Saturday, May 27, 2023

Pentecost Sunday

 Tomorrow, the Church around the world will celebrate the culmination of the Great Fifty Days, the conclusion of the Easter season, the outpouring of the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church. - John the Baptizer had declared concerning Jesus, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16, NRSV).  Jesus assured the disciples that it would be to their advantage that He would ascend to the Father, because, in doing so, He would send the Holy Spirit (the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor/Helper - parakletos ) to them (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them (14:26), and the Holy Spirit would "prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement (16:8).

Further, Jesus told the apostles, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NRSV).
On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples saw the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit as told by John the Baptizer and the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophet Joel.  It is that same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we enter into by faith and through our baptism, for St. Paul declares, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . ." (1 Cor. 12:13, NRSV).* 

This holds special meanings for our family, because my daughter, Sarah, was baptized on Pentecost Sunday 28 years ago, and my son, Matthew, was baptized on Pentecost Sunday 24 years ago, when our district superintendent, the Rev'd. Dr. M. V. Scutt, came to our church in Greencastle (IN) on both occasions to baptize our newborn children.
Pentecost is one of the major feast days of the Church, and it should be a great day of celebration for those of us in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. - I recall a conversation several years ago with a pastor from a Presbyterian (USA) congregation. He confessed, he really didn't know what to do with Pentecost. Now, I do not mean to imply that such is the case for all, or even a majority of Presbyterians. I don't know. However, whatever the case for my Presbyterian brother, Nazarenes, whether espousing a 19th century or a classical Wesleyan view (cf. footnote, below) ought to know how to celebrate Pentecost Sunday.
You see, one of the main benefits of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the possibility of having our hearts cleansed of sin. - As the prophet Ezekiel foretold, there was coming a day when God would ". . . sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statures and be careful to observe my ordinances" (Ezek. 36:25-27, NRSV). And St. Peter, referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the gentiles, argued, "And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us" (Acts 15:8-9).
It is this heart cleansing that has been at the heart of the Wesleyan & Methodist movement, and especially so for the Holiness branches of Methodism. It has been referred to by Wesley in connection with the Biblical doctrines of Entire Sanctification and Christian Perfection. In fact, the spread of scriptural holiness throughout the land was the stated purpose of Methodism, first by John Wesley in London in 1733, and then in America, at the famous Christmas Conference in Baltimore in 1784 at the founding of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was the commitment to this purpose that gave rise to the 19th century Holiness Movement within Methodism. And Phineas Bresee said of the Church of the Nazarene, that it is ". . . a part of that body of believers raised up to spread sanctified holiness over these lands, and thus that we are a part of that company who are the real successors of John Wesley and the early Methodists" (Nazarene Messenger, July 15, 1909).

And so, we Wesleyan Christians enthusiastically join our sisters and brothers in Christ from around the world to rejoice and give thanks to God on Pentecost Sunday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we seek to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
*At this point, those within the Holiness movement will recognize that I take my stand with John Wesley, the Church of history, and those in the classical Wesleyan theological tradition, rather than those who are more consistent with 19th century interpretations. Those debates within the Holiness Movement can be seen in The Wesleyan Theological Journal between 1973 and 1982. Mark Quanstrom discusses it in A Century of Holiness Theology: The Doctrine of Entire Sanctification in the Church of the Nazarene, 1905-2004 (though his bias toward the 19th century view is apparent in his portrayal of members of "The Trevecca Connection").

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: May 3, 2023

Below is one of three sets of "sayings" that I have framed in my study.  The other two include a number of quotes by early Nazarene general superintendents or theologians concerning the Methodist identity of the Church of the Nazarene and a sacramental quote from the late bishop, Dr. William Greathouse.  This being "Wesley Wednesday, the following quote is, of course, from John Wesley.

Methodism, so called, is the old religion, the religion of the Bible, the religion of the primitive church, the religion of the Church of England . . . as appears from all her authentic records, from the uniform tenor of her liturgy, and from numberless passages in her Homilies.  The scriptural primitive religion of love . . . is to be found in her morning and evening service, and in her daily as well as occasional prayers; and the whole of it is beautifully summed up in that one, comprehensive petition, 'Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy name.'

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: April 19, 2023

I have missed a few of these Wesley Wednesdays, but today I wanted to post something from a sermon I recently read by Wesley.  It is Sermon 2: The Almost Christian.  In Kenneth Collins and Jason Vickers' The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey, it is placed as number 10 in their arrangement of those sermons.  -  John Wesley says:

(III).7. But who are the living witnesses of these things? I beseech you, brethren, as in the presence of that God before whom 'hell and destruction are without a covering: how much more the hearts of the children of men!' - that each of you would ask his own heart, 'Am I of that number? Do I so far practise justice, mercy, and truth, as even the rules of heathen honesty require? If so, have I the very outside of a Christian? The form of godliness? Do I abstain from evil, from whatsoever is forbidden in the written Word of God? Do I, whatever good my hand findeth to do, do it with my might? Do I seriously use all the ordinances of God at all opportunities? And is all this done with a sincere design and desire to please God in all things?'

In the introductory comments, it is pointed out that Wesley, here, lifts up what would become the three basic counsels of the General Rules: "avoid evil, do good, and employ the means of grace."  -  I have long asserted that the so called Three Simple Rules as expressed by the late bishop Rueben Job, "Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God," is far too simplistic when compared to the actual General Rules.  However, in addition to being far too simplistic, it simply falls short of accuracy.  "Avoid evil" ("whatsoever is forbidden in the written Word of God") includes much more than "do no harm," and ("seriously") "employ the means of grace" ("at all opportunities") puts specific flesh on the bones of "stay in love with God." 

So, if we must "simplify" the General Rules, let's follow Wesley's own example in doing so.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: March 15, 2023

 Below, I have provided a few, short excerpts from John Wesley's Sermon 101: "The Duty of Constant Communion."  It is highly regrettable that so many in the Wesleyan tradition have abandoned our spiritual forefather's commitments and advice concerning worship and especially the sacraments, having substituted for it a more Baptist understanding of the Lord's Supper as a mere ordinance.  I am thankful every time I see progress in recapturing Wesley's sacramental theology and passion, which provided a context and foundation for his theology of holiness of heart and life.  -  I highly recommend that all who serve within the Wesleyan tradition read this sermon in its entirety (along with Sermon 16: "The Means of Grace").  It is certainly a foundational piece for all those who would identify as "Wesleyan-Anglican."

    I.3. The grace of God given herein [i.e., in the sacrament] confirms to us the pardon of our sins by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: this gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If therefore we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's Supper. Then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us. We must neglect no occasion which the good providence of God affords us for this purpose.  This is the true rule - so often are we to receive as God gives us opportunity. Whoever therefore does not receive, but goes from the holy table when all things are prepared, either does not understand his duty or does not care for the dying command of his Saviour, the forgiveness of his sins, the strengthening of his soul, and the refreshing it with the hope of glory.

    4. Let everyone therefore who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God and consult the good of his own soul by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord's day's service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day. Four times a week always, and every saint's day beside. Accordingly those that joined in the prayers of the faithful never failed to partake of the blessed sacrament . . .

    II. 5. Consider the Lord's Supper, secondly, as a mercy from God to man. As God, whose mercy is over all his works, and particularly over the children of men, knew there was but one way for man to be happy like himself, namely, by being like him in holiness; as he knew we could do nothing toward this of ourselves, he has given us certain means of obtaining his help. One of these is the Lord's Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven. 
    I ask, then, why do you not accept of his mercy as often as ever you can? God now offers you his blessing: why do you refuse it? You have an opportunity of receiving his mercy: why do you not receive it? You are weak: why do not you seize upon every opportunity of increasing your strength? In a word: considering this as a command of God, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no piety; considering it as a mercy, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no wisdom. 

(Photo of Wesley's statue at City Road Chapel, London)

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: March 8, 2023

 The following excerpt comes from John Wesley's Sermon 16: The Means of Grace.  From the quote it should be clear that the Lord's Supper is not intended to be kept as something "special" and "meaningful" by keeping it infrequent.  Rather, it is intended to be used as often as possible as a means of grace for us.

    12. And that this [the Lord's Supper] is also an ordinary stated means of receiving the grace of God is evident from those words of the Apostle which occur in the preceding chapter: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (or communication) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16). Is not the eating of that bread, and the drinking of that cup, the outward, visible means whereby God conveys into our souls all that spiritual grace, that righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which were purchased by the body of Christ once broken and the blood of Christ once shed for us? Let all, therefore, who truly desire the grace of God, eat of that bread and drink of that cup.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: March 1, 2023

 On September 10, 1784, in Bristol, John Wesley wrote his letter "To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North-America," which he sent to accompany The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America (Wesley's conservative revision of the Church of England's 1662 Book of Common Prayer).  -  The following excerpt comes from that letter:

    2. Lord King's account of the primitive church convinced me many years ago, that Bishops and Presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain . . .

    4. I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint Superintendents over our brethren in North-America:  As also Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey, to act as Elders among them, by baptizing and administering the Lord's Supper.  And I have prepared a liturgy little differing from that of the church of England (I think, the best constituted national church in the world) which I advise all the travelling-preachers to use, on the Lord's day, in all their congregations, reading the litany only on Wednesdays and Fridays, and praying extempore on all other days.  I also advise the elders to administer the Supper of the Lord on every Lord's day. . . 

    . . . They are now at full liberty, simply to follow the Scriptures and the primitive church.  And we judge it best that they should stand fast in that liberty, wherewith God has so strangely made them free.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Wesley's Prayer Book and the First Sunday in Lent

 When Methodism came to America, John Wesley gave to the early American Methodists a very conservative revision of the Church of England's 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  One of the changes that Wesley made was a simplifying of the calendar.  This included simply numbering the collects as Sundays "after Christmas," until "The Sunday next before Easter".  The prayers still follow the collects in the 1662 BCP.  Nevertheless, since Easter is a movable feast, this causes a problem.  

If one wants to use Wesley's Prayer Book (viz., The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America), either for the Daily Office or the Sunday service, and one wants to follow the larger calendar, including Lent, one will quickly discover the issue.  By following the prayers until one gets to "The Sunday next before Easter", one will find the collects for Lent to be misplaced (Lent not being a part of Wesley's calendar).  -  It is not that one will not pray the collects for Lent, but they will not fit the Lenten season.

This year is a perfect example.  This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent.  However, if one is simply following Wesley's list of collects, one would pray the collect for The Ninth Sunday after Christmas:

O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust
in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant
that by thy power we may be defended against all
adversity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the other hand, for those who want to use Wesley's Prayer Book, but also want to observe the Lenten season, the thing to do is to skip ahead and pray the collect for The Eleventh Sunday after Christmas during the First Sunday in Lent and continue on from there.  This will lead right into the Easter season.  The collect for The Eleventh Sunday after Christmas will be readily recognized as the collect for the First Sunday in Lent:

O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days
and forty nights; give us grace to use such
abstinence, that our flesh being subdued to the Spi-
rit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righ-
teousness and true holiness, to thy honour and
glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and
the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

It is my hope that this might prove to be helpful to at least some who read this blog and save them from having to discover this for themselves a couple of Sundays into the Lenten season!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: February 22, 2023

 I have a Charles Wesley mug that says, "8,989 Hymns...Tell me, who is John again? #siblingrivalry".  -  Well, for today's Wesley Wednesday, I am turning to Charles and a hymn that came up in the Our Great Redeemer's Praise hymnal during today's Morning Prayer:

Depth of Mercy! Can There Be

1. Depth of mercy! Can there be
mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
long provoked Him to His face,
would not hearken to His calls,
grieved Him by a thousand falls.

2. I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
and profaned His hallow'd name,
put Him to an open shame.
Whence to me this waste of love?
Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus' face,
now before the throne of grace.

3. Jesus, answer from above,
is not all Thy nature love?
Will Thou not the wrong forget,
permit me to kiss Thy feet?
If I rightly read Thy heart,
if Thou all compassion art,
bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
pardon and accept me now.

4. There for me the Savior stands,
shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel,
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
Now incline me to repent,
let me now my fall lament,
now my foul revolt deplore,
weep, believe, and sin no more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: February 15, 2023

 This week's quote comes from Sermon 16, The Means of Grace.  This is an especially important sermon for those of us who are "Wesleyan-Anglican" types:

    By 'means of grace' I understand outward signs, words, or actions ordained of God, and appointed for this end - to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace.

    I use this expression, 'means of grace', because I know none better, and because it has been generally used in the Christian church for many ages: in particular by our own church, which directs us to bless God both for the 'means of grace and hope of glory'; and teaches us that a sacrament is 'an outward sign of inward grace, and a means whereby we receive the same'.

    The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon) and receiving the Lord's Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of him; and these we believe to be ordained of God as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men.

(Bold type indicates Wesley's own, original emphasis. The picture is of the Wesley statue on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: February 8, 2023

 As I was preparing to preach last Sunday, I read through Wesley's Sermon 25: Sermon on the Mount, V, once again.  I found it to be very relevant for my preaching from that section of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  The following quotes come from Wesley's sermon:

    From all this we may learn that there is no contrariety at all between the law and the gospel; that there is no need for the law to pass away in order to the establishing of the gospel.  Indeed neither of them supersedes the other, but they agree perfectly well together.  Yea, the very same words, considered in different respects, are parts both of the law and of the gospel.  If they are considered as commandments, they are parts of the law; if as promises, of the gospel.  Thus, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,' when considered as a commandment, is a branch of the law; when regarded as a promise, is an essential part of the gospel - the gospel being no other than the commands of the law proposed by way of promises.  Accordingly poverty of spirit, purity of heart, and whatever else enjoined in the holy law of God, are no other, when viewed in a gospel light, than so many great and precious promises. 

    There is therefore the closest connection that can be conceived between the law and the gospel.  On the one hand the law continually makes way for and points us to the gospel; on the other the gospel continually leads us to a more exact fulfilling of the law.  The law, for instance, requires us to love God, to love our neighbour, to be meek, humble, or holy.  We feel that we are not sufficient for these things, yea, that 'with man this is impossible.'  But we see a promise of God to give us that love, and to make us humble, meek, and holy.  We lay hold of this gospel, of these glad tidings: it is done unto us according to our faith, and 'the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us' through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    We may yet farther observe that every command in Holy Writ is only a covered promise.  For by that solemn declaration, 'This is the covenant I will make after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in your minds, and write them in your hearts,' God hath engaged to give whatsoever he commands.

Later, in the same sermon, Wesley says:

    . . . And we must all declare, 'By grace ye are saved through faith: . . . not of works, lest any man should boast.'  We must cry aloud to every penitent sinner, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'  But at the same time we must take care to let all men know we esteem no faith but that 'which worketh by love'; and that we are not 'saved by faith' unless so far as we are delivered from the power as well as the guilt of sin.  And when we say, 'Believe, and thou shalt be saved,' we do not mean, 'Believe, and thou shalt step from sin to heaven, without any holiness coming between, faith supplying the place of holiness;' but, believe and thou shalt be holy; believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt have peace and power together.  Thou shalt have power from him in whom thou believest to trample sin under thy feet; power to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and to serve him with all thy strength.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: February 1, 2023

 The following Wesley quote comes from Sermon 85: "On Working Out Our Own Salvation":

. . . salvation begins with what is usually termed (and very properly) 'preventing grace''; including the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first slight, transient conviction of having sinned against him. All these imply some tendency toward life, some degree of salvation, the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart, quite insensible of God and the things of God. Salvation is carried on by 'convincing grace', usually in Scripture termed 'repentance', which brings a larger measure of self-knowledge, and a farther deliverance from the heart of stone. Afterwards we experience the proper Christian salvation, whereby 'through grace' we 'are saved by faith', consisting of those two grand branches, justification and sanctification. By justification we are saved from the guilt of sin, and restored to the favour of God: by sanctification we are saved from the power and root of sin, and restored to the image of God. All experience, as well as Scripture, shows this salvation to be both instantaneous and gradual. It begins the moment we are justified, in the holy, humble, gentle, patient love of God and man. It gradually increases from that moment, as a 'grain of mustard seed, which at first is the least of all seeds, but' gradually 'puts forth large branches', and becomes a great tree; till in another instant the heart is cleansed from all sin, and filled with pure love to God and man. But even that love increases more and more, till we 'grow up in all things into him that is our head', 'till we attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ'.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

General Assembly Resolution: Ritual for The Administration of the Lord's Supper

In June of this year, the Church of the Nazarene will be conducting its General Assembly.  The General Assembly is the supreme doctrine-formulating, lawmaking, and elective authority of the Church of the Nazarene. During past quadrenniums, I have presented to my district delegation, and through them to the General Assembly, a number of resolutions.  Some of them have passed and impacted the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.  Some were amended.  Others were rejected.  -  This year I have presented eight resolutions.  I, frankly, do not know which ones my district has sponsored.  However, for any who may be delegates to the assembly, or those who know delegates, I would draw your attention to these and hope that you might support them.

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


The administration of the Lord’s Supper may be introduced by an appropriate sermon and the reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23–29; Luke 22:14–20, or some other suitable passage. Let the minister then give the following invitation:

The Communion Supper, instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a sacrament, which proclaims His life, His sufferings, His sacrificial death, and resurrection, and the hope of His coming again. It shows forth the Lord’s death until His return.

The Supper is a means of grace in which Christ is present by the Spirit. It is to be received in reverent appreciation and gratefulness for the work of Christ.

All those who are truly repentant, forsaking their sins, and believing in Christ for salvation are invited to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ. We come to the table that we may be renewed in life and salvation and be made one by the Spirit.

In unity with the Church, we confess our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. And so we pray:

The minister may offer a prayer of confession and supplication, concluding with the following prayer of consecration:

Holy God,

We gather at this, your table, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who by your Spirit was anointed to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, set at liberty those who are oppressed. Christ healed the sick, fed the hungry, ate with sinners, and established the new covenant for forgiveness of sins. We live in the hope of His coming again.

On the night in which He was betrayed, He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, gave it to His disciples, and said: “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Likewise, when the supper was over, He took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to His disciples, and said: “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.” [Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.]
(Matthew 26:27–29, Luke 22:19)

And so, we gather as the Body of Christ to offer ourselves to you in praise and thanksgiving. Pour out your Holy Spirit . . .


 It makes no liturgical sense to say, “Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” at this point.

As is demonstrated in the very next line, the prayer is still going on.

The words are awkward and are jarring when used at this point in the liturgy.

No other known Communion liturgy places these words at this location.

General Assembly Resolution: Superintendency/Ordination

In June of this year, the Church of the Nazarene will be conducting its General Assembly.  The General Assembly is the supreme doctrine-formulating, lawmaking, and elective authority of the Church of the Nazarene. During past quadrenniums, I have presented to my district delegation, and through them to the General Assembly, a number of resolutions.  Some of them have passed and impacted the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.  Some were amended.  Others were rejected.  -  This year I have presented eight resolutions.  I, frankly, do not know which ones my district has sponsored.  However, for any who may be delegates to the assembly, or those who know delegates, I would draw your attention to these and hope that you might support them.

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

307.4.  Have discretionary power to ordain, or appoint other[s] elders (preferably another general superintendent, general superintendent emeriti or retired) to ordain, those who have been duly elected to be elders or deacons. (314.1, 320, 538.5-538.6) 

538.5  The candidate elected to the order of elder or order of deacon shall be ordained by the laying on of hands of the general superintendent and ordained [ministers] elders with appropriate religious exercises, under the direction of the presiding general superintendent. (307.4)



1.  We, along with Wesley and the larger Methodist tradition, have understood that “Bishops and Presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain” (Wesley’s Sept. 10, 1784 letter “To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North-America”).  That is to say, the power to ordain is found within the order of elders.  There is not a separate “order of bishop” or “superintendent.”  Nevertheless, we, along with others in the larger Methodist tradition, have reserved the authority to ordain, within our denominations, to those elders who have been elected to the episcopal office/role of superintendent.  (Episkopos, which is usually translated “bishop,” is understood to mean “overseer,” or “superintendent,” which is the term that we and some other Wesleyan denominations use for the episcopal role.)

 2.  For the Church of the Nazarene, the episcopal aspect of our government is expressed through the general superintendency (cf., the “Foreword,” and par. 22.2, 306.f, 314.f, and 315.f).

 3.  It would be highly desirable that ordinations, if not being performed by the general superintendent in jurisdiction, be performed by another general superintendent (active, emeriti, or retired), in as much as they represent the whole church.

 4.  When the general superintendent in jurisdiction is not able to ordain, and when no other general superintendent is able to ordain, it would be highly desirable that one vested with the authority to oversee the district (i.e., the district superintendent) be the person appointed to ordain.

 5.  In no case should anyone other than an ordained elder be appointed to ordain, for the power to ordain is found within the order of elders. This is seen in 2 Timothy 1:6, which, referring to Timothy’s ordination, says, “For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;” (NRSV), and most especially in the parallel passage of 1 Timothy 4:14, which says, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders” (NRSV, emphasis mine). This is also why it has historically been the presbytery (i.e., elders, rather than deacons) who have joined the bishops (i.e., general superintendents) in the laying on of hands.

 6.  As the paragraph currently reads, it would be possible (even if unlikely) that a general superintendent could appoint someone outside of holy orders to ordain.  Such would be completely and wholly inconsistent with the historic Christian and Wesleyan and Nazarene understanding of ordination.

General Assembly: Reception of Members and Agreed Statement of Belief

In June of this year, the Church of the Nazarene will be conducting its General Assembly.  The General Assembly is the supreme doctrine-formulating, lawmaking, and elective authority of the Church of the Nazarene. During past quadrenniums, I have presented to my district delegation, and through them to the General Assembly, a number of resolutions.  Some of them have passed and impacted the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.  Some were amended.  Others were rejected.  -  This year I have presented eight resolutions.  I, frankly, do not know which ones my district has sponsored.  However, for any who may be delegates to the assembly, or those who know delegates, I would draw your attention to these and hope that you might support them.

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

704. Reception of Church Members

 It is expected that prospective members have professed the Christian faith and been instructed in the doctrine and practices of the Church of the Nazarene. They may come forward to stand before the congregation and the pastor shall address them as follows:

 Dearly Beloved: The privileges and blessings that we have in community together in the Church of Jesus Christ are sacred and precious. There is in it such hallowed fellowship, care, and counsel as cannot otherwise be known apart from the family of God.

 There is the godly care of pastors, with the teachings of the Word and the inspiration of corporate worship. And there is cooperation in service, accomplishing that which cannot otherwise be done.

 [*Today we affirm again the doctrines and practices of the church.

 We believe in one God— Father, Son, and 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.

 *NOTE: The minister may use the Agreed Statement of Belief (Manual paragraph 20) as an alternative.]

 Today we affirm again the Agreed Statement of Belief of the Church of the Nazarene:

 We believe in [That there is] one God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[;]

We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.[;]

We believe that human beings are born with a fallen nature, and are, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.[;]

We believe that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.[;]

We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.[;]

We believe that believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.[;]

We believe that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.[;]

A[a]nd we believe that our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place. (Manual paragraphs 20.1–20.8).

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

 Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and do you believe that He saves you now?

 Response: I do by faith. . . .



1.       The Manual requires belief in the Agreed Statement of Belief for membership (cf., par. 20.)

The first option in the current ritual does not reproduce the actual statements in the Agreed Statement of Belief.

The second option, while reproducing the Agreed Statement of belief, does not allow for the prospective members and the congregation to actually affirm the statement in confessional or creedal form.

The proposed changes allows the prospective members and the congregation to actively affirm the Agreed Statement of Faith during the ritual, and it provides a ready confession for use at other times.