Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I am not advocating a new denomination or a new group but I see the makings of one in progress by default. In January 2009 within a month of settling into my new home and pastorate in FL I received a packet mailed to: All Florida Pastors. Since it was not personal I was not in a hurry to open it, but because it was not junk mail I was not inclined to just throw it away since it had a steep price tag for postage on it. I thought, someone has something to say to send and spend this kind of money to all the Nazarene Pastors in Florida. So one night I opened it up and started reading this well thought out research. At first when I read the adverse comments about Rick Warren and his book “The Purpose Driven Church, I was inclined to shut it down, but I continued to read along anyway. After I finished the packet I was challenged to research and verify for myself that the info about the Emergent church move was true and more widespread than one might realize.
Since I hunger for the truth and desire to follow God in holiness and all His ways, I began doing exactly that: RESEARCH. The more I read the more alarmed I was and dismayed at how I had missed so much of what was happening within Evangelical Christianity in North America and within the Church of the Nazarene. Now some 18 months later I am far more keenly aware of not taking teachings for granted because others I trust say so. I try not to be a skeptic on everything that is said or written either. I truly do measure more diligently then ever all things against the Word of God. I am ashamed to say, but I will confess that I was truly buying into things as a postmodernist without balancing it out with the Word of God.
I am thankful for the folks who spent the time and energy researching the Emergent Church movement because it helped touch this pastor's heart, and God used it to awaken me to the deception that is happening in the church on multiple fronts with regards to doctrine and teachings. Finding a balance without becoming an alarmist or extremist is such a delicate balance as well.
As I reflect on the beginnings of the Church of the Nazarene I can see how God drew conservative holiness people together from different groups and parts of the country and other denominations to those who were like minded with His passion and purpose. Then within a short time The Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene was born and named such as it merged two large groups. Within a few short years controversy arose within the modern church of that day on the use and misuse of the gift of tongues. Before they knew it they had to define themselves as Nazarenes more clearly by in 1917 by dropping the name "Pentecostal" because it had become so strongly associated with those who said one HAD TO speak with tongues as an evidence of the Holy Spirit and being entirely sanctified believers. The word Pentecost or Pentecostal was never evil or bad, but the word association became more associated with a false understanding of the gifts of the Spirit, so much so that a change was made necessary.So today Emergent is associated in the same controversial manner.
So here we are as a denomination that has crossed the great barrier of 100 years of age as a group. We are 2 million members strong in 157 counties of the world with (officially) 47 Nazarene’s who have died for their faith as modern day martyrs. God is pouring out His Spirit and anointing preachers and workers around the world for some of the greatest harvests in the entire world. The mission is still great before us all and yet the Church of the Nazarene is being infected with distractions away from the focus of the great commission, and mostly so in the more civilized world and the strongest economic hub of the Church of the Nazarene (North America). A younger generation is growing up in our midst who are being polluted by the current liberal culture and mindset with another word association in the wrong path yet again. I find so many who embrace the new thinking called Emergent. Emergent is not a new word, but by association with many liberal thinkers, philosophies and writers it has indeed become associated with the liberal agenda more than a conservative holiness one. Likewise there are many words being used and redefined in ways of bringing about the deconstruction of the Church. My wife received her masters’ degree in social work back in the late 80’s. Her minor was in "social justice". Those two buzz words together, “social Justice”, are not new today at all, but yet amongst liberal thinkers and even within the political landscape it is being used and redefined and associated with a range from social work and environmentalism, to socialism.
I still embrace the Church of the Nazarene and still believe in the her biblical teaching of Holiness. I am concerned about what many are turning to and accepting as gospel , and especially so because of the new redefining of former terms and words in this post modern day. When I hear certain terms I try not to jump to conclusions but it is difficult. Those words and terms include, Emergent Church, emerging, Social Justice, post modernism, social restoration, mysticism, spiritual formation, meditation, among others that are being redefined today. It seems that when I read about and hear these words it does end up being a liberal or compromising situation and I either confront it with biblical truth or I need to withdraw and run the other way.
Trevecca Nazarene University last year added a Social Justice major that really concerns me. Not because serving justice to society is wrong, but because of the new association the terms mean in post modernism. Who are they attracting or will attract with that major? Will the liberal post modernist start enrolling? Or will Nazarene parents who are educating themselves and aware of the new word association run in another direction with their tuition money because they perceive a more liberal university than they desire? Personally I think TNU is hurting themselves to choice that term in the heat of the battle of word means and associations if they want to be associated as a conservative Biblical holiness university.
In these last days word association and terminology is vital and we need to be constantly clear with what we mean when we label and use terms so that we associate with biblical holiness and not the modern deconstruction of the holiness church and the ever increasing heretical liberalism.
As much as the early Nazarenes probably despised having to drop the name Pentecost from their official name in order to preserve biblical holiness in those early days, we Nazarenes may need to separate or re-associate a clearer term to progress and press forward with that ever lasting message of Holiness. Around the world these issues might seem trite and divisive and even the discussion might seem like a waste of time, but in the civilized world being clear about who we are and who we are not will be vastly important to who we will continue to be. If we are not clear we could easily end up in the mainline denominational camp that is the fastest declining segment of Christianity in the world. As it is now only 4% of Generation Y (under30) can even be found in churches each week in the U.S. The Emergent movement may be trying to become all things to a younger generation to win them, but winning them to a deconstructed church and Bible will gain us nothing for eternity.
So what terms we use and label ourselves with, and our ministries and efforts including in our colleges and universities, will truly determine who we will attract and become. May God grant us wisdom with the jargon we use and define ourselves. If this even means dropping terms and names such as “Pentecostal”, by all means let us do so that we might win the lost and preserve the message of holiness in these last days.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
In the last few months or so I have read about so many authors, scientist, pastors and theologians who have all aligned themselves with a different understanding of Genesis than what is intended from the natural reading of the Word of God. Some professing Christians are so persuaded that science has proven evolution that they find themselves in a jam trying to reconcile their decades of faith in God and His Word with Science.
Now mind you, I am not a scientist or even remotely close to one. Matter of fact it completely bores me. A few months back our family went to Epcot and Animal Kingdom at Walt World Disney. At both these theme parks the science of evolution is presented as FACT that it made me sick to think how many children and young adults will allow that theory to persuade them as it is woven into even our entertainment world. Entertainment with God creating it all would have been so much more amazing than what they threw together.
For all the theories that man says” “this proved evolution” there are equally a group of scientist who blow holes in each theory and go back to the bible and say the Word remain true.
So where do we get the theory of Creationism anyway? We get it from the Book of Genesis and the book of Genesis (meaning the book of beginnings) was written by Moses while he spent time with God in his calling and Journey. So how did Moses know what happened in the first 11 chapters of Genesis that reflect all the origins of creation? Some say it was oral traditions that were passed down. Given the age of Adam through the next 8 generations, that would make perfect sense. Perfect sense that is, if you can accept that Adam lived to be 930 years old. Or that Noah lived to be 950 years old. (Genesis 9:28-29). Which I do accept, but I don’t think even Adam would have had the details Moses writes down prior to own existence. I suppose God could have told Adam and down the line it went, but I do not get the impression that Adam walked especially close to God as Moses did. So I believe even Moses had more details then even oral tradition would have passed down. So where did the detail info come from?
Did oral tradition get passed down or did he find the family heritage album or was there another method? Maybe he just imaged it as a good story to illustrate a deeper meaning since at the time they did not have the means to figure out evolution and the scientific process. Or could it be that God actual told him all the details and as a secretary he wrote it down word for word what happened? After all, Moses was hanging out with God for at least a solid 40 days and nights two times in a row.
So what evidence is there that the Creator Himself told Moses the details of the origin of man and creation? I can not remember how I was born or came into existence accept that someone told me the details. Even if Adam did evolve from an ape and then God dropped or impressed on that first official human being a spirit and soul to live forever, would not God had made sure that story was passed down correctly?
The following verses in Numbers are such a key to trusting God’s word (numbers 12:6-8) (NIV)
6 he said, "Listen to my words:
"When a prophet of the LORD is among you,
I reveal myself to him in visions,
I speak to him in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?"
So of all the inspired Words of the prophets and writers of the O.T and N.T. Moses was Face to Face with God himself. If Moses writes down that Adam was created from dirt and God breathed the breath of life in his nostrils that is enough for me. If God said that He created the living creation from a void of mass in 6 literal days that settles it for me.
If science tells me there is evidence that the earth is 4 billion years old and it conflicts with God’s word then either science has it wrong or there is still something missing in science that they cannot explain. So when conflict comes based on theories or testimony I will still trust God’s living Word and the testimony of Moses and God before I will trust a bunch of men who are all fallible. Was Moses fallible in taking noted from God? NO. Face to face with God is a supernatural encounter and supernatural means enhancement above the natural world.
As I read about the lives of most of the current authors of scientific theories and even the Christian professing biologist (including Darwin) and their theories I find a common thread I observe. Most of those who have embraced evolution or intelligent design as a process beyond 6 literal days all seem to be doubters or backslidden from their Christian heritage if they even had one.
I find it interesting that those who today promote other than the biblical account as God intended have gone through doubt and abandonment to some degree or another when science became more authoritative than God’s Holy Word in their lives.
Will you choose the theories of man and science or a man who claims to have spent well over 40 solid days with God face to face? I suppose it takes faith to trust either theory. In my life time science has changed its evidence on things a number of times, yet God’s Word stays the same for several thousand years.
When you go to read about science and its theories ask yourself what the journey of the men writing about it is like. Most authors I have discovered who write about another way of looking at the beginning do not have a very strong spiritual background or anointing. However, the author of claims that I trust the most spent lots of FACE time with God himself unlike any human being since creation.
So whose inspirations and word’s should you trust? The men who spent little time with God, or abandoned God or spent no time with God or a man who spent Face to Face time with God and helped lead over 1 million people from bondage with a stick? Moses has the best testimony going and I am sticking with the testimony of the man of God who had face time.