Below is a series of emails and letters that have gone back and forth between me and the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, regarding our concerns for the denomination including its universities. Perhaps there will be more between us, but I must honestly say that I and others have been deeply disappointed so far in the lack of leadership from men who have been charged by the church to lead, to be examples, and to give us clear answers to the many questions about the direction of our denomination. As of this date there seems to be nothing positive coming from the leaders, but we trust that God’ will do His will, regardless of the decisions, or lack thereof, of our leaders.
Open Letter #1 To The Board of General Superintendents
October 5, 2010
Dear Board of General Superintendents,
As many more Nazarenes are aware of by now, there have been things happening in the Nazarene denomination in the last ten, perhaps even 20 and 30 years, that have gradually changed the fabric of our denomination, both in the churches, and in the universities. In this post-modern era, apparently many of our churches and universities have clearly jumped on the emergent church bandwagon. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Or perhaps it is both. I am not trying to make trouble for its own sake, but I am raising questions that many believe are vital and need to be answered. One of my biggest concerns is this: our college kids walking away from the real Jesus, into the arms of a fake Christ and a phony gospel. It hurts just to think that even one might walk away from the Lord, because of what our schools are allowing.
One of the problems that have arisen is the bleeding that is occurring in our churches and universities. Nazarenes, both young and old, have been deciding to leave their church, and sometimes the denomination. Students and parents are opting out of the usual automatic decision to go to a Nazarene school, and instead are searching for alternatives. Surely, that is a common thing that happens all the time in all denominations, as people shift and move around, or make personal decisions based on their own circumstances. However, the reasons of departure that I am aware of are much different than the random comings and goings that occur. It is much more serious, and there is a pattern that is most disturbing. I don’t have statistics nailed down, but the many reports I have received, as well as others, shows that there is a commonly shared reason. That reason can be summarized as “an erosion of solid biblical principles, in exchange for a humanistic, mystical, ecumenical, and relativistic approach to our Christian faith and practice.” In other words: many Nazarenes are absolutely fed up with what is going on in our churches and universities, and have decided they are not going to stand for it anymore. I don’t even have time here to go into the extreme social gospel and environmental gospel that is being pushed to the detriment of preaching the true gospel message.
I believe that is one of the reasons we are seeing some churches dropping precipitously in membership, sometimes within just a year’s time, as emergent ideology creeps into their congregation. Former members have sat in utter amazement and dismay in their pews, as a pastor introduces new rituals that were never part of the Nazarene tradition, but were more reflective of the Roman Catholic Church. That same pastor, who perhaps when he was interviewed for the job spoke clearly of his respect for God’s word, now preaches sermons that are more out of his personal opinion and philosophy, with an occasional scripture passage thrown in as an after thought. Less is mentioned of true repentance and sin, and instead, sermons are filled with social justice themes and an over- emphasis on “fellowship”, to the detriment of studying God’s word. And more and more, these post-modern pastors, (some who are fresh out of seminary, but others have been around a long time), are frequently heard quoting heretics and false teachers from the pulpit, such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren. So much for the Wesleyan holiness heritage of our fathers! Now we are looking more and more to Desert Fathers instead, and mystics who promote emptying the mind in order to “listen to the voice of God.”
These Nazarenes were also hearing new phrases like “missional”, or “spiritual formation”, and gradually realized that they don’t necessarily mean what they thought it meant. We now have people leaving in groups, forming their own fellowship because they can no longer stand sitting in a church that is looking more and more like the Roman Catholic church with its rituals and traditions. No wonder people are walking away. I am sure you are also aware of at least one church whose membership voted to completely separate themselves from the denomination, rather than compromise their biblical principles. Sure, perhaps that is only one church out of thousands, but were they all mad (as in crazy?), or were they justified biblically to “divorce” themselves from the denomination? Perhaps the Nazarene church is not just bleeding, but close to hemorrhaging. It is heartbreaking to me, the many emails I have received from former Nazarenes who have been pushed out of their churches, many of them being called hateful and troublemakers and dividers, all because of asking questions of their leadership as to what is happening to their church.
And then there are the universities. Spiritual formation programs throughout the schools are pushing what is essentially contemplative spirituality. It’s just another word for it. This is not Nazarene, this is not Christian. This is simply a Christianized version of transcendental meditation, and false teachers such as Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, and Tony Campolo are being embraced, and even being given a platform for mentoring pastors or future pastors! Even a universalist like Jay McDaniel was allowed to speak at NNU, as summarized in this video. Can you tell me what is going on, when a university allows this kind of foolishness to be given a platform at our “Christian” schools?
One college chaplain enjoys reading The Shack (a heresy filled book), and praises Brennan Manning, a mystic and false teacher. Another chaplain recently told the students in a chapel service on Sept. 22 that “I consider myself a mystic”, and quotes Brian McLaren, a false teacher. This same chaplain is an unabashed promoter of lectio divina, and claims one of his heroes to be Brother Roger, the late founder of a contemplative, interspiritual community called Taize in France. Why Nazarene chaplains promote this kind of stuff, and name this kind of “hero”, is beyond me as a Nazarene, and as just a Christian. But this is probably becoming the norm amongst college chaplains, and that’s my fear.
Many of our universities are sold out to this contemplative movement. Prayer labyrinths perhaps will soon become the norm in more of them. Prayer labyrinths are a practice borrowed from pagan religions, and these are okay now in the Nazarene schools and churches? Many are also coming together and embracing Roman Catholic practices, or are recommending RCC churches to our students, or selling Roman Catholic Bibles in the bookstores. Evolution is supplanting the Genesis account, and it’s okay now if students are taught that Adam and Eve were not real, or that the worldwide flood did not occur. Instead, they were most likely just allegorical stories or myths. Thus they are teaching our students to doubt the veracity of the word of God. It’s no wonder that at this point, I would not even consider sending my son to a Nazarene university, or recommending anyone to send their own child. It’s too dangerous!
You see, right now, I am still a Nazarene. Perhaps the main reason that I remain is that I am still able to attend and worship at a Nazarene church whose pastor does not believe in this nonsense that is being promoted and passed off as something good for us. Many of us refuse to be under the leadership of any pastor who does not believe in the inerrancy and authority of scripture, and so I am thankful I can still attend a church whose leadership is committed to the word of God, not committed to silly programs, mystical rituals and even secular music played in worship services. Another reason I have stayed is that I have taken on a responsibility I never really thought I would have or even am the best qualified for, but I welcome, out of love for my new friends, who often call me or email me with requests for advice on what to do. Because of what I have gone through myself, I am able to help others (in some small way) deal with the serious disruption and broken fellowship that this movement has brought into their lives.
I don’t believe that the Nazarene denomination’s health should be measured by numbers of people, or how healthy the budget is, or even how many churches have been built in the last year. Rather, it is measured in the steadfast, faithful obedience to Christ in ALL that He commands, and thus is also measured by the rejection of anything that contradicts the gospel “once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3) If any one preaches another gospel, Paul said that person should be accursed. Is the Nazarene church starting to preach another gospel?
I could go on, but I have written to you before with my concerns in the past year. Ever since General Assembly, when a group of us passed out 6,000 DVDs, yet were rebuffed by some of the leadership there, we have continued to ask questions and make others aware of the problem. Many others have written to you with their concerns. I cannot speak for them, but I am still waiting for answers. I am asking you to please give a clear and unambiguous answer to the many questions that have been raised in the past several years. Is lectio divina really a biblical practice? Are prayer labyrinths okay? Should pastors and teachers promote books by heretical mystics and pastor such as Rob Bell, who deny the infallibility of scripture? Should Nazarene congregations worship inside a Roman Catholic Church, which teaches a false doctrine? We know that you have denounced false teachers as unacceptable, but many are preying on our youth right now. I think Nazarenes deserve to know which ones are they specifically that you think are false teachers, so we can “mark them” and “avoid them” as scripture commands.
“Where do you stand on these issues?” It is a fair question that I believe deserves a fair answer.
Blessings and peace, Manny Silva
Response to the General Superintendent’s Letter
October 30, 2010
Dear General Superintendents,
Thank you for your response to my open letter. I realize that you each have many responsibilities in the Church of the Nazarene. I want to share my thoughts with you on what you wrote to me. If you don’t mind me sharing your letter publicly on my blog and email list along with this response, please let me know.
As I think of my heritage in the church, I think of my father, who was a great example to us, as well as my mother who worked tirelessly alongside him, supporting him and ministering along with him. I continue to think of his example as one of the things that gives me motivation and encouragement along the way. He always wanted me to be a pastor; perhaps this now is my calling, to be a watchman on the wall to Christians. As my late father-in-law, Rev. Eudo Tavares de Almeida, was opposed to the many false teachings coming in to our denomination, and gave many warnings before he ever heard of the word emergent; so I believe my father would have opposed these things also.
I need to clarify a few things that you have either assumed about us (Concerned Nazarenes), or perhaps the information you have received is inaccurate.
Clarification on inspiration: We do not necessarily hold to a “dictation” theory of inspiration. Even if some of us do, that is not a bone of contention for us. We are not arguing that at all.
What we are arguing for, is that the Church of the Nazarene needs to clarify without doubt, whether we as a church believe and teach that the Holy Scripture- all of it- is fully inspired by God, and is inerrant in the original writings- otherwise it cannot be the word of God. Furthermore, we reject the idea that we as a church can authoritatively say that the scriptures are inerrant ONLY in matters of salvation. If that is true, where did we find the authority in the Bible to state this? And who determines which part of the Bible pertains to salvation, and which part does not? Who determines what is fable and what is historical fact? That is what we are objecting to, that certain theologians and professors are picking and choosing what they think is true, and not true, and are defying the belief that scripture is God’s infallible word in all it teaches. This is very dangerous territory in our opinion, when Nazarene professors are teaching that Adam and Eve were probably not real. Do you believe that? If so, please show us where we are wrong. I recall the attempts made by two districts, unsuccessfully, to even have a vote on the matter of inerrancy at the General Assembly. Why?
We also object to teachers such as Thomas Oord teaching open theism, the heresy that God does not know the future; or process theology, that God learns from His mistakes. Do you
believe that also? If so, please show us where we are wrong. On the other hand, if Dr. Oord and others are wrong, and are teaching false doctrines to our students, why are they allowed to continue teaching these things in our universities and churches?
Following are my thoughts on some of your statements:
“unwavering commitment to the 16 Articles of Faith, our Core Values, and our Agreed Statement of Belief.”
I agree, we want to uphold all those things also. But we want to know if that is all there is to it. I hope you are not saying that if we only uphold these three things, that anything else is “fair game” in our churches and universities. That argument has been given to us by many emergent Nazarenes, that all we need to do is affirm the Articles of Faith, and if so, everything else is a “non-essential.” This would be a flawed argument, because we are commanded in scripture by Jesus and the apostles to obey ALL that He taught.
Therefore our argument is not necessarily that these emergent Nazarenes are violating the Manual’s statements. Our argument is that they are violating Scripture, which trumps our church manual and any other Christian manual. If we are violating Scripture in anything we do, that takes precedence over our Articles of Faith. We are grieved at the many things that have come into the church and universities that go against Scripture, so that is what we are concerned about.
“we have also received encouraging letters from Nazarenes…” …“it seems that God is granting favor to the church…”
I ask you then, what about the letters from Nazarenes who are hurting terribly from the damage caused by emergent church pastors who are treating them like Rick Warren recommended in the Purpose Driven Church? What have you done about all these people who are being driven out of their churches because their church no longer looks like a Nazarene church, but more like a Catholic church? As some of you may know, my family is one of those casualties, and I have received many emails from Nazarenes who have suffered as I have from the persecution of their own leaders, because they dared to ask questions. As some of you know, one of my good friends was fired from his pastoral duties, and then his license taken away, for daring to speak the truth. Why would a pastor be fired, for simply speaking the truth? Why would he be fired for speaking against a movement which so many other Nazarenes oppose, and which at this time is not even officially sanctioned by the Church of the Nazarene?
Will I be next, if I continue to voice my opposition to heresy in the church? Will my pastor be removed for preaching the word of God without compromise, and for rejecting emergent church ideology? Are you planning to do anything to address this serious bleeding that I mentioned in my open letter? These kinds of things that are happening cannot be a result of God granting His favor to the church!
“Spiritual Formation is not alien to Wesleyan-Arminian Holiness theology.”
Perhaps we need have an understanding of what is spiritual formation, because of varying
definitions today. I am not against growing in maturity in Christ, I am all for it! The spiritual formation we are opposing has nothing whatsoever to do with what we are taught in the Holy Scripture. I and others have addressed this to you, but to clarify, practices that incorporate prayer labyrinths, lectio divina, and other forms of prayer that are derived from pagan practices, or are superficial man-made inventions on how to commune with God- are not biblical spiritual formation! They are unbiblical, and that is what we are fighting against. So even though you understand spiritual formation to be “growth in Christlikeness”, we object to the things that are being taught in the universities and schools under that banner- because they are wholly inventions of man- and were not written about, or even implied, by the authors of the Bible or by Jesus.
Psalm 46:10 was never an excuse to practice the silence. I am not even a Bible scholar, yet I understand that from reading it in context. But learned men in our universities seem biblically ignorant compared to me in some of these areas, and twist the scriptures to justify their doctrinal errors. How can a simple person like me understand these things, and they cannot?
“The emphasis on the early church fathers is not alien to our Wesleyan theology.”
If you are talking about certain church fathers of the Reformation, or our early Nazarene leaders, please specify which early church fathers you are talking about, as examples. But the church fathers of the Roman Catholic Church- that’s another thing. John Wesley roundly condemned the false gospel of the RCC, yet here we are looking for inspiration from the very heretics that Wesley pointed out. If we stand firmly on the Bible as the one “secure source of truth”, as you said, then we must stay away from those who have espoused a false gospel, and could lead others astray by the implied condoning of their books and teachings! I beg you to please do something to stop this movement down the road to Rome that many of us believe the Nazarene church is heading. Can we truly call someone a brother in Christ, if he sincerely believes in all the heretical teachings of the RCC? They teach another gospel, so how could that be? We don’t hate Roman Catholic people. We do however oppose the RCC teachings, and I believe most Nazarenes would agree too. Roman Catholics should be a mission field, not a group to fellowship with as if we share the same gospel. We do not share the same gospel, instead, they clearly teach a false gospel. Do you disagree? If so, please show us where we are wrong.
James 1:27 says: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” In Galatians 1, Paul warns us that anyone who preaches another gospel is “eternally condemned!”
“There are many other matters on which we may agree to disagree,…”
I don’t know about this unless you are specific as to what we can disagree on. I believe the only things that we can disagree on and still maintain fellowship, are those things that we cannot be fully certain of (exact meanings of the prophesies in Revelation, etc.) or those things that the Bible specifically says can go different ways (to eat or not eat meat, or to drink wine, etc.).
Otherwise, we ought to be unified in all other clear teachings of scripture, no matter if someone thinks they are “minor” or not. There is no basis in scripture for us to ignore “minor” teachings, and that is exactly what many emergent Nazarenes are arguing for today. I quote for you John Wesley from Sermon 97, in a point he makes about whether we can disobey a “little thing”:
“Perhaps you will say, “This is only a little thing: it is a mere trifle.” I answer, If it be, you are the more inexcusable before God and man. What! Will you disobey a plain 3 commandment of God for a mere trifle? God forbid! Is it a trifle to sin against God, — to set his authority at nought? Is this a little thing? Nay, remember, there can be no little sin, till we can find a little God!”
“but we are convinced that the most important thing is that we do so in holy love, with respect, and with an eye toward reconciliation and not division.”
Division was never and is not part of our agenda as some have characterized. However, when speaking truth, division inevitably will come- and Jesus Himself spoke to that issue clearly. And I agree that we should work with as much love and respect as possible. I am for reconciliation as well, but never at the price of faithfulness to God’s word. That is why our family is where we are today. We counted the cost, and stood firm and faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, and not to any man or church, for the sake of a false unity. Yet I find it ironic that the good advice you just gave me was not followed by one of the most visible leaders in our denomination, Rev. Felter, who has now accused many concerned Nazarenes of being false accusers, without one bit of proof ( because there is none).
“God is honoring the Church of the Nazarene around the world.”
I believe God is honoring many Nazarenes, but I truly am not so sure about our denomination as a whole. God honors only those individuals who stay true to Him, and to His word. We have pastors who are abusing their authority, “lording it over others”, and destroying years of relationships that faithful Nazarenes have built up. We have professors sowing seeds of doubt into our student’s minds, all in the name of liberal arts. That does not honor God, and it is a growing problem, and I believe as our leaders, you need to address forcefully and clearly this if God is going to honor the Church of the Nazarene.
You suggested reading Christian Theology, or Grace, Faith, and Holiness. Perhaps I will at some point, but reading these books will not change my mind a bit about what I have discerned in my spirit, through prayer, research, and the guidance of God’s Holy Scripture. The Bible is my sole source of infallible authority, so there would be nothing in these books to change my mind. They may affirm the truth of the Scriptures, but they will never refute what I have learned from God’s word. And that is, that there is something terrible going on in our denomination, and as our leaders, I am pleading with you to seek God in prayer, and ask for His guidance in dealing with these issues head on and without delay.
I would recommend that you each read two books that we have passed out to many: Faith
Undone, by Roger Oakland, and A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen. They will give you well documented and scripturally sound information that refutes the emergent church movement, and the New Age like practices coming into all denominations today.
In Sermon #97 “On Obedience To Pastors”, John Wesley said this, in regards to the question of obeying pastors: “But what are they supposed to do in order to entitle them to the obedience here prescribed? They are supposed to go before the flock (as is the manner of the eastern shepherds to this day) and to guide them in all the ways of truth and holiness; they are to “nourish them with the words of eternal life;” to feed them with “the pure milk of the word:”
Applying it continually “for doctrine,” teaching them all the essential doctrines contained therein; “for reproof,” warning them if they turn aside from the way, to the right hand or to the left; — “for correction;” showing them how to amend what is amiss, and guiding them back into the way of peace; — and “for instruction in righteousness;” training them up in inward and outward holiness, “until they come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” 5. They are supposed to “watch over your souls, as those that shall give account.” “As those that shall give account!” How unspeakably solemn and awful are those words! May God write them upon the heart of every guide of souls! “They watch,” waking while others sleep, over the flock of Christ; over the souls that he has bought with a price, that he has purchased with his own blood. They have them in their hearts both by day and by night; regarding neither sleep nor food in comparison of them. Even while they sleep their heart is waking, full of concern for their beloved children. “They watch” with deep earnestness, with uninterrupted seriousness, with unwearied care, patience, and diligence, as they that are about to give an account of every particular soul to him that standeth at the door, — to the Judge of quick and dead.” (End quote)
Are our pastors and leaders in the church following the directive of scripture to watch over the flock? For all those who have such a great responsibility, it is a dangerous thing to ignore that responsibility.
Paul told Titus: “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1) Sound doctrine is doctrine that is true, true to God’s word! It cannot be anything that we as humans add or subtract from His word. Are we preaching and teaching sound doctrine in the Nazarene denomination and in our universities?
We are to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). I am not a preacher, but by the authority of the word of God, I and other Nazarenes are doing what we can to speak the truth in its entirety, and reprove and rebuke those who are in positions of authority who are defying the word of God. Most of all, I am disappointed in your letter to me, after all these months.
I cannot consider your response to me as an answer, because you did not truly answer any of the questions I had written, which are questions that many other Nazarenes are asking. Is it possible that you, as our top leaders, our under-shepherds in the church- is it possible that you can give us all some guidance, some clear answers, on the many questions we have been asking for months and months. Yet, I honestly can say, we are not getting a clear answer.
Here are some of the many questions that we have had for a long time that we are asking you as our leaders, to answer:
1. What is your biblical view on prayer labyrinths, and practicing the silence?
2. Are Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo false teachers, based on what they have written and taught, and still believe?
3. What do you think of books by heretics such as Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and others, being used as good resources for seminary and theology degree programs?
4. Why is Thomas Oord and others being allowed to teach the heresy of open theism as if it is true? Or do you not accept the fact that it is heresy?
5. Why are so many churches and universities incorporating more and more of a Roman Catholic flavor to their worship and practice? Are you approving of that?
6. Have you viewed the Emergent Church DVD that we passed out at General Assembly last year. If so, what do you think of it? If not, did you not think this was important enough to consider?
7. If any of you on the board are full supporters of everything or most of what we oppose, why can’t you just come out and stand by what you believe, and let us know? There are many of us Nazarenes watching and waiting to see what you will say about these matters. Please remember that many others could no longer wait, because of what was done to them, and they have left the church, perhaps forever. As much as it hurt my family, I can’t imagine the pain that those who have been in the church even longer than we have experienced. This pattern will continue, until I am afraid, sooner rather than later, there will come a major split in the church. Those who are passionately seeking answers, and are interested in biblical truth, will get tired of waiting, and will move on, and separate from what I see as a slowly apostasizing church. We are bringing in false teachers without any kind of discernment whatsoever. We are bringing in a heavy emphasis on the social gospel, the environmental gospel, ecumenism, and other man-made programs that are straying from biblical truth, and that are quenching the pure power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives.
If you as our leadership cannot or will not do something that stops this movement in its tracks, then the bleeding will continue, as Bible believing Nazarenes will not put up with this emergent nonsense. If not, then there will also be some bleeding as well, because the emergents will not like it, and will leave. But the priority for us all, should be a stand for truth, and nothing else. Regardless of the cost, I exhort you to stand for the unblemished truth of God’s word. You cannot lose if you do that.
I ask you one more time if you will give me specific answers to the questions I raised in my
open letter to you. If you cannot give me specific answers, please let me know why you cannot give me or anyone else specific answers to those questions. Sincerely in Christ, and seeking to obey Him alone,
Grace be with you. Amen.
Manny Silva On behalf of many Concerned Nazarenes
1 Tim. 6:20-21 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
Open Letter #2 To General Superintendents
April 11, 2011 Dear General Superintendents
This is my second open letter that I am writing to you. I pray all is well with you. I am writing this in a spirit of great concern and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe, with all humility, that I speak on behalf of a good number of Nazarenes as well.
The Church of the Nazarene manual states that your duties include:
317.1.1 “To provide supervision of the international Church of the Nazarene.The Board of General Superintendents shall provide appropriate attention to leadership, guidance, motivation… ”
318. “The Board of General Superintendents shall be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene…”
Many are still seeking guidance and clear answers in these very troubling times within the church. The influence of the emerging church movement is growing, and is causing an ever widening theological rift, as many Nazarenes see it as an apostate movement. It has torn apart fellowship amongst many church families, including mine. It has resulted in the departure from the Nazarene denomination by many who have been watching a holiness church turn to teachings and traditions that years ago would have been unthinkable, teachings and practices that were rejected by the very people who started the Reformation. Instead, we are reverting back to before the Reformation and incorporating teachings and practices that were rejected by Martin Luther, and those who gave their very lives in defense of the true gospel. We have lost more than 10,000 Nazarenes in the last four years in the U.S. and Canada. Although I cannot tell you how much of that is due to emergent ideology or the embrace of Romanism and mysticism, I do have personal stories from dozens of people who have related to me that these movements have been the cause of their departure, or the cause of their current state of distress in their own church.
There are many things going on that are dividing our denomination and creating chaos among the believers, who are either unsure or afraid of the direction we are headed. Many have become anxious because our leaders have not provided them with clear and unambiguous explanations of various concerns. I believe that the main problem that is unfolding is a great separation between Bible believing Christians, and those who do not believe in the full authority and inerrancy of God’s word. If this continues, there will be a permanent separation of many from the church, who will not abide with a continuing further erosion in trusting all of the Bible’s teachings.
I would like to submit just a few questions to you and ask for some absolute clarity as to what you each believe about the following issues, because unless we get complete clarity on where our leaders stand, the bleeding will continue anyway, and you will see more and more Nazarenes leaving. Sure, some will leave no matter how you answer, but at least you will fulfill the mandate that the church manual has given to you, to be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene.
Here are my
1. Celtic Spirituality class taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary For the life of me, I cannot understand the purpose of this course at a Christian seminary! If you have no information on this subject, I wrote a post about this subject. Is this teaching appropriate and within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy? If yes, please explain it, because this is occultism being taught here, and we are very concerned with this kind of teaching to those who are going to be our future pastors. I have attached a syllabus from the class, and it is not just a study of the topic- it is for future pastors to fully participate in this pagan discipline.
2. The teaching of Open Theism and Process Theology at our Christian colleges. Is it scripturally sound to teach that God does not know the future? Is it within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine to teach that God makes mistakes and learns from them? Is this the new Nazarene teaching about the nature of God?
3. Is the use of the prayer labyrinths, the placing of ashes to the forehead and other Roman Catholic rituals in Nazarene churches now acceptable and within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine, in your opinion?
4. What do each of you believe regarding the inerrancy of scripture? With all the troubles within the Nazarene denomination, I believe it can be traced to the lessening of the authority and infallibility of God’s word. My question is simple and straight for each of you: do you believe that the Bible- all of it- is fully inspired by God, and IS actually God’s word?
Furthermore, do you agree or disagree with those who are promoting the teaching that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not necessarily true, and that much of the Bible is not necessarily true? Do you believe Christians can actually reject the literal account of creation, and accept the idea that man evolved, including Adam and Eve? If so, what is the biblical justification to arrive at these conclusions, and how can we trust the Bible if parts of it are not true? Does that not make God a liar? This is the most important area I wish to get clarification on, and I pray that you will take the time to write a clear response, not just for me, but for many Nazarenes who are wondering about this.
That last question, by the way, is important for many reasons. One was the astounding fact that a licensed minister in the New England District was told last year that he would probably not be approved for ordination. For what reason, you may ask? Was it for imcompetence? Did they tell him he just did not seem to have a genuine calling from God? Did he have some kind of serious moral failure that discredited him?
No, it was none of that. They simply told him that his view on the Bible- that it is the inspired and inerrant word of God- was not acceptable. To his credit and courage, he has told the licensing board that he would not seek renewal of a District license, because of the lack of confidence within the denomination in the very word of God. How shameful is it that this kind of thing can happen? How many more young pastors will be rejected unless they fit into the mold that is being formed, a mold that apparently rejects scripture as fully divinely inspired. Instead, pastors are being ordained if they believe in open theism, process theology, or that we came from apes. Does that sound like the Christian world turned upside down to you? And let me remind you of the pastors who have been faithful to God’s word, but have been summarily dismissed for preaching against the emergent church movement.
It is my prayer that you will provide clear answers to these questions and finally help many Nazarenes understand where our leadership stands on these issues. The church looks to you for guidance, yet those of us who see the scriptures as the only true authority for our faith and practice, must be Bereans and even hold you up to the standard of scripture. It is not personal, it is only obedience to the Lord’s teachings that compels us to ask these questions.
May God bless you and I look forward to your response.
Sincerely in Christ, Manny Silva
Response by The Generals To Open Letter #2
May 18, 2011
Dear Brother Silva:
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on behalf of the Board of General Superintendents. Thank you for your recent open letter to us.
Please know that your love and concerns are very much appreciated. We are living in some of the most special days in the history of our denomination. We believe that the challenges we face today will make us an even greater church. We thank the Lord for keeping us focused on the mission He has given us.
While we anticipate a wonderful tomorrow, we also celebrate today’s exciting achievements and give all glory to the Lord Who promised such great blessings to His Church if we would just lift up His name. May He help us faithfully do this!
We welcome your prayers, and we promise to continue praying for you.
In Jesus, Eugénio R. Duarte, Secretary Board of General Superintendents