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One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism
Essential Teachings for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene
Every organization that survives over time can attribute its longevity to a deeply shared combination of purpose, belief, and values. So it is with the Church of the Nazarene. It came into existence to preach, teach, and model holiness of heart and life as the missional core of its vocation to make Christlike disciples in the nations. Our present and our future as a denomination depend on our faithful participation in the mission of God and our embrace of the distinctive vocation God has given us as one of many Christian denominations.
As our denomination expands globally, it is appropriate to identify not only our distinctives, but how our theology derives from Holy Scripture, and harmonizes with the church’s tradition over two millennia, with human reason enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and with Christian experience. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene, is just such an initiative.
Our spiritual ancestors developed creeds, confessions, and catechisms because they feared the Christian life would lose its distinctive shape unless believers could publically affirm and embrace with conviction Christianity’s core persuasions. The Christian faith is more than head knowledge or rote recitation of dogma. It is a specific way of life with a pattern that can be described. For example, Christian hope is not simply the power of positive thinking, but a more specific expectation that God can bring reconciliation out of the dysfunction and despair of sin, and raise new life out of death. In our tradition, we express that hope as the optimism of grace. A constant refrain in preaching and instruction based on the Scriptures, creeds, confessions, and traditions is that the core convictions of faith cannot be based on vague sentiments and subjective opinions.
Indeed, doctrines are intended to articulate the basic underlying principles already being practiced in the Christian community. A document, like a communal profession, or what some churches call a catechism, possesses a degree of institutional authority since it grows out of the life of the church. As we look to the ancient creeds, the theological confessions, and other historic faith forming documents, we discover patterns of faith formation that have the power to speak to new generations in the unusual and challenging contexts of the 21st century. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism seeks to continue these historically extended conversations of the past with the present as we help new generations of faithful Christians advance our denomination’s core values: Christian, holiness, missional.
The overarching vision for this document intends more than presenting information about God or the divine plan for our salvation. Ultimately this document seeks to center our worship on God and God alone. He deserves all honor and glory. Our highest praise and adoration must flow from all that is read and understood in these paragraphs. “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Four patterns for this new faith formation initiative shape the template of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. The Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, the sacraments, and the Lord’s Prayer compose a new setting for exploring and understanding the Christian faith as espoused by the Church of the Nazarene in its Wesleyan-holiness theological tradition.
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