At TSM, each day begins with Morning Prayer at 8:30 and Evening Prayer at 4:30. Eucharist is on Wednesday. This place is clearly Anglican. You can see it. You can feel it. You can hear it. The liturgy is unique. The vestments are unique. The whole thing is unique. It is a whole other world with a whole other ethos. From the Prayer that begins and ends the day, to the lectures throughout the day, the place oozes Anglicanism. There is absolutely no way a person could spend any time in this community and not sense the Anglicanism.
I found myself wondering if the same could be said of the Church of the Nazarene. I wonder if a person spending time at our seminary would be able to see and hear and know that we are Nazarene and not Wesleyan, Free Methodist, or any of the other generic evangelical seminaries. I wonder what is truly distinct and definitive of the Church of the Nazarene.
I think there was a day when "holiness" was our distinctive. But I don't think "holiness" was the distinctive, but rather a certain brand of holiness -- particularly the campmeeting-frontier-revivalist-American Holiness. Our distinctive has historically been a second definite/instantaneous work of grace. In recent days, however, that has largely gone by the wayside. As a result we have struggled to keep our distinctiveness. Our preaching has become more generic. Our distinctive hymnody has largely been lost.
It certainly seems plausible that the Nazarene future could be a gradual drift toward generic evangelicalism. However, I do not think that the future is necessarily generic, but our present struggle is whether to continue on the road to generic-evangelicalism or to re-envision a distinctively Nazarene identity.
So I am left to wonder: What makes us uniquely Nazarene?