Who are Concerned Nazarenes? In August, 2008, Tim Wirth, a former drummer in several rock bands, helped coordinate an event featuring author Ray Yungen (“A Time of Departing”, and “For Many Shall Come In My Name”), at the Piqua Church of the Nazarene in Ohio. Since joining the church, he’d become deeply concerned about emerging church philosophy that had crept into the Nazarene denomination – and wanted to alert others to the emergent movement. Tim met Don and Sue Butler, long-time Nazarenes, who shared the same concerns – and Concerned Nazarenes was launched.
After several meetings and conversations with the Butlers, it was evident that the Holy Spirit had impressed upon their hearts to alert Nazarenes around the world to the emergent agenda. Shortly after this, Nazarene evangelist Beverly Turner joined Concerned Nazarenes and gave the movement a voice. Beverly shared the verse that would become the Concerned Nazarenes’ anthem: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
Concerned Nazarenes has grown to include Nazarene pastors, evangelists and laypeople across the United States – each grieved by the spiritual demise of our much-loved denomination under the influence of the emergent movement. Concerned Nazarenes is a grassroots movement that serves to give voice to all those in the church that share our dismay at the direction in which the emergent movement is striving to guide Nazarene beliefs and practices. In 2009, more than 500 Nazarenes across the United States delivered a petition to our General Superintendents, seeking clarification of their stance on the Emergent Church movement. Sadly, the apparent lack of action has enabled the false teachers and leaders to push the denomination further more down the road of apostasy for which there may be no turning back. We may be looking at a rescue mission to help many leave their apostate churches and districts, and there will also be many churches that are faithful to God’s word that will be pressured to compromise.
Emerging Church DVD
The DVD, “The Emerging Church”, is available (watch the preview of the Concerned Nazarenes video). By the grace of God and the generosity of dedicated Nazarenes, this insightful DVD is being distributed free of charge. When we consider that heresy cost our dear Savior His life, what is the price of one DVD?
Why are we so concerned?
Please read these carefully and prayerfully, as the future of the Nazarene Church is at stake.
1. We are concerned about the authority of God’s Word being undermined. We consider His Word to be inerrant (without error) in all matters. The emerging church and a number of scholars within our academic institutions have a lower view of Scripture – often called “soteriological inerrancy*” – which we consider unacceptable. We do not believe that this is the historical stance of the Church of the Nazarene (see “Nazarenes and the Authority of the Bible.“) We are in full agreement with a resolution for our Article of Faith, “The Holy Scriptures,” that was presented by the Southwest Indiana District at the General Assembly in 2009. The resolution stated that the “Old and New Testaments” are “inerrant throughout and the supreme authority on everything the scriptures teach.” In the words of the Psalmist, David: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89)
[Update: The 2009 resolution was tabled at the General Assembly in 2009 for further study by the Board of General Superintendents. It remains to be seen what will happen in 2013.]
2.We are concerned about the teaching of Open Theism within our academic institutions. Open Theism basically teaches, among other heresies, that God cannot know the future if man is to have freedom of choice (see a Nazarene connection here). The Apostle John wrote: “…God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (I John 3:20). Furthermore, we are concerned about the teaching of evolution in our academic institutions, and the historic account of God’s creation being taught as allegorical. A prominent group of theologians, pastors and university presidents (at Nazarenes Exploring Evolution) have come together to push even more this heretical teaching that denies the truth of Genesis and what God has said. Should we not believe God, rather than the imaginative and skeptical words of men?
3.We are concerned about the invitations extended to emergent teachers, such as Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, to speak at our universities and colleges (Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren). Their stance on the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, such as sin, judgment and salvation, are a gross distortion of the truth (see How Far Will They Go?). Rob Bell and Brian McLaren now openly promote same sex marriage and believe that it is not a sin to be homosexual. Tony Jones has already been saying this for years.
Because of required chapel attendance, emergent speakers have a captive audience and, as a result, students are forced to listen to emergent speakers or pay a fine if they choose to miss chapel (Point Loma Nazarene University Welcomes Brian McLaren And Embraces Contemplative Spirituality). We are concerned for those who give financially and sacrificially to our academic institutions, expecting the values upon which our denomination was birthed to be upheld – not dismantled by emergent philosophy.
4. We are concerned about experiential works-based techniques for prayer being promoted on and through our academic campuses. These practices – totally alien to our Wesleyan tradition – include prayer labyrinths, prayer stations and retreats to Roman Catholic monasteries (see Trevecca Nazarene University labyrinth). Most of these contemplative prayer practices are promoted under Spiritual Formation formats. Even our seminary (Nazarene Theological Seminary) is teaching spiritual formation (aka contemplative spirituality), teaches an occultic course called Celtic Spirituality, and has promoted a retreat at a Roman Catholic site while promoting “practicing the silence.”
5. We are concerned about the emergent ideology that our academic institutions and General Church within the United States are promoting (see The Reemerging of the Emerging Church). We ask a simple question: “Why are we giving a platform to those who would fabricate this falsehood, when the Gospel of Jesus Christ was and is and always will be the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) for all mankind, and for every generation?” The emergent ideology is a perversion of the Word of God and the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene.
6. We are concerned that the “Jesus” that the emergent movement is preaching is “another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4). In the introduction to his book, “This Jesus”, the late Nazarene pastor W. E. McCumber writes:
“Let me tell you why I wrote this little book. First of all, I love Jesus and I welcome any means of telling others about Him. Second, I am troubled by “emergent theory” that is moving toward an “emergent church.” Leaders of this “conversation” or “movement” call themselves “post-modern” and I guess if you need a tag that one is about as good as another. My concern about them springs from their distortions of Scripture and their diminishing of Jesus … More disturbing to me is the fact that the Jesus they talk about is not the Jesus of Scripture … Only the Jesus disclosed to us in the New Testament is relevant to our times and adequate for our salvation. To diminish Him is to destroy ourselves.”
We are in full agreement with Rev. McCumber wrote, and pray that you share our concerns. If you do, please join us!
**Soteriological inerrancy is the view that God’s Word need only be without error in regard to the message of salvation. For more details, read “Inerrancy and the Wesleyan Tradition” or “Wesleyan Founders and Scripture”.