I came across the Reformed Nazarene blogsite, run by Manny Silva (no relation to Apprising Ministries’ Ken Silva). Manny has been on “the battlefield” opposing Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings in the Nazarene Church denomination.
Following are some excerpts from Manny’s blog Nazarene Denomination Losing Its Way. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].
I am writing this because I love the Nazarene church, yet I am deeply saddened at what is happening to it….
… recently, the denomination seems to be accepting much of what is called the emergent church movement and its ideology, and many are asking why?
Those at the forefront of the emergent church movement will tell you that they are simply questioning whether our “old” ways of reaching out and evangelizing can be used to reach the young generation anymore. But in reality, what this movement is trying to do is to change or re-define almost everything that has been taught as orthodox Christianity for 2,000 years, and a common phrase they use is that they are in a “conversation”. Unfortunately, that conversation will go on forever without ever getting to the truth. It is a deadly, dangerous movement that has practically infiltrated every single evangelical denomination, and is drawing away countless people from the true gospel and into mystical practices that have no scriptural basis, and denies the sole authority, inerrancy and infallibility of the word of God. Much of the emergent church is re-packaged liberalism, with an emphasis on tolerance of almost anything, non-judgmentalism and ecumenism, as well as an embrace of Roman Catholic rituals and pagan practices.
Now the questions are coming from many troubled Nazarenes across the country. Is the Nazarene denomination abandoning its solid biblically grounded theological roots based on the infallible word of God, and instead turning to the emergent church movement with all its errors as the solution that it needs going into the next century? I believe I can make a case that the church is already well on its way to abandoning its holiness roots and sound Christian doctrine, and has been for some time.
One of the problems with writing about the emergent church movement is that even though this movement has come into practically all denominations, there are still many people and church leaders who never heard of this movement. In a way, that is good, because most likely, those churches that have not been affected are still grounded in solid Bible based theology and teaching. The bad news is that many congregations are slowly being fed this error filled ideology by their pastors or leadership in small doses, much like slowly heating up a frog in a pan of water. Combine that with a lack of discernment among many, a shallow knowledge of scripture, a reluctance to “judge”, a fear of controversy or “division”, and an unhealthy loyalty to the church or pastor, instead of first to Jesus Christ, and the resulting combination is deadly. So I urge every Christian, Nazarene or otherwise, to look into this movement if you don’t know anything about it. Eventually, you or someone you know will encounter it, and you need to be prepared for the onslaught of this deceptive “new reformation.”
Some of the Nazarene Problems
So the problems are real, and many. Contemplative spirituality practices, which are nothing more than “Christianized” transcendental meditation, are being taught in Nazarene universities, seminaries, and churches. [Manny Silva cites numerous examples].
We need to be loyal to God above all else. If practices and teachings that are coming into the Christian church are clearly unbiblical, it is our duty as Christians to oppose them, even if we have to oppose our leadership. We must not be silent on these matters, because it goes against scripture. Leadership, pastors, church manuals are all imperfect; the word of God is not, and that should be always our guide and sole, final authority in all matters for our Christian living and practice. Mystical experiences and the undermining of the authority of scripture have no place in the Christian church.
How did I and Others Get So Concerned?
Just about a year ago, I began doing some serious research into the movement, and quickly knew that this was not something of God, and if something is not of God, it can only be from Satan. I began sending out regular email reports to friends, including members of my local church and also non-Nazarenes, to educate them about the emergent church. A few months later, I stumbled onto the main Nazarene website, in a section for missions, and got my first clues that this movement was possibly being welcomed into the church. However I spent several more months researching, before realizing that this movement had all but overrun the denomination, it’s universities, and even it’s main seminary.
All the problems I have mentioned are very real and they are already in the denomination, like a cancer would be inside a body, but not completely noticed yet. And like a slow growing cancer, unless it is eradicated quickly and treated properly, this movement threatens the very existence of the Nazarene denomination, and more seriously, the eternal souls of many…
After starting my blog in January, others from around the country starting contacting me, sharing the same serious concerns about what was happening in the Nazarene denomination. I started getting stories from Nazarenes, of either being ostracized and forced to leave their church, or telling of others who suffered the same fate. Folks, it is heart breaking to think of all the emails I have gotten over the last year, from faithful Nazarenes who have been forced to leave their church of many years, all because they were not allowed to speak up and share their concerns of what was happening. The pattern seemed to be the same: either be quiet and get with the program, or leave. It did not matter whether they were 40 year members, or members of only a few years. The strategy was clear: follow the model of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, “some people are going to have to die, or leave”. Many have left the denomination disgusted and heartbroken, and have found a church home outside of their former Nazarene church, where the Bible is taught as the inerrant, infallible word of God. It is amazing that this teaching is not the case anymore in so many Nazarene churches and universities!
The Concerned Nazarenes group became more formalized and started organizing a plan….
As General Assembly approached, we prayed, fasted, and prayed some more. We had a prayer line in place across the country, and sent out prayer requests as needed for the most urgent issues that came up. Opposition from some emergent Nazarenes was fierce, including pastors. The emergent Nazarenes were not about to lie down and allow us to spread the information about their movement unimpeded. Their blogs began to show comment after comment depicting Concerned Nazarenes as radicals, hateful, judgmental, unloving, and extreme fundamentalists! We were called out of touch and non-Wesleyan in our thinking….
This is not just a Nazarene problem. It is a cancer that is spreading everywhere. This could very well be a major turning point in the history of many denominations. I believe we are seeing, in this emergent church movement, some of the influences that are misleading so many Christians around the world. It is so pervasive that we are probably seeing the beginnings of the great apostasy which was predicted in the scriptures. Christ will not return when there is great revival; the Bible prophesies that His return will come after there is a great falling away from the faith by countless millions. We will be shocked at the well known leaders who will be fooled by the great deceiver, as is happening now. Even now we see famous pastors like Rick Warren, who are defying scriptural commands to “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers”, who are foolishly working towards eradicating poverty and bringing “peace” to the world, not understanding or ignoring biblical prophesy and what it says about the end times, that only Christ can bring peace.
It is my prayer that faithful Christians be watchmen at this time, to guard themselves with the Word of God, so that they too will not be deceived by the one who comes often disguised as an angel of light. Deception is on the rise, and we need to stay awake, watch, warn, and as needed, we should expose, rebuke and shun false teachers.
I am first of all a Christian. Christians should not casually create serious problems in their churches because they did not agree with a certain policy, or they did not agree with the selected color for the walls in the fellowship hall. However, when there is a serious problem in doctrinal matters, loyalty to any one person, persons, or denomination, should be secondary to loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.
For those Nazarenes and other Christians who are reading this, may God bless you as you search for the truth. I ask you not to stay silent if God opens your eyes to this. I ask you to speak out and question those in authority and challenge them to justify these practices with scripture, not with their own human reasoning. I ask you not to allow anything to get in the way of the truth. Don’t try to win the approval of men, but of God. Rely only on the word of God, and not the intellectual reasoning and wisdom of men, which can lead you down a broad road which is only paved with destruction. Seek to defend the one true gospel with all that you have. Eternity is at stake for many.
Galatians 1:6-10 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 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! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!