachers shape anyone’s “understanding of God in profound ways”?
Karl Barth was a neo-orthodox theologian. Mr. Barth was a very highly intellectual theologian, but he made complex the simplicity of scripture and rejected its complete inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Here is a good summary of neo-orthodoxy from gotquestions.org, which indicates how neo-orthodoxy is very dangerous:
“Neo-orthodoxy defines the Word of God as Jesus (John 1:1), and says that the Bible is simply man’s interpretation of the Word’s actions. Thus, the Bible is not inspired by God, and, being a human document, various parts of it may not be literally true. God spoke through “redemptive history,” and He speaks now as people “encounter” Jesus, but the Bible itself is not objective truth.
Neo-orthodoxy teaches that the Bible is a medium of revelation, while orthodoxy believes it is revelation. That means that, to the neo-orthodox theologian, revelation depends on the experience (or personal interpretation) of each individual. The Bible only “becomes” the Word of God when God uses its words to point someone to Christ. The details of the Bible are not as important as having a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Truth thus becomes a mystical experience and is not definitively stated in the Bible.”
Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk who was a universalist (all will eventually be saved). Trevecca President Dan Boone has praised Merton, calling him a “spiritual giant”, and Merton seems to be a favorite of many Nazarene pastors. But Merton was not a spiritual giant- he was a monk who said that he was “deeply impregnated with Sufism” because he believed that Eastern mysticism was compatible with and could be incorporated into Christianity. He placed Mary high on a level equal to Jesus, and he prayed to many Roman Catholic saints. He was influenced by Aldous Huxley, who found enlightenment through hallucinogenic drugs.
Would Villodas agree with the following statements by Merton?
“I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (The Springs of Contemplation, p. 266)
“It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are …. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are …I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other … At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth … This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1989 edition, 157-158)
For five minutes in an interview, he could not answer a question with biblical clarity about homosexuality, and instead such words will lead to confusion, doubt, and lead youth away from a clear biblical view of homosexuality. Lecrae is a double-minded man.
The fact that Lecrae is appealing to the world and seeking greater acceptance from the world by using a worldly form of music should be very concerning. Did not our Lord Jesus Christ say in Matthew 16:15… “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Lecrae is trying to have it both ways; to make the world happy, and Christ happy. It’s not possible to do both. And yet, Lecrae is trying to impart the idea that you can be both a Christian, and also be worldly. That is not a biblical view.
There is a serious problem with Lecrae working directly with worldly artists whose views on faith as well as their lifestyles are contradictory to the teachings of Jesus Christ. His musical influences have included Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and Outkast. He has high praise for them and their supposed ability to insert spirituality onto “good music.” Others who he says are some of his greatest inspirations include Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. It remains to be seen if he will soon have any musical collaborations with them. At the very least, Lecrae has a serious lack of spiritual discernment, and is ignoring biblical instruction to avoid those who oppose the true doctrines of Jesus Christ.
Lecrae was a featured performer at Together 2016, a day-long ecumenical Christian event. It also featured Pope Francis as a speaker, and the event was a call to “unity.” Lecrae apparently forgot that true unity is only with those who believe in a biblical Gospel of salvation by faith alone.
When the movie The Shack came out, Lecrae not only worked on the soundtrack for this heretical depiction of God, but he gave rave reviews of the movie. The Shack presents a distorted view of God and compromises scriptural truth by presenting a view of “universal” salvation.
Lecrae also has directly spent time at political rallies for politicians who fully support abortion. He has denied that he has any political leanings at all, but the documentation is pretty damning. Lecrae has said on FaceBook: “I’m a Christ follower. I’m politically agnostic. I don’t endorse abortion.”
Right. And yet, on inauguration day for Joe Biden, the guy who claims to be “political agnostic” said this: “Feels good to be on the right side of history. “Which of course is the anti-racism, pro-life from womb to the tomb, care for the marginalized, anti-Christian nationalism, anti-abuse of power side.”
Apparently for Lecrae, the right side of history belongs to the Democrat liberal administration which is pro-abortion all the way. And in all his appearances with politicians, it has always been with Democrats only; liberal, leftist, abortion loving, race-obsessed Democrats. (Lecrae’ Progressive Politics and Double Minded Artistry)
Lecrae is a double-minded man.
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)
False Teachers That Rich Villodas Has Quoted or Associated With:
These are the ones I have found: Brian Zahnd, Thomas Merton, Peter Scazzero. These three are all proponents of contemplative mysticism. (Merton passed away in 1968).
Examples of Villodas’ Lack of Discernment:
Below is another example of his approval of contemplative mysticism. Going to a monastery and practicing the silence are not biblically grounded activities. These are centers for promoting Eastern style practices that are bot based in scripture. Practicing the silence essentially teaches you to empty your mind, in order to “hear from God.” Instead, it is a way of inviting demonic voices to fool you into thinking you are communing with God.
Thomas Merton was a false teacher and universalist who mixed Eastern religions with Christianity.
Below are examples of Villodas’ obsession with and support of racial division, by way of Critical Race Theory ideas, support of the Black Lives Matter organization, and generalizing a kind of institutional racism in evangelical churches.
Tony Campolo on homosexuality: (Why Gay Christians Should Be Fully Accepted Into The Church).
Juergen Moltmann on homosexuality: https://postbarthian.com/2014/07/17/jurgen-moltmann-homosexuality-vs-fundamentalists/
Richard Rohr on homosexuality: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=655