A pastor I know wrote this, I read it, and I am considering how to respond. I have the pastor's permission to share it, but anonymously, because it is from the pastor's heart and not for public dissemination under the pastor's name. But here is what this pastor wrote:
Are my spiritual questions and current understandings off base and leaning too much towards grace and away from rules that I’m corrupting people’s minds? Is my understanding getting too theologically liberal? Jesus is the way—there’s no compromise on that. But the more I learn about Jesus—the more I try to know Him better personally—the more I realize that with Him it’s about relationships and not rules. Every human being is dysfunctional spiritually in different ways. I feel that the more I know Jesus, the more I realize that He accepts people just where they are—they just need to come to Him, and then let Him start working in their lives by the power of the Holy Spirit—not by following the written (and unwritten) rules of the Church of the Nazarene.
I don’t hold a traditional view of the Old Testament, in that I don’t believe that regenerated Christians are bound to follow the rules and laws enumerated there. The Old Testament is still a part of Scripture, but I’ve come to believe that it’s primarily there to show the futility of human effort in trying to attain God—thus the need for a better way—through the death of Jesus. I believe that the Old Testament has not passed away—not one jot or tittle, as I believe the King James translates Jesus as saying—because those who don’t accept Jesus will be judged by the Old Testament Law. But believers in Jesus—those whose hearts have been regenerated and in whom the Holy Spirit lives—are to live their lives by the power and love of the Holy Spirit leading and directing their lives. Yes, much useful instruction is found in the Bible—both Old and New Testaments. But I believe that the Bible—what is called the Word of God, and that I agree contains all truth necessary to salvation—points away from the written word and to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit as the ultimate authority in the Christian’s life.
That’s where I start to wonder if I’m too radical—if I won’t be accepted by most Nazarenes or Nazarene congregations because of those views. Or maybe my views are way off base. I read the quote attributed to Augustine yesterday which says basically, “Love God, and then live as you please.” The point is that if we live for God, we forsake self, and we let the Holy Spirit lead us and guide us to the point that the desires of our hearts are the desires that the Holy Spirit puts there. That’s radial, but that’s how I see it and have come to believe it. At the same time, that does not work for the non-regenerated person. I believe that the Holy Spirit makes a real difference in a person’s life. I believe in imparted, rather than imputed righteousness—where a real change occurs in a person’s life because of the presence the Holy Spirit within makes that person righteous (as opposed to God simply declaring the person righteous more or less by Divine fiat).
So, there are the thoughts of a pastor. How (or should) I respond? What do some some Naznetters think? I welcome people's comments.