The Navigators are not distinctively reformed. As can be seen in their complete Statement of Beliefs below (found at http://www.navigators.org/us/aboutus/items/missionvisionvalues/items/Our%20Beliefs), there is nothing about the doctrines of grace, regulative principle of worship, abiding authority of the Ten Commandments (including the Fourth), etc. necessarily contained in them:
· That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings, and that they are of supreme and final authority in faith and life.
· In one God, the Creator; eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
· That Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and that He was and remains true God and true man.
· That God created Adam and Eve in the divine image; that they sinned, and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God; and that, as a result of Adam's sin, all human beings are now born with a sinful nature and stand guilty before God.
· That the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice; and that all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood.
· In the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into Heaven, and in His present life there for us, as High Priest and Advocate.
· In the blessed hope of the personal and imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
· That all who by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God.
· That the Holy Spirit indwells and gives spiritual life to all believers, enables them to understand biblical truth, empowers them for godly living, and equips them for service and witness.
· In the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost.
In addition, the Statement of Faith above states that “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings”, which suggests the scriptures we have now (the received text of the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek) are not inspired and inerrant. Otherwise, why mention only “the original writings”? But Protestantism stands or falls on having a preserved infallibly inspired word of God. How can scripture be our final authority if we do not even have the preserved infallibly inspired word of God?
The Navigator’s ‘gospel’ presentation is found at http://www.navigators.org/us/resources/illustrations/items/bridge . It is subtly Arminian, suggesting regeneration follows a person’s “decision”: “Receiving Christ, we are born into God's family through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer...this is called regeneration or the "new birth."” Indeed, their four formulaic steps to ‘receiving Christ’ smacks of a similar error in Campus Crusades’ ‘gospel’. It is not so surprising either that on the bottom of their webpage we read this: “Some information on this page is courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”
Given their non-adherence to the regulative principle of worship, it is not surprising the Navigators feel no compulsion to base their methods and practices in the word of God. Accordingly, they invent approaches to discipleship and evangelism based on "what works", without pausing to ask what God's word says regarding approach. And I fear their non-adherence to the regulative principle of worship is an indicator of a un-belief in the doctrines of grace. When we do not trust God to save, then we are more likely not to trust His prescribed methods, but to turn to man-invented methods.
Here is but one example I found at http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/collegiate/stories/Male%20Bonding%20101 :
“Male Bonding to the Extreme
Question: How do you get men to bond?
Answer: Road Trip!!!
"All you need is your Bible, a swimming suit, and a towel." And with that, the Navigator men at Purdue University embarked on the "Men's Dive." Not knowing their final destination, over 30 men loaded into vehicles and headed south and south and south some more, eventually stopping in Pensacola, Florida.
In case you weren't aware, Pensacola is over 1,000 miles from Purdue. What makes this road trip even more outrageous is the duration of it. Once in Pensacola, the men donned their suits, plunged into 50 degree water (this occurred in January), attempted to build a 30-man pyramid, hopped back into the vans, and headed home to West Lafayette, Indiana.
The purpose of this lunacy? To get men involved in each others' lives.
"I'm seeing lasting results from this silly rendezvous," said Travis Parks, who ministers with the Purdue Navigators. "Men who weren't very involved before have plugged into our fellowship, deepened their friendships, and have a memory they will never forget. Who would have ever known that we would spend an hour at the beach in the middle of January?"
Then too, the
Navigators suffer from problems common to other para-church groups of this
While God certainly uses groups such as the Navigators for His own purposes, we have reason to question why a reformed Christian would join with them. Yet, denominations like the RPCNA have been quite actively involved with the Navigators. As noted at http://www.christchurchreformed.com/Whoweare/History%20RPCNA%201528%20to%202004.htm :
“After World War II, a number of young seminarians became concerned about the paucity of evangelism Reformed Presbyterians. Some, like Ken Smith, turned to the Navigators for help, and from the 1950's through the 1970's Navigator influence was widespread. As secretary of the Board of Education, Ken influenced a whole generation of young people. In the 1980's, the emphasis on evangelism flowed into a new emphasis on church planting under the influence first of Roy Blackwood in Indiana and Ed Robson in New York, and then of the Home Mission Board. Finally, about 1990, total church membership began to climb again after a century of decline…”
We should ask why.