A Church In Crisis? Or A Church In Christ?

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1​

In her message at the General Assembly last week, Dr. Nina Gunter, General Superintendent Emeritus, made the following statement:

“The church is not in crisis; the church is in Christ!”

Is Dr. Gunter speaking of the universal Christian church in general, or is she specifically speaking of the Church of the Nazarene?  If it is about the church in general, then I would have to agree.  The true church of Jesus Christ, in spite of outward persecution or even internal strife, will always remain in Christ.  But if she is speaking of the Church of the Nazarene, then we must ask, what evidence does she base her claim that the COTN is NOT in crisis?

According to Merriam-Webster, a crisis is “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending” or “a situation that has reached a critical phase”.  So based on this definition, is the COTN in a crisis situation or not?

In 2007, Dr. Gunter spoke at the M7 Conference of the Church of the Nazarene.  She made a statement that addressed three major challenges that she saw was facing the church:

“The intensity of change… and all of the challenges that are out there.  There are always challenges.  Some of the more recent ones are these… Calvinism invading the minds of students; the emergent church; Reformed Theology invading Arminian Theology.  The church is facing some of the biggest challenges in 60 years… and we must respond!”

Well, that is pretty serious, to say that the church is facing some of the biggest challenges in 60 years.  I would say that based on this statement, she seems to have at least considered the church to be in a state of crisis at that time.  So if according to Dr. Gunter the church was in a crisis then, including one brought on by the emergent church movement, what has happened in six years since then to change that?

Has there been a great revival that has awakened the church to the dangers of the emergent church? Have the General Superintendents, college presidents and other leaders responded by removing the dangerous elements of the emergent church movement, restoring biblical authority in the churches and the universities?  If so, Dr. Gunter did not specifically say so, and did not allude to her message from six years ago when she had urgently stated that a response was needed.

As I ponder this statement by her, and look at all the evidence from the last five years or so, I must come to the conclusion that Dr. Gunter (and the current General Board members) are living in a kind of parallel universe of sorts if they believe that the church is NOT in crisis.  If they truly agree with this statement, that there is no crisis, it is only if they consider that the false teachings of the emergent church that have gotten a grip on the denomination are acceptable to them and are of no consequence.  If there is a conscious awareness by these leaders of these problems, and I know there is, then the Church of the Nazarene is in crisis.

After six days at the General Assembly, multiple events and decisions there reinforced what I already knew.  The Church of the Nazarene is like a hit and run victim who is in critical condition at the ER, and the victim is either close to being on life support, or is already there. As I will write in my General Assembly final report, there are indications that it is getting worse for the church, with even newer problems on the horizon that were not as obvious four years ago.

I had considered listing here many of the things that have been happening in the last four years that are an indication of the crisis situation.  But we have been warning for four years now, the General Superintendents have received many emails and letters of concern, and they know exactly what is going on.  What have we gotten in return?  Nothing but form letters assuring us that the church is solid, and is continuing on its mission to “make Christ-like disciples in the nations.”

In the meantime, we have had the infiltration of contemplative mysticism into all the universities and seminaries; teaching of open theism, process theology and evolution; Roman Catholic practices and rituals; prayer labyrinths; allowing pro-homosexual groups to bring their ideologies onto campuses; at least one college chaplain worshiping with openly gay pastors and their congregations; LGBT groups setup in at least three colleges; an openly homosexual college student chaplain; a seminary allowing the teaching of occultic Celtic spirituality; a Nazarene pastor and a national Nazarene youth leader leading the way at the blasphemous Wildgoose Festival; theology programs using books by multiple heretics for their degree programs; social justice programs replacing the preaching of the Gospel; and sadly, General Superintendents who cannot even affirm the inerrancy of Gods word, and look the other way as teachers are indoctrinating the minds of students with the idea that the Bible has error, and that Genesis is merely allegory.

With all these things happening (and more), Dr. Gunter states that the Church of the Nazarene as a whole is in Christ!  Really?

I would have wanted to ask Dr. Gunter and the General Superintendents, what has happened in six years?  What has happened to these leaders who are charged with the responsibility of the doctrines of the church?  Why have none of them spoken up at all, and taken responsibility, and helped guide the church back to its theological roots of holiness preaching?  Why cannot one General affirm that the Holy Scriptures are completely and thoroughly God’s word, through and through?

Those words in my opinion are nothing but fairy tale words, evoked to make the unsuspecting Nazarenes feel good about the church, and to convince those who know better that everything is okay, when they know full well it is not.

The church is in crisis, and as it’s leaders continues in this state of denial, they will learn more and more how much deeper this crisis will get.  Perhaps judgment day is coming sooner than we think.


Additional Resource:

My Correspondence With The Generals


Leonard Sweet New Ager? You Decide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some thoughts, then you decide:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Resources: