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Posts Tagged ‘Nazarene Church’

(revised 11/24/13)

The Church of the Nazarene (CotN) denomination, like many other evangelical denominations, has slid into heresy over the past 100 years. Today the CotN is one of the major players in promulgating postmodern (Emerging/Emergent/ Emergence) teachings. CotN  compromises with heretical teachings can be seen in its adoption of increasingly heretical textbooks over the years.

Consider the following excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

1) While there is no official theology text authorised by the denomination, there are several that have been widely used in the pre-ordination training course for ministers. In the early years of the denomination, books by John Miley and William Burt Pope were used. The most influential theologians within the Church of the Nazarene have been Edgar P. Ellyson, author of Theological Compend (1908); A.M. Hills, author of Fundamental Christian Theology (1931); H. Orton Wiley, author of the three-volume Christian Theology (1940–1943); Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, author of A Theology of Love (1972) and Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (1972); Richard S. Taylor, author of A Right Conception of Sin (1945) and Exploring Christian Holiness, Vol.3: The Theological Formulation (1985); H. Ray Dunning, author of Grace, Faith & Holiness (1988); and J. Kenneth Grider, author of A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology (1994). Contemporary Nazarene theologians include Michael Lodahl, Thomas Oord, Samuel M. Powell, Bryan Stone, Rob Staples, and Thomas A. Noble. Noble has been commissioned to write a three-volume systematic theology for the denomination that seeks to be intellectually coherent, comprehensive, contemporary, and global.[84]
[84] Thomas Noble, in Bob Broadbooks, “An Interview with Thomas Noble“, Grace & Peace Magazine 6 (Spring 2012):4.
Source: Wikipedia article on “Church of the Nazarene” (as of 10/01/12)

2)  It had become obvious as early as 1919 that the new denomination needed a systematic theology of its own. The two which were recommended in the “Course of Study” were already by that time quite old and not synchronized with the age of the assembly line, urbanization, and obviously increasing social mobility. Benjamin Field’s The Student’s Handbook of Christian Theology had been published in 1886; John Miley’s Systematic Theology was dated 1892; and older than them both, but recommended from the beginning, was Samuel Wakefield’s Christian Theology, a revision of Watson’s Institutes, published in 1869. William Burton Pope’s Compendium of Christian Theology and Charles Hodges’ Systematic Theology, neither of them in the “Course of Study” but both very widely used in the colleges of the holiness movement, date from 1881 and 1871 respectively. These could not meet the onslaught of modernism. They knew little of it. 

So it was that in 1919 a formal request was made by the General Department of Education to H. Orton Wiley, then president of Northwest Nazarene College, Nampa, Idaho, that he write a full-range systematic theology [the 3-volume Christian Theology]. (73) About the time that Wiley was being importuned, A. M. Hills, a member of the Pasadena University faculty, began to write his own systematic theology, urged on by his former students. (74) For whatever reasons, Hills’ theology [entitled Fundamental Christian Theology] was published almost a decade before Wiley’s, first appearing in 1931. It was not published by the Nazarene Publishing House, but by C. J. Kinne, a Nazarene elder long connected with denominational literature and publishing interests. A search of several sorts of correspondence revealed nothing as to why the Publishing House did not print the work. Conversations with some persons contemporary with the events suggested that Hills was considered too liberal with respect to the authority and inspiration of Scripture. (75)

…Nonetheless, in spite of Wiley’s critique of theologies such as Hills’ as being too biblicistic; and the critique of grass roots opinion, as it was expressed in administrative leadership, that Hills’ work was too liberal with respect to Scripture, the Fundamentalism of Hills took hold of the Church of the Nazarene in the 1930’s and 1940’s… (85)

Source: Paul Merritt Bassett, THE FUNDAMENTALIST LEAVENING OF THE HOLINESS MOVEMENT, 1914-1940; THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE: A CASE STUDY (click here and scroll to the hard copy of pages 79,80,81)

3) At one time the Church of the Nazarene had a “one-size fits all” approach to ministerial preparation. None of us at the ANSR Conference were ordained in 1932. But you probably should know that those seeking ordination in 1934 – received an updated Questions on the Course of Study with a revised recommended reading list! When it comes to preparing our clergy – in our movement . . . we are always moving forward. But in case 1932 roles around again – this author will not have to buy a book!

For the source of the above quote, click here and scroll to the hard copy of page 3. A very insightful article (albeit liberal); this source describes many of the titles on the recommended reading list at the time. It would be very interesting to see the complete list of these biblically sound titles.

Fast forward to 1979, and we see another major change in textbooks, reflecting a shift in Nazarene theology:

4) H. Ray Dunning [who teaches various heresies] of Trevecca was asked by the Board of General Superintendents in 1979 to write a contemporary one-volume systematic theology to replace Wiley. [My question is, why?]

Source: Click here and scroll to hard copy of p. 14.

Following are some reader comments on H. Ray Dunning’s textbook, Grace, Faith & Holiness: A Wesleyan Systematic Theology. This is just one of several lengthy reviews, which give a great deal of info about the content of Dunning’s book – as well as J. Kenneth Grider’s A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology.

A review byRene F. Tetro

I was among the last crop of students to use H. Orton Wiley’s three volume Christian Theology as my primary theological textbook in college. A year before my graduation Dunning’s work came out and was suggested as a “supplemental textbook” in our theology courses. Shortly thereafter, the Church of the Nazarene changed from Wiley to Dunning as its primary theological text for the preparation of ministers.

Dunning’s approach to Wesleyan Theology couldn’t be more different from the older Wiley text. Wiley was very much in the mold of 19th century Methodist theologians like Miley, while Dunning has taken a much more relational approach. The latter’s Grace, Faith & Holiness: A Wesleyan Systematic Theology could be considered the theological magnum opus of the relational stream of Wesleyan thought that was brought to the fore by Mildred Bangs Wynkoop in A Theology of Love during the 1970s. In many ways, Dunning would, therefore, seem to be a throwback to John Wesley’s eighteen century thinking, minus the additions, accompaniments, modifications, and embellishments that were adjoined during the nineteenth century holiness movement. That movement added much to the original Wesleyan message, and not all for the good (in my humble opinion). [“The relational model” fits in very closely with today’s heretical Emergent teachings. Also, the reviewer seems to be putting the godly John Wesley on the same level as heretics Wynkoop and Dunning (I disagree). And that the Wesleyan Holiness movement theology was incorrect (I disagree).] Now… it would appear that the relational model of Wynkoop and Dunning has become normative in much of the Wesleyan world.

But not quite so fast. Shortly after the release of Dunning’s theology, another work appeared on the scene. This was J. Kenneth Grider‘s A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology. While not precisely in the same vein as Wiley, Grider’s work was still very much attuned to the teachings of the nineteenth century holiness movement. [I’m not so sure about this – Grider also has many heretical teachings of his own.]

Both Dunning and Grider have their place. The two juxtapose the two major avenues of thought in contemporary Wesleyan-Holiness circles. In truth, both need to be read to obtain a full picture of Wesleyan thinking in our time. Which one is closer to a true, biblical, Wesleyan theology?… Perhaps it is not a matter of either/or, but a matter of finding the valid points of each and trying to come up with a synthesis where possible.

The above reviewer believes there were still relatively biblical alternatives to Dunning in the 1970s to 1990s. This document tells us (on p. 19) some more about Grider, and introduces us to Donald S. Metz:

J. Kenneth Grider’s A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology was published in 1994, six years after Dunning and represented a more traditional formulation. Another voice critical of the ‘relational’ formulation was Donald S. Metz. He had published Studies in Biblical Holiness in 1971, and this was placed on the Course of Study in 1976. In 1994, he published independently Some Crucial Issues in the Church of the Nazarene which called for a return to the traditional formulation of the doctrine to save the church ‘embalming itself for burial.’

Hmm, I’m not so sure Grider and Metz can be considered biblically sound. But I would agree that they were “less” heretical than Dunning.

Richard S. Taylor is another story – he does strike me as being biblically sound.  Consider an excerpt from this article regarding Richard S. Taylor:

A brave but lone voice
seeking a return to the historic Nazarene position [on inerrancy] came in 1980 with the publication of noted Nazarene theologian Richard S. Taylor’s Biblical Authority and the Christian FaithTaylor writes with a different outlook and a fresh approach to the problem of biblical inspiration.  He freely criticizes (in a way few leading Nazarene scholars had done for years) neo-orthodox theologians and their tenets.  He just as freely and without apology [favorably] quotes non-Wesleyan inerrantists.   He charges that destructive higher criticism destroys the authority of the Bible and the teaching of its tenets renders men “unfit to serve the Savior,” in the words of William Beck.  He warns against “excessive exposure” to critics such as Bultmann.

Taylor emphasized the primacy of Scripture…

I’m not very familiar with Taylor. But I have read Wiley’s theology. Even if Taylor was not totally on track in his theology, at least Taylor was in the ball park of being biblically sound like Wiley.

Back to Nazarene textbooks. Unfortunately – and this is key – the Nazarene Board of General Superintendents did not ask Taylor (or even Grider or Metz) in 1979 to write a contemporary one-volume systematic theology to replace Wiley’s. Instead, they chose the worst of the bunch, the heretical H. Ray Dunning.  The rest is history.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This blog does not get into the continued heretical slide in theology textbooks since the 1990s. Today the Nazarene schools are full of postmodern (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence) textbooks. What a tragedy.

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(revised 04/01/14)

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….

Conclusion

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!

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