First: An Unwavering Commitment To Biblical Truth

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.  2 Cor. 6:14-17

To The General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene,

You recently put out a statement regarding the Nazarene Theological Seminary and Nazarene Bible College, following a meeting you had with the presidents of the two schools.  I noted this statement:

 “The Board of General Superintendents is deeply and unwaveringly committed to NTS and NBC. They are worthy of the confidence of the entire denomination.”  (Online source)

Does your unwavering commitment to these two schools include unwavering endorsement of the following?

1.     The teaching of Celtic Spirituality at NTS.  Celtic spirituality involves to some extent communication with departed spirits, and the attainment of what is called the “thin place.”  It is shamanism and occultism frankly.  The Celtic way is one of mysticism and pagan practices.  Is this course within the bounds of “Wesleyan” theology, and more importantly, does this course fit within the bounds of Scripture?

2.      The promotion of contemplative spirituality to adults and even to pre-teens.  Specifically, NTS promoted the use of prayer ropes and “silence” to pre-teens, and sponsored a spiritual formation retreat at a Roman Catholic site that emphasized contemplative prayer practices.  Nazarene Bible College uses an instruction book by a Roman Catholic Benedictine monk to teach lectio divina.  How does this type of instruction align with Biblical instruction on prayer?  Where is silence as a form of prayer taught in Holy Scripture?

3.     Collaboration and association with interfaith and ecumenical groups.  I refer to the apparent association of NTS with an interfaith group in Kansas City, called CRES.  This group promotes interfaith dialog and cooperation with all sorts of false religions, and it was appalling and shameful to see NTS listed as a recommended organization.  So far I have received no answer from the president of NTS as to whether he is aware of this or not.
But that’s not all.  Professor Doug Hardy of NTS is a member of a highly ecumenical and interfaith group called Spiritual Directors International which promotes prayer labyrinths among other unbiblical ideas.  Dr. Dean Blevins of NTS is vice-president (and past-president) of the Religious Education Association, which is a member of the North American Interfaith Association!  If you look at all the groups associated with NAIN, it’s just as bad as the CRES group.  I’m beginning to see that it may not be an accident that NTS is listed on the CRES site, because Dr. Blevins, as vice-president of the REA and also an adjunct professor at NBC, also has no problem consorting with a group that includes all sorts of unbiblical religions.  And the REA clearly states that it promote ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.  Go to these sites, you’ll see it right there.  This is not made up information, this is not rumor or innuendo, this is not a witchhunt, this is fact; and all I would like to know is if you approve of this or not.    Nowhere on these sites will you find any kind of statements about evangelizing the lost and those who practice these false religions.  You won’t find that there because that is not their purpose!  No, instead they promote the idea that each and every false religion represented is an equal and valid expression of faith!  Are we not commanded in Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14-17)  to stay away from unbelievers, other than to evangelize them?

A Bad Dream?  I Wish It Were

Are we Nazarenes living in some kind of terrible nightmare that we will wake up to some day in a cold sweat and say, “wow, what a bad dream?”  No, this is happening for real; it’s happening right under your watch; and I’d like to know (as many, many other Nazarenes) what do you intend to do or say about this?
It is outrageous to have these things going on in any Christian university, and in our case, a holiness based school.  You have been entrusted with being the watchmen for this denomination, and if you are silent and let this continue, I would ask you to read the words of Ezekiel 33.  I believe his words apply today as seriously as they applied in his time.

I know hundreds of Nazarenes who will emphatically say that these schools DO NOT have their full confidence.   For every one of these people, I am sure they represent many other Nazarenes who believe that these schools are NOT worthy of our confidence.  Why?  We are called as a people of God to be separated from the corrupting influences of the world, and the world includes the false religions that comprise these interfaith groups.

I recall again what the church manual says regarding your responsibilities:

317.1.1  “To provide supervision of the international Church of the Nazarene. The Board of General Superintendents shall provide appropriate attention to leadership, guidance, motivation…”

318. “The Board of General Superintendents shall be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene…”

More importantly is the fact that you and I, and all other Christians, are under obligation before God for speaking the truth as Scripture teaches us.

• What is the point of these directives in the manual if we don’t seem to be getting leadership, guidance, and motivation regarding these unanswered questions?

• If somehow, you cannot or will not interpret the law and doctrine of the Church and give specific, definitive answers that we can understand, and take appropriate action to protect the flock, who will?  Is it being left up to us to determine what is acceptable based on what each of us likes?

• Why are those who are questioning the emergent (aka missional) church movement being portrayed by some of our “leaders” as divisive for daring to ask for answers, when the emergent church proponents rarely seem to be viewed as being divisive?  Of course, my contention is that depending on what is doing the “dividing”, that according to Scripture is a good thing.

There is clearly division, disruption in the church, but it is being caused by those who are attempting to bring false teachings in, and those who are cooperating with and having fellowship with the enemies of Christ.  And make no mistake about it, the members of these interfaith groups are the enemies of Christ.

I highly recommend that before an unwavering commitment to any of our schools, that first comes an unwavering commitment to biblical truth.

Manny Silva


Nazarene Schools Drifting Away From Biblical Soundness

Nazarene Theological Seminary and Nazarene Bible College are two schools responsible for preparing future pastors in the Nazarene church.  What are they teaching or promoting which is different from many years ago?  More importantly, is there anything they are teaching that is reflecting a compromise with the emergent church, contemplative spirituality movements, and other man-centered ideologies?

Nazarene Bible College is teaching the practice of lectio divina and embracing Roman Catholic resources. This alone is a serious problem, if there were no other!  This seems par for the course now, as you will also note the same trend at NTS.  It is disturbing to me that our Nazarene universities and Bible schools show signs of ecumenism, specifically in the  Roman Catholic resources and books.  In the Spiritual Formation course at NBC, Practicing Wesleyan-Holiness Spiritual Formation, one of the books used is  Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina“.  The book is described as “an introduction to the discipline of praying the scriptures (spiritual reading) written by a Benedictine priest. He explains the four steps in the process and discusses how it can be used by a group.”  Since when have Benedictine monks become a standard source of guidance for a school that carries the banner of a Wesleyan holiness denomination?  Has the leadership at NBC shrugged their shoulders to the biblical admonitions to avoid those who preach another gospel? Is it not inevitable that when Christians start compromising with practically any denomination regardless of serious doctrinal differences, that eventually they will themselves be compromised, and be weakened in their faith and practice?  Romans 12 commands us (does not suggest) to “not be conformed to the world.”  Galatians 1:8 warns that if anyone brings to you another gospel, that they should be accursed!  Are not the major teachings of the Roman Catholic church another gospel?  Or has the Nazarene leadership given its blessings for the acceptance of  Roman Catholicism as being as sound doctrinally as traditional Protestantism?  What do our General Superintendents think about this trend?

Nazarene Bible College, whether through ignorance, or through deliberate planning, is embracing contemplative spirituality practices.  It would seem to me that the natural steps will be a further addition of contemplative prayer techniques as lectio divina becomes accepted by default as something  biblically sound.  Perhaps lectio divina has been perceived as the safest practice that can be accepted by Christians as something good and seemingly in line with biblical doctrine.  So once we can safely move from there, others are sure to follow, for why stop with that?  If the “ancient Christian practices” are sound, it’s a matter of time that they will be introduced also, and they are.  Prayer labyrinths will most likely soon be introduced at our seminaries.  They are at least in one university (Trevecca) and are being used without any sort of embarrassment or guilt, approved by its own President, Dr. Dan Boone.  I wonder how pastors reading this would react to a prayer labyrinth at our seminaries and Bible college?  Would some write a letter expressing concern?  Would others accept it as something within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy?

At Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS), you can see the same trend in their course offerings and required books.  Spiritual Formation classes are par for the course.  In one class taught by Dr. Doug Hardy, called  Christian Spiritual Practices:  Sacraments and Asceticism, what you see is practically a Roman Catholic flavor.  One book is The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks.  Wait a minute, we are now interested in the sayings of the heretical Desert Fathers as required reading at a Nazarene seminary?  For what purpose, and to what end?  If its to point out the fact that these people were unbiblical in their ascetic approach to Christian living, that’s one thing.  But I doubt that is what this book is being used for.  Then the seemingly obligatory use of a Richard Foster book in practically every Nazarene university.  This one is called Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World.  Don’t know what he has to offer with this, but I am again reminded how the some of the Bible doubters at NazNet complain that we concerned Nazarenes use resources that are not part of the Wesleyan tradition, yet they have no problem citing and use false teachers such as Foster.  At least my non-Nazarene resources actually believe in the truth and complete reliability of the entire Bible!

Another course, Seminar in Spiritual Formation, taught again by Doug Hardy, gives instruction on how to do pilgrimages.  One book is A Pilgrim’s Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola. Does Dr. Hardy have any idea of the history of Ignatius?  If he does, then I am even more concerned.  Here are just a few facts about Ignatius, excerpted from David Cloud’s book, Contemplative Mysticism: “Loyola’s asceticism was very extreme. He lived for a year in a cave, wearing rags, never bathing, and begging for his food. All of this was an effort to do penance for his sins. He scourged and starved himself and slept very little. He taught that “penance” for sin requires “chastising the body by inflicting sensible pain on it” through “wearing hairshirts, cords, or iron chains on the body, or by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerities” (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, First Week, Vintage Spiritual Classics, p. 31).”  And this book is a good resource… how?  Loyola also dedicated himself to Mary, taught visualization prayer, promoted breath prayers, the use of spiritual directors, and his aforementioned book is growing in popularity amongst evangelicals. You can read the entire excerpt from Cloud’s book at his Way of Life website.

So again, this is yet another Roman Catholic resource.  And I have written previously about the dozens of Roman Catholic and mystical books recommended by Dr. Hardy for the Windsor Hills Camp library, and his involvement with the Spiritual Directors International, an interspiritual group that is ecumenical and promotes contemplative spirituality amongst all religions.

Finally, in Christian Spiritual Practices:  Connection and Service, taught by Dr. Hardy also, you find books such as: The Way of Friendship: Selected Spiritual Writings, by Basil Pennington.  Pennington is a heavy promoter of contemplative spirituality practices such as centering prayer (the focusing on a word and silently repeating it over and over again), which are unbiblical.  Why use him as a resource?  To show an example of what is not good?  I think not.  And then there is Flirting with Monasticism: Finding God on Ancient Paths, by Karen Sloan.  Sloan is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, which is no longer a sound Christian institution.  In the description at Amazon books, part of it says The book, which reads like a blog, explores areas where evangelicals may feel at home with monasticism (community life) as well as with practices that feel foreign (praying to the saints and the Virgin Mary).”  Okay, let’s explore that area, shall we?  Praying to the virgin Mary!
I never thought I would see the day this would be happening across practically all of our Bible schools.  It’s amazing and disheartening to see, yet, does anyone care?

This is just a taste of it all.  There will be more posts on this, highlighting more of the things that are pointing ever consistently towards a move of our Christian universities and seminaries to becoming Roman Catholic; if not in name, certainly in practice.