Sunday, December 10, 2006

Duke Fabulous Reporting

As my deddy likes too say, I ain't never seen the beet. At least that's what it always sounded like. Any-THEE-howw how I was I say I was out workin on the car the other afternoon when this pretty little gal saunters up outta just about nowhere. She sat down and she looked like she had somethin there on her mind so I says I say now darlin' you look like you got somethin to say. So she revolutes her eyes around a bit and says she say, now Duke...I don know, sometimes I have time to think that there just might be somethin the wrawwwwng with you. Said it just like that drawd out tha wrawwwwwwng. So I pauses and thinks a minute about that and I say I says well now darlin' that may just be but, just for now, I do believe I'm just gonna let history to decide on that. Now, hear what the Duke says. Some folk'll put you in a box sure as money don't grow on trees, and it's up to YOU as to whether or not they get away with it. Duke out.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

A sinus-induced REVELATION

SCIENCE teaches us that there are two electrodes in the flow of electric current, namely, anode and the cathode. Yet after much thought and not a few merry giggles I concede that there is yet another. I have overdubbed this phenomenal discovery as the Zenode, the applications for which are sure to astound even the most innocent of bystanders. In your picture tube, for insistence, there is a beam of electrons forming a cathode ray which stimulates a phosphorescent screen after passing by the anode plate. This very predicament has entertained seventy people for over millions of years. However, I consent that the induction of a Zenode will allow the viewer to see in THREE DIMENSIONS, plus, he or she will be able to smell. It. Smell it. The person will be able to smell it. I say. So I welcome your confounded curiosity into this most appraising development and I am certain that it will vastly enthrall the lives of many lives. Thank you for this message.


Friday, March 31, 2006

A Century of Holiness Theology

Growing up in the Church of the Nazarene since age 3, I became familiar with the typical modus operandi that seemed to permeate the local Nazarene churches in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s interesting how the congregations on my district in Ohio would typically operate in two modes: and by this I distinguish between “normal” time and “revival” time. Naturally the “normal” time is that between the typical biannual “revival” weeks where a special preacher would hold a series of meetings. It was only during these meetings that I remember hearing mention of “entire sanctification” preached in the local church. But why was this covered only during revival meetings? Was this concept, which was explicitly stated in our Articles of Faith, not central enough to the work and witness of the local body to warrant a purposeful expression from the pulpit on a regular basis?

Mark Quanstrom’s A Century of Holiness Theology has shed some light on the doctrinal formulation and reformulation that has gone on during the twentieth century in the Church of the Nazarene. In this work, Quanstrom details the expression of entire sanctification Church of the Nazarene’s first 100 years of existence as a denomination. He begins naturally with the original conception born with the founders of the denomination as influenced by the “holiness movement” theology of the nineteenth century, then progresses along with the denomination’s life and trials throughout the tumultuous 1900s. Along the way, life and experience yields various thinkers such as Mildred Bangs Wynkoop and H. R. Dunning to begin to point to a reinterpretation of entire sanctification in light of Wesley’s theology, such as that which defines holiness in terms of relationships rather than the elimination of “substantive sin” within a person. Naturally this leads to serious debate over how to state the “distinctive” Nazarene doctrine as denominational leaders are split on the issue; many who favor various shades of the new expressions mixed with the traditional, but some such as Richard S. Taylor were determined to keep the original formulation in tact. At the end of Quanstrom’s Century we leave off with a sort of indeterminate optimism; while the latest meeting of Nazarene theologians and leadership has not yet yielded a homogenous definition of entire sanctification, we see that this gives us no call to abandon the work that God has begun in the Church of the Nazarene.

All throughout this book I noted that the leaders of the Church of the Nazarene were reacting out of concern that our “distinctive doctrine” of entire sanctification was in danger of losing its relevance, perhaps it’s “saltiness” to adapt the Matthew language. But this begs a question: why is a “distinctive” doctrine so important, how about an “effective” doctrine? It seems in carrying out the work of Christ’s Kingdom, we as disciples of Christ would want to seek a doctrine that best enables we as His body to do the work that honors the Father by the enabling of the Spirit. So, why does the preoccupation with the distinctiveness of our doctrine come to the forefront of these reported discussions? Is it that important that our theological identity be that distinguishable from other denominations for us to carry on as a body of believers? It seems that we would want to make sure first and foremost that our ideal theology would be that which enables effective Kingdom work through the best Scriptural, historical, experiential, and traditional perspectives to our avail.

Another question that comes to mind: If the twenty-first century is the dawning of a new morning, what shall our “new song” be? Quanstrom’s book proper ends with “Holiness unto the Lord” a central Nazarene hymn that sticks out in my mind as what we sang as ordination candidates marched into the sanctuary at my district center a few years back. Now, there is no way I would ever advocate the abandonment of this hymn since it’s message is probably more applicable to the future of a “holiness people” than it has been to our past since I have great hope and optimism toward our emerging new understanding of biblical holiness. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if we are really intentional in our hope that we will find a comprehensive, relevant, and effective theology by which to fervently continue ministry under the banner of “holiness”. In other words, I hope that we work and pray expectantly for our “new song” from the Lord, by which many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord (Ps 40:3 NRSV). Since we’ve come to the point where the traditional modus operandi of the “crisis moment” or “altar” emphasis has effectively faded from view, and given the fact that I’ve been very intrigued by theological discussions by our leaders, I am certain that God will lead the way for a holiness emphasis to continue among those of us who yearn to see God work mightily in our midst while doing the work of the Cross.

So upon reflection, my initial impression of the Church of the Nazarene was that an entirely sanctified life was that of what I’ll call anhedonistic piety, marked more often by that which one denies oneself than rather than that which one is afforded and empowered through grace. It seems that our efforts in the twenty-first century would want to continue to emphasize and reflect the latter, namely, a vision of Christ coming into the world and showing us the way to advocate divine change through unabated obedience, faith, and love. At any rate, I would also hope that we would arrive at a doctrine that reflects what the Church of the Nazarene wants to become, and one that is identifiable not only from our theological discussions, seminars, and sermons but from the witness and work of Nazarene congregations wherever they may be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

When it hits the fan

When it hits the fan
Is it any surprise?
The tension was building
And now the dung flies

That thing that was lurking
Would rear it's little head
Maybe now maybe then
Now you wish it were dead

You preached and you yelled
You made threats all day long
You gave ultimatums
You sang your same song

Whatever the reason
That wasn't enough
To kill the beast within
Bastard's pretty dang tough

So it's out in the open
Does everyone have to know?
Or were there hints all along
That the secret would show

Time for decisions
Can you stand by your man?
Things are so different
Since the crap hit the fan