Testimony Of A False Teacher In The Nazarene Denomination

Here is Thomas Oord’s “Testimony” from when he was a PhD Candidate.

Dr. Oord is a former professor of religion at NNU who is pushing for same-sex marriage in the Church of the Nazarene.
He was “investigated” sometime around january 2022 by District leaders, but nothing came of it, in spite of his many heresies and particularly his blatant support for homsoexuality and same-sex marriage. It is apparently very difficult to remove credentials from an ordained Nazarene elder in the Church of the Nazarene.

An Adventure in Christian Faith
Tom Oord Ph.D. Candidate in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology program at Claremont Graduate University. …

My journey to process thought has come by way of process theology. It is a journey energized by my faith adventure—an adventure that has mirrored some of the dominant theological movements of the 20th century.

When I attempt to ascertain what process thought means to me, I inevitably refer to my faith adventure. I grew up in a small, rural church that was a part of the American Holiness movement. It was in this setting that my first religious intuitions were fashioned. Like many who also grew up in this tradition, my initial theological conceptions revolved around moral codes and ethical standards. I remember as a second grader not participating in my class dance because it was “against my religion.”

Although Holiness theology need not evolve into Fundamentalism, I would characterize my teenage years as a period when I was a Fundamentalist. Some of these tendencies undoubtedly arose out of the lessons I was taught in Sunday school and some emerged in my bid to establish a solid basis upon which to argue against Mormon friends. I was passionate about my faith and an inerrant Bible was my double-edged sword for battle. Perhaps due to frustrations about failing to convert the Mormons, I went to college and chose to study psychology and social work.

My intent was to serve God by doing practical, compassionate ministry. It was in this field that I first read texts from liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez. From this exposure, I resolved to actively seek to address the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised. My desire to argue effectively for my faith did not die during those early college years. In fact, it increased. I felt compelled to trudge door to door sharing my faith in nearby neighborhoods. On weekends, I persuaded others to join me. We witnessed often in the streets and drinking establishments of a neighboring city.

Using “The Four Spiritual Laws” and beginning conversations with “If you were to die tonight…” I acted upon my feeling of obligation to preach the gospel “in season and out of season.” I found others who shared this obligation at a Campus Crusade for Christ group. I liked the group’s evangelistic passion and ecumenical posture.

Eventually, not having experienced the results I expected when sharing my faith and not agreeing with the tendency toward Calvinism I found in Campus Crusade, I turned to the Charismatic movement to find the power I seemed to lack. I appreciated how easily Charismatics identified the activity of God in their community and enjoyed the feeling of freedom I found in their worship. I actively sought to cultivate my spiritual gifts and found I was able to speak in tongues. Although I did not always agree that it was God alone who aroused these ecstatic demonstrations, it was refreshing to be in a community of Christians who were animated by their religious experiences.

The conversations I had with the variety of people I encountered while in the church, street, bar, or classroom led me to realize that issues of faith were more complex than I’d previously imagined. Through Bible study and in the years I spent studying New Testament Greek, I came to realize that Scripture could legitimately be interpreted to express different ideas.

My dogmatic tendencies, grounded in my belief that the Bible was inerrant, began to dissipate. I found myself moving toward espousing a more tolerant theology. After discovering how powerfully one’s experience shapes world-views, I found myself attracted to liberal theology in the form of Harry Emerson Fosdick. I liked the way Fosdick appealed to both the experience and rationality of his listeners. I also liked the way he could approach the Bible seriously—without slipping into inerrancy.

The biggest shock to my religious sensibilities, however, came in a philosophy of religion class my final year of college. Until then, I’d never really heard thoughtful argumentation by atheists, agnostics, and nonChristians. Finding myself pushed to decide which of my beliefs were essential and which were not, I turned to natural theology for help. Natural theology seemed a logical fit; after all, I had already spent much of my life trying to articulate my faith convincingly and had only recently been exposed to liberal theology.

By graduation, I’d become keenly aware that my faith adventure had taken me away from the Evangelical mainstream to which I belonged. The issues with which I struggled seemed of little or no consequence to my friends in the pews next to me. Feeling uneasy about this and also wanting a chance to get my hands dirty tackling everyday problems outside academia, I chose to postpone further formal education and became an associate pastor.

For four years I served a mid-size, conservative, Evangelical congregation. My experience there was similar to Karl Barth’s, since I too found a different set of issues in the parish than in the classroom. The optimism I’d discovered in Fosdick and liberalism did not fit here. Furthermore, the congregation was not wrestling with the problem of evil or hammering out arguments for the existence of God.

In my attempt to find intellectually sound solutions to the problems I found in the parish, I turned to the contemporary Catholic theologian Hans Küng. He offered helpful language with which to articulate responsible answers to these concrete questions. It was in this setting that I determined to set a course for my life by which I could receive training to help others asking similar faith questions. So, off to an Evangelical seminary I went.

My pastoral background proved helpful while in seminary by keeping me attuned to both practical and theoretical issues. Though my inclination was still toward classes in philosophy of religion, I continued to minister as an associate pastor in a young church. It was at the Masters level that I became thoroughly exposed to the ideas of those labeled “Neo-orthodox.” I read nearly all the influential texts, but Paul Tillich particularly impressed me. His attempts to correlate the gospel with the concerns of the culture, his creative use of symbols, the categories he used to explain human existence, and his systematic use of relevant philosophical categories were all inspiring. I especially appreciated his insistence that doubt can be an element of faith. However, it was the philosophy of being upon which his approach to theology was based that eventually led me to turn toward process thought.

I can still remember the excitement I felt when I first read John Cobb and David Griffin’s Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition. Although the technical language was difficult at the time, so many of the ideas I encountered seemed to fit. Many of the positions I had come to take with regard to theology I found in this book—and yet they offered more than I’d imagined.

Not long after, I read Daniel Day Williams’ The Spirit and the Forms of Love and my interest in process theology deepened. Here was a philosophical theology of love from which I could find so much help. Marjorie Suchocki’s God-ChristChurch was helpful as well. I found myself gobbling up all the process oriented books I could find and scouring their indices to discover other process resources.

In my final year of seminary I was introduced to Deconstruction through the writings of Jacques Derrida and Mark C. Taylor. I found Deconstruction wanting and my reading of Derrida only solidified my interest in process thought. The work of David Griffin was influential here as I probed deeper into the insights I had previously overlooked in Whitehead’s philosophy. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of my voyage into Deconstructive Postmodernism was to discover the speculative side of process thought.

Since my religious experiences have been so diverse, I have a great appreciation for Whitehead’s attempt to take all experience into account when developing a metaphysic. The process model allows me to acknowledge specific elements in each theological tradition as helpful and then appropriate them. For instance, I can hold fast to the erotic/passion I felt as a Fundamentalist without buying into an exclusivistic, narrow worldview. I can value the emphasis upon the Holy Spirit evident in the Charismatic movement without identifying all ecstatic manifestations as determined by God. I can treasure the Bible as the result of divine inspiration without asserting its inerrancy.

I can genuinely hope for the possibility of a better world in the future without succumbing to liberal, romantic optimism. Traditional notions of the omnipotence, omniscience, benevolence and omnipresence of God now make sense—though these attributes have been defined in new ways. And, of course, the black clouds that hung over my head with the words “problem of evil” etched on them have evaporated.

In sum, process thought has given me a framework out of which I can selectively appropriate my past without embracing those elements I find objectionable. In light of my adventure in faith, I am grateful for this.


Nazarene Youth Conference 2023 Bad News: Beware of These Speakers (Possibly Others)

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 on Chic-Fil-A Owner Being Anti-Homosexuality

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.

Other Links:

Rob Bell on homosexuality: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/rob-bell-and-andrew-wilson-discuss-homosexuality-some-thoughts/

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

Are there Pro-LGBT Faculty Teaching Ministry Students at Northwest Nazarene University?

Earlier this year, I came across what is now a 34 page letter outlining some concerns about NNU by a recent graduate of the school, Sean Killackey (BA Religious Studies). This letter covers several topics, most notably LGBT issues. If what it says is accurate, there are several pro-LGBT professors within the College of Theology and Christian Ministries (CTCM).

Shortly after reading this letter and looking through the various pieces of evidence this student had accumulated, I wrote to several CTCM faculty whom he had mentioned. I asked them questions such as: “Do you believe that homosexual practices and gay marriage are sinful transgressions of God’s law?” While I did not receive any direct answers to these questions from the faculty whom I had contacted, I did have a brief email correspondence with one of the professors, Dr. Richard Thompson, Professor of New Testament and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Our conversation did not remove the concerns that I had as a result from reading this letter. While he described it as “filled with material taken out of context, misconstrued, misquoted . . . if not perhaps fabricated, and/or seriously misunderstood,” his characterization seemed to ring hollow. He and his faculty refused to answer what I believe to be very straightforward questions. If what this former student was saying about them (i.e., that several of them are pro-LGBT) was not correct, why not deny that directly? Moreover, if all of the things this student had said about current and former NNU professors, such as Dr. Bankard, Dr. Smerick, and Dr. Riley (see below) were false, why was Dr. Thompson unwilling to refute the particular pieces of evidence I had mentioned?

Professor Thompson was willing to deny at least one of the statements that Sean had ascribed to him, namely, that if there were enough loving homosexual couples then what the Bible means for us today would have to be reassessed. He says that he did not say this. However, if this is meant to be an indication that the letter as a whole is unreliable, it was not persuasive to me. At best it is a stand-off between two contrary recollections of what was or was not said in a certain conversation that neither you or I were present for. It is possible that this student misrecalled what Dr. Thompson had said (though, for a few reasons, I do not think this is that likely). Even if he had mis-recalled what was said, there are other claims that are directly confirmed by emails, recordings, screenshots of social media statements, etc., that appear to be accurate.

Recently, I discovered that about two months ago the former student had sent out a brief letter to Nazarene churches in the northwest United States that links to a one-and-a-half page summary document. I encourage anyone who is interested in this matter to read it. Below are a few quotations from it:

Dr. Bankard, Professor of Philosophy

He has preached several pro-LGBT sermons. In one of these, “Hide and Seek: Say No to Fear” (September 24, 2017), he relates a time when a student came out as gay to him. [Evidence] This may be the same student whom several persons refer to when they say that one of their female relatives came out as gay to Dr. Bankard and Dr. Oord, whose pro-LGBT views are well known.

Dr. Smerick, Professor of Philosophy

She has often tweeted, liked, or retweeted pro-LGBT and pro-abortion messages. Among these are several messages expressing support for students protesting against Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian college, to get them to revise their student handbook, remove its prohibition against homosexual practices, and hire LGBT faculty. [Evidence]

Dr. Kipp, Professor of Youth and Family Ministry

On several occasions, despite being asked Dr. Kipp has refrained from giving his opinion on the permissibility of homosexual practices. [Evidence] [Evidence] [Evidence] However, he was willing to say, “Wesleyans have a wide range of views of marriage (‘gay marriage’),” and, “I’m confident that our OT and NT scholars in CTCM [Dr. Riley, now at the University of Denver, and Dr. Thompson] will not agree, wholeheartedly, that St. Paul or the writer of Leviticus, is describing the same behaviors that a same-sex marriage would include.” [Evidence]

My Followup Questions To Dr. Akkerman, Dr. Peterson, and Dr. Thompson

In preparation for this post, I recently reached out again to three NNU faculty members: Dr. Jay Akkerman, Assistant to the President for Congregational Engagement; Dr. Brent Peterson, Dean of the College of Theology and Christian Ministries; and Dr. Richard Thompson. The only significant response I received (as of writing this) has been from Dr. Thompson. I will relate that in a future post. Suffice it for now to note that he continues to insist that what Sean has claimed is unreliable. He states that he and his faculty all continue to support and uphold the Manual’s statement on sexuality, even if they do not feel obligated to affirm every “jot and tittle” in it.

A Sample of Some of the Evidence

Below are just a few examples of the sort of evidence that Dr. Thompson alleges are ‘cherry-picked’. Judge for yourselves.

1) This is an excerpt from Sean’s longer letter about NNU’s College of Theology. It contains two verifiable quotations from Dr. Bankard, a philosophy professor at NNU.

2) This is a screenshot of one of the pro-LGBT tweets that Dr. Smerick, a philosophy professor at NNU, liked. Is it proper for a philosophy professor at a Nazarene university to celebrate LGBT activists bullying a Christian college?

3) This is a screenshot of just one of Dr. Riley’s many pro-LGBT and pro-abortion tweets, retweets, and liked tweets (“biology is not destiny” is a pro-transgenderism sound bite, “reproductive rights” is an euphemism for abortion, and “sexual . . . rights” is probably an assertion of a pro-gay marriage position).

When The Leadership of the Church Fails: The Sin of Silence

(Pastor Joe Staniforth) – Reposted from June, 2011

[This post by Pastor Joe Staniforth is more relevant now than it was eleven years ago]

[On June 6, 2011] I awoke to hear some tragic news. The Reverend David Wilkerson had been killed in a car accident in our own state of Texas. Although I had never met Wilkerson, you could say that I had grown up with him. At about the age of 12, I was absorbed by his ministry in the slums of New York, when I read “The Cross and the Switchblade.” In more recent years, I have been particularly inspired by his boldness to stand for truth. No matter how popular the questioning of truth may have been, he would not be silent. He spoke as one crying in a wilderness of heresy, and served to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. His dying words to the church are recorded in his final blog entry, “When All Means Fail.”: “Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.”

In this first essay, I would like to focus on the title of Brother David’s last words, “When all Means Fail.” Though the contents of this essay may be dire, I assure the reader that there is great reason for hope. In the next essay, I will be focusing on the hope that we have if we “stand fast in His Word.”

Injustice has become common place in the 21st Century. Wherever we look, to the courthouse, the Whitehouse or the workhouse – your place of employment – we see such injustice. Systems designed by man to assure man that justice will be served have fallen short of expectations. Criminals go unpunished and the innocent are unrewarded for crimes against them. Men whom we have elected as Justices of the Peace have failed to uphold the promises that their title demands. All means of justice seemed to have failed us.

Many have turned to a denomination or a parachurch for solace. Like boats in a dark and dangerous harbor, cast about by the wickedness of the age, they have expected to see a lighthouse that would “hold fast” to the rock that is Christ – “the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14). Instead, they have only found a “church” made by men out of mirrors. There is no light of divine justice going out, only a dark reflection of an unfair world. The lighthouse has become just like the courthouse, the Whitehouse or the workhouse. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness” (Isaiah 59:9). My dear friends, please understand, I take no delight in judgment. My heart weeps with prophets such as David Wilkerson who spoke these words with tear-stained eyes: “The hour is getting late and its getting serious. Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the Church, is now married to the world?” (“A Call to Anguish” by David Wilkerson)

Many false teachers have risen among us, and have served to corrupt souls, as criminals corrupt society. No one denomination or parachurch is immune. Christian universities, colleges and houses of worship have become contaminated with professors and pastors who simply will not “hold fast” to the authority of scripture. They would rather pump a humanistic gospel* into the minds of the young and unaware student, as the insubordinate serpent perverted the mind of Eve with his venom. They have no regard for God’s condemnation of humanism: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man” (Jeremiah 17:5). I can only think of the abominable practice of sacrificing a child to the god, Moloch (Lev. 20:2) when a young student enters into one of these institutions. What is worse? A child that burns as a sacrifice to a foreign god, or a soul that burns in hell because he was deceived in a so-called “Christian” college? Are they not both the outcome of false teaching?

However, I do not believe that my grief is due to false teaching or false teachers. If you buy a dog, there is a certainty that it will bark. If you hire a false teacher, or invite one to a conference, you can be sure that he will bark his heresy. Furthermore, a dog will do other things that you will regard as revolting: “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly” (II Peter 2:22). The failure within the church lies at the feet of the leader who knows better, yet says nothing when a heretic howls or heaves his teaching. The man of God is not a Justice of the Peace who has been elected by man. He has been elected by the Just Judge to stand firm against foul doctrine.

When God warned the Israelites about sacrificing their children to Molech, there was a death sentence pronounced for those who did nothing, as well as those that committed this foul deed:

“And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.” (Leviticus 20:4,5)

According to the law, “the people of the land” had a duty to ensure that justice was done when heresy reared its ugly head. Instead, many would “hide their eyes” like an ostrich with his head in the sand, and the demands of the law were not met. They knew better, but refused to act, and the justice of God was not served.

This justice must now be served by the leadership within the church. They are God’s chosen means through which justice must come – “to judge them that are within”! (I Corinthians 5:12). The Apostle Paul did not to put his head in the sand when he stood before the elders of Ephesus. He didn’t count his life dear to himself (Acts 20:24). He declared to all who would 3 dare to stand behind a pulpit to “take heed.” There would be two types of wolves – false teachers – that would prey on their flocks: Those that would enter the church from the outside (Acts 20:29), and, the most dangerous of all, those that would rise up among them from the inside (Acts 20:30) – the ones with sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). His word of command for all shepherds to heed – “watch”!

The word “watch” is not an inactive verb, indicating that the shepherd merely serves as the casual observer of wolves, as these four-legged heretics enter the fold to devour the sheep. A shepherd was called upon to put his life at risk when danger came. This was an indication that he loved the Church, “as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus told Peter, the first elder in the Christian church, that the love of God resulted in taking care of the sheep (John 21:16).

The young shepherd, David, served as an Old Testament type of the New Testament pastor. When the bear and the lion came and took a lamb from the flock, he did more than hide his eyes. He defended the sheep. This was his calling and his command. Also, these were his credentials (I Samuel 17:34) when he stood before the giant wolf, Goliath, on the battle field and rebuked him publically: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom thou hast defied” (I Samuel 17:45). With his sling in hand and the faith of a true warrior of the Lord, he was used by the Almighty to bring about justice.

Nevertheless, there are elders who have failed the church. Their office walls are crowded with paper credentials, but they lack the courage to “watch” when the wolves come prowling. They would rather “hide their eyes” in the sand of meaningless duties, as the devil mocks the armies of the living God and lambs become open season for his pack of softly-spoken deceivers. This is not a time for faint-heartedness, in this age of great apostasy. The faint-hearted were removed from the ranks of Israel before captains were chosen to lead them. Such leaders were dangerous because they caused others to be faint-hearted (Deuteronomy 20:8.9). A faint-hearted pastor causes the flock to be faint-hearted when the wolf prowls!

The Scriptures have demanded that the leaders in the church, like Timothy, respond with personal and public rebuke (I Timothy 5:19,20; 2 Timothy 4:14; 2 Peter 2:15-16a; 3 John:9-10). This is the sling of justice that must be used on the battlefield, against the subtleties of the serpent, to bring his giants of academia to the ground. We cannot be in fear of their intellects, as the human mind can do nothing against the weapons of God that are not carnal. The “weapons of our warfare” are for “casting down imagination** and every high thing that exalteth itself against God” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). No matter how big and impressive “the fruits of their thoughts” and books may appear, the Lord will bring evil upon them, because they have rejected the wisdom of God (Jeremiah 6:19). Like Goliath, they have openly “defied” the Almighty! (I Samuel 17:45).

If such rebuke is not heeded, then there remains only one option – removal! False teaching is a spiritual harlotry that will corrupt the body of Christ, just as the human body is defiled by a promiscuous lifestyle. The prophet Hosea defined the harlotry of Israel as a “departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). This “departing” was instigated by false teaching (Hosea 4). Paul was grieved by the church in Corinth because they kept company with fornicators (I Corinthians 5:11). To ensure that justice was done within the church, God breathed His command through the pen of the apostle: “put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (I Corinthians 5:13; see also Romans 16:17). As the head of Goliath left his body because his mouth had offended the Lord, so must the false teachers and their teaching be cut from the bride of Christ, lest she become defiled.

Many brothers and sisters, who have been grieved by the state of the church or have had loved ones deceived by false teachers, have pleaded with leadership.  Their cry for justice has been in vain.  Instead of rebuke and removal, they have received nothing but silence from those who have been called to watch.     

As a member of a group called “Concerned Nazarenes”, a group that is united by a common grief over false teaching, I have heard many heart-breaking stories from men and women who have been faithful to both Christ and His church.  This was the first story to capture my attention. 

Several years ago, a young man attended a Bible study in Southern California where I presided as a youth pastor.  He was excited about the teaching of the Word, and wanted to stay.    He had to return to a school known as Point Loma Nazarene University to complete his theological training.  After two years of liberal teaching he joined an emergent church with a gay pastor.  His grandparents were broken-hearted.  People pleaded with the administration for answers, but received only silence.  There was the usual politeness, but no one was held accountable for the soul of this young student. 

The stories are many, but the answer still remains the same – silence.  This epidemic of “hush-hush” has worked its way, like leaven, through the lump of entire denominations.   Anywhere from the local church to these academic institutions that train future shepherds, leaders who are supposed to be “separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1) have chosen silence instead of scripture.      

To the Silent Elder

Paul opened his mouth to warn the church, so that the blood of the bride would not be upon his hands.  He warned the church before the wolves came, but you have heard the wolves howl from lecterns and pulpits and said nothing!  Do you believe you will be acquitted with the blood of souls on your hands when you stand before Christ?  Do not neglect the warning of James: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin” (James 4:17)

*The purpose of this essay is not to expose false teaching.  There are many fine apologists who have done this time and time again.  Just understand for now that in the heart of every false teacher there is a desire to elevate man to a status of a god.  This is accomplished by making God look more human, or man more divine.  The father of all false teachers first fed mankind this lie in the garden – “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5) – and many have fallen prey over the centuries.

** Reasoning that is contrary to the Christian faith.