A Dying Denomination? A Nazarene Pastor Speaks For Many Nazarenes

The following commentary by an ordained Nazarene pastor is reflective of not only many Nazarene pastors, but also Nazarenes in general who have been watching the incremental downgrading of a holiness denomination. The Church of the Nazarene is fractured and divided, and yet many Nazarenes are still not aware of the danger. But to those who are aware, this speaks for them:

Speaking as someone who feels completely helpless, I love the church of my youth. I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene, was educated in a Nazarene University and then went on to Nazarene Seminary. It was there that my eyes were first opened to the truth of what was happening at the higher levels. I had several prominent professors (who I will not name) who around 1990, I remember them explicitly saying that there is no hell. Hell is just a scapegoat for our own evil. This professor has written several books and been lauded among the leadership for years and asked to speak at many events including camp meetings etc. In other words, he has a far reaching arm due to his position.

On another occasion I recall sitting in a theology class and hearing my professor (also a distinguished and published author in the church) say quite openly that the Genesis account of creation is just a myth, a simple story to relate complex information to simple-minded people. In other words, those of us who believe that God can do anything, including creating all the created order in a literal 6 day period of time complete with age built in, are actually simple-minded morons who should shut up and let the scientists lead us in another round of worship and determine our theology.

I remember calling home to my mother (she was the stalwart person of faith in my life), who herself was a life-long Nazarene, and literally sobbing over the phone. Through tears I told her of the things that I was being taught and really, told to believe. She encouraged me to hold on to the things that I had been taught as a child, the first things. I have done that through the years as I have watched in horror how things have gone from bad to worse. Now my own child who attended a Nazarene University called me in absolute horror as she recounted one of her theology professors whom she really loved, said in class, “There is no such thing as the Devil.” I told her I had heard the same malarkey and was not surprised that she had now been encountered with it at the college level.

I am a Nazarene elder (credentialed), but I am at a crossroads. Currently, I am not in the capacity of full time ministry as a pastor. My heart aches to minister again, but I feel almost bound by my credentials (not in a good way) to remain in the COTN despite what I see as a slippery slide into the wasteland of once great denominations. When I say, “bound,” I don’t mean that I can’t break away because the bond is too strong in my heart. What I mean is that the system is such that I either surrender my credentials, which then leaves me with no ordination credentials at all, or I am funneled back into a system which I believe is dying a slow agonizing death due to its willingness to compromise on what I see as the major issues, or rather one issue, namely: The Word of God. This is the foundational issue all the other beliefs must stand upon.

It has been the article of faith concerning the Word of God that has been so damaging and so detrimental to so many in the faith. I ministered in another denomination for a short period of time. It became apparent to me that when I went to their equivalent of General Assembly and was met with a dose (a heavy dose) of LGTBQ tolerance and heard leaders from the platform refer to the Holy Spirit as “She” that I could no longer allow myself to be aligned with this denomination. It was also in this denomination that I was told by a mentor that we should not insist on 6 days of creation because the denomination allows that the Word of God is not explicit on this issue and the denomination has taken a stance that allows for the Christian to have a myriad of views. Ironically, this denomination is now embroiled in the whole homosexual, same sex, no gender controversy so prevalent today.

Sounds eerily familiar to the stance the COTN has taken. “Infallibility” over “Inerrancy.” The COTN has taken the position that scripture is infallible only in matters concerning soteriology (salvation). Anything that falls outside of the realm of “what must I do to be saved?” is now up for grabs and called into question. How can anyone deny that this undermines the authority of scripture and (the Holy Spirit’s) ability to speak into our lives is beyond me. It is obvious to me that there will be a coming UMC-like battle to the COTN because of this weakness to ascribe ultimate authority to the scriptures rather than science and the latest spiritual fads.

Here’s one thing that I would really like to say and I hope that it is heard: Over the years pastoring in the Nazarene denomination, as a pastor, I can say with great assurance that the rank and file, the membership as a whole (at least those not indoctrinated at the colleges, universities and the seminaries) do not know that the article of faith is a weak article of faith. They do not know the difference between infallibility and inerrancy. Most of them believe the scriptures to be 100% trustworthy in all things and in all areas of our lives. I don’t believe the rank and file, you know the ones that “fund the mission”, have the slightest idea of how their denomination’s article of faith has totally undermined their once great denomination and is leading them to be among those who will be found in apostasy when the Lord returns. Don’t even get me started on eschatology. Apparently, there’s a right and wrong way to believe about that too. One way if you’re highly educated (by Nazarene professors of course) and the wrong way, according to belief in the scriptures.

At present, I feel stuck. I don’t know what to do. I am a mere peon without any teeth.

Christians Falling For “The Shack” Must Get Back To The Word Of God

I was warning Nazarenes and other Christians several years ago about The Shack. I passed out hundreds of copies of Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon, which is linked here. I watched in amazement as Dr. Josie Owens, a former District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, recommended the novel as a great resource for pastors- at a District Assembly! I wonder to this day of any pastor at that assembly dared to confront her for her lack of discernment. I saw Sunday School teachers mindlessly quoting ideas from the book. Some would try to argue with me how this book is so, so good, and I marveled a their lack of biblical discernment.

Now, the novel will be in movie form. It is mind boggling the level of deception I have seen as a result of this book. I have read the book from start to finish, and it is compelling in many ways; it tugs at your heart and emotions. Yet, it is evil; I recognized it as evil; but why are so many Christians praising this book? Why are many saying it is better than the Bible? Why is there such a lack of discernment today?

I believe it is a direct result of a growing phenomenon, in which Christians are seeking to tickle their ears with whatever makes them feel good. Emotion is not necessarily bad, but when emotions take control of a Christian’s mind, while setting aside sound doctrine and biblical teaching, then that is a bad thing. And that is what is happening today. Many Christians go crazy over the latest “Christian” movie, not seeing the false teaching in it, and instead loving the “spirituality” and the “fuzzy, warn feelings it brings. They follow after their pastor’s recommendation for anything, without being like the Bereans, who themselves tested what the apostle Paul himself preached! They praise the music of the latest “Christian” artist, not testing the words of their songs or the doctrine of that popular artist.

1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

I am afraid that many of you out there who are singing the praises of The Shack; who are falling for every word your pastor may preach; who are jumping on the bandwagon of the latest “cool” Christian song; you are being deceived, and you need to get back to the word of God. It is the only thing that will keep you from apostasy, and from damaging your own Christian life. Heed the warnings. I know some of you who are friends who love The Shack. Will you heed the warnings?

Manny Silva

A Summary of Dr. Youssef’s 13 Heresies in The Shack:

  1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

    Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

    2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

    The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

    3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

    Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

    4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

    Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

    5. God will never judge people for their sins.

    The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

    6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

    The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

    7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

    Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

    8. Justice will never take place because of love.

    The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

    9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

    Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

    10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

    11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

    Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

    12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

    Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

    13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

    The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

shack-deception

The False gospel and False “jesus” Of Social Justice

“Jesus didn’t come to address society’s woes. He came to die, to save.”

 

The following was written to a friend by a young man who attends a Nazarene church:

“I am so happy and hopeful to be a part of a generation that believes in social justice and change. Too often we look at the numbers and become pessimistic about the future of the world, totally forgetting that when we have The Lord on our side WE are the majority! We have so much power at our hands to change this world!”

My friend followed up with a question to the young man: “What is your definition of social justice and change?” Below is his answer.

“Simply put, look at Jesus’ life. He was all about social justice and change. He touched and healed people. He flipped tables over. He let a prostitute wash and touch his feet. He talked with women. He told his disciples to let the children come. He ate meat. He made a point to show how anti he was of the religious establishment in his day. Nowadays, there are so many social issues globally and nationally. For instance, the porn industry is one of the highest profiting industries in the whole world. I would LOVE to see those numbers plummet dramatically.

We need to raise awareness for how much damage porn causes in relationships, our brains, and our health to help break people out of those addictions. Human trafficking is another HUGE issue in the world today and not many people know what they can do to stop it. We need to be a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves and in America we have so much opportunity to speak up and use this freedom we are always talking about. Also, buying things and supporting organizations that make sure that the employees / makers of the stuff we are importing to the States are being treated and paid properly. Racism, sexism, hunger and poverty, there are so many issues and people that need a voice and people praying for. God really laid a call on my life while in Ecuador to bring attention to these issues and that with Him, we are the majority! We have so much power to pull from and we can change this nation and even the world.”

It is so sad that this young man’s thoughts are probably not an aberration, but the norm from countless young people in today’s evangelical church. My friend Brenda has written a response below, which I pray is read by many more young professing Christians who have this same mindset. We need to pray for Nazarene and other Christian young people, because a false gospel is replacing the true Gospel in most of our Christian colleges and seminaries.

 

Response to the young man:

Dear young man, I appreciate your heart of compassion, but, would you be upset if I told you that you are absolutely wrong? Popular Christian culture today has remolded, and IS remolding, the gospel message of Jesus to fit a Social Justice Jesus paradigm.

The people who have been writing books and speaking on college campuses about their “Social Justice Jesus” are purposely turning hearts/minds AWAY from the gospel.

I’m sure that statement makes you angry, but, it is true.

Jesus came to SAVE mankind from their sins. He came as the perfect, unblemished Lamb. He was the foreshadow of ALL the temporary sacrifices which were a requirement of the Law to cover the Mercy Seat with His innocent blood.

 

He WILL come again, but when He does, it will not be because WE have brought social justice to the world to make it better for Him to return……no……when He comes, He will come as the Lion of Judah, to meter out true justice of those who rejected His merciful offer of salvation through His sacrifice as the Lamb.

 

Jesus warned many, many times of the fires of judgment that will last an eternity. He warned that justice WILL be thorough, complete, AND righteous.

Jesus warned that there would be those who thought they were doing good, but would be totally surprised when He says He doesn’t know them. Therefore, good deeds (social justice) are NOT the plumb line for being in the will of God. Social justice is not the mission, nor is it the gospel.

Stay with me now, dear one……. If you examine the Great Commission from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, you will note that the mission of the church is to

PREACH the gospel (Christ died for your sins, and was raised from the dead so that you may have eternal life);

TEACH from scripture (show people how the message of salvation, the scarlet thread, was woven throughout the Old Testament books);

teach REPENTANCE OF SIN (tell them to turn from their old life of rebellion);

BAPTIZING (as an outward sign, a public testimony of one being born again);

DISCIPLE new converts (equip, exhort, and encourage their new walk).

 

 

When the Kingdom of God gains a broken hearted, repentant sinner, many times families become better, which, in turn, effects communities in a good way then, perhaps a nation.

Saved, compassionate people have always benefited society. They know what is right from wrong based on God’s moral law written on their heart. They no longer live as self-centered humanists, but bless those around them.

The problem in our world is a darkened, sin filled heart problem, where evil resides. The mission of the church is to address the heart, first and foremost. Warring against societal evils is a benefit of a changed heart.

Jesus didn’t come to address society’s woes. He came to die, to save. He upset the money changers’ tables because of their dishonesty (sin). He was NOT against the ‘religious establishment’; He was against individuals within those ranks who were vile sinners.

 

Note: Not everyone who was part of the priesthood, were considered vile. Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, performed his duties of the priesthood, and praised God for finally opening his mouth, after he believed and His heart was changed.

Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man, someone from the priesthood. That particular man’s heart was changed and he became a believer.

So be careful of those who spout that Jesus was against the religious establishment of His day. They do so, because it fits within their agenda to castigate the church, and paint organized religion as evil and ineffective, to be rejected. Please remember, Jesus went into the synagogues to teach (established religion) from scripture. Some rejected Him, but some did not, and seeds were planted in some.

 

Let me end by pointing out that scripture states that the world will get worse and worse, and men’s hearts will wax cold. Sin will abound. Romans 1 states that homosexuality, and all manner of sexual perversion will escalate. People will become more concerned about the earth and environment and even worship it. Children will disrespect their parents. Men will become centered on themselves and be arrogant boasters.

No, my friend, we will NOT be able to eliminate all those areas of heartbreak that you listed, though, it doesn’t mean we walk away.

Please don’t be taken in by those who are purposely leading people astray with a different gospel and a different Jesus.

Praying for you,

Brenda