1 Tim 4: 1-2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
2 Pet. 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
Bear with me, this one’s a little long again, but this has gotten to the point of absolute outrage, and I need to tell you why. Perhaps this is the last time some of you will want to hear from me, but what you will hear is the truth. There needs to be another Reformation in the Church of the Nazarene, instead of a return to Rome as it appears to be heading, destroying everything that the reformers did so many years ago- destroying the very reasons why we call ourselves Protestants. Are there any Martin Luthers out there who are willing to do what he did so long ago? How long will the people of God sleep while the wolves keep devouring the sheep in the pen? It is clear to me that the sheep pen doors are broken, the watchmen and the people of God have fallen asleep, and the ravening wolves have come inside the church. And it is no surprise, because the greatest threat to the church has always been from within, not from without. The shepherds of the church of God are abdicating their responsibility. (Acts 20:28-31)
First, a challenge: If any ordained elder in the Nazarene church, and especially those who were at the chapel service on Friday, can show me through scripture that the practices promoted by Tony Campolo are biblical, I will recant my position on Tony Campolo and accept these practices myself. Anyone responding to this challenge would need to send me a copy and allow their work to be posted publicly for all to read. (I will not accept explanations using Psalm 46:10. See the following for an explanation: Does Psalm 46:10 teaches Contemplative?).
This is the angriest I have been since I stepped into this mess called the emergent church movement. I have been researching books and articles by and about emergent church leaders and mystics for the past two years; I have watched some of their videos and gotten upset at the false teachings and the disrespect of scripture. But there is something about hearing this stuff firsthand, something about being there in person. And that is probably why my blood is boiling even more now. To hear a tool of satan trying to peddle his demonic doctrines to students at a holiness based Protestant school was just too much for me. And to know that the leaders of that school are complicit in giving this man a platform is doubly maddening. Yes, a tool and servant of satan was given a warm welcome at Eastern Nazarene College Friday morning.
As I pondered on Reformation weekend, which is a time to celebrate and think on what Martin Luther and others sacrificed for the sake of preserving the sole authority of scripture and true biblical doctrine, I thought of the perverse way that Tony Campolo used the reference to the Reformation to introduce his mystical practices whose source is not of God, but from satan. What an insult to the memory of those who died for the sake of printing the Bible in defiance of Rome and its unbiblical papal authority that tried to deny the people the word of God in their own hands. And now, it seems as if we are in need of yet another reformation, as apparently ENC and other Nazarene universities are returning to Rome and everything that the reformers fought against so many years ago.
So a pretending evangelical “Christian” pastor comes to a Christian chapel service for students, again, with the blessing of the leadership- which I had met with and warned! They excused him as someone who has a lot of good things to offer, and perhaps if he had stuck with his beginning script, my outrage would be at a lower level. And they had reassured me that they typically allow the opportunity later in some kind of session or other, for questions and debate. If so, not this time! I was told that Dr. Campolo was going to be too busy for questions. So my question is this: when will there be an opportunity to correct the lies that he promulgated last Friday, and set the record straight with the students at ENC? Will the leadership extend an invitation to me or someone else, if we promise to only preach on the word of God alone, and nothing else? Sola scriptura is one of the five great statements that came out of the Reformation, and that I can guarantee the President of ENC is what I will speak on, the word of God. I offer to them now, the only chance for them to correct the big mistake that happened on Friday, to set the record straight on the mysticism that Campolo promoted that day. If not me, then someone else. If not someone else, then they are just as guilty in spreading his falsehoods as if they did it themselves! And any discerning Christian who was there and recognized his falsehoods, and decide to stay silent, will have blood on their hands for not saying a word. (Ezekiel 33) As I have written before, I’ll take that millstone and hang it around my neck, than be silent and let one of these young kids be deceived by satan and his servants.
Here are my final thoughts before I give you the details of what happened:
- Tony Campolo is still a false prophet, and the most dangerous kind: a very good and effective false prophet who is apparently fooling ordained elders in the church.
- Tony Campolo was allowed, unchallenged, to promote his doctrines of demons to several hundred students in a chapel service at a Christian school.
- The leadership at ENC, and perhaps the board of trustees, needs to answer and explain as to why he and others like him should be allowed to speak there, or to explain why he should never appear there again.
- To any Christian parents considering sending your child to ENC in the near future: please do not do it at this time, because you might be risking your child’s eternal destiny by doing so. (The same goes for Northwest Nazarene, Trevecca, Point Loma, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and Nazarene Bible College. These are just the ones I personally have documented as being in crisis).
- If you are a strong Bible believer opposed to unbiblical doctrines, do not send a dime to any of these schools until there is a return to biblically sound leadership that uses discernment in selecting its teachers and speakers.
- Are there any “Martin Luthers” out there, who are willing to go to the leadership of each of these schools, and “nail another 95 Theses” to their door?
- If it becomes clear that the leadership of any of these schools persists in allowing unbiblical teachings to continue, I will urge all Bible believing Christians to begin daily prayer for that school to be shut down, for the safety of our students.
That is my opinion. Campolo gave his Friday morning, and so did the leaders at my alma mater. Will anyone else stand for truth, speak out, and challenge the leadership?
My Report on Friday’s Chapel Service
I attended the student chapel, along with my brother John, to hear Campolo speak. He was there promoting his Compassion Ministry and encouraged everyone to sponsor a child in need. His main scriptural theme was based on Matthew 13 and the parable of the seeds. He spoke eloquently about the tragedy of what happened in Haiti, and how so many children need our help. He challenged the students to do more than be a believer, but also be a believer who can respond to needs such as this. He was impressive, and obviously is a passionate and accomplished speaker.
David Cloud (Way of Life) says of Campolo:
“Campolo is a master entertainer. No doubt about it. Of course, that is the kind of speaker who is popular in this confused, carnal hour. Campolo is dynamic, interesting, and personable. He appeals to the young and to the old. He can make you laugh, and he can make you cry. He is full of zeal. He can move people. But Campolo is a dangerous man because of his aberrant theology.”
So here’s the problem, in spite of the good words said, and the random quoting of scripture. Tony Campolo is still a false prophet. A false prophet who managed to get our ire up about five times greater than it was before we heard him speak. Ironically, there we were, a few days before Reformation Sunday, and I thought that right there, in a Protestant Bible believing church building, it was going to be a very safe message. And he sure sprinkled enough scripture in there that day! But I remind you that satan used scripture as he tried to offer an easy life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know that the mark of a good false teacher is the leaven he inserts in the middle of all that good sounding message he seems to be bringing? Are you one of those who can only recognize the Benny Hinns of the world, because they are so obvious, yet cannot recognize the real professional spiritual shysters and PHd’s in con artistry such as Tony Campolo?
And so Tony Campolo could not help himself on Friday, and managed to sow some seeds of his own. Funny, I said to myself- at least he does not hide what he believes! Not so those who I have confronted for the last two years and did not have the courage to admit what they truly believe, but instead couched their words in mystery so you never know what they profess for sure. Unfortunately, some of the seeds he sowed are not the kind of seed that Jesus Christ and His apostles ever sowed.
Let’s get to what he said that disturbed me, and ought to disturb every Bible believing Christian reading this. What is most upsetting is not Campolo speaking at ENC, but the leadership allowing him to speak, and letting the students and even some adults there walk away singing his praises, oblivious to the heresy he just spewed out. Was there any discernment amongst those who were “mature” Christians? I saw a good number of pastors there, and I am amazed how some of them did not think that anything wrong was said that morning! I know, because some of them have told me they don’t agree with me on the same issues that Campolo brought up.
Campolo quoted St. Francis of Assisi early on. He stated also that the best Christian songs often come from Broadway shows, such as Les Misérables! An example he said was “The Impossible Dream.” (We thought that was a bit silly, but he did get a couple of approving chuckes from the listeners). He talked about being a ‘red letter’ Christian. However, these supposed red letter Christians end up picking and choosing which words of Jesus they wish to obey, and which to ignore- particularly the hard words about sin, repentance, Jesus being the only way, future judgment, and hell. They overlook certain red letters, because they are hypocrites fashioning their own man made gospel and picking only the scriptures that make them feel good about themselves.
He called himself a “follower of Jesus.” That’s code for “I hate the word ‘Christian’, and saying that I’m a ‘follower of Jesus’ shows that I am part of the hip, post-modern culture that whispers to everyone… “you can follow Jesus, but not necessarily be a Christian”. That’s exactly what some of these people believe when they use that phrase. A Buddhist or a Hindu can be a follower of Jesus, and stay in their religion, as Brian McLaren has said.
The Reformation was Good… And Bad
So now he’s got them where he wants them, soon after tugging at their hearts about the kids who lost their limbs in Haiti. So now he mentions the Reformation, how we can thank the Reformation for weeding out many horrible doctrines that were taught in that day. But…. here comes the but….. he also says that we also “lost a lot of good things from the Reformation.” Like the following, which he shamelessly promoted and encouraged everyone to practice:
- Centering Prayer (or contemplative prayer)
- Lectio Divina
- The Jesus Prayer (a mantra, a repetitive use of a word, usually Jesus, over and over).
- The Prayer of Examen (St. Ignatius) “I’m into St. Ignatius these days”
(This excerpt from the Emerging Church DVD, by Ray Yungen, explains centering prayer, mantras, and more)
He said “I say the name of Jesus over and over again”, and suggested that we try it, that we should do it for 15 minutes, until this ritual “drives away the dark forces around us.” Magical formula? A “Christian” incantation to drive away the demons? Pastors, do you practice this, or would you allow Tony Campolo to teach this to your congregation? Any pastors out there who can testify to the effectiveness and biblical soundness of this kind of prayer? Is this one of those “non-essentials” that we can disagree on?
In describing Centering Prayer, he said “it takes only 15 minutes to be inwardly still.” He asked, “when was the last time you were still for 20 minutes- so that you can come alive in Christ?” Which chapters and verses, Tony, are you referring to, that teach us this mindless way of “coming alive in Christ?” Perhaps some of the pastors who attended can explain this one to me, since no question and answer session was on the schedule for the day.
Where is the biblical justification for any of this? And if there is none at all, why do so many tolerate this? Campolo also said, “be still, and let the spirit of God teach you.” This man is promoting mindless, Christianized transcendental meditation- and nobody cares?? It is NOT Christian! And the only thing I may have done wrong, was perhaps I should have stood up and challenged this messenger of satan’s lies, right in front of all those students and pastors in that chapel.
Finally, he talked about doing these practices so that we can find ourselves in that “thin place” that the Celtic Christians used to talk about”. This alone, if nothing else was said, made me want to jump up and interrupt him- and perhaps I should have. What’s a thin place, you ask? You won’t find it in scripture, because its roots are from the occult, and its described as: “In simple terms a ‘thin place’ is a place where the veil between this world and the Other world is thin, the Other world is more near. This meaning assumes the perceiver senses the existence of a world beyond what we know through our five senses.
Here is what he says from one of his books:
“The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called ‘THE THIN PLACE.’ The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein the separation between the self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul. … Like most Catholic mystics, [Loyola] developed an intense desire to experience A ‘ONENESS’ WITH GOD” (Letters to a Young Evangelical, pp. 26, 30).
Roger Oakland explains in his book about this terminology:
“This term ‘thin place’ originated with Celtic spirituality (i.e., contemplative) and is in line with panentheism. … Thin places imply that God is in all things, and the gap between God, evil, man, everything thins out and ultimately disappears in mediation” (Faith Undone, pp. 114, 115).
So Tony Campolo is recommending to students at a holiness based college, with Nazarene pastors sitting right there listening to him, to practice occultic, mantra-like rituals and pagan contemplative prayer, which has nothing- nothing to do with the Bible. As I looked around at the pastors who were there, I wondered to myself: do they have any idea that this man is spouting heresies to hundreds of students? Do they care? Or worst still, do they agree with him? Would there be one pastor who was there that day, who will now speak to the leadership at ENC and ask, what are you exposing our students to?
Several times, as I listened to this man speak, I prayed as I looked around at these young people, all young enough to be my children. I prayed to God that not one would remember what he suggested for them to try and do; that not one would fall under the spell of this deceiver; that not one would soon start sitting in a circle with his friends, and practice mind-emptying silence in an expectation of “coming alive in Christ.” If I could weep tears on the outside, they would have flowed nonstop that morning. I wanted to stand up and yell, “this is wrong!” I even pictured myself running down the aisle to confront this man in front of everyone. I wept inside, as I asked myself, what is the Nazarene denomination doing to itself? Where has the obedience to God’s word gone, that leaders will put up with anyone and anything now? Why are the people of God sitting idly by, while our leaders are throwing our students to the wolves?
As my brother and I stood outside sometime after it was all over, a friend we knew came up to us and said: “wasn’t that a powerful message?” I hesitated for a second, and then I had to tell this person the truth. I told her the truth about Tony Campolo, and I spoke the truth about our denomination, and what happened to me as I counted the cost of standing for truth. Clearly when this friend left us, she was a bit uncomfortable, not having expected to hear the kind of response I gave her. I pray that she will start looking into these things herself. A young man also asked us how we liked the service, and I had to tell him the truth, giving him a card and asking him to go my blog to read what I am writing now. It was not a comfortable time for him as he heard my opinion about Tony Campolo, but I had to tell the truth. I pray that he will keep an open mind to what I have to say.
Maybe for some of you, it’s not a confortable time right now as you read this. Did I make you uncomfortable? Did I make you dislike me, or think of me as a hater, a divider, a troublemaker? Do you think Jesus or the apostles would tolerate for one minute what Tony Campolo promoted Friday? If not, then why should you or I tolerate it? And why would you be angry at me, if I spoke the truth? Or maybe I am I telling lies. How do you discern who is telling the truth, and who is telling lies? You look to the word of God, not your feelings, not not personal loyalties, nothing but the word of God.
The truth must be told, whether anyone likes to hear it or not, and the light must be shone on these false teachers so they can be exposed to the whole world. And let the truth be clearly understood: the real dividers in the church are those who are allowing false doctrines to creep in through false prophets like Campolo and the others. Not Manny Silva. Not Concerned Nazarenes. Not any discernment ministry out there today. And if there is to be any division, let it be a division of those who obey the word of God, from those who do not. Tony Campolo used the parable of the seeds for his message. Ironically, here is the parable that follows:
Mat. 13:24-30 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
The enemy used Tony Campolo to sow the seeds of apostasy on Friday morning, Oct. 29, at Eastern Nazarene College. It is time to separate the tares from the wheat, just as Jesus commanded. It is time for repentance. It is time for the sleeping Christians to wake up.