Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27) by comparing two very different construction methods of two different home builders.
The first builder took the easy route by building his house right on the ground's surface. Not a good idea since the soil was sandy. The second builder took the extra effort to build his house on the foundation of a solid rock. Rain and wind had no effect on this house. Its foundation went deep below the earth's surface.
Jesus offered this as an illustration of the difference his teachings make when applied to life. When I think about the Church of the Nazarene's Articles of Faith, I always think about Jesus' illustration of these two home builders. The doctrines of our denomination all find their foundation in the Bible and all connect to our Articles of Faith.
The Bible and Articles of Faith are the solid rock on which we base our beliefs about God, faith, and Christian practice. Any time a new idea comes to my attention for consideration, my first question is, "Where does this idea find support in the Bible?" My second question, "How does this idea square with our Articles of Faith?"
In the Church of the Nazarene, we have 16 Articles of Faith. They have guided believers faithfully across the years. Because they are so important to what we believe and how we live, it is a good idea for us to take a fresh look at them from time to time. I don't just mean read the text of the articles themselves. Rather, I mean have specialists who think about such things guide our thoughts in fresh ways not only about what the articles mean to us in everyday life, but also how we put feet to them as we go about our ordinary daily routines.
It's often helpful to remember that the original purpose of these articles was not to confuse our faith, but to make it easier to understand and to help us apply faith to life. In this issue we are beginning a new series entitled "We Believe." In each issue, Holiness Today will highlight one of the Articles of Faith. We will offer a brief explanation of the article with an extended look at how we apply it to our Christian lives on a regular basis. We will hear from a wide variety of authors from around the world.
I believe you are going to enjoy both the variety of the presentations and the ways they can impact your life. Occasionally folks will say to me, "I don't care anything about theology; it confuses me." I think I know what they mean. They don't want to hear the big words from the fat books in the pastor's library. However, theology simply means "God-talk."
Every time we have a conversation with a friend about our best friend—God—we are participating in theology. That's why understanding what we believe about God is so important.
The first article on Article of Faith comes from my good friend Kevin Mellish, professor of biblical studies at Olivet Nazarene University. He has done a great job of both explaining this Article of Faith and applying it practically. As I read the letter printed in this issue from my friend, Ray Dunning, professor emeritus from Trevecca Nazarene University, I was reminded of an important observation. He offered me my first chance to teach theology fresh from graduate school at the beginning of my higher education ministry.
Now I am assigning these theological articles to the next generation of educators and ministers. They will make a significant contribution to the conversation as we continue to explore this ever-expanding subject of our understanding of God.
You contribute to the conversation as well. Your role is important as you read the articles, apply the messages to your own lives, then find ways to share these spiritual truths with family members and friends. This is where God-talk has the greatest effectiveness—when we tell and show others how God can intersect their lives in practical ways on a daily basis.
The more frequently and naturally we do this, the better we will be at being salt and light in our world. I trust you enjoy the new "We Believe" series.
Frank M. Moore is editor in chief of Holiness Today and general editor for the Church of the Nazarene. Holiness Today January/February 2014