Friday, June 8, 2012

Nazarene's Methodist Identity Shown (Yet Again) in Recent Article

Nazarene Communications Network has started a new, monthly segment called "Archives' Answers" written by my friend and Nazarene Archivist, Dr. Stan Ingersol.

Stan and I attended the 2001 World Methodist Conference in Brighton, England together.  He represented the Church of the Nazarene, and I carried the Nazarene banner in the parade of banners during the Conference.  Stan and two others (as I recall) served on the World Methodist Council, that year, and he and I were two of four official delegates to the Conference.

In this month's "Archives' Answers" article, Stan answers the question of where the name, Church of the Nazarene, originated.  -  I won't repeat his answer in this post.  Rather, you can read it for yourself, here.

However, I would point out one line in his article.  He writes, "Other proposed names included various uses of 'Methodist.'"  -  This only further emphasizes my own assertions, and one of the themes found in Our Watchword & Song: The Centennial History of the Church of the Nazarene, viz., that the Church of the Nazarene did not simply "leave the Methodists" (as some like to claim), but rather, the Church of the Nazarene is a Methodist denomination.

Other indications of this underlying Methodist identity include the origin of all of our major parent churches, as well as the majority of our early general superintendents; our book of discipline (the Manual); our basic structure; our General Rules (now called The Covenant of Christian Character); our system of superintendency; our connectivity; our understanding and emphasis on higher education; our ordination practices; and, of course, our theology. 

Quotes from early Nazarene leaders show the same understanding. 

Assistant General Superintendent, C.W. Ruth said, "The Church of the Nazarene is nothing in the world but old-fashioned Methodism" (1903).

General Superintendent E.F. Walker said, "Scratch a real Nazarene, and you will touch an original Methodist; skin a genuine Methodist, and behold a Nazarene!" (1909).

And early Nazarene theologian, A.M Hills said, "Our theology is that of Methodism, and our mission is that of early Methodists, to spread holiness throughout the world."  "The Church of the Nazarene is the fairest flower that has ever bloomed in the Methodist garden, the most promising ecclesiastical daughter the prolific Mother Methodism has ever given to the world."

Then, too, there is our full, participatory membership in The World Methodist Council.  -  Beyond that, on a more personal note, the recognition of this Methodist identity is why the United Methodist Church, according to their Book of Discipline (par. 246.1), identify me with the status of "Other Methodist," as I serve as pastor to a United Methodist Church.

Now, to be clear, that does not mean that we are just like the United Methodists, any more than other "Methodists" (e.g., The Free Methodists, The Wesleyans, the Evangelical Methodists, the British Methodists, etc.) are just like the UMC.  -  No, Nazarenes are specifically a Wesleyan-holiness expression of Methodism, but Dr. Ingersol's article points out, Nazarenes are an expression of Methodism.

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