Rejecting The Existence of Hell: The Next Nazarene Blunder?

“Christian theologians are rethinking the idea of hell, and it’s moving seminaries and other religious schools in the Kansas City area to examine how they teach students about this ancient, disputed concept.”

This is the opening sentence of an article written by Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder in Kansas City.  I am not in any way endorsing any of Mr. Tammeus’ views, as he is a hardcore ecumenicalist and believes that Roman Catholics and Protestants can walk side by side together in unity, setting aside the teachings of a false religion which is Roman Catholicism. Mr. Tammeus also believes “that there’s no persuasive biblical case to be made against homosexuality”, and appears to support the liberal views on homosexuality.

Mr. Tammeus reports in this article about a trend among seminaries in the Kansas City area, where they are re-considering the traditional biblical view of hell as a place of eternal torment, and that separation from God is a result of rejecting God and His salvation through Jesus Christ.  According to Mr. Tammeus’ research, theologians have started a discussion “about whether eternal torment for unrepentant sinners is really part of God’s plan to redeem the whole creation.” (Source: https://www.flatlandkc.org/commentary/what-the-hell-thats-what-local-seminaries-are-asking/?fbclid=IwAR3YgHY-4pi0V4rYyr2suZFVICR0KzihMdoNhWkN41H-mUM-6veDHzPHn-I)

Tammeus states that:

 “But for such area Protestant seminaries as St. Paul School of Theology (Methodist), Central Baptist Theological Seminary (American Baptist) and Nazarene Theological Seminary, discussions about hell are considerably more nuanced. The denominations these schools represent historically have affirmed hell’s existence, but leaders are quick to point to disagreements among theologians about what exactly that means, about whether hell is permanent and about such alternative ideas as annihilationism, which proposes that when someone who refuses the eternal love God offers dies, God simply wipes out any trace of that person.”

That is troubling in itself for the body of Christ regardless of denomination, but I am particularly troubled because there seem to be the beginnings of this conversation within my former denomination, the Church of the Nazarene.  And this conversation no less has apparently been started by the current President of Nazarene Theological Seminary, Jeren Rowell, as well as NTS professor Andy Johnson.

Mr. Tammeus writes:

“A similar kind of discussion is happening at Nazarene Seminary and at the Nazarene denominational level.  Nazarene Theological Seminary President Jeren Rowell and New Testament Professor Andy Johnson say there’s discussion among Nazarene leaders about changing how the denomination describes hell.

The Church of the Nazarene has belief statements called “articles of faith.” One says that “the finally impenitent shall suffer eternally in hell.” With help from Andy Johnson, the seminary’s professor of New Testament, those statements are undergoing a revision, and there’s a recommendation that the “eternally in hell” statement move closer to the church’s current “Agreed Statement of Belief,” which says, “The finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.” That removes the word hell and leaves open the possibility that, in the end, no one will be “finally impenitent.” But it’s unclear whether that proposal will be adopted.

President Rowell stated in the interview that:

 “There’s so much we don’t know — and can’t. And in the Church of the Nazarene we have really not tried to bind our people with particular views of the beginning or the end of the world.”

Words can hardly express the sadness I feel.  It seems ten years ago, I would not have even thought this kind of wavering on God’s word would happen.  And to think it would come from the minds of leaders of a school that prepares future pastors is absolutely mind-boggling! And yet, I am not surprised at these additional steps towards apostasy, and dare I say, an almost universalistic view of the destiny of those who die and go into eternity, with or without salvation.

Are pastors and other leaders in a holiness denomination now willing to accept that leaders are even discussing the possibility that hell- as described by the Lord Jesus Christ, does not exist? Are Nazarenes in an even more difficult situation, that now they are seeing less wisdom, and more apostasy, being embraced by church leaders?  Do the words of the Lord Jesus Christ matter to President Rowell and all the others who are considering watering down God’s word?

Hear the words of Jesus on this subject:

The Lord describes the punishment of the wicked in Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  He further goes on in verse 46 and speaks of their destiny:  “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Eternal punishment!  Everlasting!

In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul writes: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”.  And Revelation 20:10 talks about a “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever”.

There is a lot more in scripture about this, but do I have to really write a complete treatise on the subject here? Hell is real, brothers and sisters. It is a place of torment and punishment that lasts forever and ever, with no end.  If anyone denies this, they are liars and do not speak the truth. They are speaking words from the pit of hell, no pun intended.

And so another camel has stuck its nose into the theological tent of the Church of the Nazarene. Soon it will be completely inside as well, joining along with all the other “heretical camels” that have snuck into the church. And once again, the most likely response to the creeping apostasy from the General Superintendents and many leaders in the Church of the Nazarene most likely will be… nothing.

I am reminded of the words of the serpent in Genesis 3, when he said to Eve “hath God really said?”  Has Satan whispered the same words to Nazarene leaders and bewitched them as well? For over ten years, I have seen this played out over and over in many other areas, including the denomination’s slow capitulation to the LGBT/homosexual movement. In the words of the apostle Paul, “I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

I am comforted with the fact that, at least in the end, there will be a small remnant that will refuse to bow the knee to Baal.

False Teacher Mike King Continues His Influence in the Nazarene Denomination

Mike King may not be THE “king” of modern contemplative spirituality (Richard Foster is most often viewed as the leader), but he certainly is very influential. What makes him even more dangerous is that he has a long history of working with youth, including within the Church of the Nazarene. Mr. King is still involved, and currently is an Adjunct Faculty in the NTS Christian Formation and Discipleship Degree Program at Nazarene Theological Sedminary, and leads a program that connects youth with helping the hungry.The question is, why do leaders within the denomination still give a platform to someone who promotes false teaching and is more interested in quoting mystics and Roman Catholics? He is scheduled to speak on a FaceBook live session on Spiritual Formation and Youth on September 11, 2019.

king spiritual formation seminar

I present here as much evidence as I could find about Mike King, as a warning to anyone who will consider it, including the leadership in the Church of the Nazarene. (And to be clear however, Mike King is a symptom of the problem within the denomination, not the problem itself). I will begin with some general information about him. I then follow with a sampling of his religion-related tweets, going as far back as December, 2018. It is very interesting that a man who is still invited to Nazarene universities, seminaries, and colleges, has such a very strange liking for those he quotes. You can visit his Twitter site at: https://twitter.com/mdking

During the years from 2005 to 2011, Mike King was a heavy promoter of emerging spirituality and contemplative (New Age) prayer techniques. He also was a guest speaker at the Nazarene M7 Conference in February, 2007, where he spoke on contemplative spirituality. He was a founding board member and past Board chairman of the heretical, far left Wildgoose Festival, an annual event that features some of the most radical and apostate leaders in “Christianity.”

Mr. King also took part in a conference called Children, Youth, And A New Kind Of Christianity in 2012, in Washington D.C.  Some of the promoters of that event included the extreme and radical racist pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Also, emergent leaders such as Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Samir Selmanovic, and Jim Wallis were there.  Mike King associates with these people who are unbiblical in their belief system, because he identifies with them!

 

Mike King And Wildgoose

When King organized the Wildgoose Festival in 2011, he was adjunct professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary, and also was a top youth leader in the church, organizing youth events nationwide. He is still the president of YouthFront, which seems well-intentioned, but which serves to help promote all the contemplative mysticism that he is so fond of, as well as his ecumenicalism and his connections with Roman Catholicism. It sadly serves as a major source of indoctrination of youth into all sorts of religious garbage masquerading as Christian.

The lineup over the years at Wildgoose Festival, which Mike King was clearly aware of and promoting, has been a steady parade of false teachers, heretics, and non-Christians claiming to be Christians. The Festival also openly invites people of any faith to come, but there has never been any focus on presenting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone. Instead, Wildgoose clearly has stated its values as being fully open to anything and anyone, including homosexuals who claim to be Christian.

In a report by Jeffrey Walton on his blog in 2013, he writes on how much even worst that year’s Wildgoose would become.  The push for creating “trans” inclusive communities was on the list of topics, along with the recurring themes of homosexuality, non-Christian religions and activities, and of course the all night parties.
http://juicyecumenism.com/2013/07/12/wild-goose-festival-migrates-through-turbulent-issues-of-transgenderism-intersex/.
Here are two typical quotes from their website a few years ago: “We are a community creating a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality and art. We take inspiration from many places, such as Greenbelt, Burning Man, the Iona Community, SXSW, and others. The festival is open to everyone; we don’t censor what can be said;”

“The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We are followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.”

This is the kind of utter foolishness that Mike King has promoted for years, and yet, he continues to work and speak at a top seminary of the Church of the Nazarene. Here is just a short list of the many heretical headliners who typically appear at Wildgoose: Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Jennifer Knapp, Ian Cron, Shane Claiborne, Phylis Tickle, Lauren Winner, Frank Schaeffer, Spencer Burker, Carl McColman, Pete Rollins, and many more.

“Instead of Bible studies, there were labyrinth walks. Instead of praise-and-worship music, there was hymn-singing in a beer garden and a bluegrass liturgy presided over by a tattooed female Lutheran minister. Visitors were greeted with buckets of water in which to baptise themselves, and tubs of mud to remind them that “dust thou art”. (In Britain, the mud is usually underfoot.) Lecture topics ranged from sex trafficking and social justice to authority in the church and interfaith relations. Visitors could learn from Tom Prasada-Rao, a singer, how to chant “Om” and “Hallelujah Hare Krishna”, or hear Paul Fromberg, a pastor from San Francisco, talking about his 2005 wedding to another man.
“God is changing the church through the bodies of gay men,” Mr Fromberg told a packed session on human sexuality. Also under discussion was “religious multiple belonging”—in other words, belonging to a clutch of different faiths at once.” (http://www.economist.com/node/18898389)

As you can see, Wildgoose is not committed to anything approaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you will not find any real reference to the Gospel.  It is a festival committed to spirituality which is not Christian; it is blasphemous, disobedient to Christ, and worldly. And yet we have Mike King, an unabashed promoter of this festival, still speaking to f and influencing future Nazarene pastors, as well as influencing countless youth.

Mike King and The Enneagram

Mike King also is a fan of the Enneagram, which has occultic origins. It is a system invented years ago which uses a symbol that has nine points, and also has nine lines. It’s function is to analyze personality types and match people to a specific type. According to the Enneagram Institute, the Enneagram can help people restore balance to their “personality structure” and develop more desirable spiritual and psychological qualities. Believers in the Enneagram seek to unravel the mystery of their “true identity.” They see themselves as spiritual beings who have lost contact with their true nature. Once they discover their “true self”—by means of the Enneagram—they experience a spiritual awakening full of freedom and joy. (source: gotquestions.org).

This practice seems to be appearing more thoughout the evangelical world. I believe there is a great spiritual danger in the use of the Enneagram, especially if a Christian starts relying on it for spiritual guidance and direction. Quoting Kevin DeYoung: “[it] has been, from its inception (whenever that was), infused with spiritual significance. And therein lies the danger.”

 

Mike King Reveals His Love For Mysticism On Twitter

In this compilation ot tweets from his Twitter account, I searched for religion-related posts going as far back as December, 2018. It is quite interesting what I found, and you can see those here. Except for one quote of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and a few other names I did not recognize, all the other quotes were clearly not from people who would be considered traditional evangelicals, nor even close to being of the Wesleyan tradition. Instead, we see quotes by Henri Nouwen, Peter Enns, Julian of Norwich, Pope Francis, John Cassian, Ian Morgan Cron, Juergen Moltman, Cyprian of Carthage, Stanley Haurwaus. By far his favorite seems to be Henri Nouwen. Following this list of tweets, I will give brief summaries of each of these people that he has quoted, and what they believed and promoted.

 

 

Who Does Mike King Quote Or Promote? What Do They Believe? Here Are A Few

They say that your character or your philosophy of life is often reflected by the company you keep, or perhaps by the people you read or quote from. So who are these people that Mike King so glowingly quotes for the world to see? Is it wrong to come to any conclusions about Mike King, just based on who he quotes? Certainly not, especially since the abundance of evidence besides these tweets clearly shows where Mike King’s heart is at, at least in the world of Christianity.

 

Brian McLaren

Pastor, and godfather of the emergent movement; likens the Cross to false advertising for God, is confused as to whether homosexuality is a sin or not, promotes contemplative mysticism, rejects biblical inerrancy. McLaren performed a commitment ceremony for his son’s same sex marriage in 2012.
Quote: “The Bible is not considered an accurate, absolute, authoritative, or authoritarian source but a book to be experienced and one experience can be as valid as any other can. Experience, dialogue, feelings, and conversations are equated with Scripture while certitude, authority, and doctrine are to be eschewed!  No doctrines are to be absolute and truth or doctrine must be considered only with personal experiences, traditions, historical leaders, etc. The Bible is not an answer book.”
Source: A New Kind of Christianity, p. 52 Published: 2001.

 

Henri Nouwen

A Roman Catholic mystic who promoted contemplative prayer and also dabbled in Eastern religions. Nouwen claimed that contemplative meditation is necessary for an intimacy with God: “I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person without stillness and silence” (quoted by Chuck Swindoll, So You Want to Be Like Christ, p. 65). He taught that the use of a mantra could take the practitioner into God’s presence. Nouwen’s involvement with mysticism led him to a form of universalism and panentheism (God is in all things).
“The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being” (Here and Now, p. 22).
In his final book Nouwen described his universalist doctrine as follows: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).
At David Cloud’s website, you can read a comprhensive article on this mystic who is very popular now in the Nazarene denomination and many others as well: https://www.wayoflife.org/database/beware_of_henri_nouwen.html

 

Jim Wallis

Liberal political activist, radical social justice proponent, uses religion to sell his agenda in the political arena.  Founder of Sojourner’s.  Former spiritual advisor to President Obama. Quote: “Being born again was not meant to be a private religious experience that is hard to communicate to others, but rather the prerequisite for joining a new and very public movement—the Jesus and kingdom of God movement. It is an invitation to a whole new form and way of living, a transformation as radical as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It is far more than a call to a new inner life, or a rescue operation for heaven.”
Source: The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World [New York: Harper Collins, 2008] p56 Published.

 

Carl McColman

Author of “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism”, as well as books on Celtic spirituality. He spent several years as a Celtic pagan (neo-druid) before entering the Catholic church.  He is a blogger on contemplative spirituality.  He describes mysticism as Christianity’s best kept secret. He quotes the writer Abhishiktananda, a Benedictine monk who dabbled in Hindu spirituality: “The life of prayer and contemplation is simply to realize God’s presence in the depth of our being, in the depth of every being, and at the same time beyond all beings, beyond all that is within and all that is without.”

 

Peter Enns

Dr. Peter Enns promotes the idea that Adam and Eve were not real, historical people. He also believes that Moses did not write the first five books of the Old Testament. You can read more about his views on Genesis and creation her: http://servantsofgrace.org/peter-enns-jesus-genesis/

 

Jennifer Knapp

“Christian” artist who “came out” in 2010 about her homosexuality and her lesbian relationship.  Actively promotes homosexuality as being compatible with Christian living. Her bio says: “Under heavy scrutiny, Jennifer has unashamedly claimed her faith and her sexual orientation with astonishing straightforwardness and honesty.”

 

Spencer Burke

Founder of the website, The Ooze.  Universalist “Christian.” Quote: “I don’t believe any single religion owns heaven or God—even a religion that tries to include everyone. When I say I’m a universalist, what I really mean is that I don’t believe you have to convert to any particular religion to find God. As I see it, God finds us, and it has nothing to do with subscribing to any particular religious view… Universalism says that a theology of grace implies salvation for all, because if grace could be limited to some people and not to others,… it is in fact no grace at all…grace is bigger than any religion.” (A Heretic’s Guide To Eternity, pg 196, 197, 198)

 

Phylis Tickle (now deceased)

Author of The Great Emergence. Emergent leader.

Quote: “The new Christianity of the Great Emergence must discover some authority base or delivery system and/or governing agency of its own. It must formulate—and soon—something other than Luther’s Sola Scriptura which, although used so well by the Great Reformation originally, is now seen as hopelessly outmoded or insufficient …”
Book: by Phyllis Tickle entitled: The Great Emergence, pg 151 Published: 2008.

 

Ian Cron

Episcopal priest, mystic, speaker, author, wrote book on St Francis of Assisi and other books. Quotes mystic monk Thomas Merton on his Facebook page: “Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.” Thomas Merton”

 

Julian of Norwich

She was a mystic, contemplative, feminist and pantheist from the 13th century. Her universalism is seen in part in some of her quotes:
“For in man is God, and God is in all. And I hope by the grace of God he that beholdeth it thus shall be truly taught and mightily comforted…” JoN  “And after this I saw God in a Point, that is to say, in mine understanding, — by which sight I saw that He is in all things” JoN

 

Shane Claiborne

Emergent leader, promotes contemplative mysticism. Quote: “The time has come for a new kind of conversation, a new kind of Christianity, a new kind of revolution.” Book: by Shane Claiborne entitled: Irresistible Revolution p. 29 Published: February 2006.

 

Cathleen Falsani

Director of New Media at Sojourner’s (Jim Wallis’s group); author of Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace.  Promotes homosexuality in Christianity, as reported here: http://apprising.org/2011/01/14/gay-awakening-for-mainstream-evangelicalism-grows-closer/

 

Pope Francis

Head of the Roman Catholic Church. Promoter of all sorts of false teachings which is characteristic of Romanism, including a works-based salvation.

 

BioLogos

Mike King also promotes this organization, which is a group whose purpose includes promoting evolution, and which also has members who promote such heresies as process theology and open theism.

 

Links for further research:

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2011-06/left-leaning-christians-rally-around-wild-goose

https://wordandway.org/2011/06/27/progressive-christians-flock-to-wild-goose-festival/?fbclid=IwAR1_ZAICeeNKTrWVa44AeupdLG_HSMa6c4GS-ktGV1aW7rJ62mE7jjkrEZo

https://king.typepad.com/mike_king/wild-goose/

A New General Superintendent: Cause For Celebration, Or Concern?

After many rounds of voting, the Church of the Nazarene has elected the first of two general Superintendents that are needed to replace two retiring Generals.  His name is David Busic.

Dr. David Busic, at the time of his election, was the president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, and professor of Preaching and Pastoral Theology.  He has an impressive resume, and seems like a nice guy.  But let us consider some issues that may be of great concern to many Christians.

Concern #1: Emergent Connection or Lack Of Discernment?

At his inaugural address, Dr. Busic made many references and quotes of Phylis Tickle, a major leader in the emergent church movement, of which she has coined the phrase “the great emergence.”  Tickle promotes contemplative spirituality.  Phylis Tickle likens heretic Brian McLaren to Martin Luther who helped bring about the Reformation.  She is probably correct, but this new current reformation is not a good thing.  Tickle receives high praise from emergent heretic Doug Pagitt, calling her “the best friend the emergent movement could ever have.”  Tickle is currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral, which has a heavily interfaith message.

Quote: “Washington National Cathedral is a church for national purposes called to embody God’s love and to welcome people of all faiths and perspectives. A unique blend of the spiritual and the civic, this Episcopal Cathedral is a voice for generous-spirited Christianity and a catalyst for reconciliation and interfaith dialogue to promote respect and understanding. We invite all people to share in our commitment to create a more hopeful and just world.”

The Cathedral College also is known for its heavy promotion of all forms of contemplative prayer: centering prayer, silence, stillness.

Tickle is also on the editorial board of explorefaith.org, and the recommended spiritual experts on the site are a veritable who’s who of “Christian” mystics and non-Christian gurus such as Guru Ram Dass, Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hahn, the Sufi Muslim Rumi.

Finally, I give you a dubious quote from her book The Great Emergence:

The new Christianity of the Great Emergence must discover some authority base or delivery system and/or governing agency of its own. It must formulate—and soon—something other than Luther’s Sola Scriptura which, although used so well by the Great Reformation originally, is now seen as hopelessly outmoded or insufficient …(Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence, pg. 151)

Imagine that Luther’s Sola Scriptura, so critical within the Reformation movement, of which many left the persecution of the Catholic Church, some under pain of death, is no longer relevant according to Phylis Tickle.  What does this say of her regard for God’s word?  In fact, Phylis Tickle does not believe that the entire Bible is God’s word.

Conclusion: Why would a learned man such as David Busic want anything to do with Phylis Tickle, even if just to quote her and speak highly of her in his messages?  If a well respected man quotes someone favorably and praises them, would not most Bible believing Christians think that this person is a good source for them to go to?  I would like to find out what Dr. David Busic really thinks of Phylis Tickle, in the light of all the heretical things that she stands for.  Is it really wise that a church has just elected a General Superintendent who at the very least, seems to have some really impaired judgment and discernment?

Interfaith Connection?  Or Simply Carelessness?

The following is an excerpt from an email I wrote to Dr. Busic in 2011.  The entire article can be read here: https://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/does-nazarene-theological-seminary-support-the-interfaith-movement/

11/18/2011

Dear Dr. Busic,

Congratulations on your appointment as President of NTS.  It is my prayer that God will guide you in leading NTS in upholding biblical truth at the school.  I and other Nazarenes have had concerns in the past regarding some things sponsored by, promoted by, or taught at the seminary.

I was concerned about something I ran into the other day, and wondering if you were aware of it. At the CRES website, the Seminary is listed favorably as a recommended institution friendly to the CRES organization.  My concern is that it is an interfaith group that works closely with practically any kind of religion in the world.

Here is the link to the site where it mentions NTS favorably:  http://www.cres.org/pubs/KCInterfaithOps.htm

On their vision statement page, they say this: “CRES values the contribution of each distinctive faith in healing the crises of our age — and finds it important to honor and preserve their distinctions. “These faiths include: Buddhists, Muslims, Native American religions, Hindu, Sufi, Unitarian Universalists, Taoism, Confucianism, Wiccans, and Zoroastrians!

They also say: “CRES envisions the greater Kansas City area as a model community honoring interfaith relationships where interfaith relationships are honored as a way of deepening one’s own tradition and spirituality, and
where the wisdom of the many religions successfully addresses the environmental,  personal, and social crises of our often fragmented, desacralized world.

Does NTS have any kind of real connection with CRES?  If so, on what basis?  And if not, would it not be prudent to ask this group to remove any reference to NTS as a good resource?  If this is not the type of group NTS wants to associate with, that would certainly remove any appearance of an endorsement of this organization.  If this is the kind of group that NTS wants to associate with, then I humbly will say that it would be a serious problem that all Nazarenes should be aware of.

I did not receive any response from Dr. Busic.

Does the Church of the Nazarene approve of the idea of working with interfaith groups on a regular basis?  Does not the word of God speak against that?  It is written in 2 Cor. 6:14-17:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

It is clear to me, a non-seminary educated man whose father always wanted him to be a pastor, that this scripture passage alone answers the question.  We are not be joining ourselves with those who are pagan and do not preach the Gospel of Christ.  And if these pagans are recommending us favorably, as if we also are favorable to them, it would do us good to have no connection at all with them, and no hint of any kind that we are aligned with their ungodly agenda.

There is only one right thing to do, and the president of NTS has not done it yet.  I call on him to do the right thing, remove the connection with this ungodly group, and make it clear that we do not stand with them in any way, no matter what “good” causes they may be involved in.

Conclusion: Is this a matter of discernment?  Is this a matter of lack of knowledge?  Dr. Busic never answered me.  Perhaps others can bring this egregious connection to his attention, and he will do the right thing.  If not, then we have a serious concern on our hands, with a man who has just been chosen to the highest office of a denomination of over 2 million people.  To be favorably and knowingly linked to such a group, which cannot even be called a Christian organization, is a clear indication of lack of discernment, or an indication of solidarity with their ideas.  Either way, it not good for the Church of the Nazarene.
We have elected David Busic.  The question is, was that the right decision?

Related articles:

https://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/phylis-tickle-and-the-new-seminary-president/

https://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/does-nazarene-theological-seminary-support-the-interfaith-movement/

 

As of today, NTS is still listed favorably at the CRES site:

CRES note on NTS

Beware: Spiritual Disciplines (aka contemplative mysticism) Still Infiltrating Evangelical Christian Colleges

The following is from Lighthouse Trails Research, documenting the continuing trend of many Christian universities that are rejecting Biblical Christianity in exchange for Eastern mysticism.  Among them in this report is Olivet Nazarene University, although practically all Nazarene universities and the seminaries are on the spiritual formation bandwagon (aka contemplative spirituality), which is fast becoming a requirement for Christian schools to be accredited, and for future pastors in order to graduate.  Many of you know of this, but I want you to continue to be aware of one of the most deadly trends in Christian higher education today that is polluting the minds of many of our young people today.  The General Superintendents in the Nazarene denomination and other leaders seem to have either bought into this or refuse to do anything about it at this time.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook – Christian Organizations, Seminaries, and Ministry Leaders Incorporate This Mystical Primer into Christian Education (source, Lighthouse Trails Research)

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is a primer on contemplative mysticism, bursting with contemplative meditation instruction along with references and quotes by some of the movement’s most prolific mystics on the scene today. It’s a book one might expect to find on the shelves of a Catholic monastery, a New Age bookstore, or in an emerging church coffee house; while it probably is in those types of places, the book has become a common textbook in many spiritual formation classes and has found a growing audience with evangelical pastors, seminary professors, and Christian ministry leaders. In fact, many of those in ministry are eagerly flocking to this book, and in so doing pointing potentially millions of Christians to the book’s message. While we have made mention of this book in several articles over the past decade, we feel it is time to present a more focused critique of Calhoun’s book and her message.

 

 

Who is promoting Calhoun’s handbook? First of all, a major advocate of the book for a number of years is Rick Warren. You can find the book on his resource website, where Saddleback gives a hearty recommendation for the book. Willow Creek also recommends the book in their Establishing Life Giving Rhythms class. In a course at Reformed Theological Seminary, the book is being used as “required reading.” In Olivet Nazarene University’s Spiritual Formation and Personal Development course, the book is listed in the “Suggested Reading” section. In Biola’s online course, Introduction to Spiritual Formation, the book is “Recommended Reading.” Assemblies of God Theological Seminary’s course, Renewing the Spiritual Leader includes Calhoun’s book in a list for required reading. Moody Bible Institute’s Midday Connection radio program had Calhoun as a guest speaker in November 2011, and Midday Connection host Anita Lustrea talks about Calhoun in her own book, What Women Tell Me. Lustrea, tells how she met Calhoun during a course called Growing Your Soul and how Calhoun taught her some of the contemplative “spiritual disciplines” (p. 125). On the Wesleyan denomination’s website, in a Spiritual Formation course, Calhoun’s book is listed in a Bibliography on Spiritual Formation. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) had Calhoun as one of the speakers at their 2011 MOPS International Convention. On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:

I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.

These are just a few instances of many more where evangelical Christians or organizations are turning to Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook for spiritual direction (see below this article for more who use the book). Now let us examine this book and see why it is so troubling to know it is being used in so many Christian venues.

As we stated above, Calhoun’s book is permeated with references of and quotes by some of the most prolific contemplative mystics today. But she doesn’t just quote and reference these mystics – in her book, she reveals that these teachers are her ”spiritual tutors.” She states:

I would be remiss not to mention the spiritual tutors that I know only through books: Dorothy Bass, Eugene Peterson, Gerald May, M. Basil Pennington, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, Fredrick Buechner, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Edwards [not a contemplative], Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Julian of Norwich and many more. Their ideas, voices and examples have shaped my own words and experience of the disciplines. (Acknowledgment’s page)

For those who have spent time on the Lighthouse Trails website or read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, most of these names above will be familiar to you. You will know that the late Gerald May was the co-founder of the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation in Washington DC., and as Ray Yungen points out, May adhered to “Eastern metaphysical views,” which can be seen in many of his writings, including his book The Awakened Heart where he discusses the “cosmic presence” “pervading ourselves and all creation” (ATOD, p. 67). Yungen points out that “there can be no mistaking [May’s] theological underpinnings” when May says:

It is revealed in the Hindu greetings jai bhagwan and namaste that reverence the divinity that both resides within and embraces us all. (The Awakened Heart, pp. 179-180)

Gerald May makes it very clear in that statement where he is coming from. This panentheistic, God-in-everybody view, which May embraced is the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality and is why we are so persistent in warning about this spiritual outlook that has entered the Christian church. Think about it, Adele Calhoun sees Gerald May as a spiritual tutor, and now she is presenting the beliefs of these tutors to untold numbers of Christians via her book. Let’s look at another tutor whom she turns to – Basil Pennington. In a book written by Pennington and Thomas Keating (who, by the way, Calhoun also recommends), the two Catholic monks write:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.

Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences. (Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 5-6)

Calhoun would agree with Pennington and Keating on their views of “Eastern techniques.” She talks about these kinds of practices in her book, such as in the chapter she titles “Centering Prayer” where she instructs readers to focus on a “sacred word,” or in the chapter she titles “Breath Prayer,” where she encourages “short repetitive prayer[s],” or in her chapter titled Devotional Reading, where she talks about lectio divina and picking out one word from a passage of Scripture, a word which becomes the focus for meditation, or in her chapter titled “The Labyrinth Prayer,” where one is taught how to walk through a labyrinth while doing contemplative meditation. She also tells readers to “Explore the practice of liturgical prayer through using the book The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, or The Daily Office of the Catholic church” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2861-2862). For those of you who may not know who Phyllis Tickle is, she has been the darling and a favorite mentor of emerging church leaders. It is Tickle who likened atonement-rejector Brian McLaren to another Luther, saying he could be instrumental in bringing about a “new reformation.”

One can also see how Calhoun resonates with Pennington and Keating when she favorably says that “three Cistercian monks, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington and William Meninger, sought to revive this ancient form of meditative prayer.” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2460-2461). By the way, Calhoun recommends (Kindle Edition, Location 2498) Keating’s book, Open Mind, Open Heart, another ”textbook” on contemplative and centering prayer. In that book, Keating says this:

Centering prayer is a discipline designed to reduce the obstacles … choose a sacred word [to repeat] … Twenty to thirty minutes is the minimum amount of time necessary for most people to establish interior silence. (pp. 18, 21, 23 as quoted from Faith Undone, p. 81)

The repeating of a word or phrase is how contemplative prayer is practiced. This in turn begins to make the practitioner feel a oneness with God, humanity, creation, and with everything. This oneness is the whole crux of the matter. After awhile, the contemplative meditator begins to take on a different spiritual outlook. It’s what caused Thomas Merton (another mystic you will find in Calhoun’s book) to say “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (from David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969). Or what caused Henri Nouwen (another Calhoun “tutor”) to say at the end of his life after years of meditating:

Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.(From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)

In addition to the tutors Adele Calhoun lists in her Acknowledgements page, she also includes other names in the book that are important to point out here: David Steindl-Rast, Marjorie Thompson (author of Soul Feast), Brian C. Taylor, Kathleen Norris (a Catholic contemplative nun), Karen Mains, Tilden Edwards, Ruth Haley Barton, and Esther De Waal. Between her “tutors” and these other names along with the practices and ideas Calhoun espouses in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, the heart of the contemplative prayer movement is clearly and no doubtedly manifested in her book.

The following quotes by some of the people in Calhoun’s book are the focal point of our concerns. These aren’t minor points we’re dealing with. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at risk to those who are being exposed to this. The spirituality that Calhoun and her tutors embrace leads to interspirituality (i.e., all paths lead to God). “Christian mysticism” resonates with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim mysticism, which means it’s not Christian at all; but practitioners become blinded to that – this is how Henri Nouwen came to call these mystical spiritual practices “treasures for the spiritual life of the Christian.” See now for yourself if you come to the same conclusions we have when you read these quotes:

The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment. – Brian C. Taylor (Setting the Gospel Free, p. 76 -What Taylor means by this book title is getting rid of the biblical Gospel).

These [Christian] contemplatives also recognize their soul mates in other traditions, as did Thomas Merton in his pilgrimage to Buddhist Asia. This is because they have passed beyond the confines of religion as a closed system to an open awareness of God-in-life. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free

The enlightenment you seek in our religions has been present in Christianity from the beginning – from the back cover of Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now

[New Ager] Ken Wilber is really the best teacher today . . . to give us an “integral spirituality.” Pick any book of his that fascinates you, and you will know why I, as a Christian, recommend him. – Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 153 (Wilber’s “integral spirituality” include yoga, zen, TM, kabbalah, tantric sex, kundalini, and centering prayer.)

This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality. – Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18

The practice of contemplative prayer might give a Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a meditating Buddhist. – Marjorie Thompson, Soul Feast, Prologue

Skeptics may say, well these quotes are not in Calhoun’s book. That’s true, but anyone can see that Calhoun is encouraging her readers to turn to these mystics by calling them her tutors, quoting from them extensively, and recommending their books.

If you want to know what the end result of practicing contemplative spirituality is, the following quote by David Steindl Rast (who is in Calhoun’s book) sums it up – drop the Cross of Christ! There’s no need for it once the world religions come together under the common denominator of mystical realms:

Unfortunately, over the course of the centuries, this [Christianity] has come to be presented in almost legal language, as if it were some sort of transaction, a deal with God; there was this gap between us and God, somebody had to make up for it—all that business. We can drop that. The legal metaphor seems to have helped other generations. Fine. Anything that helps is fine. But once it gets in the way, as it does today, we should drop it.David Steindl-Rast, talking to a Buddhist (Robert Aitken & Steindl Rast, The Ground We Share, p. 45, emphasis added)

We must choose one, dear Christian – contemplative spirituality or the Cross of Jesus Christ – we cannot have them both.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Other Instances Where Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is Being Used:

Anaheim Vineyard – Pastoral Staff Recommends list

Rockbridge Seminary (where Rick Warren is an “advisor”) – Master of Divinity, Master of Ministry Leadership

Eastern Mennonite University“Highly recommended” list

Northpark Theological University “Highly recommended” list

Nazarene Theological SeminaryBibliography used

LeTourneau University

Trevecca Nazarene University – Formational Resources

 

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