Wednesday, August 22, 2012

General Assembly Resolutioin: Baptism and Membership

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on Baptism and Membership, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!

                                MEMBERSHIP/BAPTISM                                  29, 107, 801

                                                 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.  The local church leadership shall seek to place every member into a ministry of service and a circle of care and support. (29, 35.4, 107.2, 111, 113.1, 414.1, 418, 429.8, 435.8-35.9)


                   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 Christ are very sacred and precious.  There is in it such hallowed fellowship as cannot otherwise be known.

                There is such helpfulness with brotherly watch are and counsel as can be found only in the Church.

                There is the godly care of pastors, with the teachings of the Word; and the helpful inspiration of social worship.  And there is cooperation in service, accomplishing that which cannot otherwise be done.  The doctrines upon which the church rests as essential to Christian experience are brief.

                NOTE:  The  minister may choose one of the following creedal options.


                We believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We especially emphasize the deity of Jesus Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit.

                We believe that human beings are born in sin; that they need the work of forgiveness through Christ and the new birth by the Holy Spirit; that subsequent to this there is the deeper work of heart cleansing or entire sanctification through the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and that to each of these works of grace the Holy Spirit gives witness.

                We believe that our Lord will return, the dead shall be raised, and that all shall come to final judgment with its rewards and punishments.

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

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

                Response: I do.

                Desiring to unite with the Church of the Nazarene, do you covenant to give yourself to the fellowship and work of God in connection with it, as set forth in the General Rules and the Covenant of Christian Conduct of the Church of the Nazarene?  Will you endeavor in every way to glorify God, by a humble walk, godly conversation, and holy service; by devotedly giving of your means of grace; and, abstaining from all evil, will you seek earnestly to perfect holiness of heart and life in the fear of the Lord?

                Response: I will.

                 The minister shall then say to the person or persons:

                I welcome you into this church, to its sacred fellowship, responsibilities, and privileges.  May the great Head of the Church bless and keep you, and enable you to be faithful in all good works, that your life and witness may be effective in leading others to Christ.

                The minister shall then take each one by the hand, and with appropriate words of personal greeting welcome each into the church.

                (Alternate form for members joining by letter of transfer:)

                _____________, formerly a member (members) of the Church of the Nazarene at __________, comes (come) to join the fellowship of this local congregation.

                 Taking each by the hand, or speaking to the group, the minister shall say:

                It gives me pleasure on behalf of this church to welcome you into our membership.  We trust that we will be a sourced of encouragement and strength to you and that you, in turn, will be a source of blessing and help to us.  May the Lord richly bless you in the salvation of souls and in the advancement of His kingdom.


We believe:

                In one God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

                That the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living . . .

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

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

                Response: I do.

. . .



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).

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