Tuesday, August 26, 2008

General Assembly Resolution #9: Membership/Baptism

A REMINDER & PLEA TO NAZARENES: PLEASE, GET COPIES OF THESE NINE RESOLUTIONS TO YOUR DISTRICT'S GENERAL ASSEMBLY DELEGATION.

Note: Bracketed text [ ] are words to be deleted from the current Manual. Underlined text ___ are words to be added to the current Manual.



Article II. Local Churches


29. The membership of a local church shall consist of all who have been organized as a church by those authorized so to do and who have been publicly received by those having proper authority, after having experienced Christian baptism, and having declared their experience of salvation, their belief in our doctrines, and their willingness to submit to our government. (100-107)


B. Membership


107. Full Membership. All persons who have been organized into a local church by those authorized so to do, and all who have been publicly received by the pastor, the district superintendent, or the general superintendent, after having experienced Christian baptism, and having declared their experience of salvation, and their belief in the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene, and their willingness to submit to its government, shall compose the full membership of the local church; however, only church members who have reached their 15th birthday shall be entitled to vote in annual or special church meetings. (29, 35.4, 111, 113.1, 413.3, 417, 427.9, 433.8-33.9)


801. THE RECEPTION OF CHURCH MEMBERS


The prospective members having come forward to stand before the altar of the church, the pastor shall address them as follows:


DEARLY BELOVED: The privileges and blessings that we have in association together in the Church of Jesus are very sacred and precious. . .


. . . Do you heartily believe these truths? If so, answer, "I do."


Having experience Christian baptism do [Do] you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and do you realize that He saves you now? . . .


FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:


1. It is generally accepted that, as General Superintendent Emeritus, the Rev'd. Dr. William Greathouse, has said, "In the New Testament church there simply were no unbaptized Christians . . ." (Staples 11) Staples, Rob L. Outward Sign and Inward Grace: The Place of Sacraments in Wesleyan Spirituality. Kansas City: Beacon Hill P 1991.


2. The Church, generally, for over 2000 years has understood baptism as the sign of initiation into the new covenant.


3. Jesus and the apostles command baptism (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48).


4. The Scriptures consistently declare the importance of baptism (e.g., Jesus declares that "no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit," John 3:5; We are "baptized into Christ Jesus," Rom. 6:3; ". . . we were all baptized into one body," the Church, 1 Cor. 12:13; and Peter even declares that "baptism . . . now saves you," 1 Pet. 3:21).


5. Article of Faith XII. Baptism, paragraph 16, states the following: ". . . Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers . . .," and "Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant . . ." (italics mine) Thus, those who refuse baptism are acting inconsistently with the membership requirements in paragraph 29, which states that they must declare ". . . their beliefs in our doctrines . . ."


6. The FIRST of our General Rules (par. 27) call us to do ". . . that which is enjoined in the Word of God, which is our rule of both faith and practice . . ."


7. Most denominations, including the two denominations most like the Church of the Nazarene (viz., The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church of North America) require baptism prior to membership. In fact, allowing members who are not baptized places us at odds with orthodox Christianity.


8. It is surely more important for people to be fully "Christian" than "Nazarenes."


9. Not only has it been the case that we have had church board members serving who have never been baptized, but it has even been the case that elders have been ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, having been charged to "administer the sacraments," who had not yet been baptized.


10. Our acceptance of any of the three modes of baptism as being valid should make baptism as readily available as membership, itself, even in areas where water is not abundant (i.e., one need only to sprinkle, in such cases).


11. The action of the 2005 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene placed our denomination outside of orthodox Christianity by officially voting to not require Christian baptism for membership, making the Church of the Nazarene, as a denomination, something less than a Christian church by orthodox Christian standards.


12. The action of the 2005 General Assembly (cf., 11, above) invalidated the "Historical Statement" on page 16 of the Manual that says, "While the Church of the Nazarene has responded to its special calling to proclaim the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification, it has taken care to retain and nurture identification with the historic church in its preaching of the Word, its administration of the sacraments, its concern to raise up and maintain a ministry that is truly apostolic in faith and practice, and its inculcating of disciplines for Christlike living and service to others" (italics mine).

11 comments:

Eric said...

consider them sent my friend.

Pastor Steven said...

Todd,

I could not agree more, every member of the CotN should be a baptized believer. How can I get copies of all nine resolutions?

Peace,

Steven

Todd Stepp said...

Steven,

If you give me your email address, I'll send copies to you. They will not be on the correct forms, but they will be in the correct form. - That should work for your delegation.

Todd+

Eric said...

I was told by a DS (now a "high up" at HQ) that every local church can have their own criteria for membership. This was in the context of a geographically based church plant and we were inquiring if it would be permissible to make membership in the church contingent on residence in the community. We were told that it was allowed. I think that is helpful for pastors who believe in accoradance with this proposal.

Pastor Steven said...

My email address is
revmck1@juno.com

Peace,

Steven

chiapett said...

At a recent district assembly in Wisconsin, there were no ordinands, so Dr. Jim Diehl had a preaching service instead. At the conclusion of the service, a pastor stood up and confessed he'd never been baptized, and wanted to remedy the situation on the spot. Two other pastors also confessed they had not been baptized. Dr. Diehl baptized all three by pouring, using bottled water.

Katharine said...

I'm all in favor...it's bizarre how baptism has been set aside as unimportant when scripture clearly indicates otherwise. Why is baptism important? I have no idea. I just know that it is. We need to stop trying to figure this stuff out with our heads and start using faith. You don't have to understand something to have it edify you. I believe many Christians are not baptized out of pride...as though getting baptized at a late date in their walk would make their previous years inferior in some way. Walk towards Jesus...walk away from yourself!

Daniel Coutz said...

I am in agreement with several of your proposals. I am a member on the Northwest Ohio district. How would I go about suggesting these proposals to my delegation since I am not on the delegation?

Todd Stepp said...

Daniel,

I sent an email to the address listed on your blog profile.

You need to contact your district office/ds/or secretary to find out where to send resolutions. You can copy them from my blog, or I can send them as an attachment via email.

Neither will be on the form provided by HQ, but they will be in the correct format.

Thanks!

Todd+

J.B. Chapman said...

I have sent this one to the Minnesota Distirct.

JVM said...

May I also receive a copy?
jvmeg@aol.com

Thank you!