General Superintendent’s Answer About Homosexuality Leaves More Questions – Once Again

When will the day come when a General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene will answer a question about homosexuality forthrightly, clearly, and unambiguously?

At the Southwest Indiana District Assembly this Summer, General Superintendent David Busic was asked the following question by Pastor Jared Henry, an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene:

“If an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene is advocating publicly for gay marriage or the practice of homosexuality, and the district fails to deal with that- in other words, they don’t take their credentials, what takes place after that…in other words, what recourse may be at that point?”

Dr. Busic begins answering at the :54 mark, in this video.

He finishes his answer some nine minutes later, and no one can reasonably conclude that he gave a straightforward, clear answer.  And yet, it appears to me that that the response he gave to a very specific question has resulted in continued confusion and uncertainty within the denomination, and perhaps will discourage or demoralize pastors who are working hard to uphold biblical standards regarding homosexuality. This should be very troubling to all Nazarenes who have been seeking answers about the direction the church is going regarding human sexuality, and its stance on homosexuality.

Dr. David Busic at SW Indiana District Assembly

A simple and clear answer to the question would have been something like “The Church of the Nazarene will not back one inch from its biblical stance on homosexuality. There is no excuse for any district to fail to uphold our biblical principles, and any pastor who continues advocating for anything that violates biblical principles ought to be required to surrender his credentials and is not fit to serve in the church in any leadership position.”

Instead, like a politician trying to walk a fine line and avoid offending anyone, Dr. Busic spent about nine minutes answering a very appropriate question from an ordained elder in the denomination who clearly is concerned about upholding biblical standards. It was a great opportunity to give clarity for members who are looking for the church leadership to step up in a time where clarity is needed so badly. The LGBT movement which is trying to normalize homosexuality within the denomination is a real danger, and General Superintendents need to be unambiguous when it comes to homosexuality.

Yet, it is not a surprise to me when I see this kind of response to serious questions.  In the past when I had communicated back and forth with several General Superintendents (the emails can be found on my blog), their responses had little substance, and they only spoke in general terms. They seem to not like giving direct answers to specific questions. One of them has promised several times since 12 years ago he would get back to me. I’m still waiting.

At around 1:20 in the video, Dr. Busic says that 2017 was one of the “most extraordinary moments in the Church of the Nazarene”… and that “97% voted on a clear position on human sexuality.”  He described the new Human Sexuality statement as “one of the most poetically and beautifully written statements.” He also stated that “this board [the current Board of General Superintendents] is 100% behind what that [2017] General Assembly did.”

And yet, that specific Human Sexuality document omitted the word “perversion” from the manual, in reference to homosexuality; and it was applauded by LGBT advocates such as Andy McGee and Love Wins LGBT, as well as the Holland Nazarene District, and the New England District also advocated for watering down the statement.

If you did not know, the Holland Nazarene District is basically in rebellion against the denomination, and is already blessing same sex unions. So for them to applaud the Human Sexuality statement is not an indicator of anything good.  And what makes it worse, the Board of General Superintendents knows of their rebellion, and even received additional evidence from me, with an email from a pastor admitting blessing same sex unions, and admitting that the Generals are aware. Read the article here.
What have the General Superintendents done about that? Absolutely nothing.  You may want to ask them the next time you run into them or speak with them. Why is the Holland District being allowed to pervert the word of God openly?

There were other concerns that came out of his response as well. When another question was asked about the Confucius Center at Northwest Nazarene University and why was it allowed to be there, Dr. Busic said:

 “I had not heard about it… but let me say this about all our universities in the USA. I believe 100%, every single one of our Presidents, including NBC and NTS, every one of them, are completely committed to our Nazarene identity.”

My question to Dr. Busic, who is a former President of the Nazarene Theological Seminary, would be: “Dr. Frank Thomas has been scheduled to speak at the seminary in September. Dr. Thomas is a pastor who advocates for Critical Race Theory ideas; it is documented that he is a racist; he is an open advocate of abortion, which goes against Nazarene doctrine; and he supports the LGBT movement. Dr. Busic, is it appropriate that NTS is allowing this man who is against so many biblical principles to speak, and would you do the same if you were still president?

Also, what does Dr. Busic think about a theologian (Dr. Willie James Jennings) who spoke at NTS this year? Would he have invited Jennings? Dr. Jennings is an open advocate for same sex marriage.  (https://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2022/02/25/nazarene-theological-seminary-welcomes-gay-marriage-promoter/

So either Dr. Busic is unaware of the many problems at the Nazarene universities and seminaries, or he feels that there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing such advocates of unbiblical principles to speak at Nazarene colleges.  In any case, he is incorrect by stating “every single one of our presidents… are all committed to our Nazarene identity.” There is too much evidence to contradict that statement. And I’m afraid every single General Superintendent would have answered in a similar way.

There are other statements he made that will cause some concern regarding the issue of clarity in how things are addressed. If there was ever a time for full clarity in such areas, now is the time for clarity from those who are charged by the Nazarene manual to be the guardians of biblical truth in the denomination.

My heart goes out to all Nazarenes who are still active in the denomination. My heart goes out to pastors who are sincerely seeking answers and support from the leaders. I was a lifelong Nazarene; my father and father-in-law were true holiness preachers. There are far fewer now, and many of the pastors coming out of Dr. Busic’s former seminary are the very ones who are destroying the church, and yet the people are waiting for someone to step up.

I feel for those who are fighting for biblical truth to be upheld, but to me it seems like a losing battle. But when you have leadership at the highest levels speaking as politicians, rather than giving clear and strong answers that would provide clarity, all you get is a mess that leads into further apostasy.

(This article will be sent to the General Superintendents)

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An Open Letter to the Nazarene Church And A Call To Repentance

In presenting the following open letter by a current member of the Church of the Nazarene, it will mark the first article I have posted in months. This slowdown in writing my articles in no way reflects a change for the better within this “professing” holiness denomination. Would that it were so. I say this because it is not enough to proclaim holiness; you must also live it by action and example. The status quo has not changed, and it seems most of the denominational leaders including the General Superintendents are at best turning a blind eye to the truth of what is happening; at worst, some of them are aiding and abetting a slow but steady walk down a path to apostasy.

The General Superintendents, college presidents and other leaders in the church have pretty much written off folks like me. But they also have refused to listen (really listen) to many others in the Church of the Nazarene, no matter who they are. The demonization of “faithful to God’s word” Nazarenes and former Nazarenes is not working, and the truth will come out in full mode sooner or later, and there will be hell to pay for those who are helping to fundamentally change and in effect destroy the Nazarene denomination, thereby bringing it from holiness to heresy. Continuing on the path it is on now will result in the same thing that recently happened to the United Methodist Church, and it was not a good thing.

Please distribute this letter to as many Nazarenes as you can. It is worth listening to words that are representative of all Bible-believing Nazarenes.

Open Letter to the Nazarene Church:

Because of the Nazarene Church, I learned what “Holiness Unto the Lord” is. By the early 1970’s, during my teen years, I was struggling to make the choice to surrender my life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ. The preached messages of the Gospel that I heard service to service both assured me that there is a Holy God who loves me and desires that I will come to Him; that I will come to Him in repentance and be cleansed from my sins and forgiven so that I will live my life in a personal and holy relationship with the LORD.

Several things happened which caused me to believe the Gospel and surrender my life fully to God. One of these was a Nazarene missionary from Swaziland who visited and preached at the local First Church of the Nazarene. During his message, he suddenly stopped and left the platform to walk the aisle and as he approached me, he asked, “Will you come?” I knew he was inviting me to the altar. And just then he reached out his other hand to my Methodist boyfriend who happened to be visiting that night. The missionary also asked him, “Will you come?” As we were both led to the altar the missionary said that God had a plan for our lives. We prayed there that night, two 16 year old kids, asking God to save us and to help us live for Him. During this period of my life, I also had a Nazarene friend in teen group who was an effective Christian witness to me.

The message of the Nazarene Church at that time was the call to salvation and “Holiness Unto the Lord”. We were taught that God is holy and that God desires us to be holy. I’m wondering what has changed? I know that the current message reads, “The mission of the Church of the Nazarene is to make Christlike disciples in the nations.” And I understand that what is taught is, “The essence of holiness is Christlikeness.” However, I do not see this being “practiced” by many leaders who call themselves, “Nazarene”.  For example, there are many pastors in the Nazarene Church who let it be known that there is no standard holiness message.

Some pastors are “Progressive Christians or (Liberal Christians)” and some of them wear clerical collars and practice  liturgical worship services. Some refer to God or The Holy Spirit as “She” or “Her”. Then there are some leaders who are for LGBTQ+ affirmation and inclusion, and some follow, advertise and promote heretics and false teachers such as Richard Rohr, Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker, and other misleading voices who have caused many to stray from the true Christian faith.

The Nazarene Church also has some professors and some ordained Nazarene pastors and others in leadership who act as “change agents” within the Nazarene Church to attempt to make the Nazarene Church an affirming church —affirming of what the Holy Scriptures identify as “sin”.

There is currently confusion and chaos in the Nazarene Church that I do not see being addressed by leadership. What I do see is the Manual or “Book of Discipline” of the Nazarene Church. Yet there are those who willingly defy the Bible and the Manual. And these do not keep their defiance secret as they broadcast their intentions on social media. These are influential Nazarenes – those in positions of leadership; ones who have become role models to many young people. They seek to make the Manual even more affirming and inclusive — all in the name of love and holiness and Christlikeness. Yet this is a counterfeit Christianity, a counterfeit holiness — a deep lie of Satan which seduces the church to sin.

There was a day when the Nazarene Church called me to repentance. Today I call the Nazarene Church to repentance.

Will you come?

Board of General Superintendents Using Immigration Policy To Divide The Church

Dear General Superintendents,

Why are you meddling in political issues that DIVIDE the Church of the Nazarene?

You recently released a statement on immigration that stated your displeasure at how children are being separated from their parents as a result of the laws being enforced in this country at the border with Mexico. It seems that you have made a terrible mistake in judgment again, seeing that you have apparently ignored ALL the facts about what is going on, and certainly have ignored a very important point about the law. Instead, you have placed yourself in a position as leaders who are encouraging and condoning law breaking! Instead of advocating law breaking, how about if you advocate for every person, Christian or otherwise, to OBEY the law! Are you planning to insert your political views into the next revision of the Nazarene Church Manual?

You have also put out this statement as if it is the indisputable view of a majority of Nazarenes. Nothing could be further from the truth! This is not a clear cut biblical issue, such as abortion. Now that is an issue that is indisputably addressed in God’s word. But illegal immigration- sorry, way too many Nazarenes disagree with you, and in fact, many Nazarenes disagree very strongly with your liberal statements over the past ten years.

And so, here are some questions for your serious consideration, because this is not the first time you have done harm, however unintentionally, to the unity of the Nazarene denomination with your divisive opinions, which ought to be kept to yourselves- or at least, not stated as an official directive or view of the church. The letter written by the Immigration Table is so ignorant of the many other issues related to the immigration problem, that it presents a severely one-sided liberal view. Are you all liberals as well? Even if you are, can you try to go back to what you ought to be doing- promoting and preaching holiness, instead of making political statements?

A FEW QUESTIONS FOR YOU

Where were your voices during the Obama administration? Consider this from a friend of mine, pastor Duane Glass:

“I see a very troubling trend in the Church of the Nazarene. As David the Psalmist said “my soul is perplexed”. I see a very dangerous slide in the BGS wading into incendiary territory. We have three General Superintendents who have no political voice nor voting rights – condemning our laws!

Where were you from 2009-2016 on abuses in the government?

Where were you when the IRS was weaponized against American citizens?

Where were you when little Elian Gonzales was ripped cowboy style from his relative’s arms by federal agents and sent back to Communist Cuba?

Where were you when over a hundred men women and children were burned to death in a religious compound in Waco?

Where were you when Ferguson, Baltimore and other places burned because a race baiting, America hating President chose to divide right from the get go with the Professor Gates fiasco?

Where were you when society cheered as the White House was illuminated like a whore house on the night of the SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage? (We know, you capitulated to it at the last General Assembly perhaps?)

Where were you when the push to get men in women’s and little girl’s bathrooms was going on?

The Church has slid to the Left. Shame on you. Is it any wonder that so many of our Nazarene institutions have produced so many social justice warriors disguised as Pastors, Elders and Leaders? This smacks way too much of NeverTrump and AntiTrump…your silence in the past is much too demeaning.

Is it time to write Ichabod on the door post in Kansas City…the glory of the Lord has departed?”

(Duane Glass)

Conclusion

And where were you on the same issue of illegal immigration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both had the same view of immigration that President Trump now has, except that now he is enforcing the law? You as leaders of a holiness denomination have a lot to answer to, because of your silence on issues that are clearly addressed in scripture. For example, you have not said a meaningful word either way regarding the LBGT movement which is gaining momentum in the Church of the Nazarene. Yet, you take the time to make an uninformed statement alluding to supposedly cruel policies of President Trump. Why are you not coming out- either for or against- the Love Wins LGBT movement that is watering down the Gospel and promoting acceptance of homosexuality? Is it too hot a potato for you to bring clarity as to where you all stand?

Finally, with your public statement on immigration, you insult a vast number of Nazarenes and other Christians who differ from your opinion, and imply that unless we believe as you believe regarding illegal immigration, that perhaps we are not as caring as you are? I would strongly suggest that you stop this division you are causing in the church, and get back to preaching and emphasizing holiness. If you do wish to address serious matters, start calling out the Love Wins homosexuality movement which will surely destroy the Nazarene denomination as we once knew it- if it is not stopped. Unless that is exactly what you want to happen.

Manny Silva

P.S. For those who wish to express their thoughts to the Generals on this, they have posted also on their FaceBook page. Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/NazareneOfficial/posts/1933893246663453?hc_location=ufi

 

Related Links:

Statement by BGS on Immigration: http://www.nazarene.org/article/evangelical-leaders-urge-against-family-separation-usa-mexico-border

Full statement of the Immigration Evangelical Table: http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/cms/assets/uploads/2018/06/EIT-Family-Separation-Letter-6.1.2018.pdf

 

 

 

Nazarene Scholars Continue To Undermine Belief In God’s Word With Evolution’s Lie

“Theistic evolution is a concept being taught in many “evangelical” seminaries and colleges today. It is an idea that comes straight from the pit of hell. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Bible contains lies and myths, and that Adam and Eve were allegorical figures. If you teach and promote theistic evolution, you are calling God a liar. There is no middle ground here.”

This is my first article in almost two months, but I’m afraid things are just as bad as it was since my last post; the status quo in most of the evangelical denominations has not changed; and the Nazarene church is still in bad shape, notwithstanding any rosy reports from the General Superintendents or other leadership. Compromise seems to be the underlying principal for these religious leaders for quite some time now. Independent thought and true leadership is a thing of the past, as these General Superintendents continue to speak with one voice, or not speak at all, regardless of the truth.

In fact, the reluctance of the Generals to inform tithe-paying members about any details of the developing Nazarene Publishing House scandal, is a scandal and a moral and ethical failure in and of itself. I await further information before writing fully on this situation, but I can tell you that even those at NazNet (a Nazarene discussion site) who oppose us and disagree that there is a rebellion against God’s word within the church, are concerned and outraged at the continuing secrecy within the General Board regarding the financial debacle at the Publishing House. This link will take you to a discussion on NazNet that has broken all viewing records at that website, for any topic previously.

But let me alert you (again) to a further scandalous debacle that has been going on for a while now, and that is the promotion of theistic evolution in the church as an acceptable view of how we were created by God. The promotion of evolution by theology professors and other scholars, as well as by college and seminary presidents and district superintendents, goes to the heart of the problem in the Church of the Nazarene today. What is that problem? It is simply this: that men in the church are now standing on a foundation built on their wisdom and knowledge, rather than on the foundation of the teaching of God as written in His word. Selective belief in some scripture, while rejecting other parts, is the philosophy of these so-called “learned men and women”, even if they don’t state it overtly.

And now to show that it looks like the danger is worse than we thought. The group Nazarenes Exploring Evolution, lead by Tom Oord, professor of religion at Northwest Nazarene University, recently conducted an online survey. It involved the questioning of two demographics- a sampling of Nazarene laypeople, and a narrower sampling of Nazarene college scholars. Both results look pretty bad, and serves as a continued and even louder warning to parents who love their teenagers and want them to have a solid education that is grounded in truth. They will no longer be guaranteed to have that at any Nazarene university or college, including any of the seminaries.

Well known college presidents such as Dan Boone of Trevecca are fueling the advancement of the anti-biblical notion that man was created over millions of years of random evolutionary processes. Others pushing this godless idea which clearly contradicts the Biblical account include theological intellectuals like Al Truesdale, my former Greek New Testament professor; Scott Daniels, pastor of Pasadena First Church; retired professor Robert Branson; Kerry Fulcher and Mark Mann of Point Loma; Mark Winslow of Southern Nazarene; District Superintendent Stephen Borger; Carl Leth, Dean of Theology at Olivet Nazarene; Mark Maddix of Northwest Nazarene; Henry Spaulding, Mt. Vernon Nazarene President; theologian Rob Staples; and quite a few more “learned men and women”, who can be found at the Nazarenes Exploring Evolution site. These people are all responsible for helping indoctrinate countless students with theistic evolution, and their furtherance of this godless idea will lead to them being held accountable by God someday.  They need to repent, or they need to be removed from their positions of authority over our students.  Many of them have also been pushing the emergent church teachings. And do you wonder why so many young people are walking away from the church? Why wouldn’t they, when they are taught that they cannot trust God’s word?

In his article Poll Shows Nazarene Scholars Embracing Evolution, Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis summarizes the survey results:

Overwhelmingly, scholars at Nazarene institutions believe:

1) that the Bible does not require a belief in a young earth (nearly 95%)
2) that the Bible is compatible with evolutionary ideas (82%)
3) that science has established that the world is billions of years old (nearly 86%), 4) that human evolution is true (67%)
5) that the Nazarene church should consider theistic evolution as a valid alternative to biblical creation (87%).”

Those are very disturbing statistics, and the numbers for the first four questions, which were also posed to Nazarenes in general, were almost as ominous. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Bible contains lies and myths, and that Adam and Eve were allegorical figures. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Jesus was not truthful when he referred to Adam. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that sin and death did not come into the world through the disobedience of Adam, as written in Romans chapter 5.

So let’s be clear: if you teach and promote theistic evolution, you are calling God a liar. But it seems it will only get worse, and Bible-believing Christians will have to decide whether a secular college will be less dangerous to their children’s spiritual wellbeing than a “Christian” college or university. This whole bunch are some of the most dangerous people professing to be Christians today, and any parent sending their children to a Nazarene university or seminary today is literally gambling with their child’s spiritual health.

Dr. Ham, who has spoken out about and exposed these issues more than most Nazarenes have, went on to comment:

“This is clear evidence that a major denomination is teaching young people that they can’t trust the Bible when it comes to Genesis 1–11 and that fallible man can reinterpret God’s Word—thus man is the authority and not God.”

I agree. These men and women are a disgrace and not one of them should be in a position of authority that they are in, because they are misleading many.  The failure of the Nazarene General leadership in even attempting to right the ship makes them just as culpable, because they are allowing the erosion of Biblical standards by doing nothing- which seems to be all they are willing to do.

 

Addendum

What follows is the statistical report of both surveys, which are from the BioLogos website. (http://biologos.org/blog/nazarenes-on-evolution).   I found it very discouraging; you are free to make your own conclusions and decisions.

Poll of Nazarenes on Evolution

Question 1: Genesis and other biblical texts require Christians to believe the earth was created less than 15 thousand years ago.

Q1a

Question 2: The Bible can properly be interpreted as compatible with the theory of biological evolution.

Q2a

Question 3: Geology, astronomy, and physics have established that world is billions of years old.

Q3a

Question 4: Humans likely became a species as God worked with the biological evolutionary process.

Q4a

Among other things, this poll suggests that more Nazarenes today feel comfortable with evolution.

 

Nazarene Scholars on God Creating through Evolution

Question 1: Genesis and other biblical texts require Christians to believe the earth was created less than 15 thousand years ago.

q1

Question 2: The Bible can properly be interpreted as compatible with the theory of biological evolution.

q2

Question 3: Geology, astronomy, and physics have established that the world is billions of years old.

q3

Question 4: Humans likely became a species as God worked with the evolutionary process.

q4

Question 5: The Church of the Nazarene should allow the theory that God creates through evolution as one acceptable view of creation among others.

q5

A Wesleyan Response To The Nazarene Rejection Of Scriptural Inerrancy

At the General Assembly 2013, the Church of the Nazarene’s Scripture Study Committee rejected a proposal to strengthen the statement on Scripture and affirm the inerrancy of the Bible.  I believe that this will prove to be a catastrophic decision for the denomination.  We reported on this decision and commented on its many weak statements and inaccurate reasoning and excuses.  The following is a response to the report by a Wesleyan professor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  There is a serious divide right now between the Wesleyan Church, and the Nazarene Church, in their official positions regarding the infallibility of God’s word.  Leaders of the church should take note.  (The full text of the Committee Report, including critiques, can be read in the Final General Assembly Report I posted).

 

THE NAZARENE SCRIPTURE STUDY COMMITTEE’S REPORT ON INERRANCY: A WESLEYAN RESPONSE

By E. Jerome Van Kuiken
Asst. Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Oklahoma Wesleyan University

WHAT’S INVOLVED AND WHY IT MATTERS

The 2009 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene received a proposal to change the denomination’s Article of Faith on Scripture. The proposed change would have strengthened the Article’s statement on the inerrancy of the Bible.  The proposal was sent to the Scripture Study Committee, which reported back to the General Assembly this past summer. In its report, the Scripture Study Committee recommended against adopting the proposal and gave a rationale for its recommendation. The report has been published at http://didache.nazarene.org. This report deserves the attention of Wesleyan leaders for two reasons: first, The Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene have considered merger in the recent past; and secondly, the report is being discussed on the Wesleyan Pastors Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/WesleyanPastors/. In what follows, I will describe the context of the report and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

 

THE CONTEXT OF THE REPORT

The proposed revision to the Nazarene Article of Faith on Scripture needs to be seen in light of the merger talks that have been going on between the Church of the Nazarene, The Wesleyan Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU), and the Evangelical Friends Church. If the Nazarene Article of Faith were revised to say that Scripture is “inerrant throughout, and the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach,” it would bring the Nazarene Article in line with the Wesleyan, CCCU, and Evangelical Friends’ statements of faith:

“We believe that the books of the Old and New Testament . . . are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority” (Wesleyan Art. 5)

“The Spirit of God guided the Bible writers so that they wrote without error. The Bible contains all we need to know about God, about ourselves, and about life here and hereafter.” (http://www.cccuhq.org/explore/who-we-are/what-we-teach)

“We believe the Bible is the written word of God accurate and fully authoritative in all it says.” (http://www.evangelicalfriends.org/beliefs)

By recommending against the proposed change, the Nazarene Scripture Study Committee has allowed an obstacle to merger to remain in place.

STRENGTHS OF THE REPORT

The report’s rationale for its recommendation begins by building bridges to those who believe that the Bible is “inerrant throughout”: the committee agrees that the Bible is foundational to Christian believing and living. Section 1 of the rationale describes the strengths of the current Nazarene Article on Scripture. This whole section is full of sound teaching on the reliability and sufficiency of Scripture – except for the last two paragraphs, which begin the critique of the “inerrant throughout” position. This critique continues through the remaining three sections of the report. The report’s critique suffers from one major missing piece and several misrepresentations.

 

THE MISSING PIECE

The report nowhere quotes or cites any statement by supporters of “inerrancy throughout.” This leaves the report’s writers free to describe the “inerrancy throughout” position any way they like and leads to several misrepresentations (to be described shortly). In particular, the report never deals with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (accessible, among other places, here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html). The Chicago Statement is the most enduring, ecumenical authority on the “inerrancy throughout” position. It directly addresses a number of the alleged problems with “detailed inerrancy” (round numbers, topical ordering of events, etc.) listed in Section 3 of the Nazarene report.

 

MISREPRESENTATIONS

At the end of Section 1, the Nazarene report equates “inerrancy throughout” with “factual literal accuracy of every part of Scripture.” No one who accepts the Chicago Statement will make that equation: the place of metaphor, hyperbole, and other literary devices in Scripture is recognized.  Belief in full inerrancy doesn’t require a flat-earth view of Genesis, a “Left Behind” view of Revelation, or a hyper-literalistic view of any biblical book in between the two.

Throughout Sections 2-4 of the report there’s a tendency to equate belief in “inerrancy throughout” with Calvinism and fundamentalism, and so as contrary to Wesleyan theology. I’m afraid that this is a caricature. First, on Calvinism: Belief in full inerrancy is held by a number of non-Calvinist denominations, such as:

·      the Wesleyan and Friends bodies named above (plus others)

·      the Free Will Baptists (http://nafwb.org/?page_id=325)

·      the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) (http://www.lcms.org/doctrine/scripturalprinciples#IV)

·      The Roman Catholic Church up to, and arguably including, Vatican II (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8441)

Even if Calvinists pioneered the term or refined the concept, that doesn’t make the doctrine any more Calvinist than using the term and concept “Trinity” makes us all Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. John Wesley learned much from Catholic mystics and Lutherans; did that make him Catholic or Lutheran? Nazarenes and Wesleyans didn’t get believer’s baptism from Wesley; does that make them Mennonite?

Secondly, on fundamentalism: This is a slippery word. To more liberal Christians, anyone who believes in the bodily resurrection of Christ is a “fundamentalist.” The term connotes anti-intellectualism and disengagement from society. Does belief in full inerrancy automatically mean that kind of fundamentalism? Not unless Wheaton College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are “fundamentalist.” The statements of faith of these institutions affirm the full inerrancy of Scripture, yet they are centers of evangelical thought and cultural engagement. I read literature by self-avowed fundamentalists and I find overwhelming differences between them and myself on any number of issues.

 

BOTTOM LINE: “BIG TENT” OR “BIG BROTHER”?

Near the close of its last section, the Nazarene report quotes from an editor of the denominational periodical, the Herald of Holiness. The editor claims that there’s room enough under the present Nazarene Article on Scripture for both those who believe in full inerrancy and those who don’t. This sounds like a tolerant, “Big Tent” approach to the issue. The problem is that the editor, like the report itself, also describes believers in full inerrancy as Calvinist, fundamentalist, and outside the bounds of Wesleyanism. The underlying message is clear: “You can belong to our denomination and still believe in full inerrancy – as long as you accept that you’re wrong.” This demand for doublethink is closer to “Big Brother” than to “Big Tent.” So long as The Wesleyan Church’s affirmation of full inerrancy is viewed by Nazarene leaders as un-Wesleyan, a tragic tension will remain in the relationship between the two denominations. This tension can be relaxed by clearing away the misrepresentations and listening to what responsible, representative teaching on full inerrancy (like the Chicago Statement) has to say.