Disingenuous: An Open Letter to Jared Henry, the Friedemans, and the Holiness Partnership


That’s the most charitable word I have to describe your actions in recent days. Disingenuous. Quotes below characterize the actions to which I am referring.

In your (Caleb’s) review of Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming, you say, “First, we should call Nazarenes who reject the denomination’s stance on human sexuality to repent—including Thomas Oord and other Nazarene authors in this book. Second, we should remove the credentials of Nazarene clergy who refuse to repent—including Thomas Oord and the sixteen other authors in the book who are ordained Nazarene ministers. Similarly, we should relieve any LGBTQ+ affirming faculty at Nazarene institutions of their positions and titles.”

In your (Jared’s) blog, you claim, “More evidence is readily available for Oord to lose his credential in the Church of the Nazarene.” And near the end, you ask what seems to be a rhetorical question, “Why does Oord still have his credentials?”

Your (Matt and Elijah’s) edited book is a response “to members of the Nazarene tribe [who] have sought to amplify their opinions regarding sex and gender issues…,” an apparent reference to Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming. Some essayists in the book say people like me should be disciplined for wanting changes in the denomination’s statement on human sexuality.

Biblical Inerrancy

To understand my claim that you’re disingenuous, we need to return to 2009. In that year, a proposal from the Southwest Indiana District came to the General Assembly. It asked for radical change to the denomination’s Article on Scripture.

The proposal sought to remove the phrase “inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.” The replacement said the Bible is “inerrant throughout, and the supreme authority on everything the Scriptures teach.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe some people now in the Holiness Partnership advocated for this change. And many in the Partnership today would like to see something similar replace the Manual’s current statement on Scripture. (For examples of those who want such changes, see Concerned Nazarene and Former Nazarene statements.)

The General Assembly committee sent the Southwest Indiana proposal to what it called a “Scripture Study Committee.” That group subsequently issued a document they called, “Report of the Scripture Study Committee.” The report was aimed at the 2013 General Assembly. (Find the full report here.)

The committee strongly supported the denomination’s longstanding statement on Scripture. They did not want an Article of Faith that said the Bible was “inerrant throughout.” The committee believed the proposed change had a “Calvinist origin” and reflected “Calvinist belief.”

The proposed inerrancy changes did not fit a Wesleyan-Holiness view of the Bible.

Stan Reeder

During this time, I was in conversation with Stan Reeder, who was then district superintendent of the Oregon-Pacific District. He’s now USA/Canada regional director. The recent statement claiming all major sections of the Manual are essential came from his office.

Stan interpreted Article 4 as saying something similar to what the Southwest Indiana district had proposed. In my discussions with Stan, I said those changes assume a Calvinist view of biblical inspiration. They did not reflect our theological commitments.

Of course, the Scripture committee eventually sided with my perspective. I did not respond, however, by asking Stan to leave the denomination. Nor did I seek to have him disciplined.

And to my knowledge, no one from the Southwest Indiana district was asked to leave when their changes were not adopted by the General Assembly. They were not disciplined.

Inerrant in Autographs

Now, to my primary point…

You (Matt and Elijah) are employed by Wesley Biblical Seminary (Mississippi). And you (Jared) are a trustee at Kentucky Mountain Bible College. These two institutions have statements on the Bible that differ from the Church of the Nazarene’s Article on Scripture.

Both institutions claim the original documents of the Bible are inerrant. That’s not what we find in the Church of the Nazarene’s Manual. The Manual affirms soteriological inerrancy not original autograph inerrancy. The idea that the original autographs are inerrant is a claim you’ll find in Calvinist-oriented institutions like Wheaton.

In other words, the people wanting to discipline me and others are out of step with the Manual’s statement on Scripture!

It could be, of course, that you (the Friedemans and Henry) are actively trying to change the Scripture statements at the institutions at which you serve. But if you are, you’re being disingenuous when you seek change but don’t allow others to do the same.

More likely, however, you (the Friedemans and Henry) endorse the original autograph inerrancy views of Wesley Biblical Seminary and Kentucky Mountain Bible College. You embrace them, even though they diverge from the Manual. And yet you want to discipline me and others who want changes in the Manual.


The Letter Kills

I’m not surprised that you (the Friedemans and Henry) have views that don’t fit the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. We Nazarenes are a diverse bunch! Any independent-thinking person is bound to come to conclusions that don’t fit the Manual perfectly.

I have no plans to bring you up on discipline charges, however. I will turn the other cheek. Love does not repay evil with evil.

I fear, however, that your call to remove the credentials of me and others returns the denomination to the Fundamentalist legalism of yesteryear. As someone who grew up around that legalism, I hoped the denomination had matured. Afterall, living by the Manual letter kills.

My hope: that we have a real conversation without calling for credentials and without seeking discipline. Let’s come to the table in good faith. And let’s hear our differences on Scripture, science, culture, and more without the saber-rattling of “contending for the faith.”

Let’s aim for genuine love (Rom. 12:9).

3 responses to “Disingenuous: An Open Letter to Jared Henry, the Friedemans, and the Holiness Partnership”

  1. Thank you Tom. Many people are reacting to a changing diversifying world with fear and exclusion. They see sharing belonging with others as loosing their domination and control.

    The kingdom of God is not zero sum. There is enough for all of us.

    I admire the spirit of collaboration and love in the face of power games by bad faith actors.

    Keep on broother,
    Mac Cansler

  2. Tom – I am not sure that ANYTHING I am going to add is helpful, informative or even wise.

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave a note here or just email you privately.
    I am just amazed. I think Mac and the jf person above have articulated my feelings…and well. This is exactly why Ken and I decided to start LoveMoreLessFear.com when we did. We were done allowing FEAR to trump LOVE. And, we wanted to bring a safe place to those who are so disillusioned with what has become of the COTN. We were done being SILENT so that people would not be “uncomfortable” – all of the while our LGBTQ+ children (and so many more) were living in anxiety, denial, fear, and at times hopelessness. God have mercy! Christ have mercy!

    The thing is…and please correct me if I am wrong…seriously – I would not be offended if you see it differently… But, would you not say that the “yesteryear” you were talking of was AFTER Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee around 1925. When the COTN began at the turn of the century these were “guidelines” and not rules. Unity was more important in order to bring the Gospel to ALL!!! The essentials were WAY different than what people call essentials now – correct?! We believed that if the Gospel wasn’t for everyone – it wasn’t the Gospel.

    In my understanding of Nazarene history – it seems that after 1925 we were infiltrated with Calvinist, Fundamentalist thinking, and the COTN just continued to employ and ordain men (especially) who were intent on making the COTN another legalistic denomination. (I have NAMES!!! Haha! Although this is no laughing matter – it is detrimental in every way!) From 1925 to now – we have hemorrhaged the Wesleyans and those who longed to keep the essentials as the essentials and unity in all other things in order to reach the world with the Gospel of the Love of Jesus Christ. (AND – I am GUILTY here as well!!! I do not deny this!) But, I thank God for all I have learned. I never want to stop thinking and working toward deeper understanding and greater LOVE for everyone!)

    Our family has suffered greatly from all of this. In fact – I am just now able to speak about it more without totally breaking down. In fact, when it came to write for the book – I just could not bear it – I think mainly because of reactions, responses and retorts that I had already fielded with Ken – and I felt that there was no way the COTN was going to even consider this change. I have been paralyzed when I think that the institution I gave my life to only wants to erase me. They have no desire to have conversations – they just act as if we are no longer alive. People who trusted us for YEARS – have walked away and speak disparagingly of us. I am flummoxed and saddened.

    Would I do it all over again?!?!Hmmmm…. We were so fortunate to be in a church in Michigan for over 20 years. We were so grateful to be serving with the Stouts who always worked to keep the essentials the essentials!!! Thanks be to God! (By the way – the podcast that we just dropped is Carol – SOOOO GOOD!!!! Make sure you listen! I think anyone who hears will be so grateful they listened.). Well, I know I was working ultimately for God – yes! But, I just look at everything that has happened – I just shake my head! Also the autonomy of the G.S. and the D.S. positions and the ultimate control of the ministers themselves by these people – just makes me crazy!

    O.K. I am RAMBLING!!! And I did not actually proof the last part of this – and since my accident – it is dangerous to NOT! Hahaha!!!

    Let’s talk soon!


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