Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Real Presence: survey says...

I know what I hope the answer to this question is. And I'm pretty sure I know what the answer should be as well. But I want to know what you think, fair reader - both your own conviction and what you observe in the practices of your own church(es):
Do Nazarenes believe in the "real presence" of Christ in the Lord's Supper?
I unfailingly attempt to defend that we do...but then sometimes I wonder...
The Church of the Nazarene's 13th Article of Faith puts it thus:
XIII. The Lord’s Supper
17. We believe that the Memorial and Communion Supper instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essentially a New Testament sacrament, declarative of His sacrificial death, through the merits of which believers have life and salvation and promise of all spiritual blessings in Christ. It is distinctively for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation of its significance, and by it they show forth the Lord’s death till He come again. It being the Communion feast, only those who have faith in Christ and love for the saints should be called to participate therein.
To appeal to another authority, John Wesley's adaptation for Methodist use of 25 of the Anglican 39 Articles states:

Article 16—Of the Sacraments
Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God's good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him. There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. [...]
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith.

Article 18—Of the Lord's Supper
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch that, to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith...
So, whaddaya'll think?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nazarene Magisterium?

Hi everybody. For those of you who don't know--or remember--me, I'm Dave Belcher...just an ordinary guy who plays the guitar. I just finished an MA in theology from Vanderbilt University, and I was around when Brannon was a guitar-slinging rockstar in a band I will not here mention!

Well, I've been thinking a whole lot about my "vocation" lately (finishing a degree can force that upon a person), and I keep falling back against my previous "thrownness" (to poach on Heidegger's terminology) into the field of theology. I have always understood myself to be a theologian "of and for the church" (not "the people"...never been too keen on American democracy); and this has led me more recently to a consideration of my theological vocation as a particular teaching vocation to and for the Church of the Nazarene. But, immediately my considerations begged the question: "Is there room for something like this in the Church of the Nazarene, or, is it possible for the Church of the Nazarene to have a sort of 'magisterium' within its body?" (and though we usually associate that word "magisterium" with the office of the pope in the RC church, it is really just another word for teaching that answers questions of how our truth statements--or doctrines--are in fact true...in other words: it is an exercising of faith seeking understanding).

I think this has implications for all of us here concerned with the sacramental life of the church, or with a "sanctifying worship" through the sacraments--since telling us why these are good for our church is an exercise of "speculative theology" and not simply an affirmation of faith. So, what do y'all think? [I would especially appreciate comments from those of you who might have some historical background info on "theologial education" within the church body...which, of course, is not the same thing as "caravans." But, please, all comments are always welcome]. Peace.