Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 1) - Lesson #13 - The Nazarene Religion


  1. History of the Nazarene Denomination
    1. When did the denomination start? October 1895 
    2. Where did this movement start? Los Angeles, California
    3. How did this movement start? The Nazarene religion began as a means of helping the poor and needy.

      In October 1895 , Phineas F. Bresee, D.D., and Joseph P. Widney, M.D., with about 100 others … organized the Church of the Nazarene at Los Angeles. They believed … that their expenditures of time and money should be given to Christlike ministries for the salvation of souls and the relief of the needy. They organized the church accordingly. They adopted general rules, a statement of belief, a polity based on a limited superintendency, procedures for the consecration of deaconesses and the ordination of elders, and a ritual. These were published as a Manual beginning in 1898 . …

      The Year of Uniting: 1907 – 1908 . The Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Holiness Church of Christ were brought into association with one another by C. W. Ruth, assistant general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, who had extensive friendships throughout the Wesleyan-holiness movement. Delegates of the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America and the Church of the Nazarene convened in general assembly at Chicago, from October 10 to 17, 1907 . … Further, the General Assembly adopted a name for the united body drawn from both organizations: The Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. …

      The second General Assembly of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene met in a joint session with the General Council of the Holiness Church of Christ from October 8 to 14, 1908 , at Pilot Point, Texas. The year of uniting ended on Tuesday morning, October 13 , when R. B. Mitchum moved and C. W. Ruth seconded the proposition: "That the union of the two churches be now consummated." At 10:40 a.m. , amid great enthusiasm, the motion to unite was adopted by a unanimous rising vote.

      Denominational Change of Name. The General Assembly of 1919 , in response to memorials from 35 district assemblies, officially changed the name of the organization to Church of the Nazarene because of new meanings that had become associated with the term "Pentecostal."

      … After 1908 various other bodies united with the Church of the Nazarene.1

    4. Who founded the Nazarite religion? Phineas F. Bresee. He founded this movement with its motto being "Let the Church of the Nazarene be true to its commission; not great and elegant buildings, but to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and wipe away the tears of sorrowing, and gather jewels for His diadem."2
    5. Who is the head of the Nazarene denomination? While no one person is considered to be the head, the Nazarene movement recognizes the need for a “head” when they say, "We are agreed on the necessity of a superintendency that shall complement and assist the local church in the fulfilling of its mission and objectives. The superintendency shall build morale, provide motivation, supply management and method assistance, and organize and encourage organization of new churches and missions everywhere."3 This “superintendency” is visible in the form of a General Assembly conference and preamble. The current General Superintendent is Paul Cunningham.
    6. What is their Authority? The Bible and the Church of the Nazarene Manual, including their 16 Articles of Faith.
  2. Nazarene Doctrines Examined Scripturally
    1. Divine Healing
      1. One of the major doctrines of the Nazarene movement is divine healing. Concerning this belief, the Church of the Nazarene Manual says, "We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people [to seek](sic) to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science."4
      2. The idea of "divine healing" is not a twenty-first-century phenomenon. It is something that occurred in the first century for a specific purpose and with a specific end in sight (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4; Acts 8:18; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; James 1:25; Zechariah 13:2).
    2. Baptism
      1. The Nazarene denomination differs greatly from Scripture on baptism. Nazarenes state:

        Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.

        Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.5

      2. The Scriptures do not teach that young children need to be (or can be) baptized (Isaiah 7:16; Matthew 18:3; John 8:24: Romans 7:1-4; Luke 13:3). Also, the mode of baptism in Scripture is performed only by immersion (Mark 1:9-10; John 3:23; Acts 8:37ff; Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:12).
    3. Justification, Salvation
      1. The Nazarene denomination says: "We believe that justification, regeneration, and adoption are simultaneous in the experience of seekers after God, and are obtained upon the condition of faith, preceded by repentance."6
      2. While faith and repentance are necessary, they alone will not save (James 2:24; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 18:8).
    4. Women Preachers/Leaders
      1. The Nazarene Church Manual says:

        The Church of the Nazarene supports the right of women to use their God-given spiritual gifts within the church and affirms the historic right of women to be elected and appointed to places of leadership within the Church of the Nazarene, including the offices of both elder and deacon.7

      2. It is clear from Scripture that women are not to be placed in leadership positions (1 Timothy 2:8-11; 1 Corinthians 14:34ff; 1 Corinthians 11:1ff).
    5. Religious Name
      1. The Nazarene religion affirms that the name "Nazarene" is approved by God in Acts 24:5.
      2. Question: Is the name "Nazarene" approved by God for followers of Christ? Or, was this name given as a term of derision by the enemies of Christ?

Study Questions

  1. What is wrong with October 1895 ; Los Angeles, CA; Phineas F. Bresee; and Paul Cunningham?
  2. The Nazarene denomination is a culmination of bits and pieces of four religious organizations. List those denominations and explain how each group contributed.
  3. Is a desire to feed the hungry and clothe the poor a reason to start a religious movement? Or, should that duty be performed within the body of Christ? (See Acts 6.)
  4. What is implied by the term Superintendency? What is wrong with having a General Assembly?
  5. Explain why it is wrong to have the Bible and a church manual. Support from Scripture.
  6. Are divine healing and the prayer of faith the same type of healing? Divine healing may solicit prayer, but does the prayer of faith ask/solicit divine healing? See James 5:13.
  7. What would you do if a family responded to the invitation and wanted to have their two-year-old child baptized?
  8. What does it mean to allow women to use their spiritual gifts in the church? Do we do that today? Are we inhibiting women from using their gifts by not letting them lead?
  9. How did Tertullan use the name "Nazarene" in Acts 24:1-5? What is implied by the term "Nazarene"? Were the Jews happy that their Messiah might possibly have come from Nazareth? See John 1:46


  1. Church of the Nazarene Manual ( 2013 – 2017 edition, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO, 2013 ), pp. 18–20.
  2. Online: (, retrieved June 2, 2014 .
  3. Church of the Nazarene Manual ( 2013 – 2017 edition, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO, 2013 ), p. 40.
  4. Ibid., p. 35.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., p. 32.
  7. Ibid., p. 186.
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