Calvary Church of the Nazarene Huntsville, Alabama

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The Existence of the Church of the Nazarene: Does It Really Matter?


The history of the Christian Church has been one of diversity, as well as unity. It has been one of unity in that there is Aone body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all@ (Eph. 4:4-6). Nevertheless, diversity has also characterized the church in terms of biblical interpretations and organizations, just to mention a few. With regard to organizations, the Church of the Nazarene serves as an example.

What is so unique or peculiar about this church? What is so special about its contributions to the mission of God in this world? As a denomination, are there salient features which it has to offer to the kingdom of God on this earth?

Ever since its beginnings in the early 1900s, the Church of the Nazarene has sought to prioritize the biblical mandate for holiness and missions. The primary objective of this church is the preservation and proclamation of God=s call to live a life of holiness or entire sanctification. Though variously interpreted historically, entire sanctification basically refers to loving God with all of one=s being (Aheart, soul, mind, and strength@) in devotion and service to others (Aloving one=s neighbor as oneself@) [Mt. 22:37-40; Mk. 12:29-31]. In other words, being set apart by God and for God in relation to His kingdom business.

Although this being set apart by God and for God takes place in a precise moment in time, it also is something which requires particular movement or progression during one=s time on this earth. In other words, spiritual maturation or development is also part of the package. Even though this teaching saturates the New Testament, its significance seems to have been lost by other denominations. Thus, the Church of the Nazarene has a central role in the economy of God=s grace to emphasize this teaching without shame or hesitation. This is being done on a local level within individual churches, and on a global level through the cooperative efforts of these local churches sharing their resources to support worldwide efforts to evangelize and proclaim God=s message of regeneration and sanctification to all. The existence of the Church of the Nazarene makes a gigantic difference!

The significance of the Church of the Nazarene is also illustrated in her organizational structure. As a unique combination of presbyterian (Aelders@), episcopal (Aoverseers@) and congregational (Alay participation@ - all being Christian ministers [II Cor. 5:18-20] concerns, a truly representative form of church government exists within a biblical framework.

This organizational structure not only so functions within the individual churches but also throughout the broader denominational bodies of operation (superintendents, assemblies, education and auxiliary groups). Everything from the recognition by congregations of men or women called of God to preach and/or pastor to the preparation of such called ones for maximizing effective ministry is done under careful scrutiny and prayerful supervision. The curriculum for ministry preparation, for example, includes education in theology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and both historical and contemporary concerns.

Furthermore, this representational orientation is seen in the election of its superintendents (general and district) for limited periods of time by delegates from all the churches. By adherence to agreed upon principles set forth in the Church Manual, a consistency is maintained through its policies and procedures.

As a segment of the holiness movement (complete cleansing of our carnal nature through faith) and rooted in the resurrection of key biblical teachings by the Reformation (16th century), Puritanism, Pietism, and Revivalism (17th century), the Church of the Nazarene plays a pivotal role in the advancement of the Kingdom of God throughout the world. By adopting the biblically-based Arminian position of justification by faith as its foundation, and building upon that foundation the concepts set forth in this paper, Christendom and the world at large would, indeed, suffer from the absence of the Church of the Nazarene.

Having been called by the One above to fulfill His mission below on planet earth, the Church of the Nazarene stands with the one who said, Awe preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus= sake@ (I Cor. 4:5). Let us be joined together afresh and anew in wholehearted obedience, unashamed and unapologetic conviction, determined purpose, and grace-saturated orientation as we fulfill the biblical mandate and mission noted in the FOREWARD of the Church Manual (p. 7-8). The existence of the Church of the Nazarene really matters!

Dr. Morris Murray, Jr. 


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