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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.

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Mar

27

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. 

Posted in 2014 under John Wesley, Holiness, and the Church of the Nazarene

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Comments

David Troxler

03.27.2014
10:08am

I like the broadened view.  I would hope that any attempt to rewrite it would keep it in the 900 section of the Manual instead of it becoming an article of faith.  I don’t think it was proposed as such, but just wanted to make that clear.
One item that I don’t see retained is the reference in the current article to Hebrews 11:3.  I think that reference should still be included as supportive Scriptures for the new wording.

 

Brad dyrness

03.27.2014
11:36am

Great tool to help us acknowledge our belief in God as a creative creator.

 

Paul Whiteford

03.27.2014
3:45pm

I like the proposed statement a lot.  I think there will be some significant push back, but if approved would be an improvement.  I like how it keeps the question open for a wide range of people in our church.

 

jose s merida

03.28.2014
7:57am

i think the proposed statement may be too long, making it more vulnerable to unnecessary controversy. i would suggest a shorter and broader one: “the church of the nazarene believes god is the creator and sustainter of all nature.” (romans 1:20)

 

Cameron Pence

03.28.2014
8:43am

I can appreciate what the proposed statement is trying to do….I just hope it is not something that will only be used as ammunition from one side to other in the origins debate to exclude one side or the other….one of the things I like about the current statement is that it is a bit ambiguous EXCEPT to say that God is the Creator…...that should be what really matters and should be our anchor as brothers and sisters in this conversation….I do really like that the proposed statement points directly to the “elephant in the room” though

 

Martijn

03.28.2014
3:11pm

Very refreshing and gives much more room to recent devellopments in science and how to see these with Gods amazing work of His creation

 

Wesley Darbro

03.29.2014
8:30pm

The wordiness adds little and clouds your points.  This appears to me what you mean: “The church teaches God created the universe, the visible and the invisible.  Writers of the Bible in order to promote understanding at the time they were writing used current terms understood by the readers.  The church and science believe that research continues because science is not perfect yet and will continue to improve with time.  With this in mind we do not limit members in the quest for truth to study science; also this prepares one to assist those without a relationship to God in the full understanding of God’s Universe.”  Then the supporting scriptures should be added.

 

Steve Myers

03.31.2014
2:37pm

The following statement leaves human interpretation and scientific influence an open ended opportunity to discount the creation of Adam as noted in the Genesis account.  This new statement says: “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.”  This has the danger of reducing Scripture to the same level as scientific interpretation. It states that Scripture only “helps” us in the same manner as human interpretation of scientific experiment.  It reduces God’s Word to interpretive matter and opens the door for arguments when we say that we can differ in our understanding of how He created.  If we stand on this sand, we no longer have a firm foundation.

 

Josh Broward

04.01.2014
8:51am

This statement is much better than the current statement, but the last sentence of the first paragraph seems unnecessary and likely to offend our more conservative members.

 

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Thomas Jay Oord is a professor, author, and theologian from the Northwest. Read more