I was able to get 2750 words into a what-would-have-been a 5000-6000 word treatise for the Church of the Nazarene in [biblical] defense against the Concerned Nazarenes. However, I was reminded of a few things that are keeping me (and will continue to keep me) from finishing and/or posting such a treatise.
1. The Concerned Nazarenes are my brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the Body of Christ.
2. While the Concerned Nazarenes say they are asking for "A biblical defense" of certain issues, they are really asking for a biblical defense using a model of interpretation that they use that is contrary to how the Church of the Nazarene understands Scripture. I believe that a common-sense or propositional understanding of Scripture is often contrary to the Gospel itself and will not try to endeavor to give such a defense. The Gospel of Christ should not be defended, it should be shared.
3. Controversies about theology or divisions in the church simply should not happen in the public arena. I believe that the Concerned Nazarenes (and some who are against them) are bringing into the public eye just how unholy the Church can be. I cannot add to this reality.
4. I believe that I could finish a well-written, biblically sound, and scholarly researched treatise on the issue and it not do a bit of good in resolving it.
5. The Concerned Nazarenes live out a faith that is specific propositions that are expressed in Scripture. This faith is characterized by a need to defend these truths from outside forces. The Church of the Nazarene lives out a faith that is a call to holiness through the work of the Holy Spirit. We are seeking to know God better and are willing to listen to others in order to learn more about ourselves. Listening to other voices does not mean that we agree with everything we hear, but it does mean open dialogue and discernment through the Holy Spirit and the study of the Word.
So, what is the solution?
Let us continue to teach our people the Good New of Christ, as it is revealed in Scripture. Let us give witness to the redemptive work God did through Christ and continues to do through the Holy Spirit. Let us take every opportunity to learn more about God and God's creation through theological and scientific study. Let us love one another deeply, from the heart.
As Dr. Jeren Rowell noted at the Kansas City District Assembly this year, there is a great need to witness to the Gospel in these days. Deciding who's concerned and who's not is so trivial. It takes away from the reason we have been saved - to glorify God and invite others to do the same.
Grace and Peace,