Kudos to the Church of the Nazarene for Resisting Pressure to Expand “Inerrancy”

Kudos to the Church of the Nazarene for Resisting Pressure to Expand “Inerrancy”

I have not heard news from the June (2013) annual convention of the Church of the Nazarene that specifically answers the question regarding the disposition of the proposed amendment to its statement of faith. I have scoured the internet looking for such, but have not found it. I’m assuming the amendment was defeated, but I am prepared to stand corrected.

The amendment was proposed by a group of Nazarene pastors in 2009 and referred to a study committee that brought a proposal to this year’s convention.

The Nazarene Church’s statement of faith affirms the plenary inspiration of Scripture but limits inerrancy to matters pertaining to salvation. Some call this “partial” or “limited” inerrancy.

The amendment, which I hope was defeated by the convention, reads as follows:

RESOLVED that Manual paragraph 4 be amended as follows:
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] inerrant throughout, and the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach 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)

The study committee’s report is lengthy but can be found here:

https://sp.nazarene.org/gar/Shared%20Documents/English/Commission%20Reports/Report%20of%20the%20Scripture%20Study%20Committee.pdf

(If it does not show as an active hyperlink here, just copy and paste it into your browser.)

I applaud the study committee’s report; it is a beautiful example of sound biblical-theological thinking about Scripture, its authority and accuracy. It also reflects the historic Wesleyan position—the one held by stalwarts of the Nazarene tradition such as H. Orton Wiley, the “dean” of Nazarene theologians.

Ever since the publication of The Battle for the Bible in 1976 evangelical denominations and institutions have been “under the gun,” so to speak, from fundamentalists to establish plenary, detailed inerrancy (sometimes with necessary qualifications and sometimes without) as required doctrine. That belief is foreign to many evangelical traditions—especially those in the Pietist tradition (broadly defined). I have been doing a lot of research on Pietism lately and can report confidently that neither Spener nor Francke nor Zinzendorf—the three early great leaders of Pietism—believed in it. They believed exactly what the traditional Nazarene confession says—that inerrancy pertains to matters of salvation only.

Many evangelical denominations and institutions that never held to plenary, detailed inerrancy as a matter of required doctrine caved in to pressure in the aftermath of The Battle for the Bible. Nazarenes and most others in the Holiness-Pentecostal tradition did not. But the pressure just keeps up—mostly from “Reformed” (Calvinistic) neo-fundamentalists who came into those denominations and institutions from outside and were/are not familiar with their Pietist, not rationalist, ethos.

I grew up in the “thick” of Pentecostalism and had many Nazarene friends. We considered Nazarenes and other evangelical Wesleyans our near “cousins” in the faith. We had much in common even though we disagreed on some distinctive doctrines such as speaking in tongues and entire sanctification. My parents dragged me and my brother to the West Des Moines Nazarene Campmeeting every summer—one of the largest Holiness campmeetings in the world. Over the years I’ve known many wonderful Nazarene theologians including one of their finest—Kenneth Grider (who strongly opposed plenary, detailed inerrancy without caving in one inch to liberal theology).

The argument used by advocates of plenary, detailed inerrancy is, of course, that it is the only guard against liberal theology. That’s nonsense. Wesleyan-Holiness, Pietist, and Pentecostal groups have traditionally not held to it and have anyway not slid down the slippery slope into liberal theology.

I think an argument can be made the other direction—that a doctrinal requirement of plenary, detailed inerrancy can lead down a slippery slope into obscurantist fundamentalism and wooden, literalistic biblical interpretation (e.g., the author of The Battle for the Bible’s argument that the rooster must have crowed six times during, after Peter’s denial of Christ—to reconcile the gospels’ accounts of the event).

But my main concern with plenary, detailed inerrancy is that it changes the ethos of Christianity—from Christ-centered to Bible-centered. And it changes the ethos of evangelicalism from experience-centered to reason-centered.

I hope the Church of the Nazarene accepted and affirmed the study committee’s report and recommendation to retain the traditional wording of the Church’s statement of faith and rejected the amendment proposed in 2009.

 

  • http://davidbrush.com mrdcbrush

    Hi Roger, it was indeed accepted. I have a quick write up on the decision and its basis over at the Jesus Creed blog.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/07/08/nazarenes-and-inerrancy-david-brush/

    • Roger Olson

      I read that but didn’t see any mention of the convention’s final decision. Thanks.

      • Hans Deventer

        The chair at the moment, Dr. Warrick, said that no action on the report was needed.

      • Pastor Mark

        Don’t be confused here… What was “accepted” by the General Assembly was the report of the Scripture Studu Committee, which recommended rejecting the change to Article 4. The committee, and the General Assembly, soundly and unequivocally rejected the amendment, which was proposed by some folks who should have known better.

      • Adam

        The report is essentially the final decision. Since the resolution from 2009 was referred to the General Superintendents, that is the only action called for, and it is not necessary to bring it before the Assembly for a vote, unless the General Superintendents would want to, in the form of a resolution in 2013. They obviously didn’t based on the Scripture Study Committee’s Report and recommendation, so no change will be made. Job well done.

      • Andrew
  • Dr. Estevan F. Kirschner

    Estevan F. Kirschner (São Paulo, Brazil)
    Actually, Harold Lindsell suggests that Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed once and another three times before the rooster crowed the second time, making Peter deny Jesus a total of six times (The Battle for the Bible, pp. 174-176). This is an incredible example of “arithmetical exegesis”, the kind that distorts the text in order to supposedly defend its integrity.

    • Roger Olson

      Exactly. But it’s what inerrantists have to do unless they break the ordinary meaning of “inerrancy” (or “without error”) beyond recognition (with qualifications).

  • Bev Mitchell

    It may never end. For 15 years, as a youth I too went to a very large Wesleyan camp (Beulah on the mighty Saint John River, the oldest church camp in Canada). Like you, I’m sure, we heard countless references to “head knowledge” vs. “heart knowledge.” Denis Lamoureux has a presentation up today on Pete Enns’ blog on a seemingly entirely different subject but clearly pointing out the same basic conflict. Many people still want to prove God’s existence and be freed from the need for faith. It is very near the centre of the majority of conflicts that are creating so much angst in the evangelical world today. So it has been for so long. From the viewpoint of the history of theology, how long has this been a fundamental problem? Since the beginning, I suppose. Did the Reformation intensify the problem (inadvertently, of course)?

    I agree that congratulations are in order for the Nazarenes, if they have defeated this motion. The report of the study committee is outstanding and very informative for anyone interested in this whole area. It includes some excellent, clearly outlined history of the issues as well.

    • Roger Olson

      As for the historical beginnings of this issue–between rationalism and faith-based experientialism in Protestant Christianity: It seems to me it began right at the beginning. Luther had no use for rational apologetics. Zwingli, on the other hand, was steeped in philosophy and used his own version of Christian rationalism freely and frequently. Over the centuries it has been conservative Calvinists who have primarily promoted rationalism in theology whereas Lutherans and especially Pietists have tended to avoid it.

  • Tony Springer

    Thanks Roger for the discussion on the history of inerrancy within Pietism. I do think that I read where the amendment did not pass. Also, thanks for the reminder that there are many slippery slopes.

  • J. Thomas Johnson

    Dr. Olson, our church did indeed vote to retain the original language. – J. Thomas

  • Greg

    Roger,
    It was killed in committee, so it didn’t even get a floor vote.

    • Roger Olson

      That’s not what some other Nazarenes are saying here. Can anyone point me/us to an authoritative site to settle this?

      • jontwitchell

        Dr. Olsen,

        The following link is not “authoritative,” but it’s about as authoritative as you can get. It’s a detailed spreadsheet showing every resolution which came before GA2013:

        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atk3mMCwFcogdGVxN29aR1Nld1dOa1g1UkhCcDhqNlE&usp=sharing

        If you follow the links, you’ll be taken to PDFs of the resolutions, often containing red mark-up notes of the actions that were taken.

        I would attempt to clarify something.JUD-805 (2009) was referred to the Scripture Study Committee. That ended JUD-805 (2009) because the Scripture Study Committee recommended no change. It was not brought back to the 2013 Assembly, because the committee to which it was referred didn’t bring a change back.

        I suspect that the previous poster may be referring to JUD-801 (2013) which was killed in committee. But JUD-805(2009) was never revisited in 2013, other than hearing the report of the Scripture Study Committee.

        I hope that helps to clarify things.

        • Roger Olson

          Thanks for this.

      • jontwitchell

        You can view a synopsis of the report here: http://vimeopro.com/user18237665/general-assembly-and-conventions-2013/video/69183163.

        Dr. King presents the synopsis around the 55 minute mark.

        The synopsis takes about 20 minutes to present, and at 1:17, you can see how the chair (Dr. Warrick) received the vote. Essentially, the chair said: “We receive the report of the Scripture Study Committee. It is not open for a vote, or open for debate. It is their report, and we receive it. If there are any questions, we will take a moment for questions of clarification, but there is no action needed.”

        Essentially, when a resolution is referred, that resolution is done, unless the committee that receives it recommends action.

        I hope that helps the discussion.

      • Hans Deventer

        The resolution was referred in 2009. This committee reported back on the referral. Their answer is totally clear. The GA took no further action which means that the original resolution has been effectively killed.

  • jontwitchell

    No need to stand (or sit) corrected. The 2013 General Assembly received the report of the Scripture Study Committee, which included the recommendation to make no changes to the Article. (In fact, no changes were made to any Articles of Faith during 2013).

    Thanks for your reflections on this important report of the church. It was (in my opinion) one of the best explanations of scriptural inspiration and authority that has been produced in recent years.

    • jontwitchell

      I wish to amend this post. GA2013 DID take action to make changes to a couple of Articles of Faith. JUD-804 and 807 were adopted, and await ratification by the districts.

      These were essentially language tweaks, one regarding gender neutrality (changing son to child), and the other removing the words “to seek” from an awkward phrase encouraging people “to seek to offer the prayer of faith.”

  • Rob

    Perhaps they punted. The NCN News reported these actions from June 25:

    The GA referred a number of resolutions pertaining to changes in the
    Articles of Faith to the BGS for study by a committee of theologians
    and ministry professionals. The committee’s composition is to be
    representative of the global church.

    Approved the Scripture Study Committee’s recommendation (JUD-800) to
    provide that changes proposed in the church’s Articles of Faith would
    automatically be referred by the receiving General Assembly to the BGS
    for study by a committee that includes theologians and ministers
    representing the global nature of the church. Their report and
    recommendations will be read at the following General Assembly. If
    ratified by the requisite number of districts, this becomes effective
    with the 2017 General Assembly. Numerous resolutions pertaining to the
    Articles of Faith have been sent to the GA in the past 16 years. The
    Scripture Study Committee itself included two biblical scholars, a
    systematic theologian, pastors, district superintendents, and regional
    directors, with representatives from five of the church’s six world
    regions.

    Source: NCN News, 28th General Assembly legislative actions, Thursday, June 27, 2013, Indianapolis, Indiana

    • Roger Olson

      So the GA sent the matter to another committee for further study? That’s certainly not the impression of several Nazarenes who have responded here and posted elsewhere.

      • jontwitchell

        JUD-805 (2009) would not be part of the “number of resolutions pertaining to changes in the Articles of Faith…” That sentence refers to the 2013 resolutions: JUD-802, 803, 805, 805a, 806, 806a, 806b, and 808.

      • Adam

        No, it did not send it for further study. The Scripture Study Committee did two things. 1)they responded to a proposed resolution from 2009 that had neither been accepted nor rejected, but rather referred to the General Superintendents for further study, thus resulting in the formation of the Scripture Study Committee. No action was called for beyond the study, which returned with the recommendation to reject it, as stated in the article you posted. Because no further action was resolved besides the study, that resolution does not come back before the Assembly, it is essentially dismissed without further discussion, based on the Scripture Study Committees findings. Had they found differently, they could have submitted a resolution to make an actual change in the articles of faith, which they didn’t.

        2) The Scripture Study Committee did, however, propose an additional resolution in 2013 that all future resolutions that deal with Articles of Faith will automatically be referred to a committee, seen here

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/wicpthl6gmjeswr/JUD-800.pdf

        3) The General Assembly also rejected an additional resolution in 2013 that is similar to the one from 2009 seen here:

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/zsa3kmowftza538/JUD-801.pdf

        which was killed in committee, likely bc of the Scripture Study Report

  • Kevin Rector

    Basically it went down like this (I was at the General Assembly in both 2009 and 2013):

    1. in 2009 the proposal to change the article of faith was presented to the General Assembly.
    2. It was referred by the 2009 General Assembly to a committee (the scripture study committee).
    3. The Scripture study committee wrote a report that included a recommendation that the 2009 amendment be rejected.
    4. The presiding General Superintendent, after the reading of the report at the 2013 General Assembly, said that the General Assembly was only receiving the report and that there was no action to take on it. That is, the 2013 General Assembly never needed to vote on the recommendation of the committee – the committee itself effectively “killed” the 2009 resolution.
    5. It’s over and the article of faith remains the same.

  • http://wesleyanarminian.wordpress.com Kevin Jackson

    Hi Dr Olson, You can see the voting results of the articles of faith resolutions here, I don’t see the one you refer to. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Atk3mMCwFcogdGVxN29aR1Nld1dOa1g1UkhCcDhqNlE&gid=9

    • Roger Olson

      See the many explanations of that in comments from Nazarenes posted here.

  • nandabean

    I like your conclusion. Our theology must be Christ-centered or we drift into Antichrist orthodoxy.

    Alan Bean

  • J. Thomas Johnson

    The issue of moving toward the language of “inerrant throughout” was deferred to the Scripture Study Committee of the Church of the Nazarene at the 2009 General Assembly. That committee came back in 2013 with the recommendation to reject the language of “inerrant throughout” and to retain the original language of the Church of the Nazarene’s Article of Faith #4 on Holy Scripture. So, for now the original language stands. That doesn’t prohibit future resolutions from being made (in fact another of a different sort was attempted at this General Assembly, but was defeated in committee without coming to the floor). Here is the link to the audio version of the exchange and explanation of one of our General Superintendents (the pertinent portion begins at the 56:40 mark): http://vimeopro.com/user18237665/general-assembly-and-conventions-2013/video/69183163

  • http://theoparadox.blogspot.com THEOparadox

    Dr. Olson,

    You said: “… my main concern with plenary, detailed inerrancy is that it changes the ethos of Christianity—from Christ-centered to Bible-centered. And it changes the ethos of evangelicalism from experience-centered to reason-centered.”

    Christ-centeredness and experiential authenticity are both noble. In both cases, however, why not strive for both? Christ-centered AND Bible-centered. Experience-centered AND reason-centered. I don’t see how one automatically displaces the other.

    Inerrancy, like everything else, can be taken to weird extremes. But what if there is a baby down in that bath water? :)

    Blessings,

    Derek

    • Roger Olson

      All can be at the “center” so long as Jesus stands taller at that center.

  • OpenHeaven

    I am not sure I see the benefit of cherry picking the parts of the Bible that we believe are inerrant and simply claiming the originals (which we don’t have) are inerrant and what we have is sufficient to be a standard for all faith and practice. Saying the Bible is inerrant only on the subject of salvation is harder to believe. Can anyone explain how we become “Christ-centered” if we are not confident the scriptures are inspired, complete and reliable. Otherwise how will we find him?

    • Roger Olson

      As Luther said, the Bible is the cradle that bring us the Christ–which means not every part of the cradle is equally important or authoritative. You are working with a different religious epistemology than Luther and I work with.

    • Tim Reisdorf

      Hi Kevin,

      Even if we had the originals, the issue would remain. It’s just that when the writers of the Bible were saying what they were saying, they were not under the same constraints for “reliability” that you are expressing. Jesus often told parables in order to make his teaching more effective. But just because there may not have been an actual “Good Samaritan” (just as the story relates him and the events surrounding it), I’d submit that the story is reliable anyway.

      It may be obvious that a test of historicity for any particular story doesn’t concern me at all, I’m more interested in the point of the story. If the story has “historicity” as part of its point (Jesus was born from Mary, for example), then it is to be held with the tightest grip. The story of Job, however, can be fine either way; and I don’t pursue the question of historicity further, as that’s not the point and I gain nothing in the endeavor.

      -Tim

      • http://TheOpenHeaven.com/ Kevin Brown

        Aloha Tim,

        So are you saying it does not matter that Jonah actually was swallowed by a large fish, what matters is the point of the story?

        I suppose that the story of Job could be just as much a work of fiction or fact without really changing a definitive teaching of Jesus or one’s experience of the new birth, but it does seem that the authority of scripture loses something if we aren’t sure the content of scripture is correct. Does it matter if a man named Job ever lived, no. But it does matter if Jonah lived and if he spent sometime in a fish’s belly because Jesus cited Jonah’s experience as a sign to a “wicked and adulteress generation.”

        I think problems of interpretation, regardless of the view of “inerrant” taken, can be addressed by rules of hermeneutics. Figures of speech should not be pressed for strict “literal” meaning, as in any literature.

        Dr. Olson’s point about Christ-centered versus reason-centered faith is a good one. Jesus clearly told the Pharisees their problem was not a lack of knowledge of scripture but a lack of knowledge of the God to whom the scriptures point. So, it seems we may have a case of agreeing in spirit more than agreeing “literally”, if you catch my point.

        Peace,

        Kevin

  • Michael Parsons

    I was a Nazarene for the first 30 years of my life and never knew the Nazarene faith taught that inerrancy of the Bible applied only to those passages dealing with Salvation. Now, it all makes sense: the gradual slide into liberalism, the complete ignorance to prophecy, Christian eschatology and the Book of Revelation, the inclusion of relativism, etc. Creation, the Flood, the miracles, the wonder: I guess those events are viewed as just a bunch of nice stories, right? When the Bible can no longer be trusted “at it’s word”, when inerrancy is taken off the table and interpretation left to the reader, God’s Word no longer becomes a relevant source for truth.

    • Roger Olson

      Ah, so you would require not only inerrancy but some magisterial office of interpretation! Thanks for being that honest. There’s the problem. Inerrantists cannot logically stop with simply believing in inerrancy; they must (in order to be completely logical) move on as you have to advocating a papal office of interpretation. And Nazarenes “liberal?” C’mon.

      • Michael Parsons

        No, I believe that Christ gives us discernment, through His Holy Spirit (which lives in every believer), to know the truth when we hear it. Take John McArthur for example, he interprets directly from the original Hebrew/Greek text and I would say, for the most part, he gives an accurate account of what the Bible writers were instructed (by God) to write. So I vote for discernment through the Holy Spirit over a papal office of interpretation.

        As to the Liberal Nazarenes, you’re right. That does sound like an oxymoron. I should have said ex-Nazarenes. They are now attending the 10,000 member mega-church.

    • Tim Reisdorf

      Hi Michael,

      Jesus offered up a bunch of nice stories (as did the prophet, Nathan, in the OT once). While they had no necessary relation to actual history, they are not drained of authority and truth. But these are obvious – do you suppose there are stories that are not so obvious, yet fall into the same category? How could one begin to evenhandedly answer that question by starting with the assumption that the stories must be true historically?

      -Tim

      • Michael Parsons

        Certainly Christ’s parables were just that, but not all his stories were just “nice stories”. When Christ referred to the tower that fell and killed people, that was an actual occurrence. And what about the razing of the temple in 70 AD. I’m sure at the time Christ made his prediction, people thought he was off his rocker. Guess what? Those Romans found out that every brick of the temple was laced with gold, so they removed every one of them and melted them down. In the end, there was nothing left but a slab of stone (aka the Temple Mount).

        Tim, when it comes to matters of faith, it is just as easy to believe as not believe. So, when it comes to “crazy” Bible stories, why not just believe that if God said it, it must be true.

        • Roger Olson

          Um, so you take everything the Bible says literally?

  • Roger Olson

    Isaiah 55:12 and Matthew 5:30. You are wasting my time with this line of discussion. Nobody takes everything in the bible literally and I suspect you know that. I don’t have time for this.

    • Michael Parsons

      Roger, I already posted a reply, but I don’t see it here, so I’m re-posting.

      As to your comments about me “wasting your time”, I think you misunderstand what I mean when I say I believe in the inerrancy of the Word. As to examples like Matt. 5:30, of course I don’t take that passage literally, as Christ was using the Jewish style of exaggeration to make His point.

      What I was referring to are passages like the Creation story, the Flood/Noah’s ark, OT prophecy and the Book of Revelation. These are all examples where many Christians don’t take these passage literally and believe they are only “nice stories”. Why? Because they don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.

      • Roger Olson

        Nobody thinks they’re “nice stories.” Many of the early church fathers thought they were moral stories, parables, allegories, whatever, but didn’t take them literally. Many people today do try to take them literally, but my point is that nobody takes every story in the Bible literally–e.g., Jesus’ parables.

        • Michael Parsons

          True, not everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally, but we can easily identify those passages. Unfortunately, too many Christians cannot make that distinction, and seem confused as to the things that are true and those like the parables that are only representative of the truth. And because of this confusion, the Bible is disregarded as being too ambiguous, too hard to understand, not true to the original language, etc.

          • Roger Olson

            Huh? We can “easily identify those passages?” Then why have equally devout, Bible-believing Christians disagreed about it for centuries?

  • Michael Parsons

    Roger, would it benefit you from knowing that I am a
    third-generation Nazarene, and attended a Nazarene church for 31 years? Yes, just as Paul was a “Jew among Jews”, I was a “Nazarene among Nazarenes”. Church three times a week, church camp, Bible quizzing, Olivet Naz. grad, when it comes to the Nazarene faith, I’ve seen and done it all. I’ve forgotten more about the Nazarene faith than most people know. To this day, most of my family (sans my immediate family) still attend a Nazarene church.

    However, after struggling with my salvation for 31 years -
    and never attaining (or really understanding) the always-elusive “second act of grace”, what the Nazarenes call Sanctification – I gave up and spent 15 years as a pagan, even practicing Buddhism for 3 years. You see, I still wanted God, but not in the way I was taught as a Nazarene.

    Finally, though, when I decided to seek God again (but not in the way I had before, with all the legalism, confusion over sanctification, election and eternal security), He took me down a different path, a path more faithful to Calvinism.

    And what happened? He filled me with His Spirit; what I call my WOW moment! (I have given my testimony to thousands of people, and I always describe my “filling” as a “bolt of lightning passing through me”.) For the first time in my 46 years, the Lord led me into His Word, drove me to my knees, and then he ZAPPED me. Finally, and for the first time, I was regenerated. Immediately, he led me to His Word and helped me to understand my “position” in Christ, so I could match it with my “practice” so I could help others who had suffered the same spiritual malaise as I had to understand truth.

    So, how have the past 9½ years differed from my first 31 as a Nazarene? Most important, I feel the Holy Spirit leading me ever second of every day. As well, by guiding me to several amazing Bible teachers like John
    McArthur, James McDonald, David Jeremiah, et al, the Lord gradually peeled away His word like an onion and now all those “difficult” passages makes perfect sense: all of it, from the OT, to the prophecies, to the Gospels, the Epistles, and Revelation, all of it; like a million-piece puzzle falling into place.

    More important, I am 100% confident in my salvation, knowing I’m “elected” and cannot lose my salvation, since it has everything to do with Christ and nothing to do with me. (All I had to do was accept His free gift.) Ah,
    the peace and comfort and serenity in knowing I no longer have to experience the frustration of being saved, then backsliding, being saved, then backsliding, on and on and on…

    Roger, I’m telling you this so you understand that you are
    not dealing with some neophyte to the Nazarene faith. Even as I know many amazing spirit-filled Nazarenes, for the most part I’m sorry to say most are leading Christian lives exactly as I did. They are for the most part not confident in their salvation and do not know if they are filled with the Spirit (or understand how to attain Him). Most (whether they admit it or not) are practicing a “works righteousness”, and have no knowledge of their Bible. Let me repeat…I am 56 years old and I can tell you from my conversations with most (not all) Nazarenes – including my friends and family – they are not instructed from the pulpit to read and study God’s word, thus they don’t know what it says. What happens when they do? They usually leave the Nazarene church to practice their faith amongst other Bible-based believers.

    As always, I welcome any rebuttal you may have to my theology (and actually enjoy hearing your POV).

    However, now you know that you’re dealing with an ex-Nazarene who left the faith, and in doing so, found Christ in a way that I never knew was even possible.

    In the end, it is my testimony that is the greatest proof of
    my salvation.

    • Roger Olson

      Thanks for sharing. But, of course, there are many people who have been led the other direction–toward and into the Church of the Nazarene or another Arminian-Holiness or Pentecostal denomination out of something else (often a Reformed denomination). I hope and pray you can someday see that the problem may not have been the Church of the Nazarene but your own spiritual condition at the time. I’m glad for where you find yourself now, but why look back and assess blame? Every denomination has problems.

      • Michael Parsons

        Agreed. Every experience is different. The Lord commands us to “work out” our Salvation, and yes, sometimes that involves a change in denominations. In the end, who is to blame for my theological confusion? I am, and I take 100% responsibility for that.

        However, the central point of my post is that – being in the Nazarene church for most of my life, I know first hand that most Nazarenes continue to struggle with and do not understand the basic tenets of Salvation, just as I did for 31 years. Most will tell you that they’ve been saved, but have never truly felt the filling of His Holy Spirit.

        Is it a coincidence that as soon as I escaped all the confusion, and finally received a clearer understanding of sanctification, election and eternal security, the Lord immediately saved me and I was filled with His Holy Spirit?

        Of course, this is my own experience, but dollars to doughnuts, if you ask most of my Nazarene brethren to relate their experience, they will tell you a similar story.

        • Roger Olson

          I invite Nazarenes to join in here and share their testimonies of how God has worked powerfully and positively in their lives through their church and its ministry.

  • Marius Lombaard

    Hi Roger,

    It strikes me as rather obvious that inerrancy is rather a modernist adjustment of the doctrine of inspiration.

    As I see it, forcing a modernist lens on ancient historical narratives which are pre-modern, is simply problematic from the start.

    Any defense made by inerrantists that claims that the supposed errors or contradictions in the bible don’t change the bible’s internal theological harmony, is an argument which they fail to realize supports the doctrine of inspiration rather than the doctrine of inerrancy. so as a defense it is useless to their cause.

    I have yet to see a defense of inerrancy which, without major qualifications, can sustain the differing accounts of king Saul’s death at the end of 1 Samuel and beginning of 2 Samuel. Was it the sword or spear? Either way, the clearly evident contradictory accounts falsify claims of inerrancy rather forcefully.

    Unless they haven’t realised that what they are actually defending is inspiration. Which I think they sometimes want to utter, but somehow get so caught up in the debate that they forget to sit, relax, breathe, and think for a moment.

    And of course, the argument of the slippery slope into liberalism is simply rhetoric. There are numerous christians that reject inerrancy and liberalism simultaneously.

    • Roger Olson

      We agree on that. One method used by some conservative evangelical inerrantists (e.g., Millard Erickson) is to say that “inerrancy” is compatible with use of errant sources–so long as they were used inerrantly. What a qualification. It makes almost anything compatible with inerrancy, thus emptying it of meaning. How many lay people or even seminary-trained pastors would ever suspect that “biblical inerrancy” is consistent with errors due to use of errant sources? None that I’ve ever met. Clearly (IMHO) most scholarly inerrantists simply come up with qualifications in order to do justice to the phenomena of the texts while insisting on holding onto a word (viz., “inerrancy”) which then becomes little more than a shibboleth. I once asked an officer of the Evangelical Theological Society if I could join the ETS without affirming the word “inerrancy” so long as he (an officer) and I actually agree on the reliability of the Bible. He said no.


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