The following question was recently asked, and I thought I would contribute in hopes of helping this person, as well as other Christians- Nazarene or otherwise. I hope this helps. I don’t have all the answers. No one does, except One. God has the answers. God does know the future. God does not make mistakes and learns from them. He is perfect, He is without error. On that fact we can depend on. He holds us in His hand. We can trust Him even in the midst of our own uncertainty. Thank God for that!
Question: My husband and I were both 4th generation Nazarenes. We both attended Nazarene schools and graduated in 1997/1998. When we started having children we really started noticing the emergent direction of the Nazarene Church and decided to leave (7 years ago). We really struggled to find a church and still after 3 years with our “home church” are a little unsettled. What is your advice for those with young children who want to raise their children the way we were raised? Both of our families were very conservative and believed in the conservative Nazarene doctrines. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.
From my five years of involvement in this battle, here are some observations and conclusions I and others have come to. The problem in the church begins with the fact that many of our leaders and pastors no longer believe that the entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. If this foundation is destroyed, what else is left but for everything else to crumble? The world is full of evil, and it seems the most dangerous kind is being found within the church today.
1. The leadership of the Nazaren church is pretty much invested with emergent ideology and other false doctrines and practices, the embracing of Roman Catholic practices, contemplative mysticism, open theism, a relaxation of the biblical teaching on the sin of homosexuality, and even promoting evolution openly. When I say leadership, it includes some on the General Board (Middendorf and Porter) who have been shown to be promoters of some of these false movements.
Dr. Porter for instance is a big advocate of the G-12 (Master’s Plan) movement, which particularly has caused great harm to Spanish-speaking Nazarene churches, but the movement is also influential in parts of Brazil and other countries, as well as here in North America. He is also involved with radical political social justice organizations. It has also been documented that Dr. Middendorf promotes the emergent church movement, along with his son Jon.
The other Generals from the past eight years at the very least have shown no leadership at all on these matters, and mainly are indifferent or blind to what is going on. In my opinion, I believe they are mostly interesting in pursuing the financial bottom line and keeping the numbers growing in order to help the church get out of serious financial debt. Several years ago, there was a sexual abuse scandal that involved the Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Missouri as well as Southern Nazarene University, which cost the denomination an unspecified amount of money to settle the case. I believe this and other problems have brought the denomination into serious financial crisis, to the point that even some church properties are being sold, growing congregations disbanded, and then coffee houses are being setup to replace these churches, without regard to the members.
Others in leadership are also either buying into this stuff, or ignoring it completely, including many district superintendents, the college presidents (based on not voicing anything at all at best, or promoting these things at worst, such as Dan Boone of Trevecca), and many, many pastors and others in leadership positions. A few leaders have boldly spoken out, such as Dr. Orville Jenkins, Jr., in opposition to emergent ideology and the social justice emphasis, but that is a rare exception. Thus, where the leadership goes, so goes the denomination in general. In short, I believe the denomination is damaged beyond repair, barring a complete and radical repentance of the General Superintendents and others in power.
The Church of the Nazarene, with some exceptions, is not the church of Philadelphia, it is not the church of Smyrna. It is more like the other five churches: a church that has forsaken its first love; a church that needs to repent; a church that has false prophets; a church that has fallen asleep; and a church that has a lukewarm faith. Jesus did not take kindly to any of these churches, so what can we conclude as to what He thinks of the Church of the Nazarene now? Does anyone really think that our Lord has no issue with professors teaching our students that Adam and Eve did not really exist, even though Christ Himself attested to his existen
Is There Anything Good?
Holding the line inside our generally apostate denomination are the following: local churches that have decided to stand firm and stick a thumb in the eye to the leadership, by simply and respectfully rejecting the false, and preaching the word of God. I am sure that many in leadership position go apoplectic whenever they hear that a local pastor proclaims that the Bible is completely and totally God’s inerrant word! Did you know that a licensed minister in my New England district, was told by the licensing board a few years ago, that most likely he would not be approved for ordination. Why? Because he was guilty of attesting to the fact that he believed that the Bible was the inspired and inerrant word of God. Imagine being rejected for believing in the word of God, yet many others being ordained who believe open theism, the teaching that God cannot possibly know all of the future. This is our Church of the Nazarene today, and not one of these leaders can refute these facts.
There are few of these faithful churches left, but they are there, and we are thankful for those churches that remain true to the word of God. Also holding the line are most of our evangelists, yet, I believe the problem there is that there are fewer and fewer invites for evangelists to preach at churches, especially emergent churches. No wonder, since the evangelists actually believe in the word of God! And finally, there are the individuals and families who are hanging in there inside the walls of some of these churches, fighting hard to warn the brothers and sisters. I cannot count the many letters I have received over the last five years, including from across the ocean, detailing the sorrow at what is happening in their church or district. They speak of the disappointment as they realize their pastor is simply getting annoyed at them for asking questions. They speak of how if they persist in getting answers, they end up getting ostracized, they end up being spoken of as the “troublemakers’ and “dividers”, and they eventually have no choice to leave. And I can’t begin to tell you how this has affected more Nazarenes than I can imagine, some who left a church they were a member of for over 50 years.
My Advice Based On The Current Condition Of the Church
Your own decisions in this matter is ultimately up to you after seeking God’s direction through much prayer and reading of His word. As we always tell everyone, don’t take our word for it. Use biblical discernment, investigate the facts, and reject anything that does not line up with the word of God.
For those with young children, especially, you MUST protect them even more! You cannot bring young children into a toxic environment where you wonder whether the Sunday School teacher is indoctrinating them with all sorts of foolishness. That is one reason that I was also glad to leave my church, because of lack of solid biblical instruction from “teachers” who lacked discernment and knowledge of God’s word.
Option 1: Some may have to leave their church, even if they have been a member for many years. Ultimately, a Christian must be true to God first and always, above allegiance to any pastor, church board, church members; above any kind of need for fellowship, or the need to keep their friends, or even the need to keep their children from getting hurt by losing their friends. I know, because my family has been there, and done that. We have experienced what it is like to be betrayed by a pastor who we trusted, and we have experienced the ostracizing that comes from simply speaking the truth. We have experienced the loneliness from waiting for even one church member to call us. Yet, we had no choice but to make the right decision regardless of the consequences. Should a Christian decide to stay and “fight”, that may be what they should do. But they also may need to shake the dust off their feet if they reach the conclusion that it is pointless to continue “fighting” those who persist in remaining in darkness.
Option 2: They may have to leave the church, and also they may have to leave the denomination. I have letters from these type of Nazarenes. They had to leave their church, and could not find a single Nazarene church in the area as a good alternative. How sad that this happens so often, more that we perhaps can know. But does one try to stay a Nazarene at all costs, or have we forgotten that the true church is comprised not of the Nazarene denomination, but of those faithful Christians from many other denominations who are true believers. It is almost like an idolatrous adoration towards the Nazarene denomination, with an attitude of “I will never leave my Nazarene denomination, no matter what.” If anyone has that kind of attitude, I truly feel sorry for them. They have lost sight of the true church of Jesus Christ.
The bottom line is that we ought to be faithful to Christ, not to a denomination, or a pastor, or to what has become a social club in many churches. We cannot fret about any kind of “loyalty” to the denomination, and must take care of what we need to take care of. It’s not worth any denomination, and in many ways, denominationalism has led to many of the problems in the church today. We don’t need denominations, as much as we need strong local churches whose pastors preach unashamedly the whole counsel of God. If there is to be a walking away by many from the denomination, then God will lead them away. If there is to be a new holiness movement, God will direct it. If not, we should not be concerned about it, but just be faithful to God.
Find a good, Bible believing church that preaches the truth, and stick with it. But even so, always be a Berean.
Walter Martin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78wRKmmnwhY
Church Scandal: http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=7gQDhjd93L4