Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Apostasy’

(revised 11/19/15)

In recent days I have been very concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the “same-sex marriage” issue. As we all know, “same-sex marriage” was approved for all 50 states of the U.S. (plus the District of Columbia) in 2015.

A question for born again Christian readers: are you “vexed” (troubled) by the possibility of nationally recognized gay marriage? I’m not talking about just the possibility of various Christian rights being taking away. I’m also talking about concern over sin itself.

I must admit, I have a tendency to be angry towards sinners themselves. But we need to take a deep breath, step back, and realize why we preach against sin. Sinners are headed straight down the path to Hell and the eternal Lake of Fire, if they do not accept Christ as Saviour. This is what our preaching against sin (of various kinds) should be all about – pointing out sin, and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict so sinners will turn around, repent of sin and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord.

I realize there are various ways to approach sinners and sin. And I would say different people need to be approached in different ways. Plus preachers vary in their personalities and God-given missions. John the Baptist and other prophets seemed to “rail” against sin in righteous anger. On the other hand, Jeremiah was called “the weeping prophet” (see the book of Lamentations), and Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Following is an excellent, pertinent sermon outline I came across, by Independent Fundamental Baptist Pastor James J. Barker. The original sermon outline can be found here. I hope to add links to the Scripture passages, as time permits.

BEING VEXED IS NOT ENOUGH

Text: II PETER 2:1-9

INTRODUCTION:

1.     I would like to draw your attention to a word found twice in our text this morning – “vexed” (2:7, 8).  Lot was vexed. He did not approve of the so-called “gay lifestyle” of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2.     To be “vexed” means to be troubled, to be afflicted, to be disturbed, to be annoyed, and to be distressed.

3.     From our text we see that Lot was vexed by the filthy behavior of the Sodomites (2:6-8).  In fact, some Greek scholars even translate this word as “tortured” – i.e., Lot was being tortured by “seeing and hearing” what the Sodomites were doing.

4.     If all we had to go by was the OT, most of us would assume that Lot was not a saved man.  However, in II Peter 2:7, Lot is referred to as a just man, and in verse 8 he is referred to as a righteous man.

5.     In other words, Lot was saved.  He was carnal; he was backslidden; he was a compromiser – but he was saved.  Lot knew the Lord.

6.     As we look at the life of Lot this morning, I would like to remind you that I Corinthians 10:11 says these OT historical accounts were “written for our admonition.”

7.     Then the very next verse says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” This is an important lesson for us because in the Bible, Lot represents the carnal, worldly Christian, and the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

8.     Sodom and Gomorrah are referred to many times in both the OT and the NT.  We do not have time to look up all of the references, but we will look at a few in order to demonstrate that in the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah is a picture and type of the world (cf. Isaiah 1:9, 10; 3:8, 9; 13:19; Jer. 23:14; 49:17, 18; Ezek. 16:49; Amos 4:11, 12; Zeph. 2:9; Luke 17:28-32; Rev. 11:8).

9.     Did you notice that God not only compares Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah; He also compares Babylon, Edom, Moab, and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah.

10. In other words, just as Lot represents the worldly, carnal believer; and Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

11. My message this morning is entitled, “Being Vexed Is Not Enough.”  There are many Christians who complain about the homosexuals but they let their children dress just like the world.  They oppose abortion but they let their children go to proms and get involved in dating.

I. LOT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SODOMITES

1.     Second Peter 2:7 says that Lot was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.”  In the King James Bible, “conversation” refers to conduct and behavior.

2.     Lot was not only vexed by the way they talked, he was vexed by the way they lived – “their unlawful deeds.”

3.     I think it is easy to understand what happened to Lot.  We see this all the time.  For example, a young person goes to public school and tries to live for God and soon he or she gets discouraged – the ridicule, the derision, the sarcasm, the scorn, the contempt – it becomes to much to bear so soon the public school student begins to “blend in” rather than be different from his ungodly classmates.

4.     This peer pressure is very strong with teenagers but it is also a problem with adults.  Christians often hear dirty words and gutter language at work.  Wicked sinners will take God’s name in vain, but many Christians will not object.

5.     This is what happened to Lot.  He should have separated from the Sodomites.  He should have taken a stand for God.  He should have protected his family, but he didn’t.

6.     The Bible says, “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2:8).

7.     Notice, Lot had to endure this ungodliness “day to day.”  He was horribly affected by what he was “seeing and hearing” (2:8).  Many Christians vex their righteous soul by what they are seeing and hearing – for example, by watching garbage on TV, and videos, and the Internet, and listening to rock music, and so on (cf. II Peter 2:8).

8.     Michael Green says, “It is customary for Christians today, living inn a secularized society, no longer to be shocked by sinful things which they see and hear.  They will, for example, without protest sit through a television program presenting material which a generation ago they would never have contemplated watching at a theatre or cinema. But when a man’s conscience becomes dulled to sin, and apathetic about moral standards, he is no longer wiling to look to the Lord for deliverance” (Tyndale Commentary).

9.     Remember, Lot had to be dragged out of Sodom (Gen. 19:16).

10. By the way, notice sodomy is called “unlawful” (II Peter 2:8).  Liberal politicians and wicked judges can pass all the laws that they want but they cannot make homosexuality lawful because God calls it “unlawful.” The Bible also calls it sinful, vile, wicked, abominable, unnatural, dishonorable, unseemly, and foolish.

11. James 1:27 tells us that we should keep ourselves “unspotted from the world,” but too many Christians are like Lot.

II.  LOT DID NOT HAVE A GOOD TESTIMONY IN SODOM

1.     You may remember the interesting conversation between the LORD and Abraham that is recorded in Genesis 18.

2.     In this portion of Scripture, Abraham is attempting to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33).

3.     Abraham is pleading for the wicked citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He does not want to see them destroyed.

4.     Note that Abraham starts with 50 (Gen. 18:23, 24) and ends up with the LORD assuring him that He will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous people can be found there (18:32).

5.     Perhaps Abraham thought that Lot and his extended family would be enough to spare the judgment of God. If Lot had just won his own family to the Lord, along with his daughters’ husbands and his sons’ wives, the Lord would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot had absolutely no influence in Sodom (Gen. 19:12-14).

6.     The Scofield Study Bible says, “Lot had utterly lost his testimony” (cf. Gen. 19:9 and Scofield margin – “The world’s contempt for a worldly believer”).

7.     The reason Lot could not persuade his friends and family, and the reason he had absolutely no influence for God was he was not separated.

8.     And because Lot was not separated from all of the wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah, he did not speak out against all of their filthy wickedness.

9.     Preachers today will not deal plainly with sin because (like Lot) they are compromised.   How can they boldly attack rock music when they themselves listen to rock music?  And when they even have it in their churches?

10. Or when they are afraid of losing members?

11. How can they preach against Hollywood if they are captivated by it themselves?

12. How can a preacher speak out against immodest dress when his wife or his daughter wears a mini-skirt?

13. How can a preacher preach about soulwinning if he never goes out soulwinning?  Some preachers say, “My area of expertise is discipleship.”  May I be frank and say that is baloney?  If preachers do not win souls soon there will be nobody left to disciple!

14. In his commentary on this text, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “We are to preach righteousness to such a world.  We are to warn it; to tell it of the judgment that is coming because of its sin; we are to plead with men to see their danger and escape from it.  And above all, we are to give them an example of the Christian life and the Christian character, and of loyalty to God and His truth.”

15. Here is where Lot failed. And when he finally did try to warn them about the judgment of God, they did not take him seriously (Gen. 19:14-16).

16. Thanks to the mercy of God (Gen. 19:16), Lot was able to get his daughters out of Sodom, but he was not able to get the Sodom out of them (cf. Gen. 19:30-38).

17. Isn’t it interesting that in Zech. 2:9, the LORD says, “Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah.”  And that is how these nations began – with an incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters right after they escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:37, 38).

III.  THE STORY OF LOT IS A LESSON FOR US TODAY

1.     We often think that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning against the sin of homosexuality, and it certainly is (cf. II Peter 2:6; Jude 7).

2.     This is one of the reasons why the ungodly hate the Bible.  This is why they make disparaging remarks about fundamental Christians.

3.     There are other reasons as well.  The Bible clearly teaches that if they do not repent and turn to Jesus then they will go to hell.  That is not a message they want to hear.

4.     But the Bible’s strong condemnation of homosexuality is a big bone of contention in these days of moral relativism and apostasy.

5.     However, there is another important lesson here – one that is often overlooked.  Lot represents the modern, worldly Christian.  He is saved but he has little interest in the things of God.

6.     He has godly relatives (e.g., Lot was Abraham’s nephew) but he is more comfortable associating with the wicked crowd (cf. Gen. 13:10-13; 19:1).

7.     Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

8.     Lot was unwilling to take a stand in Sodom and it cost him his testimony; it cost him his conscience; and it cost him his family.

CONCLUSION:

1.     While the story of Lot is a lesson for the worldly Christian, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning to the unsaved (II Peter 2:6). God will judge the “ungodly” (2:6, 10).

2.     God is patient and long-suffering, but it is unwise to exhaust His patience (II Peter 3:9).

Pastor James J. Barker
email:   jbarker4@optonline.net

Read Full Post »

(revised 01/30/15)

I feel privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member of the “anti-Emergent” Facebook Group Concerned Nazarenes. This Facebook Group is attempting to confront and warn members primarily of The Church of the Nazarene denomination.

I, John, and many others are concerned about the doctrinal falling away of many evangelical churches and entire evangelical denominations. Most of these churches are falling away from biblically sound doctrine into the postmodern heresies of Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc.

Interestingly, all of the above individuals have spoken and/or taught at the heretical George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary, schools in the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. The EFCI was once (relatively) biblically sound.  But, in recent decades, all the Regions of the EFCI (including the once very biblically sound, Wesleyan Holiness EFC-ER) have begun trending quickly into postmodern “progressive evangelical” apostasy.

By the way, John – like myself – is Wesleyan Holiness in doctrine. We hold to the Wesleyan-Arminian position that a born again Christian can turn his or her back on God, walking away into apostasy and “losing” his or her salvation. Technically, we believe in “conditional eternal security”.

So why exactly is the EFCI (and many other evangelical denominations) falling away? There are many factors I’m sure – factors which I will not attempt to enumerate here. But I did find the following post by my friend John Henderson very pertinent. Click here for the original source of this post. Note: I am inserting comments [in brackets] and emphasizing certain points by bolding.

Point of No Return
By John Henderson
12/14/14

This is one of those things where I would welcome, would embrace, having someone tell me I was wrong and showing me how so. It has to do when a person or a group has gone so far in the wrong direction, making wrong choices, and ignoring and neglecting God that they will never return to their better days outside of a divine miracle of intervention.

It happened first in the Garden of Eden. God made it clear to Adam and Eve what the limits were and what would happen if they went beyond them. They went past them and, in the day they sinned, they died spiritually on the spot and physically a few years later. Not only were those the consequences to them but they brought sin and damnation upon all of their descendants that only the Cross of Christ could overcome.

One might argue that God’s creation was perfect and it was impossible for man to undo what God had done. That is a good argument but it was not what happened. Salvation is perfect but man can still trample the perfect redemption.

That is how it is. There is a point where a person can go beyond the possibility of repentance—not because God is powerless but because his or her conscience is so seared by unbelief and rebellion that they cannot come to repentance. Someone has likened it to no longer hearing God’s call because the heart is so filled with animosity to the things of God and the attractions of the world that His call is drowned out by the din of those things. The call has not diminished. The hearing has ignored it so long that it is as though there is no call.

We have a grandfather clock in our hallway. It chimes the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes. Frankly, I do not notice them very often because I am accustomed to ignoring them. A visitor sleeping in a nearby room will often remind me of them. I try to remember to silence the chimes when we have overnight guests.

For this reason, I think a backslider who once followed Christ faithfully is less likely to return than would be a reprobate who has never received Christ. I think of the man who wrote that great song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” who apparently never made it back. There are statics [sic] that say younger people are more likely to receive Christ than are older people. I often wonder if I would have ever turned to Christ had I put it off at the age of 15 until a later time; had I decided to taste of the world a bit before considering Christ.

There are many sad stories of people who put off salvation so long until all opportunities are gone. I do not like to hear of them but they are out there. Many of them I knew personally.

That same thing is true of once-great churches. I have yet to learn of a backslidden church or denomination that ever returned to its original level of spiritual life, activity, and influence after having started down the road of compromise. The slide was always gradual and hardly noticeable in the beginning. After a while, people started to notice something was wrong and eventually there were those who began to warn about it. There were occasional turnabouts, but not many and not often. Once the fatal drift took hold, it was too late. The cancer of sin had eaten away too much for there to be a recovery. If there ever was to be a cure, it had to be divine, but usually God had been so excluded that He was no longer considered that relevant and His call was no longer being heard.

The good news is that it does not have to turn out like that. There is still that clarion call and most can still hear it. Some will turn to Christ who seemed beyond the call.

I was told that when news got out that I had been saved, there were some who found it unbelievable about me. One person reportedly expressed such disbelief as to say: “Not him! Not that Henderson boy! Anybody but him could be saved!” I am glad that the Holy Spirit thought differently. God may have had to reach a little farther for me but He did. The stain of sin may have penetrated deeply even at my young age, but the Blood of Jesus went deeper than the stain had gone.

I have often thought that my own point of no return was very near then. An accident that should have been fatal convinced me of that. I had come to Christ shortly before the accident—maybe a week, two at the most—and believe I would have perished in the accident if I had put off salvation. I broke my neck in three places in a diving accident and walked away with no permanent damage of any sort.

Genuine revival is still possible. Maybe it won’t look like we used to know or expect, but it can be every bit as real and far-reaching as ever. As long as the Holy Spirit is still with and in us, everything pertaining to the preaching of the gospel is still just as possible as it was in the beginning. That will not change or diminish until Jesus comes again.

Read Full Post »

(revised 01/30/15)

Well we endured the very popular “The Bible” TV miniseries, and now “The Son of God” movie. I wonder how many evangelicals have been deceived into believing Roma Downey has become a born again Christian. Truth is, Downey is still a New Ager, in spite of many public statements by her and hubby Mark Burnett that they are Christians.

It angers me when New Agers are so deceptive, deluding born again Christians into thinking they are Christians (Oprah Winfrey and other New Agers are also trying to deceive us in this way). Following is a March 2014 First for Women article I came across with New Age quotes from Roma Downey. (I realize there may be copyright issues concerning the posting of this article – for now at least, I am leaving the article online primarily for other discernment ministries to access and quote.) Here’s the article:

Downey001
Downey002
Downey003

In the above March 2014 issue of First for Women magazine, Downey said, “I think we all have a responsibility to see God in each other. That’s how I’ve raised my children – that no matter whose face they look into, they’re looking into the face of God, who’s in all of us.”
(First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, p. 45)

Other New Age buzzwords in the above article,  quoting Downey:

“light, peace and happiness”
“doing work that spreads the message of God’s love”
“rituals she relies on to stay centered”
[candlelight] “promotes mindfulness”
[I light a candle and it] “calls in the light”

Also, in the article Downey says she is reading the book The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman sounds New Age to me. Even if Hoffman isn’t New Age, Downey apparently likes her occultic themes. Check out this info from Wikipedia:

“Many of her works fall into the genre of magic realism and contain elements of magic, irony, and non-standard romances and relationships.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Hoffman

FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

Apparently Downey is a darling of the following yoga website, which lists many of her online video interviews about “The Son of God” movie.
http://yogasanas.net/index.php/component/relatedvideos/?vid=Jq90uQnP5ko

A 2013 Lighthouse Trails discernment article on Downey, with links for further research:  http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12323

Read Full Post »

I have had the privilege of meeting John Henderson in the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. This Group is primarily concerned about the invasion of postmodern heresies into the Church of the Nazarene denomination. But the Group is also  working for the revival of born again, biblically sound, “fundamentalist” Wesleyan Holiness. Following is a repost of John’s combined articles on Entire Sanctification, originally posted here.

I am in the process of adding links to John’s articles below, as well as emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Combined Articles on Entire Sanctification
By John Henderson

The following are articles and portions of articles I have posted recently on Concerned Nazarenes. Since a discussion has arisen about it, I thought it proper to repost this information.

Scriptural Holiness

There has been a neglect of Scriptural holiness in a general sense throughout the Wesleyan holiness movement. The drift has been going on for some time as revealed by the now well-known message of Dr. Keith Drury of the Wesleyan Church, “The Holiness Movement is Dead!” It was a message that alarmed and challenged those of us in attendance at that Presidential Breakfast of the Christian Holiness Association in 1995 at First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a message that completely redirected my perception and determination of what I already instinctively knew was happening.

Dr. Millard Reed, Trevecca Nazarene College’s new president, was to be the next speaker in a late morning service. He went to his home nearby and completely re-wrote his message to supplement what Drury had just presented in order to show the possibilities of holiness renewal. It was a perfect supplement. With the disease of a dead holiness movement now fully exposed and the possibilities of recovery encouraged, I felt compelled to try to do something about it in some way. What could a powerless, uninfluential aging nobody do? That was my starting point.

We continued the slide as bemoaned by Dr. Drury some ten years later when he observed that, although there was an initial response that day that seemed positive and enthusiastic, nothing was actually done over that period to raise us from the deathbed of the movement.

As we are in 2014, almost another 15 years later, we see that not only have we remained dead and the corpse is now rotted, but the skeleton has been bleached and re-fleshed in the progressive new age apparel of mysticism and doctrines of demons. Even John Wesley has been morphed into the postmodern mold to the point that Scriptural holiness is counterfeited in a fabricated frame of reference, thus becoming a false doctrine itself. They have become words without substance and void of life. What could be worse than neglected holiness? Could it be hypocritical holiness or counterfeited holiness?

Drury predicted that if the heirs of the Scriptural holiness movement did not turn it around, God would seek out other venues and other people. I think He is doing just that at this point in time because the caretakers of the holiness movement have abandoned it and gone over to the enemy, even opposing in deed and word the very truth of the matter. In the very midst of “holiness apostasy” (my term), God is, at this very moment, raising up the dry bones, as it were, to once again become His mighty army of Scriptural holiness.

Although Scriptural holiness is defined in doctrinal statements and exegetical teachings, it is more than how we define and explain it. It is the very heart of the victorious Christian life and a necessity for all believers who would follow their Lord in total commitment.

Scriptural holiness is just that—Scriptural—and it transcends all philosophical and theological expositions of it. If it is only of the head, that is not enough! It must be more and also be of the beating heart of the soul. It is the epitome of Christ in us, the hope of glory. It is His life in us on the highest plane of spiritual living through the fullness of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying grace, a grace that is first instantaneous and then progressive throughout a life of obedience to the will of God. It is the sanctified believer following Christ, walking as He walked; walking with Him. It is being made pure as He is pure, righteous as He is righteous, and, yes, perfect as He is perfect. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). Being in this world we are not of this world!

Consider this comparison. Adam was created as a perfect man. That was God’s design for the human race. He was to multiply and replenish the earth with his kind. Instead, Adam sinned and sin came upon his descendants. He then reproduced fallen humanity with a carnal nature—a deformity of the creation of God.

Jesus reverses that on a higher level. He saves from sin, then sanctifies us wholly through the fullness of the Spirit (baptism of the Spirit), thus returning us to what John Wesley correctly calls Christian perfection. Just as Adam was able at all times to obey or disobey, so is the sanctified believer. I should hasten to remind us that Adamic perfection and Christian perfection are not the same. Adam’s was perfection by creation and the sanctified Christian’s is made perfect (a spiritual sense of perfection) by grace through faith. Both are tempted to sin but both needed not yield to temptation. Both were granted the gift of free-will. Adam failed. We need not! The sanctified can still sin but are not under bondage to sin. Any sin must be forgiven.

Sin has never resided in the flesh. All the affections of the “flesh” are spiritual, not bodily. It is only in the spirit of man and there it infects the human soul. The host (the mortal body) does indeed suffer because of the sins of the spirit but is not responsible for those sins.
———————————————————————————————
Scriptural Holiness, a Practical Experience

I watched a video several years ago of a camp meeting service where the evangelist was preaching on Scriptural holiness. As the cameras panned the audience and the preaching continued, I noticed two things: (1) the evangelist was “cut and dried.” Each point was like a lecture preparing you for the exam to follow; and (2) the audience was bored out of their “gourd”.
Scriptural holiness is much more than a doctrinal system or a systematic outline. There is a holiness doctrine for sure because there is a dynamic reality we call by various terms but all referring to the same grace of God. The terms are generally interchangeable, usually describing some comprehensible aspect of Scriptural holiness. Even Scriptural holiness is one of the terms. Some will parse the words, but they actually are so interchangeable as make that unnecessary. A Scottish educator of the mid-20th century, Stanley Banks, provides some of the thoughts for this article. Aside from Scripture quotes, direct quotes will be his comments.

Banks’ use of concise concepts proves very useful for our purposes here. Recognizing that it is possible to so mishandle the loftiest statements in the Scriptures on holiness in such an objective and prospective manner that the actual realization of being entirely sanctified is missed, it is necessary to always be Scriptural rather than merely theological or philosophical. Philosophy and theology serve the Scriptures, and not the other way around.

The life of Christ is our example of this holy life in Christ. His life is our pattern for living in holiness. We are to be Christlike, not analogous to Christ. It is His nature in us, not something to merely mimic. A Christian is neither almost saved nor almost sanctified. It is always complete salvation and entire sanctification.

We should understand that there is “a sin that dwelleth in me,” as Paul says it. “It is something distinct from the acts of sin, and is related to those acts as is cause to effect.” Banks says it is the “infection of nature” that remains in the regenerated.

Romans chapters 6-8 provide several descriptions of the same nature: the old man (hereditary evil); the body of sin (accumulated evil); inward enmity (hostility to God); the law of sin (downward drag); and the inward moral corruption (carnality from the fall of Adam). It is the “germ of sin that has caused all disruption and perversion in the human nature, and that causes us to be so un-Christlike, and which in its very essence is antagonistic to the operation of the Holy Spirit’s activities within us to make us Christlike.”

There is no hope of our being Christlike in the fullest sense unless God does something about this indwelling sin nature that is incurably hostile towards God. There cannot be a fight going on. Suppression only leads to eventual explosion. There has to be full surrender on our part and the “old man” must be crucified so that Christ reigns unchallenged in our hearts. It is all His work in “destroying” the old man. We cannot do a thing about it any more than we can save our own souls. It is as much an act of faith as it is of being born again, relying solely on His work in us.

This deliverance can only be enacted by God in the believer. The unredeemed are in no position to deal with the carnal nature or for God to deal with it. They are disqualified from this until they are regenerated. They are lost and need first to be saved. Once they have been saved by grace, they are in position to “go on unto perfection” as the Scriptures admonish. Thus, entire sanctification is attainable only by the born-again. This is clearly shown to be so in the prayer of Jesus in John 17 when He prayed, “sanctify them through Thy truth.” The “them” are all believers of all time, just as Jesus made it clear in John 17.

The Executor of all grace is the Holy Spirit. He brings us to salvation and He brings us to sanctification. Being born of the Spirit is a crisis of faith and being purified in our hearts is a crisis of faith. Both are instantaneous and both are definite and drastic works of grace enacted by the Holy Spirit in response to our faith. Salvation is the rescue and sanctification is the empowering. Someone once said that in salvation we have the Holy Spirit and in sanctification the Holy Spirit has us.

In sanctification we move from the realm of struggling with the sin nature as described in Romans 7 to full liberty in the fullness of the Spirit in Romans 8. We have not been paroled from carnality; we have been set fully free.

We speak of being filled with the Spirit. It is a simple thing to understand that if we are filled with the Spirit, there is nothing else there. Our having been emptied of self, He has the whole heart to Himself. The potential at salvation is made actual in sanctification. We are now empowered (His power working in us) to a life of dependence—a constant reliance on the Blood of Christ for continual cleansing and strengthening. “We must abide in the place where the precious blood goes on cleansing.” Those who really know the mind of John Wesley may recall that he once wrote Adam Clarke that “to retain the grace of God is more than to gain it” and “this should be strongly urged upon all those who have tasted perfect love.” (Perfect love was one of Wesley’s favorite terms for Scriptural holiness.)

It continues as a life of discipline and development. In full cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the sanctified person necessarily launches into a life-pattern of the discipline of body, mind, emotions, and will. Nothing is held from Him in reserve for self-indulgence. The purity of the heart develops into maturity of character and experience. The world can see the difference. They will know that we have been with Jesus. It is rightly called a mountaintop experience as compared to Moses being on Sinai with God and his face shining when he returned.

Do you want to see a real revival? This will bring it about. The world and the backsliding church are plunging headlong together into perdition and there is no rescue possible other than the faithful evangelistic drive by a sanctified Church that is committed to holiness of heart and life-style and that is followed by boldly witnessing to that world and apostate church without fear or favor.

NOTE: While it is sadly true that the holiness movement has had more than its fair share of shallow and often hypocritical “testimonies” of entire sanctification, I believe there have been much more that were genuine such as those presented in the following:
———————————————————————————————
Understanding Entire Sanctification Through Testimonies

This matter that we in the Christian community variously refer to as sanctification, being filled with the Holy Spirit, holiness; and other terms is being, in my opinion largely neglected for any number of excuses, even by those who hold to sanctification as what is often called a second work of grace.

The general concept of Christian holiness is not merely a pet doctrine of those who hold to the doctrines of Wesley or the Keswicks. There is ample evidence that it is generally accepted among evangelical Christians as an integral part of the Christian experience, however defined and taught. It is not my intentions here to delve into the doctrine all that much, if at all. That can be for another time if needful. I want to go directly to the experience of what I choose to call entire sanctification, that moment after the new birth when the believer is endued with the power of the Holy Spirit—the divine baptism of the Holy Spirit—and cleansed from the dominion of inbred sin through the crucifixion of the old man or carnal nature. I use as a guide the testimonies of several Christians in a single meeting of a day of prayer at Emmanuel Bible College in Birkenhead, Scotland Wednesday, March 6, 1946. Reporting was the college founder, J. D. Drysdale.

Important aspects involved in the testimonies speak, I think, to us today in a very significant and challenging way. Drysdale sets up the testimonies with the statement: “When one has experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11), as I did in 1906, one can never be satisfied with formal religion, or lukewarmness in one’s own heart.”

I offer excerpts from four testimonies together in the hopes of providing a thread of what we face in our own lives in 2014. All those speaking appear to be long-term Christians. I number each speaker for clarity.

Speaker 1: “I became conscious that the old lusts and passions were beginning to take hold upon me, and were bringing me into captivity.” [This person had sought the blessing of entire sanctification several times in the past and deeply longed for holiness and purity. The person then stated:] “Suddenly the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I felt within myself that I had been liberated from the power of indwelling sin, that the old man had received the death blow, and that, at long last, I was free within.”

Speaker 2: “For a long time I had been conscious that God had something better for me than I was experiencing . . . I wanted to plan my own life. I was in utter agony for the blessing of a clean heart.” [He (I use the editorial “he”) continued until he then said,] “I, too, cried out for deliverance from the bondage from within, and glory to God, He set me free. . . . The Word of God is alive to me now and it is easy to get through to God in prayer. Oh, how long I have been trying to reform myself but now the Lord is transforming me by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

Speaker 3: “He faithfully revealed to me that everything must be put upon the altar, then the fire fell and burned up indwelling sin.”

Speaker 4 [an especially significant testimony]: “I knew that some needed the blessing of a clean heart, but never thought that I myself needed it. I often professed to have it, and it was this old profession to which I was so tenaciously clinging that blurred my vision and kept me from acknowledging my need. And yet, how powerless I was! Many a time I longed to be free, and was often perplexed because I had no more liberty. . . . I began to pray, and tried to praise like others, but in my heart I was as dry as a stick. . . . I kept on praying for others, and even sought to help others through; but all the time, deep down in my heart, I knew there was not complete satisfaction; and as questions arose in my heart, I tried not to yield to them, and kept looking back to the time when I got the experience, in the hope that I would get peace in that way. At last, when nearly all the others had got through, the Lord broke me down. Oh, the pride of past professions! When I had opened my heart to the Lord, confessed my state and laid all on the altar, my trouble now was to claim the blessing by faith, and this I did by taking God at His word. Immediately I did so, the witness came and my heart was filed with praise.”

There were many other testimonies, each powerful and convicting. That was a great day for that Bible College. God is no different today. That blessing is for us here and now as it was in 1906 for Drysdale and 1946 for those at the college day of prayer. It is there for the receiving if we but forsake our pride and seek only Him. Know Him in His fullness first, then seek out the explanations.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I wrote a blog awhile back about Tres Dias. In response, a reader recently commented:

“Dave, I chose to respond on your blog for several reasons. Most sites that are critical of Tres Dias and other Fourth Day movements tend to be vindictive, haughty, self-righteous and often base their arguments on supposition, hearsay and unfounded suspicion. You have voiced legitimate, well-considered concerns in a civil, Biblically sound manner…I appreciate that.”

Don’t get me wrong – I have very, very strong positions on many doctrinal issues. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be civil with our “doctrinal opponents”.

Example: my grandfather was a missionary to China and Taiwan. He preached often, witnessed often, and brought many people to a crisis conversion experience of salvation (repenting of sin/conversion/accepting Christ/becoming born again). I remember him telling how he had a deep discussion with some Buddhist monks. He knew the Buddhist teachings better than they did! Because of this, they listened to the gospel message he was able to share. Perhaps some of them accepted Christ and are in Heaven today because of my grandfather – only the Lord knows.

My point is, I am comfortable as a born again Christian discussing the teachings of my opponents with my opponents. If (key word if) my opponents, those who hold to opposing teachings, are sincerely willing to listen to my views.

On the other hand, I have LITTLE TO NO TOLERANCE for the following (in no particular order):

1) Once biblically sound born again Christians who have “apostacized” and are now – in spite of many warnings – brazenly leading other born again Christians astray, like a bull in a china shop

2) New Evangelicals/liberals/mainliners/postmoderns who are invading/hijacking (often covertly) evangelical denominations and leading born again Christians astray

3) Heretical individuals who deceptively, falsely label themselves as “born again Christians”, or order to gain the trust of born again Christians and spread their false teachings

4) New Agers (Oprah Winfrey, Roma Downey, etc.) who deceptively, falsely label themselves as “Christians” – apparently in order to reach the Christian market

There are others I have little to no tolerance for, but the above are the main groups. Hope that helps clarify where I’m coming from with my blogs.

Read Full Post »

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.


Back to UCM Homepage

Read Full Post »

(revised 07/03/14)

Contemplatives literally desire to hear God directly, to hear His audible voice, rather than “hearing” God through His Word the Bible. Their primary modus operandi is an experiential altered state of consciousness, rather than the reading/study of God’s Word the Bible.

For example:

“At the Passion 2012 conference, Beth Moore, John Piper, Louie Giglio and company taught/led an entire sports arena (45,000 college aged students) in (attempting to ‘hear’ God’s voice). My son’s friends in attendance of this conference told of a young girl standing outside the arena crying her eyes out because she had not heard the audible voice of God as they had instructed. Others tried to comfort her but were also distraught at not hearing a thing.”
Source: http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2012/02/cant-hear-god-speak-repent-says-henry.html

This reminds me of my Quaker lineage in the generations before the Evangelical Friends (who were more Wesleyan Holiness than Quaker, my branch in the 1870s rejecting the Inner Light). I’m ashamed of my ancestors in the 1600s-1860s who taught the Inner Light, Christ in every man. They believed you could hear God’s voice directly like George Fox supposedly did (direct illumination or immediate revelation), then God’s Word the Bible – being secondary – would verify it. This is what Richard Foster and Dallas Willard taught as co-pastors in the Evangelical Friends. I would say Foster and Willard set the Evangelical Friends off track and backwards 400 years to George Fox’s “hearing God’s voice audibly” heresy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_light

Check out this quote from Richard Foster, found here:

“Yet God speaks in many ways. We need to learn to listen for His voice. Normally, His voice is not audible … but I wouldn’t want to exclude that possibility. Who am I to say how God will choose to speak?” (Richard Foster, 5 Misconceptions That Hinder Prayer, quoted here.)

Personally, I would like to find more discernment resources exposing the ties between contemplative prayer, Eastern contemplative practices, New Age meditation, the Quaker Inner Light heresy, Christian universalism, etc. etc.

I’m Googling “hearing God’s audible voice”. Other than the prophets in Bible times, I would say 99.99% of those today who claim to hear God’s audible, human voice on a regular basis are:

a) pyschotic
or
b) deceived by demons, after entering a trancelike state/altered state of mind (ala Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer practices or Todd Bentley’s soaking prayer)
or
c) deceiving others for their own self-gain

Note that I say 99.99% (9,999 out of 10,000), not 100%. Like many Wesleyan Holiness people, I would consider myself a “soft cessationist”, not a continuationist or cessationist. I do believe people can hear God’s audible voice today – but it would be very rare, not the norm for all Christians as many are teaching nowadays. Here’s an article which matches my position, soft cessationism: http://worthen.wordpress.com/2006/01/13/cessationism-v-continuationism/

I hope to add to this blog, as I find more discernment articles on this…

FOR FURTHER READING

AGAINST hearing God’s audible voice:

Does God ever speak in an audible voice today?

Repost: Gary Gilley blasts Quaker-ish “Hearing God” teaching of Dallas Willard

H. D. Williams, The Voice of the Lord (In Relation to Revelation, Conscience, Inspiration, Illumination, and Postmodernism)

FOR hearing God’s audible voice:

Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying His Word  – a dialogue with Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen, Leadership Journal

Google eBook excerpt  in which Todd Bentley describes how he hears God’s audible voice

Read Full Post »

(revised 11/11/13)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elizaio/5485585137/
CAPTION:  Soren [Gordhamer], Congressman Tim Ryan, and Jon Kabat-Zinn discuss Mindfulness, Politics and Society: Extending into the World
[at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference 2011]

Among the fifty states, Ohio could hardly be considered the most liberal, or the most anti-Christian, or the most New Age state. Yet, for whatever reason, a young Congressional Representative from Ohio – Tim Ryan – has become a darling of New Agers. Why? Because he has become a strong advocate of New Age/Buddhist “mindfulness” (also called “mindfulness meditation”). I am especially concerned that he is pushing this practice for public schools – including preschools and grade schools.

A number of New Agers are endorsing Ryan’s new book A Mindful Nation. Ryan is also pushing legislation that will increase the practice of mindfulness in public schools.  Other  New Agers championing mindfulness in public schools are Jon Kabat-Zinn and Goldie Hawn.

http://www.today.com/moms/goldie-hawn-helps-kids-get-zen-smart-837758
CAPTION: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, practices meditation with kids at Robert Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore.

So when and how did Ryan get involved in mindfulness (also called “mindfulness meditation”)? Check out excerpts from this interview (I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in bolded orange].

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: The book came out of my going around the county to meet scientists studying mindfulness; teachers using it in schools; health care practitioners implementing it in our health care system; our military using it to treat veterans and build mental resilience. And I thought the world needed to see what they are doing. They are pioneers in what will be the next great movement in the United States: the movement of mindfulness.

Q: When did your interest in mindfulness start?

A: It started a long time ago. My grandparents and my mom prayed the rosary a lot, and later in life I had a priest friend of mine teach me centering prayer, based on Father Thomas Keating’s work. That led to practicing different kinds of meditation off and on as I got older.

Q: And when did you begin to consistently practice meditation?

A: I had been running extremely hard with my job and traveling across Ohio and the country to help Democrats take back the House in 2006, and then there was the presidential election. I was 35 and I thought, “I’m going to be burned out by the time I’m 40. I really need to jump-start my meditation practice.” Two days after the presidential election, I spent five days at a retreat [led by mindfulness “guru” Jon Kabat-Zinn] in increasing levels of silence. It reminded me of how I felt when I played sports: being in “the zone” with mind and body grounded in the present moment.

Q: And you continue to meditate every day?

A: Yes, 40 to 45 minutes every morning before I leave the house and go out into the world…

After some discussion of “Washington politics”, the interview continues as follows:

Q: Because of mindfulness’ Buddhist roots, a lot of people think it’s a religious practice. How does your meditation relate to your Catholic faith?

A: If you love your neighbor and are compassionate, are you automatically a Christian? Practicing present-moment awareness does not entail joining any religion or accepting any belief system. [Yes it does – the core of mindfulness is a New Age/Buddhist worldview.] As a Catholic, I find mindfulness helps me participate in my religion more wholeheartedly. If you are praying the rosary, participating in the rituals at Mass or listening to the priest preach, you will actually be paying attention! Whatever your religion is, it can enhance the experience of participating in that religion. What’s more beautiful than that?

Q: There do seem to be some Buddhist concepts in your book, such as the interconnectedness of all beings. Has meditation made you more interested in Buddhist philosophy?

A: I love studying different religions. For me, learning and drawing from the different religious traditions is essential to being a good public servant. And the connections between our various religious traditions become our public ethic; they tie us together.

And in a 2012 article originally posted here, a Buddhist website asks Youngstown, Ohio Congressional Representative (D) Tim Ryan:

How have you helped introduce mindfulness in the education system?

Ryan replies:

About three years ago [2009] I got a million dollars to put social and emotional learning and mindfulness in two school districts in Ohio, and the teachers have responded in a wonderful way. In the Warren City School District they just added another fifty teachers—the teachers who were in the program spoke so highly about it that other teachers wanted to do it too. The programs we’re running also have a parental component. Parents are learning how teachers are talking to the kids about being aware of their emotions. This makes a connection with the families. Mindfulness is not a silver bullet. But there’s nothing else right now cutting against the huge influx of information and technology coming at our kids. We want to give kids the ability to choose what they put their attention on. I’ve seen it in my own district— parents and teachers love it.

FOR FURTHER READING

List of Google hits on [“Tim Ryan” “centering prayer” “mindfulness”]

Christian discernment articles critiquing Ryan

Stand Up for the Truth!, U.S. Congressman Advocates Mindful Meditation as Solution to Global Conflict – followed by links to a number of additional Christian discernment articles

Lighthouse Trails Research, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan’s Meditation Crusade – Hopes to Influence Other Congress Members (and All Americans)

Religious (but not necessarily Christian) articles mentioning Ryan’s motives and Catholic background

Lisa Joan Reardon, Mindfulness and Centering Prayer (08/06/12)

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan on a mission to bring meditation to the masses

Buddhist articles favoring Ryan

Politically Aware: A Q&A with Congressman TIM RYAN

Congressman Tim Ryan to talk “A Mindful Nation” at InsightLA fundraiser, June 4 [2012]

Secular articles favoring Ryan

CASEL, Congressman Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative, 17th District, Ohio
Mary Utne O’Brien Award for  Excellence in Expanding the Evidence-Based Practice of Social and Emotional Learning in the Area of Policy

Tim Ryan, Ohio Congressman, Shares His Mindfulness Vision For The Country – Arianna Huffington, editor of the Huffington Post, graduated from the New Age University of Santa Monica mentioned in this article

Washington was making Rep. Tim Ryan sick … until he found mindfulness

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: