In this post https://toddrisser.com/2013/10/02/fundamentalists-among-the-nazarenes/ I wrote about the fact that Nazarenes are not fundamentalist, despite there being a group of Nazarenes who want us to be, and who want us to adopt a fundamentalist position on Scriptural inerrancy.
But to be fair, I’ve been asking myself something on the Fundamentalists’ behalf. Some of these folk have made the argument that the Church of the Nazarene has historically been Fundamentalist and inerrantist and that Nazarene scholars in the last 60 years have cherry-picked their history so as to re-cast it to show we aren’t Fundamentalist. Indeed these Nazarenes cite examples of Fundamentalist, inerrantist statements by some Nazarene leaders in the early years.
And so I ask myself; what if a person grew up in a geographical region where most Nazarenes there were historically Fundamentalist? What if their pastors and the leaders they had known were all Fundamentalist? What if what it meant to be Nazarene to them was, in fact, largely fundamentalist? What if the nearest Nazarene educational institution to them did indeed communicate in ways that sounded consistent with a Fundamentalist worldview or perspective on the Bible? Is it the way of Jesus for me to say to them “Go be Baptist”?
I don’t think the Church of the Nazarene would be better off Fundamentalist. I do think current Nazarene scholarship has accurately shown that the official theology of the early Church of the Nazarene – and certainly after the 1950s – was intentionally NOT Fundamentalist or inerrantist, even if there were some few individual scholars or prominent leaders who did lean that way.
While I believe an inerrantist and Fundamentalist approach to the Scriptures and life creates more problems and dysfunctions than is good for human well-being, I don’t know how to solve that issue in all fairness to Nazarenes who find themselves cherishing their Nazarene experience when it was largely Fundamentalist. I understand why they would feel we are trying to steal their church out from under them or change what they have always believed. And this leaves me wondering how to address their concerns in a way consistent with the nature of Jesus. “Love covers over a multitude of sins.”