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.