Our Teaching - Articles of Faith, Our Doctrine

Teaching Theology at SNU

Teaching and learning in the School of Theology and Ministry at Southern Nazarene University is grounded in and shaped by the sixteen Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene. The following statements illustrate commitments and presuppositions that structure and inform our presentation of the Christian faith.

To read the full Articles of Faith, visit the Church of the Nazarene global website.

The Triune God

In our courses we teach that Christians worship the One God who is triune-Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Students are taught that the chief end of all persons is to worship God and to enjoy God all the days of our lives. Students are taught that the worship of and service to God is the center of Christian life. All else flows from worship of God. Wherever possible, we utilize the substance of the Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. Christ is presented in our classes as the author and Lord of His Church.

Theocentric and Christocentric

Our classes affirm the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. We stress that, in Christ alone, the Eternal God has been definitively and finally revealed. Jesus Christ is God incarnate. We make clear that to be Christocentric is also to be Theocentric. We make clear that Jesus both is and preached the gospel. He is the Heavenly Father's Good News, the Gospel of God. We present Jesus as Lord of all, the Savior of the world who has in the cross and resurrection met and conquered death, hell, sin and the grave. We also make clear that Jesus was fully and truly human, that He lived and preached and served in a particular historical context. We make clear that Christ has put to flight all powers of evil and that by the Holy Spirit Christ now makes His victory available to all His disciples. We focus attention on Christ and not on the disciple. While the individual disciple is very important, we want to steer students away from the errors of subjectivism, introversion and isolationism. The New Testament order is first our being "in Christ" and secondly "Christ in" us.

The Christian Scriptures

We introduce students to the Old and New Testaments. We try to lead them into a love for the Scriptures. Through our classes we present a comprehensive picture of the biblical narrative. We introduce students to the structure of the Bible so that they will not be lost in or discouraged by the Bible's size and complexity. The doctrine of the Scriptures that the Church of the Nazarene embraces is our norm. We teach that the Old and New Testaments inerrantly reveal the will of God in all things necessary for our salvation. They are authoritative in all things that relate to faith and Christian practice. "Whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith" We pay attention to the diverse contexts in which the various writings of Scripture emerged, and to the unique ways in which individual writers bore witness to divine revelation. For us, the authority of the Scriptures is soteriological (salvation). The realm in which the Scriptures are authoritative concerns our salvation. Salvation, of course, includes both Christian faith and practice. Hence, where the Scriptures speak on matters of ethics--how the life of Christ is manifest in the Church and His disciples-- they are authoritative.

The Church

We teach the central importance of the Church as the body of Christ. We see the Church as the primary context in which one comes to know what it means to be a Christian. John Wesley's statement that "There is no holiness but social holiness" is an important theme for SNU’s School of Theology and Ministry. The koinonia of the Holy Spirit is where one learns the whole story of God. We show students the major elements of the history of the Church. We want them to learn that the Body of Christ has a history from which we can understand more fully what it means to be Christians today. We want our students to develop an appreciation for the triumphant saints who have paved the path for us.

The Order of Salvation

The Wesleyan Order of Salvation guides our thinking and teaching. The reality and meaning of prevenient grace, conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, justification by grace through faith alone, regeneration as initial sanctification, growth in grace, entire sanctification, and eventual glorification is evident in our classes. We emphasize that all persons everywhere are called to be Jesus' disciples. We are explicitly Arminian in this regard. We teach that Christ actually and radically changes persons who come to him, rather than merely looking at them in a different way. We believe in real regeneration of the penitent sinner. We believe that a believer must be crucified with Christ before he or she can be raised to new life in Christ. Life in Christ is life in and through the resurrected and reigning Lord. We want students to understand that Christians live in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit draws persons to Christ, witnesses to Him as Christ, is the Divine agent of justification, regeneration and sanctification, makes victory over sin normative for Christian life, and promotes life-long growth in grace. The Holy Spirit enables believers increasingly to love God with heart, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbors as themselves. We want to teach students the meaning of entire sanctification and urge them to make the promise their own. We teach the primacy of the fruit of the Spirit. All Christians everywhere are to show the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is normative and singular. The primary and dependable evidence of the Holy Spirit is His fruit in the lives of obedient disciples. The gifts of the Spirit are several and are not uniformly distributed to all members of Christ's Body. The gifts of the Spirit are given for witness and service in Christ's Church and in the world. The fruit of the Spirit must always govern them. We teach the hope of the Second Coming of Christ when He will consummate His inaugurated Kingdom. The relationship between the inauguration of the Kingdom of God in Christ's person, and His return in glory is made clear in our classes. The Second Coming of our Lord is cause for hope, joyous anticipation and watchfulness among His disciples. It must never become the subject of fruitless speculation, scintillating entertainment, a reason for fear among God's people, or a topic that assumes a life of its own. The soteriology that we embrace is holistic and firmly grounded in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sacraments

We emphasize to students the essential role of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as formative of the Church’s identity and as means of God’s grace. We present Baptism as the appropriate public demonstration of commitment to the community of faith. We teach that the Lord’s Supper celebrates the central reality of the Incarnation – God the Son come in human nature.

Christian Service and Witness

We teach that Christ calls and empowers believers for service in the Church and in the world. Although God does not call all persons to ordained Christian ministry, He calls and empowers all persons for Christian ministry. They have a ministry to exercise before God and for others. He equips Christians through the gifts of the Spirit. "There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (I Corinthians 12: 4-7 NRSV).

Compassionate Ministry

The movement of which SNU is a part was born in a revival that joined love for God and love for persons--with special reference to the poor and disenfranchised. Phineas Bresee and others insisted that Christian holiness necessarily included a love for and practice of justice and mercy. True to his Wesleyan heritage, Bresee thought that Christian salvation addresses the whole person. Both men thought that the compassionate Christ who brings good news to the poor, gives light to those who sit in darkness, and sets captives free is the Christ by whom Christians should be discipled. The Church of the Nazarene that Phineas Bresee envisioned was one that would receive careful instructions from the 25th chapter of Matthew. We teach our students that following Jesus necessarily includes showing how the gospel is good news for marginalized people, for victims of abuse, for prisoners and their families, for the illiterate, for victims of tragedies that threaten to destroy them, and so forth. Our aim is to present this complete and holistic understanding of the Gospel of our Lord.

Our Teaching