Why I Am A Nazarene, Part 3
In part 1 of this series, I talked about why I am a Christian. In part 2, I explained briefly why I am an Arminian as opposed to a Calvinist. In part 3, I will explain why I am a Nazarene as opposed to a member of another Wesleyan-Arminian denomination.
I should probably start out by ruling out other traditions that I do not come from. Perhaps the first thing to do would be to state why I am not part of a Pentecostal denomination. The largest Pentecostal denomination is the Assemblies of God. While I have great respect for the denomination as a whole, I find disagreement with the view that the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is tongues-speaking. I should probably mention here that I am not a cessationist. I hold a more "open, but cautious" view. I do believe that God gives gifts as He sees fit to the Church. I just don't believe that the Biblical warrant for tongues-speaking as the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is there. Instead, it seems that, based on the whole counsel of Scripture, that the fruit of the Spirit is evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in someone's life, and that a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit at the moment of Entire Sanctification. In addition, I disagree with the view of the nature of tongues that is put forward by the Pentecostal movement. Tongues, in the New Testament, seems to be understood as known human languages. I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that God could, in theory, allow missionaries attempting to reach a remote tribe to speak their own language, but be heard in the language spoken by the tribe. I have never personally experienced this, but it is, in theory, possible. Because of my disagreements with the Pentecostal movement in these two areas, I am not Pentecostal.
I should also mention that I am not an Arminian-only, or traditional Arminian. At least, not in the sense that Arminianism excludes the doctrine of Entire Sanctification, which was John Wesley's major contribution to theology. Indeed, I am a Wesleyan-Arminian because I see a Biblical warrant for the doctrine of Entire Sanctification. Therefore, I cannot join to, say, a Baptist church that has Arminian leadership, since Baptist churches do not recognize the doctrine of Entire Sanctification (and there are other issues that I have, such as their stance on the Perseverance of the Saints). Because of the Biblical doctrine of Entire Sanctification, I agree with Wesleyan-Holiness denominations on this point over other Arminian denominations.
It is now apparent why I am not just a traditional Arminian, and why I am not Pentecostal. It is clear that I am a Wesleyan. The natural question that arises is, "Why the Church of the Nazarene over other Wesleyan denominations?" It is this question that I hope to answer briefly.
First, I would like to point out that I agree with the Church of the Nazarene's polity over that of many other Wesleyan-Holiness denominations. For example, the Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church both utilize an essentially top-down approach. The Church of the Nazarene is different, in that it utilizes a mixed approach that allows for more autonomy among the local church. I believe that, in its polity, the Church of the Nazarene has found a solid compromise between the "top-down" and "bottom-up" polities of other churches.
Second, I would like to talk about the mission-focus of the Church of the Nazarene. To the best of my knowledge, all Wesleyan-Holiness denominations do missions of some sort. However, the Church of the Nazarene is the largest of these denominations, and has made missions a top priority, One benefit to these two facts is that the Church of the Nazarene has a strong "punch" when it comes to missions. From what I have seen, it seems to be "punching" far above its weight class in regards to its missions work. The church at every level of the denomination participates in missions in some way or another. This is something that has impressed me since I first stepped foot into a Nazarene Church.
Third, I find that I align more with the specific wording of the Church of the Nazarene's Articles of Faith than I do other denominations. One area in which this is abundantly clear is in Article XIV, Divine Healing. I appreciate that the Church of the Nazarene makes it abundantly clear that God still works miraculous healings, but He does not always do so. Sometimes, He chooses to use modern medicine. While I believe that many people would agree with this statement, I am glad to be part of a denomination where the Church states up front, "Yes, God still heals people miraculously, and yes, we will pray for the miraculous to happen." Again, I am sure people from other Wesleyan denominations would agree with this, but it does not appear to have been formulated into an official teaching of another Wesleyan-Holiness denomination.
For this reason, I am part of the Church of the Nazarene.