“True unity is not reckless diversity in doctrine; true unity is unity in the Spirit, and unity in what God’s word says.”
Recently, a post was written by a pastor in the United Methodist Church, Ric Shewell, in which he decried what he sees as a sad situation in the Church of the Nazarene. Rev. Shewell is also a former Nazarene pastor, who left the denomination and says that he was driven out, although I do not know why, since he seems to fit in nicely with the current philosophy. He is also a major supporter of Tom Oord. Both denominations share a similar heritage, including the connection with John Wesley and his holiness message, and hence an understandable concern for a sister denomination. In his article, pastor Shewell laments that due to the intolerance of conservatives within the Nazarene denomination, it has led to the dismissal or demotion of such Nazarene notables as Dr. Oord, a professor at Northwest Nazarene University who rejects the Genesis account of creation and embraces evolution, who does not believe Adam and Eve existed, who teaches the heresy that God cannot know the future, and that God is not perfect and actually learns from His mistakes.
He gives other examples such as in 2007, when a college professor was dismissed for his views in favor of evolution; the dismissal of the Nazarene Publishing House president; and the demotion of a college chaplain for his views on wars based on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. His point in using these examples is that the Church of the Nazarene is losing out in the area of diversity in thought and leadership. His conclusion is essentially this: that traditionalists (conservatives, or Bible-believers) are the ones to blame for a so-called uniformity of thought which is squeezing out the progressives and leading to a serious division in the church, and that soon the United Methodist Church will suffer the same fate if something is not done about it.
Pastor Shewell is correct in several ways. Yes, the Church of the Nazarene is being fractured, and uniformity of thought is being promoted heavily. Yes, there are many in the church today that are being intolerant of certain views and as a result are alienating those folks who have those views. (Intolerance is good in some instances, as in when faithfulness to God’s word demands intolerance of false teaching). What is totally incorrect in his conclusions is that he has it reversed, as to who is responsible for this so-called division and drive for uniformity of thought. It is clear from all the evidence over the last decade, that this “uniformity of thought” is being driven by the progressives, and it is clear also that they will not tolerate any thought or belief that opposes their views. By the way, those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture also believe in uniformity of thought, as long as it is driven and supported by God’s word. True unity is not reckless diversity in doctrine; true unity is unity in the Spirit, and unity in what God’s word says. We will always accept that kind of uniformity of thought.
You can read his entire post here, as well as this post by my friend Dave Mosher which he wrote three years ago about the United Methodist pastor who hosts the website which posted Rev. Shewell’s article. In the meantime, here is my response to the article, with a few added thoughts to extend the comments on his view.
This idea that progressives are being kicked out by conservatives in the Church of the Nazarene is, with all due respect, nonsense! It is the other way around- and can be evidenced by the many biblical Nazarenes who have been forced to leave a denomination that is becoming more and more apostate as time goes by. It will soon be even more “progressive”, and eventually will embrace “homosexual Christians” as being part of the body of Christ. Is there any evidence of progressive persecution of traditional Christians in the church? Yes there is.
-The rejection of the divinely inspired word of God as actually being God’s word in full, is evidence also. This is the central source of the entire problem in any denomination that has strayed from the truth.
-The denial of ordination of a pastor in New England because he testified to his belief in the inerrancy of scripture is evidence.
-The revoking of a pastor’s credentials and throwing his family out of their parsonage for preaching against the evils of the emergent church movement is evidence.
-The embrace of Roman Catholics as “brothers and sisters” in Christ, notwithstanding the RCC’s heretical teachings, is evidence.
-The welcoming of contemplative mysticism into the church is evidence of its new progressivism.
-The emphasis on the social gospel or the environmental gospel taking on almost equal importance with the true Gospel.
-The shunning of traditional Nazarenes in their churches if they do not accept these new progressive ideas is evidence.
-The rejection of biblical inerrancy as written by a Holiness Today editor is evidence.
The absolute silence by the General Superintendents as all this nonsense is occurring is evidence.
There is much, much more evidence, and you can read it on my blog if you wish.
This is no longer the denomination of my father, who was a true holiness preacher/pastor and would have had his heart broken if he had known of what is going on now. My late father-in-law also was a Nazarene holiness preacher and pastor, and he testified to me of all these bizarre, unholy practices that the Nazarenes are bringing in with a total lack of discernment amongst district leaders and pastors.
These folks, like Tom Oord, are outlyers in this story. Apparently even he and a few others were just too much for those leaders who are normally very compromising in allowing just about any heretical practice in the church. Why? Who knows? Perhaps they went to such an extreme that even Nazarenes who don’t like to “rock the boat” were getting upset about these heretical views.
Perhaps this progressivism is to get as many people into the “tent” as possible. That is what they say, isn’t it? We have a big tent, they say, in the Church of the Nazarene, and we welcome “diverse views”. But heaven forbid if you believe in the literal Genesis account of creation, or if you believe in the inerrancy of scripture, or if you believe in evangelizing Catholics instead of pandering to them. Heaven forbid if you believe that it is wrong to pander to the LGBT crowd and their progressive agenda of full acceptance in the church. No, in that case, you are forced out, or told to get with the program and shut up.
In his article, Rev. Shewell says: “Maybe the UMC has gained an unpopular reputation for the fights we’re in, but we stay together, loving and serving for something greater than our differences.” Well, let’s see what that kind of thinking and “unity” has gotten the United Methodist Church over the years:
- The UMC is not only a member of the radical World Council of Churches, but is its primary financial source.
- UMC pastors constantly join hand in hand with Roman Catholics, Unitarians, other radical groups, and even interfaith groups (non-Christians). Clearly not a Wesleyan kind of worldview, and clearly opposite the view of the Methodist Articles of Faith developed by John Wesley.
- A modernistic view of doctrine. Quote from the UMC Conference in 1976 frames the current UMC mindset: ““We do not believe … in rigid doctrinal concepts to hold us steady in a wavering world.”
- At least 30 percent of UMC ministers do not believe Jesus Christ is God, and 82% say they do not believe the Bible is the perfect Word of God. As early as 1968 a widely publicized scientific survey by Jeffrey Hadden which was published by the Washington University showed that about 60% of the Methodist clergy did not believe in the virgin birth and at least 50% did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ.
- The UMC, although officially against homosexuality as compatible with Christian teaching, is all over the map in this regard in practice. Homosexuals have been ordained in several states; and countless pastors and bishops have joined forces to proudly declare their support of same sex “marriage” and ordination of homosexuals.
- The UMC has always been in support of abortion rights, calling for the legalization of abortion in 1972, and supporting the Roe v Wade decision by the Supreme Court.
If Rev. Shewell feels comfortable with these positions (and others I have not mentioned), then perhaps he will someday return to the Church of the Nazarene, as it also is heading the way of the UMC and other apostate denominations. Although John Wesley himself is not the ultimate measure of what is right and wrong for a church, my comparisons to him are to point to the utter hypocrisy of these people who believe they are “Wesleyan” in doctrine. Most evident of their hypocrisy is that they reject the very testimony of John Wesley who believed in the full inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. But as most liberals tend to do, they don’t let the facts get in the way of their distortion of history and biblical truth.
So this blaming of Bible believing, conservative traditionalists for the woes of the Nazarene denomination is all nonsense. The Church of the Nazarene, of which I am still a member for now, has gone from holiness to heresy. And the progressives have led the way and still do. That is what is going on, although the deniers will continue to deny it, and will soon condemn people like me for speaking the truth and pointing out their hypocrisy.
Dave Mosher’s Commentary on Jeremy Smith:
Ric Shewell’s article:
David Cloud’s article on Denominations: