Gathering For What?
By Brandon Brown
This coming May 3-5, the Holiness Partnership is hosting their second Gathering in Kansas City, Missouri at the Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene. Keynote speakers and workshop leaders include several leaders within the Church of the Nazarene from the local to the general church. This may not seem concerning but the list of keynote speakers includes Dr. Christopher Yuan who recently agreed in a podcast that churches like the Church of the Nazarene who are Side-B in the LGBTQ+ discussion are teaching a false Gospel.  Side-B for those who are unfamiliar, is the position which understands that same-sex attraction without action is not sinful. The Church of the Nazarene has the following statement in our Manual:
Sexual activity between people of the same sex. Because we believe that it is God’s intention for our sexuality to be lived out in the covenantal union between one woman and one man, we believe the practice of same-sex sexual intimacy is contrary to God’s will for human sexuality. While a person’s homosexual or bi-sexual attraction may have complex and differing origins, and the implication of this call to sexual purity is costly, we believe the grace of God is sufficient for such a calling. We recognize the shared responsibility of the body of Christ to be a welcoming, forgiving, and loving community where hospitality, encouragement, transformation, and accountability are available to all. 
That is a complex paragraph, but it shows that the Church of the Nazarene is Side-B, which is in line with our "middle way" path of doctrine and theology. Within our ecclesial structure, guidance has been provided from our General Superintendents, which more explicitly explains how Side-B functions in membership, ordination, and other concerns. This is our doctrine and polity, so when Yuan teaches clergy and laypeople at the Gathering this year, it will be from a position in opposition to our ecclesial polity and doctrine. It is this which is concerning from a pastoral perspective because we may see it as a tacit approval of this counter position with officials from the Church of the Nazarene, including several ordained Elders on the board of the Holiness Partnership in participation. Yuan straddles Side-Y in which one cannot identify as LGBTQ+ and Christian, but there is a belief that conversion therapy is not effective; and Side-X in which same-sex attraction itself is sin, while heterosexual attraction is not sinful on Side-X many are also proponents of conversion therapy (an arguably trauma inducing program). In one case, simple attraction is sin, but in the other it is not. This is not an ethically consistent position; pastorally, this may cause confusion and fear by many who are becoming deeper disciples of Jesus as they follow the Way, Truth, and Life toward holiness.
Besides his theology of sexuality, Yuan is also a staunch Southern Baptist who rejects the idea that one can be entirely sanctified. This makes his inclusion as a featured speaker at the Gathering ironic. First, because the Holiness Partnership purports to desire a "return to biblical holiness" (which includes the doctrine of entire sanctification); and second, because the major issue the president of the Holiness Partnership has with Nazarene Theological Seminary is the inclusion of speakers outside of our denomination or the wider Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.  Yet many of those speakers aligned with our key doctrines even if not aligned on doctrines they were not discussing.
We are a big tent church and open to many differing ideas as long as those ideas are within our Agreed Statement of Faith and our Articles of Faith. Yet, the big tent gets strained when we allow those who would pull the walls in closer or even to places they do not exist. This means that the Side-A Christians who advocate full inclusion of LGBTQ+ and Side-X Christians would strain our ecclesial dialogue if done in such a way as the upcoming Gathering. This post does not even deal with the multitude of other issues with the Gathering, including workshops which appear to be how to enforce worldview on our college campuses, the rejection of social justice as Christian, and a think tank on upcoming legislation at General Assemblies. We can all be thankful that this year's gathering is being publicized in the open so we can clearly observe the agendas.