QUESTION: IS THE NAZARENE CHURCH STILL PROMOTING THE EMERGING CHURCH AND CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY?
SIDE ONE: “Our General Leaders have taken a very clear stand concerning the emergent church.” – Nazarene District Superintendent
SIDE TWO: “I grew up a Roman Catholic and later became an Anglican priest (it was the closest I could get to being a Catholic priest without having to “swim the Tiber”) so there’s definitely a weird brew of influences floating around the community. I’m presently studying spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality at the Shalem Institute and beginning next year in a doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) so the voices of Merton, Rahner, Ignatius, St Francis, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill and other contemplatives find their way into our ministries and preaching as well.”-Ian Morgan Cron, speaker at Olivet Nazarene University (source)
SIDE ONE: Letter from a Nazarene District Superintendent (Used with permission):
2011 – Our [Nazarene] denomination has shown great growth in the USA this last year. I don’t know about any mass exodus over these issues. While some of our schools, including MNU have had some speakers in the past that we wouldn’t have again, it was before it was revealed that they are heretics. There have been some questions about Point Loma and NNU, but much of it has been addressed. I believe this is very much overstated. Our General Leaders have taken a very clear stand concerning the emergent church. We are very aware what is being taught at MNU and will not tolerate any of these false teachings there. Also, we just finished our Ordination interviews and the right questions were asked concerning the reality of hell and the authority of the Word of God.
The “concerned Nazarenes” tend to get their facts confused and are still harping about old news. It reminds me of the rumor that continued to circulate that Madam Murray O’Hair was trying to shut down Christian broadcasting. It was never true, made the Christians making the accusations look like fools, and continued to be spread by over zealous people long after she was dead. My thoughts about all this are simple. I don’t believe everything I read. I do realize there are some heretics out there, and we need to pay attention to what is being taught at our schools, especially our regional college, MNU. We (the DS’s) will continue to meet with the religion department and they know loud and clear what we think about all this.
SIDE TWO: Olivet Nazarene University Welcomes Emergent Mystic
If the problem with emerging/contemplative spirituality in the Nazarene denomination has been “overstated” as the Nazarene superintendent says in the above letter, then one must ask the question, why is it that Nazarene universities are STILL promoting “New” spirituality/ contemplative figures?
One year ago, Lighthouse Trails posted an article titled Olivet Nazarene University 105th School Added to Lighthouse Trails Contemplative School List . That article was spawned when we received an e-mail from a concerned parent whose child was attending Olivet University who learned that the school was promoting Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen. After doing research, we placed Olivet Nazarene University on our “Contemplative School List.” This past weekend we received a phone call from a man who told us that Nazarene universities are bringing in speakers who “fly under the radar” and who are of “liberal emergent” persuasion. His case in point was the upcoming scheduled visit to Olivet by Ian Morgan Cron, of whom until this past weekend we had not heard the name. On March 13th and 14th, Cron will be speaking at the Olivet chapel service from 10am to 11am. We called Olivet and were told that Olivet’s school chaplain Mark Holcolm in the Office of Spiritual Development is responsible for chapel speakers. Cron also spoke at Olivet on September 5th and 6th 2012 at the chapel service.
Who is Ian Morgan Cron, and why is it so important to know that he is a speaker at this Nazarene university? If you have heard the names Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, Jim Wallis, Marcus Borg, Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen, and if you are familiar with the mystical emergent spirituality that these people adhere to, then you can understand the spirituality of Ian Morgan Cron (who describes himself as an “Episcopal priest, psychotherapist, and retreat guide” and says he was trained at the Shalem Prayer Institute). Not only does Cron admire and promote these teachers but he is admired and promoted by them. And not only does he admire the hard-core mystics but he teaches contemplative meditation himself. Below we are listing some documentation so you can see for yourself what Cron believes . Then you can see how ill-advised it is for a Nazarene superintendent to say that the issue of emerging coming into the Nazarene denomination is being “overstated.” It is not being overstated, and sadly, while Nazarenes are being lulled into slumber and told that “all is well,” the denomination is being increasingly influenced by a panentheistic interspiritual belief system that negates the message of the Cross. Does that sound extreme? Consider the “theologies” of some of the writers Cron adheres to: Brian McLaren calls the doctrine of Hell “false advertising” for God; Marcus Borg does not believe in the virgin birth or that Jesus is the Son of God come to die for the sins of the world; Jim Wallis, founder of SoJourner is a heralder for a liberal, marxist agenda; Phyllis Tickle says that Brian McLaren is the next Luther; Thomas Merton says that divinity dwells in all human beings and that if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship each other; Henri Nouwen reiterates Merton’s interspiritual panentheistic views in numerous instances in his own writing; Richard Rohr could be considered a Matthew Fox spiritual look-alike. Example: In Rohr’s book The Naked Now he states: “[New Age mystic] Ken Wilber is really the best teacher today . . . to give us an ‘integral spirituality.’ Pick any book of his that fascinates you, and you will know why I, as a Christian, recommend him.” (p. 153) Wilber’s “integral spirituality” includes every form of mysticism that you can imagine, including tantric sex.
While we were researching Ian Morgan Cron, we stumbled across a Twitter post he wrote on February 22nd stating that he was speaking with Dr. Eben Alexander (author of Proof of Heaven) at Christ Church in Greenwich, CT, where Cron is currently an adjunct pastor. In 2012, Lighthouse Trails wrote 2 stories about Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who was featured on the cover of Newsweek for his near death experience that has led him to become heavily involved in New Age meditation practices. Our one story, Follow Up Story on Newsweek Article about Author of “Proof of Heaven” Admits to Practicing Deep Meditation” discusses and documents this. Alexander refers to God as “om,” a Hindu mantra. The interview between Cron and Alexander took place at Christ Church on February 23rd.
Cron is currently obtaining his doctorate at Fordham University, a Jesuit college and is a curator for a project called Courageous and Faith Series. These “conversations” to “follow Jesus” take place at Christ Church and interview figures such as Rob Bell, Jim Wallis, Anne Lamott, Gabe Lyons, Phyllis Tickle, and William Paul Young (The Shack), all of which fall in the emergent/contemplative camp.
The point is Ian Morgan Cron has surrounded and absorbed himself with meditation mystics, yet he is going to be talking to students at Olivet Nazarene University. With this kind of thing happening, we just don’t see how any Nazarene pastor or superintendent could say that concerns that we and others have are “overstated.” The superintendent who wrote the letter above said “While some of our schools . . . have had some speakers in the past that we wouldn’t have again, it was before it was revealed that they are heretics,” we must wonder if Cron would be in that category of “heretic.” Panentheism, interspirituality, altered states of consciousness, God in all – the answer seems pretty clear.
Lest one think that the Nazarenes stand alone in embracing Cron, just take a look at Cron’s speaking schedule. Places he will be speaking (or has spoken) at include: World Vision, Willow Creek, Denver Seminary, Family Fest with the Gaithers, the Dove Awards, Renovare, C3 Conference with Philip Yancey, the Calvinist Crossroads Community Church in MD, Texas Christian University, Catalyst Conference with Andy Stanley, and Worship Leaders Conference with James McDonald and Saddleback pastor Buddy Owens. He also has written for Fox News and his 2011 book Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me: A Memoir . . . of Sorts was published by Thomas Nelson. An earlier book was published by NavPress. All this to show that Cron has very much been accepted into evangelical Christianity.
In conclusion, in a video on YouTube, Cron states that “the future of the church lies with silence.” He is referring to the mystical state that occurs during contemplative meditation. He echoes Karl Rahner who said the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will be nothing. This is where “Christianity” is heading, and the Nazarenes are helping to lead the way.
Cron joins Dr. Eben Alexander: I’m with Dr. Eben Alexander, author of”Proof of Heaven” tomorrow night. Fascinating book.— Ian Morgan Cron (@iancron) February 22, 2013 (Twitter)
From an interview on Internet Monk with Cron from 2008 -Ian: “I grew up a Roman Catholic and later became an Anglican priest (it was the closest I could get to being a Catholic priest without having to “swim the Tiber”) so there’s definitely a weird brew of influences floating around the community. I’m presently studying spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality at the Shalem Institute and beginning next year in a doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) so the voices of Merton, Rahner, Ignatius, St Francis, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill and other contemplatives find their way into our ministries and preaching as well.”-Ian Morgan Cron