“Faction” is defined as follows: “a small organized dissenting group within a larger one.” Guess where the word “faction” appears in the Apostle Paul’s writings? It’s in the list of the “acts of the flesh” in Galatians 5. Right along with orgies, witchcraft, and fits of rage are “factions.” Factions within the body of Christ are no good in other words.
Instead of factions, in another letter, Paul talks of the importance of unity. He wrote: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-4). Factions are bad. Unity is good. It’s simple.
Using the Ephesians passage as our guide, most Nazarenes would agree that “the calling we have received” is holiness. It’s our “watchword and song” after all. Doesn’t holiness then call us by Paul’s definition to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit?” Wouldn’t forming a faction, splinter group, clique, partnership (whatever word one choses to use to describe an off-shoot) to be contrary to the way of holiness? Even if one calls their group a “holiness partnership,” if it is causing disunity and dissention, then the group would fall into the “faction” category not the “unity” category. Isn’t having invitation only gatherings, starting separate publications, and going after those who don’t hold similar views the stuff of factions and not the unity of holiness? Even if some of the goals of the “holiness partnership” are worthy (and I honestly don’t know the goals of the group, but assuming they are worthy), forming a faction is not the way of holiness. Factions are bad. Unity is good. It’s simple.
The Church of the Nazarene will have enough challenges in the 21st century without having splinter groups dividing the church. Back to Ephesians 4, we need humility, patience, gentleness and bearing with one another in love if we are going to promote holiness in a culture that is increasingly less responsive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need unity in other words. Instead of factions to promote holiness or any other thing (no matter how worthy), how about if in unity we live out holiness in our deeds and attitudes. If we want to “make Christ-like disciples in the nations,” that will happen as people see and the church proclaims the beauty of holiness at work in us.
The holiness we need is one the produces unity and grace. The partnership we need is when we are “bearing with one another in love.” It seems the “Holiness Partnership” is doing neither.