Guest / Limited Access /

The Church of the Nazarene is in a "theological crisis," general superintendent Jerry Porter announced five years ago at a global theology conference in Guatemala City. As the 1.5-million member denomination approaches its 100th anniversary next year, leaders are rethinking their central holiness doctrine of entire sanctification.

Some Nazarene theologians dispute Porter's interpretation and say the denomination is rearticulating, not reforming, its beliefs. But other scholars insisted to ct that the crisis persists.

"A lot of the folks who have been around the church awhile thought of themselves as being characterized by things they don't do: You don't smoke, you don't drink, you don't go to dances, and in some parts of the denomination, you don't wear makeup or go to clubs or some parts of society," said Thomas Jay Oord, professor of theology and philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, and co-author of Relational Holiness. "That kind of Christianity loses steam really quickly. It's not something you can give your whole life to."

Nazarenes belong to an evangelical church that formed in 1908 when various groups in the holiness movement came together under the leadership of Phineas Bresee, a former Methodist minister. This new denomination, which stemmed largely from Methodism, emphasized entire sanctification as an "act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect." But it hasn't always, if ever, been clear what such a sanctified life should look like.

"[T]he question in the last decades of the 20th century was whether or not the Church of the Nazarene ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only From Tower-Dwellers to Travelers
Ugandan-born theologian Emmanuel Katongole offers a new paradigm for missions.
RecommendedAmericans Warm Up to Every Religious Group Except Evangelicals
Americans Warm Up to Every Religious Group Except Evangelicals
Pew finds fewer people personally know an evangelical anymore.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Identity 'Crisis'
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.