Why Is Ian Morgan Cron Speaking At Olivet Nazarene University?

The following is a letter I have revised and sent again to Dr. John Bowling, President of Olivet Nazarene University, after having learned of Ian Morgan Cron’s scheduled speaking at chapel service on March 13 and also March 14.  (The original letter was emailed on Mar. 6).  I had been aware of Mr. Cron and his involvement with the blasphemous Wildgoose Festival, and felt I needed to send a warning to the president with the hope that the school would reconsider the invitation to Mr. Cron.  I am also sending this letter to General Superintendent JK Warrick as well as to Mark Holcomb, chaplain at Olivet.  (I have not had a response yet from the original email).

I assume Mr. Cron will speak as scheduled tomorrow.  I fear that the exposure of our students at the Christian colleges to false teachers such as Cron is continuing unabated, and I would strongly advise Bible believing parents to ask some hard questions before sending any of their children to a Nazarene university unless there are dramatic changes for the good.

Dear Dr. Bowling,

As a lifelong Nazarene, I am very concerned about a speaker that is coming to your university to speak in chapel service.  The speaker is Ian Morgan Cron, and this came to my attention through a report by Lighthouse Trails Research.  I had been previously familiar with Mr. Cron’s work, and the report caused additional concern for me, that he was scheduled to speak at a Nazarene university, which I have always believed stood for traditional Christian beliefs and Nazarene doctrine.

On the Olivet website, the Chapel statement starts with the following: “Teaching the Bible with clarity and passion.”

It also states this: “In this sacred place, the hearts and minds of Olivet students are being stimulated, challenged and inspired…”


How does a Jesuit priest who promotes mindless silence as a form of prayer, and says that “the future of the church is silence”, end up speaking to students at a Christian college?

How does his aberrant mystical philosophy allow him to “teach the Bible with clarity?”

How does a man who promotes Eastern style meditation help ” stimulate and inspire” born-again Christians?

How does a man who is endorsed by such heretics as Richard Rohr, and who himself endorses many proponents of contemplative mysticism, end up speaking to students at a Christian college?

Does this man even have any kind of testimony of salvation (Biblical salvation?)

Has anyone even vetted him, and asked him questions that would shed a light on his true beliefs, such as whether he believes Jesus is the ONLY way to God?  Is there even a process involved in making sure someone is fit to speak to a group of Christians without worrying about their true beliefs?

Surely this must be a horrible mistake or oversight.  In stark contrast to what we as Nazarenes believe (and most importantly as Christians), Mr. Cron is far from traditional and “normal” in his teachings.  I am not talking about minor theological differences here.  I first learned of Mr. Cron when I noticed a few years ago that he was on the speaker’s list at a blasphemous “Christian” festival called Wildgoose, which sadly featured two influential Nazarene leaders.  You can read about that event, which occurred again last year, in one of my posts (Two Prominent Nazarene Leaders Promote Blasphemous Festival).  You will see that Wildgoose is far from coming close to what Nazarenes and Bible believing Christians believe, and that it is simply a love fest of ecumenical heresies and emergent church advocacy, even promoting “homosexual Christianity”, beer and wine parties, and more.

Mr. Cron is a proponent of contemplative mysticism and he aligns himself with a host of emergent and mysticism advocates.  In the full article documenting his background, Lighthouse Trails has pointed out the serious errors of his philosophy.  In the attached YouTube video, you will see him promoting the falseness of “silence” as the future of the church.  With what biblical teaching he justifies this is beyond me, although he does not even seem to justify his belief through anything but his own imagination and wishes!

I speak for many Nazarenes when I ask this: why is Ian Morgan Cron being allowed to speak to the students at Olivet Nazarene University?  Is this the kind of person who should be influencing students who are studying at a school that is supposed to reflect the values of the Church of the Nazarene?  Now that you are aware of what Mr. Cron teaches and promotes, will you step in and speak out strongly against his visit?  If so, will you ask for the removal of Mr. Cron, and any other false teacher, from the list of those who would influence young impressionable minds at a Christian university?  I would think that the only reason to invite him that is justified, would be to give someone equal and direct time to rebut Mr. Cron’s beliefs directly in front of the students in chapel.

The following is a quote from an interview:

“I grew up a Roman Catholic and later became an Anglican priest (it was the closest I could get to being a Catholic priest without having to “swim the Tiber”) so there’s definitely a weird brew of influences floating around the community. I’m presently studying spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality at the Shalem Institute and beginning next year in a doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) so the voices of Merton, Rahner, Ignatius, St Francis, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill and other contemplatives find their way into our ministries and preaching as well.”-Ian Morgan Cron

Dr. Bowling, I realize you may not know of me, but I have been speaking out on behalf of hundreds if not thousands of Nazarenes for the last four years.  We are concerned that the denomination is going down a path which is leading many astray.  I hope that you will be able to give us an answer regarding this speaker, and that Olivet Nazarene University will make a decision to stand strong for biblical principles, and reject such false teachers as Ian Morgan Cron.  However, if you believe we are wrong in our assessment, would you at least give an explanation as to why Ian Morgan Cron is a good choice to speak to the students at Olivet.

Sincerely in Christ,

Manny Silva
Stand For Truth Ministries
Concerned Nazarenes


Why Can’t They See It? Demonic Activity In Nazarene Schools and Churches

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

An Alarm That Needs to Be Sounded But Will Largely Be Ignored
(John Henderson)

http://youtu.be/Nk_I3fNCWxQ   ENC Harlem Shake
http://youtu.be/iExjofik6wg  Unmasked Version of Harlem Shake
http://youtu.be/9dxWxv376xM  “Original Version” at Mid America
http://youtu.be/Tm23MxS6xz8  Olivet Nazarene University
http://youtu.be/yNCP7YOM3Pk  Olivet Coaches
http://youtu.be/4kHaOnOSGNc  Point Loma Nazarene University
http://www.treveccalive.com/angelotate/harlem-holiness-shake/  Trevecca “Holiness” Shake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9gh-XlOMvm0#!  Northwest Nazarene
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpUABrTCfY  Southern Nazarene

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dtn1Fp5e8A Africa Nazarene University

The above You Tubes clearly demonstrate there is something wrong in our Church of the Nazarene.  Except possibly for the second one (and there were others so vile I could not share them here), they are all at Nazarene Universities.  The one at Olivet is set up by who is apparently the chaplain.

I might say that this is the ultimate emergent heresy unabashed and out of control.  I would be right.  I might say it is just a cousin to the demonic kundalini and I would be right because it is demonic through and through.  People who are demon possessed are not born again because God’s saved cannot be demon possessed.  They can be harassed but not possessed of demons.  These people are demon possessed.

What I do say is a serious question:  Where on God’s green earth are the university presidents, administration, and faculty?  Where, in the precious name of Jesus are the university board members?  Where are the general superintendents, department heads, district superintendents, and major pastors in the Church of the Nazarene?  Why is no one calling a halt to this?

It is ironic that we Nazarenes who stand for the truth of the Scriptures are snubbed, insulted, and demeaned because we raise a voice against this stuff from hell!  It is ironic that pastors are bemoaning the exodus of people and offerings from their churches while they “hee-hee” this filth and continue to offer up cultic substitutes for worship and prayer.  It is ironic that we wring our hands at the consequences of the lawsuit out of the Bethany sex scandal that now forces every Nazarene church to conduct a “background” check on everyone who has direct contact with its children.

Isn’t it high time that we Nazarenes start being Nazarenes?  I tell people that I am a traditional Nazarene, that I am not an emergent Nazarene, a postmodern Nazarene, a new age Nazarene, a progressive Nazarene, and so on.  I take the Bible at its word—God’s Word to be precise.  I believe the creation was a real event.  I believe that God is omnipotent, omni-present, and omniscient—that He knows the future just as if it was today.  I believe that sin is awful and damning and that if anyone is not fully trusting Christ as Savior that person is lost and has only Hell to anticipate and dread.  I believe the Bible is totally true and accurate by divine action.

I believe that God expects us to live above the world in attitude, conduct, speech, and even our outward appearances—we are to live beyond the world-order in holiness of heart, mind, body, and soul.  We are not of the world so we are not to take on its identity in any form.

This world cannot teach us a thing.  We are on a divine mission to win and teach them.  There is to be no compromise or accommodation on our part.  We have a clear message that has often been summarized accurately in three words—repent or perish.

It is so pitiful that we have received a call to intercessory prayer by our denominational leaders leading up to the 2013 general assembly.  It is clear that we need to do that.

A Failure Of The Shepherds To Exercise Leadership In The Church Leads To Such As This
(Manny Silva)

The worldwide phenomenal popularity of a new dance video craze called the Harlem Shake is clearly obvious.  YouTube videos with well over 40 million hits collectively prove that.  It is yet another fad that soon will die out as many other fads do.  Briefly explained, as described in an article by Stand Up For The Truth:

First you see a subdued, well-behaved group or crowd. Suddenly you hear music audio declaring, “Con Los Terroristas!” A sole individual is then seen dancing while wearing a helmet or mask, while the others seem oblivious to the gyrations in their midst. When the song breaks into “Do the Harlem Shake!” the video cuts and shows the room filled with people in costumes dancing wildly and seductively. It is reminiscent of the Golden Calf scene in the Ten Commandments movie.

By the way, Con Los Terroristas  means “with the terrorists.” When you see one of these from a Christian viewpoint, it is clearly a worldly performance that most of the time looks demonic.  Much of it is sensual, oftentimes bordering on the pornographic, with many of the participants often scantily clad, dressed in devilish costumes, and making extremely vulgar gestures.  Certainly not something any professing born again Christian would do, right?


It is now a craze that is sweeping evangelical Christian schools and even church youth groups.  In the Stand Up For The Truth article, they document how Christian organizations such as Liberty University, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Youth Ministry, Kentucky Christian University, Cedarville University, and others, have jumped onto this bandwagon and brought this phenomenon into their chapels and churches!  In one of the videos from a church in San Antonio, Texas, you even see this being performed in the middle of a sermon, with the pastor joining in enthusiastically.  And in a blasphemous performance, a C3 church in Australia did it while re-enacting Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

But… what about Nazarenes?  After all, we are a holiness denomination, are we not?  Surely not us!

Out of curiosity, I did some research.  Why am I not surprised?  The first one I found was actually from my alma mater, Eastern Nazarene College. Probably the many years of a liberal “kids will be kids” attitude, coupled with an ecumenical philosophy and the emergent rejection of doctrine in favor of being like the world, has poisoned the minds of our youth.  And this is the result.  Worldliness in a Nazarene school, or a Nazarene church, and many of the youth and many of the adults have no problem with this at all.  More likely, they think this is cute and so much fun, and think that the world will love how we like to have a good time.

Such is the state of the church, and how it continues to go deeper and deeper into worldliness until it will no longer have any kind of distinction from the non-believers.  (At the end, you will find a full list of what I have found (so far) at our Nazarene universities, churches and youth group meetings).

And will anyone in Nazarene leadership say a word?  Why should they?  They have not taken a serious stand on all the apostasy that has started to destroy the Nazarene denomination, so clearly I do not expect any of our General Superintendents, or our District Superintendents, or any of our college presidents, to say a peep about this.

But if I’m wrong, I guess I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

You make your own judgment about this, but I agree with my friends who have said that this is nothing but demonic activity, and it is truly sad how our university and church leaders have contributed so poorly to the spiritual development of our youth.  The result is this and much more that we have already sounded the alarm about.  And the majority of the sheep sit quietly in the pews, meekly listening to feel good sermons and bragging about how they are proud to be Nazarene.  Well, for the first time in my life, I am no longer proud to be a Nazarene.

As Scripture clearly teaches us, those who are in such positions as supposed shepherds in the church will have much to answer to the Lord someday.

 “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  James 3:1

APPENDIX: (Viewer discretion advised.  As John said, some of these are pretty vile in their content)

Mid-America Nazarene University:

Wenatchee Nazarene Student Ministries:

Muncie First Church:

Point Loma Nazarene University:

Olivet Nazarene University:


Bethany First Church Youth Ministry:

Chicago First Church, Edge Student Ministry:

Maysville Nazarene Church:

Southern Nazarene Univ. student bus:

Eastern Nazarene College:

ENC’s Facebook page brags about it:  http://www.facebook.com/EasternNazarene

Trevecca Nazarene University:

Northwest Nazarene University:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9gh-XlOMvm0#!

A Nazarene church in MN:

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


Responding To Dr. Leth’s Open Letter To Manny Silva

[Dr. Carl Leth recently wrote “An Open Letter To Manny Silva” in response to my post about Olivet Nazarene University promoting contemplative spirituality. My response to that is below, followed after by the full text of his letter.]

Summary Statement:

Dear Dr. Leth,

1. Instead of attacking the stated facts in my article, you wrongly attacked the integrity and honesty of Stand For Truth Ministries (me) and of Lighthouse Trails Research. You attacked the messenger, but not the message!  I think you could have done better.

2. You did not give a biblical defense for Olivet allowing false teachers like Tony Campolo to speak to students unchallenged.

3. You did not give a biblical defense for Olivet using books by authors like Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster.

4. You demonstrated no Scriptural defense of “spiritual formation.”  Ironically, the only passage you used, Romans 12:2, is actually a reason for not allowing Tony Campolo to speak to the students at Olivet.  He is part of the world!

5. You wrongly accused Lighthouse Trails of some kind of deception.  You said: But I do object to anonymous critique from people without identity or accountability. They operate – by choice – in the shadows.”  Well, you obviously missed the easy-to-find “Contact Us” section that lists David and Deb Dombrowski as the editors.  And you can further read their doctrinal statement, including the opening statement that the Bible is inerrant and historically accurate- a belief that is sadly lacking amongst many Nazarenes today, including many of our college theologians.

6.  John Wesley was not someone who promoted contemplative spirituality. (Although if he did, I would have called him out on it).

7. From your letter, I can only conclude that Olivet Nazarene University has at this time no intention of seriously looking at the implications of what it is doing by promoting contemplative spirituality (via “spiritual formation programs”).  That is why, unless their is a serious change, I do not recommend Olivet for any Bible believing Christian, as I do not recommend any of the other Nazarene schools and the seminary and Bible college as well.

8. I have no problem accepting your invitation to come and visit Olivet.  You can read my answer at the end.

Full Response:

Dr. Leth, although I still have serious disagreement with you on these issues, at least you have responded publicly, and I commend you for that.  Too many leaders in our denomination today are “operating in the shadows.”  The church needs to know the facts of where you and other leaders stand at all the colleges and seminaries, and make their decisions based on the answers.

You stated, “What you failed to mention was our exchange of multiple e-mails and an extended phone conversation discussing Dr. Campolo. You also neglected to mention the multiple page assessment of Dr. Campolo which I sent to you (and which I also shared with our University chaplain), discussing points of disagreement – and agreement – with your concerns.”

Any “omission” of our communications was done out of consideration for your statement of confidentiality, and certainly not to hide anything.  All your emails you sent me marked as confidential, including the one which had your assessment of Dr. Campolo attached.  Your disclaimer says: “This message is from the Office of Carl M. Leth at Olivet Nazarene University and is intended only for the recipient to whom it is addressed.  Please do not share or forward this e-mail without the permission of the sender.”

 So I honored that disclaimer.  If you wish, I would be glad to publicize all those emails that you stated were confidential, as well as your assessment of Dr. Campolo.  There was no failure or dishonest omission on my part, as is implied.

Secondly, I stand by my statement in which I said that you have no problem with Dr. Campolo.  Yes, you did write an assessment of Dr. Campolo that included some criticism, but the bottom line is this.  In allowing Dr. Campolo to come to Olivet, you (and the leadership) are okay with a false teacher coming to the Olivet campus and speaking unchallenged.  You know by now that Dr. Campolo promotes a whole lot of unbiblical ideologies, including contemplative mysticism, mantra prayers, and tacit support of the homosexual agenda.  By allowing him to speak, you (the leaders of Olivet) potentially allow him to poison the minds of your students.  That is irresponsible, and at least says that you and others are willing to tolerate the appearance of a false teacher on campus without giving anyone a chance to refute him at the same time.  I’ll let others decide for themselves whether that is wise or not.

Thirdly, you also said, that “standing for truth” does not require basic courtesy, not to mention following biblical principles for dealing with matters of disagreement.”  I am not aware of any biblical principles I violated.  Surely you do not mean Matthew 18, which does not apply here.  You are a public figure, whose words are read by hundreds of students at a time at Olivet.  A public response to you or any other public figure is absolutely appropriate.  We warn you and the leadership of what your school is allowing.  I am duty bound by God’s word to point out the errors publicly, for the sake of the students who attend your school, and for those who may attend.  I see no biblical basis for keeping my mouth shut publicly.  On the other hand, it would be reckless for me to not give out any warning as Olivet continues on this course.

You Question My Integrity, and That Of Lighthouse Trails

In spite of my serious disagreements with you, I had not (until now) questioned your integrity because I have not had any concrete reason to do so.  I do question your ideas.  I know that you sincerely believe in what you do, although I believe you are sincerely wrong.  A person can be in error and still be a person of integrity.  Yet you are questioning my integrity and my honesty, as well as that of the Lighthouse Trails writers.  That is a disappointment to me, and I believe it is an improper unscriptural judgment of me, Lighthouse Trails, and anyone else who has an opinion of what Olivet is teaching.  And it results , intentionally or otherwise, in trying to deflect away from the facts, which you never refuted.

You said:  “standing for truth” does not require speaking truthfully” …. “It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require a very high standard for truth. The critique of Olivet in a broad, sweeping stroke, was based on the posting of “Lighthouse Trails Research” which you trust and “commend.” 

 I commend and stand by Lighthouse Trails and the work they do, and I stand by my work as well. We bring facts out in the open, and we give our opinion.  Were these facts inaccurate about Olivet?  If so, which stated facts are in error, and why?  Frankly, what you object to is not the facts, but my conclusion as well as LHT’s conclusion, that Olivet is promoting contemplative spirituality.

And it does not matter whether LHT has a Wesleyan background!  John Wesley did not write the Bible!  What matters is if what they post is the truth, and there has been no refutation of any facts, and no biblical justification given for allowing these false teachers to influence our students.  I have no formal theological training, but God has given me the discernment to see what is false, and what is truth.

So I am very disappointed at your accusation that both Lighthouse Trails and myself are lacking in integrity and honesty.  This reminds me of the same technique used by my former pastor, when he did not like hearing the truth from me and could not refute a single thing I wrote.  I’ve seen this often.  When some people can’t refute the truth, they simply try to destroy the integrity of the messenger!  I am not perfect, but my conscience is clear before God.  Is yours?

I suspect that not one theology professor at Olivet, nor any other Christian university, can defend in a biblical manner the ideology of such writers as Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, and many others.  They all share one thing in common, and that is the rapidly growing phenomenon of “spiritual formation.”  I would challenge your professors to come up with a biblical defense for the use of Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster books.  If not, they ought to throw it all out.  Sadly, those who are on the spiritual formation bandwagon are using contemplative practices that are unbiblical and that teach Christians that if they are quiet enough, the voice of God will speak to them; that if they practice “the silence” they will get closer to God.

Dr. Leth, you and some of your colleagues including some at our seminaries, are trying to justify the positive use of books by men who promote doctrines of demons.   We should not be trying to confuse people by saying we can take the good from these men, and throw out the bad.  That is not biblical at all.  You are trying to justify contemplative spirituality, and denying that it is what you call spiritual formation.  Spiritual formation programs are a Trojan horse bringing in contemplative mysticism. You say mystical expressions are okay.  I would ask, how does one know that any of those mystical expressions are from God, or from Satan?  How do I tell which is it? You seem to be pretty much on the same page as Tony Campolo, who said:

 “We must pay serious attention to mystical happenings, and discern, in the context of biblical understanding in Christian community, whether or not we believe they are of God. Discernment is crucial to mystical spirituality. Without it, anything goes. On the other hand, we must learn to doubt our doubts if we are going to be open to the work of the Spirit in our lives” (The God of Intimacy and Action, p. 11).

Finally, you said: “And I categorically reject the position attributed to Nouwen suggesting that there could be any other way to God.” 

How can it be clearer?  In his own words, Nouwen said:

“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).

Dr. Leth, let me make it clear: I have nothing personal against you or anyone at Olivet or any of the other colleges.  I believe you and your colleagues have good intentions.  God has long ago removed any personal resentments from my heart.  But I am saddened that the current position of Olivet leadership seems to be one of either denial, or refusal to repent.  I call on you and the leaders of the school to reject the use of these false teachers as good resources, to reject the spiritual formation which is a trojan horse for contemplative spirituality, and to get back to the Bible and nothing else as your source of truth.  It is a call for repentance from what is slowly destroying the Nazarene denomination.  It is a call to turn back to obedience to the inerrant word of God.

Your Invitation to Visit:

Regarding your invitation to come to Olivet.  I would be glad to come sometime with a colleague and have a dialogue with two of your best theologians, in front of all the students in chapel, on the merits of contemplative spirituality (spiritual formation).  I think something like that would be very interesting, and would allow someone like me, who is not seminary trained, to make my case.  I would only be armed with my knowledge of Scripture, my knowledge of those who promote contemplative spirituality, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Besides, would this not reflect the spirit of academic discourse and freedom, and sharing of ideas?

So consider this reply a Yes to your offer for me to visit the campus and speak to your students.  After all, if Tony Campolo, a non-Nazarene, can speak to them, why not a lifelong Nazarene like me?


Manny Silva

* Additional comments have been added in red within your letter below:


Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 07:29:47 -0800
Subject: An Open Letter to Manny Silva

An Open Letter to Manny Silva

(Please note: This letter will also be published on EpworthPulpit.com)

Dear Manny,

You recently issued a sweeping online critique of Olivet Nazarene University which you sent to Dr. Bowling and myself.  I was saddened and disappointed to receive it. But not by what it had to say about Olivet. It was what it revealed about Stand for Truth Ministries.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require speaking truthfully, or at the very least, is not averse to misleading statements. You wrote, concerning Tony Campolo’s visit to speak in chapel, “I sent my concerns to Dr. Carl Leth, dean of the School of Theology, but apparently he has no problem in having Dr. Campolo speak there.” What you failed to mention was our exchange of multiple e-mails and an extended phone conversation discussing Dr. Campolo. You also neglected to mention the multiple page assessment of Dr. Campolo which I sent to you (and which I also shared with our University chaplain), discussing points of disagreement – and agreement – with your concerns. In the end, our differences were less about the areas where Dr. Campolo is on questionable grounds than the severity of that critique. I shared your concerns about several positions Dr. Campolo advocates but I did not conclude that they disqualify him from speaking at all. That is a different conclusion from yours but hardly constitutes having “no problem” with Campolo.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require basic courtesy, not to mention following biblical principles for dealing with matters of disagreement.  In my multiple exchanges of communication with you I have tried to understand your concerns and respond to them in a serious manner. While we do not agree on every issue I want to honor your concerns and perspective. In those multiple (and wholly congenial) exchanges I repeatedly asked you to contact me if you had any concerns about what we were doing at Olivet. “If you have a concern please let me know.” I extended my personal invitation to Olivet to communicate your concerns directly, offering to personally serve as your host. You have my e-mail address and my personal phone number, both of which you were invited to use freely. Yet this latest, sweeping, critique came without any prior contact from you. Perhaps any explanation I would have made would have been unsatisfactory to you. But it would have been a gesture of simple courtesy to give me that opportunity.

It revealed that “standing for truth” does not require a very high standard for truth. The critique of Olivet in a broad, sweeping stroke, was based on the posting of “Lighthouse Trails Research” which you trust and “commend.”  So I went to Lighthouse Trails to learn a bit more about my accuser. What I learned was almost nothing. The editors of Lighthouse ministry shine a bright light on folks they disagree with but remain, themselves, in the shadows. The site includes a tab “about us” but it does not include any names, credentials, or church affiliation. Instead, the site freely identifies their purpose as for-profit book sales. I have no objections to free enterprise or book sales. But I do object to anonymous critique from people without identity or accountability. Do they have any meaningful theological training? Are they from the Wesleyan Holiness tradition? Are they active in a local church? Is there an accountability community that can vouch for their character and integrity? I am not presuming negative answers to any of these questions. I am simply noting that I have no basis on which to offer any kind of answer to them. The writers of Lighthouse Trails may be well-trained churchmen, deeply grounded in the Wesleyan holiness tradition and their understanding of our tradition, and persons of high personal, spiritual and moral character. I simply have no way to know. They operate – by choice – in the shadows.

Nevertheless, they have been installed as the authoritative theological source for assessment of the Church of the Nazarene and Olivet Nazarene University whose judgment is accepted without question by Stand for Truth Ministries.
Dr. Leth, I have many reliable sources of information that I use, besides LHT, and I also do my own research and also verify the information.  But how would you know I accept LHTs words without question?  And please tell me, which facts that they reported were incorrect?  Did they not use Richard Foster’s book, and Nouwen’s books, in some courses?  Did not the VP of SPiritual Life favorably quote Nouwen?  Which facts were incorrect?

Among the faculty of Olivet’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry we have over 200 years of ministry experience – on the mission field, as pastors, in local ministry staff positions. I have, myself, over 25 years of pastoral service, including four years in Missions. I have been entrusted with leadership roles on districts where I have served – District Advisor Board, chairman of the district Finance Committee, chairman of the Ministerial Credential’s Board. You can read what I have written, identified by name, in multiple publications easily available to the public (including EpworthPulpit.com). You can hear me preach any Sunday at the multi-cultural church I pastor (as a bi-vocational pastor) in downtown Kankakee. My credentials, experience and service are readily available for public assessment. But for Stand for Truth Ministries none of that matters the moment an anonymous, for-profit, online bookseller makes a condemning critique. That is the standard of truth.  No sir, the standard of truth is Jesus Christ, and His word, the word of God!

LHT is NOT anonymous, and you should correct that and apologize for saying that.  They even explain why they are for-profit, but even so, what s wrong with for profit?  Can they make a living, just as a pastor needs to get some income as well?  Do you earn income for what you do?

As far as your credentials, they look really good to me.  But is that the standard for Christians before they can discern what is right and what is wrong?  Does that mean no one is qualified to discern unless they have gone to theological school and received a degree?  Please read Psalm 119:99 and you will know that is not necessarily the case.

About Olivet

So much for what this reveals about Stand for Truth Ministries. Let me respond to the substance of your expressed concern. The general concern about “spiritual formation” reflects a misunderstanding about what spiritual formation is. You assume that anything identified as spiritual formation must be, or lead to, inappropriate forms of mysticism or non-Christian spirituality. This is simply mistaken. The disciplines of spiritual formation have been a part of the Christian community from its beginning. They reflect the intentional formation of practices and patterns of life to reflect and honor Christ’s lordship. They include practices of prayer, reading Scripture, worship, giving, and service. John Wesley did not use the term “spiritual formation” but emphasized the practices of spiritual formation as “means of grace.”

John Wesley, as far as I know, would not be involved with the kind of spiritual formation being promoted in the universities today, in many of our churches.  But… if he did, I suppose I would have to call him out on it as well.  The attempt to re-write the history of John Wesley, such as the claims of some that he was the first emergent, is outrageous!

The Wesleyan holiness understanding of God’s work of salvation has always included an emphatic insistence that this must include a radical change of life. Justification cannot be the experience of the believer without regeneration, newness of life, or initial sanctification. This means that life change is part and parcel of the New Birth. We must live in a new way. And this includes learning new habits and patterns of life. We need to learn to read the Word, spend time in prayer, spend time just listening to God, learn to act in new and different ways – like learning to serve others and spending time in the fellowship of the church.

All we need is the instructions God has given us in scripture.  We MUST NOT use “new and different ways” if they contradict God’s word.  But your examples certainly are not new.  Serving others, fellowship in the church- those are nothing new, although they are biblical.  Practicing the silence is not.  Using books by heretical authors as good resources are not.   Placing ashes on the forehead are not.

It is the expression of living worship. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

That is one of the points I have been trying to make!  Do not conform to the world!  Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster are part of the world!  Run away from them- don’t embrace them!

This work of life transformation is God’s work, a gift of grace, but it is not done without us. We are called to participate with God’s gracious work in us. And just because it is grace does not mean that the work is not sometimes hard work on our part. We emerge from lives of sin and the powerful influence of this world with deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and habits of life. We have to re-learn how to think of ourselves, what we value, how to use our resources, how to work through our hurts and grievances. All of this is part of God’s work in our lives to make us holy. All the “work” we do is participating in God’s sanctifying work in our lives. This is what “spiritual formation” must always be about – being made holy, reflecting the image and character of the Christ to whom we belong.

This is the work we are purposing to do. No mystic spiritualism. No inner divinity. Richard Foster claims that EVERY human being can be a portable sanctuary for contact with God.  EVERY human being, not just Christians. No universal spiritual being. Just forming hearts and lives around the heart and life of the One who gave himself for me. He alone is our life. He alone is our hope. He alone is the One we seek.

Let me add a word about the language of mysticism. It is easy for someone to misunderstood what is being said when calling for a movement from “moral” to “mystical” Christian experience. There are Christian traditions that see the Christian life as primarily a kind of moral living. Being Christian is, essentially, following the moral standards found in Scripture or expressed by the church. The life of the Christian is a life of compliance with the Law or the Church. “Mystical” expressions of Christianity have called people to a personal experience of God, a living personal relationship that does not require the mediation of a priest or the institutional church.

How is “Mystical” expressions biblical?  Please explain how mysticism is encouraged or taught in Scripture.  Nouwen said this:  “Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love. … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required” (In the Name of Jesus, pp. 6, 31, 32).  How is this scriptural?

In this sense, we of the Wesleyan holiness tradition have always been “mystical.” We have never believed that being Christian is, essentially, about the Law.  Dr. Leth, let me explain what being a Christian means.  Being a Christian is this: someone who has repented of his sins, and placed his faith in Jesus Christ.  He has turned away form his sinful path, and now turns to obedience to Christ.  How do you obey Christ?  Simply by following His word, His law if you will.  Jesus said it Himself: if you love me, keep my commandments.  He did not say, if you love me, become a mystic and experience by practicing the silence.

It is about a personal encounter with the living God. It is what every altar in every church calls out. God, Himself, may be met here.

This is a description of the experiential philosophy of the emergent church and the mystics of today.  That you can “experience” God.   However, this is very subjective, and there is not clear way for us to discern whether someone’s “persona” experience is genuine or not, or if it is demonic.

In this sense I am glad to be called “mystical.” In fact, I refuse to be anything else. As I write this response I am listening to the song that asks, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?” And my heart is encouraged by the ringing refrain, “O yes, He cares; I know He cares!…I know my Saviour cares.”  I know because I have met Him, I know Him. The Christian life is to follow Him and to know Him. This is the “mysticism” we value here at Olivet.

We follow and know Him by knowing His word.  Otherwise, your mysticism and my mysticism can be totally different, and again, how can I tell whether your experience is valid or not?  Or whether the “mystical experience” of 1000 different students at Olivet is valid or not.

That is not to say that any mysticism will do. Absolutely not! Only a life grounded in the life of Christ has found Life. And I categorically reject the position attributed to Nouwen suggesting that there could be any other way to God. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life.

Where is any scriptural support for mystical experiences that can somehow be achieved by our efforts?  All the mystical experiences documented in the New Testament were initiated by God- not by Paul or anyone else going through some kind of procedure or ritual.

Moving Forward

I want to take you and your concerns seriously – as I have tried to do from the beginning. I will ask our faculty who are using Nouwen to carefully consider the texts they are using. I will ask them, specifically, to explore the suggested pluralism in the source you attribute to Nouwen.

They know what Henri Nouwen believed and taught.  There should be no question but that they should immediately remove his material, as well as Richard Foster’s, from the curriculum.  However, I do not fault Olivet alone on this.  I was ashamed to see Richard Foster’s book at General Assembly, AND in a prayer room, which was doubly shameful.

We want to avoid any suggestion that we affirm mystical spirituality or hope of salvation that is not grounded in the life of Christ alone.

But that is what the Nazarene denomination is doing right now, seeking “experiences” instead of remaining int he word of God.  It is no longer sufficient for them.  They must seek more new ways of getting close to God.  That is an insult to the sufficiency of placing our faith in Christ, and relying on His word.

We will not, however, abandon the enterprise of spiritual formation as I have described it. To do so would be to fail to be faithful stewards of the responsibility entrusted to us.

I’m sorry to hear that.  May the Lord bring conviction to you all and repentance from this path that Olivet seemingly has chosen.  It is the wrong way to go.

Nonetheless, I want to repeat my earlier offer to you. You are welcome to visit Olivet at any time as my guest. I will personally serve as your host and we will work to arrange meaningful opportunities for dialogue with you. If you are unable to visit the campus but have concerns you would like to express please communicate them to me and I will try to address them. In whatever we do let us try to honor Christ and be honoring to each other for his sake.

I’ll be glad to come, if I will be allowed to speak to the students in chapel, just as Tony Campolo was.

Olivet Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality

“It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. (Lighthouse Trails Research)

It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly.

The following specific facts are extracted from a post at Lighthouse Trails Research regarding Olivet Nazarene University:

Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, is used in a required freshman course.
Spiritual Formation is part of the school’s major theology curriculums
Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses
The Vice President of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors

This is troubling news, and if we dig deeper and get closer, I’m sure we would find that there is no denying that these sources are used because those at the school who use them, have no problem with them.  No professor or school leader is going to use or recommend any of these books I mentioned, unless they have no problem with what these authors teach!  These books are not being used as examples of what to avoid, but examples of what can supposedly help us grow spiritually.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That Olivet is considered by many to be one of the more conservative Christian colleges is not a very good sign.

As the writers mention below, practically all Nazarene colleges and the seminaries are promoting spiritual formation (aka contemplative spirituality), and these kinds of writers.  Foster has appeared at seminars in some Nazarene universities, such as at Point Loma.  He is considered the leading promoter of contemplative mysticism today within the “evangelical” community.  Nouwen was a universalist Catholic monk who mixed Christianity with Buddhism.  Tony Campolo has spoken at Olivet, even just recently, and apparently no one there has any problem with him.  Campolo is a big promoter of centering prayer, the mantra like Jesus Prayer, and also promotes the occultic practices of Celtic Spirituality.  I sent my concerns about him to Dr. Carl Leth, dean of the School of Theology, but apparently he has no problem in having Dr. Campolo speak there.

I agree with the conclusions of Lighthouse Trails, and again I commend ministries like them who are consistently exposing what is going on in not only the Nazarene denomination, but in practically all denominations.  The only question that remains on the table is this: why are some of you okay with it, and if you are not, why are some of you so silent?

This post is being forwarded to Olivet president Dr. Bowling, and to Dr. Leth.  I would like to get a reasonable, biblically supported explanation of why these kinds of authors are used in a required freshman course, and in other theology courses.  Perhaps they are using these authors as examples of bad theology?  But if not, and Olivet claims to be “theologically grounded in the Wesleyan tradition”, what does that have to do with Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen’s promotion of unbilical contemplative spirituality?

I am also sending this to the Board of General Superintendents for comment.  What they think about these issues is still unknown to me and many others who have asked them to comment.

Olivet Nazarene University 105th School Added to Lighthouse Trails Contemplative School List

February 11th, 2012 | Author: Lighthouse Trails Editors


On Saturday morning, Lighthouse Trails received an e-mail from a concerned parent whose child is attending Olivet Nazarene University. The parent told us that Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline is part of a required Freshman course. We have also discovered that Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) is integrated in various aspects of the school including their Christian Education program, Practical Ministries, Youth Ministry, and the School of Theology. Thus we have added Olivet Nazarene University to our list of Christian schools that promote Spiritual Formation.

In addition to Richard Foster’s book, Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses. In two of those (CMIN 116, COMM 300), his contemplative promoting book In the Name of Jesus is used. This is the book that Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, recommends saying it “hits at the heart of the minister . . .  I highlighted almost every word.”1 It is in that book of Nouwen’s that he says:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.2 (emphasis added)

In almost every school that promotes Spiritual Formation, Henri Nouwen is used. This is because the spirituality that Nouwen advocated for is the same spirituality that Spiritual Formation (contemplative) inhabits. When you think of where Spiritual Formation took Nouwen before the end of his life (after years of practicing mysticism), it is sobering to see the majority of Christian colleges and seminaries embrace him. In the last book he wrote, he stated:

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.”3

What Nouwen says here illustrates the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality. It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly. We have documented this for years. If you want to see one of the most shocking signs of where evangelical Christian schools will end up, read our article Buddhist/Universalist Sympathizer Woos Nazarene Students at NNU and watch the video we link to of Dr. Jay McDaniel’s visit to Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.

Nouwen’s influence is obvious at Olivet. The VP of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors. This of course could have a profound influence on many students. Parents, please remember, when you are looking for a college or university for your son or daughter to attend this coming fall, please check that school out carefully beforehand, and make sure your child understands what the underlying roots of contemplative and emerging spirituality are before they leave your home. It is by no means just Nazarene Universities that are being affected. This is happening in virtually every denomination to one degree or another.

Original link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8761

Additional Resources:

1. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, (http://web.archive.org/web/20081227044856/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54).

2. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.

3. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, Hardcover edition, 1998, p. 51.