Nazarene Seminary Platforms LGBTQ-Affirming Faculty

Elijah Friedeman on July 3, 2024

The Church of the Nazarene is the largest Wesleyan-Holiness denomination in the world, with 600,000 members in the U.S. and 2.5 million members around the world. The denomination is known for its conservative positions on theology and lifestyle standards. However, in recent years Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS), the denomination’s only seminary in the U.S., has made a pronounced progressive shift by hiring LGBTQ-affirming faculty.

As a 31-year-old clergy member in the Church of the Nazarene, I am concerned about the direction of the denomination. I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene, have spent my ministry serving local Nazarene churches, and hope to die a Nazarene. In addition to being a Nazarene pastor, I have also served as a vice president at Wesley Biblical Seminary. My time in both the local church and the world of higher education has made me deeply aware of how quickly heretical beliefs in the academy can shape the direction of a denomination. 

For current and former members of mainline denominations, this is an all-too-familiar story. The liberalization of educational institutions has played a primary role in the theological downfall of denominations like the United Methodist Church. In his book The Rise of Theological Liberalism and the Decline of American Methodism, James Heidinger outlines how the theological drift at seminaries created scholars and clergy who no longer affirmed the central teachings of the Bible–like sin, the incarnation, and the resurrection. The liberalization of higher education institutions was matched by an unwillingness to hold heretical professors and clergy accountable for their false teachings. The unholy mix of these two factors produced a denomination in which many clergy denied the divinity of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead—and one that now openly rejects the clear teachings of Scripture on human sexuality.

Despite the warnings offered by the long and agonizing history of the Methodist movement in the 20th and 21st centuries, the same problems are at work in the Church of the Nazarene today. While Nazarenes tend to be among the most theologically conservative evangelical Christians–opposing same-sex marriage and abortion at higher rates than even Southern Baptists–some Nazarene educational institutions have been moving in a different direction.

In 2023, a book was published entitled Why the Church of the Nazarene Should Be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming. The volume was co-edited by Tom Oord (a Nazarene elder and former professor at multiple Nazarene universities who is now facing a church trial for his heretical positions) and featured essays which advocated for the full embrace of LGBTQ identity and practice. Among the contributors were a group of seventeen ordained Nazarene elders, a number of whom were current or former professors at Nazarene higher educational institutions. Perhaps the most prominent of the contributors was Steve McCormick, who had retired from NTS in 2022 after an 18-year teaching career. After the book’s publication, McCormick participated in a pro-LGBTQ conference where he confirmed his long-standing views in support of LGBTQ identity and practice. Despite his unbiblical views, McCormick remains the emeritus Greathouse Chair for Wesleyan-Holiness Theology at NTS. 

The NTS administration has refused to disassociate from McCormick, despite his wholesale affirmation of LGBTQ identity and practice. The truth here is sobering. A premier Nazarene theologian at the denomination’s only seminary in the US, who trained Nazarene pastors and academics for decades, had been affirming for much, if not all, of that time. And over a year after he has made his views public, NTS has done nothing to remove his emeritus status.

NTS is not the first evangelical institution to deal with emeriti faculty who are LGBTQ-affirming. Asbury Theological Seminary, an evangelical seminary in the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition, was faced with its own errant emeritus professor. In 2015, Steve Harper publicly embraced an LGBTQ-affirming position. Harper, who had been a longtime Asbury professor and had also served as a vice president at the institution, became a vocal proponent of LGBTQ identity and practice. In response, Asbury removed his status as an emeritus professor. The willingness of Asbury to remove Harper’s title contrasts starkly with NTS’s refusal to distance themselves from McCormick by removing his emeritus status.

The problems at NTS are not only with former professors but also with those who are currently teaching at the seminary. 

Michael Christensen, Professor of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship for the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at NTS, openly affirms LGBTQ identity and practice. As far back as 2016, Christensen was publicly posting on Facebook about his support for allowing people who have embraced LGBTQ identity and practice to be pastors. In 2019, Christensen described himself as someone “who has advocated for full inclusion of gay and lesbian sisters and brothers in the life of church since I was in college over 40 years ago.” To his credit, Christensen has been open about his stance on full celebration and inclusion of LGBTQ identities and practice. NTS has repeatedly turned a blind eye towards these views, allowing him to continue to teach at the institution. As recently as this spring, Christensen was teaching a DMin course at NTS. 

Frank Thomas was the featured speaker at the NTS preacher’s conference in 2022. And this past fall, he was involved in the DMin program at the seminary. As of June 19, he was still listed as a Guest Lecturer in African American Preaching and Rhetoric at the seminary. (Thomas is not currently listed, perhaps in response to recent pressure on the seminary from those in the denomination.) On X, formerly known as Twitter, Thomas has written posts in support of abortion and denounced the senators who opposed enshrining same-sex marriage in federal law. He shared a post from Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) that celebrated “open and affirming” churches “where everyone belongs just as they are.” The post included a graphic that said, “CTS LOVES TRANS KIDS” and was accompanied by the hashtags #pride, #translove, and #transvisibility.

Despite public statements in support of the denomination’s stance on human sexuality, NTS President Jeren Rowell has allowed Christensen and Thomas to train students at the seminary for years. Even those on the affirming side have recognized the discrepancy between Rowell’s public stance on human sexuality and his private actions.

A former NTS employee named Isaac Petty Pierjok publicly shared his story of working at the seminary. Pierjok had openly embraced a gay identity and was LGBTQ-affirming at the time of his employment. He has since married another man. In Pierjok’s recounting of the situation, Rowell began to receive pressure from Nazarene leaders because Pierjok was an openly gay employee. Rowell, Pierjok writes, “continued directing his subordinates to encourage me to re-closet myself online in an attempt to decrease those calls.” The seminary administration made clear to Pierjok “that pressure needed to be taken off the president.” When Pierjok refused to acquiesce, the NTS administration finally fired him. Only under intense pressure from denominational leaders was Rowell willing to do the right thing and remove the employee.

All of these situations point to a deeply concerning dynamic at NTS. Although the seminary’s leadership affirms the denomination’s stances on human sexuality in public, they seem to be unwilling to take hard actions behind the scenes until a situation becomes public and uncomfortable.

For many Nazarenes, the problems at NTS can seem far removed from local church ministry. However, every Nazarene who gives to their local church is financially supporting what takes place at the seminary. Every Nazarene church is expected to invest 5.5% of its income in the World Evangelism Fund (WEF). WEF supports the denomination’s global missions program and ministry infrastructure. But $1.1 million is given from WEF each year to NTS. When NTS hires an LGBTQ-affirming professor or employee, the institution is doing so in part with money that local churches have sacrificially given for world evangelization. 

In sum, NTS has a track record of platforming LGBTQ-affirming and abortion-supporting professors, which extends back for years and continues to the present day. The refusal of the seminary’s administration to confront these issues head on raises some challenging questions for Nazarene churches, leaders, pastors, and laypeople.

1. Why is NTS so out of step with local churches and pastors that they would welcome LGBTQ-affirming professors? Rank-and-file Nazarenes who learn about NTS are deeply concerned. They have trouble believing their denomination’s seminary hires professors who are LGBTQ-affirming. What has led to this discrepancy between the seminary and local church members?

2. Why are local churches forced to support NTS? Despite NTS platforming LGBTQ-affirming professors, local churches are still required to give the seminary $1.1 million each year through WEF. Why are local churches forced to financially support faculty members with views that run contrary to the Bible, the denomination’s theology, and the values of most Nazarenes?

3. Why does NTS president Jeren Rowell require outside pressure to do the right thing on human sexuality issues? Rowell has platformed LGBTQ-affirming faculty and has resisted calls to remove them. His intransigence puts Nazarenes who are concerned about the seminary in a challenging situation. Even if the seminary were to remove those who have already been public about their LGBTQ-affirming positions, how can we have confidence that other faculty don’t privately share the same perspectives? There are additional faculty not mentioned in this article who have made problematic public statements and continued to teach at NTS. I am not trying to cast doubt on any faculty member, but I am trying to point out Rowell’s failure to lead well on this issue. 

4. Who is responsible for NTS? This is perhaps the most consequential question of all. Due to the denomination’s decentralized structure, the Church of the Nazarene doesn’t have direct control over NTS, and last year the board of NTS unanimously re-elected Rowell to a new four-year term. If NTS will be reformed, who should lead the way–who can lead the way?

As with all denominational issues when leaders do not take biblical stands, the responsibility falls to Nazarene pastors and laypeople to speak up, share their perspective, and provide healthy accountability to leaders. My hope is that Nazarenes can support our seminary by holding it accountable to the teachings of the Bible and the doctrine of our church. If we want to thrive as an orthodox and missional denomination, we must ensure our educational institutions remain theologically grounded.

Elijah Friedeman is an ordained elder with the Church of the Nazarene serving as Lead Pastor of Foundry Church in Flowood, Mississippi.

  1. Comment by Diane on July 3, 2024 at 2:09 am

    People tend to affirm lgbtq people because they know and love lgbtq people…lgbtq people are continually revealed to us as our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church family members, etc. Love is persuasive, it’s neither liberal or conservative. It just is.

  2. Comment by David on July 3, 2024 at 8:50 am

    A cartoon from 1922.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Descent_of_the_Modernists,_E._J._Pace,_Christian_Cartoons,_1922.png

  3. Comment by MikeB on July 3, 2024 at 2:15 pm

    Diane,
    It’s not love to enable their sin.
    You deny the gift of salvation to your family members who identify as gay.
    One day, they will stand before God and curse you for not telling them that they need to repent.
    For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, there are none righteous.
    You have put one sin on a pedestal, one sin that you declare needs no forgiveness from God.
    You are wrong, you are indeed denying them the Mercy of God.
    God has declared that none may enter his kingdom without the salvation.
    You have in your own pride decided that you would rather condemn their immortal souls to hell than to preach repentance to them.

  4. Comment by Gary Starkey on July 3, 2024 at 3:46 pm

    I’m surprised to see a flagship Nazarene theological training school providing roost for the queering of the church. In the mainline, we would expect this and more. But by what logic would a conservative holiness denomination shelter the project of queering the church? This cannot be done with any integrity. Elijah Friedeman is right to be alarmed, and so should every lay Nazarene.

  5. Comment by Kevin W on July 3, 2024 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you for speaking up. I have been calling for the defunding of NTS for years. NTS has blocked me from their page for asking these types if questions.
    In response to “Who is responsible for NTS?” question, David Busic is, according to the Jurisdictional Assignments – 1 August 2023 to 31 July 2025.

    Another note about professor Frank A Thomas, in addition to his activities at NTS he also serves as a professor at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana where the male president claims to be married to another man.

  6. Comment by Diane on July 3, 2024 at 5:38 pm

    Mike B, Jesus spoke about judgment day in the parable of the sheep and goats. According to Jesus, sexuality has nothing to do with who gets through the pearly gates. Now you may quote Paul and any other verse that suits your fancy, but I’ll come back with the Jesus of Matthew 25.

  7. Comment by MikeB on July 3, 2024 at 5:54 pm

    Diane,
    I will see your sheep and goats and raise you a wheat and tares.
    Nothing about Matthew 25 says that you shall praise the sins of someone needing help.

    You do realize oh wicked tare that indeed those here also go to help the poor without regard to what sins they have. We have worked in orphanages, food kitchens, and rehab clinics, but also we have preached Christ crucified, giving the Bread of Life.

    We are all sinners and would deny no sinner food or shelter, but also we would not deny them the mercy and grace of God like you do.

    But no, when a young christian struggles with sin, it are tares like you that choke the gospel out of them, you tell them the vile lie that they were born that way, that God must and will accept them as they are, that they owe no fealty to God.

    You are wrong, and one day you will stand before the Lord of Hosts, and he will ask, when they came to me, did you not lead them away?

    So I ask you one question to the heart, if Christ has died for all sin, and his sacrifice is free to all who repent, then why do you fight so hard to push those people who are seeing God but struggling with homosexual desires away from the cross? It is indeed free forgiveness if they come, all sins are washed away again and again.

    But no, you push them away from the blood of Calvary.

  8. Comment by Ned on July 3, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    Using words like “platforming” and “heresy” are pretty antagonistic. This conversation might be cut and dry in your part of Nazarene-dom, but it’s certainly not the case in every pew or pulpit around the world. NTS has also recently disinvited a speaker over their LGBTQ stance. It’s certainly not the most comfortable place in the denomination for affirming folks. I, too, am a Nazarene pastor (5th generation). There’s no place I could ever call home. I’m concerned, though, that this trend to run off people we disagree with will eventually turn its attention towards me. I just don’t see how the love and grace of God could ever justify excluding anyone. We might exempt ourselves as a matter of conscience, but we should never push anyone away.

  9. Comment by Lynn Green on July 3, 2024 at 11:53 pm

    Churches and religious movements that persecute people for being “heretics” never are regarded as the “good guys” in the conflict. Excluding and “othering” people for their identities is not a loving act. I believe that love should be the rule because that is what God is all about. It is a very fearsome thing to try to presume God’s regard towards the life others lead, especially when we condemn others because their lives do not match our own.

  10. Comment by MikeB on July 4, 2024 at 1:05 am

    Ned,
    I don’t get why so many people come here to spout their pedigree, 5 generations, 80 years etc… I’m sure you are proud as a pharisee of your lineage that seems to predate the Nazarene church.
    If you were indeed a pastor as you claim, why would you assume that anyone is rejected. All are welcome, it is their hersey that they must leave behind. One cannot join a club then work to undermine it, and the word of God is no club.

  11. Comment by MikeB on July 4, 2024 at 1:10 am

    Lynn,
    I find it interesting how you declare no one can judge another following their interpretation of what God wants, you then judge those who’s personal interpretations lead them to exclude heretics from ministry…
    Or put plainly you demand others do what you say because you think that is right… which is your complaint about others…
    Luckily you can freely associate with the many liberal mainline churches who share your views.

  12. Comment by Cal on July 4, 2024 at 2:46 am

    Unfortunately we live in an age of leftist cultural revolution, and every institution is a target — churches, seminaries, really everything down to the local bird club. Such institutions should be abandoned, and support withdrawn, as lost causes, and normal individuals and small groups can focus on being self reliant and living free of leftist encroachment.

  13. Comment by Susan on July 4, 2024 at 8:41 am

    Ned, I believe Jesus Himself drove out the money changers from the Temple by using a whip. Why? Because they were attempting to rob people and control access to God. How much more should we be willing to throw out those who would completely deny access to God by robbing them of the very truth through enabling, accepting, embracing, and affirming their sin. All the money changers were doing enriched themselves by controlling access; here we have educated scholars enriching Satan by acting as the tour guides to the gates of Hell. I believe Jesus would be grabbing their tassels and cords and fashioning a whip driving them far away from anything that was to be associated with His house. However, He has left those actions up to His people to do now. Hence, the point of the article.

  14. Comment by David Crofford on July 4, 2024 at 10:37 am

    One of the most troubling aspects of Elijah’s post is that there are those who are forming the next generation of ministers in the COTN, yet who do not ascribe to the very standards our church embraces. My question has been, why? There are multiple other denominations (now the UMC among them) who advocate for a LGBTQ+ affirming position. It seems to me that if a given teacher/professor can no longer accept the official position of the COTN, said professor ought, for their own integrity’s sake, to go where their thinking is consistent with the other group’s ideas. It is an ethical problem for that professor to remain at the Seminary.

  15. Comment by Diane on July 4, 2024 at 6:16 pm

    David, I agree. I was in an lgbtq-affirming faith community that did not want to entertain conversations about its “for and about while people” culture. I actually left because I felt I couldn’t invite my Black friends to a church where white folks had no interest in deeply getting to know them. Assimilation to a Euro-centric cultural lens was the name of their hospitality and I just couldn’t go along with it. Many “lgbtq welcoming” churches are predominantly white and like it that way, judging by the barriers they place to keep people of color, including lgbtq people of color, from feeling a sense of belonging. I look for churches that are both lgbtq affirming and intentional about challenging folks to become more fluent in language, history and heritage of those whose life experiences, ideas and faith expressions differ from the majority. It’s not exactly “radical” to welcome white lgbtq people into mainline congregations in a lot of places anymore. Example – the white, “radically inclusive” church in this town has a favorite image it uses often on its bulletin cover. They absolutely love the image, it captures their adoration of God/Jesus as white and male. It’s a photo of their prized white-Jesus stained glass window that sits in the balcony. That it’s a relic defining white people as divine and erected at a time when the church was “whites only” (membership was denied to Black Christians in 1970, a Black couple that joined in the 1980s was ostracized when the man was elected a deacon..people wouldn’t come when he was serving, another Black Christian was deemed “crazy” when he visited and knelt for prayer on the chancel steps before going to a pew ..hasn’t occurred to them. Juneteenth wasn’t mentioned again this year, but they went all out for Pride. There’s a history of racism that they don’t want to touch. I worship online now.

  16. Comment by Douglas E Ehrhardt on July 5, 2024 at 9:59 am

    Great to see the spirit of the anti Christ in Diane’s worldview. A very strong delusion.

  17. Comment by MikeB on July 5, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    Diane,
    A guilty conscious seems to have prevented you from answering my question.

    I will now raise you one more, you racial theory is straight from the devil as a replacement for what Christ has called for.

    Christ has called up to be brothers and sisters in Him. That is true love that goes beyond any race. The Christian life is not hard to live it is impossible, which is why we need his forgiveness and sacrifice.

    But when someone is your brother in Christ, then you will love them and they will love you. To love includes correction, because followers of Christ want to actually follow Christ, which often requires aid.

    But no, your sinful attempt to create a easier path to racial relations because we all keep failing to fully uphold our shared brotherhood in Christ is not from God but from Satan.

    God has called us all to a vastly deeper relationship with our fellow Christians that far transcends race, our heritage is not the sins of our ancestors but the love of our savior.

    You cannot understand this because you are not of Christ. To you, love is hate, we cannot be forgiven for our ancestors sins much less our own.

    Christ has called you like he has called all mankind. You are being pulled away from the church into a replacement religion that will drag you in chains to hell.

    You may claim only God may judge, but your words are a confession of someone who loves their pride more than God.
    We are not judging you but warning you of the judgement to come, warning in love, not in hate.

  18. Comment by Ned on July 5, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve heard multiple General Superintendents explain that being affirming isn’t un-Christian, it’s just not what Nazarenes believe. They talk about it the same way they talk about alcohol. It’s hard to call that heresy and it certainly doesn’t warrant the kind of witch-hunts we’ve seen going on. There’s absolutely a way to have a set of beliefs and still offer grace to people who worship and serve with us who think differently. Drawing lines in the sand doesn’t reflect Jesus or Wesley very well. In fact, the only time I recall Jesus drawing actual lines in the sand, it was the religious hardliners who slunk away and the sinner who was given a graceful admonition. It’s the othering and the threats to which I object. The Church of the Nazarene is at its worst when we’re doing that sort of thing. God will undoubtedly work it all out for good in the end if we’re kind and loving towards each other in spite of our differences. Anything else is giving in to fear.

  19. Comment by MikeB on July 5, 2024 at 2:00 pm

    Ned,
    Is your claim that multiple general superintendents don’t actually think homosexual behavior is a sin?

  20. Comment by Diane on July 5, 2024 at 2:52 pm

    Mike,
    Your preference for using “mankind” instead of “humankind” tells me that you yourself are unable or exceptionally resistant to changing your vocabulary, even as you know the term is outdated. Those who use the term “mankind” in 2024, mark themselves as rigid adherents to tradition for tradition’s sake. “Humankind” is generously inclusive, obviously not reflective of your lifestyle choice. If you’re that resistant or incapable of changing how you articulate your thoughts, just exactly how persuasive do you think you are in suggesting people must change their sexuality to align with the preferences of your sex-obsessed, gate-keeping deity?

  21. Comment by MikeB on July 5, 2024 at 6:20 pm

    Ah Diane,
    Happily encouraging others to sin against the word of God, happy to undermine and reject the doctrinal positions of Churches.
    But when someone uses mankind (which stands for woman as well as man), you determine that you “wish to see the manager” as someone did not follow your preferred rules, (and as a by the aside, hu-man-kind is not actually more or less specific than man-kind).

    You are more than free to not follow my Deity, He gave you free will, but you cannot pretend the amalgamation you like to imagine (but lets face it refuse to worship as well) is indeed the same as the one of the entire bible.

    You have indeed read my words and be warned, there will come a day when you will note that you were called to The Cross, to follow Christ, and instead you determined that you would not enter the gate, of your own choice, that it was not Christ, who rejected you, it was you who rejected him.

    You must now face that you would rather reject his sacrifice than accept your sins.
    I will continue to pray for you in love.

  22. Comment by Oliver Cozby on July 6, 2024 at 2:07 am

    West Texas District Superintendent David Downs chairs the Board of Trustees at NTS. Downs supports the teachings of spiritualist and Quaker Richard Foster, as does Travecca Nazarene University (TNU). A disciple of Foster, Dr. Mark Lail, was our guest speaker at the Shepherd’s Sabbath (pastors weekend retreat). At TNU, I had a required course in the Master of Religion program, Spiritual Formation, where we used Foster’s book with assignments to practice his teachings. After I took that class, I resigned from the program as I did not want to have to defend Nazarene doctrine at Nazarene University. The leadership of the Church of the Nazarene is doing nothing to end this heresy, and I believe they fully support this move away from sound doctrine.

  23. Comment by Ned on July 6, 2024 at 8:30 am

    Mike,
    I’m not going to pretend to know what’s in someone’s head, but I’ve heard multiple GSs talk about the Nazarene view on homosexuality the same way they talk about alcohol: “that’s a belief some Christians hold, but it’s not what we, in the Church of the Nazarene, do.” They don’t seem to actually be treating the issues the same, which is kind of the problem: words and actions misaligned lead to confusion. The folks advocating for a lighter touch on alcohol or a more hard line understanding of scriptural inerrancy aren’t getting chased out the same way. I’d just like to see consistency.

  24. Comment by MikeB on July 6, 2024 at 10:58 am

    Ned
    Absolutely agree consistent rules and requirements for being in pastoral/clergy positions.
    There are denominations that give full approval to alcohol, and those that do the same to homosexual behavior.

    But to those that view those as sins, no church leader should be openly in opposition to the denomination and expect to maintain their position.

    No matter which sin, if someone does not beleive the doctrin of the denomination, they should not be in leadership for that denomination.

  25. Comment by Different Steve on July 6, 2024 at 2:03 pm

    “I worship online now.” Sad. Years of church shopping stories come to naught. Doubt anybody’s making any new religious intersectionalist “friends” that way, much less “deeply getting to know them”.

  26. Comment by Jim on July 6, 2024 at 11:49 pm

    Diane, I appreciated your comments about the hypocrisy of that church (welcome gays, not Blacks). You showed grace by agreeing with someone despite receiving a lot of words of correction various people were giving you that, while I agree with a good bit of the substance, was taken aback by some of the wording. I’m not sure what I would do regarding a polygamist in my denomination who points to so many godly leaders in the Old Testament like Jacob & David and says that the New only says the leader(s) of the congregation should have one wife. And they don’t have to be married, and Paul has some pretty pointed words about it being better if they’re not.

  27. Comment by Chris on July 6, 2024 at 11:52 pm

    As a Nazarene pastor of 18 years been Naz 45 years (since I was 1) – went to 3 Nazarene universities, I am glad some Nazarene pastors still stand for something in America.
    NTS will one day answer to God. ENC is gone. Heresies are real as ever. They still get support. All my years in our schools it was obvious there was 2 camps. Those who believe in a second definite work of entire sanctification and those who dont. All the other heresies in our denomination stem from this one point – our Nazarene identity.
    If we fully surrender to God our will and allow Him to sanctify us entirely, we are then done with sin. If we instead allow our free will to reign, we are tossed by every wind of doctrine. Satan would love to get us on any other trend. We must first wrestle with sanctification. Sure we have free wills. We must be willing to lay them down. Let every other point be secondary to this. Noah kept his work on building the ark God told him to make. 100 years… one focus. Let the talkers talk. You must do what the Lord tells you to do. And he tells us all to repent and be saved and wills us to be sanctified. Keep the main thing the main thing. It will fix all the other things.

  28. Comment by Diane on July 6, 2024 at 11:57 pm

    Different Steve, you might be surprised to learn I have many close friends in my community representing an intersectionality of identities not found in traditional churches. This is a small town, not an urban area. Each of us worships online with congregation(s) of one’s choosing (some of us have roots in mainline traditions, others from the Black church tradition, others from the white, Pentecostal traditions). We gather twice a month to share a meal together, some are active volunteers in community gardening serving impoverished families, some do justice work in healthcare and education. The group of twenty or more is far more diverse than any congregation in the community…we range in ages from 26 – 75, we are Black, white, Latino, gay, straight, cisgender, trans, bi-, single, married, partnered, able-bodied and growing frail, employed and retired,. Most of us generously contribute to established churches that we worship with online. Most of us grew up in urban areas, all of us have college degrees and some have seminary backgrounds, two are ordained clergy. I would characterize this “friends group” as progressive Christians. Today’s technology is creating new ways of being church.

  29. Comment by Different Steve on July 7, 2024 at 9:27 am

    Sounds like an addiction support group (Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.). Yes, you can develop some close diverse relationships there, and they may meet in a church and even rely on the help of an individually chosen higher power, but it isn’t worship, as the host church would surely tell you. I recently binge watched a show called Loudermilk, kind of a situation comedy about an addiction support group that meets in a church, that suggests the sorts of deep relationships and friendships that can develop. I also recall getting some insights from the movie “You Kill Me” (about a hitman (Ben Kingsley) in a support group).

  30. Comment by MikeB on July 7, 2024 at 11:04 am

    Diane/Jim
    Much as a family must stage an intervention when someone’s alcoholism is about to kill them, harsh truths must be told. You are at an end stage cirrhosis of the liver, and the time for niceties is long over. You will die, and without repentance, you have no hope.

    Your support group of fellow addicts are more than happy with you dying, your behaviors support their behaviors in a victim mindset of well if no one tells me I’m wrong I can claim ignorance and good intentions. “Oh no one told me, they were all too afraid of hurting my feelings, so you can’t blame me”, is the intended defense.

    But no, your group is much more harmful than an AA group (Which are a good thing, but also pseudo-christian), it is much more like Philip Morris’s advertising, your Screwtape comment on polygamy in biblical times shows an intent to elicit doubt. Any solid youth group could refute a polygamist’s point of view, every instance of polygamy was viewed a negative that generated problems, and biblical references attempt to curb the very common local practice.

    The echo chamber of your own mind has led you indeed to destruction. You imagine and must maintain the facade that you are being graceful in not debating your own apostasy, because to admit would make actually have to choose, it would make your imagined world where “God could not send my diverse collection of acquaintances to hell, they are so interesting, much more-so than those boring judgemental Bible Thumpers”.

  31. Comment by Jim on July 7, 2024 at 4:15 pm

    Mike, I’m so sorry for your words because you are wrongly assuming so much about me that is utterly false. With Paul I can say without a doubt: 2 Tim. 1:2. I’m sorry for the Nazarene situation but am also sorry for you with the false assumptions (especially about my eternal destiny), unseemly invective, and misunderstanding of the OT. Ponder 1 Pet. 3:15 and 2 Cor. 13:5. I’m not looking at this thread of comments again.

  32. Comment by MikeB on July 7, 2024 at 4:57 pm

    “Jim”,

    Gal 3:1
    O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

    To those who earnestly seek to know Christ we should approach in love.

    But who has bewitched you? Your words, your defense of apostasy reveal your intent, deny what you will, but when there is full apostasy on display and you show up to support and comfort, what are we to make of you? Another side of that same coin?

    I dare say that you are insulted and find the terms harsh due to the truth you deny. Indeed, to warn those who are fully abandoning God’s word about their destination is indeed seemly while critical.

    But to note, no kind words have ever gotten through your pride, hence the more blunt honesty.

  33. Comment by Southern Scott on July 7, 2024 at 10:59 pm

    As a former umc now gmc clergy I hate to see our sister denomination go through this. They need to nip this in the bud and clean out the administration of the seminary. As scripture says a little leaven spoils the whole batch. This will spread like cancer if they don’t enforce discipline. Sadly I’ve lived it. The other necessary change is to get rid of the trust clause. It allows elitest leaders to control the member churches. Without the trust clause leadership will be forced to be responsive to the laity. The trust cause was created to prevent heresy but now it is used to force heresy on the denomination.

  34. Comment by Gary Starkey on July 8, 2024 at 5:33 pm

    As obnoxious, perplexing, and farcical the comment line becomes, the conversation is necessary to clear the air in this room. The windows have now been opened and fresh breezes are blowing through the room. Whatever was thought to rest on complacent assumptions has been turned inside out. We see now what has been rotting at NTS, and it has been named.

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