Replying To An Open Letter By A Pastor

Dear Rev. Barnard,

This past week, I read your Open Letter To Concerned Nazarenes.  (Your letter in it’s entirety is the end of this response).  As always in such letters to us, it fell flat on its face, and I would think that you even possibly regretted it later.  Perhaps your emotions got the best of you, or maybe an unhealthy admiration for your friends has clouded your judgment, and instead of taking an opportunity to refute our claims using Scripture- well, you went the easier route of character assassination.  It clearly lacked substance, there was no verifiable support for your accusations, and you simply used personal attack on us, instead of attacking what we believe and showing where we are wrong.  I am responding primarily because perhaps it can be a eye-opening moment for some of your friends who may be on the fence, and don’t really know what’s going on.

Our efforts from day one have been to expose false teachings in the church, and to wake up people to what is happening in our denomination.  We certainly have tried very hard to elicit some kind of biblical defense from those who oppose us, but all we seem to get in return are such writings that have no merit biblically. So you missed a great opportunity to refute what we believe with scriptural support; instead all you used was personal attacks, which is the substance of your letter.

You said at the start, “… someone needs to speak truth to you.”  Yet your letter is only infused with personal and unsubstantiated attacks throughout, finishing with words such as: “I wish you the best in life”, “Grace and Peace.”  What a contradiction to end your letter in such a manner.

 

So let’s see some of the things that were “clearly and lovingly” said by you:
“you are THUGS.”  “you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine”; “you choose personal and vile attacks; “your bitter hyperbole”;  “we are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.”

And here is how some of your friends responded:

Former Eastern Nazarene College professor Karl Giberson said “Their righteous rants are nothing but thoroughly carnal and self-centered acts of hate. In another era they were the people who physically persecuted people for their beliefs.”  (This is a man who does not believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word and has deceived many students over the years).
One of your supporters considers your letter as an example of “civil discourse.” And yet another said that your letter is “Clearly and lovingly said.”  Pastor John Brickley agreed with Dan Boone’s characterization of us as “Nazarene Taliban…. their actions are shameful and they bring shame to the cause of Christ.  David Wesley, a professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary said  None of us should put up with our brothers in Christ being beaten up by a group of thugs.” Pastor David Pettigrew said, “The only response to bullies is to stand up to them. They won’t go away on their own. They have absolutely no courage or shame.”

We’ve been called other names before, but never a THUG until now.  ( You changed THUGS to BULLIES later, but… is that supposed to make us feel better?).  You are apparently upset at how Concerned Nazarenes have “attacked” some “good and Godly men and women in the Church of the Nazarene”.  You seem to think that to judge and challenge their ideologies and beliefs is, in your words, “un-Godly behavior” and “un-Biblical.”  You defended Rev. Gabriel Salguerro, who some of us recently rebuked for praying at the Democrat National Convention, and for his promotion of the un-Godly Wildgoose Festival.

We will take a look at some of these friends you mentioned.  Remember, no one is above scrutiny, and the Bible gives us instructions to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), and also tells us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim 4:2-5)  There is also Paul’s sobering words in Galatians 1: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  We are warned in Ephesians 5 to “let no one deceive you with empty words.”  And in Colossians 2:8, see this warning: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

So these are the words of God, and I could cite even more examples that clearly gives warning to us that we should not fall asleep spiritually, and for us to “contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  The only question remaining is, who is rightly dividing the word of truth, you or us?  Both cannot be correct.

 

Here are short summaries of some of the friends you defended:

Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University: Promotes a prayer labyrinth at Trevecca.  He changed the name to “prayer walk” when we exposed it.  Promotes yearly trips to a Roman Catholic monastery where students practice contemplative mysticism (the silence).  He uncharitably calls fundamental Christians jihadists and intolerant and suggests that people “stun them (CNs) with our silence”, while ironically writing a book called Charitable Discourse.  Allows many books by contemplatives to be available at Trevecca’s campus.  Claims that some of the Psalms were borrowed from pagans cultures.  Wrote a few years  ago that “I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.”  (Since then that has been removed).

 

Thomas Jay Oord, professor at Northwest Nazarene University: Promotes the twin heresies of open theism (God does not know everything) and process theology (God learns from His mistakes).  Supports evolution.  Does not believe sin and death came by way of the disobedience of Adam (as told directly to me).  Questions propositional truth and attacks the doctrine of inerrancy in the book Postmodern and Wesleyan.

Doug Hardy, professor of Spiritual Formation at Nazarene Theological Seminary:  Teaches occultism to future pastors at the seminary (Celtic Spirituality).  Promotes many books written by Roman Catholic mystics.  He is on the board of Spiritual Directors International, which promotes spiritual direction regardless of religion, and also prayer labyrinths.  Their mission statement says: “Throughout human history, individuals have been called to accompany others seeking the Mystery we name God. In this time, Spiritual Directors International responds to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”

Karl Giberson, former professor at Eastern Nazarene College: Promotes the heretical teaching of evolution, which denies the biblical account in Genesis.  Does not believe Adam and Eve existed in the Genesis account.  Believes that much of the Bible is fiction.  He openly mocks fundamentalist Christians, including one of his big critics, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.  He wrote Saving Darwin: How To Be A Christian and Believe In Evolution.  Sadly, Dr. Randall Stephens has taken up his mantle at ENC.

Kevin Ulmet, Pastor of Nashville First Church: Wrote a scathing article in Holiness Today, attacking us with even more ugly words than you have used.  He too was praised by many Nazarenes for writing such a loving and “spirit-filled” article.  Amazing what some people can make themselves see, even if it is not true.  It was far from spirit-filled.  His words were an insult to the many Godly men and women I have met in the past four years during our work in alerting Nazarenes and other Christians.  As were his words, Rev. Barnard, your words were also unbecoming for an ordained elder in the church.

Jon Middendorf, Pastor of OKC First Church: One of the prime pushers of the emergent church movement in the Nazarene denomination and son of a General Superintendent.  His church used to, and perhaps still does, share communion services at a Roman Catholic Church.  He and his friend, Rev. Scott Daniels, promoted the emergent church and its mystical false teachers at a seminar at General Assembly in 2009.  We sat in the front row and eagerly waited to ask questions, but it was not offered except for personal questions after the seminar. (See Conversation With An Emergent Pastor).

Jesse Middendorf, General Superintendent: Dr. Middendorf was there that day at General Assembly, as he proudly (I assume) sat in the room to watch Jon promote the emergent church.  When pastor Joe spoke up and asked Dr. Middendorf if any Nazarenes who had concerns about the emergent church would ever get the chance to voice their opinion, his response to us was: “That’s not likely.”  Dr. Middendorf is a supporter of the emergent church and spiritual formation, whether through promoting the retreat back in 2009 at General Assembly, or through his silence.

 

So these are very brief summaries of a few of the folks you defended. The challenge before you, if you would take it, is to defend these specific teachings and practices that I mentioned.  However, your defense would not be acceptable unless it is with the use of Holy Scripture, and not by your own personal opinion.  You must not take scripture out of context as well (for example, using Matthew 7:1 to “prove” that we should never judge; or, using Psalm 46:10 to justify the mystical practice of “the silence”, as Dan Boone did).  If you accept the challenge, that’s great.  If not, that’s fine also, we will understand.

The same trend has continued for several years now, and it is the same.  You see, those who criticize us and call us “unloving” and “hateful” and “dividers”, have never really tried to correct us, as loving Christians ought to.  Instead, they have resorted to the only arrow in their quiver: personal attacks, like yours. We go after the false teachings, and yes, we do sometimes sound harsh, because when going after false teachings, we are commanded in scripture to “reprove, and rebuke”, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5), and to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 2:1).

So if you or your friends are to respond, please do so without meaningless, unsupported and baseless attacks.  What I really pray for is that you will look seriously again at what we are saying and compare it with Scripture, that’s all.  We are not concerned about feelings being hurt; we are concerned for the truth of God’s word.  We are concerned for you.

Manny Silva

 

 Additional Resources: Why People Hate Those Who Expose False Teaching (Tim Wirth)

Deluding Influence by John Henderson

 

 

Rev. Barnard’s Original Post: An Open Letter to Members of Concerned Nazarenes:

If you are part of that “group”, you may want to stop reading now and unfriend me. It will save you some anguish. But someone needs to speak truth to you. Since you BLOCK your FB page and only allow those that support your cause to post there, and since I can’t message you, I’m forced to break my own rule and use my page to express my thoughts without first engaging you privately (though I’m sure it would be of little use).

I have followed your comments, rants, ravings, posts, and visual media since you debuted your DVD around our General Assembly in 2009. I have read what you write on blogs, posts, comments, Twitter, Facebook, NazNet, and NCNNews among other outlets. I believe I have formed an accurate and honest perspective on your cause. 

You aren’t Concerned, you’re angry. You aren’t Nazarene, you’re judgmental. 

In short – some of you are THUGS.

 I watched today as you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine and fellow Nazarene pastors, Gabriel & Jeanette Vargas Salguero, on the NCNNews Message Board. You have attacked good and Godly women and men in the Church of the Nazarene, such as Dan Boone, Thomas Jay Oord, Doug Hardy, Mark Maddix, Kevin Ulmet, Loren Gresham, Jon Middendorf, Jesse C Middendorf, Karl Giberson, Dan Bohi, Diane Cunningham Leclerc, among others. In doing so, you don’t enter into constructive dialogue, you choose personal and vile attacks. It’s un-Godly behavior; it’s un-Biblical; and it’s time someone stood up and told you so. That’s where I come in.

Feel free to google me (you won’t find much), listen to my conversations (all on-line and in iTunes), read my FB page (it’s public), follow me on Twitter (again, public), and in general add me to your list of those that deserve your bitter hyperbole. I’ll gladly take it if it means I’m in the likes of those YOU currently call “enemies of the church”. These General & District Superintendents, faculty and college presidents, chaplains and officers in our military, student leaders on our Nazarene campuses, and pastors and parsonage families, have done nothing TO YOU, yet you feel the need to RISE up against them. Shame on you. Shame on your cause.

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you want to UNFRIEND me. No problem. In fact, if you are friends with me AND part of the FB Concerned Nazarene group, I’ll likely UNFRIEND you. It’s not that I don’t value my FB friends who have differing opinions than me, or that I don’t learn from them (just read my recent political posts) – but they truly are interested in TRUTH. You are interested in getting your own way. I don’t need you in my life.

I’ll pray for you. I’ll fast for you. I’ll care what you do with your life, and how God will respond to you on judgment day (though if I were you I wouldn’t hold out hope for mercy). But I won’t waste time trying to understand you. We are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.

I wish you the best in life…HONESTLY, I do!

Grace & Peace — Bruce Barnard, a HOPEFUL NAZARENE!

PS – this is a NOTE, not a post…it’s sharable if you so choose…

Who Are We To Judge? Answering The Question

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

“I would rather tell you the hurtful truth, than pretend that all is well and good.”  A pastor friend recently responded to an article I posted by David Cloud, Being A Friend To Sinners: The Emergent Way.  (Original source)

I wanted to share my response to him, as his thoughts reflect what many other pastors and laypeople believe. It is vital to keep providing facts and evidence to our Christian brothers and sisters, even as they continue to be shocked by what they see as uncaring and hateful words, improper judgmentalism, and “divisiveness.”   we have been called haters by such as “pastor” Steve Furtick.  My objective is to show them the truth even if it hurts, and to show that what we are doing is the most loving thing we can do in the face of apostasy today: expose and call out the false teachers, and warn the believers of the danger they are facing, dangers that threaten their very spiritual well-being.  We do this as friends, and because it is a biblical mandate.  As always, I am open to correction from the word of God.

From A Pastor Friend:

    “Wasn’t Jesus accused of the same behavior: being a friend of sinners and publicans? He befriended multitudes, but most of them did not come to repentance.   There is a time, a place, and a way for everything. We need to stop this war against the Church just because some choose to do things differently.  Who are we to be judging others? Are we so full of ourselves that we cannot see that we are hurting the Church rather than heal her? What we need (all of us without exception) is an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Shorter than this is just nonsense.”

Dear Brother, thanks for the comments.

Yes, Jesus was indeed a friend to sinners.  The stark difference is this: He befriended them, BUT He always pointed them to their only real need; their need for spiritual re-birth.  Not so with the emergent crowd and the man-pleasers of today in our denomination and others.  These people focus on becoming friends with unbelievers, and emphasize following “the way of Jesus” by doing good deeds, and practicing the “let’s all get along philosophy” of the emergents, ecumenists and New Evangelical crowd.

So here is the problem.  For all their good intentions of living “in community”, of being a friend to the world, of being non-judgmental and accepting of everyone, they lose sight of the “main thing.”  They ignore the most important thing that Jesus ALWAYS did: He showed the sinner his need of a Savior to pull him out of the miry clay of sin.  That is what is so wrong with the church today, as David Cloud pointed out in the article.  Too many in the church are focusing solely on being friends to sinners, to the detriment of their real need.  I quote from the article again:

“Gurganus is saying we should befriend the unsaved, but he is not saying what the emerging church is saying.  Gurganus is saying that the objective is not merely to befriend the unsaved but to win them to Christ!”

I hope you read that article again by brother Cloud.  It is so right on and biblically solid, I don’t see what objection you have to it, but I am open to biblical correction, as I am sure brother Cloud is also.  Many in the Nazarene church today and other denominations are failing to emphasize the Gospel.  Not the social gospel; not the environmental gospel; not another Jesus; but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which teaches that nothing is more important in our lives than to repent, confess our sins, and turn to Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father.  Anything that pushes aside this message, or waters it down to a works-based gospel, is not the true gospel; it is doctrines of demons.  And I am sorry to say, but this is being disseminated in the Church of the Nazarene by our leaders and many university presidents, and by many district superintendents and pastors who are byproducts of Nazarene Theological Seminary, a school which is shamefully condoning the teaching of occultism and contemplative spirituality.  (Please refer to Proverbs 27:6 again before you get offended at what I just said).

You said:  “There is a time, a place, and a way for everything. We need to stop this war against the Church just because some choose to do things differently.”

It is not that some are doing things differently; it is that those different ways are contradictory to biblical principles. You must realize that we are fighting a war against Satan, and not against the Church.  We are in the middle of what looks like the end times apostasy.  The true Church is composed of obedient Nazarenes, Baptists, and Christians from many different denominations.  The true Church is not composed of those who are attacking the Church and its biblical foundation; the true Church is composed of those who are standing up to defend the truth of God’s word. The war against the Church will only stop when Jesus Christ returns and puts Satan away for good; in the meantime, please do not mistake me and others for being those who wage war against the Church!  We are defending the faith, we are defending the Church.  We cannot continue to ignore the cancer that is spreading within the church, and much of it is being spread by the corrupt shepherds in many of our pulpits.  As Roger Oakland said in his article on end times apostasy:

“No denomination or fellowship of churches is immune to this delusion. Even those who once stood on the simple Word of God, warning of deception and teaching the Bible  verse by verse, have fallen in the trap. The pressure is too great not to go with the flow. Even when well-respected pastors and leaders see the signs of apostasy happening in their own circles and proclaim a warning, most refuse to listen. They go on their merry way for the sake of popularity and success.”

You asked, “Who are we to be judging others?”

Answer: In the same chapter in Matthew where Jesus CLEARLY shows to us that we are to judge, He later gives us another command that, if we do not judge- we cannot keep that very commandment!  He said:

“Watch out for false prophets.   They come to you in sheep’s clothing.  But inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Matt. 7:15

How can we watch out for false prophets?  We judge them by their fruits, and whether their teachings line up with the word of God.  So we are expected by the Lord Jesus Christ to judge; but we are to judge righteously.  It is biblical; it cannot be refuted; and it is an act of disobedience to refuse to judge, because if we do, then we are disobedient to a whole bunch of other scriptures which we cannot truly obey, unless we judge!  I will point you again to a more thorough presentation on whether we should judge or not, as I have posted before, in Yomi Adegboye’s biblical answer to the question: Judge Not?

Finally, you said: “Are we so full of ourselves that we cannot see that we are hurting the Church rather than heal her? What we need (all of us without exception) is an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Shorter than this is just nonsense.”

First, what is hurting the church is not the biblical Christians who are faithful to God’s word; it is the purveyors of false doctrines, including many of our leaders, as I have documented many times.  These are hurting the Church, not folks like me.  We must put away this continuing habit of unity at the cost of compromising God’s word.

It is ironic that you mention the Holy Spirit.  I was speaking to a new sister in the Lord the other night.  She was expressing the heartbreak she and her husband are experiencing, as they see the slow infiltration of emergent ideology into their own church.  She spoke of certain things she felt inside as she listened to sermons, and heard things that just did not sound right.  I have felt the same things, as have many others.  We believe that much of that “gut feeling” that something is wrong, comes from the prompting of the Holy Spirit in us.  Much of that “feeling” has then been validated by the testimony of others, and ultimately, by the testimony of Holy Scripture.

Believe me, the Holy Spirit has led us to where we are now.  We take ridicule from our very own friends and family, and from people we know for years, who have remained blind to the truth for the sake of preserving their “fellowship.”  Worst still is the fact that many know the truth, but are deliberately compromising for their comfort, friendships, or even positions of power.  At what cost, and who will they answer to someday?

I challenge you once again to look at the facts I report on every week, and come to a conclusion based on God’s word, and nothing else.  I challenge you to come and join the many other pastors, laymen and leaders who have joined with us in the same biblical principle: that we are to please God first, and not men.

“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”  Gal 1:10

Being A Friend To Sinners: The Emergent Way

The following is excerpted from the WHAT IS THE EMERGING CHURCH? This book is available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143 (toll free phone), www.wayoflife.org (online catalog), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail).  I highly recommend the book.  It is one of the best on the emergent church phenomenon sweeping evangelicalism.

 

Being A Friend To Sinners
(originally posted at Way of Life website)

The emerging church calls upon Christians to build intimate relationships with the unsaved but not necessarily with the objective of leading them to Christ. 

Mars Hill Church in Seattle used to operate a secular rock club called Paradox which hosted hundreds of rock concerts. Senior pastor Mark Driscoll said the focus of this operation was simply to show hospitality. “So we welcomed kids into a safe place where we could build relationships of grace on Jesus’ behalf RATHER THAN PREACHING AT THE KIDS or doing goofy things like handing out tracts” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev., pp. 126, 127). 

In the eyes of emerging church leaders, distributing gospel tracts is “goofy.” 

In They Like Jesus but Not the Church, Dan Kimball begins by relating a talk he gave to a group of pastors. He told them that he spends a considerable part of his time as a pastor developing relationships with unbelievers. He said that he gets invited to [rock & roll drinking] clubs to hang out and see bands, and said that “this also is a way to hang out with and build trust and credibility with those I’m befriending” (p. 12). He said, “I shared how incredibly refreshing it is to be friends with people outside of church circles” (p. 13). When one of the pastors asked him if he had won them to Christ, he replied, “No, I’M JUST TRYING TO BE THEIR FRIEND and get to know them” (p. 14). 

When another pastor commented that the emerging generation of people are “pagans” and “they just need to hear solid preaching, which will cause them to repent of their ways,” Kimball strongly disagreed.  Kimball says the term “missional” means that “we don’t ‘bring Jesus’ to people but that we realize Jesus is active in culture and we join him in what he is doing,” and, “we serve our communities, and that we build relationships with people in them, rather than seeing them as evangelistic targets” (They Like Jesus, p. 20). 

Kimball quotes from many unsaved people that he has befriended, giving their opinions about Christ and the church, and he says: “I DIDN’T SET OUT TO PROSELYTIZE THEM; I SIMPLY MET THEM TO BEFRIEND THEM, enjoy their company, and ask their opinions. … I see them as friends, not as evangelistic targets” (p. 61).  Kimball says he thinks Christians have done more harm than good by witnessing to unbelievers using “traditional” methods of confronting them with their sin and need for Christ (p. 38). He says that instead of street witnessing we should develop “relationships in which we dialogue and build trust with people” (p. 43). 

We agree that believers should be friendly to the unsaved and should be ready to befriend them, but this friendship must be done very carefully in the context of holiness.  It is far better to invite the sinner to spend time with us than for us to spend time with them on their own turf (bars, rock concerts, and such).  And there should always be the objective of reaching the unsaved for Christ. Yes, we have an agenda, because we are commanded by our Master to preach the gospel to every person (Mark 16:15). That is the “agenda” Jesus has given us. The most important way a believer can be a friend to the unsaved is to confront him with the gospel. Assuming that hell is real and that salvation is only through faith in Christ, nothing is friendlier or more compassionate than this! 

 In his book The Peril of Islam, Gene Gurganus, who was a missionary to Muslims in Bangladesh for 17 years, gives a proper biblical philosophy of befriending unbelievers in the context of evangelism. The first of his nine suggestions for winning Muslims to Christ is the following: 

“If we are going to evangelize Muslims, the first thing we have to do is to cultivate a friendship. Saying, ‘Hello. How are you?’ is not enough. We need to come along side and get to know him, know his problems, his frustrations, his ambitions, and his fears” (p. 61). 

Gurganus is saying we should befriend the unsaved, but he is not saying what the emerging church is saying. Gurganus is saying that the objective is not merely to befriend the unsaved but to win them to Christ!   That is what we see in the life and ministry of Jesus. He was the friend of sinners par excellence and He spent time with sinners, but He never sinned in any way with sinners. Jesus was not a rock & roll “party animal.” And He most definitely had the “agenda” of saving those He befriended. He said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus did not come to earth just to make friends, to give people a sympathetic ear, and to help them in some vague sense. 

The context of Jesus’ statement in Luke 19:10 was his visit to Zacchaeus’ house, and Jesus didn’t go home with the tax collector to hang out and party; he went home with him specifically to lead him to repentance. Jesus was guilty of being “a guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7), but this simply means that he loved sinners and sought to win them to God. Jesus didn’t spend his time with sinners partying to rap music; He spent His time teaching spiritual truth.

Christ preached very plainly to people; He was not afraid of offending them with direct truth. He demanded repentance (Matthew 18:8-9; Luke 13:3-5). He instructed sinners to “sin no more” (John 8:11). He warned often of hell, at least 14 times in the Gospels, describing it as a place of fire and eternal torment (i.e., Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 11:23; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 12:5; 16:23). He warned men to cut off their hands and pluck out their eyes rather than go to hell. This type of preaching would put an end to any party! Jesus’ preaching was so plain and uncompromising that most of his own followers eventually turned away from Him because they were offended at His words and His powerful call to discipleship (John 6:60-66).

God has made us ambassadors for Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21). The believer’s chief job in this world is to urge sinners to be reconciled to Christ. This is not a peripheral part of our purpose in this present world; it is the very heart of it!  Further, our ministry to the unsaved must have a great sense of urgency to it. To preach the gospel to “every creature” necessitates this. There is not time to build an intimate relationship with every unbeliever in the world. Further, the Bible says that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). It warns against banking on tomorrow (James 4:13-14). “The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:12). We are the Lord’s ambassadors who are left in this world to proclaim this solemn message while there is still opportunity. 

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Evangelist D. L. Moody, though not one of my spiritual heroes, had it right when he said, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’”

_________________________

This article is excerpted from the WHAT IS THE EMERGING CHURCH? This book is available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143 (toll free phone), www.wayoflife.org (online catalog), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail).

Leonard Sweet New Ager? You Decide

Leonard Sweet is our topic today in a post by Tim Wirth.  When you go on Leonard’s website, he still sells his New Age-ish book Quantum Spirituality, even though in his “Response to Critics” downloadable pdf, he says he made it available as a free download.  He says, “Would I write the same book today? No.”  I would suggest that if there are serious problems in that book, and there are, that Dr. Sweet reject it completely and stop selling it.  In reading his response, he does not renounce, and has not yet done so, any of his teachings from Quantum Spirituality and several other books.  Quote from Quantum Spirituality, as an example:

A surprisingly central feature of all the world’s religions is the language of light in communicating the divine and symbolizing the union of the human with the divine: Muhammed’s light-filled cave, Moses’ burning bush, Paul’s blinding light, Fox’s “inner light,” Krishna’s Lord of Light, Bohme’s light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus’ fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini’s fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on.” P. 235

Leonard Sweet is scheduled to be in revival services along with Dr. Nina Gunter, former General Superintendent, at the Tennessee District Camp Meetings, May 29-June 3, 2012.  This confirms to me again that he is a fixture within the Nazarene denomination, although he is not Nazarene himself, and no one in serious leadership position has any problem with Sweet, who is favorable to the emergent church ideology (despite his protest), and is at best what he has been described as a New Age sympathizer.  Documented reports at the end of this post demonstrate that to be the case.  See also my post from January, “Leonard Sweet Continues Promoting Mystical Heresy.

Leonard Sweet New Ager? You Decide
(by Tim Wirth)

“The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living. The “good news” was not a new set of laws, or a new set of ethical injunctions, or a new and better PLAN. The “good news” was the story of a person’s life, as reflected in The Apostle’s Creed. The Mystery of Faith proclaims this narrative: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success . . . not wealth or health or anything else: but love. And God is love.”  Leonard Sweet

The above shows characteristic of all of these recent emerging convergences, a MANIFESTO accompanies the agenda being promoted jointly by Sweet and [Frank] Viola. It is called “A Magna Carta for Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ a.k.a. A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church.” This Manifesto does not hearken back to the written Word of God in order to follow Jesus or His teachings. Instead it speaks of “implantation and impartation” and “incarnation.” This is based on imaging, imagining, visualization, meditation, and following a “Presence,” even using the term “cosmic Christ.”[14] The document also makes this amazing statement – an example of psycho-spiritual biblical revisionism:
This book and Manifesto was not written in Leonard’s past where he can just try to explain it away; rather it was written and then published in June 2010.

Leonard Sweet offers in an answer to his critics that he is somehow misunderstood.  Len states on his website:

“I wrote a book 20 years ago called Quantum Spirituality, and a few years ago made it available as a free download on my website. Back when “New Age” was a movement, I was inspired by the brilliance of the Apostle Paul in evangelizing pagans, to show how even New Agers, like atheists or other non-Christian groups, could be evangelized for orthodox Christianity if only we learn how to speak to them. For example, the recovery movement language of “higher power” or “higher consciousness” can be turned into “Christ consciousness.” Instead of “New Age,” we might adopt and adapt the “New Light” language of Charles G. Finney, the founder of modern urban revivalism and the leader of the Second Great Awakening, who called his followers “New Light” evangelists because they used new methods like altar calls and hymns to bring early 19th century Americans to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say some things differently? Yes. I started working on the book in my late 20s. I hope I’m older and wiser now. But this was the first book to examine the challenges confronting Christianity as it entered into the uncharted waters of a new postGutenberg, postChristian, postmodern culture, and I quoted and referenced New Age thinkers who seemed to “get” this cultural transition better than the church did while I outlined avenues of approach to their minds and hearts.”

Yet the book is still offered on his website so at no point do I see that Len disagrees or repents of what he states in Quantum Spirituality. So I would have to say that Len agrees with what he wrote but disagrees with the conclusions others including myself came to.
Actually on Sweet’s site it lists this book as already called “a spirituality classic,” Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic is the book that launched what today is called “postmodern publishing” as well as Len’s ministry to postmodern culture. A book written in a circle, the reader is invited to begin anywhere, stop anytime, and end wherever. This was Len’s “coming out” book as a postmodern disciple after his 1987 knockdown, drag-out Damascus Road encounter with God, who (as he describes it) “knocked me off my high academic horse and said, ‘Sweet, are you going to get a mission for the world you wish you had or the world that’s actually out there.” So its obvious Sweet does not disagree with the writing or conclusions he came to.

Here are some thoughts, then you decide:

While some Len Sweet defenders have argued that Sweets hybrid post modern “New Light” apologetic simply flies right over the heads of “old light” fundamentalist types, the facts tell a much different story. Sweet is trying to transform biblical Christianity into a quantum/postmodern/New Light/New age/ New Spirituality.
Without apology Sweet writes that he is part of a “New Light Movement” and he describes those he especially admires as “New Light Leaders.” Len lists New Age leaders Willis Harman, Matthew Fox (who the Catholic church kicked out as a heretic) and M. Scot Peck.
Now some of my detractors would not consider the above either new age or non Christian even though all have played leading roles in the building of today’s New Age/New Spirituality movement. How then can these men be Sweet’s role models and heroes?
A self professing Christian leader should be warning the church about these New Light leaders not holding them up.
Willis Harmon (1918-1997) was a social scientist/futurist with the Stanford Research Institute where he started a futures research program. Later he was President of the New Age Institute on Noetic Sciences and well connected to many fellow new age leaders.

In the late 70’s a group of Evangelical leaders openly met with Willis Harman. These Christian leaders were exploring new and alternate views of the future. Disregarding the prophetic teachings of scripture they were looking for a more optimistic and hopeful view of the future other than the one plainly stated in the Bible, probably hoping to turn God and His Word into their image instead of the other way around. Discernment Research group reports “These consultations on the future represent the first publicly disclosed occasions where Evangelicals and New Agers met together to discuss and address common ground.

But the Bible teaches us in Eph 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”

Another one of Sweet’s “personal role models” and “heroes” is Episcopalian priest Matthew Fox. Fox is a former Catholic priest who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for openly professing the heretical teachings of Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard Chardin (and other new age teachers), who is frequently referred to as the father of the new age movement.
Fox teaches that all creation is the Cosmic Christ.  Sweet not only hails Matthew Fox as one of his spiritual “heroes” but he also describes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as “Twentieth century Christianity’s major voice.”

Sweet lays bare his postmodern/quantum/New Age/New Spirituality “apologetic” by writing:

“Quantum Spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. New Light pastors are what Arthur Peacocke calls”priest of creation -earth ministers who can relate the realm of nature to God, who can help nurture a brother-sister relationship with the living organism called Planet Earth. This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.”

(my comment-this doctrine is not based in scripture but in Sweet’s own mind). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1974) identifies the difference between pantheism and pan-entheism: Pantheism is the belief or theory that God and the universe are identical”; panentheism is “the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part exists in Him, but.. that His being is more than, and is not exhausted by, the Universe.” New Light spirituality does more than settle for the created order, as many forms of New Age pantheism do. But a spirituality that is in some way entheistic (whether pan or trns), that does not extend to the spirit matter of the cosmos, is not Christian. A quantum spirituality can no way define God out of existence.
This panenthestic God-in-everything teaching by Leonard Sweet is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality.

M. Scott Peck, another one of Sweet/s heroes in A Different Drum, states even though he saw himself as a Christian he believes that salvation of the world lies in community, not so much as accepting Jesus Christ as ones Lord and Savior.
Peck writes “In and through community lies the salvation of the world.  The human race stands at the brink of self annihilation.  I’m scared for my own skin. I’m even more scared for the skin of my children. And I’m scared for your skins. I want to save my skin.  I need you, and me, for salvation. We must come into community with each other. We need each other. If human kind is to survive, the matter of changing the rules is not optional”

We can never forsake unity for the sake of sound doctrine.  Sound doctrine will always divide sheep from goats.
And of course this is exactly what Jesus did not do-nor did His disciples. They died living by God’s Word and God’s rules rather than trying to change those rules to save their own skin.
Sweet’s buddy and friend Brian McLaren has been talking about a new kind of Christian and everything must change.
The Bible describes this new kind of Christian in Rev. 17.
Go back to the opening statement-The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living.

I ask you do you really need to read any further?

Some thoughts and information were taken from my friend and brother in the Lord Warren Smith in a book called “A Wonderful Deception.”  For more information on the new age infiltration of the church I would suggest you purchase the book.

Tim Wirth, (original source: http://simplyagape.blogspot.com/2012/04/leonard-sweet-new-ager-you-decide.html

Additional Resources:

 

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/leonardsweetquotes.html

http://apprising.org/2010/03/29/emerging-church-theologian-leonard-sweet-to-speak-at-pastor-skip-heitzig%E2%80%99s-calvary-chapel-church/

Just Who Is Dividing The Church?

“It is better to be divided by truth than united in error.”
 “It’s better to be hated for telling the truth than loved for telling a lie.”
“It’s better to know the truth and to stand alone than it is to be wrong with a multitude.”
“It’s better to speak truth that hurts and then helps than falsehood that comforts and then kills.”
“It’s better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.”

Yes, peace and unity are very high in my hierarchy of values. But in my value system, “Truth trumps peace and unity.” You see, in the long run, there will be no lasting peace and unity without truth. How grateful I am for grace and forgiveness. But in my value system, if there is a conflict, “Truth trumps even grace and forgiveness.” For without truth there is no grace or forgiveness.  (Mrs. Joyce Rogers, wife of the late Adrian Rogers)

Over the last few years, the Concerned Nazarenes group has come under criticism from its opposition within the church.  Typical descriptions include “unChristlike behavior”, “causing division”, “dividing the church”, “who are you to judge?”, or the unscriptural “you should never judge” admonition.  Those of us who believe in exercising biblical discernment need not fear any Scriptural refutation of our concerns, because there is none.  The response is either false accusations and misused Scripture references such as Matthew 7:1 to say we should not judge, or Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative spirituality practices; or no response at all.

When we explain how prayer labyrinths, ashes to the forehead, and lectio divina are unbiblical; the opposition says we are causing division.

When we speak out against ecumenism and the embracing of Roman Catholic mystical practices and state the biblical reasons why; they say we are causing division.

When we point out the false teachings and doctrinally-challenged theology of Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet and others… they say we are causing division.

When we expose a Nazarene pastor (Gabriel Salguerro) for promoting an ungodly “spirituality” festival, we are met with silence because they cannot defend that type of behavior… or we are called dividers.

Recently, I posted on our Facebook Group page a request for anyone who might be able to help translate articles into Portuguese and/or Spanish.  About a month later, the following was posted publicly on the Facebook page of Rev. John Brickley, an ordained elder in the church and a NazNet member, who apparently sent out the same message to a list of Portuguese-speaking Nazarenes.  Below is the English translation of his message:

“To all my friends in the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona). Recently a group called Concerned Nazarenes asked for help to translate their material into Portuguese. This group already has done much harm to the Church of the Nazarene here in the United States.  Churches have been divided because of them, and many good leaders including Presidents of Universities and the Seminary, some District Superintendents, and also Generals were attacked by name by this group. Even If some of you agree with SOME of the concerns of this group, they act in a manner which is dividing the Church. So I’m warning you not to help this group or with the translation or with the propagation of their material. I am praying constantly for you all and I know God has great things for the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona).” God Bless, Your Brother John  (my emphasis in bold)

This is another typical example of the kind of attacks that we should expect more and more in the future, for anyone who dares to continue to expose the truth of what is happening in our denomination as well as many others.  Rev. Brickley, who has posted this type of invective publicly before, is not an exception.  He exemplifies what is standard procedure for even some ordained elders in the church, and for those who support and promote the emergent church movement, contemplative spirituality and other dangerous ideologies.

These Are The Ones Who Claim To Be Understanding and Loving?

There were the attacks that came from Trevecca President Dan Boone that lacked any biblical defense  (See here) Dr. Boone is also an ordained elder who wrote a book called A Charitable Discourse, and then ironically in the very book he wrote uncharitably equated fundamental, Bible believing Christians to Muslim jihadists!  He also said this in response to some of our exchanges:

“Religious fundamentalism is one of the hot topics in the world today and this website has given me the best model, other than Islamic fundamentalism, to demonstrate to students how religious fundamentalism works.”

“I am most likely viewing these websites for the last time and would urge all thinking Christians to join me in the exit. Maybe we can stun them with our silence. In the meantime, I am working on a book called “A Charitable Discourse on the Things that Divide Us”. I’ll discuss Jihad in the church.”


So much for practicing what you preach.  Note that if you don’t agree with Dr. Boone, you are not a “thinking Christian.”  Yet he has received much praise for a book that attacks Christian fundamentalists.

And remember the more recent diatribe written by the Rev. Kevin Ulmet in Holiness Today, where he used a few dozen nasty ways of describing those of us who dare to criticize what is happening, and leaves out any biblical defense of his position.  I don’t know what was more shameful: his article, or the many Nazarenes who complimented him on such a fine, “Christlike” and loving piece.  It really was simply another attack piece without biblical foundation, yet he was praised for it.  Some of his “best” loving descriptions included:

“driven by categorization, guilt-by-association”;  “gotcha” tactics that more represent radical politics than anything remotely biblical, Christian, or certainly holiness”;  “Internet rumormongers”; “Salem-witch-hunt”; “Inquisition-type atmosphere”; “Our presidents…  are under direct and often slanderous attacks from various sources”;  “full of self-righteous piety”; “great derision and mistrust in the scurrilous E-mail exchanges”; “mistrust and gossip”; “no regard whatsoever to biblical conflict resolution principles”; “inflaming the emotions of the faithful”; “unjustly and manipulatively ratcheted up by the fully-aware bloggers”; “special-interest-political-action-group thinking”.

And then there were the personal attacks from Olivet theology head, Dr. Carl Leth.  (Responding to Dr. Leth’s Open Letter) He wrote a critique which also followed the Dan Boone method of claiming love and concern for us, but which devolved into yet again the same pattern: baseless attacks with no Scriptural foundation.  When you view the many comments of those who praised his article, it is astounding how people can be blind to Dr. Leth’s baseless and un-Christlike accusations.  As we proved with objective facts in our response, Dr. Leth was either horribly ignorant of the facts, or he deliberately ignored the facts and made false accusations about me as well as the folks at Lighthouse Trails Research.

Then there are the many colleagues of Mr. Brickley over at NazNet.  There are those such as Dennis Bratcher, former professor at Point Loma, who has in the past said some very nasty comments about me and Tim Wirth and anyone else who challenges his version of the truth.  There is the kindly sounding Professor, Dr. Tom Oord, who has expressed a disdain for fundamentalists in some of his writings.  However, even as he has avoided direct vicious attacks on us, he nonetheless exhibited a strange tolerance for one of his Facebook friends, who wrote the following during a discussion of Rev. Ulmet’s article and the Concerned Nazarenes:

 “Pray for what? Insight as to WWJD? Victory over the Enemies of the Church? Assimilation? If so, who is to be assimilated? What’s up with ‘personal sameness’? With Jesus? I am curious. How do you determine if/when that occurs? Do you offer the same advice to the CN’s? What if they don’t listen? What if the opponents to the CN’s don’t listen? Please explain, as I do not, given human nature, see your ‘solution’ .  I abhor strife and violence, but sometimes it boils down to the simple fact that some people just need killing … figuratively if not literally.”

It is amazing that Dr. Oord did not call out this man for making such a hateful and threatening statement on his Facebook page.  It is ironic as well, because Dr. Oord loves to write and talk about love, and has a blog called For the Love of Wisdom, and The Wisdom of Love.  Apparently he has no problem allowing this kind of comment to go unchallenged.

These are just a few examples.  I could go on, about those who brought false accusations against Pastor Joe Staniforth for simply preaching against emergent ideology, leading to his dismissal from his pastoral duties and missionary service.  I could go on about the General Superintendent who dismissed me out of hand in an email to Dr. Boone, after he realized I was not budging easily from my position.  All these attacks serve to illustrate that these people will go to great lengths to protect their turf, at the same time pretending to be the understanding and loving ones.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

They Will Go After Anyone

The NazNetters, and the emergent Nazarenes who claim that they are part of a  so-called “big tent” denomination, will go after anyone.  I recall the disrespectful comments they dished out when a well respected District Superintendent dared to write and speak out against emergent ideology and radical liberalism in the church.  Just as they attacked his integrity for refuting their ideology, so they will someday even go after a General Superintendent who might speak out and stand up for biblical truth in the church.  They don’t care, because their sole interest is to protect the turf that they are trying to permanently claim as theirs, and theirs alone.

To those who are working hard to defend the truth and expose the lies, you have not seen the worst of it yet.  You need to prepare for even worst in the future, and the worst will continue to come from within, from the wolves inside the church.  Do not be afraid of them, do not give an inch to them, do not be intimated by them.  Just keep calling them out for what they are doing to the church of God.  Regardless of the consequences, your obedience to Christ is not an option.

To those who are in the company of Rev. Brickley, Dr. Leth, Dr. Boone, Dr. Oord, Rev. Ulmet, and others who are attempting to silence us by their false accusations of dividing the church:

1. There is a division that is good.   Jesus Christ mentioned it.  He said that He has come to divide with a sword.  He will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.  There will not be a “big tent.”  The way is narrow that leads to life, but the path of destruction is wide and looks very comfortable and full of those who love “conversation.”

2. The division that is happening in the church is coming naturally, because what you teach and promote throughout the denomination is causing many Nazarenes to react to your unscriptural teachings, and they are calling you out on it.

There Are Two Things We MUST Do

The Scriptures clearly teach us that we are to be discerning, and to defend the faith once given to the saints.  Paul says in Galatians 1 that if anyone else preaches another Gospel, let him be accursed.  We are to be Bereans, and question our very own pastors or leaders if necessary when we hear strange doctrines and “new” ways of “experiencing” God.  It is not hateful to do that; it is because of love that we ought to do that, for their own sake, and especially for the sake of Jesus Christ and obedience to Him.

But Jesus also commands us to love our enemies.  There are enemies of the Cross within the church, and yet, we are to love them, and to pray for them.  And so we will.  To those reading this who have been misled by false teachings, we will lovingly and prayerfully reach out to you and show you what God’s word says and help bring you back to the truth.  To the ones who are deliberately misleading other Christians, we will not be so gentle with you, because false teachers will not be given a free pass.  We will call you out for what you are doing against God’s word.  We will reprove and rebuke, but we will also pray for you, and we still love you.

But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.  Jer. 20:11

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  1 Peter 4:12-14, 16