Greetings, it is the 197th day of 2012. For the past year and a half or so, I have been reading statements and listening to sermons concerning that which Nazarenes consider is or should be our official view of the Bible. I have heard, and read, as many diverse opinions on this subject as the number of sermons, articles, and posts that I have reviewed. I have concluded that there is no consensus in the Church of the Nazarene on how our statement on Scripture should be written. That is to say, that while we do have an agreed statement of belief, every person, all of us, believes that we can improve that statement.
Consider the opening paragraph of this recently published article from Holiness Today:
“As Nazarenes, we affirm the full inspiration of the Bible. We affirm that the Bible inerrantly reveals the will of God for us in all things necessary to our salvation.”
I have no issue with this article or its author per se (thus the reason I did not provide a citation). What I would like to demonstrate, primarily through a few bullet statements is why this paragraph does not represent the Church of the Nazarene official statement on Scripture. I give the author credit for including at least the first statement in the first sentence after the comma. Usually, only the second sentence is quoted when an author tries to summarize article IV.
As such, these are Dan’s statements regarding Article IV. To do so, I will provide the full statement on Article IV as “Statement #1” and use this author’s first paragraph, since it is more complete than others, as a common summary statement for Article IV as “Statement # 2.”
Statement #1: “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.”
Statement #2: “As Nazarenes, we affirm the full inspiration of the Bible. We affirm that the Bible inerrantly reveals the will of God for us in all things necessary to our salvation.”
Statement #1 is the official Church of the Nazarene position on the Holy Scripture. Statement #2 is not. Statement #1 is the only official stance appropriate for quotation until at least July 2013. We agree that this is our official position, not that we necessarily agree individually. This applies to all Nazarenes, whether; concerned or naznetter, progressive or traditional, fundamental or post-modern, educator or student, elder or layperson . Statement #2 contains some of the same words, in the same sequence as our official statement, but it is neither our official statement nor representative of our official statement. Statement #2 cannot be credibly espoused as the official Nazarene view.
Statement #1 is in “lowest common denominator” form. It cannot be reduced or simplified any further and simultaneously maintain its integrity as our agreed statement of belief. Because of Nazarene legislation, for Nazarenes, Statement #1 is true because it conveys the complete thought with regards to our agreement, Statement #2 is false because it is an incomplete statement with regards to our agreement.
Continued attempts or perceived attempts to reduce the statement known as Article IV will eventually lead to the adoption of a statement that sounds more Calvinist than most would want. Stated another continuing to treat, or be perceived to treat Article IV as less than one, complete, and irreducible thought will drive a ground swell of non-fundamentalist Nazarenes who if given only two perceived choices will lean towards innerancy.