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https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/news_landscape/2014/02/noah_illustration_a_l.jpg

“I was upset — of course,” the director says of Paramount testing alternate versions of the $125 million epic as he and the studio break their silence on efforts to appease a small but vocal segment of the faith-based audience: “Those people can be noisy.”

(source of image and quote: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rough-seas-noah-darren-aronofsky-679315)

Okay, by now many Christians are aware of the “Noah” movie starring Russell Crowe. And probably all of these are aware that the movie is very controversial.

Question is, which religious groups are praising the movie? And which religious groups, on the other hand, are condemning the movie?

Below I’ve provided excerpts from several relevant articles. Besides naming names of various groups, the articles give background concerning how the movie was tested and what reactions it got from various Christian test groups.

Note – I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. I’m also adding links to endorsements and criticisms by various groups.

ARTICLE #1

Darren Aronofsky floats a fuller version of the Bible’s Noah tale

“… But the real trouble was on the horizon, when Paramount grew anxious that “Noah” might offend some on the religious right and started testing its own cut of the movie while Aronofsky raced to finish his. Franklin said that even with unfinished visual effects and a rough score, Aronofsky’s version tested better than Paramount’s, even though the studio’s had fewer missing pieces and was more polished.

“I think a lot of films of this size go through this. I don’t think it’s singular to us,” Franklin said. “But we were steadfast in our vision for the film. The great thing about the process is that everybody came out agreeing that our version of the movie was the best version of the movie.”

Even so, Paramount again blindsided its filmmakers [including Aronofsky] by agreeing in late February to add a disclaimer to “Noah’s” marketing materials without giving Aronofsky a heads-up.

The move came after several Christian groups [what groups?], including the National Religious Broadcasters, objected to how Aronofsky was interpreting scripture.

On the set: movies and TV

Jerry Johnson, the president and chief executive officer of the NRB, wrote in two blog posts after seeing the film that he found “some” parts of the film to be “commendable,” but his praise was tepid. He was far more vigorous in attacking “Noah,” complaining that a scene about evolution “will be a concern for many” who are creationists, that “secondary biblical details are blurred” and that Aronofsky’s Noah is so dark in some places “that you do not want to like him.”

Several other religious leaders and interested parties have been far kinder to the film, including representatives from the American Bible Society, Catholic Voices USA, the Christian Film and Television Commission and the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Designed to appease people like Johnson and prepare moviegoers for some of Aronofsky’s inventions, Paramount’s disclaimer notes that the film was “inspired by the story of Noah” and that “artistic license has been taken.”

Aronofsky, who is both an atheist and a biblical scholar, knows that no matter how thoroughly he researched his film and for all of his attention to biblical detail — if you look closely there are seven pairs of some “clean animals,” as Genesis has it, in addition to the single pairs of other creatures — some will nevertheless find fault… [ This would be funny if not so tragic – the movie is the very antithesis of biblical accuracy.]

ARTICLE #2

Kim Masters, Rough Seas on ‘Noah’: Darren Aronofsky Opens Up on the Biblical Battle to Woo Christians (and Everyone Else)(The Hollywood Reporter, 2/12/2014)

… The studio is aware that a vocal segment of Christian viewers might reject the film over accuracy. Still, Moore says, “Our anticipation is that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace it.”

The studio and its faith-based consultant, Grace Hill Media, have reached out to a number of key figures, with some success. Special trailers were screened to positive reactions at U.S. Christian conferences, including Catalyst, the Global Leadership Conference and Women of Faith: Believe God Can Do Anything. In January, Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong, a Pentecostal megachurch based in Australia and with outposts around the world, were invited to a screening on the studio lot. Ben Field, the church’s head of film and television, who was there, says the pastors will support the movie. “If you’re expecting it to be word for word from the Bible, you’re in for a shock,” he says. “There can be an opportunity for Christians to take offense. [But] we were pretty excited that a studio like Paramount would invest in a Bible-themed movie.” On Feb. 4, Pastor Brian, at the church’s Heart and Soul night in Sydney, spoke before a few thousand congregants and joked, “You’ll enjoy the film — if you’re not too religious.”

 Also, Focus on the Family gave a mixed review of  “Noah”, with more favorable comments than I am comfortable with.

 

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(revised 04/02/14)

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image source: http://godawa.com/movieblog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Noah-Movie-Posters-1.jpg

Well here we go – once again, secular Hollywood is making a mockery out of biblical accuracy and biblical Truth. Most recently we had Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett give us their various “Bible” productions” – 1) refusing to admit that they themselves are not Christians but New Agers, and 2) not addressing the numerous heretical points in their productions.

Now we see similar problems in the “Noah” movie, coming out 03/28/14. The producer 1) describes himself and the other film makers as basically attempting accuracy and Christian ideals, and 2) fails to address the “Noah” movie’s specific heretical and even occult points.

The trailer looked good to me – but looks can be deceiving. Following is the inside scoop – from discernment articles by Amy Spreeman at Stand Up for the Truth, and Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis.

Reading the above two articles, “Noah” looks like another Downey-esque fiasco to me…

I’d like to zero in on specific inaccuracies in the  rough cut of the “Noah” movie, as originally listed by Ken Ham. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. Note that Ken Ham’s blog was posted back on 11/19/13 – unfortunately, most of us have been slow in getting out the warnings about “Noah”.

Don’t Be Taken in by the Noah Movie’s Promotion
Ken Ham, 11/19/13

… the main characters of the movie are Noah, his wife, and three sons—and one little girl they rescued after all in her family were murdered by an evil tribe. She was badly injured when they found her, but Noah’s wife placed healing nectar on her stomach and she later grew up to become the eldest son’s wife. For the longest time she was barren in the womb until Noah’s wife convinced Methuselah to bless her womb—against Noah’s wishes.

Noah at first is portrayed as a humble yet strong good man—a father and husband who protected his family from the evil that had come upon the world. But as he helped build the Ark, he was portrayed more like a basket-case who was convinced that his family was the last generation. He repeated over and over again that God would not let them repopulate since God would replant Eden without man and perfection would be reestablished with the “innocent animals” God brought on the Ark. Even when Noah’s eldest son brought news to the family on the Ark that his wife was expecting, the movie’s Noah said essentially, “If it is a male, he shall live. If a girl, I will kill her because it is not God’s will for man to repopulate.”

Here are a few more problem areas seen in the rough cut of the film, most of which I expect to be in the final film:

1) In the film, Noah was robbed of his birthright by Tubal-Cain. The serpent’s body (i.e., Satan), which was shed in Eden, was their “birthright reminder.” It also doubled with magical power that they would wrap around their arm. So weird!

2) Noah’s family only consists of his wife, three sons, and one daughter-in-law, contrary to the Bible.

3) It appears as if every species was crammed in the Ark instead of just the kinds of animals, thus mocking the Ark account the same way secularists do today.

4) “Rocks” (that seem to be fallen angels) build the Ark with Noah!

5) Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) is a type of witch-doctor, whose mental health is questionable.

6) Tubal-Cain defeats the Rocks who were protecting the finished Ark.

7) A wounded Tubal-Cain axes his way inside the Ark in only about ten minutes and then hides inside. Tubal-Cain then convinces the middle son to lure Noah to the bottom of the Ark in order to murder him (because he was not allowed a wife in the Ark). Tubal-Cain stays alive by eating hibernating lizards. The middle son of Noah has a change of heart and helps kill Tubal-Cain instead.


8) Noah becomes almost crazy as he believes the only purpose to his family’s existence was to help build the Ark for the “innocent” animals (this is a worship of creation).

9) Noah repeatedly tells his family that they were the last generation and were never to procreate. So when his daughter-in-law becomes pregnant, he vows to murder his own grandchild. But he finally has a change of heart.

10) Noah does not have a relationship with God but rather with circumstances and has deadly visions of the Flood.


11) The Ark lands on a cliff next to a beach.


12) After the Flood Noah becomes so distant from his family that he lives in a cave, getting drunk by the beach.

There were many other bizarre, unbiblical aspects in the preview cut. Though it’s possible that some of these elements may not make the final cut (though we suspect most will), compare the above list to the trailer that has just been released! The comparison should be very revealing for you. You wouldn’t get much of a hint of most of the biblical problems in the list above based on watching on this cleverly-put-together trailer. A real con job, to be frank!

By the way, I also read that the name of God is not mentioned in “Noah”. Reminds me of the name of Jesus not being mentioned in the Roma Downey series “Touched by an Angel”. And Christians still think these are Christian productions?

Focus on the Family’s review of  “Noah” details what they see as both bad and good in the movie. Frankly, I have nothing good to say about “Noah”. But I do agree with FOTF’s conclusion regarding the movie:

Long before its release, Noah was deluged in controversy. Some Christians praise the film for its themes of redemption and love winning out over malevolence, others revile it for taking so many liberties with the biblical account.

Director Darren Aronofsky offers a spectacular and often moving story, but it’s obviously not the story of Noah. There’s more Tolkien than Torah here, really, and more of Aronofsky himself than both of those. Perhaps this director made the Creator in his own image—full of mercy, magic and environmental sobriety. If you uncouple the movie from the Bible and take Noah as imaginative, fantastic fiction, it can begin to work. But hooked as it is to such a sacred narrative, well, let’s just say it’ll be hard for some Christians to swallow whole this fractious fable.

Harry Potter fans expect Harry Potter movies to stay mostly true to the book. History buffs are known to require historical dramas to follow actual history. I think it’s reasonable, then, for Christians to ask that the stories most precious to them be treated with faithfulness—and that movies based on them would, y’know, stay at least in the ballpark. But Mr. Aronofsky has chosen a different tack, and so the ancient truth about Noah becomes more of a pretext for Middle-earth rock monsters and a tormented, half-mad Noah ready to kill his own kin.

Here’s a secular editorial that criticizes Christians (such as the National Religious Broadcasters) for wanting to criticize and boycott “Noah”.  Hmm, I wonder why the NRB didn’t also call for a boycott of the Downey-Burnett Bible productions? After all, they too strayed far afield from biblical accuracy.

Speaking of biblical accuracy, there are many “Christians”, etc. who do not take the first eleven chapters of Genesis as being historically literal. With these eleven chapters being “myths” to them, no wonder they have no problem with the serious errors in “Noah”. Consider the following quotes, found here:

Rabbi John Spitzer, associate professor of Jewish studies at Walsh University, said the movie is the interpretation of its director, writers and actors.

 “Once the words go off the page and go on the screen you’re already getting an interpretation, and I think interpretations are fine as long as you know they’re not final,” he said.

“If you don’t believe the movie is telling you the quote, ‘truth’, small t, you have an opportunity to use the movie as a way of discovering the capital T, ‘truth,’ ” Spitzer said. “I’m not afraid of the movie — I believe the Noah story is an important myth in the Bible and as such each of us … we have to be able to take it into our hearts and souls and find the meaning that is relevant.”

“We often think that a myth is something that’s just not true, and that’s not true,” he added. “It describes a truth that can be told best through a story.”

Nicole Johnson, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of Mount Union, said “the story of Noah can be reinterpreted and retold in interesting ways — in my perspective (it) doesn’t necessarily do a disservice to the understanding of that event.”

Johnson said that “we tend to put a scientific standard on (the Bible) — I’m not sure that’s the right way to interpret something that was supposed to last (for all ages).”

FOR FURTHER READING

Opposing the movie “Noah”

Beginning and End, Russell Crowe’s ‘Noah’ Film – A Warning For Christians (updated 11/13/13)

Brian Godawa, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: Environmentalist Wacko
(revised version, originally posted 10/29/12)

Brian Godawa,   The Noah Movie: How To Watch It with Wisdom and Discernment (Godawa blog, 03/27/14)

Brian Godawa, The Noah Movie: Deconstructing Noah’s Ark; Godawful Storytelling (Christian Post, 03/28/14)

Brian Mariani, Reviewing “Noah”: Bible-based Entertainment or Deceptive Heresy? (March 26, 2014)

Pastor Joe Schimmel of Good Fight Ministries, The Noah Movie Deception (a YouTube video)

Amy Spreeman, Kaballah, Mysticism and Noah (a Stand Up for the Truth podcast by Dr. Brian Mattson)

Why Hollywood’s Noah falls short (Stand Up for the Truth interview with Jan Markell)(03/27/14)

For the movie “Noah”

‘Noah’ Star Russell Crowe Breaks His Silence About Meeting the Pope (Variety, 03/27/14)

Russell Crowe calls ‘Noah’ criticism ‘irrational’ (USA Today, 03/27/14)

Eliana Dockterman, Russell Crowe Says Flood of Noah Complaints Not Drowning Him (TIME, March 27, 2014)

Alissa Wilkinson, Noah (Christianity Today, March 27, 2014)

For the graphic novel “Noah”, which accompanies the movie

Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel on Their New NOAH Graphic Novel

Articles listing religious organizations for and against “Noah”

Kim Masters, Rough Seas on ‘Noah’: Darren Aronofsky Opens Up on the Biblical Battle to Woo Christians (and Everyone Else) (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/12/2014) – gives background on religious test viewers, and names Christian groups supporting the Noah movie

A Godly, biblically sound movie on Noah, by Ray Comfort

Movie Review and Interview with Ray Comfort on ‘Noah’, the Biblically Accurate Version

 

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Back in 2010, I came across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I ended up corresponding with Aaron Wright. Aaron, along with his brother Adam and their dad Troy, have a discernment ministry called Foundations Research Group.

Interestingly, Aaron, Adam and Troy had been attending the Evangelical Friends church in which I grew up. This church (as well as many churches in the Evangelical Friends denomination) is increasingly following the postmodern/ Emerging/Emergent teachings of heretics Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc. Aaron, Adam and Troy attempted to “wake people up” in this Evangelical Friends church. Unfortunately, their efforts failed.

Aaron, Adam and Troy now attend a Grace Brethren Church in North Canton, Ohio along with their families. Eric Barger’s 2010 seminar was held at this church.

Troy has written various discernment articles. My Concerned Nazarene friend Manny Silva posted one of these – an article by Troy entitled “Falling Away”. Click here for the original posting of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Falling Away
March 29, 2012 by reformednazarene

[Introductory comments by Manny Silva (reformednazarene)]:
The following is from a brother in the Lord, Troy Wright, of Foundations Research Group.  With his sons Aaron and Adam, they work diligently at providing information, as well as teaching, about the many dangers that have come into the evangelical church.  I met them finally last year at an Eric Barger conference in Canton, Ohio.  If you are in Ohio and you need resources or any kind of help in dealing with false teaching, please contact them.

Falling Away
(Troy Wright)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2: 1-2)

The Bible predicts a “Great falling away from the faith” in the last days shortly before the return of Christ to earth to establish His earthly kingdom. Foundations Research Group is an apologetics/discernment ministry of under-shepherds (sheepdogs) committed to the protection and guarding of the sheep. We seek to support local pastors (shepherds) by providing research and support tools that time prohibits them from gathering on their own.

Our prayer is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to the apostasy that is prophetically sweeping over the church in these last days. May He give you unashamed courage to stand up for Biblical truth in your own church and to expose these false teachings wherever they pop up.

Do not be naïve about the reception you will encounter. You would think that in light of Paul’s instructions throughout his letters to call out and expose deceivers and Christ’s example with the religious leaders during His ministry, committed Christians would have unashamedly cried out the truth long before these teachings established their footholds in our churches. But in the name of Christian unity, love, and meekness the silence has been deafening. But let one small voice boldly speak truth in the face of the deception and suddenly all the Christians grow vocal chords and are emboldened with courage to shout their disapproval…….not at the false teachings……..but at their Christian brother for voicing his “mean-spirited” judgment and stirring up dissension in the church. Thanks to the “seeker friendly” mentality they don’t want to offend anyone by disagreeing openly and suggesting absolute truth. That would appear too “narrow” and would be disrespectful to the heretics……….and we are talking about heresy. The teachers of these apostate movements attack the very foundations of historic, apostolic Christianity as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Those of us who have been serving Christ for a generation or more remember when the Bible was revered as the very Words of God Himself throughout the pulpits all across America. We knew that a day was soon coming when the world would forsake the God of the Bible and swear their allegiance to a one-world ecumenical religious system. We recognized through Bible prophesy that we were living in the last days of men’s rebellion against their creator and that the soon return of Christ for His church was right at the door. We assumed that the “great apostasy” preceding His return referred to all those liberal churches of the last 2 centuries and of course Roman Catholicism. Because of the Biblical foundation of our faith, it was easy to discern false doctrine and heresy.

What is so alarming to all of us is that in just three short decades or so, we have watched one Bible-believing church after another fall into disbelief and even paganism until now it’s difficult to find anyone who is willing to stand up for truth in our pulpits. Our fundamental denominations are caving in to ecumenical pressures as their seminaries are filled with liberal professors and new age thought. Due to the feel-good-gospel and the you-can-have-it-now message, our churches are full of false converts who are oblivious to Bible truth and are offended when they hear it. Since they are clueless about Bible prophesy and what’s really going on around them, anyone who sounds a warning is considered a nut, not to mention politically incorrect and socially despicable.

Our war is with the lies of the enemy of our souls. We aren’t directly fighting the wolves who are attacking the flock with their false teachings and books. Our main battles in this war are with the goats……..those church members and leadership who God has permitted to live among us until he separates us at the rapture. They sit in our pews with us and sing our songs. They like hanging out with sheep. Though never really surrendered or regenerated, they intellectually and logically ascent to the same beliefs as we do. They do all the same stuff as sheep but without a life or death commitment to Biblical truth. They actually think they are sheep because of the great works they do…..sheep stuff. They even try to convince the Lord at the resurrection that they are sheep but He tells them “I never knew you.”

Because goats have not surrendered lordship over to Jesus, they are very possessive of their environments. They don’t want anyone messing with their territory. If you try to spiritually take a goat where he doesn’t want to go he will buck you. Goats aren’t concerned about the welfare of the flock but only with the comfort of their own stall. Doctrine is of no importance to goats. You see, sheep eat sheep food…….the pure milk of the gospel of truth. They feed from the hand of the Good Shepherd. They know His voice and eat of The Word. Goats, “on the other hand,” will eat anything. They even eat garbage. They don’t care where it comes from or how clean it is. If they can get it down, they will eat it. Goats especially like goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is that watered-down, low-fat gospel fit for goats who are lactose “intolerant” of the nutritious, pure milk of the gospel. When a pastor offers sheep food from the pulpit, he will fill his church with sheep. If he offers goat’s milk he will fill his church with goats.

I cannot stress enough how lonely this battle is for most people. Most of your friends and relatives will encourage you to keep quiet if you disagree with the church’s new teaching and simply leave the church without a controversy. They always bring up Matthew 18:15-17 instructing you to go to the person privately and not to bring reproach on the church. This scripture is for a brother in sin or for someone personally offended and is out of context when used for false teachers in the church. We are never instructed to be quiet or understanding toward wolves attacking the flock in scripture. As Paul, we are to lovingly and with all truthfulness expose, correct, call out by name, print, and warn the other churches about unrepentant heretics as his letters did in the early church and were passed around to the entire body of Christ. God’s Word is offensive to all who love not the truth whether in the church or out and THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW IT.

Make no mistake about it, these movements have leaked into every seminary and every church to some degree in the form of books, videos, study courses, worship seminars, pastoral retreats, small groups and  youth leaders.

Don’t be discouraged. There are thousands of Christians in churches all over the country fighting this same truth war with these last-days false teachers. We and many other good ministries across America have lots of materials available for you. You can contact us by internet through our e-mail at frgsheepdogs@hotmail.com. The scriptures warn us to “come out of her” in Revelation 18 referring to the apostate church. If you don’t feel equipped to fight this battle, find another church that stands for Biblical truth. But first find a warrior in your church who you can share this material with who feels compelled to stay and fight for the flock. Pray, pray, pray for our pastors and leaders in these last days. Behold….He comes quickly!

Troy Wright
co-researcher / Foundations Research Group
Canton, Ohio
on FaceBook

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Back in 2010, I happened to chance across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I met Concerned Nazarene Manny Silva. And it was not long before we found something in common – Manny had recently attended a local seminar here in Ohio, led by counter-Emergent speaker Eric Barger. Small world!

I am reposting a blog by Manny, in which he recounts Eric Barger’s seminar. Click here for the original posting. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

1 Timothy 1:18-20  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

By tonight, I will have returned from Canton, Ohio, where Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries, spent two days at Grace Brethren Church.  Eric is a Christian apologist who has been traveling all around the country for over 27 years now, warning the body of Christ of false movements, such as the New Age, the emergent church, and many more.  On Saturday, he spoke in the morning on the dangers of the emerging church, and in the afternoon session, the topic was about how the popular novel, The Shack, is deceiving so many Christians today, even though it is a book filled with heresies and blasphemous doctrine.  On Sunday, he preached in the morning on the truth and reliability of the Bible, and finished in the evening with a talk on the “real Jesus vs. the counterfeits.”  Eric is a true soldier in the fight for the true gospel. Eric spent three days with us at the Nazarene General Assembly last June, helping Concerned Nazarenes to expose the heresies being introduced to the Nazarene denomination by way of the emergent church.  Please pray for him and his ministry, as Christians who do what he does are constantly under vicious attack by the enemy from within.  I am hoping that he can soon be invited by someone to speak in New England, where he has never spoken yet.

There were several more reasons to come to Ohio.  In the past two years, I have found many new brothers and sisters in Christ who are true Christian soldiers, while I was undertaking whatever efforts I could to fight false teachings in the church.  And it seems that for every friend I have lost because of standing for the truth, I have gained at least one or two more.  My list is long, but every single person who has joined me in this fight, via emails and the phone, has been a blessing and an encouragement, and in turn, I have also been able to help some of them as well, and I thank God for that, and nothing else.

A few of these soldiers is a small group of men in Canton, Ohio, who helped organize Eric’s seminar.  I met Aaron Wright about a year or so ago via email, and along with his father Troy, and Aaron’s brother, Adam, they have a ministry called Foundations Research Group in the Northern Ohio area. When Aaron and his family encountered false teachings of the emergent church in their former church, they did not close their eyes to it and pretend it did not exist.  They did not say, oh well, we’ll just have to live with it.  No, they boldly confronted the purveyors of false teaching and tried to show them the truth of God’s word.  The end result was that they made the decision to leave, rather than stick around and tolerate false teaching.

Their faithfulness has been rewarded with a ministry that is now helping Christians at their new church and in the community to equip themselves with knowledge of the emergent church, and at the same time, equipping and reinforcing others with a love for the scriptures, which is the best way to combat false teaching.  Grace Brethren Church, led by Pastor Joe Cosentino, is a shining light in this town where there does not seem to be much light, or much of a desire to fight false doctrines.  If you live in the Northern Ohio area, and are looking for a strong, Bible believing church, perhaps you should pay a visit to Grace Brethren.  These kinds of churches are becoming rare in the midst of all this apostasy.

And so God blessed the faithfulness of Aaron and his family, and led them to a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church whose pastor and leadership will not put up with the nonsense of emergent heresy or any other gospel except the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  So one of the reasons I went to Canton was to finally meet Aaron and his family, who are truly another new addition to my eternal family, the family of God.  We have shared information over the past year and helped each other with our ministries, and they have already made a big impact in their community and church.

But there were other soldiers that I just knew I had to meet when I came to Ohio.  There was Becky, her husband and young daughter, who came to the seminar.  I had met Becky over the internet as she was also finding herself and her family being thrown into turmoil, and again, the usual suspects were the purveyors of emergent church heresy. Their eyes were opened to the truth, and they had to walk away from their church as well.

Then there was Angie, and her friend Wendy.  These ladies are true soldiers as well, and for staying true to God, have also paid a price for it.  The tenacity and the determination of these two women, is an inspiration to me.  They will not be moved, they will not be pushed around or bullied by any false teacher.  Not even by the high-minded intellectuals with multiple PHds, nor by the smooth words of deceived pastors or anyone else.  They just want to faithfully compare and contrast everything they hear with the scriptures, and like the Bereans, prove that what they hear is faithful to the word of God.  They are solid sisters in Christ, and I am glad I got to finally see them personally.

There was also my good friend and brother in the Lord, Tim Wirth and his wife Donna, and I thank God for their friendship.  Tim started the Concerned Nazarenes website a few years ago, and was instrumental in helping get the DVD put together about the emerging church.  He was the first person that I actually made contact with when I first started stepping into the emergent mess, and has been a trustworthy friend who has given me solid advice, friendship, and encouragement.  Tim is also not well liked by a lot of emergents, which to me is a badge of honor for him, because he has a knack for exposing their false ideology, just by using the sharp-edged sword of God’s word against them.  I value his friendship; and the impact he has made in this battle as a missionary to the Nazarene denomination is immeasureable, and only God knows.  He and Donna are true and courageous soldiers in the fight against the apostasy of this age.

Finally, the only regret that I had was that there at least a few other soldiers from the Ohio area who could not make it to the seminar.  There was Brenda, who I have known also since the past year and a half.  She and her family chose to leave a Nazarene church because of emergent ideology, rather than stay and tolerate false teaching.  She has been a source of encouragement and advice and a real sister in the Lord.  And Beverly Turner could not make it this time, but I had hoped to see her as well.  She is a very brave Christian lady and evangelist who is not afraid to speak the truth about what has poisoned our denomination.  And then Rick Headley is also in Ohio, but I was not able to see him this time.  But he also has been an example of standing for God first, above anything else, including his own denomination.  He would not compromise, and like Brenda and Beverly, is a true soldier in this battle as well.  Finally, I thank God for a wife who has been behind me all the way, put up with my long hours of writing on some nights, was okay with me going on this trip, and who has also refused to compromise in any way her faith in Christ.  She knows the price that she has paid, but she would not change her mind if she could.  Her support has made this job I am doing a lot easier to do.  She is a soldier in this battle.

Folks, there are many more soldiers in this battle.  I only mention these friends now because of the Ohio connection and my trip there to see them.  There are so many more around this country and even around the world, who I have met, who are standing up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Someday, I will write about many more of them (with permission) and tell you how they have chosen to stand for the truth, and how they have blessed my life with their example.  This is why I call them soldiers.  A true soldier of Jesus Christ is someone who refuses to sit quietly on the sidelines while multitudes of young people and adults walk down the wide path of destruction towards hell, following a different Jesus.  And it does not take too many requirements to be a “true soldier”: just be faithful to Jesus Christ- completely faithful; and trust only in the word of God that is revealed in the Holy Bible.  It does not mean you have to write a blog like I do; it does not mean that you have to be a preacher or evangelist; or that you have to have a ministry like the one Aaron and his family has.  No, all it means is that you are willing to stand up for the truth, with whatever gifts God has given you, and be faithful to Jesus Christ and defend the gospel once for all delivered to the saints.

You see, if you had not noticed, there is a great apostasy spreading throughout the Christian world, dressed in the robes of a false Jesus. It does not matter what denomination: Nazarene, Brethren, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Salvation Army, Calvary Chapel, you name it.

It is here, it is deadly, and it is leading countless people down the road to hell with a false gospel, with another Jesus which is not of the Bible.  Don’t you see it yet?  And if you have seen it, what are you doing?  Are you going to be walking through the narrow gate, or have you been diverted to the wide path?

Are you willing to stand for the truth… no matter what the cost, and be a true soldier for Christ, like these friends decided to do?

2 Timothy 3:12-14 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

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Manny, Aaron Wright, Eric Barger, Pastor Joe Cosentino

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Eric, Adam Wright, Aaron Wright

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Troy Wright, Eric

* Note to all emergents and New Agers and other false movements reading this: we will not let up in our battle for the truth.

FOR FURTHER READING AND RESEARCH

Canton event notice on Facebook

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Plain and simple, I like lists. Lists of cults, lists of false teachings, even lists of lists. So I was intrigued to come across a “list” article reposted here by our friends Amy and Mike on the Stand Up for the Truth website. In this article, a diehard postmodern lists and discusses “6 things [that he thinks] Christians should just stop saying”. Be forewarned – his list is extremely liberal/ Emergent and anti-Christian. This, my friend, is a look inside the minds of today’s postmoderns – sick.

Amazingly, this is the garbage many evangelical churches and colleges today are entertaining, in clinging eagerly to the teachings of Emergents Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and a myriad of other heretics. (Some of these postmodern/Emergent leaders hold to just a few of the six anti-Christian views below; most hold to all six anti-Christian views.)

Now on to the article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Six ways Progressive theology is destroying Christianity

Jesus is So Cool

[Introductory comments by Stand Up for the Truth]:

First they asked you to think outside the box of Truth; now they’re asking you to stop speaking Truth altogether.  The Progressive wing of the Church has been able to grow and thrive, thanks in part to the re-surging Emergent movement that has long been taking the doctrines of Christianity apart. Here’s how contributor to the extreme leftist publication Huffington Post (a site from which I share frequently about the activities of the Christian Left), is trying to re-shape the Bride of Christ into the harlot of Babylon.  How influential is this guy? Steve is celebrated as the “Voice of the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious),” as well as author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher.  His latest article is getting thunderous applause. Gird your loins:

6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying

It is time. No, it is past time. Christians must stop saying the following things.

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It isn’t inerrant and not likely even in the “original manuscripts.” But then, I cannot say that with absolute certainty, anymore than anyone else can either. Why? Because no such “original” manuscripts even exists. That’s like saying, “We believe there are aliens on other planets!” Good for you. Now, prove it. As we have it, no matter what translation you favor, the Bible is replete with errors. To pretend otherwise is your right. To say otherwise is a lie. You are entitled to your opinions, your assumptions, even your beliefs. What you are not entitled to is a misrepresentation of the facts. A corollary to this that Christians should stop saying is this:

2. We just believe the Bible. That, too, is false. What you really believe is your interpretation of the Bible. And the last I checked, the history of the Christian church is the history of disagreement over “interpretation.” How else do you explain the scores of denominations within Christianity alone? It would be patently more honest of Christians to say, “The following represents our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures, but we are also aware there are many equally sincere Christians who interpret the Scriptures differently from us.” A third thing Christians should stop saying:

3. Jesus is the only way to heaven. What you are really saying is, “The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: ‘If you do not believe in Me, you won’t go to the Father when you die.’” For this, I refer back to No. 2 above: what you and your group of believers really mean to say is, “It is our interpretation of John 14:6 that Jesus is saying that He is the only way to heaven.” There are scores of Christians, however, and I am one of them, who do not interpret Jesus’ words in John 14 the same way. Just because I do not makes me no less Christian than you are. So stop drawing lines in the sand, please, between equally sincere followers of Jesus. When I read the 14th chapter of John, I see a context that yields an alternative reading of the text. Instead of Jesus starting some new religion here and saying, “OK, fellas, I’m going to go away soon” — referring to his death — “but, before I go, you should know that where I’m going you, and others who believe just like you, will one day be, too — that is, of course, if they believe like you believe that I am the only way to heaven. That is to say, if the people around you and who come after you don’t believe that I am the only way to heaven, then, of course, they’ll have to go to hell. Is all that clear?” I offer an alternative interpretation: When Jesus spoke to them about leaving them, they were understandably shaken. How could they not be? After all, they had left everything to follow him. Now, just a year, or two, or three years later, Jesus is saying he’s getting ready to leave them? But, of course, they’re upset. So Thomas, speaking on behalf of the others, asks, “But where are you going and why can’t we go with you? Furthermore, how will we know the way?” Jesus responds in tender, reassuring ways. Sensing the fragility of their faith, seeing the anxiety on their faces, he reassures them that, in God’s house are many rooms, “mansions” or places. Yes, He’s going away but where He’s going they, too, will go. Just as He has led them this far, He will lead them further still (and what follows in the latter part of John 14 is the beautiful reassurance of the on-going presence of God in the Holy Spirit). So, for me personally, and many other Christians, too, Jesus is no more pointing to himself as the “one-and-only-way” to God than Thomas is expressing in his question concern for Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists and whether they’ll go to heaven? I can assure you that Thomas, and the others, were only concerned about themselves. And yet, even at that point, Jesus is tender in His care of them and seeks to reassure them that, just as He and the Father were one, and just as they had trusted the things He had been saying to them during his time with them, so they could trust him and what he was saying at this time, too. Yes, he was leaving them. But no, they would not be left alone. Where he was, they would be. He had shown them the way to the Father. But, even after He’s gone from them, they will know the way then, too. The Comforter would guide them. And so, the Church is here today. But not because Christians declare, “There is no way to go to heaven if you don’t believe in Jesus.” The Church is here today because when people do trust the things Jesus said about Himself, about His relationship to the Father…when people believe and so live the teachings of Jesus they, too, are changed — they, too, become “new creations in Christ,” as Saint Paul put it (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, I took longer with this one thing Christians need to stop saying because many Christians seem stuck here, thinking that there’s only one way to interpret Jesus’ words about being the way. It is my hope these Christians will know there are equally sincere Christians like myself and others who do not believe Jesus was drawing a line in the sand between him and some new religion he was creating and all the other religions of the world. Again, it’s your right to “believe” or, more accurately, interpret Scripture as you wish. You do not, however, have permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words. Last I checked, no one’s interpretation of anything is infallible. Not yours. Not mine. A fourth thing Christians need to stop saying:

4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent. Again, if you want to believe in some secret rapture of Christians from the earth just before the Tribulation, if you want to believe in and carry around in your hip pocket detailed charts and graphs of how its all going to happen, then so be it. But do the rest of us a favor and stop saying so in public. So far, your record of correctly predicting the future earns a flunking grade. And I and scores of other Christians are frankly tired of apologizing for your arrogant — and so far, absolutely wrong — predictions as to when it’ll happen. My recommendation? Burn up your charts and go live like Christ. Quit masking your real fears by calling them faith. It isn’t faith that leads you to sell all you have, give the proceeds to some wacko, and go camp out on Mount Horeb as you await the rapture. It’s stupidity instead. It’s embarrassing, too. It makes thoughtful Christians have to apologize to the world and explain that we’re not all off-our-rockers, at least, not yet, anyway. So, please, please. If you want to believe in the charts that Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and other “get-rich-off-the-stupidity-of-Christians” have duped scores into believing, then have at it. Just stay out of the news please! Go quietly to your campsites and do your waiting.:

5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God. This one issue, my friend, is on the outs. If you don’t know that, you are more blind than the Republicans were in the last election. They misinterpreted the political environment and so completely blew it when it came to getting their candidate elected. And you, my friend, are misinterpreting the moral, spiritual and religious environment — and the changes that are coming. My son said it well the other day. We were discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage and he observed, “Dad, it’s your generation that’s hung up on these issues. Once you guys get out of the way and the younger generation moves into the decision-making arena, these issues will disappear. The day will come when, just as slavery is unthinkable in our consciousness today, it will be equally unthinkable to deny anyone the right to be who they are or the right to same-sex marriage.” You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don’t need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important. Finally, please, please Christians stop insisting that…

6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old. If you want to believe that Genesis is a scientific description of the origins of the universe, then have at it. Just stop insisting that those myths be taught in our public schools. You do no service to the Bible nor to the morality of this country by demanding school administrators include textbooks that teach that nonsense or by demanding courts hang the Ten Commandments on chamber walls or classroom walls. If this democracy is going to survive, get over your silly, misinformed notions that our forefathers were all Bible-believing, Bible thumping, Genesis-affirming Christians who came to this country to establish your kind of Christian nation and then expect everyone else to conform to your misguided assumptions. Whew! I feel better. Thanks for letting me get a few things off my chest. Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember — no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) — and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by… Not our beliefs. Not our doctrines. Not our denomination’s distinctions. Not even our declarations. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35). When we love, what more needs to be said?

[Note – the reposting of the above article here on the Stand Up for the Truth website is followed by a number of insightful reader comments.]

Related articles

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In the early 1970s, I noticed a shift in the emphasis of many evangelical churches. They increasingly incorporated methods such as “easy to understand” Bible versions and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) to “draw in the youth”. Today, over forty years later, many evangelical churches are postmodern and youth oriented, lacking the leadership of the elder generations. Many attenders (particularly the young people) in evangelical churches have not even had a born again “crisis conversion experience”. Tragic!

Concerned Nazarene John Henderson posted a more detailed article about this shift in youth ministries, here in the Concerned Nazarene Facebook Group. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Reaching Today’s Youth
By John Henderson

Life has spanned enough years for me to observe the different modes leaders in the church have used to reach the youth of our generation. My wife and I are products of the youth outreach of our time. There has been a noticeable change in the approach to reaching the young people from that time to this.

Even before our own time, there was the YMCA and YWCA. Those were actually evangelistic arms of the church. We have seen now that not only has evangelism ceased in them but any real semblance of Christ or Christianity exists except for smatterings of some sort of general morality. Even that is not all that much emphasized.

We were exposed to Youth for Christ and came to Christ and grew spiritually under its banner. Churches had Sunday evening youth services that have now gone from what they once were to being hardly noticeable, if at all. Not much is heard of YFC these days. It, Campus Crusade for Christ, and others seem to have faded and some have taken on the identity and mission of the emergent church movement.

Somehow and gradually, the notion arose that assumed young people should be reached in their own sub-culture. That sub-culture was largely identified by the worldly influences in vogue at the time, especially in the “music” of that sub-culture. The choruses and gospel songs were soon replaced with rock-and-roll sounds that contained hints of being gospel in some way. That was further enhanced by “worship” music set to shallow ditties that were justified because they somehow alluded to something Christian. Gone were the youth songs and choruses of the past that always supplemented the major hymns and songs of Christ and the entire shebang was replaced by this new music.

Music has always been a teacher of theology and so it still is. It is just that the theology changed to suit the music or else the music was changed to reflect the new theology. We may sometimes call it contemporary but [it] is far from contemporary. It is just rehashed out of the world into a veneer of gospel.

Frankly, we have it all wrong. We shall never reach young people for Christ by giving them amended worldliness. If nothing has changed over the years, it is the simplicity of the gospel. It is like a beautiful girl and when we gaudily dress it up like a floozy, we ruin the beauty that is there by nature. I have peered into areas used for youth activities and saw what resembled night clubs more than places for prayer. Add to that the stage performances—and the stages themselves—and there is no doubt as to what is being learned.

We should be bringing our youth into environments that more resemble the church as it should be. They should be exposed to learning the Bible and memorizing the Scriptures. They should be trained in praying and in witnessing so that they can actually pray with a fellow young person until that person meets Christ in repentance and faith. Their music doesn’t have to sound like it is from the Middle Ages but it should have the same depth of message in it that they should be hearing in regular church. In other words, they should be in training for taking the leadership when they become responsible adults. If they remain trained in shallowness that is what they will carry into the church’s leadership when it is their turn to lead. That is, those who hang around long enough to actually take the reins of leadership.

I can fondly remember the experiences [in] the youth services of my day. I loved walking into a meeting being conducted by youth and hearing gospel songs being sung and a young person preaching as well as many adults I ever heard. I loved standing around a [bonfire] on the beach at night while we shared memory verses and testimonies of the saving grace of Christ and the struggles we were having at school because of our testimonies. I recall youth camps that were reflections of the old-fashioned camp meetings the adults were running. In fact, there were no serious differences between youth and adult services except perhaps ours were more youthfully vibrant. The content was just as deep biblically.

By the way! Good marriages were bred in those environments. Calls to the ministry and the mission field were answered there. Lives I still know about were rooted in Christ there and are still grounded in Him. Time never changes anything. The only thing that ever changes is commitment to Christ and the Word of God.

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Lately I have been researching the United Methodist Church (UMC) denomination – by far the most liberal/mainline denomination in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.

Why are mainline/liberal denominations (the UMC and many others) so theologically dangerous? Because they are having a huge destructive influence on the doctrines of more conservative evangelical denominations.

The actual beliefs of the UMC have diverged greatly from their actual doctrinal statement. I came across an excellent Confessing Movement report on doctrinal trends in the UMC (as of 1998). I have reposted this article below. Click here for the original posting of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

I am very impressed with the format of the article, particularly:

#1) Evidence – quotes from UMC individuals showing a divergence from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996
#2) Scripture verses quoted to show the proper, biblically sound doctrinal view
#3) Excerpts quoted from the The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996, showing a match between #2 and #3

I hope to follow a similar format, in critiquing the doctrinal trends in other straying denominations.

Note – the following article is 15 years old. I can’t even imagine how bad the doctrinal beliefs of the UMC are now. I am looking for similar articles on developments since 1998.

unofficial cm page

Article

Printer Version Available

Report on the Doctrinal Integrity Of the United Methodist Church

By Ad Hoc Committee of Laity Of Marietta First United Methodist Church 1998


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Evidence on the Doctrinal Integrity of the United Methodist Church

A. Person and Work of Jesus Christ

B. Authority of Scripture

C. Worship of other gods

III. Response to the Doctrinal Crisis

A. By the Marietta First United Methodist Church

B. By the United Methodist-related Renewal Groups

C. By the United Methodist Church

Footnotes

Attachments (available soon)

  • Appendix A – Paragraph 62, Section Four Doctrinal Standards and General Rules, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996
  • Exhibit A – Houston Declaration Exhibit B Memphis Declaration Exhibit C Resolution concerning 1993 Re-Imagining Conference Exhibit D “Invitation to the Church” sent by The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church
  • Exhibit E – Petition to North Georgia Annual Conference, “A Call to Reaffirm the Centrality of Christ”
  • Exhibit F – Petition to North Georgia Annual Conference, “Regarding Doctrinal Integrity”
  • Exhibit G – A Resolution of Affirmation containing the text of “Confessional Statement of the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church”
  • Exhibit H – “A Call to Reaffirm the Centrality of Christ” as amended by the 1995 North Georgia Annual Conference”
  • Exhibit I – “In Defense of Responsible Giving”, Report of Good News Special Task Force, March 25, 1997
  • Exhibit J Good News, September/October 1995, page 40-41 Exhibit K Letter from James V. Heidinger, II to Bishop William Boyd Grove and Rev. Bruce W. Robbins dated September 1, 1995
  • Exhibit L – “An Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Good News” signed By Bishop William Lloyd Grove, President and Rev. Dr. Bruce W. Robbins, General Secretary.

I. Introduction

Over the past two hundred years, the contributions of the United Methodist Church to the United States and the world cannot be overestimated. During the 20th century, the United Methodist Church has been a vital force in meeting the needs of the oppressed, the poor, and the sick around the world. Significant contributions to Christian spiritual growth within the denomination have occurred through programs such as Disciple Bible Study and Walk to Emmaus. Local United Methodist churches have been vital places for equipping the body, fellowship, and care and comfort. These kinds of positive contributions are not in dispute.

The issue before us is rather the doctrinal integrity of the United Methodist Church: the faithfulness of its leadership to adhere to our Doctrinal Standards and to champion the cause of Jesus Christ as the Son, Savior, and Lord. In a relativistic and secular society, the responsibility of the Church is to uphold the basic, foundational tenets of the Christian faith. Therefore, we must determine if the United Methodist Denomination has fulfilled this duty and responsibility.

A very important point to be made in understanding this crisis is that as a denomination we have strong Christian doctrinal standards.(1) These have changed very little since John Wesley wrote them in 1784 and none at all since 1808 when a restrictive rule went into effect preventing any changes to these doctrinal standards. If we are faithfully following those doctrinal standards, there will be no question but that we are contending “for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 (NIV)

The report that follows gives evidence of individual factual incidents. The crisis in the UMC is serious and long-standing but for the most part the report focuses on the last ten to twenty years.(2) As the report is read, it should be kept in mind that these individual actions are simply indicative of much larger problems. To assist in putting these individual incidents in perspective, we will identify several overall trends or patterns in the United Methodist Church.

First, United Methodist seminaries are no longer strictly adhering to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith and are tolerating if not promoting some non-Christian theologies.(3) Radical feminist theology is one of the more visible of those. The basic tenets of radical feminist theology include rejection of the Bible as an authoritative document because of its “patriarchialism”, identification of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as “divine child abuse” that has no relevance for modern women, and promotion of worship of pagan female deities.(4) The report may seem to include a disproportionate number of references to women, but it is because of the pervasive influence that radical feminist theology has had on United Methodism.

The hold that feminist theology has on UM seminaries cannot be underestimated. For example, one of the foremost proponents of feminist theology, Rosemary Radford Ruether, is a tenured professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and Aida Isasi-Diaz, another well-known feminist/liberationist theologian, is on the staff at Drew University Seminary. The Re-Imagining Conference of 1993 (which was characterized by worship of the goddess Sophia and denial of the person and work of Jesus Christ) was not an isolated event. It has been repeated three more times since then and the keynote speakers are always Protestant and Catholic seminary professors or clergy.

Second, from the very highest levels of leadership on down, many UM bishops, clergy and staff, most of whom have graduated from UM seminaries, have exhibited a reluctance to adhere to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.(5) The emphasis on a diverse, inclusive social gospel has eclipsed the need to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Intellectualism has snuffed out a simple faith in the Bible as the primary means through which the Creator has sought to reveal Himself to man. This lack of adherence to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith is evident in many of the incidents included in the report.

Third, the staffs of the general boards and agencies have become so isolated from the laity that they act with almost no regard for the beliefs or wishes of the majority of church members. The examples of liberal political activism in this report are typical of the pattern of behavior exhibited by these staff members.

Finally, all efforts at renewal by organized clergy and laity have failed to elicit significant improvement in these problems. The failure to discipline clergy who have been guilty of violating the doctrinal standards of the church is strong evidence of the disdain of the church leadership for the concerns being expressed by the church membership.


II. Evidence on the Doctrinal Integrity of the United Methodist Church

A. Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Evidence

1) Questions of Faith II, video series, #3,”Who is Jesus?”(6)— Statement of Walter Wink, Theologian (United Methodist): “I don’t think of Jesus as perfect…I think of Jesus as…whole. If you’re perfect, you have to be flawless….A person is whole who has incorporated all their own shadow and darkness and sin and evil and lust and anger and violence and has raised it to consciousness and offered it to God as part of their fullness in the human being and it’s been transformed. I think of Jesus as whole in that sense.”

Scripture

2 Cor 5:21 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

1 Pet 2:22 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (NIV)

I Jn 3:5 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.”(7)


Evidence

2) Statement of Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Northern Illinois Conference asserting that Jesus was not born divine but achieved that divinity during His life on earth: “Essentially, when it comes to Jesus, I believe that Jesus was fully human (how else could he be humankind’s Savior?), who in his radical and complete trust in and commitment to the God he called ‘Abba’, experienced such at-one-momentness with God that he revealed in and through himself the very heart, the essential nature of God. Thus, he was fully God, fully human — not by some trans-human altering of his genetic code, but by relationship with God, Neighbor and Self.”(8)

Scripture

John 1:1,14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Matt 1:20-23

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 A11 this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

23 ”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”– which means “God with us.” (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.”(9)


Evidence

3) Rita Nakashima Brock, a speaker at Re-Imagining, is the author of Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, which is recommended by the Women’s Division.(10a) Until recently, Ms. Brock was a professor at UM-related Hamline University. She was the keynote speaker at “Celebration,” an ecumenical gathering for college students which was supported financially by the UM Board on Higher Education.(10b)

In her book, Ms. Brock writes: “For while Christ has continually been upheld as the heart of the promise of Christianity, Christ is a major problem in feminist theology. That problem has been born of an unholy trinity, father-son-holy ghost…”(11) “I will be developing a christology not centered in Jesus…”(12)

Scripture

John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

John 3:18 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (NIV)

I Jn 4:9 9 this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.”(13)


Evidence

4) Ada Isasi-Diaz is a professor at Drew University, a UM seminary. She is a speaker on Questions of Faith, a speaker at Re-Imagining events, and a featured writer and speaker for the Women’s Division of the UMC.

In the summer of 1991, the Women’s Division had a National Seminar for United Methodist Women. Ms. Isasi-Diaz was one of the speakers. Her Bible study on the story of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) was published in the January, 1992 issue of Response, the magazine for United Methodist Women. In it she denied the sinless perfection of Jesus and his divine omniscience: “The ‘uppity’ woman ministers to Jesus, enabling him to see the situation in a different way, to question his prejudice. Her need and faith cause Jesus to realize his mission to people outside Israel.” [Emphasis added](14)

Scripture

Heb 4:15

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin. (NIV)

2 Cor 5:21

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

Matt 11:27 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (NIV)

Col 2:3 3 [Christ] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.’(15)


Evidence

5) On November 4-7, 1993, an ecumenical conference called “Re-Imagining A Global Theological Conference by Women” was held in conjunction with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. [See “Worship of other gods,” #3 for more complete information on Re-Imagining.]

The conference included, among other things, repeated denials of the deity of Jesus Christ and of the necessity of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. Delores Williams, one of the presenters, stated, “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all…. I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.(16)

Scripture

Gal 4:4-5 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (NIV)

Col 1:19-20 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (NIV)

Heb 2:17 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people . (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit.”(17)


Evidence

6) Rosemary Radford Ruether is a tenured professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, a UM seminary. Her books include Women-Church that was recommended as a worship guide by the Women’s Division and Gaia & God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing.(18a)

She also wrote Disputed Questions On Being A Christian which she says is an account of her “intellectual and personal journey of faith and action”.(18b) In it she states: “Too often Christians have treated the sufferings of Christ as some kind of cosmic legal transaction with God to pay for the sins of humanity, as though anyone’s sufferings and death could actually ‘pay for’ others’ sins! Christ’s cross is used to inculcate a sense of masochistic guilt, unworthiness, and passivity in Christians.”(19)

Scripture

Gal 4:4-5 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (NIV)

Eph 1:7 7 In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Cot 1:19-20 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit.”(20)


B. Authority of Scripture

Evidence

1) The Jesus Seminar is a group of New Testament theologians who in 1985 launched an effort to decide which words credited to Jesus in the gospels were actually spoken by him. “The scholars were unable to find a single saying in the Gospel of John that they could trace with certainty back to the historical Jesus.”(21)

“A few years ago, the group questioned Christ’s celibacy and one participant concluded that Jesus was ‘a party animal, somewhat shiftless, and disrespectful of the fifth commandment: Honor your father and mother.”(22)

This group included nine UM clergy: James Goss, C.M. Kempton Hewitt, Chan Hie Kim, Lane C. McGaughy, Vernon K. Robbins, Wesley Hiram Wachob, W. Barnes Tatum, Hal Taussig, and Walter Wink.(23) None have ever been disciplined.

Scripture

John 12:48-49

48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.(NIV)

1 Tim 6:3-4a

3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,

4 he is conceited and understands nothing. (NIV)

John 6:63b

63 The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (NIV)

UM Discipline

‘The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.”(24)


Evidence

2) On February 19, 1998, Duke Divinity School, a UM seminary, sponsored a symposium called “Jesus in Context: Who is He?” It “showcases the findings of the Jesus Seminar alongside more traditional works to make it all more accessible to lay people.”(25) Eight New Testament scholars attended the conference, but only one espoused a traditional Christian position. Many of the others were part of the Jesus Seminar.

“E. P. Sanders of Duke said that Jesus never claimed to save the world in a sacrificial death, which would be ‘too perfect to be Jesus’ original idea.’. . . Paula Fredriksen, who teaches at Boston University School of Theology, another United Methodist seminary, said that Jesus never walked on water and never predicted His own death and resurrection. Fredriksen is an Orthodox Jew.”(26)

Scripture

Matt 16:21

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (NIV)

John 2:19-22

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (NIV)

Other similar scriptures: Mark 9:31 and Mark 10:33-34.

UM Discipline

“The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.”(27)


Evidence

3) The Women’s Division of the UMC is the largest provider of Christian education materials for the women of UMC. Therefore, the study books, program books and reading list recommended by the Women’s Division are of the utmost importance. Several authors whose books are recommended by the Women’s Division are included in this report.

Letty M. Russell is an author who has written an annual spiritual growth study and is represented on many of the annual reading lists. She also was a speaker at Scarritt-Bennett Center, which belongs to the Women’s Division, on November 13, 1992. Her topic was “The Future of the Bible as Teacher”.

Ms. Russell has stated: “the word of God is not identical with the biblical texts” and “the text only has authority as I agree with it and interpret it to my experienced.(28)

Chung Hyun Kyung, who was a speaker at the Re-Imagining Conference, is also represented on the Reading Program for United Methodist Women. Her theology on the Bible is reflected in her writing: “Asian women theologians use the Bible as a reference and an insight from which they draw wisdom for their lives, and not as an absolute unchangeable truth from God.”(29)

Scripture

Ps 19:7-8

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (NIV)

2 Tim 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)

1 Pet 1:25

25 “but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. (NIV)

2 Pet 1:21

21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.”(30)


Evidence

4) Bishop Judith Craig (Ohio West) stated that the liberal wing of the UM church believes that God is continuing to reveal new truth in addition to the Bible. She was attempting to explain the main issue that divides the liberal wing (of which she considers herself a member) from the conservative wing of United Methodism. She said there are two “‘divergent world views, ways of coming at reality’ related to God’s revelation to humanity. The first [liberal], she said, believes that the ‘Holy Spirit’s activity is such that we continue to receive new revelation of God’ while the other [conservative] ‘believes the Holy Spirit is active in helping us comprehend what has already been revealed.

“People who support the first view [liberal] believe ‘God is still unfolding truths that have not yet been disclosed and live comfortably with a wide variety of convictions…'”(31)

Scripture

Deut 4:2

2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. (NIV)

2 Tim 4:3-4

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

Heb 13:8

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.”(32)


Evidence

5) On April 18, 1996, in the midst of General Conference, 15 UM bishops issued a statement expressing their disagreement with the UM Discipline’s proscription against the practice of homosexuality and the ordination of homosexuals. They encouraged the church to change those proscriptions. The bishops who active at the time they signed the statement were: Judith Craig, Ohio West Area; William W. Dew Jr., Portland (Ore.) Area; Calvin D. McConnell, Seattle Area; Susan M. Morrison, Philadelphia Area; Fritz Mutti, Kansas Area; Donald A. Ott, Michigan Area; Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Wisconsin Area; Roy I. Sano, Los Angeles Area; Mary Ann Swenson, Denver Area; Melvin G. Talbert, San Francisco Area; and Joseph H. Yeakel, Washington Area. Retired bishops signing the statement were: C. Dale White, Newport, R.I.; Jesse R. DeWitt, Naperville, Ill.; Leontine T.C. Kelly, San Mateo, Calif.; and Melvin G. Wheatley Jr., Laguna Hills, Calif.

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”‘ (NIV)

1 Cor 6:9-10.

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; were 03/12/98 neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

10 nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (NAS)

Other similar scriptures: Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27

UM Discipline

“Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”(33)

“.. . self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”(34)


Evidence

6) Reconciling Congregations, an unofficial organization for United Methodists, states in its mission statement that it exists to “enable and empower individuals and church organizations for Christian ministries with lesbian, gay and bisexual and other persons.”(35) It actively supports same-sex marriage ceremonies.(36) Reconciling Communities are “United Methodist congregations, campus ministries, conferences and other groups [which] have made a public declaration that they welcome all persons, regardless of sexual orientation to participate fully in the life of their community….[there are] 140 Reconciling Congregations… 21 Reconciling Campus Ministries, 6 Reconciling Conferences [Annual Conferences of the UM church] and 5 other groups.”(37)

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”‘ (NIV)

1 Cor 6:9-10

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (NAS)

Other similar scriptures: Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27

UM Discipline

“In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.”(38)

“Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”(39)


Evidence

7) United Methodist Communications produced a cable network program entitled “Adam & Steve? Same Sex Marriage & Christian Faith.” The program aired on Odyssey Cable Network in early May 1997.(40)

“While acknowledging that marriage as a legal institution involves a man and a woman, the episode urged attention to ‘gay and lesbian couples wanting to make a profession of their coupleness in the eyes of God.'”(41)

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”‘ (NIV)

1 Cor 6:9-10

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

10 nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (NAS)

Other similar scriptures: Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27

UM Discipline

“Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”(42)


Evidence

8) In early 1997, 15 UM clergy began circulating a letter entitled “In All Things Charity” that challenged the UM Church’s stand on homosexuality. The letter advocates acceptance of homosexuality as a practice consistent with Christianity, ordination of homosexuals and samesex covenantal commitments (marriage)(43)

The letter’s original signers included seminary professors, local church pastors, UM staff persons and one District Superintendent. By January 16, 1998, 1300 UM clergy had signed “In All Things Charity.”(44)

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”‘ (NIV)

1 Cor 6:9-10

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (NAS)

Other similar scriptures: Lev 18:22, Rom 1 26-27

UM Discipline

“Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”(45)

“… self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”(46)


Evidence

9) Questions of Faith V, video series, #3, “Can Faith Wipe Out Fear?”(47)–Statement of Tex Sample, United Methodist, professor, Saint Paul School of Theology (UM Seminary): “I believe homosexuality is created of God, it’s good.”

Tex Sample is scheduled to be a Bible study leader at the United Methodist Women’s Assembly May 14- 17, 1998.(48)

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”‘ (NIV)

1 Cor 6:9-10

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (NAS)

Other similar scriptures: Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27

UM Discipline

“Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”(49)

“… self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”(50)


Evidence

10) The official UM policy on abortion is pro-choice.

On April 29, 1996, a letter was Drafted by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (of which the UM church is a member organization) to go to all Congressional Representatives to express agreement with President Clinton’s veto of HR 1833, the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban.” The letter states “the government must not legislate, and thus impose, one religious view on all our citizens. To do so violated our most cherished tradition of religious freedom.”(51) This letter was signed by 6 UM leaders including Dr. Thom White Wolf Fassett, Executive Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, Lois Dauway, Women’s Division, Bishop Susan Morrison, and Dr. M. Douglas Meeks, Dean, Wesley Theological Seminary.

At the 1996 General Conference, a decision was made to allow the General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division to continue to actively participate in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Also, an addendum for “the rights of the unborn” was defeated, as were all the resolutions that would have changed the Discipline to be pro-life.

Scripture

Jer 1:5

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (NIV)

Isa 44:24

24 “This is what the LORD says-your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,” (NIV)

Ps 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may warrant abortion. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth. Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.”(52) “We support the legal right to abortion as established by the 1973 Supreme Court decision.”(53)

“We therefore encourage our churches and common society to:…

7. Safeguard the legal option of abortion under standards of sound medical practice, make abortions available to women without regard to economic standards of sound medical practice, and make abortions available to women without regard to economic status…

9. Assist the states to make provisions in law and in practice for treating as adults minors who have, or think they have, venereal diseases, or female minors who are, or think they are, pregnant, thereby eliminating the legal necessity for notifying parents or guardians prior to care and treatment. Parental support is crucially important and most desirable on such occasions, but needed treatment ought not be contingent on such support;”(54)


C. Worship of Other Gods

Evidence

1) Statement of Bishop Roy Sano: “. . . this is a part of my faith that I have increasingly taken seriously of being bi-cultural.. There was a time when I used to think how can I be Christian and yet Buddhist? Increasingly as I become aware of the extent to which my Japanese culture and its Buddhism is still a part of me, I’m beginning to say how can I be Christian without being Buddhist?”(55)

Scripture

John 14:6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)

Acts 4:12

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV)

UM Discipline

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

“The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit.”(56)


Evidence

2) Rosemary Radford Ruether is a tenured professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, a UM seminary. On May 4, 1995, Professor Radford presided at the weekly Garrett chapel service and used a litany from Theresa Winter’s Women Wisdom which included prayers addressed to various goddesses:

Caller: Who are you, O Holy one?

Voice: I am Cybele, the Great Mother Goddess of ancient Anatolia.

People: Fill us, Cybele, Great Mother Goddess, with Your long-lived Nurturing Spirit.”(57)

Garrett-Theological Seminary President Neal F. Fisher ultimately admitted use of the litany was inappropriate .(58)

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

5 “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORI} your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” (NIV)

Exod 23:13

3 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” (NIV)

1 Cor 8:5-6

5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many ‘lords”),

6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”(59)


Evidence

3) On November 4-7, 1993, an ecumenical conference called “Re-Imagining A Global Theological Conference by Women” was held in conjunction with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. Throughout the conference, Sophia was worshiped as a deity. As the conference began, the attendees sang a chorus to Sophia over and over: “Now Sophia, dream the vision, share the wisdom dwelling deep within.”(60) The program book for the event stated: “We invoke Sophia, Divine Wisdom, who chose to play with all the people of the world. Her voice has been silenced too long. Let her speak and bless us throughout these days”.(61) There was also a milk and honey service worshiping Sophia instead of the traditional communion service.

The Women’s Division of the UMC decided that it would fund the attendance of staff members or directors as well as conference UMW vice-presidents. As a result of that decision, $35,081 was paid for the attendance of 36 directors, 9 staff members and 11 UMW conference vice presidents. An additional $2500 grant was given by the Women’s Division for Minnesota scholarships to the conferences.(62)

Three UM Bishops attended: Bishop Forrest C. Stith (New York Area), Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher (Minnesota Area), and Bishop Susan M. Morrison (Philadelphia Area). Seven of the program leaders for the workshops were United Methodists (UM professors, clergy and laity). A UM clergywoman, Rev. Kathi Austin Mahle, was the Co-Chair of the ReImagining Conference Steering Committee.(63) Subsequent to the event, in 1997, Rev. Mahle was promoted to the position of District Superintendent by Bishop John Hopkins.(64)

The Women’s Division has never disavowed or condemned the theology expressed at the Re-Imagining Conference. In fact, the books of nine of the speakers at Re-Imagining had been published by or recommended by the Women’s Division.(65)

A group of UMs, including Bishop Susan Morrison, issued a statement in support of Re-Imagining called “A Time of Hope—A Time of Threat.” In late 1994, The Council of Bishops released a statement that basically was a dissertation on “Sophia,” the Greek word for wisdom and how it is used in scripture.(66)

A Re-Imagining Community was formed shortly after the 1993 ReImagining Conference.(67) Since 1993, it has sponsored three additional national Re-Imagining Conferences. The current Coordinating Council of the Re-Imagining Community includes 3 UM clergy and one UMW Jurisdictional President. l5 One of the UM clergy, Rev. Marylee Fithian, is the Co-Chair of the Council.

Another related event was “Celebrate,” an ecumenical youth conference that received $10,500 from the General Board on Higher Education and Ministry and was attended by 449 UM students and clergy. The keynote speaker was Rita Nakashima Brock, a feminist theologian. She was also a speaker at the original Re-Imagining Conference and the keynote speaker at the 1994 Re-Imagining Event.(68)

At the 1996 Re-Imagining Event, the milk and honey ritual in honor of Sophia was again celebrated. In addition, Letty M. Russell, who is discussed in “Authority of Scripture,” #3 of this report, spoke during the first conference session which focused on “erotic spirituality.” She stated that “the erotic is the fullest expression of God’s love.”(69)

Re-Imagining Revival is scheduled for April 16-18, 1998.

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

5 ‘You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” (NIV)

Exod 23:13

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” (NIV)

1 Cor 8:5-6

5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),

6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”(70)


Evidence

4) In 1989, Susan Cady and Hal Taussig, both ordained UM pastors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference wrote a book with Marian Ronan (Catholic) called Wisdom’s Feast: Sophia in Study and Celebration. It provides background information on the goddess, Sophia, and includes sermons, Bible studies, prayers and worship litanies concerning her. A new edition of this book has now been published under the same title.

The authors of the book assert consistently that Sophia is divine being co-equal with Yahweh: “There is a hint here that Sophia is not derivative or secondary to Yahweh, but rather existed in her own right before creation…”(71) They also denigrate the role of Jesus referring to Him as “the prophet and child of Sophia” and as “Sophia’s envoy.”(72)

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

5 “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” (NIV)

Exod 23:13

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” (NIV)

1 Cor 8:5-6

5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),

6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (NIV)

UM Discipline

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”(73)


III. Response to the Doctrinal Crisis

A. By Marietta First United Methodist Church

While much of what is contained in this report may seem new, in fact, the Board of Stewards (a/k/a Administrative Board) has addressed these topics on many prior occasions. First, our church has been redirecting its apportionments for the “Interdenominational Cooperation Funds to the “World Service and Conference Benevolences Fund” for over twenty-five years.(74) According to the memories of those who have been around that long, this decision was made in order that our church’s funds would not be used for the World Council of Churches.

In the last ten years, our Board of Stewards has taken 7 separate actions concerning the crisis in our church. Most of these included the adoption of a resolution or declaration:

  • February 14, 1988—Adoption of the Houston Declaration, which is attached as Exhibit A;
  • Early, 1988—Adoption of the Memphis Declaration, which is attached as Exhibit B.;
  • February 13, 1994—Adoption of a resolution condemning the ReImagining Conference of 1993, which is attached and marked Exhibit C;
  • September 14, 1994—Approved signature of the “Invitation to the Church” from the Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church, which is attached and marked Exhibit D. The effect of this action was for our church to become a “confessing church” and to align itself with the Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church; March 12, 1995—Adoption of a petition to the North Georgia Annual Conference entitled “A Call to Reaffirm the Centrality of Christ” which is attached and marked Exhibit E.;
  • March 12, 1995— Adoption of a petition to the North Georgia Annual Conference entitled regarding Doctrinal Integrity” which is attached and marked Exhibit F;
  • May 14, 1995—Endorsement of “A Resolution of Affirmation” that was the text of the “Confessional Statement of the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church” which is attached and marked Exhibit G.

The last three documents that were noted were actually petitions to the North Georgia Annual Conference of 1995. These petitions, if passed by the Annual Conference, would be referred to the 1996 General Conference for action. Prior to the Annual Conference meeting, our church was asked by the bishop to withdraw from consideration the “Confessional Statement of the Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church” (Exhibit D). Trinity United Methodist Church in Atlanta had submitted a resolution opposing the Confessing Movement and the bishop asked them to withdraw their resolution as well. He wanted to keep the Confessing Movement from becoming a divisive issue at the meeting.

Our lay delegates and our pastor presented the other two petitions at the Annual Conference meeting. Since our petitions had not previously been reviewed by any conference committee, the first step in the process at the Annual Conference meeting was for our pastor and lay delegate to meet with the Committee on Resolutions. That Committee has the authority to decide which resolutions reach the floor for debate. At that Committee meeting there was real opposition to the “Call to Reaffirm the Centrality of Jesus Christ.” After much questioning and debate, our church representatives were told that the resolution would not be allowed to go to the floor unless two changes were made in the resolution. Attached and marked Exhibit H is the resolution as it was revised at that committee meeting and as it ultimately was passed by the Annual Conference. The other resolution, “Regarding Doctrinal Integrity,” was passed without change or comment.

At the 1996 General Conference, “Regarding Doctrinal Integrity” and “Call to Reaffirm the Centrality of Christ” were assigned to the Discipleship Committee.(75) That Committee recommended “non-concurrence” with both resolutions. Both resolutions were placed on a consent calendar and the plenary session voted in compliance with the non-concurrence recommendation. Thus, the General Conference rejected both of our resolutions.

Thus, Marietta First United Methodist Church has made significant efforts to effect change in the denomination through generally accepted channels with no success.


B. By United Methodist-Related Renewal Groups

Good News is the oldest of the renewal groups within United Methodism having been formed over 30 years ago. Throughout that entire period, it has been aggressively defending the viewpoint of traditional, evangelical UMs.(76) For the last several General Conferences, Good News has published position statements on the main issues facing the delegates, has helped organize evangelicals who are delegates to conference and has been a significant presence at General Conference advocating the cause of classical Christianity. It has participated in dialogues with denominational staff representatives and other denominational leaders in an effort to inform them of the beliefs of traditional UMs as well as to seek favorable resolution to the many issues that face us.(77) It has been at the forefront of the efforts to renew and revive United Methodism. Its magazine has been a primary and invaluable means of informing the evangelicals of the church concerning denominational matters.

Good News has always taken the position that the denomination could be renewed without schism. It has only been in the last few years that it has even acknowledged withholding of apportionments as a viable response.(78) Therefore, its press release of February 3, 1998 is significant because it recognizes for the first time that the denomination may not survive intact.(79) It reports that at the January 1998 meeting “the board of directors raised the question of whether the theological differences that threaten the unity of the denomination might, in fact, be irreconcilable…”(80)

The Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church was launched in April 1994 at a meeting in Atlanta. Our pastor, Charles Sineath, was one of the 92 clergy and laity that attended that organizational meeting. The Confessing Movement was formed to be “a witness by United Methodist lay men and women, clergy, and congregations who pledge unequivocal and confident allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ…”(81) Its purpose is to “contend for the apostolic faith within the United Methodist Church.”(82)

At an April 1995 meeting, again in Atlanta, which was attended by several members of Marietta First United Methodist Church, a “Confessional Statement of the Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church” was drafted. That statement framed the issue before us: “Will The United Methodist Church confess, and be unified by, the apostolic faith in Jesus Christ; or will The United Methodist Church challenge the primacy of Scripture and justify the acceptance of beliefs incompatible with our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith?”(83)

UMAction is the United Methodist Committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. It was formed in 1994. Its focus is primarily on the Boards, Agencies and other institutions of the United Methodist Church.

UMAction has been instrumental in performing a “watchdog” function within the United Methodist Church. Its purpose is consistent with that of Good News, to help return United Methodism to classical Christianity.

RENEW Network is the evangelical coalition for United Methodist Women. It was formed in 1989 to work for renewal within the Women’s Division and United Methodist Women. During its existence, it has been present for most of the Women’s Division meetings, many of the ecumenical gatherings for women, including all of the Re-Imagining Events, and many local United Methodist Women’s meetings. It has produced and distributed study books and reading materials that were Biblically based and doctrinally faithful to United Methodism. This has been necessary because of the liberal and aberrant theology expressed in many of the Women’s Division publications.(84) RENEW has also offered evangelical mission opportunities to the local units of United Methodist Women. Finally, it has, like Good News and UMAction, served a “watchdog” function with regard to the Women’s Division. One of the members of Marietta First United Methodist Church serves on the Steering Committee of RENEW.

In addition to these renewal groups, there are Four others that are oriented to a single issue or focus. The Mission Society for United Methodists (MSUM) is seeking to mobilize United Methodists to obey the Great Commission. It serves as a sending agency for evangelical United Methodists whom God has called to cross-cultural ministry. The Mission Society gives United Methodists the opportunity to serve on mission fields and with mission ministries that are not available to them with the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). Since GBGM typically does not go to a mission field unless the nationals invite them, United Methodists who are called, for example, to Bible translation or unreached people groups would be unable to fulfill that call but for MSUM. Marietta First United Methodist is one of MSUM’s largest supporters of its missionaries and has had representation on the MSUM Board of Directors for several years.

Lifewatch: The Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality advocates the pro-life position within the United Methodist Church.

Transforming Congregations calls the church to be in ministry to homosexual persons, but affirms the biblical witness that homosexual practice is sin and that the power of the Holy Spirit is available to transform the life of the homosexual. It is the counterpoint to Reconciling Congregations.

Finally, A Foundation for Theological Education makes educational grants to evangelical United Methodist students of the highest caliber who are pursuing doctoral degrees. The goal is to enable evangelical students to complete their training and be available for placement on the United Methodist seminaries’ staffs.

From this survey, it becomes very clear that the cause of renewal has been vigorously advocated for many, many years. Dedicated United Methodists lay and clergy have joined together to champion the cause of the apostolic faith in every arena of church life. This brings us full circle to the press release of Good News referred to in the second paragraph that for the first time speculated about the possibility that the theological differences within the United Methodist Church are irreconcilable. In spite of concerted, broad-based and long-standing renewal efforts, little has changed in the life of the institutional United Methodist Church.

C. By the United Methodist Church

The lack of improvement in the doctrinal health of the denomination is no where more apparent than when we consider the response of the institutional church to all the calls for change and renewal. After reviewing the evidence in Part II of this report, an obvious question should have occurred to any concerned United Methodist: have any United Methodist clergy, seminary professors or other church leaders been disciplined for their espousals of aberrant or heretical theology?

As noted in the report itself, one clergywoman, Kathi Mahle, was actually promoted to District Superintendent following her involvement as Co-Chairman of the Steering Committee of the first Re-Imagining event.

Another glaring example of the denomination’s failure to respond concerns Susan Cole and Hal Taussig, the authors of Wisdom’s Feast: Sophia in Study and Celebration. In the Preface to the New Edition of Wisdom’s Feast, the authors go to some length to chronicle the many efforts that were made by laity to have them disciplined for their promotion of the worship of Sophia. None of those efforts were successful.

On July 15, 1995, the Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers, who was at that time the associate general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, addressed the Reconciling Congregations Convocation. She also serves on the Reconciling Congregations Board of Directors. During her address, she identified herself as a lesbian.(85) Rev. Powers indicated that her lesbianism was well-known by “many, many people in our church.” She categorized her admission as a political act, intended as “an act of resistance to false teachings that have contributed to heresy and homophobia within the church itself.” Rev. Powers stated that she had no intention of revealing whether or not she was a “practicing” lesbians.(86) This is a reference to Paragraph 304.3 of the Discipline that prohibits the ordination and appointment of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”

The Good News Board, during its summer meeting, responded to Rev. Powers’ admission with a statement calling for disciplinary action by the supervisory personnel of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and by the Minnesota (Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. A copy of the Good News article, which includes the entire text of the Good News statement, is attached as Exhibit J.

The General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns issued a statement on July 21, 1995, indicating that they did not believe that the Commission needed to take action against Rev. Powers. It also stated that Rev. Powers’s “proclamation is not a statement representing the Commission, but it is a personal and confessional statement about her identity as a ‘good gift from God.”’(87)

James V. Heidinger, II, President and Publisher of Good News, wrote to Bishop William Boyd Grove, President and Rev. Bruce W. Robbins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns by letter dated September 1, 1995 which is attached as Exhibit K. Mr. Heidinger reminded them that under Paragraph 906.12 (806.12 in the 1996 Discipline), disciplinary action must be taken against Rev. Powers. He also maintained that she violated this paragraph by using her denominational position to advocate homosexuality which she clearly acknowledged in her original characterization of her admission as a political act designed to effect change in the denominational policy against acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

Mr. Heidinger also asserted that to base a failure to discipline Rev. Powers on the loophole of whether or not she is a “practicing homosexual” really begged the question. As he pointed out, “Many of us may have various ‘orientations’ that we have not incorporated as a part of our ‘identity.”’(88) Mr. Heidinger went on to remind them that Rev. Powers had also admitted that “she was ‘partnered’ for 17 years and then went through a painful divorce.”(89) To the most casual observer, this would indicate that Rev. Powers was a “practicing homosexual.” He expressed great concern that Rev. Powers was continuing to function in a position in which she represented the United Methodist Church to the entire ecumenical community.

By letter dated September 14, 1995, Bishop Grove and Rev. Robbins responded to Mr. Heidinger’s letter. A copy of it is attached as Exhibit L. They again asserted that Rev. Powers’s admission was only as to identity not as to practice. They also said, “Jeanne Audrey Powers has spoken forthrightly and honestly about her understanding of her sexual identity. Should she be reprimanded or removed for telling the truth about herself?”(90) They went on to ask, “Does the vow taken by members in Full Connection [ordained pastors] to ‘support and maintain our discipline and polity’ mean that members cannot publicly disagree with church teaching on a particular subject?”(91)

Rev. Powers was never disciplined or penalized in any way. She has since retired.

Rev. Jimmy Creech, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, advised Bishop Joel N. Martinez in late summer, 1997, that he planned to perform a same-sex covenanting service for two of his lesbian members. Bishop Martinez counseled Rev. Creech that such an action would definitely bring a written complaint against him for violating the Discipline.(92) On September 14, 1997, Rev. Creech performed the samesex covenanting service at the First United Methodist Church of Omaha.(93)

On November 10, 1997, Rev. Creech was temporarily suspended from his duties at First United Methodist Church of Omaha. On January 23, 1998, a Nebraska Committee on Investigation recommended that he stand church trial for among other things, “Disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church.” The trial is scheduled for March 11-12, 1998 in Kearney, Nebraska with retired Bishop Leroy C. Hodapp presiding.(94) Rev. Creech has said that he is “challenging the antigay stand in the Social Principles.”(95) The final outcome of this disciplinary matter will be extremely important for the denomination because of the timing and the atmosphere in which it is occurring.

At the 1996 General Conference there was a determined effort to change the Discipline paragraphs that are disapproving of the practice of homosexuality.(96) Affirmation, Reconciling Congregations, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and the National Women’s Caucus led an aggressive lobbying campaign for approval of homosexuality.(97) Then, as noted in Part II, in that atmosphere, the 15 dissident bishops issued their statement indicating their opposition to the church’s stand against homosexual practices.

A proposal had been made that would change the language in what is now Paragraph 65G of the Discipline that states that “the practice of homosexuality … is inconsistent with Christian teaching.” In its place would be language that stated that United Methodists are “unable to arrive at a common mind” on this subject.(98) The Church and Society committee recommended that the change in the wording be made, so the argument to retain the disapproval of the practice of homosexuality was presented as a “minority” report. In spite of all these efforts by the pro-gay lobby, the Conference delegates voted 378-577 against this effort to change the wording of Paragraph 65G.(99)

The 1996 General Conference delegates voted to add the following language to what is now Paragraph 65C of the Discipline: “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” Additionally, the delegates retained the language of what is now of Paragraph 304.3 prohibiting the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” and added a footnote which attempts to define that phrase. Finally, the delegates voted to retain the prohibition what is now Paragraph 806.12 against the use of funds “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.”(100)

Since the 1996 General Conference, the homosexual lobbying groups have continued to aggressively pursue the changing of the policy of the United Methodist Church on the practice on homosexuality. It is obvious from even a cursory review of the Internet web pages of these groups that a concerted and orchestrated effort is being made.(101) In these months leading up to Rev. Creech’s trial, the following actions have occurred:

  • In All Things Charity discussed in Part II. B. was released
  • “In All Things Charity” was publicized again in January 1998 noting the number of signatories as a show of support for Rev. Creech,(102)
  • The Board of Directors of Reconciling Congregations “announced its unanimous support for Rev. Jimmy Creech” for performing the same-sex ceremony,(103)
  • CORNET (COvenant Relationships NETwork) was formed by Affirmation, United Methodists for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Concerns, and
  • On Valentine’s Day, 1998, CORNET sponsored and called for services to celebrate the love and recommitment for all persons. “One facet of these events is to protest” the statement in the Discipline prohibiting same-sex ceremonies.(104) Services were held at UM churches in New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Columbia, MD.

From all of these events, it is clear that the homosexual lobby within the United Methodist Church did not accept the rulings of the 1996 General Conference and intends to do all it can to change the stand against the practice of homosexuality. The trial of Rev. Creech will be an important indicator as to whether or not the leadership of the denomination is willing to enforce the will of the United Methodist Church as expressed by the 1996 General Conference.

The United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, at the direction of the 1996 General Conference, sponsored a two part “Dialogue on Theological Diversity” November 20-21, 1997 and February 19-20, 1998. The dialogue participants were 22 United Methodists laity and clergy including bishops, seminary professors, local church pastors and lay leaders. There are multiple news reports of these two meetings available on the United Methodist News Service’s Internet Web Site.(105) At the first of these meetings, Bishop Judith Craig made her comments, discussed in Part II. B. #4, concerning the belief of liberal theologians that the Bible does not contain all truth but rather “new truth” is being revealed.

These meetings have definitely been helpful in defining the issues that divide the theological liberals from the theological conservatives and they are significant. A paper entitled “In Search of Unity” was drafted summarizing the meeting says, “We believe we may experience substantive disagreement around a variety of theological faith [sic]; the meaning of the incarnation; and our views on the saving work of Christ, to name a few. All of these arise out of differing understanding of Scriptural authority and revelation. However, in this document, we have turned to the practice of homosexuality as illustrative of our divergence because it is one of the most visible presenting in United Methodism today.”(106) “In Search of Unity” will be edited and released about March 2, 1998. The publishing of this paper will conclude the theological dialogues.

Tom McAnally, the United Methodist News reporter, in trying to summarize the mood of the participants returned to a metaphor that had been used throughout the dialogue meetings “of liberals and conservatives trying to live in the same house.”(107)

For some, it was likened to the biblical reference of “in my Father’s house there are many mansions.” But for others, it was compared to an unwanted guest who came into the house and stayed. The Rev Joy Moore [a dialogue participant]…said United Methodists have been given a house from generations past, a house they have come to like. “We’ve opened it to everybody,” she said. “One of our neighbors came and chose to stay…we spent a lot of time cleaning up their mess. They don’t follow the same rules we do… they have changed their address to our house.” As a result of these unwanted guests, Moore said many United Methodists don’t want to live there anymore. She said many members are leaving the denomination because, like the house, “the people living there don’t represent who the church used to be.”(108)

Rev. Moore has done an excellent job of summarizing the state of our denomination much as Jude summarized the state of the church at the time of his writing:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:3-4 (NIV)


Footnotes

1. “Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules,” Paragraph 62, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996. This paragraph is attached as Appendix A.

2. For a detailed historical treatment of the doctrinal crisis in the church, see Beyond the Point of No Return by Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, 2988 North Main Street, Danville, VA 24540. For a scholarly treatment of those same issues, see Waking from Doctrinal Amnesia by Dr. William J. Abraham, published by Abingdon Press.

3. For a detailed treatment of the crisis in UM seminaries, see Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements by Thomas C. Oden, published by Abingdon Press.

4. See the “Evidence” section of the report for documentation of this.

5. See the “Evidence” section of the report for documentation of this.

6. Questions of Faith is produced in part by United Methodist Communications and is distributed by EcuFilm, an ecumenical film/video distribution service whose cooperating groups include the United Methodist Church. This film series is marketed to UM Churches for use in Christian education.

7. Paragraph 62, Article II– of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

8. Bishop’s Column, Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Reporter, May 9, 1997, page 1.

9. Paragraph 62, Article II– of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

10a. Journeys by Heart is recommended in the Women’s Division 1993-94 Spiritual Growth Book, Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew by Nancy A. Carter with contributions by Leontine T.C. Kelly, “Selected Bibliography, Books with Material on Christology”, page 151.

10b. See “Worship of other gods,” #3.

11. 6 Journeys by heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, page xii.

12. 7 Journeys by heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, page 52.

13. Paragraph G2, Article II– of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

14. Response, January 1992, page 30-31.

15. Paragraph 62, Article II– of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996

16. 11 “Commentary on the Re-Imagining Controversy,” published by RENEW; “Excerpts from the tapes of “Re-Imagining,” Tape 3-2, Side B.

17. Paragraph 62, Article XX of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

18a. Women-Church was praised and recommended for its worship rituals in the Women’s Division 1992-93 mission study book, We Belong Together: Churches in Solidarity with Women by Sarah Cunningham, pages 66-68.

18b. Disputed Questions on Being A Christian by Rosemary Radford Ruether, “Preface to New Edition,” page 9.

19. 14 Ibid, page 103.

20. Paragraph 62, Article XX–of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996

21. l Good News, Jan/:Feb) 199d, page 8.

22. Ibid.

23. 3 Ibid.

24. Article V–of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

25. The News & Observer, Durham Edition, Friday, February 20, 1998, page 1A, 10A.

26. Report of Mark Tooley, press representative, February 23, 1998.

27. 7 Article V–of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

28. Quoted in The Feminist Gospel by Mary A. Kassian, pages 169, 171.

29. Struggle to be the Sun Again by Chung Hyun Kyung, page 106.

30. Article V–of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

31. United Methodist News Service, Release #659, 11/24/97 reporting on the first dialogue (November 20-21, 1997) between the liberals and conservatives sponsored by the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity anal Interreligious Concerns.

32. Article V–of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

33. Paragraph 65(F), The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1996.

34. Paragraph 304.3, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

35. “Mission Statement”, Internet Web Page, http://www.rcp.org

36. United Methodist News Service, “Reconciling Congregations unanimously supports Creech,” February 23, 1998.

37. “Reconciling Communities,” Internet Web Pages http://www.rcp.org/

38. Article V–of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

39. Paragraph 65(F), The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

40. Nashville Banner, “Watchdogs slam show about gays” by Frances Meeker, June 19, 1997.

41. Nashville Banner, “Watchdogs slam show about gays” by Frances Meeker, June 19, 1997 and Scriptures Alive!, “Adam & Steve? Same Sex Marriage & Christian faith” Transcript.

42. Paragraph 65C, The Book of Discipline of tile United Methodist Church, 1996.

43. “In A11 Things Charity,” January 1, 1997

44. Northern Illinois Conference The United Methodist Reporter, January 19, 14 , page 1.

45. Paragraph 65(F), The Book of Discipline of the Unified Methodist Church, 1996.

46. Paragraph 304.3, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

47. See “Person and Work of Jesus Christ,” 1st Footnote.

48. United Methodist News Service, “United Methodist Women Gather at Orlando Assembly,” February 27, 1998.

49. Paragraph 65(F), The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

50. Paragraph 304.3, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

51. Letter date April 29, 1996 on letterhead of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, addressed to Congressional representatives and having several signatories.

52. Paragraph 65J, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church,1996.

53. “Responsible Parenthood,” The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 1996, page 126-128.

54. “Responsible Parenthood,” The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 1996, page 126 128.

55. Questions of Faith II, video series, #3,”Who is Jesus?” See “Person and Work of Jesus Christ,” # l, 1st Footnote.

56. Article I–of Faith in the Holy Trinity, Article XX–of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

57. Worship bulletin for Garrett-Evangelical theological Seminary Chapel Service, May 4, 1995.

58. Good News, Sept/Oct 1955, page 35.

59. Article I–of Faith in the Holy Trinity, Article XX–of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

60. Commentary on the Re-Imagining Controversy,” published by RENEW; “Excerpts from the tapes of “Re-Imagining,” Tape l, ,Side A.

61. 7 Re-Imagining Conference Program Book, page 153.

62. “Fact Sheet Concerning the ‘Re Imagining Conference and the Women’s Division of The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries” dated 1/4/94 and signed by Joyce D. Sohl, Deputy General Secretary, Women’s Division; $35,081 verified by telephone call to Connie Takamine, Women’s Division.

63. “Commentary on the Re-Imagining Controversy,” published by the RENEW Network

64. Minnesota Edition of United Methodist Reporter, Leader, February 21, 1997.

65. The following six Re-Imagining Speakers have appeared on Women’s Division Reading Lists or in Response magazine: Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Chung Hyun Kyung, Aruna Gnanadason, Johanna W.H. Bos, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and Mercy Oduyoye. At least two of these have appeared as recently as the 1997 and 1998 Reading Lists.

“Three others were recommended for additional reading in the “Selected Bibliography, Books with Material on Christology”, Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the Women’s Division 1993-94 Spiritual Growth Study: Rita Nakashima Brock, Jacquelyn Grant, and Susan Thistlethwaite. Jacquelyn Grant was also recommended in the Bibliography of We Belong Together: Churches in Solidarity with Women, the Women’s Division 1992-93 mission study book.”

66. The full text of the paper’s conclusions is in Good News, Jan/Feb l996, page 36.

67. Re-Imaging Community Internet Web Page http://home.earthling.net/~mfithian/

68. See Pierson and Work of Jesus Christ”, #3 for more information on Ms. Brock’s theology.

69. Partnership Briefing, The Institute of Religion and Democracy, Fall 1996.

70. Article I–of Faith in the Holy Trinity, Article XX–of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

71. Wisdom’s Feast: Sophia in Study and Celebration by Susan Cole, Marian Ronan, and Hal Taussig, page l3.

72. Ibid.

73. Article I–of Faith in the Holy Trinity, Article XX–of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1996.

74. Rev. Sam Storey indicated that was the case even prior to the time he was appointed here as a youth pastor.

75. Both resolutions indicate they were submitted by individuals/groups other than the North Georgia Conference. The wording of the both resolutions, however, is almost identical to those passed by our conference so we have assumed that similarly worded resolutions were consolidated for voting purposes.

76. The January/February, 1992 issue of Good News magazine chronicles the first 25 years.

77. See back issues of Good News magazine.

78. “In Defense of Responsible Giving,” Report of Good News Special Task Force, March 25. 1997, attached as Exhibit I.

79. “Good News Board Asks: Can Two Houses of United Methodism Live Together?,” Good News Press Release, February 3, 1998.

80. Ibid.

81. “What is The Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church?,” a brochure of the Confessing Movement.

82. Ibid.

83. “A Confessional Statement of the Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church” dated April 29, 1995.

84. “See the “Evidence” section of the report for documentation of this.

85. United Methodist News Service, “United Methodist clergywoman reveals she is a lesbian,” July 17, 1995.

86. Ibid.

87. 14 “Response to the Good News Board of Directors statement about Jeanne Audrey Powers by Bishop William Boyd Grove, President and Bruce W. Robbins, General Secretary, The General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns” dated July 21, 1995.

88. Letter from James V. Heidinger, II to Bishop William Boyd Grove and Rev. Bruce W. Robbins dated September 1, 1995, which is attached as Exhibit K.

89. Ibid.

90. “An Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Good News” signed by Bishop William Boyd Grove, President and Rev. Dr. Bruce W. Robbins, General Secretary.

91. Ibid.

92. United Methodist News Service, “Covenanting ceremony for same sex partners to be held at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, ‘ September 12, 1997.

93. United Methodist News Service, “Same Sex Ceremony Update,” September 16, 1997.

94. 21 United Methodist News Service, “March Church Trial set for pastor who performed samesex ceremony,” February 12, 1998.

95. United Methodist News Service. “Pastor facing church trial says denomination’s stand on homosexuality compromises its integrity,” February 16, 1998.

96. 23 Good News, May/June 1996, pages 16-17.

97. Ibid. and United Methodist News Service. “Gays still not welcome in church, says Reconciling Congregations Group,” April 18, 1996.

98. United Methodist News Service, “Hold Line on Homosexuality,” April 24, 1996. Release #048.

99. Ibid.

100. Good News, May/June 1996, pages 16-17.

101. Affirmation: United Methodists for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Concerns, http://www.umaffirm.ora CORNET, the United Methodist Covenant Relationships Network, http://www.umaffirm.org/cornet/index2.html Reconciling Congregations http://www.rcp.org

102. Northern Illinois Conference The United Methodist Reporter, January 19, 1998, page 1.

103. United Methodist News Service, “Reconciling Congregations unanimously supports Creech,” February 23, 1998.

104. CORNET Internet Web Page, “Valentine ’98 Celebrates God’s Gift of Love and Fidelity,”

105. http://umns.umc.org/index.html

106. United Methodist News Service, “Homosexuality cited by dialogue participants as one of major issues threatening schism in church,” February 23, 1998.

107. These theological dialogue meetings were the source for the metaphor of two houses of United Methodism used by Good News in their February 3, 1998 news release discussed earlier in Part III A.

108. United Methodist News Service, “Dialogues on theological diversity end, search for unity continues,” February 23. 1998.


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