Update: I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
The Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) is a Region of the EFC-NA, when belongs to the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. I was reading through the NWYM document entitled “Faith Expressed as Doctrine.” It seems biblical for the most part. The wording sounds a bit awkward at points, but on most points it strikes me as well grounded. For example, consider the following:
Human Redemption: We believe that God created the human being, male and female, in His own image; but that when Adam and Eve fell from a state of holy obedience, the human race lost a perfect relationship to God, and self instead of the Creator became the center of life. Through the blood of Christ our Savior we may be recovered from the fall and made right (justified) before God. To those who put their faith in Christ, God offers forgiveness of sins, regeneration of affections and actions, and final glorification of the resurrected body.
Here are the doctrinal points covered in the document:
1. God as Creator
2. God’s Revelation in Christ
3. God’s Revelation by the Spirit
4. God’s Revelation in the Scriptures
5. Human Redemption
6. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
7. The Church
8. God’s Kingdom
9. The Spiritual Experience
Recently, NWYM has struck me as being the most theologically liberal, “progressive evangelical”, Emerging/Emergent Region in the EFCI. Yet their doctrinal statement above sounded so biblical… I began looking over other parts of the NWYM website, to see if the beliefs expressed there match their doctrinal statement.
I perused the Books and Videos Catalog, at the following link: http://nwfriends.org/resources/catalogs/
Clicking on a few links, I then ended up at: http://www.librarything.com/profile/nwfriends
Here are the categories of books and videos:
Children’s Ministry (77)
Christian Education and Discipleship (113)
Congregational Care (129)
Discernment Resources (21)
Finance and Stewardship (13)
Global Outreach (57)
Leadership Development and Enrichment (105)
Local Outreach (34)
Recording Reading List (67)
Spiritual Formation/Classics (76)
Worship Resources (56)
Youth and Young Adult Ministry (196)
All collections (572)
After looking over this list, I then perused the titles under Spiritual Formation/Classics (there are a total of 76 titles). I found the following titles (among many others that I would consider far from evangelical, born again Christian):
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, by Richard J. Foster
Christian Educator’s Handbook on Spiritual Formation, The, by Kenneth O. Gangel
The Deeper Life: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism, by Louis Dupre
Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality, by Margaret Silf
Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith,
by Catherine Stonehouse
Labyrinth [a portable labyrinth kit]
Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church, by Doug Pagitt
The Shack, by William P. Young
Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, by Richard J. Foster
Thoughts In Solitude, by Thomas Merton
The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers,
by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Wellsprings: A Book of Spiritual Exercises, by Anthony De Mello
When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer,
by Jan Johnson
Zen and the Birds of Appetite, by Thomas Merton
The above looks like a booklist from a liberal/mainline church library (such as that of the United Methodist Church, or the Episcopalians, or the United Church of Christ). Nope, this booklist is from the supposedly born again, biblically sound Northwest Yearly Meeting.
QUESTION: Why does the Northwest Yearly Meeting have these titles in their lending library? The answer in my mind, is, there is a huge disconnect between “faith” and “practice.” To put it another way, Evangelical Friends in the Northwest Yearly Meeting claim to be walking close to the Lord and following their document entitled “Faith Expressed as Doctrine.” Yet they are incorporating Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings which are far from biblical. Frankly, I wonder if there are any individuals left in the Northwest Yearly Meeting who have not become “progressive evangelicals.”
In a word, the lending library booklist is not just an anomaly. The entire Northwest Yearly Meeting is full of Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Dan Kimball, etc. all have close ties with the Northwest Yearly Meeting, George Fox University, and George Fox Evangelical Seminary.
Few of the books in the Northwest Yearly Meeting lending library would be found in the church libraries of the more biblically sound EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region). Yet the EFC-ER continues to maintain ties with the Northwest Yearly Meeting and the other more liberal/progressive Regions of the EFCI. How can the EFC-ER continue to associate with these Regions without being negatively affected?
The EFC-ER will “lose its soul” theologically if it maintains these associations and accepts teachings such as those promulgated in the above books. In fact, there are already many in the EFC-ER who see no problem with Northwest Yearly Meeting, or George Fox University, or George Fox Seminary, or Richard Foster, or Emergent/Emergent teachings. Regarding the “innocent sheep” in the EFC-ER (particularly in the smaller churches) who are not yet aware of the “Liberal 2.0 transformation” heading their way, I pray that it’s not too late to wake them up…
I’m currently researching the Northwest Yearly Meeting, to learn when they started down this long, slippery slope to apostasy. I’ve found these few bits of info so far:
NORTHWEST Yearly Meeting of Friends Church
<http://www.nwfriends.org/> opened 1893/06 as Oregon Yearly Meeting, set off from the Progressive, now FUM, branch of Iowa Yearly Meeting. It joined in founding FUM in 1902 but withdrew in 1926. It joined in founding EFA in 1965 and the succeeding EFI in 1989… Ralph K. Beebe, A Garden of the Lord: A History of Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (1968), contains histories of nearly all monthly meetings established in the first 75 years.
My question is: were the Northwest Yearly Meeting and/or the other Regions already headed down the road to apostasy when they joined the EFA in 1965? Or did they “turn bad” after that point? And if they were already becoming liberal/apostate, why did the born again, biblically sound Ohio Yearly Meeting join with them in forming the EFA?
Finally, it does not appear that the EFCI (or the EFC-ER) are going to turn from Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. After striving in vain to persuade various individuals (in various denominations), I have come up with the following Summary Statement:
We want these things to stop being taught in our denominations, to cease completely. And with the eternal destiny of so many souls at stake, we will not take “no” for an answer. Either the churches stop teaching these things, or we will plead with their members to LEAVE, to “run for your life” as Carter Conlon so movingly put it. It’s as simple as that.
Click here for a step by step guide to leaving an apostate church and locating a biblical church.