For years now I’ve watched from the sidelines as some church groups have fought the so called “Battle for the Bible.” I say I’ve watched from the sidelines because I’m a part of the Church of the Nazarene and Nazarenes, from the beginning, refuse to enter into the fray. Our founders arrived at the wise stance that the Holy Scriptures are inspired and inerrantly reveal “the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.” By making this one of our Articles of Faith it removed us from the endless debates about whether thus and so “really happened.”
Still, I can’t claim that we aren’t impacted by the issue. Some of our folks get their theology as much from Christian radio and TV as they do from their local church. Since we do “believe the Bible” arguments framed as “do you or don’t you?” cause us to unknowingly drift into the raging waters of this debate.
We Nazarenes have a Wesleyan view of Scripture. That means, as our forefathers stated, we believe the Bible has been given to us for the purpose of revealing God’s will concerning our salvation. Some folks read the story of Jonah and the big fish and think they have to prove Jonah really was swallowed by such a fish or the whole Bible is placed in doubt. A Nazarene reads it and asks, “What does this tell us about God and his redeeming grace?” The big fish may or may not have existed (personally, I’m on the “did exist” side), we’re free to believe however we conclude. It’s what this story tells us about God and salvation that matters. That, for us, is the inerrant part.
For some folks “believing the Bible” is about proving whatever they think the Bible is saying is factual. To them, it’s a science-history-math-theology book. For Wesleyans, it’s a book about God and man and salvation. We believe everything it says is about that is hard fact, inerrantly pointing us to God and his redemptive purposes for us.