Search Results for 'Spiritual Formation'



Pragmatic Methodology versus Practical Theology
a comment on “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts” by C. Peter Wagner
Journey Into Wholeness or Journey Into Worldliness? – Part 2
by Sandy Simpson, 1/18/10


In this second article on the “Spiritual Formation” ideas being taught under the name of “40 Days of Reflection & Growth” at Trevecca Nazarene University, I am going to start out by talking about pragmatism versus Biblical practical theology.  The Emerging Church (EC) and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) have many things in common, which has been proved again and again by the cooperation and even mentorship across the lines of EC and NAR.  These types of “Ladies Home Journal” surveys that are supposed to teach you something about yourself are used by both groups and very much from the same model set forth by modern psychology.  When dealing with worldly issues and even those of emotional and mental development, surveys can sometimes be of some help, though more often they are not really much help at all.  This is because surveys do not really help people spiritually.  The Bible provides the highest and best help for all areas of life.  But this reliance on human therapeutic methodology is very evident in both the spiritual formation materials at Trevecca and in materials flowing forth from the C. Peter Wagner NAR.  For the purposes of anonymity I am not going to name names but I have firsthand knowledge of the C. Peter Wagner survey put out under the name of “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts” by C. Peter Wagner.  This survey was used in a recent ACSI teacher’s conference.  Teachers signed up for extra curricular classes which would provide them credit in their teaching credentials.  The name of the class where this survey was presented was called “Creativity: It All Begins With An Idea”.  The teachers, thinking they would be presented with ideas on creativity in the classroom, ended up having to take the above survey if they wanted to get credit for the course.  What the survey had to do with the subject is beyond me.  To me it was very disingenuous to ride in on one horse, switch horses in the middle of the stream, and end up leaving people drowning in Third Wave/Latter Rain false ideas.  Be that as it may, this was only a small part of the problem.

The first question I had was this: how can a survey help you “find your spiritual gifts”?  The answer: it cannot.  All the questions were framed in such as way that they were almost all focused on self.  Before we get too far into this analysis I need to give you the correct Biblical way to find your spiritual gifts so you can compare the positive picture with the negative.

It is clear that spiritual gifts are given to serve OTHERS.  We are to eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1 & 12) but the Holy Spirit distributes gifts according to the will of God (Heb. 2:4). To find out how God wants to use you, you need to get busy (1) witnessing the Gospel (2) discipling others (3) helping others with physical needs (4) and working hard in the context of the Church, desiring to bless others and encourage them.  When you do this, without spending your time focusing on what your spiritual gifts might be, God will show you what He wants you to do and empower you to do it.  It may have NOTHING to do with your natural gifts, in fact in my experience it often does not, contrary to what Rick Warren teaches in his “Purpose Driven” books.  Out of your service to Him and obedience to His Word and the Holy Spirit, your teacher, the Lord can and will do miraculous things, many times in ways you did not expect.  He may give you a lifelong gift. He may give you temporary gifts.  The point, though, is not to go around bragging about your gift but to use it to serve others.  When you go around telling people what your gift(s) are, in my opinion, you lose any reward you might have coming.  Paul was a true foundational apostle, but he was also clear that he was a fellow servant (Eph. 3:7, Tit. 1:1) and a simple humble man who could do nothing in his own strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul was also given the gift of foundational apostleship by the Lord Himself.  He did not take a survey to find out he had the gift of apostleship.

So to focus people who call themselves followers of Christ on themselves like some Reader’s Digest poll, is actually counterproductive to finding how God wants to use you and empower you.  This survey was also given largely to women, yet one of the gifts you could find out you had according to their scoring system, was being an apostle.  There were no female apostles in the Bible.

Probably the most egregious part of the survey is that, when you grade it, you can come up with the answer that you are an apostle.  Not just any apostle, but one who is foundational to the Church.

Z. Apostle.  The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and to exercise divinely imparted authority in order to establish the foundational government of an assigned sphere of ministry within the Church.  An apostle hears from the Holy Spirit and sets things in order accordingly for the Church’s health, growth, maturity and outreach.  (Note: “Church” refers to the believers who gather weekly and also to the believers scattered in the workplace.)

Anyone with any Biblical knowledge will already see problems with this statement.  When Wagner states that his type of “apostle” has “imparted authority” he means literally an impartation received by himself or one of his “apostles” to make a person an apostle or prophet.

Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI) trains and equips men and women for leadership positions in local churches, translocal ministries, and the workplace.  WLI’s goal is to equip leaders in necessary skills for effective ministry. As a WLI affiliate, the Issachar School offers a unique approach to ministry training.  Our goal is that you gain revelation of God’s purposes and a prophetic sensitivity to His timing, along with the impartation of effective ministry skills. (The Issachar School, New Student Handbook, 12/16/09, http://www.gloryofzion.org/issachar/Student_Handbook_2009.doc)The prophetic spirit is transferable and can be imparted. (National School Of The Prophets – Mobilizing The Prophetic Office, John Eckhardt, Friday, 5/12/00, 7:00 p.m. – Session 12)

There is no such thing in the Bible.  God Himself is the one who makes true apostle and prophets, so the type of apostles Wagner is making are false ones, just as he is a false one.  Read “False Apostles!”.  When he states that they “establish the foundational government” he is talking about foundational apostles today.

Apostles and prophets the foundation of the Church and, um, I identify as James an apostle as my function as a horizontal apostle to bring together the people of the body of Christ not only can I do it, I love to do it. Yesterday I was the apostle with a group of about 15-20 prophets we met all day long, and these prophets many of whom are going to be speakers in this conference come under my guidance, coordination and leadership as an apostle. They each have apostles in their own networks but I mean they are under spiritually.  But I’m the one that brings them together and when I bring them together things happen. (C. Peter Wagner, National School of the Prophets – Mobilizing the Prophetic Office, Colorado Springs, CO, May 11, 2002, Tape #1)In the brochure that I received, advertising C. Peter Wagner’s conference in Brisbane, the following was written: “The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit that is changing the shape of Christianity globally. It is truly a new day! The Church is changing. New names! New methods! New worship expressions! The Lord is establishing the foundations of the Church for the new millennium. This foundation is built upon apostles and prophets. Apostles execute and establish God’s plan on the earth. The time to convene a conference of the different apostolic prophetic streams across this nation is now! This conference will cause the Body to understand God’s ‘new’ order for this coming era. We look forward to having you with us in Brisbane in Feb 2000.”  It was signed by Peter Wagner and Ben Gray. (Brochure For Brisbane 2000, as cited in Jumping On The Bandwagon – Australian Christian Churches Seduced by the Beat of a Different Drummer?, Hughie Seaborn, 1999, http://members.ozemail.com.au/~rseaborn/bandwagon.html)

The Government of God’s kingdom will be established through the apostolic and prophetic authorities in cities and nations. (At the World Congress Of Prophets, C. Peter Wagner Presiding, Prophetic Gathering Share In Ministry Together Concerning 2000, by Jim W. Goll, http://www.theremnant.com/news.html)

“We have to understand that the church has a God-designed government.  The church has a God-designed government.  We now live, this is 2004, we now live in the second apostolic age.   The second apostolic age began in the year 2001, ok?  And in this whole first chapter in this book I argue my point, I think rather… I hope it’s convincingly, that 2001 marks, is the year that marks the second apostolic age, which means for years the government of the church had not been in place since about, you know, the first century or so.  It doesn’t mean weren’t apostles and prophets, because the government of the… the foundation of the church according to Ephesians 2:20 is apostles and prophets, Jesus being the chief cornerstone.  It doesn’t mean there weren’t apostles and prophets, it means the body of Christ hadn’t recognized them and released them for the office that they had so that they’d function as apostles and prophets in the foundation of the church. But we now have that, I believe we’ve reached our critical mass in the year 2001.” (C. Peter Wagner, Arise Prophetic Conference, Gateway Church, San Jose, CA, 10-10-2004)

The Biblical criteria to be a foundational apostle proves that there are no longer ANY foundational apostles alive today.  The gift of foundational Apostleship is no longer our concern as no one today fits the criteria to be a foundational apostle.  The teachings of the foundational Apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) are what the Church is built upon, Christ being the chief Cornerstone and Foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11).  The Apostles were those who saw the Lord while He was on earth before he ascended into heaven (1 Cor. 9:1) and the Lord did true signs, wonders and miracles through them to authenticate their ministries (2 Cor. 12:12). They wrote Scriptures (Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, etc.). They were persecuted and all but one (John) were martyred for the Faith (1 Cor. 4:9 and the Pre Nicene Fathers writings). Finally, Paul said that he was the last, in sequence, of the original foundational Apostles (1 Cor. 15:7-8).  We are to use the Word of God, through Jesus Christ, taught to us by the Apostles and prophets, as the basis for our Christian life (2 Peter 3:2, Jude 17). There is no one today who can meet the biblical criteria to be a foundational Apostle.  There are “apostles” in the Church today, “sent out” ones, messengers, mainly church planting missionaries, but they are not foundational to the Church.  So this survey and Latter Rain false teaching is completely erroneous and not the Biblical criteria for the Lord to call and appoint a true apostle.

When he states that this type of apostle “hears from the Holy Spirit” he is not talking about the Holy Spirit using the written Word to speak but primarily of direct audible messages from God and prophecies of his “prophets”.

While in a trance on the afternoon of July 26, 2008, Bob heard the audible voice of God say … There is a coming forth of the NEW BREED! They are not old and they are not young. They will come forth in the Spirit of Holiness. … The Spirit of Holiness coming forth is the divine nature of Christ. … The new breed shall be of the divine nature and will be a friend with God. … The Spirit of holiness coming forth will have resurrection power in it and this power will bring the obedience of what Christ called us to. … Most of the people Bob saw were between the ages of 25 and 40. They will be the first of the new breed which others will immediately begin to follow and they will not fall back. (Bob Jones: Two Encounters: “God Bless America” and “The New Breed Coming Forth”, The ElijahList, August 28, 2008)

“Let me tell you something. The Holy Spirit has already told me He is about to show up. And you know, oh, I gotta tell you this quickly, just before we go. I had a word of prophecy from Ruth Heflin, you know who Ruth Heflin is? Ruth prophesied over me back in the seventies and everything she said has happened. She just sent me a word through my wife and said the Lord spoke to her audibly and said that He is going to appear physically in one of our crusades in the next few months. Yeah, she – I’m telling ya – she said, the Lord spoke to her audibly and said, ‘Tell Benny I’m going to appear physically on the platform in his meetings’. Lord, do it in Phoenix Arizona in the name of Jesus! And in Kenya too, Lord, please, Lord, in fact, do it in every crusade. In Jesus’ name.” (Benny Hinn, March 29th, 2000)

Mike Bickle himself heard an audible voice speak to him, while on a trip in Cairo, Egypt.  The voice told him, “I am inviting you to raise up a work that will touch the ends of the earth.  I have invited many people to do this thing and many people have said yes, but very few have done my will. (Audio Tape, “The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries”, Mike Bickle, 9/82)

Mike Bickle is one of the main prophets of the NAR under Wagner and part of the International Coalition of Apostles.

That he distinguishes believers who meet together from believers “scattered in the workplace” shows he is basically saying there are those who have forsaken meeting together and yet they are all part of the “Church”.

Heb 10:25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Sounds like Wagner includes those who do not want to meet with other believers as part of his plan to bring unity to all the churches.

Sampler of questions from the survey

Some of the questions on Wagner’s survey indicate that he is promoting another form of “Christianity” that really has no basis in the Biblical model for the Church.

“I have spoken directly to evil spirits, and they have obeyed me.”

Is deliverance from evil spirits dependent on a Christian speaking to demons or his/her relationship to Jesus Christ?  Reference the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14-16)

“I can “see” the Spirit of God resting on certain people from time to time.”

This is not a Biblical practice but one wrested from the occult and New Age.  Pagan religions often see auras around people, etc.  But then so do some so-called Christians these days.

Stevens taught that the Holy Spirit would direct us through various physical sensations in our bodies. He often experienced these sorts of signs himself. For instance, a headache meant spiritual assault or witchcraft was coming against you. Stevens also taught how to interpret the color of people’s aura’s in order to discern their spirit. Red in a person’s aura meant they were rebellious, for instance. (The Church of the Living Word, also known as ‘the Walk’, lead by John Robert Stevens which morphed into the Vineyard under John Wimber)Wagner, after quoting Rom 10:14, qualifies Paul’s theology with his own: “There are exceptions, however, even today. Those of us who try to keep track of what God is doing in the world agree with each other that never before have we seen or even heard of so many conversions through divine intervention…particularly among Muslims.” The author further explains that Jesus or an angel has appeared to others, and some have experienced God through auras of light, voices, dreams, or daytime visions. Bibles have supernaturally appeared in mosques or Muslim homes. On one occasion, a Muslim was physically transported by supernatural power from her home to a church where she received Christ (C. Peter Wagner, Confronting the Powers (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1996, p. 186).

A number of the questions in this survey were very self-serving.

I have prayed for others and instantaneous physical healing has often occurred.”
“Other people have been instantly delivered from demonic oppression when I prayed.

Again the point is not what you can do but what God can do.  Putting the emphasis on “I have prayed” is not the proper emphasis and would never lead a person to find out about a true Divine spiritual gifts.  We are to humble ourselves before the Lord (1 Pet. 3:8) and recognize that when we are weak and unable He is strong and able (2 Cor. 12:10).  It is God Who does miracles and He who distributes gifts (Heb. 2:4).

“Others have told me that I am a person of unusual vision, and I agree.”

This is exactly the methodology of Wagner and associates in the NAR/Prophetic Movement.  They puff people up but telling them how great their are in order to suck them into the movement.  I once had a “prophet” tell me I would raise people from the dead physically in Micronesia.  I knew right away that it was a false prophecy because God would not need to tell me that in advance.  But Satan can use that kind of information to bring out the sin of the pride of life.  Why would any true believer repeat something like the above unless they were puffed up with pride over it?

“When I pray, God frequently speaks to me, and I recognize His voice.”

This is talking about an audible voice, not the Holy Spirit using the written Word to teach people or to speak to His Church.  The problem with the false prophets of the NAR is that they have mistaken what they think is the voice of God and is actually either their own inner voice or that of demons.  They would know this if they would test the spirits (1 John 4:1).  But they ignore the clear teaching of the Word and when false prophecies come forth they still think they are “hearing” God’s voice.  They believe their “prophets” can be wrong a good percentage of the time and still be true prophets.  But the Bible is clear that a prophet who lies in the name of the Lord is to be avoided and we are not to fear what they have predicted (De. 18:22).  False prophets, who are actually spiritists being driven by another spirit (2 Cor. 11:4), were to be taken out and stoned in the Old Testament (Le. 20:27).  Therefore under the New Covenant we are to mark and avoid them (Rom. 16:17).

It is interesting to me that C. Peter Wagner and his associates are trying to lead others to some form “discernment” when they ought to be asking themselves the questions they ask others.

“I can tell whether a person speaking in tongues is genuine.”
“During worship, I can often tell if there is a spiritual force attempting to hinder our connection with God.”
“I can recognize whether a person’s teaching or actions are form God, from Satan, or of human origin.”

I have seen Latter Rain/Third Wave/NAR meetings and 99.99% of the “tongues” being spoken are taught and learned babble.  In their meetings people are being “slain in the spirit” and lay on the ground writhing, laughing, groaning, acting like animals, being “drunk” and other things that have nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.  One deacon in a meeting I attended was clearly demonized but when I asked about it the leaders of the counterfeit revival said “Oh, the Holy Spirit is all over that person”.  You can hear that refrain all over the place in NAR churches, yet this deacon ended up drowning a couple of weeks later.  He could not swim but he went out in the ocean and died, having been driven there by another spirit.  I have many other accounts I could give you, but suffice it to say that those in the NAR don’t have one clue as to the difference between what is of God, man or the devil.  They have just kneaded it all together into one big leavened loaf with zero discernment.  The last question is the question they need to ask themselves.  I am sure the Holy Spirit has tried to tell them that the myriad of false teachings and false prophecies they are promoting around the world are wrong, but they close their ears to the written Word and to the Holy Spirit.

Pragmatism married to the Catholic Church

The next chapter in the “spiritual formation” course at Trevecca is called “A 40 Day Journey through Lent” (http://sitemason.trevecca.edu/files/hTKkSY/40day_08spring_full.pdf)  What is “Lent”?  It is a Roman Catholic (RCC) calendar holiday.  Why is a Protestant university telling their youth to celebrate this with the RCC?  Because these same people who are teaching EC ideas are also locked together with the RCC in “ministry” and ideas such as contemplative prayer.  Read this excerpt from many articles on the pagan origins of Lent.

Why We Do Not Celebrate LentLater in this message, we will take a look at the Bible passages dealing with what is called Palm Sunday. But, before I do that, I want to shed some light on why we do not celebrate Lent. While the basic answer is simple – there is no reference to Lent in the Bible, I will share with you some more specific reasons.

The Pagan History of Lent

The word lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten which means spring, which was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word lenctentid (pronounced LENG-ten-teed), which means the time of lengthening and flowering. The entire spring season was called Lenctentid. The ancient Anglo-Saxons (and other pagans) celebrated the return of spring with rioteous fertility festivals commemorating their goddess of fertility and of springtime, Eastre. In fact, the word Easter is derived from the Scandinavian Ostara and the Teutonic Ostern or Eastre, both pagan goddesses. The complete month of April was called Eostur-monath with the entire month was dedicated to Eostre. The pagan religion taught that Eostre was one responsible for changing a bird into a rabbit, this then is how the rabbit became an Easter symbol. Rabbits symbolize the fertility of springtime. It should be noted that the rabbit’s capacity of abundant production of young is especially great at this time of year. I should also tell you that most ancient races, including the Anglo-Saxons, included spring festivals to celebrate the rebirth life, using the Egg was a symbol of fertility, life and re-birth. This is old Latin proverb catches this idea — Omne vivum ex ovo. This means “all life comes from an egg”.

One final note, the Lenten season’s length has varied throughout history, however 40 days, not including Sunday, were finally settled upon and established by Roman Catholic Canon Law said to commemorate the 40 days Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

So, how did such pagan things as Lent and Easter (I am not referring to the blessed Resurrection of Jesus Christ) come into the church? Alexander Hislop gives us the answer — “To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity—now far sunk in idolatry—in this as in so many other things, to shake hands” (The Two Babylons). (Lent & Palm Sunday, Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D., Sermon Delivered 04/04/04, http://www.logosresourcepages.org/Holidays/palm_sunday.htm)

Let’s look at this new fascination with “Lent” by non Catholics.

If you grew up, as I did, thinking of Lent as the Time of the Frozen Fish Sticks, you can’t help but be surprised by the expanding enthusiasm for the pre-Easter season of penitence and fasting. Lent, it seems, isn’t just for Catholics anymore. Over the last few years, more Protestant churches have begun daubing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in Western Christianity (March 1 this year). Fasting, long familiar to Catholics as a Lenten fact of life, is increasingly popular with evangelical Christians striving for spiritual awakening. A few mainline Protestant churches even conduct foot-washing services on Maundy Thursday—the traditional commemoration of Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples—that takes place on the Thursday before Easter. Which seems like a sign that Protestants may be starting to beat Catholics at their own game.The showy practices typical of Lent—fasting and vigils, ashes and incense—once helped define the split of the Reformation. When they broke away in the 16th and 17th centuries, most Protestant churches left behind anything that smacked of Catholic practice. (Though a few “high-church” denominations—Episcopalians, for example—remained partial to ashes and other staples of Catholic ritual.) So, what’s at work when Protestants and Catholics find common cause in fasting and foot-washing? While no one’s ready to declare an end to 500 years of ecumenical disagreement, the widening appeal of Lent reflects the interest among believers of all kinds in traditional ways of worship. (Get Lent, Protestants do the sober season, by Andrew Santella for SLATE, Posted Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006, at 12:22 PM ET, http://www.slate.com/id/2137092/)

Now EC adherents are going back to semi pagan practices of the RCC in order to “strive for spiritual awakening”.  How does a person get spiritually awakened by putting ashes on their foreheads?  The correct Biblical definition of “spiritual awakening” would be when a person is born again.  At that point they begin to grow as the Holy Spirit teaches them using the written Word.  They cannot go through another “spiritual awakening” and even if these RCC practices could do something they cannot cause a person to be born again or to grow to maturity in Christ.  To be born again a person must hear the Gospel and believe it (Eph. 1:13).  You also cannot be spiritually “formed” by going back to the RCC practice of Lent.  Fasting and foot washing are fine, though not ordinances of the Church like baptism and communion, but they are not what forms Christians spiritually.  That is done through the reading and hearing of the written Word done in context exegetically used by the Holy Spirit.  Fasting is good for the body and can get rid of distractions so that we can focus on the Lord.  But we are not supposed to be going into a trance but rather be in prayer and in Bible study while doing so.  Foot washing is fine but it is a symbol of what God does for us everyday, that is that He cleanses us from sin when we repent of it.  We then help others to come to the Lord for the dirt they get on their feet from the world, the flesh and the devil.  But this is not something that can make a person born again, in fact Jesus made that distinction for Peter.

John 13:5-10  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

We cannot do the real spiritual work of helping people avoid and confess sin by doing foot washing.  The principles for carrying out this duty in the Church are given in the Word.  The sign of foot washing is a reminder of what we need to be doing, not the thing itself.  Water baptism is a testimony of what has already happened in the spiritual, the baptism of the Spirit.  But water baptism does not save.  So to state that you can be spiritually formed by practicing Lent is not only incorrect, it is a dangerous liaison with an apostate RCC.


Doug Hardy

Dr. Douglas Hardy, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Please take time to listen to the audio at the end of this article. The audio will be one of Mr. Hardy teaching at Oxford Church of the Nazarene. “Spiritual Formation”

Ge 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die Ge 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Does “Spiritual Formation” Line up with God’s Word?

Spiritual Formation is common in our churches now. What exactly is it? The definition can vary from church to church. From research, I believe it is meant to push people to have a deeper spiritual life while emphasizing holiness. This in itself is not a bad goal. The problem is that it takes its direction from unholy roots. Some would claim that the roots lie in Wesleyan theology, but I could not find this. Holiness, yes.  Labyrinths, prayer beads, breathing exercises, cannot be found with Wesley, but rather in Catholicism and eastern religions. Spiritual formation contains many good attributes, such as self-examination and encouraging the practice of prayer and holiness. But where it strays and becomes a snare is when it entangles ancient heathen practices and ritualism in its teachings. In Jeremiah 10:2, Israel is commanded,” Learn not the way of the heathen…”and v.3 says, “For the customs of the people are vain…” By adding traditions that are used primarily in unholy religions, the will and work of the Holy Ghost is not aided. The Holy Spirit will always lead you plainly and clearly to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

The fruits of the teaching of “Spiritual Formation” in our churches are many. I would address a few here. First, I believe it has resulted in spiritual relationships with people who are not saved. We are not to bond with unsaved people, religious or not. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 clearly tells us to “Come out and be separate.” We cannot study with the Catholics, who believe Mary is superior to Jesus and pray to idols, and be right with God. We cannot, in good faith. practice prayer meditation in the same manner the Buddhists do, and expect to please the God of Israel. Remember in the Old Testament how God got very angry when his people did not tear down the groves that the heathen had used for prayer. Surely, they could have prayed there, but God wanted them to have no part in even the appearance of evil. In I Kings 14:22-24, the Lord deals with this. In 2 Chon.19: 3, God blesses them for removing the groves.

This brings me to my second point; we are engaging in practices that we have learned from the ancient Easter religions. Such as meditations, centering prayer, lectio divina practices, among others. Christianity has always stood apart from such mystical practices. Now we are teaching it in our Sunday School curriculum!! Another result from this emphasis on “Spiritual Formation” is our inclusion of those who do not worship Christ. “Spiritual Formation” always leads people to ultimately define God for themselves. In other words, I could pray to the God of Isaac, while you might pray to a “higher power”, or “Allah.” Follow the writings of those who are leading us in this movement. They start out pretty ordinary, but as they progress in the movement it always leads to the joining of saved people with those who may not even acknowledge His blood sacrifice for salvation. I believe this is an abomination in the sight of God.

2 Tim. 2:15,16,17a  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker:”

One last fruit of this movement, which I would like to draw your attention to is this: Watered down preaching. This movement encourages a therapy couch type preaching. Where we read and you tell me how it makes you feel and I tell you how it makes me feel. The pastor asks, “What do you think it means?” Instead of the Bible, the pastor reads from manmade lesson plans that incorporate, at best, the opinion and quotes of saved and unsaved alike!! What are you being fed at the house of God? Is it similar to watching a Dr. Phil show??? Pastors are to preach the WORD! They are to exhort us to live holy, God fearing lives. Not by teaching us how to walk a labyrinth, but by teaching the unblemished Bible!

In conclusion, I say we do not need to go to the heathen to learn how to worship or become holier. We just need to go to the Bible. It will teach you the difference between the holy and profane. And, if you are sitting under a pastor who does not preach the Word and you feel like you are starving to death, please, pray for wisdom. Ask God to lead you to the right pastor who can instruct you in righteousness, not in only a “form of godliness.”

2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” V.7 “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Oxford Nazarene Church.
Speaker: Dr. Douglas Hardy, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Nazarene Theological Seminary.

You can hear this in entirety at : Practicing Holiness: Spiritual Formation in every day life.

Ourmedia click— Doug Hardy“Spiritual Formation in Everyday Life”

God Bless

To our shock, extreme sorrow and disbelief, We have found that the heretical and dangerous spiritually Taught in Spiritual Formation has infiltrated every denomination. Brothers and Sisters this includes the Nazarene Denomination. Thousands of hours have I and others invested in searching out this pertinent information. We have put together this site as to make ease for the Nazarene who will for the love of our Saviour check out these claims. In our culture where both Dad and Mom work we know physically they don’t have the time or the energy to search for the facts. Times are hard on the family that’s exactly why God provides a way for the average folk and He sends some to sound the alarm, GOD cares for his sheep and His sheep hear His voice! Its times like this, we need to ask questions. Start asking your Pastor the definitions of words that are being used, such as Spiritual Formation or Missional. Do these words mean what you like they mean? What about Lectio Divina or labyrinths? …what would the LORD JESUS CHRIST have me do?”…God commands us to study.

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do in your study of these claims.
All we want is the truth.

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Doug S. Hardy

Nazarene Theological Seminary and Northwest Nazarene University have announced a collaborative spiritual formation retreat that will precede the 2009 Nazarene General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. This event begins with dinner at 5pm on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, at the San Pedro Center, a Franciscan retreat center that is located about a dozen miles from the Orlando International Airport. The retreat concludes with dinner at 5pm on Wednesday evening, prior to the initial worship service that marks the opening of the 2009 Nazarene General Assembly.

Please click on this link to view the invitation given for this event:  http://www.nts.edu/general-assembly-spiritual-formation-retreat

IS THIS EVENT OF GOD?

DOES THIS EVENT REFLECT THE BELIEFS OF NAZARENE CONGREGATIONS AT LARGE?

Here is a list of the people who will be leading the retreat:

The retreat is being held at the San Pedro Center, a Catholic Franciscan retreat center.     http://www.sanpedrocenter.org/index.php

Examining the Speakers at this event:

DOUG STEVE HARDY

NTS inducts Dr. Doug Hardy as Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation
Dr. Douglas S. Hardy, Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation, was inducted into the faculty of Nazarene Theological Seminary on November 8, 2002 by the faculty and President Ron Benefiel.

Born near Boston and raised in Eastern Canada, Hardy is a graduate of Eastern Nazarene College (B.A.), Northeastern University (M.Ed.), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.A.), and Boston University (Ph.D.). He most recently served as Associate Professor of Psychology at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. Hardy’s ministry includes pastorates in Berkeley and Glendale, California, and service as a spiritual director in the Boston area since1994. His professional activities and accomplishments reflect a wide range of interests in spiritual formation. An ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, Hardy has written extensively in such professional journals as Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, and Religious Studies Review.
–NTS

Dr. Hardy is one of several leading the Spiritual Formation Movement in our denomination. When you click on his link at the NTS directory and look at his vitae this is included under

Spiritual Formation/Direction Training

Participate in Ignatian Spirituality Book Discussion Group, Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO (2003 – present)

Participate in Kansas City area Group-in-Formation for Transformative Spirituality (2004 – present)

Participated in a Peer Supervision Group of Boston-area Spiritual Directors that met monthly for case study review and support (February, 1995 – June, 2002)

Participated in a 24-week Ignatian Spirituality in Everyday Life Prayer Retreat at Boston College (November, 1999 – May, 2000)

Workshop for spiritual directors: Supervision, Ignatian Spiritual Ministries Professional Day, Jesuit Urban Center, Boston (March 22, 2000)

Graduate-level, year-long course: Supervised Practicum in Spiritual Direction, Weston Jesuit School of Theology (September, 1993 – May, 1994)

Graduate-level class: Spiritual Formation & Discipleship, Nazarene Theological Seminary (January, 1993)

Please notice that as early as 1999 he became involved in the spiritual practices of St.Ignatius. This is a Catholic saint. Dr. Hardy has only become more and more involved with the Catholic teachings and teachers. WE ARE NOT CATHOLICS!

Today he regularly takes Nazarene students to a monastery and encourages fellowship with the sisters there. He was quoted on a Catholic website: http://www.mountosb.org/publications/thresholdw04/ministers.html

The Nazarene Theological Seminary discovered the Mount through their professor of spiritual formation. When Dr. Doug Hardy moved to Kansas City from Boston, he intentionally searched for a monastic community and retreat center for his own spiritual renewal. He speaks highly of Sophia Center and the whole Mount community, saying “You provide the hospitable space I need for regular time of prayer and renewal.”

He continues, “Sophia Center has become a helpful place for our students to actualize their intentions to pray. In addition to assisting them with their personal devotion, the Sophia Center staff helps educate them about contemplative spirituality.” The students he brings learn about and practice centering prayer, meditation, silence and lectio. Spiritual direction with one of the sisters is also available. These are ways that help “build constructive bridges between Protestant and Catholic Christians.”

In addition, Dr. Hardy applauds the Mount for its “witness as a community of women committed to Christian vocation.” This is especially helpful for the Nazarene female students, a third of the seminary population, who find partnership encouraging and inspiring.

The problem with his background in Spiritual Formation is that it stems from associations with people who do not believe as we Nazarenes do concerning many things. Such as salvation through the Blood of Christ, not by works. Ephesians 2:8,9

Remember that we belong to the Protestant group because the Roman Catholic Church worships idols and took the Bible out of the hands of the laypeople.

We find that Dr. Hardy is replacing the Word of God with methods that in his own words are, “from all of the centuries of the Christian Church. And across all different cultures of Christians. So we want to draw broadly and widely. Doug goes on to say. “It’s not a matter of if you are using the Bible, but how; there are many different ways.”

You can hear this in entirety at : Practicing Holiness: Spiritual Formation in every day life.Doug Hardy“Spiritual Formation in Everyday Life”Ourmedia  click

Please check out –  Naznet.com Contemplative Spirituality / Lectio Divina = Transcendantal Meditation?

What is Contemplative Prayer and Why Should Nazarenes Care?

Taken from “My Denomination does not promote new age spirituality through Spiritual Formation!

Seminary students and graduates, of every doctrinal persuasion, are being trained in ever increasing numbers to introduce certain spiritual disciplines into the lives and prayer habits of those within their spheres of influence. When the term “spiritual discipline” is used, it is almost always referring to the incorporating of “contemplative prayer” into the lives of church members. Many churches are even introducing contemplative prayer into their children’s programs.Contemplative prayer is, by far, the main practice promoted by the Spiritual Directors who lead church members onto the slippery slopes of spiritual formation. It is also called soaking or centering prayer. The terms spiritual formation and contemplative prayer are practically synonymous.The most widely accepted and pervasive of the two movements within the evangelical church is the Spiritual Formation movement. Pentecostals, Charismatics, and non-Pentecostals alike are being influenced, through almost identical Spiritual Formation programs that promote this unbiblical form of prayer. Contemplative prayer is actually not prayer at all, but rather a “Christianized” form of unbiblical, eastern meditation. Most of us know it by the name, transcendental meditation (TM). It is rightly associated with Hinduism and New Age Spirituality. Webster’s dictionary defines a contemplative as one who practices contemplation. To contemplate means to ponder, to meditate upon. So what’s wrong with that?Well, nothing is wrong with pondering or meditating upon things—as long as they are the right things, and as long as the pondering and meditating does not become obsessive. The only thing upon which we can appropriately meditate on obsessively is the Written Word of God. Psalm one instructs us to do that. So how do we apply Webster’s definition of contemplate to what is known today as contemplative prayer? Can we apply it at all? No, we cannot. The term “contemplative prayer,” is an oxymoron. The two words, contemplate and prayer, are contradictory, and mutually exclusive one from the other. How does one ponder and meditate upon something while at the same time communicate with God about it? It cannot be done. The two may be closely related but are definitely separate activities.Add to that, the contemplative’s practice of eastern meditation (transcendental meditation [TM]), which is “clear your mind of all thought,” and we have yet another contradiction. How does anyone meditate on something with a blank mind? The answer to that is—they don’t. They can’t. It is simply not possible.Eastern meditation and contemplative prayer both mandate clearing all thoughts from the mind, and opening the spirit to receive the thoughts of someone or something else. New Agers are not ashamed to admit that when they are in that thoughtless state, they are essentially at the mercy of any number of spirit beings. The goal is reaching a place of no thought whatsoever. That state is called, among other things, entering into the silence—also referred to by Christians as, “The Secret Place.” The term contemplative prayer is not only oxymoronic, as the one automatically cancels out the other, but it is also a very deceptive and erroneous term. Contemplative prayer traces its roots to a group of monks called, The Desert Fathers. The Desert Fathers taught that it didn’t matter what method you used to seek God—all were good, and they unashamedly sought and implemented non-Christian, eastern, methods of meditation into their spiritual practices.  Scripture commands us not only to meditate upon something—the Written Word of God (Psalm 1:2), but also to refrain from learning the way of the heathen (Jeremiah 10:2). Without going any deeper into the subject of contemplative prayer, we see that it is derived from Hinduism (Christian contemplatives do not even try to deny this) and is diabolically opposed to the scriptural form of meditation prescribed in Psalms chapter one verse two.  There is little argument that spiritual formation programs and contemplative prayer go hand in hand. In addition to contemplative prayer, the spiritual disciplines include, but are not limited to, yoga and labyrinth walking. The latter are widely promoted within more liberal evangelical congregations. Just because your local congregation may not, as yet, be familiar with any of these things is no reason for assuming that your denomination has not already jumped on the contemplative bandwagon. Take a look at the list of denominations which have instituted these programs in their theological seminaries and key churches:

Andover Newton Theological School

Assemblies of God (AG Theological Seminary)

Baptist (Baylor University & Dallas Theological Seminary)

Church of God (Mount Paran)

Methodist (Dubuque Theological Seminary)

Moody Bible Institute

Nazarene Theological Seminaries

Presbyterian Theological Seminaries

Wheaton College

“SPIRITUAL FORMATION”   IS IT IN THE BIBLE?

My question: Does Spiritual Formation line up with the Word of God?

We were very alarmed that Alden Sproull was to once again take part in teaching our Nazarene people “Spiritual Formation”. We question both the subject of “Spiritual Formation” and also the speaker, Alden Sproull. Mr. Sproull is deeply involved in New Age teachings. You can view his website at http://www.kairosspirit.com/index.htm

Both Mr. Hardy and Mr. Sproull were listed as leaders at the 2009 Spiritual Formation Retreat in Orlando Fl, which will be held the 27th of June through the 2nd of July. Some Nazarenes protested Mr. Sproull being a speaker. A few weeks ago I noticed Alden Sproull’s name had been removed as one that would be leading Spiritual Formation in Orlando Fl. 2009.  We were grateful to God that he was removed but we would like to know why. We had hoped that the format would have changed due to his removal but find that Doug Hardy will continue to teach on “Spiritual Formation.” I do not find this concept in the Scriptures and believe it to be an unbiblical imitation of “Godly discipleship.”

We would like to know why Mr. Sproull was removed. Was it simply coincidental or was it because the leadership is distancing themselves from the New Age movement? We received a copy of an email obtained by Lighthouse Trails regarding their inquiry into why he was removed. As you can see, the question was not answered.

Deborah,

I received your phone message on behalf of Lighthouse Trails Research inquiring about the Spiritual Formation Retreat to be held in conjunction with the Church of the Nazarene General Assembly.  The best source of information about the Retreat can be found at our webpage:  http://www.nts.edu/general-assembly-spiritual-formation-retreat which we update periodically to reflect changes and new information.  You are correct in noting that Alden Sproull is no longer a part of the leadership team for the retreat; we respect his decision to withdraw and deeply appreciate his partnership with us in the Gospel and his continued ministry as a hospital chaplain and spiritual mentor.

Any Nazarene with a question or concern is invited to visit our webpage (there is a frequently asked questions section) where contact information is also provided.  Since the emphasis of the Retreat is prayerful preparation for the General Assembly, we covet your prayers for us.

With prayer and in Christ,

Doug

According to this, our Nazarene leadership still regards Mr. Sproull as a co-laborer in the Gospel. We are waiting to see clear evidence that our leaders are examining their fellowship with people who have a form of godliness, but not of the one true GOD. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them,” (1 John 4:1-5).

 

Below more information, also email address which gives you the opportunity to contact Mr. Sproull. Inquire about these new age teachings.  Find out how deceptive these teachings can be, especially when it involves our youth. Brothers and Sisters, it’s the youth that are being targeted.  “True Christianity” is the only Christianity.

Alden Sproull

Tree of Comtemplative Practice
Sign Chi do
mission
Programs
Nazarene Health Care interested contact

Chaplain Charles Robertson
Chaplain Ann Rearick
Chaplain Alden Sproull
Chaplain Mervyn (Merv) Friber

Brothers and Sisters “Biblical teachings” to strengthen the Body of Christ?

God Bless
 

Jesse Middendorf is one hundred percent behind “Spiritual Formation”.

From Nazarene Northwest University website
General Assembly Spiritual Formation Retreat.

Dr. Jesse Middendorf, general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, recently expressed his support of this event, noting that “Spiritual formation is at the heart of our understanding of a Wesleyan-Holiness lifestyle. Our theology requires that we apply ourselves to growth both in understanding and in practice. I applaud the effort to provide this event for members of our global family in the Church of the Nazarene.”

link and source-http://www.nnu.edu/academics/schools-departments/school-of-theology-christian-ministries/general-assembly-spiritual-formation-retreat/

Northwest Nazarene University and Nazarene Theological Seminary are coming together to bring this retreat to the global family in the church of the Nazarene.

If you plan to be apart of this retreat, please “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Bible gateway

Many Theologians, Bible Preachers and teachers may preach or teach many wonderful sounding doctrines, but we must not blindly accept what we are told. Scripture instructs us to check for ourselves. “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) or as the King James Version puts it, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” The Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” ( Acts 17:11).

Quote: “My ground is the Bible, Yea, I am a Bible bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.”(John Wesley the Methodist, The Methodist Book Concern, 1903). The Bible is a treasure book of spiritual truth and knowledge. But one must study to show thyself approved unto God.

 

Is “Spiritual Formation”, at the heart of our understanding of a Wesleyan-Holiness lifestyle?

We have established that John Wesley believed the Bible.  If what we are being told is the truth the bible will prove all things to us.  All truth is given to us through the word of God.

———————————-

Let us examine

I am a bit puzzled; Alden Sproull of the Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation has been removed from the list of Leaders in the up coming General Assembly Spiritual Formation Retreat. If anyone knows more information as to why this has occurred, I would greatly appreciate the information. Mr. Sproull is no longer found at the above sites. I happen to have a copy from the Northwest Nazarene University home page before Mr. Alden Sproull was removed.

On my copy it states:

This retreat is being led by Dr. Jay Akkerman of NNU and Dr. Doug Hardy of NTS. Dr. Morris Weigelt, who taught at both institutions prior to his retirement, is also on the planning team for this event. Additional leadership is being provided by Dr. Mary Paul of Point Loma Nazarene University, Dr. Rhonda Carrim of NNU, and Dr Alden Sproull of the Kairos Center for Spiritual Formation.

At the Kairos site he has a link to “The Center for Contemplative mind in Society”. Another link on Dr. Alden Sproull’s site is “Sign Chi Do“.

Mr. Sproull is a Nazarene Chaplain out of Redlands Ca. He is involved in Pastoral Care at Redlands Community Hospital.

Colleen Mensching, staff writer at Redlands Daily wrote an article in “Redlands Daily Facts”. In the article Rev. Alden E. Sproull was named Nazarene Chaplain of the Year. Mr. Sproull has served at the hospital over 18 years, and was chosen from over 800 chaplains. There was a ceremony held in Meddifee in June 2005. Chaplain Dwight Jennings introduced Sproull at the award ceremony.

Alden Sproull in 2007 led in a spiritual retreat at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Below you can read about it, or go to the site:

NTS to hold Pre-M7 Conference Spiritual Formation Retreat

Kansas City–Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) will hold a Pre-M7 Conference Spiritual Formation Retreat, February 18-19, 2007.

The retreat is open to anyone desiring to deepen their spirituality. It will be a 24-hour directed retreat experience with opportunities for silence, solitude, prayer, and conversation. This formation event, to be held at the Sanctuary of Hope in Kansas City, Kansas, will begin Sunday afternoon, February 18 and will end Monday afternoon, February 19 just prior to the opening of the M7 Conference.

The event will be co-led by Doug Hardy, professor of Spiritual Formation and director of the doctor of ministry program at NTS, and by Alden Sproull, director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Chaplain at Redlands Community Hospital in Southern California. Both Hardy and Sproull are experienced spiritual directors and retreat leaders.

Check out the article at Preacher’s Magazine. Doug speaks on Lectio Divina.

Doug Hardy,

Find out what Naznet.com is saying

When we think of ourselves, we don’t think we can make a difference, But we can. I am a Mother, who knows that my lost son needs to be able to find truth in the corridors of the Church of the Nazarene or any church that claims this gospel message. In my small way, small, ity bity way, I come with my plea

It is so important to answer your questions and to get us motivated to realize and understand. So we know what we are fighting and what we can do. The Word of God is the armor of knowledge. I was shocked at the infiltration into our own Denomination. Why be shocked, when we as Christians are not even being taught any longer that there is an enemy, which comes to rob, steal, and kill.

I am blessed with the honor and privilege to give this information to whoever will read it, hear it and finally act upon it.

Every single one of us can make the difference for the sake of our lost loved ones and for that matter the lost world that needs to know that CHRIST JESUS came to seek and save that which was lost, for the ones who already claim the name of our LORD and SAVIOUR, which need disciplined through the words of the Bible, not the books of liberal theologians.

And I’m going to end on this note, so many times in the past 100 years people stood by and did nothing. This is the time we need to rise and defeat the viles of the devil, the evils that have come to our Nazarene Denomination to destroy the faith once given.

 

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”    Jude 1:3

My Brothers and Sisters it is the “Word of God”. Which our fore fathers did not question it to be the very word of God, not man’s word about God.

It is so important to know the facts.

My heart cries over what I see happening. If truth is what we seek the Bible tells us in John 16:13

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

I wanted to know the truth. Brothers and Sisters lets stand together. Please let’s help each other, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the teacher. All spiritual, divine, and supernatural truth is revealed in Scripture, to come to know and to rightly understand this truth in Scripture is our duty.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 1 Timothy, 2:15

To make this possible the Holy Spirit is promised to all of us who seek the knowledge. With the Holy Spirit assisting and guiding us, we can arrive at a true knowledge or a right understanding of the truth revealed in Scripture. Let us come together to this fountain. I love my brothers and Sisters, and that love is real in Jesus Christ, “WOW” what a SAVIOUR

God Bless

Religious Education Association (REA)

History of the Religious Education Association

Quote from webpage:  REA is rich with diversity; its membership includes those from the Baha’i, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and other traditions involved in all aspects of religious education

( The REA is a a member of North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) . Being associated with these organization should concern anyone who believes the Scriptures to be the truth.)

Please check out the of NAIN Members

ANOTHER SITE NAIN MEMBER

Interspirit Database of Interfaith Organizations

The Pluralism Project

ALLEON AND MISSIONAL

Dean G. Blevins of Nazarene Theological Seminary was voted president elect of the RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION:

The words” in the world but not of it”  come from the words of Jesus in His High Priestly prayer as recorded in John 17 verses 15-16: ” I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world.” Here Jesus is praying for His disciples, (and for us, for He says in verse 20″ I do not pray for these alone, but for all those who will believe in me through their word.”). This is a pray of protection from the evil one as Christians  take the Gospel into the world. Therefore we are in the world spreading the gospel hence not of the world. Jesus is not praying for isolation but rather insulation against the evil one.

Dean G. Blevins was voted president elect of the RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (REA).

Quote from (REA) wedsite: Mission

The mission of the Religious Education Association is to create opportunities for exploring and advancing the interconnected practices of scholarship, research, teaching, and leadership in faith communities, academic institutions, and the wider world community. The Association accomplishes its mission in four ways:  Through sharing, critiquing and encouraging publication of substantive research, probing scholarship and practical approaches to religious education (particularly through its journal Religious Education); Through ecumenical, inter-religious, and cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and inter-professional dialogue that stimulates members to recall and examine historic traditions and explore fresh visions of religious education for the diverse and ever-changing human family in our complex world community;

NTS professor (Dean G. Blevins) accepts new leadership roles in global education

Kansas City, Missouri

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dean G. Blevins, professor of Christian education and director of the master of arts in Christian education degree program at Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) recently accepted two new leadership roles that provide new responsibilities for the global church and greater influence within the academic discipline of Christian education.

On November 24, 2009, Blevins was voted president-elect of the Religious Education Association (REA), the oldest organization guiding professional research and academic teaching in global educational ministry. The mission of the REA is to create opportunities for exploring and advancing the interconnected practices of scholarship, research, teaching, and leadership in faith communities, academic institutions, and the wider world community.

Founded in 1903, REA now combines professional practitioners, academics, and research theorists from around the world. Blevins, who has been a member of the REA Board of Directors, will serve a three-year term that includes serving as program chair of the annual meeting in 2010 and officially taking the role of president in 2010-2011.

In addition to this position, the Church of the Nazarene’s Board of General Superintendents recently appointed Blevins as the USA regional education coordinator and consultant for the Church of the Nazarene. Under this new role, Blevins will serve as chair and resource for the USA Regional Course of Study Advisory Committee and also as the U.S. representative to several global committees, including the International Course of Study Advisory Committee (which oversees planning for ministry education around the world) and the International Board of Education. Working with Clergy Development, Blevins will resource educational institutions in planning ministry education, and be responsible for other program areas including the next Global Theology Conference.

Commenting on the two new positions Blevins stated, “It is gratifying to have the opportunity to influence the future of my academic field and also serve the general church at the same time. I am thankful to NTS for providing a context where academic passion and ministry dedication merge together. I am also grateful to an institution that allows me space to serve in these global positions. Undoubtedly the experiences I gain from these leadership roles will enrich students and ministry preparation at Nazarene Theological Seminary.”

Blevins has maintained an active role in several academic organizations including the North American Professors of Christian Education, and the Wesleyan Theological Society where he has chaired the practical theology section for nine years. He has also served the general church as a consultant to children, youth, and adult ministries; and recently contributed to a new denominational study concerning family ministry. In October 2009, Blevins was re-elected chairman of the Board of YouthFront, a regional youth ministry based in Kansas City with national education programming in youth ministry and youth spiritual formation.

WHAT DOES “YOUTHFRONT” BELIEVE? WHY IS “BAREFOOT MINISTRY” a partner with them?


Teachings “Youthfront”

Emerging “Youthfront”

Lighthouse Trails “Youthfront”

A NEW KIND OF YOUTH MINISTRY “Youthfront”

NTS

EMERGENT NAZARENE CONTRIBUTOR

FACEBOOK DEAN BLEVINS

JOURNEY INTO WHOLENESS
40 Days of Reflection & Growth
(http://www.trevecca.edu/spiritualformation/40days.Fall09

Being taught at Trevecca Nazarene University.  1: Introduction below

  

Journey Into Wholeness or Journey Into Worldliness?
A comment on “40 Days of Reflection & Growth” (Spiritual Formation) being taught at Trevecca Nazarene University
by Sandy Simpson, 12/15/09


The teachings of “spiritual formation”, another term for the Emerging/Emergent/Emergence Church (EC) movement, are defined by Ray Yungen and others published by Lighthouse Trails as follows:

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement. (Lighthouse Trails, Spiritual Formation? Another name for Contemplative Spirituality, 2009, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/spiritualformation.htm)

Those who promote these teachings in the EC go back to Richard Foster who brought the practices of Catholic mystics and New Age into the churches back in the mid 1970s.  Please get the new free “The Emerging Church” DVD where I talk about what Foster was up to then in a personal testimony.

http://www.concernednazarenes.org/page12.php

Foster apparently thinks that what he helped start in the EC is and “answer to the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction”.

“By now enough water has gone under the Christian Spiritual Formation bridge that we can give some assessment of where we have come and what yet needs to be done. When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction. And more.” (Spiritual Formation, A Pastoral Letter by Richard Foster, 2009, cited in http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/spiritualformation.htm)

Foster’s boast, though completely erroneous with regard to actual “spiritual direction” is correct as you will see on the following lists of organizations that have bought into this stuff.

“From time to time God has raised up a parachurch movement to reemphasize a neglected purpose of the church… The Discipleship. Spiritual Formation Movement. A reemphasis on developing believers to full maturity has been the focus … authors such as … Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have underscored the importance of building up Christians and establishing personal spiritual disciplines…. [this] movement has a valid message for the church…[it] has given the body a wake-up call. (Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 126.)

The clams of benefits from “spiritual formation” and the use of “spiritual disciplines”, as you will see, have nothing to do with spirituality at all but rather the soul and the flesh and paranormal formation.  Though Dallas Willard gives lip service to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, he then launches into completely unbiblical territory.

“Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That’s essential. We can’t evade it–formation by the Holy Spirit. But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. None without the Holy Spirit. But there’s always more involved. And here again we run into the problems of passivity over against activity. Here lies the deepest challenge to the very idea obedience to Christ in our times. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake …There has to be method.” (Spiritual Formation, What is it and How is it Done? by Dallas Willard)

The simple use of common sense, before we even go to the Bible for what God uses to form us spiritually, tells us that if these pragmatic methods pulled from psychology and the New Age work for Christians without the Holy Spirit, then they should also work for unbelievers.  That means that unbelievers can be built up spiritually by employing them and get closer to God.  This is exactly the claim of every Eastern mystic and many false religions out there.  But the fact is that we cannot be “formed” spiritually as Christians apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, our teacher, through the final revelation of the written Word of God.  That leaves unbelievers out of the picture of real spiritual formation.  If a Christian thinks they can use worldly methods to be molded into what God wants them to be, then it will not be too long before they return to the useless lump of clay they were before they claimed to have been born again.  Furthermore, any true believer who has the Spirit of Truth living in him/her will not use worldly methods like mantras, contemplative prayer, labyrinth, trances, visualization or any of the many New Age methods employed by false religions for the simple reason that they are false.  We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) but that does not involve a disconnect of the mind (1 Cor. 14:15).  We are to meditate (Ps. 119:11) but not on our belly buttons or on nothingness but on the written Word.  God “forms” us by (1) giving us the indwelling Holy Spirit at the new birth who is then our Counselor and Teacher (1 Jn. 2:27) and (2) God does this through the study of His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), which contains the very voice of God through His prophets and Apostles, not to mention His Son!  We are to study to show ourselves approved, not employ human methodology and zeal to run after things that have been imported into the churches from the New Age.  The fact that so many Christian organizations have been taken in by the false teachers of the EC is amazing to me.  Have they not used the brains the Lord gave them to see that none of these pragmatic tools help a person spiritually in the least?

This is a partial list of ministries that are now promoting Spiritual Formation.

Alpha Course, Bible.org, Focus on the Family, Awana Clubs, Tyndale Seminary (Canada), CMA (Christian Management Association), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Reformed Church in America, Biola University, Bethel Seminary, Salvation Army, Dallas Theological Seminary, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Dallas Willard, Renovare, Redeemer Presbyterian of New York City (Tim Keller), Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven, Vanguard Church, Presbyterian Church USA, Upper Room Ministries, Zondervan Publishers, Simpson University (Redding, CA), Kairos School of Spiritual Formation, Intervarsity Press, Willow Creek, Youth Specialties, Abilene Christian University, Mennonite USA, George Fox University, Tervecca Nazarene University, Nazarene Theological Seminary … (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/spiritualformationlist.htm)

For a more complete list of christian colleges that now promote EC/Spiritual Formation, go here:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/Colleges.htm

For a list of Christian publishers promoting EC/Spiritual Formation, go here:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/publishers.htm

For a list of EC/Spiritual Formation organizations by Richard Foster, go here:

http://www.renovare.org/

This “Journey Into Wholeness” course is taken from EC materials, clearly promoting “spiritual formation”. It is also using the 40-day motif of Rick Warren’s “purpose” books.  The fact is when you look closely at what is being taught it has little to do with the spirit and more to do with body and mind.  If we are to become mature in Christ, the Bible tells us that we must be formed into the image of Christ,

Ga 4:19  My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

The only way to be molded into the image of Christ is to allow the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who is our teacher, to teach us about God and about what He expects from us through the written Word.

1Jo 2:27  As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
2 Tim. 3:16-17  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Following, in blue color, are the first set of teachings from this course.

JOURNEY INTO WHOLENESS
40 Days of Reflection & Growth
(http://www.trevecca.edu/spiritualformation/40days.Fall09)Week 1: Introduction 

WHOLENESS: Rather than our life being made up of a separate silo for our physical life, emotional life, intellectual life, relational life, and spiritual life—so that each area is separate from the others—we are whole people.  One aspect of our life is integrally related to the other.  Rather than our spiritual life being the center of a wheel and everything else being the spokes—so that if we just get our spiritual life together, then everything else will come along—our walk with God is the entire wheel.  Our walk with God IS our physical bodies, our emotions, our intellect, and our relationships! As we continue to make a journey together over the next 40 days, we will reflect in an honest and open way on our physical bodies, our emotions, our intellect, and our relationships.  We will explore aspects in each of these areas where we can grow and develop.  We will face our weaknesses and impediments in each of these areas honestly and openly.  We will dream and imagine of ways to “move on” beyond these weaknesses so that we can be whole, healthy, and growing people.  We will celebrate what it means for us to be made in God’s image in our entirety—body, emotions, intellect, and relationships.

It is noteworthy to notice that they start out talking about the spirit then jump into emphasis on the body, emotions, intellect and relationships.  All those aspects of humanity are encompassed by the body and soul.  They have left the spirit behind and are focusing the rest of the discussion on those two aspects without dealing with the spirit.  This is because they are coming from a perspective that there is only body and soul as opposed to what the Scripture teaches about humans: that they are tripartite beings (1 Thes. 5:23) created in the image of their Creator Who is a Triune being.

As to moving on beyond the weaknesses of human body and soul, you cannot do that by dreaming and imagining.  You can only do that when you realize that God is strong and you are weak, as Paul did.

2Co 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

But this is not what they are talking about.  This course is a way to somehow imagine your way to strength.  That is utter human folly.

Just to begin the thought processes…Can you think of a time or two in your journey, where one aspect of your life (your physical life, your emotions, your relationships, your intellect) began to affect other aspects of your life? Right now in your journey, which aspect of your life do you believe is the healthiest?  Which aspect do you believe is the weakest? Who is holding you accountable to make healthy choices in each aspect of your life? How have you seen God working in the various aspects of your life?

Week 2: Mind 

This week we reflect on the role that our mind has in our life and how we are nourishing our minds… Can you think of a time in your journey when you had one of those mental “a-ha” moments and came across a totally new way of thinking or even new information that you had not known before? How did you respond? When it comes to using your mind, how do you perceive yourself? Where did this self-perception of your mind come from? How does this self perception affect your ability to think and to learn? What occupies your mind and thought processes during most of the day? In a typical learning setting, do you tend to engage your mind or do you tend to put it more into “neutral”? Why? What do you consider to be the top two or three sources in your life for giving you ways to think? When you are seeking information, where do you tend to go first? When you are introduced to new thoughts or concepts, how do you tend to react? Are you receptive to new ideas? How do you evaluate and analyze those thoughts and concepts? In exercising your mind, what are the two greatest struggles you face? What are two strengths? How do you see the interrelationship between your mind and your physical life? Your emotions? Your relationships? How does your walk with God affect your mind and thought processes? How does your mind and thought processes affect your walk with God?

What is entirely missing in this section dealing with the mind is the most important thing Christians must do to “nourish” their minds: the study of God’s word.

Ps 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

If you are not filling your mind with the written Word then you will not be able to discern truth from error, which is the Biblical mark of a mature Christian.

Ro 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Heb 5:14  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Simply exploring the questions above will not yield results that will help the mind.  It is simply an intellectual exercise that would tend to make a person self-absorbed rather deny oneself and become more aware of God.

Lu 9:23  Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

In fact all this focus on self will cause a person to do the opposite of what God requires in following Him.  To know how God affects your mind and thought process you need to know about God and about His will for your life, and you will not find that out by doing mental and emotional exercises. It is a crying shame that they are teaching this stuff to “young minds full of mush” at Nazarene schools instead of what the Bible teaches.  This is more in line with psychology than Christian teaching.

Week 3: Body This week we reflect on the role that our physical body has in our life and how we are caring for our bodies…In taking care of your body, what are the two greatest struggles you face? What are two strengths? What does your daily diet look like? Are you aware of your calorie and fat intake? Do you attempt to eat foods that will provide healthy nourishment to your body? Why do you eat the way that you do? During a typical week, what type of exercise does your body get? What most often prohibits you from exercise and what can you do to overcome what prohibits you? On a regular basis, are you getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Can you think of examples where lack of sleep affected your mind, relationships, and emotions? What most often prohibits you from getting the sleep that your body needs in order to remain healthy? How do you handle stress? Do you have someone with whom you can talk to when you are dealing with significant stress? Do you spend at least 30 minutes a day engaging in something relaxing to your body and mind? Are there other practices in your life that affect your physical life in negative ways that you might begin to deal with? Do you monitor the health of your body by regular physical check-ups with a physician? How do you see the interrelationship between your physical body and your mind? Your emotions? Your relationships? How does your walk with God affect the way in which you care for your body? How does the health of your body affect your walk with God?

All good questions.  But how does the health of your body improve your walk with God, as opposed to your being sick, for instance?  God allowed Paul to be sick in order to remind Him often that Paul was only strong in the Lord, not because of physical health.  If we rely on our physical health it may cause us to be caught up in the pride of life instead of fully relying on the Lord.

1Jo 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

We are to be in the world but not of the world.  The pride of life is of the world.  Our boast must be in the Lord, not in our physical well or ill being.

Ga 6:14  May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which {Or whom} the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Jer 9:23-24  This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

It was because of an illness that God left Paul with the Galatians for a longer time in order that Paul would be able to effectively preach the Gospel to them.

Ga 4:13  As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.

It is a good thing to take care of the body God created for us.  But we must always remember that there are more important things, like serving the Lord in sickness and in health, ultimately laying up treasure in heaven.  If I lack physical strength and wellness, will I not even more heavily rely on the Lord for my strength?

Week 4: Relationships This week we reflect on the role that our relationships have on our life and how we are caring for those relationships…In taking care of your relationships, what are the two greatest struggles you face?  What are two areas of relational strength? Are there relationships that need to be initiated, reconciled, or renewed? How do you know if your relationships are healthy? How healthy are your relationships with your family, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, roommates, etc.? During a typical week, how much time are you investing in others? What ways are you investing in others? What most often prohibits you from being fully available to others? Are there any relationships in which you have become judgmental, exclusive or proud? What steps can you take towards resolving those issues? Do you have a relationship in which you are held accountable to the way you live your life? Are you able to be truly vulnerable and authentic with this person? In what ways do you practice hospitality towards others? How approachable are you by those that know you? How approachable are you by those who don’t know you? What qualities do you expect in a good friend? Do you possess these qualities? How do you see the interrelationship between your relationships and your mind? Your emotions? Your body? How does your walk with God affect the way in which you care for others?  How does the health of your relationships affect your walk with God?

All these questions are good ones and would help a person think about being less self-centered and more in tune with others.  However, in asking these questions the person is led to turn inward for the answers instead of asking the Holy Spirit for the answers in God’s Word.  A person can spend so much time psychoanalyzing themselves that they become inward focused and even if they have a desire to interact with others they are now spending all their time trying to figure out why they are not interacting with others, and it becomes a viscous cycle.  Better to ask God Who He wants you to witness to and disciple and then go do it.  That is the Biblical way, circumventing all this need for psycho babble.

Also, the main emphasis in this “relationships” section is on human  relationships and God is left out of the picture.  Should we not focus our lives on walking with God first, then loving our brother?

Lu 10:27  He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; {Deut. 6:5} and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” {Lev. 19:18}

If we look to ourselves first for the answers instead of to God, then we have it all backwards.  It is only from God through His Word that we can then learn to deny ourselves and effectively reach others for Christ.  You will notice that witness of the Gospel is completely left out of this course, which should be our first obligation.

Mr 16:15  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

Any “spiritual formation” that leaves out the Gospel will form nothing of eternal value. 

          Week 5: Walk with God

We also recognize that the intentional time we spend with God both personally and corporately is the “glue” which holds all of the various aspects of our life together. The disciplines that we practice become pathways in which God’s grace flows into our lives enabling us to become more and more Christ-like. This week we reflect on the role that spiritual disciplines have on our life and how we are nurturing our relationship with God.. How is your relationship with God? What are you basing this perception on.  During a typical week, how much time are you intentionally investing into your relationship with God? What most often prohibits you from being fully available to God? What spiritual disciplines (i.e. prayer, reading scripture, corporate worship, etc.) are you currently practicing? What are the fruit of these disciplines? Are there disciplines that you are not currently practicing that you want to start incorporating into your life? How can you begin to do that? Are there disciplines which you are not attracted to (i.e. fasting, silence, solitude, etc.), but might need in your life? Are you open to putting these into practice? How? What kind of accountability will you need in order to hold to these disciplines? Is there a person or a group that could provide this for you? Are you holding others accountable? How do you see the interrelationship between your walk with God and your mind? Your emotions? Your body? How does your walk with God affect the way you live?  How does the way you live affect your walk with God?

Now they finally get to something about relationship with God.  This should have come before anything else, yet is it relegated to point 5.  There is an obvious push to accept and practice what they are calling “spiritual disciplines”, lumping them together with true spiritual activities such as prayer, Bible study, worship, etc.  The new ones they want the student to add are things like “fasting, silence and solitude”.  Fasting is something Christians can do but is it not a command of Scripture nor is  it on a par Biblically with prayer, Bible study and corporate worship.  Silence and solitude are not even mentioned as spiritual disciplines in the Bible.  Jesus went to the wilderness in solitude but He did so to pray.  We can “be still” (Ps. 46:10) and know the He is God in order to listen to Him and see His mighty works if we are silencing the Lord by our words and activities, but this does not mean we are to empty our minds. Again we see no mention of the spirit here but only of the body and soul.  The whole focus of this section is to get the student to accept that fasting, silence and solitude are something they must do in order to be spiritual formed and they are encouraged to come under accountability to do it.  Is this not Pharisaical to the max?  Is this not adding the same kind of spiritual requirements to have a relationship with God that the Catholic Church has done for centuries?  This is no different than adding requirements such as baptismal regeneration, circumcision, prayers to Mary, sacraments, and other requirements to either be saved or grow in the Faith.  This type of legalism is called an abomination by Paul.

Week 6: EmotionsThis week we reflect on the role that our emotions have on our life and how we are staying emotionally healthy…How in touch are you with your emotions? Are you emotionally healthy? What are you basing this self-diagnosis on? What in your life gives you joy?  What is discouraging you? When your emotions get out of control, how do you respond (e.g. suppress, express, mask with an addiction, etc.)? Are you carrying emotional baggage from your past which still hinders you from living life to the fullest? What is it? How can you begin to let it go? Are you concerned about the emotional health of others? Is there a relationship in which you are causing emotional damage? How can you begin to restore this relationship? Do you have someone with whom you can talk to when you are under emotional duress? Do you spend at least 30 minutes a day engaging in something which relaxes you? Are there other things in your life that affect your emotions in negative ways that you might begin to deal with? Do you monitor the health of your emotions through regular appointments with a counselor? How do you see the interrelationship between your emotions and your mind? Your body? Your relationships? How does your walk with God affect you emotionally?  How do your emotions affect your walk with God?

What a stupid question!  “How in touch are you with your emotions”?  You can only be out of touch with your emotions if you are physically dead.  Otherwise your emotions are part of you makeup.  A better question would be “How much do you allow God to be in control of your emotions”?   The language in this section clearly shows that it is taken directly out of a psychology book.  If you are under emotional stress, those “30 minutes a day” should be spent in prayer and in Bible study if you want to solve that problem.  Taking a vacation from stress is only a temporary solution, such as relaxation, drugs, etc.  In claiming to promote a Godly solution to emotional problem, they not only use worldly methods but they are actually suggesting another temporary fix.  Who says that a person needs to “monitor they health of their emotions through regular appointments with a counselor”?  This sounds like an advertisement.  Should our emotions effect our relationship with God?  No.  Why not say that if your emotions are adversely affecting your relationship with God then you need to get your heart right with Him by asking the Lord to give you wisdom through His Word?  Why not tell them to read 1 & 2 Corinthians where Paul struggles with this subject?

The bottom line is that this EC type of questionnaire gets the student to look within themselves for the answer instead of to the written Word.  This can only lead to more confusion and will certainly not lead to spiritual formation.


“Nazarene Superintendent Praises ‘A Time of Departing” But Denomination’s Schools Sinking into Contemplative.”  February 4, 2008
Coming From the LighthouseNewsletterPrinter Friendly Version (click here) February 4, 2008
In This Issue –
Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren
Cedarville University Cancels Shane Claiborne Event
Rethinking Revised
Evangelical Mysticism
2000 Years of Deception and Error: Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists
Rick Warren Calling for Reconciliation Between Politics and Religion
Contemplative Proponents Rick Warren and Pete Scazzero Talk to New York Pastors
The Occult, The New Age and the Emergent Church: Understanding the Basics
Purpose Driven Unveiled
OCEA (Ohio Christian Educators Association) Brings Emerging/Contemplative Proponents to Conference
Al Gore and Tony Campolo Address Baptist Organizations
Falling Sparrow book series
Publishing News…NEW IN 2007
Newsletter in Print – Coming Soon

 

 
Nazarene Universities Welcome Brian McLaren
One year ago, Lighthouse Trails released an article titled “Nazarene Superintendent Praises ‘A Time of Departing” But Denomination’s Schools Sinking into Contemplative.” It had been just a few years earlier that Dr. Jim Diehl, one of six General Superintendents of the Nazarene denomination contacted Lighthouse Trails after receiving and reading a copy of A Time of Departing. He said he agreed with Yungen’s warning, and his comments of the book and the message in it were most favorable. The report stated:We told [Dr. Diehl] at that time that some of the Nazarene colleges were inviting contemplative speakers to address the student bodies. Today, the Nazarene colleges and universities are sinking deeper than ever into contemplative. We are saddened that professors and college presidents within the Nazarene church do not share Dr. Diehl’s appreciation for our warning against contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation).The picture being painted at Nazarene colleges and seminaries is no better than it was a year ago. In fact, it may be getting worse. On February 7th-9th in Nampa, Idaho at Northwest Nazarene University, emerging church leader Brian McLaren will be the featured speaker. On March 28th-29th, he will be speaking at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.McLaren left his pastorate to focus more on speaking to students at universities and colleges. His present Everything Must Change tour is based largely on his new book with the same title.Over the past several years, many college personnel we have spoken with said the reason they have a variety of speakers address students is so they can be exposed to different views. This is what occurred this week at Cedarville when a professor explained why they had invited an emerging activist to campus. However, this reasoning really must be challenged, and here is why. First of all, at most of the Christian colleges we have seen who invited emerging leaders, the speakers were billed in a favorable light, often called “conversations.” Thus, the speakers aren’t brought in to be challenged or debated but are allowed to freely share their philosophies to the students unhindered and without reservation or stern warning.

Today, Lighthouse Trails received a very interesting phone call. It was from a student at a Christian college in New England. He told us that for four years he had been continually introduced to the writings of contemplatives and emerging church authors. Professors required he and his fellow students to read the books, then lectured them on how they themselves viewed the books (almost always positively) and rarely allowed the students in class interaction to question or challenge the ideas being presented. We are pretty much left to ourselves to figure it all out, he said. He also said that students who questioned the contemplative/emerging authors (or the contemplative promoting professors) were often scrutinized and belittled publicly in class.

Regarding Brian McLaren, legitimate questions must be asked. When McLaren comes to Northwest Nazarene University and Point Loma University in the next couple months, are students going to be warned beforehand that McLaren rejects the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, and calls the doctrine of hell “false advertising for God”? 2 Are they going to be forewarned that McLaren resonates with Episcopalian priest Alan Jones, who in his book Reimagining Christianity calls the doctrine of the Cross a vile doctrine and of interspirituality says:

But another ancient strand of Christianity teaches that we are all caught up in the Divine Mystery we call God, that the Spirit is in everyone, and that there are depths of interpretation yet to be plumbed…. At the cathedral we “break the bread” for those who follow the path of the Buddha and walk the way of the Hindus. (p. 89)

Or are students going to be told that McLaren teamed up in 2006 with interspiritualist Marcus Borg even though Borg denies the virgin birth and other fundamentals of the Christian faith?3 Incidentally, McLaren says he has “high regard” for Borg.4Most likely, students will be asked to focus on McLaren’s “good points,” and not to throw the baby out with the bath water as is a most common argument by those defending contemplative spirituality.

But when we stop to think about what happened to popular author and speaker Sue Monk Kidd, there should be serious reconsideration by Christian college professors and staff who seem to find it so necessary to expose their students to contemplatives and emerging leaders.

Sue Monk Kidd started off as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher. One day, a co-worker handed her a copy of a book by Thomas Merton. Ray Yungen explains what happened to her after that:

Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically. What happened next completely reoriented Sue Monk Kidd’s worldview and belief system. She started down the contemplative prayer road with bliss, reading numerous books and repeating the sacred word methods taught in her readings. She ultimately came to the mystical realization that:

I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us … When we encounter another person, … we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.(God’s Joyful Surprise pp. 233, 228)

One could come to Monk Kidd’s defense by saying she is just referring to Christians and non-Christians sharing a common humanity and the need to treat all people well. Yet, while respecting humanity is important, she fails to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians thereby negating Christ’s imperative, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), as the prerequisite for the indwelling of God. Her mystical universalism is apparent when she quotes someone who advises that the Hindu greeting namaste, which translates, I honor the god in you, should be used by Christians. (Ibid., pp. 228-229)

Monk Kidd, like Merton, did not join a metaphysical church such as the Unity Church or a Religious Science church. She found her spirituality within the comfortable and familiar confines of a Baptist church!
Moreover, when Monk Kidd found her universal spirituality she was no teenager. She was a sophisticated, mature family woman. This illustrates the susceptibility of the millions like her who are seeking seemingly novel, positive approaches to Christian spiritual growth. Those who lack discernment are at great risk. What looks godly or spiritually benign on the surface may have principles behind it that are in dire conflict with Christianity….

[J]ust a few years after she had written the book I’ve quoted, she wrote another book on spirituality. This one was titled The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. If ever there was a book confirming my message, this book is it.

In her first and second books, Monk Kidd was writing from a Christian perspective…. But with her third and fourth book, Monk Kidd had made the full transition to a spiritual view more in tune with Wicca than with Christianity. Now she worships the Goddess Sophia rather than Jesus Christ:

We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness…. Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred…. Goddess offers us the holiness of everything. (pp. 162-163)

There is one portion in Monk Kidd’s book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter that, for me, stands out and speaks right to the heart of this issue…. No one can lightly dismiss or ignore the powers behind contemplative prayer after reading this narrative:

The minister was preaching. He was holding up a Bible. It was open, perched atop his raised hand as if a blackbird had landed there. He was saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. The sole and ultimate authority.

I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!

It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period. (p. 76)(excerpt from A Time of Departing, chapter 7)

Later in that same book Monk Kidd stated that God dwelled in everything, even excrement! That’s where a contemplative mystic (Thomas Merton) took her.

Now we must soberly ask, where will Brian McLaren take the Nazarene students?

“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, … to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” – the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2: 4, 5)

Dear Nazarene Christians

My name is Sue Butler and for the last 13 years I have been a member, along with my husband at Albany Grace Church of the Nazarene. I as a young child was bussed to a Nazarene Church in Valdosta, GA. Over the years, we have been very active in our local church.
Recently, we came across some terrible information when we researched some of the teachings that were showing up in our literature, as well as terms that were cropping up, that were similar to Catholic terms. Then, we discovered the “Emergent Church” folks and were alarmed at how our schools and seminaries have opened the doors to them and their heresies, especially in programs such as Youth Specialties, Youth front, etc., which have wholeheartedly gone the way of this “new conversation”.
Of particular interest, is the influence of Brian McLaren. After careful research, we were deeply appalled at his foundational beliefs.
Another alarming influence in our denomination is that of Jon Middendorf. He has adopted the “emergent” viewpoint from all the indications we have found. I spoke with Jon Middendorf about some of the teachings, which are not found in the Bible. Jon was very polite and kind, but we were not able to come to any agreement on Biblical Authority. Please check out the dialogue between him and Greg Horton.
Other things being taught such as, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Prayer, Icons, Labyrinths, and the uplifting of Catholics such as Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, St. John of the Cross and “St. Ignatius of Loyola” which our own Nazarene Publishing House puts out a book for our youth promoting him as a great Christian! This man was part of the Counter Reformation. This literature is unacceptable.
The biggest heresy, in our opinion, is the praying method being called Contemplative Prayer / Centering Prayer (known as mysticism). Where is the scripture for such New Age stuff? When you research this type of prayer the alarm starts to go off.
Dr. Daniel Boone.” Says, in the Alumni spotlight. “I find myself deepening in the practices of spiritual formation that have shaped the saints of the ages, Lectio Divina, fasting, Sabbath observance, care for the poor, journaling, and contemplative prayer.” What exactly is contemplative prayer? If we go to Richard Foster, he will point us to Thomas Merton, which was known to be one of the greatest leaders in contemplative prayer/centering prayer (mysticism). Henri Nouwen is one of Dr. Daniel Boone’s spiritual guides; if we find out who Henri Nouwen looked to we will find Thomas Merton. In an interview with Christianbook.com Dr. Daniel Boone states Henri Nouwen has served as a spiritual guide. Eugene Peterson has been a distant mentor through his writings and Bill Hybels is mentioned, along with Barbara Brown Taylor. The material we have included will help you to see their unbiblical practices. Concerned Nazarene’s have spoken with Dr. Daniel Boone; we would like him to openly help us understand these practices.
When we went to our pastor with these concerns, they were dismissed at first. Then, it was admitted that he was already aware of these teachings in Seminary and seen nothing wrong with these teachings. We are truly brokenhearted over the danger facing our denomination. We want all to be awakened and join us as we fight to alert our brothers and sisters in Christ of the dangers of engaging in these mystical practices.
To that end, we are asking you, as people who love the LORD JESUS CHRIST to please examine what the claims that are being presented. If you also find it troubling, pray about what God would have you do. I hope that the solid people in leadership positions will take note and purge out the leaders who are taking us down the road to destruction. We are building a website to house information pertinent to this cause. Will you stand in the gap and be counted for the LORD?? If you disagree with us, I welcome your comments.

Please take the time to examine these claims. The Bible exhorts us to study for ourselves and also to examine ourselves, repeatedly. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayers are that our denomination might once again glorify Jesus Christ in all we say and do.

Sincerely,
Sue Butler

1.    Re: Dr. Daniel Boone
http://www.nts/edu/alumni-spotlight–dr-dan-boone-winter-2007/
Concerned Nazarenes.net

“This Jesus”

God’s One and Only Son

Our One and Only Savior

"This Jesus"

Let me tell you why I wrote this little book.

First of all, I love Jesus and I welcome any means of telling others about Him.  Second, I am troubled by “emergent theory” that is moving toward an “emergent church.”
Leaders of this “conversation” or “movement” call themselves “post-modern” and I guess if you need a tag that one is about as good as another. My concern about them springs from their distortions of Scripture and their diminishing of Jesus …
More disturbing to me is the fact that the Jesus they talk about is not the Jesus of Scripture …
Only the Jesus disclosed to us in the New Testament is relevant to our times and adequate for our salvation. To diminish Him is to destroy ourselves.

(taken from the Introduction of “This Jesus“)

This is a great little book, truth from the Bible.

Pastor McCumber’s book gives the Christian assurance that the Bible clearly reveals truth (all truth). He does a great job identifying the “True Jesus”. I have immense respect for this Pastor for calling the “Emergent Church” what it is and that being a different Jesus. Thank you Pastor for the courage to take a stand.

If you are looking for details on what the “Emergent Church” believes, this book does not give enough information. A great site for understanding what is coming into all denominations (Even the Nazarene Denomination) is “Lighthouse Trails“.

Do not think we of the Nazarene Denomination are immune to Emergent Theology. If you use material from Nazarene Publishing House, then you have heard of Spiritual Formation.

Spiritual formation was first introduced into the churches back in the 1980’s, by Richard Foster. Spiritual Formation programs are taking root within every denomination. From the book: “My Denomination Does Not Promote NEW AGE SPIRITUALITY Through Spiritual Formation!” by Jocelyn Andersen quotes:

Spiritual Formation is defined as, the teaching and application of “spiritual disciplines.” The spiritual disciplines of Spiritual Formation, as we will show, can be found nowhere in scripture. The spiritual direction facilitated by Spiritual Directors is loudly touted as being an ancient Christian tradition. What is usually not mentioned is that it is not a Protestant Christian tradition or even a tradition practiced by the early church, but rather a Roman Catholic tradition. Seminary graduates, of every doctrinal persuasion, are being trained in ever increasing numbers to introduce certain spiritual disciplines into the lives and prayer habits of those within their spheres of influence. It must be understood, that when the term “spiritual discipline” is used, it is almost always referring to incorporating contemplative prayer into the lives of Church members Many churches are even introducing contemplative prayer into their children’s programs.

Coming from The Nazarene web site

(So . . . You Want to Talk with God?)
Prayer can seem mysterious to kids. However, this booklet will help children realize the wonderful privilege of talking with God. They will learn different types of prayer and effective ways to pray. Visit www.wordaction.com/go/PRAY for a downloadable leader’s guide.

If you take the time to read this it will cause great distress to anyone who has children. Why is this being taught, especially to our children?

Contemplative prayer is by far the main practice promoted by the Spiritual Directors who lead church members onto the slippery slopes of spiritual formation. Contemplative prayer is also called soaking or centering prayer. The terms spiritual formation and contemplative prayer are practically synonymous. And what the average Christian does not know, is that there is virtually no difference between what Christians call contemplative prayer and what New Agers and Occultists call Transcendental Meditation. Contemplative prayer, soaking prayer and centering prayer are simply old fashioned Hinduism dressed up in modern Christian terminology. Of the two movements permeating the evangelical church, the most widely accepted and pervasive within mainstream congregations is Spiritual Formation. What Is Contemplative Prayer? There is a great deal of confusion among Christians as why the practice of contemplative prayer should conflict with the biblical practice of our faith. It is difficult for many to grasp the fact that contemplative prayer is actually not prayer at all, but rather a “Christianized” form of unbiblical, spiritually dangerous, eastern meditation. Most of us know it by the name, transcendental meditation (TM). And it is rightly associated with Hinduism, all forms of Occult and New Age Spirituality. If you go to the children’s programs sight hit resources, which will take you to

Webster’s dictionary defines a contemplative as one who practices contemplation. To contemplate means to ponder, to meditate upon. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing is wrong with pondering or meditating upon things-as long as they are the right things, and as long as the pondering and meditating does not become obsessive.

The only thing upon which we can appropriately meditate on obsessively is the Written Word of God. Psalm one instructs us to do that. So how do we apply Webster’s definition of contemplate to what is known today as contemplative prayer ? We can’t. It is simply not possible. There are those, at this point, who will say this conclusion is not correct as many are being taught to choose a word or phrase out of the Bible and meditate on it as a spiritual discipline. But on closer examination meditation upon the Word of God (which is scriptural and healthy) is not what is being promoted. But let’s take a look at what is really being taught. Christians are encouraged to select one word or very short phrase then repeat it over and over (Mantra Meditation). The purpose and effect of this is to clear the mind of all thought. That makes the term contemplative prayer an oxymoron. How does one contemplate, clear the mind, and pray all at the same time? These are separate activities which cannot be done simultaneously. Contemplative prayer is nothing less than the practice of eastern meditation (transcendental meditation [TM]), which is “clear your mind of all thought.” How does one meditate on something with a blank mind? The answer to that is-they don’t. They can’t. It simply is not possible.

Jocelyn doe’s a great job helping Christians understand the difference between what is being taught through programs involving Spiritual Formation and what the written Word of God teaches us about pagan practices such as these.

Pastor Bill McCumber: Thank’s for a job well done!

May God continue to raise up men like him to speak in an age when it is not being heard from the pulpit any longer.

Praise God! I am grateful for this book

reader beware there is another Jesus being promoted today!