New Manual Statement on Creation
One result from the recent Nazarenes Exploring Evolution project was the widely shared view that the Church of the Nazarene needs a new and more robust statement on creation. Pastors, scientists, laity, theologians, and biblical scholars came together to formulate such a statement.
I recently posted a summary of the Nazarenes Exploring Evolution project both on my website and on the project website. Among other things, these summaries indicate that the Church of the Nazarene must become a denomination that seeks greater truth about our Creator and creation. But the denomination also must encourage scientists and scientifically-minded members in her midst to live as intellectually engaged Christians. And if recent statistics about Millennials are true, the denomination must speak wisely about science and evolution if her youngest members are to remain.
Current Creation Statement
Part of the project included seeking a richer creation statement in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. The current statement on creation in the appendix of the denomination’s Manual offers these brief words:
“The Church of the Nazarene believes in the biblical account of creation (‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…’ –Genesis 1:1). We oppose any godless interpretation of the origin of the universe and of humankind (Hebrews 11:3).”
Proposed Creation Statement
At the Exploring Origins conference at Point Loma Nazarene University, three groups worked to suggest ways to enhance this statement. They offered brief but substantial statements that seemed helpful. Here is a new statement on creation meant to integrate their various ideas:
“The Bible declares and we accept by faith that God is Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. God pronounced creation “very good,” exhibited in its beauty, complexity, and purpose, as it brings forth life. The writers of Scripture used literary forms and prevailing perceptions of the universe to communicate the eternal truth of God’s creative activity.”
“While we all agree God is Creator, we may differ in our understandings of how God creates. Scripture and the methods of science help us, as we study the natural world and understand creation better. We encourage fruitful conversations about the relationship between science and Christian faith, so long as these conversations are conducted in love and preserve the unity of the Body of Christ.”
(Gen. 1:1-2:3, 2:4-24, Ps. 104, John 16:13, Rom. 1:19-20, Eph 4:3-6, Col. 1:16-17, 2 Pet. 3:5)
To date, several districts have committed to taking this statement as a guide for proposing something new for consideration at the denomination’s general assembly. And this is very good news!
I want to be quick to say the statements coming from these districts may differ slightly or widely from the one above. After all, the statement above, as helpful as is, does not bind anyone in any way. It merely stands as a first draft of what we hope will be a stronger statement by the Church of the Nazarene on creation, origins, and evolution.
I also want to say that the statement above was not formulated by me or any other single individual. In fact, I didn’t even attend any of the group meetings that formulated this. Instead, the new statement represents a group effort by pastors, scholars, and laity.
In every group effort, compromises must be made. But in the end, I find the proposed statement above much stronger than the current statement. It can help the Church of the Nazarene boldly proclaim its belief that God is Creator. And it can support and inspire the ongoing ministries and conversations in science and theology.