Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Global Theology

The Church of the Nazarene is one of the few, if not the only, denomination that is truly a global denomination. I don't mean we're the only denomination in other countries, but we are unique in that we still try to keep a global identity with one international polity. In other words, there's not a Church of the Nazarene USA, a Church of the Nazarene Korea, a Church of the Nazarene France, etc. There's just one, unified denomination.

Within the last decade, the number of Nazarenes outside of North America has exceeded the number of those inside. I believe this to be a wonderful thing. The Body of Christ is not complete if it's only made up of Christians from a specific culture. As the denomination expands, it reminds us that we North Americans are only part of a global body. (I say a little more about this in an article in Cultural Expressions Magazine)

This worldview can be a challenge at times. As a country who has been sending missionaries for more than a century, and is often called (probably inaccurately) a "Christian Nation," it's hard for us Americans to realize that our nation is not the center of Christianity. To be sure, God did not make any nation more important than any others after Pentecost. All countries are equal members of the same body.

Our denomination has been working to make this paradigm shift. It's not easy to take nearly 100 years of North American majority and leadership and immediately make it a global perspective. Undoubtedly, patriotism and nationalism makes this even a greater challenge. Despite the hindrances, the change is necessary and worth the "growing pains."

One change that is just beginning to be made is in the field of literature. For the most part, all of our denomination's theology and Christian living books are written my Americans (with just a few Canadians also in the mix). Our denomination has been raised on the theological writing of American theologians like Purkiser, Wiley, Staples, Wynkoop, Greathouse, and many others. For the most part, the Holiness Theology of the Church of the Nazarene has been expressed by Americans. Although our theological heritage is very rich, it's all written from a Western worldview. Our understanding of salvation, sanctification, holy living, and eternal life are all tinted with western culture. It would be enormously enriching if the denomination began inviting writers from other cultures to write theology and Christian-living books and articles for our church.

The denomination has begun this change. Thomas Noble, a Scottish Nazarene Theologian and professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary, is currently working on an updated Systematic Theology for the Church of the Nazarene. People like David Wesley, former missionary and current professor at NTS, are encouraging pastors and theologians from South American to begin contributing to the thought-life of our global church.

I look forward to this change as we can all be enriched by so many new ways to understand who God is and how He relates to His people.

1 comment:

  1. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

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