Another Look At How Emergents Defend Their Ideology

Recently I replied to Rev. Bruce Barnard’s attack piece on Nazarenes and other Christians who dare to question the status quo in the church; who dare to bring to light the false teachings that have crept in; and who dare to call out those who are false teachers, or those who are turning a blind eye to the false teaching.  Since his article came out, there has been a continuing conversation at his Facebook page.  They have written enough to bring to light again the devious ways they fight so hard to protect an indefensible ideology.  Their testimony is enough to shine a light on the emptiness of their arguments.

There are some typical strategies the emergents resort to in order to deflect the truth and therefore hide their true ideology and philosophy.  I am convinced that some of these same pastors who respond to us, are very cautious not to completely show their true colors in public, for fear that they will lose some of their congregation.  Many of them have to play a game, and not unveil their full agenda to their flock, but feed them poison ever so slowly.  Eventually, unless those in the church are alert and are being Bereans, they will be slowly indoctrinated like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled in water. So here is a list of just some of the tactics of the emergents:

The Emergent Tactics:

1. Call Us Names Without Any Substantiation.  One of the most common and popular tactics used by the emergents.  The name calling, especially from ordained elders in the church who should know better, is astounding.  They use words such as:  dividers, unChristlike, mean-spirited, Judaizers, legalists, judgmental, hypocrites, bullies, and recently from Rev. Barnard’s page: THUGS.  You can read the examples I gave that came from Karl Giberson and some pastors on Bruce’s page, and you see over and over examples of personal attacks that- and this is important- CANNOT be substantiated in any way.

When they say we should not be judgmental, they catch themselves in the process of being… judgmental!  A classic example is from Bob Hunter.  He says the following:

“We do, however, think your judgments are misguided and your interpretation of scripture is extremely narrow and perplexing. Moreover, you do not give anyone the benefit of the doubt. According to Matthew 7:1-2 We are not to judge. For with that judgment you will be judged.”

Bob renders his judgment on us, and then proceeds to say, we are not to judge.  Nothing could be clearer here as to the hypocrisy from these people, that they are so wrapped up in their own self-defense, that they hang themselves with their very own words.  Even those who are ordained or licensed ministers are horribly mistaken, at best.   As long as a Christian understands what Scripture says about judging, they will not fall for this trick.  Yet, even though I have sent some of these folks lesson after lesson on this subject, they still try it on me.  So for sure they will continue this attack on you.

2. They Use The Defense Of A Misguided Goal Of “Unity”.  They will often appeal for unity in the church, yet there is a biblical unity, and then there is “unity” grounded in disobedience and the avoidance of confronting people who are in error.  That is not Christian unity, it is false unity, and leads to confusion and an “anything goes” philosophy in the church (which lines up with emergent-think nicely).
This is often seen in such examples as the following comments:

“The alarm clock on my cell phone reminds me everyday at 5:10pm to pray for this group and its leader, and for unity in the COTN. I will keep doing so because this is one thing that grieves my heart deeply, the division, hurt, and distraction from kingdom building that is caused by this group.”
“And if you don’t like what they have to say, keep your opinions to yourself, and pray that your heart be changed. The church should be about unity, not about tearing apart.”

“Kingdom building” mixed with serious error and truth results in increasing error.  True unity, as I responded, is not about ignoring willful disobedience and living in sin, nor is it about ignoring unsound doctrine as well.  However, this ecumenical thinking fits in perfectly with the emergent church and its downplaying of doctrine.  They hate doctrine, they don’t want to talk about it, they just want everyone to get along, at the expense of doctrine.  Doctrines divide, and emergents do not believe in division.  And that is an unbiblical approach.  Do not buy the lie that we should never divide.

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matt. 10:34

The false unity in today’s church is chaos and compromise. When a church fails to stand for the truth, in exchange for “unity” at any cost, then it fails to be a faithful church. It fails to truly be in unity.

We are instead clearly commanded to separate from those who preach false doctrine.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Eph 5:11
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” 2 John 1:9-11
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” 2 Thess. 3:6

3. The Art of Diversion, Or Going Off On “Rabbit Trails”:
They will do this to try deflect from the hard questions. They try to turn a question around to discuss something else, and maybe you’ll forget that they never really answered the question. Often, they will do that when challenged for their assessment of someone we have stated is a false teacher. They WILL NOT ever come to the point of agreeing that any specific person’s teachings is false. If so, their whole ideology would fall down like a deck of cards.  So the only choice they have is to divert away from the original intent of the question.  The following is an example from that discussion, after I asked about Rob Bell, who has been a very major influence on the Nazarene denomination:

I asked: “Is no one interested in defending Rob Bell or any of the other false teachers I mentioned? What are your thoughts, Bruce, on Rob Bell’s video where he becomes yet another “evangelical” to affirm “gay Christianity?”

Answers: “Manny, I’m not a huge Rob Bell fan. We used a few of his Nooma videos awhile back.”…To continue, his videos were good but from what I’ve read and seen, he seems to be more interested in raising questions than answering them.  (Greg Farra, a pastor)

Just doing my best to be like Jesus. I may fall short, but life is too short to constantly point out peoples’ shortcoming and be a critic. I would appeal to you to trust God to correct erring souls.” (Bob Hunter, a licensed minister)

“Rob Bell is not a Nazarene…”   “Manny – you are more worried about a visitor to a Naz campus than someone currently pastoring a church.” (Bruce Barnard, an ordained pastor).

Not one Nazarene pastor or anyone else was able to give a definitive biblical answer as to what they thought of Rob Bell’s affirmation of “gay Christians.”  What does this tell you?


4. Pulling Out The “Education Card”:
“How long have you studied? What degrees do you have?
These are the questions they sometimes ask us, as if the mark of a faithful Christian is a college degree or two; as if the maturity of a Christian is reflected in how much Greek New Testament they know.  Yet, they have no explanation at all for those who have studied as long as they have, or have more degrees, but who totally disagree with their ideology. Odd, is it not?

4. Scolding us For not “going through proper channels.” They love to pull that one. “Why did you not go through the process as outlined in the Nazarene manual? “You must defer to our leaders, because they are the ones who determine in the end if something is false teaching or not.”

What do you do if the leaders decide there is no false teaching going on?  We know that many Nazarenes have written to the Generals, and the answers are filled with rhetoric and follows the pattern of non-answers to specific questions.  I will tell you this, that it seems their answers are far too often focused on what the church manual says, with its man crafted rules, than what the real Manual (God’s word) says.  If I did not know any better, I would almost think they believe the Church Manual is infallible and inerrant, whereas many of them reject the inerrancy of God’s word!
5. Asking us to leave if we’re not happy: “If you don’t like it, leave the COTN.”

More Nazarenes have left than most people realize.  But it’s up to each of them, in their own circumstances, to decide.  Some have had no choice because after leaving their own church because of false teaching, could not find a single Nazarene church that was not peddling the emergent church ideology.  Some are fighting within their churches to make a difference, but often they are in a losing battle and will ultimately leave.  However, leaving does not mean losing- it means these folks did their best, and in the end, made a decision to protect their family from false teaching.  However, each Nazarene who leaves, will leave on their own terms, and not from any intimidating words from the emergents.

These emergents have shown us again:

1. A lack of discernment, or unwillingness to exercise discernment.

2. A horrible lack of knowledge on the subject of judgment, or a willful turning away from that responsibility.

3. A failure (again) to provide a biblical answer to hard questions a pastor should answer.

4. A failure in providing any biblical justification for their ideology.

5. A failure to correct.

This is partly a result of the years of indoctrination at our Christian colleges, the lack of solid expository Bible preaching in exchange for “story telling,” and the continual drumbeat of “biblical inerrancy ONLY in matters of salvation.”  The foundations are crumbling, the Bible believers will leave, and the denomination will become one of the leading spiritual groups in the world.  That will be great, I suppose, if you want to be right alongside the ELCA*, the Episcopal Church, the PCUSA**, the United Methodist Church and many more apostate denominations.


*Evangelical Lutheran Church In America

**Presbyterian Church USA


For further research:

Rob Bell Comes Out Gay Affirming

Replying To An Open Letter By A Pastor

Dear Rev. Barnard,

This past week, I read your Open Letter To Concerned Nazarenes.  (Your letter in it’s entirety is the end of this response).  As always in such letters to us, it fell flat on its face, and I would think that you even possibly regretted it later.  Perhaps your emotions got the best of you, or maybe an unhealthy admiration for your friends has clouded your judgment, and instead of taking an opportunity to refute our claims using Scripture- well, you went the easier route of character assassination.  It clearly lacked substance, there was no verifiable support for your accusations, and you simply used personal attack on us, instead of attacking what we believe and showing where we are wrong.  I am responding primarily because perhaps it can be a eye-opening moment for some of your friends who may be on the fence, and don’t really know what’s going on.

Our efforts from day one have been to expose false teachings in the church, and to wake up people to what is happening in our denomination.  We certainly have tried very hard to elicit some kind of biblical defense from those who oppose us, but all we seem to get in return are such writings that have no merit biblically. So you missed a great opportunity to refute what we believe with scriptural support; instead all you used was personal attacks, which is the substance of your letter.

You said at the start, “… someone needs to speak truth to you.”  Yet your letter is only infused with personal and unsubstantiated attacks throughout, finishing with words such as: “I wish you the best in life”, “Grace and Peace.”  What a contradiction to end your letter in such a manner.


So let’s see some of the things that were “clearly and lovingly” said by you:
“you are THUGS.”  “you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine”; “you choose personal and vile attacks; “your bitter hyperbole”;  “we are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.”

And here is how some of your friends responded:

Former Eastern Nazarene College professor Karl Giberson said “Their righteous rants are nothing but thoroughly carnal and self-centered acts of hate. In another era they were the people who physically persecuted people for their beliefs.”  (This is a man who does not believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word and has deceived many students over the years).
One of your supporters considers your letter as an example of “civil discourse.” And yet another said that your letter is “Clearly and lovingly said.”  Pastor John Brickley agreed with Dan Boone’s characterization of us as “Nazarene Taliban…. their actions are shameful and they bring shame to the cause of Christ.  David Wesley, a professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary said  None of us should put up with our brothers in Christ being beaten up by a group of thugs.” Pastor David Pettigrew said, “The only response to bullies is to stand up to them. They won’t go away on their own. They have absolutely no courage or shame.”

We’ve been called other names before, but never a THUG until now.  ( You changed THUGS to BULLIES later, but… is that supposed to make us feel better?).  You are apparently upset at how Concerned Nazarenes have “attacked” some “good and Godly men and women in the Church of the Nazarene”.  You seem to think that to judge and challenge their ideologies and beliefs is, in your words, “un-Godly behavior” and “un-Biblical.”  You defended Rev. Gabriel Salguerro, who some of us recently rebuked for praying at the Democrat National Convention, and for his promotion of the un-Godly Wildgoose Festival.

We will take a look at some of these friends you mentioned.  Remember, no one is above scrutiny, and the Bible gives us instructions to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), and also tells us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim 4:2-5)  There is also Paul’s sobering words in Galatians 1: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  We are warned in Ephesians 5 to “let no one deceive you with empty words.”  And in Colossians 2:8, see this warning: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

So these are the words of God, and I could cite even more examples that clearly gives warning to us that we should not fall asleep spiritually, and for us to “contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  The only question remaining is, who is rightly dividing the word of truth, you or us?  Both cannot be correct.


Here are short summaries of some of the friends you defended:

Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University: Promotes a prayer labyrinth at Trevecca.  He changed the name to “prayer walk” when we exposed it.  Promotes yearly trips to a Roman Catholic monastery where students practice contemplative mysticism (the silence).  He uncharitably calls fundamental Christians jihadists and intolerant and suggests that people “stun them (CNs) with our silence”, while ironically writing a book called Charitable Discourse.  Allows many books by contemplatives to be available at Trevecca’s campus.  Claims that some of the Psalms were borrowed from pagans cultures.  Wrote a few years  ago that “I am deepening in the mystical forms of prayer.”  (Since then that has been removed).


Thomas Jay Oord, professor at Northwest Nazarene University: Promotes the twin heresies of open theism (God does not know everything) and process theology (God learns from His mistakes).  Supports evolution.  Does not believe sin and death came by way of the disobedience of Adam (as told directly to me).  Questions propositional truth and attacks the doctrine of inerrancy in the book Postmodern and Wesleyan.

Doug Hardy, professor of Spiritual Formation at Nazarene Theological Seminary:  Teaches occultism to future pastors at the seminary (Celtic Spirituality).  Promotes many books written by Roman Catholic mystics.  He is on the board of Spiritual Directors International, which promotes spiritual direction regardless of religion, and also prayer labyrinths.  Their mission statement says: “Throughout human history, individuals have been called to accompany others seeking the Mystery we name God. In this time, Spiritual Directors International responds to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”

Karl Giberson, former professor at Eastern Nazarene College: Promotes the heretical teaching of evolution, which denies the biblical account in Genesis.  Does not believe Adam and Eve existed in the Genesis account.  Believes that much of the Bible is fiction.  He openly mocks fundamentalist Christians, including one of his big critics, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.  He wrote Saving Darwin: How To Be A Christian and Believe In Evolution.  Sadly, Dr. Randall Stephens has taken up his mantle at ENC.

Kevin Ulmet, Pastor of Nashville First Church: Wrote a scathing article in Holiness Today, attacking us with even more ugly words than you have used.  He too was praised by many Nazarenes for writing such a loving and “spirit-filled” article.  Amazing what some people can make themselves see, even if it is not true.  It was far from spirit-filled.  His words were an insult to the many Godly men and women I have met in the past four years during our work in alerting Nazarenes and other Christians.  As were his words, Rev. Barnard, your words were also unbecoming for an ordained elder in the church.

Jon Middendorf, Pastor of OKC First Church: One of the prime pushers of the emergent church movement in the Nazarene denomination and son of a General Superintendent.  His church used to, and perhaps still does, share communion services at a Roman Catholic Church.  He and his friend, Rev. Scott Daniels, promoted the emergent church and its mystical false teachers at a seminar at General Assembly in 2009.  We sat in the front row and eagerly waited to ask questions, but it was not offered except for personal questions after the seminar. (See Conversation With An Emergent Pastor).

Jesse Middendorf, General Superintendent: Dr. Middendorf was there that day at General Assembly, as he proudly (I assume) sat in the room to watch Jon promote the emergent church.  When pastor Joe spoke up and asked Dr. Middendorf if any Nazarenes who had concerns about the emergent church would ever get the chance to voice their opinion, his response to us was: “That’s not likely.”  Dr. Middendorf is a supporter of the emergent church and spiritual formation, whether through promoting the retreat back in 2009 at General Assembly, or through his silence.


So these are very brief summaries of a few of the folks you defended. The challenge before you, if you would take it, is to defend these specific teachings and practices that I mentioned.  However, your defense would not be acceptable unless it is with the use of Holy Scripture, and not by your own personal opinion.  You must not take scripture out of context as well (for example, using Matthew 7:1 to “prove” that we should never judge; or, using Psalm 46:10 to justify the mystical practice of “the silence”, as Dan Boone did).  If you accept the challenge, that’s great.  If not, that’s fine also, we will understand.

The same trend has continued for several years now, and it is the same.  You see, those who criticize us and call us “unloving” and “hateful” and “dividers”, have never really tried to correct us, as loving Christians ought to.  Instead, they have resorted to the only arrow in their quiver: personal attacks, like yours. We go after the false teachings, and yes, we do sometimes sound harsh, because when going after false teachings, we are commanded in scripture to “reprove, and rebuke”, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5), and to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 2:1).

So if you or your friends are to respond, please do so without meaningless, unsupported and baseless attacks.  What I really pray for is that you will look seriously again at what we are saying and compare it with Scripture, that’s all.  We are not concerned about feelings being hurt; we are concerned for the truth of God’s word.  We are concerned for you.

Manny Silva


 Additional Resources: Why People Hate Those Who Expose False Teaching (Tim Wirth)

Deluding Influence by John Henderson



Rev. Barnard’s Original Post: An Open Letter to Members of Concerned Nazarenes:

If you are part of that “group”, you may want to stop reading now and unfriend me. It will save you some anguish. But someone needs to speak truth to you. Since you BLOCK your FB page and only allow those that support your cause to post there, and since I can’t message you, I’m forced to break my own rule and use my page to express my thoughts without first engaging you privately (though I’m sure it would be of little use).

I have followed your comments, rants, ravings, posts, and visual media since you debuted your DVD around our General Assembly in 2009. I have read what you write on blogs, posts, comments, Twitter, Facebook, NazNet, and NCNNews among other outlets. I believe I have formed an accurate and honest perspective on your cause. 

You aren’t Concerned, you’re angry. You aren’t Nazarene, you’re judgmental. 

In short – some of you are THUGS.

 I watched today as you “whole-earth scorched” some friends of mine and fellow Nazarene pastors, Gabriel & Jeanette Vargas Salguero, on the NCNNews Message Board. You have attacked good and Godly women and men in the Church of the Nazarene, such as Dan Boone, Thomas Jay Oord, Doug Hardy, Mark Maddix, Kevin Ulmet, Loren Gresham, Jon Middendorf, Jesse C Middendorf, Karl Giberson, Dan Bohi, Diane Cunningham Leclerc, among others. In doing so, you don’t enter into constructive dialogue, you choose personal and vile attacks. It’s un-Godly behavior; it’s un-Biblical; and it’s time someone stood up and told you so. That’s where I come in.

Feel free to google me (you won’t find much), listen to my conversations (all on-line and in iTunes), read my FB page (it’s public), follow me on Twitter (again, public), and in general add me to your list of those that deserve your bitter hyperbole. I’ll gladly take it if it means I’m in the likes of those YOU currently call “enemies of the church”. These General & District Superintendents, faculty and college presidents, chaplains and officers in our military, student leaders on our Nazarene campuses, and pastors and parsonage families, have done nothing TO YOU, yet you feel the need to RISE up against them. Shame on you. Shame on your cause.

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you want to UNFRIEND me. No problem. In fact, if you are friends with me AND part of the FB Concerned Nazarene group, I’ll likely UNFRIEND you. It’s not that I don’t value my FB friends who have differing opinions than me, or that I don’t learn from them (just read my recent political posts) – but they truly are interested in TRUTH. You are interested in getting your own way. I don’t need you in my life.

I’ll pray for you. I’ll fast for you. I’ll care what you do with your life, and how God will respond to you on judgment day (though if I were you I wouldn’t hold out hope for mercy). But I won’t waste time trying to understand you. We are at opposite ends of the humanity spectrum.

I wish you the best in life…HONESTLY, I do!

Grace & Peace — Bruce Barnard, a HOPEFUL NAZARENE!

PS – this is a NOTE, not a post…it’s sharable if you so choose…