Starting point for a Nazarene is of course the compressed statement in the Agreed Statement of Belief. But we can also use the Article of Faith concerning the Scriptures, as they explain what is meant there. By the way, from an historical point of view it is interesting to notice that the creed that everyone used who became a member of the CotN before 2005, didn’t contain a single word on the Scriptures! In other words, for membership we confess what we believe from and based on the Scriptures, rather than requiring a certain belief about the Scriptures! It says:
From the Agreed Statement of Belief:801. [...] We believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We especially emphasize the deity of Jesus Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit. We believe that human beings are born in sin; that they need the work of forgiveness through Christ and the new birth by the Holy Spirit; that subsequent to this there is the deeper work of heart cleansing or entire sanctification through the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and that to each of these works of grace the Holy Spirit gives witness. We believe that our Lord will return, the dead shall be raised, and that all shall come to final judgment with its rewards and punishments.
From the Articles of Faith:We believe:
26.1. In one God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
26.2. That the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.It is clear that the Church of the Nazarene requires of its members belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Nowhere it says that we must believe in the Bible. Which of course makes sense. The Bible didn’t die for us, the Bible doesn’t love us, the Bible won’t save us. The Bible leads to the Saviour, Jesus Christ (John 5:39, 20:31, Gal 3:24).IV. The Holy Scriptures
4. We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith. (Luke 24:44-47; John 10:35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
So what’s the big deal here? Isn’t this just a language game? Not really. There are of course different approaches to the Scriptures, depending on how one looks at the inspiration of them. Broadly speaking they range from verbal diction by God, to just a human book. And anything in between. Now both extremes are problematic. The former is because obviously, the styles of the authors of the various books are quite different. I guess I don’t have to belabour that point. But that means that God did in fact not dictate verbally all of the Scriptures. At some points He clearly spoke, that’s understood. Yet at other points we have prophets and unknown authors conveying His message, and as it appears, with some room for themselves to voice it.
The latter is problematic because if effectively denies the possibility that God can speak to us at all. All we’d have left is the record of human impressions of, yeah, of what? Religious experiences? Hardly a foundation to build on.
So we believe the Scriptures are θεόπνευστος, God-breathed. But not in such a way as to turn people into mere typewriters. Therefore we believe this testimony to be “inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation”, for the very simple reason that salvation is its goal from Gen 1 to Rev 22, and it is crucial to read anything in the light of its purpose in order to properly understand it, especially the Bible.
The genius of this article of faith is that it describes exactly these crucial issues: divine inspiration, not dictation, and its goal: salvation. When seen in its historic context it is even more remarkable how we ever got this article. It was adopted in its current form in 1928, and it is well known that Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley had a big influence on its formulation. Of course in those days, the battle between Fundamentalism and theological liberalism threatened to devour the church. The one group trying to found authority on inerrancy of the autographs (that we don’t have), the other drifting from any authority whatsoever. Wiley managed to steer the ship of the church clear off both rocks, recognizing the divine inspiration and its purpose. In other words, the authority of the Scriptures emerges when we read it according to its goal. How? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. So authority is founded on the work of the Holy Spirit, not only in the initial inspiration, but likewise in inspiring and guiding the reader. For obviously “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6).
That is why we believe in the Holy Spirit, but not in the same way, in the Bible.