On Saturday I will be presenting a paper at the 50th Wesleyan Theological Society meeting to be held at my campus home, Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I'm last in the last batch of presenters on the last day, around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, so I might just be presenting to my reflection in the mirror. In case no one else is there to listen (smiling), here is the synopsis of my paper:
Who Belongs Here: Notions of Belonging and Practices of Intensity in Cultures of Isolation and Alienation
PROPOSAL SYNOPSIS (250–300 WORDS):
“Who really belongs here?” The notion of what it means to belong to a Christian community has hounded the Protestant Church since the Radical Reformation. The determinants of geographic birth and familial heritage no longer provided sufficient leverage for what it means to believe and be a part of the Church. Baptism, confessional adhesion, and revivalistic fervor progressively symbolized true participation as the Church moved from western Europe to the American continent.
The distinction of intensity persists in some circles in determining what it means to be a member as distinct from being a true believer, or, as the Apostle put it, a “living stone” (2 Peter 2:4-6). The Nazirite Vow in the Hebrew Scriptures, John Wesley’s notions of “natural” and “evangelical,” and holiness preaching of the early 20th century will be analyzed alongside cultural and contemporary rituals of what symbolizes entrance, belonging, and intensity of value in the community of faithful Christians. Additional consideration will be given to the Nazarene provision of associate/fellowship membership as practiced by some local churches and district church governments.