Ministry Update - July 12, 2009
A Final Word on "Concerned Nazarenes" and Orlando Convention wrap up
Several have written wondering about the outcome of our efforts during the General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in Orlando earlier this month.
One writer simply wrote:
I was wondering if the denomination took any specific action or vote on the matter. Thanks, Ron
Here is my response.
Thanks for writing!
There was no action taken by the Nazarene Church as a body on the matter of the Emergent Church philosophy. Also, there was at least one very pro-Emergent seminar session presented at the General Assembly by John Middendorf of Oklahoma City, who is perhaps the best known Emergent-leaning pastor in the Nazarene denomination. During the Q&A time after Middendorf spoke, Pastor Joe Standiforth of Brownsville, TX, stood and asked if there was any forum where he or other "Concerned Nazarenes" might be allowed to present an opposing view. Pastor Joe was summarily shut down - and that was with General Superintendent Dr. Jess Middendorf (John's father) sitting in the front row, I am told. Though I was not present at the Middendorf session, the pastor of a prominent Nazarene church from a major southern city (who attended two of the seminars that I presented while in Orlando) told me personally that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” for the way Pastor Standiforth was treated for merely asking a question that opposed the endorsement of Emergent thinking.
As we have known for quite a while, opposing voices are not welcome when criticizing Emergent ideology in at least some sectors of the Church of the Nazarene and elsewhere. As I have constantly cited, Emergents rarely attempt to present a defense for their beliefs and ideas. Rather than answering the charges that biblically-based thinkers bring, many Emergents simply use the unseemly political tactic of attempting to discredit their opponents through character assassination, baseless charges, guilt-by-association and the like. I know those are serious charges but I am all too aware of this first hand. Recently I have been called numerous things such as a "liar," "unqualified," "uneducated," a "trouble maker," a "church splitter," an "online discernment ministry," a "fundamentalist," a "Calvinist" and on and on - all to simply try and portray me and our ministry in what the Emergents would consider a negative light. One pastor even inferred that because one-time radio host, Bob Larson, endorsed my book, From Rock to Rock, in 1991 I couldn't be trusted. It didn't matter that I haven't had any communication whatsoever with Bob Larson in 15 years and for better or for worse have never endorsed his ministry! The fact that Larson interviewed me long ago was in this particular Nazarene pastor's eyes the best argument he had to try and discredit me. To this very day, Emergent Nazarenes have attempted again and again to make me the issue but have failed to address the real problem - the Emergent heresy they insist on promoting.
Moving on to perhaps the most important issue, it is apparent that there is great disagreement inside the Church of the Nazarene concerning biblical inerrancy. Their current articles of faith are very carefully worded to avoid the idea that they affirm the Bible to be inerrant. I perceive that this is how some in the Nazarene universities have successfully introduced Open Theism and evolution without much opposition.
One thing is certain - Bible believers in the Church of the Nazarene are not going to be silent. Nor are they going to go away. I suspect (and hope) that at the next General Assembly in 2013 there will be an even stronger push to affirm inerrancy. That will probably mean a fairly nasty showdown IF (and that's a big "if") there is a large and organized push to bring the issue to the floor of the convention.
Concerning the three new General Superintendents elected by Nazarenes in Orlando... What I am hearing from conservative Nazarenes seems to indicate that the three, Eugenio Duarte (Africa), David W. Graves (U.S.) and Stan Toler (U.S.) are not in any way Emergent - at least not publicly. Duarte did use the phrase “missional church” during his address to the Assembly in Orlando but the consensus is that he may actually be the most biblically evangelistic and conservative of the three new G.S.’s. (His use of this Emergent buzzword may indeed hold a completely different meaning than its use in Emergent teaching.) Though I surely do not know with certainty, it would appear that the new G.S.’s range from fairly to very conservative. Time will tell but from the reaction I have read by some of the Emergent-minded Nazarenes it would appear that the new General Superintendents are not what they had hoped for. Praise the Lord! However, no one should presume that the election of conservative General Superintendents fixes the encroachment of the Emergent philosophy inside the Church of the Nazarene. As a long-standing and well-known Nazarene evangelist told me yesterday, "Regardless of the hope we might have in these three (G.S.'s), it still remains our schools have to be purged of this heresy, along with the professors promoting it, or we die as a denomination!"
Finally, as I mentioned in my video updates to our subscribers on June 26 and 27, I am so glad to have been involved in this effort with the group of biblically solid "Concerned Nazarenes." Again, our efforts were surely not without opposition and this opposition continues in some pretty ugly and unbiblical ways. However, when the truth is obscured and error is exalted, standing on the side of the Bible is always the right thing to do - even if it's unpopular. Ultimately, anything we did in Orlando was for one goal - that in the future the lost would hear the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully taught and preached.
(For more on what transpired in Orlando see: June 22, 26, 27 - Eric Barger and "Concerned Nazarenes" to confront Emergent Error in Orlando.)
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Concerning the "Concerned Nazarene's" DVD...
The DVD features interviews with several outstanding Christian speakers and writers who share my concerns about the Emergent philosophy. They include: Johanna Michaelsen, Pastor Gary Gilley, Ray Yungen, Mike Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson.
(Please note that the DVD is broken into chapters for easy viewing or using in Sunday School classes or small groups.)
To receive your copy of the DVD and my "How to Spot the Emergent Church" brochure (of which 20,000 were printed for distribution in Orlando) just click here.
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Rick Warren Preaches Unity to Muslim Group
Back on June 19th I wrote highlighting an Indianapolis Star report that Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, was going to address the convention of the Islamic Society of North America. He did so last weekend. Similar to his P.E.A.C.E. plan, Warren called for Muslims and Christians to join together to solve the major problems that face the people of the world. Oh, it sounds so lofty. However, what he did not tell the Muslim group was that personal faith in the biblical Jesus (as opposed to the "Jesus" mentioned in the Qur'an) was their only eternal hope. Warren's July 4th speech (ironic?) was also void of any mention of repentance as a prerequisite for salvation - the same omission he made in The Purpose Driven Life. His address serves as further confirmation of Dr. Warren's "Kingdom Now" view of eschatology. This idea generally proposes that God has lost control of events on the earth and that Christians are to defeat evil, solving the world's problems and in doing so facilitate the return of Christ. Many who hold this view also believe in "replacement theology," in which the role of Israel is usurped by Christians.
Some questioned after my June 19th article came out as to why I was critical of Warren's forthcoming appearance before the group. "Who else," I was asked, "would preach the Gospel to the Muslims?" However, what Warren did last weekend sadly turned out pretty much as I had suspected it would. More globalist blathering (I feel a chorus of "We are the World" coming on), Rodney King-like pleadings ("Can't we all just get along?") and no clear witness of the authentic Jesus Christ to a group of people who desperately need to know that their version of Jesus is a counterfeit and NOT the one that authentic Christians serve. Warren's call for Muslim-Christian unity is just one more small step along the path towards the Antichrist's One-World religion prophesied in Revelation chapter 13.
I encourage you to read what our friend Ed Decker wrote concerning Warren's address to the ISNA. Ed also addressed the notion that Michael Jackson converted to Islam before his death and included some great resource information comparing Islam and Christianity as well. Read Ed's article here.
Have You Heard?
News You Need to Know
1) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believes that legalized abortion resulting from the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was to rid the country of those "that we don't want to have too many of." (read story here)
2) A motion was introduced at the Southern Baptist Convention last month which called for the Southern Baptist's Lifeway Christian Bookstores to remove several questionable books including The Shack. (read story here)
3) Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says it's "heresy" to believe that an individual can be saved through a sinner's prayer of repentance. (read story here)
4) Teen Sex linked to children's TV viewing habits (read story here)
5) Pope Benedict calls for a "New Economic Order" complete with worldwide redistribution of wealth! Read that "world socialism" - can Antichrist system be far off? (watch video here)
New resources concerning Open Theism - See five new links in the menu at:
"Troubling Trends in the Church"
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Recent Ministry Updates:
June 22, 26, 27 - Eric Barger and "Concerned Nazarenes" to confront Emergent Error in Orlando
June 19 - Rick Warren to Speak at Islamic Society Convention
June 16 - Barger Video Upsets Emergent Defenders
May 29 - Biblical Nazarenes Rally
April 14 - How to Spot the Emergent Church
April 2 - Looking for Truth in a Tattooed World
March 12 - Warren, Obama, The Shack, Emergent and more
This powerful DVD message illustrates the desperate need for clear and decisive biblical apologetics in the Church today. Find out why author and Christian apologist, Eric Barger, believes that the popularity of William "Paul" Young's emotionally charged story, The Shack, signals an unprecedented lack of discernment from within Christianity.
Learn about the unbiblical, unorthodox theology contained in this runaway bestseller and soon-to-be-released motion picture and how it threatens to deceive untold numbers of both Christians and seekers in our midst.
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Today, in an effort to redefine Christianity, alarming numbers of popular yet apostate “evangelical” leaders known as “The Emerging Church Movement” are abandoning historic and biblical standards.
This unscriptural, even deadly movement is part of the predicted “great falling away” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as Emergent leaders now proclaim that the Church has failed in its mission, that doctrine is irrelevant and that the very basis of Christian thinking has always been faulty. In this seminar Eric defines Emergent thinking and terms, concisely exposes the practical and doctrinal errors of the Emergents and draws the striking parallels to New Age thought.
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