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Posts Tagged ‘Doctrinal Statements’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unofficial cm page

Article

Printer Version Available

Report on the Doctrinal Integrity Of the United Methodist Church

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


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

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

A. Person and Work of Jesus Christ

B. Authority of Scripture

C. Worship of other gods

III. Response to the Doctrinal Crisis

A. By the Marietta First United Methodist Church

B. By the United Methodist-related Renewal Groups

C. By the United Methodist Church

Footnotes

Attachments (available soon)

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

I. Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A. Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Evidence

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

Scripture

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

Scripture

John 1:1,14

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

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

Matt 1:20-23

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

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Heb 4:15

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

2 Cor 5:21

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


B. Authority of Scripture

Evidence

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

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

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

Scripture

John 12:48-49

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

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

1 Tim 6:3-4a

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

4 he is conceited and understands nothing. (NIV)

John 6:63b

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Matt 16:21

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

John 2:19-22

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

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

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

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

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

Scripture

Ps 19:7-8

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

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

2 Tim 3:16-17

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

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

1 Pet 1:25

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

2 Pet 1:21

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Deut 4:2

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

2 Tim 4:3-4

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

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

Heb 13:8

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

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

1 Cor 6:9-10.

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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

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


Evidence

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

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

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

1 Cor 6:9-10

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

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

UM Discipline

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

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

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

1 Cor 6:9-10

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

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

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

1 Cor 6:9-10

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

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

UM Discipline

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

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Lev 20:13a

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

1 Cor 6:9-10

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

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

UM Discipline

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

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


Evidence

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

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

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

Scripture

Jer 1:5

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

Isa 44:24

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

Ps 139:13

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

UM Discipline

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

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

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

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


C. Worship of Other Gods

Evidence

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

Scripture

John 14:6

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

Acts 4:12

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

UM Discipline

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

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


Evidence

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

Caller: Who are you, O Holy one?

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

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

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

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

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

Exod 23:13

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

1 Cor 8:5-6

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

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

Exod 23:13

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

1 Cor 8:5-6

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

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

UM Discipline

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


Evidence

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

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

Scripture

Exod 20:3, 5

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

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

Exod 23:13

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

1 Cor 8:5-6

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

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

UM Discipline

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


III. Response to the Doctrinal Crisis

A. By Marietta First United Methodist Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


B. By United Methodist-Related Renewal Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. By the United Methodist Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10b. See “Worship of other gods,” #3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. 14 Ibid, page 103.

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

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

22. Ibid.

23. 3 Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

72. Ibid.

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

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

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

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

77. See back issues of Good News magazine.

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

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

80. Ibid.

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

82. Ibid.

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

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

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

86. Ibid.

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

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

89. Ibid.

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

91. Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

99. Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Paul admonishes us to:

“… be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:2, KJV)

Yet how often do we encounter professing Christians who are conforming to this world – who after years of claiming to be born again are perfectly comfortable drinking, or smoking, or “clubbing”, or swearing, or dancing, or watching promiscuity-filled soaps, or laughing at dirty jokes, or reading horoscopes, or practicing yoga, or practicing contemplative prayer, or striving for material wealth, etc. etc.? Far too often, I’m afraid.

Sorry if I sound judgmental here. But what about those Christians around us who are doing these things? Should they not be corrected, warned that, for one thing, their witness to unbelievers is being destroyed by their own behavior?

Bottom line: all who claim to be born again Christians should be “no compromise Christians”. Following is an excellent list of links discussing this, by By Martha Mac of SO4J.com. Click here for the original source of this article.

Note – a number of these 50 signs are reflected in my own “old fashioned” separatist Wesleyan Holiness beliefs, as well as in The Fundamentals of 1910-1915 which I hold so dear. I’m not saying I never trip up and sin/compromise – I am saying these 50 signs are what I strive for, with God’s help.

50 SIGNS OF A NO COMPROMISE CHRISTIAN

Signs, Fruit, & Evidences of a No Compromise Christian

50 Signs of a No Compromise Christian - SO4J.com

By Martha Mac / SO4J.com ® / SO4J-TV

INTRO: 50 Signs of a No Compromise Christian – Looks at the Signs, Fruit, & Evidences of a No Compromise Christian or True Believer from the Scriptures in God’s Word. The Purpose is to: Provoke, Exhort, and Stir the Hearts of all those who call themselves a Believer in Jesus Christ— Provoking Believers to Biblically become More & More Conformed into the Image of Jesus Christ in all we: Say, Think, or Do (1 Cor 10:31, 2 Cor 3:16-17,18). This is an SO4J Bible Study about Sanctification & Holiness for the Believer(1 Pet 1:14-17)— it is NOT a set of Rules or a List to Follow in order to be Saved.

PLEASE NOTE: SO4J-TV believes that we are Not Saved by Works – Eph 2:8-9 (Legalism), but our Faith is Proven by our Works (James 2:14-20, Matt 3:8). This is NOT a Bible Study on Obedience to Rules in order to be Saved, or about Legalism. If there is No Obedience to Gods Word (1 John 2:3-6, John 14:15) & one Continues In Sin (1 John 3:8-10) then we’ll have to Face the Terrifying Consequences of Heb 10:26-31 which Jesus Warns us about in Matt 7:21-23 where MANY who Thought they were Saved will spend Eternity in Hell. This is about how a True Believer should Reflect the GLORIOUS IMAGE OF CHRIST in our Lives (2 Cor 3:18, 2 Cor 5:17, Matt 5:16), by living HOLY & CLEAN lives (1 Pet 1:14-15,16-17) for GOD’S GLORY (1 Cor 10:31)— and Obey God’s Word out of a LOVE FOR JESUS (John 14:15,21,23-24, John 15:10,14, John 3:36, John 8:31, Luke 6:46).

SO4J-TV also understands that Christians are not perfect— they still Sin once in a while (so to speak – 1 John 2:1, 1 Cor 3:1-15). We want to reach out to those people who call themselves Christians— yet use the Grace of God as a License to Sin (Rom 6:1-23, Rom 6:15-16). We are concerned that there are MANY “Christians” (Matt 7:21-22, 23) who are NOT ready to face Jesus on Judgment Day (Heb 9:27). Our Aim is to provoke all of us to Examine our Faith with the God’s Word (2 Cor 13:5), and make sure that we are Biblically Saved, and Ready to Face Jesus on Judgment Day (2 Cor 5:10).

"If What You SAY, THINK, or DO is Contrary to God's Word, Then You Are Being DECEIVED!" Martha Mac SO4J.com

ON THIS PAGE:

50 Signs of a No Compromise Christian

50 Signs of a No Compromise Christian - SO4J.com

PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD – Eph 6:10-20

By Martha Mac  / SO4J.com ® / SO4J-TV

LINKS

  1 – They Do NOT CONFORM To The Things Of This World—Their #1 Goal Is To Be Like Jesus
2 – They LOVE THE LORD their God with all their Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
3 – They Are SEPARATING Themselves From ALL Ungodliness And The Things Of This WORLD
4 – They Are Walking Down The Narrow Road Of God’s HOLINESS—They Are God’s Holy Remnant
5 – They Do NOT WATCH WORLDLY (Lustful, Evil..): TV & Movies, Internet Pornography, Computer Games
6 – They Do NOT LOOK UPON Worldly Magazines & Books From Celebrity Magazines To Pornography…
7 – They Do NOT COMPROMISE With The World By Listening To WORLDLY MUSIC— TRUE WORSHIPPERS
8 – They Do NOT LOOK UP TO WORLDLY IDOLS Such As: Singers, Movie Stars, Sports Figures…
9 – They Do NOT PARTNER UP WITH UNBELIEVERS And Those Who Compromise Their Walk With Jesus
10 – They PURSUE PURE AND GODLY FRIENDSHIPS That Inspire Them To Be More Like Jesus
11 – They Display Christ-likeness In Their THOUGHT-LIFE & ATTITUDES – A Beattitude Attitude
12 – They Are HUMBLE and Have Child-like Faith
13 – They REFUSE LUKEWARMNESS—Having “One Foot In GOD’S WORD, And One Foot In The WORLD”
14 – They Seek To Please The Lord through GOOD DEEDS & HAVING A SERVANT’S HEART
15 – They Know That FINANCIAL GAIN DOES NOT MEAN GODLINESS
16 – They SEEK FIRST God’s Kingdom, NOT Worldly Wealth & Possessions
17 – They’d Rather SUFFER & BE POOR & NOT Compromise With The World Than Be Rich & Famous—Content
18 – They Are GENEROUS & are GIVERS Whether They Are Poor Or Have Much
19 – They Are SURRENDERING ALL To Follow Jesus—They Are “Taking Up Their Cross Daily”
20 – They’ve STOPPED PRACTICING SINAnd When They Do Sin There Is Deep Sorrow
21 – They SPEAK OUT & WARN PEOPLE Of God’s Coming Judgments, And PREACH THE GOSPEL
22 – They SUFFER PERSECUTION & BEATINGS For Standing Up For JESUS
23 – They LOVE and DO GOOD To Fellow Christians
24 – They OBEY GOD’S COMMANDMENTS, HIS WORD, and the LORD JESUS CHRIST
25 – They Are DOERS Of The Word, Not Merely HEARERS— Faith Without WORKS is Dead
26 – They FEAR THE LORD And Turn Away From Evil
27 – They Do NOT Seek The Approval Of Man, But Seek Only To PLEASE THE LORD
28 – They Are NOT HYPOCRITES—Giving God Mere Lip Service
29 – Their WORDS & SPEECH Are ENCOURAGING, EDIFYING, AND WISE—NOT Corrupt
30 – They PRAY FERVENT PRAYERS, And Pray Often With Fellow Believers
31 – They STUDY & TEACH GOD’S WORD & HIS WAYS To Sinners & Believers—Making Disciples
32 – They Are WINNING THEIR BATTLE AGAINST SIN & Keeping the FULL ARMOR OF GOD ON!
33 – They Are READY, WAITING, AND EAGERLY ANTICIPATING The Soon Return Of Jesus Christ
34 – They LOVE GOD’S COMMANDMENTS & HIS WORD, Reading It Daily And Memorizing It
35 – They Make Use Of Every OPPORTUNITY To Do Good & Preach The Gospel— They’re “Fire Snatchers”
36 – They PRODUCE MUCH FRUIT For Jesus— They’re PRODUCTIVE with the GOSPEL & Are GODLY
37 – They Are Co-Heirs With Christ: And Share The SUFFERINGS OF JESUS By “Crucifying Their Flesh”
38 – They Understand GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSES For His HOLY PEOPLE Vs. This Temporal Evil World
39 – They Know They Are Merely Passing Through This World, And Their REAL HOME Is With The Lord
40 – They Do Everything For The GLORY OF GOD
41 – They Do NOT BELIEVE FALSE TEACHINGS & Anything That Is CONTRARY TO GOD’S WORD
42 – They CLEARLY Understand The Gospel & CLEARLY PREACH God’s Word With BOLDNESS
43 – They Let Their LIGHT SHINE—Their FACE & LIFE EXUDES CHRIST
44 – They Put NO CONFIDENCE IN THEIR FLESH – They Are Decreasing & Christ is Increasing
45 – They Have INTEGRITY, HARD WORK, & PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS— They do Not Lie, Steal, Cheat
46 – They Are Always VERY THANKFUL TO GOD For His— Kindness, Provisions, Protection, etc
47 – They Are NOT Full of: SELFISH AMBITION, STRIFE, QUARRELING, JEALOUSY— But Are PEACEMAKERS
48 – They Acknowledge & Obey GOD’S WILL For Their Lives
49 – They Are NOT PREJUDICE— They Show NO PARTIALITY TO THE: RICH, POOR, SKIN COLOR, RACE,etc
50 – They do NOT allow the CARES & WORRIES Of This Life to DOMINATE their MIND & CONVERSATIONS

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At several times in the past several years, I have discussed the Trinity with Oneness Pentecostals, and well as evangelicals who are not quite sure there is a Trinity. One of the major questions is whether a person can be become a born again Christian without believing in the Trinity.

Many born again Christians believe a person cannot become born again without believing in the Trinity. I came across an excellent article which explains why this is.  I have reposted the entire article below; click here for the original source. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in bolded orange].

————————————————————————————-

whitedragonawa
February 16, 2012

Why Modalism Is A Damnable Heresy

 In light of the recent T.D. Jakes controversy and Modalism I decided to write this article to better explain the problem with this heresy. Too many times Christians have no clue how to explain why Modalism is a damnable heresy because they do not understand its conclusions. Modalism is nothing new and pops in and out of the spotlight all of the time. In fact, while I lived in Eugene, Oregon my dad and other men from our Southern Baptist church battled with Modalists who were members of our church, but secretly involved in the United Pentecostal Church. The men were actually teaching sunday school for the youth group males, as well as trying to befriend many of the men of the church and influence them. They were trying to take over our church from the inside. This is the church I was baptized in when I was 15.

One day I was taken on a trip with the main leader of these 3 Oneness Pentecostals who told my parents it would be good for me. His son came with us and we ended up going really far away, near the coast and meeting up with a large group of people to help build a church. We were installing drywall and helping pull wires through the ceiling. It so happened that the church was a United Pentecostal Church that I was helping do work for. He deceptively brought me on the trip to help his heretical church brothers fix up one of their church buildings. His deception was very strong as he accomplished the manipulation and brainwashing of 2 of our church men. The 2 men teamed up with him in order to attract more of the men so they would bring their families into their den of wolves. Heresy within an orthodox church has the tendency to become a zombie-like infestation that deadens the minds of men and puts them under the control of demonic influence.

Another even worse issue was that the main leader of the 2 other heretics was having secret communion meetings behind the church outside on certain nights. He invited my parents to come once, and it was people who did not belong to our church, strangers they never saw before. They were having some kind of worship meeting and communion. They had set up a small tent covering in the back parking lot. At the time, my parents were new to the church so did not realize what was going on at that moment. Eventually, these wolves in sheep’s clothing were exposed and kicked out of the church, but not after many instense debates, arguments, and spiritual attacks.

Too many people want to explain something as a heresy simply because a council said so, and not because of a biblical understanding of why it is heresy. Heresy makes salvation impossible so it is good to understand why it is so with Modalism and why it is worthwile to put fourth the spiritual energy to fight it and reject it outside of the Church just like my father and other men from our average sized church in Oregon did over a decade ago…

Introduction

Modalism (also know as Sabellianism [named after Sabellius, the heretic priest from the 3rd century that promoted this heresy], Modalistic Monarchianism, Modal Monarchianism, Oneness, and Patrapassionism [which means the Father suffers in Latin]) is the belief that God is only one person and changes/shifts into different modes. This is a heresy that leads a person to Hell because any incorrect belief about the nature of God cancels out salvation by default. This default happens in different ways but always occurs. Modalism leads people to Hell just like any other heresy about God’s nature. Modalists deny the Trinity, and in most cases with extreme aggression. Unfortunately, many Christians have a hard time logically expressing why this belief is a damnable heresy. This heresy is an extremely strategically, deceptive heresy which tries to mask itself and blend in with Orthodoxy. It fools many evangelicals. Unlike other anti-Trinitarian beliefs that deny the deity of Christ, this heresy embraces the deity of their “Christ” hence why it is so deceptive (note: there is another less popular form of Modalism that denies Christ’s deity called Adoptionism, but is not the focus of this article). Modalists claim to love Jesus Christ and claim He is God, yet in reality Modalism denies Jesus Christ and is an antichrist religion. It is a very destructive belief and total blasphemy. Without a deep understanding of soteriology and the nature of God, Christians can be confused on how to explain why Modalism is heresy. This article will attempt to do so.

Who are Modalists?

Modalism has been a problem since the early Church and still continues to be a problem today. The main proponent of Modalism in modern times is the cult called the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). The televangelist, charlatan “Bishop” T.D. Jakes is affiliated with this group. Another cult that is almost as big as the UPC are the United Apostolic Churches (UAC). These groups are known as Oneness Pentecostals, and still, there are lesser known sects and individuals who promote a modalistic God. MacArthur (2007) states, “As these groups and their popular spokespersons have found increasing acceptance in the evangelical mainstream, modalism is suddenly being accepted as if it were a valid evangelical option” (p. 117). In some circumstances, people make the mistake of expressing God in a modalistic way to express the three Persons of God, such as using H2O as an example of three things being one which causes people to misunderstand the Trinity (i.e. water, ice, and vapor are different things but all three are still H2O, yet H2O is never all three at the same time). Some people mistakenly believe in a modalistic God out of ignorance of how to describe the Three Persons mentioned in the Bible. People try too hard to explain God and end up using human wisdom to describe God and are not satisfied with leaving the Triune nature of God as a mystery. True believers, who make such mistakes out of ignorance, eventually (and most of the time quickly), come to the realization that God truly exists in Three distinct persons who are not the same, yet comprise of ONE Eternal Being. This is why Christianity uses the term Trinity which means TRI-UNITY as in three-as-one. True Christians become satisfied with this mystery and accept it as just that, a mystery. No one can fully understand how God is, but Christians can know what God is because the Bible teaches it.

The type of people who come to understand that the biblical truth of God is the Trinity are people who care to know correct doctrines and want to love the true God and will seek out proper knowledge of the Bible. Sadly, most Modalists have absolutely no desire for seeking actual truth and want to force their opinions into the Bible because they have personal agendas. A truly innocently ignorant follower of a modalistic god will always repent within due time, without much division, strife, or aggression against Trinitarians. The others are simply heretics whom are inspired by Satan and will always fight a losing battle against the Trinity until they die and go to Hell. Unfortunately, the latter makes up the major portion of Modalists and always has. You can see the demonic minds of these reprobates expressed all over the internet, especially YouTube.

Modalism promotes a god that changes

Modalism contradicts what Christianity has historically accepted about the nature of God. True Christianity expresses God existing in three Persons that equal one Being. This belief is given the theological title of “Holy Trinity” to express this concept. Whereas, in Modalism God is expressed as existing in only one person that shifts into different modes and moves in different ways in different times throughout history. God “shape shifts” so to speak, from the Father at one time, changing into the Son another time, and also changing into the Holy Spirit at times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never exist at the same time in Modalism. The UPC and Apostolics call their god “Jesus” and they baptize their congregants strictly, only in that name. “Jesus Christ” is the proper name of God to them which covers the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Their “Jesus” god is all three: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the modes are never shifted into at the same time. Their god is a changing god. This contradicts what the Bible teaches in Hebrews 13:8 which states firmly: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” What is annoying is that many of these Oneness followers illogically use this same verse to somehow promote the Trinity being false. It is a fact that their religion is not at all based on logic when exegeting the Bible. What Oneness/Modalism promotes essentially, is, that Almighty God being only one person, died on the cross. Logically, this would mean that the Father came down and died on the cross but just shape shifted into the Son. So there is no actual different person of God dying on the cross. It is the same person dying on the cross, the same person giving itself as a sacrifice, and the same person accepting itself back into heaven. Modalism claims another “Father” that schizophrenically changes his personality by shifting into different modes. How can anyone trust a God who changes so sporadically? How can we even be sure there are only three modes of God? There might be more. This is a critical mistake! Not to mention it makes absolutely no sense!

Oneness followers love to use isolated proof texts from the Bible or misrepresent a verse’s surrounding context, and also ignore related passages in the Bible. One of their favorite verses they will quote is Isaiah 9:6 which says,

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Oneness heretics will claim that this proves that Jesus Christ is the Father and only shifted His mode into the Son. The Son did not exist until the Father turned into Him. This verse does call the child Eternal Father, but that is only stating a fact about His Godhood, that Jesus Christ is fully God and God is our Eternal Father. Not that Jesus Christ is actually God the Father. Related passages in the Bible about Jesus Christ and God the Father explain it so.

The concept of the Holy Trinity is all over the Bible. The actual beliefs of the Trinity are misrepresented by Modalists who claim it promotes three gods and not one. This is not true. The Trinity teaches that all 3 Persons are different from each other and not the same, yet they are all One and the same God. The Father is 100% fully God, the Son is 100% fully God, and the Holy Spirit is 100% fully God. But the Father is not the Son, is not the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father, is not the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the Father, is not the Son. Yet all three Persons are one God, the same God. This teaching is all over the Bible and it is a mystery that we cannot understand, but we must accept. God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit is our Eternal, Everlasting Father.

Modalism cancels out salvation by default

The most basic reason why Modalism cancels out salvation is that if the Trinity is true, it means that God is Three-As-One and anything other than a triune God does not exist. Worshiping a God that does not exist is idolatry. Modalism is a false religion and God commands that there should never be any other gods worshiped besides Him (Exodus 20:3). There is no forgiveness of sins if a person puts their trust into a false god. Just because the name of a false God uses the same titles and names as the true, triune God of Scripture does not mean it is the same God. Matthew 24:24 claims there will be false Christ’s coming, and 1 Corinthians 11:4 says that people can preach a different Jesus and a different spirit and Christians should not put up with it. Simply labeling something as Jesus does not change the fact it is a lie from Satan.

Another more complex reason that will help Christians explain on a deeper level why Modalism leads people to Hell is that logically, if the Trinity exists, Modalism cannot provide salvation because it does not give Christ credit for His atoning work on the cross. Romans 8:2 explains that there is no condemnation for Christians “because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” If the Trinity is true it means that only the Person of Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. John 3:16 says that God sent His “only begotten Son” to die for those who believe. If someone rejects that there is a Person of the Son and instead claims there is only one person that changes, and the Son did not exist until He was manifest in the Incarnation of Christ, then there is no atoning sacrifice that actually happened since they reject the real Person of Jesus, the Son of God who actually exists and has existed eternally. Grudem (2000) affirms,

“[M]odalism ultimately loses the heart of the doctrine of the atonement– that is, the idea that God sent his Son as a substitutionary sacrifice, and that the Son bore the wrath of God in our place, and that the Father, representing the interests of the Trinity, saw the suffering of Christ and was satisfied” (p. 242).

Christians cannot accept Modalists as brothers in the Lord, and they should never be unequally yoked with Modalistic darkness. The modalistic god denies the Eternal Person of the Son, thus meaning they deny the true God and profane His atonement.

Without the Person of Jesus the Atonement is denied

What Modalism is actually saying is that the separate person of Jesus Christ, the Son, is not real and never died on the cross because He does not exist. A separate Person does not exist. Only the Father (or Almighty God) exists and changes his face to turn into and look like the Son. This is a bold denial of God as a whole (since Jesus Christ is fully 100% God) and a denial of the work of the existing Second Person of God: the Son.

A human example would be that a Father agreed with his son that he would go out and pay an extremely expensive price for criminals to be free from their death sentences, and that his son would own them and they would be given to him; and he would show them compassion. After hearing about freedom from their judicial punishments of death because of the son’s payment, those criminals— instead of going with the son who bought them— believe the father is actually the one who bought them because he morphed into the mode of the son. Furthermore, the criminals claim that the son who actually bought them with his father’s urging does not even exist. They believe only the father exists and shifts into a different looking mode to become his own son, but is still the exact same person as there is not a son person and a father person, but only a father person who shifts modes. He just changed into the son. So the son who actually bought them with an extremely expensive price is denied as well as his hard work earning the payment for them to be free. This is a major insult to the son. But in reality the only way they could be free is if they understand that the son is actually a real person who exists and is not the father, and they follow him. Because since these criminals deny the son who bought them, and instead believe his father shape shifted into a son to become him, that real son that exists separately from his father will deny them in the presence of his father.

Modalism denies Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that if you deny Jesus Christ (being the Son of God, a separate Person from the Father, and separate from the Person of the Holy Spirit), He will deny you in the presence of God the Father. Jesus Christ Himself said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). Jesus in Luke 12:9 also said, “…but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” So it is obvious that Modalism denies Christ despite the fact they try to claim they promote Jesus and follow Him. The Oneness “Jesus” is a “false Jesus” that does not exist and profanes, and blasphemies the true living, eternal, Son of God. It misplaces credit for propitiation onto the Father, when propitiation was strictly something the Son did. Romans 3:23 says that the redemption is in Christ Jesus, and in verse 24 it says, “God presented Him as the propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over sins previously committed.” It does not say that the Father was the propitiation. 1 John 2:2 explicitly states that Jesus Christ alone was the propitiation: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.” Since the Trinity is true, Modalism is denying God by claiming the Person of the Son does not exist. 1 John 2:23 expresses it simply, “No one who denies the Son can have the Father…” All repentant sinners become Christians who receive salvation. Christians are saved because they call on the name of the Lord and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. If someone repents to a false God that does not exist, one that denies the existence of the Person of the Son, they will not have salvation. Romans 10:9 says, “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” If a person claims this verse for a Modalistic Jesus, one that denies the Person of the Son, there is no power for salvation.

Modalism denies the Father’s ability to be a righteous judge

Not only is Modalism an offense to the Person of the Son, but it offends the Person of the Father by ignoring His sacrificial giving of His one and only Son, the Son which He loves so much in relation within the Godhead; and it claims instead that He is the one who died and gave the propitiation for sins. Ignoring the extreme sacrifice the Father allowed to happen to His precious Son is an extreme insult to the love of the Father for sinners that He would allow His own Son (who was willing) to be punished in their place; and not only that, but that the Father is the one who gave out all of the crushing punishment to His own Son. Isaiah 54:6 says, “The LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” Also, 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Modalism denies God this glory and insults the Father. The Father remained pure and untouched by sin and is the righteous judge that gave out His wrath onto Christ. If Modalism is true it means that God existing in one person, being the Father would have became sinful and then killed himself. There would be no righteous judge untouched by sin able to pour out the wrath. It would be the Father becoming sin on His own and then punishing Himself. This idea cancels out a pure and holy Person who is able to remain innocent who can judge sin. In reality, since the Trinity is what is true, there is a righteous and clean judge untouched by sin that was able to pour out His wrath onto Jesus Christ (who was made sin willingly by the Father) and complete the ability for salvation to be completed. To deny the Father’s giving of His real eternally existing Son is blasphemy, and it cancels out the ability for salvation. Such a person as the “god father” of Modalism does not exist and it profanes the true Father’s work. Therefore, Modalism completely denies the true Father.

1 John 2:22 firmly states, “He is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” 

Modalism denies the Holy Spirit

Not only does Modalism deny Christ, and the Father, it also denies the Holy Spirit and claims He is also the same as the Father. That would mean the Person of the Holy Spirit (who is 100% fully God as well) according to the Trinity does not exist, thus denying God completely. Nonetheless, Modalism is idolatry and an offense to the true God and will be punished on judgment day.

The Incarnation’s salvific power is cancelled out   

Modalism cancels out the ability for an actual human/God existence in Jesus (a conclusion that the Adoptionist form of Modalism understands). Jesus Christ is 100% man and 100% God at the same time. This is the dual nature of Christ concept that true Christians believe. Jesus Christ, who is God, came in the flesh (John 1:1, John 1:14) and was a blood sacrifice for our sins. Romans 7:4 says, “Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah.” If God is only one person then it would mean that Jesus Christ is the same person as the Father. If Modalism was true it would be that Christ’s will as a human would not at all be different from the will of the Father because they are the same person. But the Bible says in Mark 14:36, John 6:38, and Luke 22:42 that Jesus was not doing His own will, but the will of His Father. If Modalism was true these verses would be contradicting this “one person only god” by expressing that Christ’s will as a human and His God will were not unified. This would mean that Jesus Christ as a human was not God, and that God must have possessed a human person that is not God.

Consequently, only God is infinitely valuable and perfect to be able to die for the sins of mankind in order to save them. One human could only atone for one life, but God could atone for everyone because of His infinite value. Also, humans are not perfect and never can be because all of them are born in sin. Romans 3:10 states, “There is no one righteous, not even one,” and Jesus Christ Himself expressed, “No one is good but One— God” (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Even if God created a human body or a human person that was perfect, that He could fill up, it would still not be infinitely valuable. The fact is the Bible teaches that God paid for His people in His own blood (Acts 20:28). Therefore, God died for the sins of His elect which forces Modalism’s logical conclusion to be that Jesus’s humanity was not unified with God which means it could not possibly have provided salvation. There is no salvific power in the “Modalist’s incarnate Jesus.”

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has effectively addressed the reasons why Modalism is a serious heresy, and is not to be taken lightly. Especially, it is not to be accepted as a valid, non-essential doctrine within the bounds of orthodoxy. Modalism completely denies the true God and creates a false god that does not exist. Modalism’s logical conclusion is self defeat. It denies all three Persons of God and commits theological suicide. It denies the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as well as the humanity of Christ that atoned for sin. Modalism is an illogical heresy and needs to be aggressively refuted in evangelical circles. Too many people are confused and unable to understand the mechanics of this heresy because it is so deceptive. It is nothing but a device of Satan and demonically energized within theological circles to lead people astray so that they will burn in Hell for eternity. Modalism is truly a damnable heresy.

References

Grudem, W. (2000). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

MacArthur, J. (2007). The Truth War. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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(revised 02/04/15)

To me, it’s becoming more and more obvious that one of the foundations of a biblically sound church is a biblically sound Bible version. And in a perfect world, I believe we would only have one authoritative Bible version in each language. In the English language, I believe this version should the King James Bible (and its source documents the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Old Testament).

There are many reasons I believe the King James Bible should be our go-to Bible version. For one, it has stood the test of time, having been used for over 400 years. Also, denominations and churches that switch from the King James Bible to another Bible per-version “that the youth like better and find easier to understand” almost invariably fall prey to various heresies. Today among evangelicals, the primary heresies seem to be Spiritual Formation (Contemplative Spirituality) and Postmodernism (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings).

Note: I’m not speaking for King James only Free Will Baptists here – but I assume their position is very similar: my personal position on the King James Bible closely matches this article by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist David Cloud.

Background of the Free Will Baptist King James only debate

Concerning the dropping of the King James Bible (or the adding of other per-versions alongside it), this push among Free Will Baptists seems to be coming from “the power people” (denominational leaders and professors). But thank the Lord, many of the Free Will Baptist churches throughout the U.S. seem to be resisting this change, to the point of becoming more independent – officially or unofficially – from the national association.

I found background info here, showing that the Free Will Baptists have historically been King James only. (Warning – this comment is provided by one of today’s “progressive” FWB – I don’t recommend his blogs except for research.):

When we, as a denomination, discuss different bible translations, instead of agreeing to disagree, or valuing the diversity of scholarly opinion, we pass resolutions that require national speakers to only use the KJV; and not allow Randall House to reprint any translation but the KJV in their curriculum. [“Scholarly” is a biased term – it seems to me he is saying King James only people are not scholarly, while followers of other Bible per-versions are scholarly.]

A progressive FWB response to the above blog comment provides further insights:

It is true that national speakers have to use the KJV at the national. Although, that is the exception not the rule when it comes to how our broader, denomination wide FWB institutions have approached the KJV issue. Randall House now offers some NKJV and ESV curriculum. Chapel and conference speakers at FWBBC [renamed Welch College] can use differing translations, over the years I’ve heard the NIV, KJV, and every evangelical friendly translation in between used from the chapel pulpit. International missionaries are not required to use translations based on the textus receptus. And, I don’t think (but I could be wrong here) that Home Missions requires church planters to use the KJV. The theological commission has used time at the National for Dr. Pic to teach against the KJV only position. [I’ve provided links to two of Dr. Picirilli’s articles in the Endnotes below this blog.] So, if you look at the total picture, I think the national requirement for speakers is an anomaly – not the rule – when it comes to how our national boards and institutions have approached the bible translation issue. In fact, I think the KJV speaking rule at the national is a good gesture of peacemaking – while, we have moved toward the left in almost every other way on the national level. We certainly do not always denominationally lean right (FWB speaking) on this issue.

Now to a news flash over at Randall House Publications. I have reposted a press release below, which was published in early 2013; click here for the original source and scroll to page 49. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Randall House Publications, Inc. King James Version Statement
From the Randall House Board of Directors:

Several years ago Randall House added translation options for Sunday School curriculum to include King James Version (KJV), plus two reputable  recent translations: New King James Version (NKJV) and English Standard Version (ESV). [Reputable – how so? How can the NKJV and the ESV be reputable, when they are not 100% based on the same source texts as the King James Bible? Namely, the Textus Receptus NT and the Masoretic OT. For articles critiquing the NJKV and ESV, see the Endnotes following this blog.] The English Standard Version was added to the Bible memory options for the 2013 National Association Youth Competitive Activities.  Some have incorrectly concluded that Randall House will cease to publish King James curriculum and materials. Randall House, the publishing arm of the National Association of Free Will Baptists—the only publisher who teaches Free Will Baptist doctrine—will continue using the King James translation, as well as the NKJV and ESV. The Board of Directors (December 2012)[a pretty recent move] has approved the following statement to guide Randall House Publications and employees [who is on this Board of Directors?]:

In keeping with our long held tradition as Free Will Baptists, Randall House Publications continues to hold the widely used King James Version in high regard [but apparently not high enough to use the King James solely] as a translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages that comprise the Old and New Testaments. We believe God has supernaturally preserved Scripture to enable humanity to find redemption in Jesus Christ. [Historically, the term “preserved” has been used only for the King James Bible and similar translations based on the TR NT and Masoretic OT.] The Bible provides Christians with all that is needed for their faith and practice. For Randall House Publications to take a position that there is only one good English language translation would put Randall House outside of the doctrinal parameters of the Treatise of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. [So far I have found nothing in the Treatise – read here – to say using only the King James Bible does not line up with traditional Free Will Baptist doctrine. On the contrary, Free Will Baptists have used the King James solely for several centuries. Why the sudden supposed change in the denomination’s doctrinal stance?] To make an exclusive claim for the King James Version might call into question the Christian experience of the many believers who lived prior to the 17th century when the King James Version first became available, that of believers who do not speak English, or English-speaking believers who may not use the King James Version. [All three of these reasons are paper-thin arguments. The last reason especially irks me – are they saying all Bible per-versions are equally valid? They fail to say any  per-versions should be avoided. They could have at least warned against the worst per-versions, such as Eugene Peterson’s The Message and the Emerging/Emergent The Voice.]

Note – in this or another blog, I hope to add a discussion of the history of the KJV/TR-only debate in the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT STILL HOLD TO THE KING JAMES BIBLE ONLY
(as of 02/04/15; I will be adding to and updating this list)

MISSOURI
Bethel Church
Mike Hoggard, Pastor, Bethel Church
Facebook Page
personal ministry website

OHIO
DeGraff Free Will Baptist Church

FOR FURTHER READING

Free Will Baptist articles FOR using the King James Bible only

Degraff Free Will Baptist Church links to articles (the articles cover many subjects; a number of the articles defend the King James Bible)

Southeastern Free Will Baptist College’s statement defending the King James Bible [NOTE 02/04/15 – this is now a BROKEN LINK; I don’t know whether the school has changed its position, or whether they have simply moved the link]

Free Will Baptist articles AGAINST using the King James Bible only

Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part I)

Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part II) [besides this and the above link, I’m looking for additional writings by Picirilli regarding this issue]

Wikipedia article on Randall House Publications

Randall House Publications website

“[NAFWB] Leadership Conference Reaffirms the Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Preservation of Scriptures” (scroll down to p. 53 of this document to find the article)[Note this key comment: “These two days have reminded all of us that the Bible is the foundation of Free Will Baptist doctrine, no matter what translation one uses.” This conference’s title is deceptive in my opinion. As mentioned in my blog above, historically the term “preservation” is used only by adherents of the King James Bible only.]

Inspiration and Preservation of God’s Word: 17 Common Questions Answered by Six Free Will Baptist Scholars [ Note that most of the six scholars are against using the King James Bible only. Not to mention that the book is published by the Free Will Baptists’ now multi-version Randall House.]

Critiques of the NKJV

Wikipedia article on the NKJV

List of Google hits on the search string [“NKJV” “KJV”]

David Cloud (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist), What About the New King James Version? (I could not find this article on Bro. Cloud’s website)

James R. Roby (Pastor, DeGraff FWB Church), The “New” KJV is NOT a KJV at All!

Dr. Michael E. Todd, A Deadly Translation” The “New” KJV

The NKJV, is it a KJV?

Note – I found many additional critiques of the NKJV; I hope to add links to these critiques here, as I have time.

Critiques of the ESV

Wikipedia article on the ESV

List of Google hits  on the search string [“ESV” “KJV”]

Mark Andrew, English Standard Version (ESV) is examined against the Majority Text, King James Version (KJV)

Will Kinney, The English Standard Version (ESV)

Dr. Ken Matto, The ESV and its attack on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ

David J. Stewart, The Damnable English Standard Version

Dr. Terry Watkins, The Truth About The English SUBStandard Version

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(revised 04/20/14)

For quite awhile now, I have been reading the literature (and visiting the churches) of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB). I would point out that they span an increasingly wide variety of doctrinal positions, some more biblical than others. I am especially impressed by IFB David Cloud and churches that take his positions. Some of the most obvious of these views are: holding to the King James Bible (and the Textus Receptus NT and Masoretic OT), opposing Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), etc.

However, coming from a Wesleyan Holiness background, there are some beliefs of mine which do not quite match those of IFB churches, including those in Bro. Cloud’s circle. One of these which I hold is the Arminian position of conditional eternal security. So I was fascinated when I recently came across an association/denomination called the Free Will Baptists. This is how Wikipedia begins its article on the Free Will Baptists:

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will.

Wow! From what I’ve researched so far, this sounds like the kind of association/denomination I’d love to attend and/or join.

Some background: I left the Evangelical Friends Church International aka EFCI years ago, and have vowed I will never become an EFCI member again. Today the EFCI is continuing to back Spiritual Formation’s heretical contemplative Richard Foster, who got his start in the EFCI. Also, the EFCI continues to be heavily involved in heretical Emerging/Emergent teachings – in spite of repeated warnings.

Note – just as I am beginning to research the Free Will Baptists, I am discovering that various Free Will Baptist churches, schools and individuals (including many in high leadership positions) are drifting away from separatist fundamentalism, the KJB, etc. They, like the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations, are having more and more “itching ears” for the heresies of Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent church movements. Thus, I can only recommend Free Will Baptist churches and schools which are continuing to hold strongly to separatist fundamentalist teachings and practices. The most obvious trait I’ve found in the separatist fundamentalist churches and schools, is that they continue to hold exclusively to the KJB. Thus, in this and future blogs I write about separatist fundamentalist Free Will Baptist churches and schools, I plan to simply refer to them as KJB Free Will Baptists.

I should mention a few distinctives of the Free Will Baptists. I am very impressed with some of these distinctives; I have mixed feelings regarding others. I hope to explore Free Will Baptist doctrines in other blogs.  Following is a good summary of Free Will Baptist distinctives/differences from other denominations, found here:

Distinctive

 There are a few doctrinal positions on which Free Will Baptists hold a distinctive position, even from other groups with whom we may enjoy close fellowship and cooperation. So the question often arises, “What’s the difference between Free Will Baptists and..

Southern Baptists, Missionary Baptists, or Independent Baptists? –

 We believe the Scriptures give consistent emphasis to the responsibility every Christian has to continue to trust Christ throughout his life (Hebrews 3:6, 14, 10:23). Contrary to what some say Free Will Baptists do affirm salvation by grace through faith only, and further insist that the faith that saves is an on-going and active faith. (John 10:1-21). Further, Free Will Baptists believe that there are sufficient warnings in scripture that suggest the possibility that one may forfeit the faith (Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:29), though such a forfeiture is not probable. We do not believe that the forfeiture of the faith is easy, nor sudden, but do affirm the truth that if such state is reached, there remains no more sacrifice (Hebrews 6:6). Consequently, that person who forfeits his faith is irreversibly lost.

Nazarene, Methodist, Holiness Groups? These groups are generally called Wesleyan , the founder of which was the 19th century Methodist Evangelist, John Wesley. A key distinctive of their  theology is the teaching that a person may experience a second, definite work of grace, at which time the believer reaches a point of entire sanctification, and from that moment forward, the believer is capable of living a sinless life. We believe, on the other hand, that the Holy spirit is at work in the believer’s life to progressively mold him into the image of Christ, and that this process will not be completed until we reach eternity.

Assembly of God, Charismatic/Pentecostal Churches? We believe that the sign gifts mentioned in the historical record if the early church (the book of Acts) were used by God for the unique purpose of validating the authority of the Apostles, through whom He transmitted the Holy scriptures (I Corinthians 12-14). Do we believe that these gifts have ceased altogether? No, we do however assert that with the completion of the New Testament canon, the need for, and exercise of these sign gifts faded. We do not seek a Baptism of the Spirit sub-sequent to salvation, nor support the use of tongues or other sign gifts as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian life.

Presbyterian, Reformed Churches? Rather than affirming the predestination of specific individuals for grace, as the Reformed Churches do, we believe that when acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and individual as the freedom of will to accept or rejects God’s offer of salvation. We do not believe, as we are often accused, in a works oriented salvation, affirming with Paul that faith is not a work (Ephesians 2:8-9). Further, we agree that sinful man is dead in sin, that is, he is unresponsive and insensitive to the work and presence of God unless and until he is acted upon from the outside by the Holy Ghost. Once the individual has experienced this work of grace by the Holy Ghost, it is given that he should persevere in that faith until the end. We hold that whosoever will may exercise his God given freedom of the will to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and in believing, receive everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I have reposted the current (as of 02/18/13) Wikipedia article on the Free Will Baptists below. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments in [bolded orange in brackets].

Free Will Baptist

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will. Free Will Baptists share similar soteriological views with General Baptists, Separate Baptists and some United Baptists. Evangelism and the self government of the local church are highly valued. The denomination remains relatively small-town demographically and is especially strong in the southern United States and Midwest, although it was once also strong in New England. The National Association of Free Will Baptists reports just over 250,000 members. The National Association’s offices are located in the Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood of Antioch. The denomination operates a regionally accredited college, Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College), in Nashville; North American and International Missions agencies; and a publishing house, Randall House Publications. Smaller groups unaffiliated with the National Association are the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, the United American Free Will Baptists (African American), and well as several local associations in the South.

Theology and practice

Free Will Baptist congregations believe the Bible is the very word of God and without error in all that it affirms. Free Will Baptist Doctrine holds to the traditional Arminian position, based on the belief in a General Atonement, that it is possible to commit apostasy, or willfully reject one’s faith. Faith is the condition for salvation, hence Free Will Baptists hold to “conditional eternal security.” An individual is “saved by faith and kept by faith.” In support of this concept, some Free Will Baptists refer to the Greek word translated “believeth” found in John 3:16 KJV. This is a continuous action verb, and can thus be read, “..that whosoever believes and continues to believe shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The concept is not of someone sinning occasionally and thus accidentally ending up “not saved,” but instead of someone “repudiating” his or her faith in Christ. [1] Thus “once saved always saved” is rejected by the denomination. Many Free Will Baptists believe that once a person has truly turned from his or her faith, it is impossible for that individual to return to Christ(Hebrews 6:4-6) and the person will have reached a point in which God will have ceased to deal with his or her heart, disabling the individual from even desiring to repent (John 6:44, Genesis 6:3,Romans 1:21,28). Thus Free Will Baptist do not believe that an individual can oscillate between being lost and saved. There exists some Christian denominations which believe that salvation can be lost and found repeatedly; Free Will Baptists do not fall into this grouping. Free Will Baptists believe that once a believer has abandoned his faith and has lost his or her salvation, there is no more hope for that person. The book of Hebrews offers many supporting verses to this concept, particularly chapters 2:1; 3:6,12-14; 4:1,11; 6:4-8,11,12 & 10:23-39 where the Apostle Paul consistently warns that one must “hold fast” till the end.

On Perseverance of the Saints from the official Treatise:

“There are strong grounds to hope that the truly regenerate will persevere unto the end, and be saved, through the power of divine grace which is pledged for their support; but their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptations they are in danger of falling; and they ought, therefore, to watch and pray lest they make shipwreck of their faith and be lost.”

Free Will Baptists observe at least three ordinances: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Washing of the Saints’ Feet, a rite occurring among some other evangelical groups but not practiced by the majority of Baptist denominations.

Free Will Baptist congregations hold differing views on eschatology, with some holding premillennial and others amillennial views. Churches advocate (voluntary) tithing, totally abstaining from alcoholic beverages, and not working on Sunday, the “Christian Sabbath.”

Historical sketch

Free Will Baptists can be traced to General Baptists from England who settled in the American colonies in the late seventeenth century. The first Baptists, who originated with the ministry of Thomas Helwys near London in 1611, were General Baptists. That is, they believed that the atonement of Jesus Christ was “general” (for all) rather than “particular” (only for the elect). They were Arminian in doctrine.

Benjamin Laker was an English Baptist who arrived in colonial Carolina as early as 1685. Laker had been associated with Thomas Grantham, an illustrious General Baptist theologian and writer, and had signed the 1663 edition of the General Baptists’ Standard Confession of Faith. The earliest Free Will Baptists in America developed from English General Baptists in Carolina, who were dubbed “Freewillers” by their enemies and later assumed the name.

Two distinct branches of Free Will Baptists developed in America. The first and earliest was the General Baptist movement described above, known as the Palmer movement in North Carolina, from which the majority of modern-day Free Will Baptists have their origin. The later movement was the Randall movement, which arose in the late eighteenth century in New Hampshire. These two groups developed independently of each other.

The “Palmer” Line

In 1702, a disorganized group of General Baptists in Carolina wrote a request for help to the General Baptist Association in England. Though no help was forthcoming, Paul Palmer, whose wife Johanna was the stepdaughter of Benjamin Laker, would labor among these people 25 years later, founding the first “Free Will” Baptist church in Chowan, North Carolina in 1727. Palmer organized at least three churches in North Carolina.

His labors, though important, were short. Leadership would descend to Joseph Parker, William Parker, Josiah Hart, William Sojourner and others. Joseph Parker was part of the organization of the Chowan church and ministered among the Carolina churches for over 60 years. From one church in 1727, they grew to over 20 churches by 1755. After 1755, missionary labors conducted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association converted most of these churches to the Particular Baptist positions of unconditional election and limited atonement. By 1770, only 4 churches and 4 ministers remained of the General Baptist persuasion. By the end of 18th century, these churches were commonly referred to as “Free Will Baptist”, and this would later be referred to as the “Palmer” line of Free Will Baptists. The churches in the “Palmer” line organized various associations and conferences, and finally organized a General Conference in 1921. Many Baptists from Calvinistic Baptist backgrounds, primarily Separate Baptists, became Free Will Baptists in the nineteenth century.

The “Randall” Line

While the movement in the South was struggling, a new movement rose in the North through the work of Benjamin Randall (1749–1808).

Randall initially united with the Particular or Regular Baptists in 1776, but broke with them in 1779 due to their strict views on predestination. In 1780, Randall formed a “Free” or “Freewill” (Randall would combine the words “free” and “will” into a single word) Baptist church in New Durham, New Hampshire. By 1782 twelve churches had been founded, and they organized a Quarterly Meeting. In 1792 a Yearly Meeting was organized.

The “Randall” line of Freewill Baptists grew quickly. However, in 1911, the majority of the Randall Line churches (and all the denominational property) merged with the Northern Baptist Convention. Those churches that did not merge and remained Freewill Baptist joined with other Free Will Baptists in the Southwest and Midwest to organize the Cooperative General Association of Free Will Baptists in 1916.

The Union of the Lines

Fraternal relations had existed between the northern and southern Free Will Baptists, but the question of slavery, and later the Civil War, prevented any formal union until the 20th century. On November 5, 1935, representatives of the General Conference (Palmer) and the Cooperative General Association (a mixture of Randall and Palmer elements west of the Mississippi) met in Nashville, Tennessee to unite and organize the National Association of Free Will Baptists. The majority of Free Will Baptist churches organized under this umbrella, which remains the largest of the Free Will Baptist groups to this day.

Free Will Baptist Bodies

Other major Free Will Baptist groups include:

  • Original Free Will Baptist Convention – a North Carolina based body of Free Will Baptists that was organized in 1913 and initially joined the National Association of Free Will Baptists, but split from the National Association in 1961 due to some inner differences. The Convention comprised the majority of North Carolina-based Free Will Baptist churches, though a minority would split from the North Carolina state convention and maintain affiliation with the National Association. The Convention also maintains mission activity in eight countries – Philippines, Mexico, Bulgaria, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Liberia, and Guinea.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Church – the largest body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches, organized in 1901 and headquartered in Kinston, North Carolina.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Conference – a body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches that withdrew from the United American Free Will Baptist Church in 1968; headquartered in Lakeland, Florida.
  • Unaffiliated Free Will Baptist local associations – a number of local Free Will Baptist associations remain independent of the National Association, Original FWB Convention, and the two United American bodies. Researchers have identified 10 such associations, though there may be more. The unaffiliated associations of Free Will Baptists include over 300 churches with an estimated 22,000 members. They have no organization beyond the “local” level.
    • Eastern Stone (TN)
    • French Broad (NC)
    • Jack’s Creek (NC,TN) Has member churches in these states according to the 2008 Minutes of the Jack’s Creek Free Will Baptist Association
    • John-Thomas (NC,KY,WVA,VA)
    • Mt. Mitchell (NC)
    • Original Grand River (OK)
    • River Valley Association (AR)
    • Stone Association of Central Indiana (IN)
    • Toe River (NC,TN, & SC)
    • Western (NC)
    • Western Stone (TN)

Notes

  1. ^ [1].

Sources

  • A Free Will Baptist Handbook: Heritage, Beliefs, and Ministries, by J. Matthew Pinson
  • A History of Original Free Will Baptists, by Michael Pelt
  • Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
  • Dictionary of Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard, editor
  • Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, Samuel S. Hill, editor
  • Sub-Groups Within the Baptist Denomination (in the United States), by R. L. Vaughn
  • The Free Will Baptists in History, by William F. Davidson

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article [[s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Baptists, Freewill|]].

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As I’ve tried to stress in other blogs, it is critical to emphasize the “bloody” message of our Saviour on Calvary, the message of “the Blood and the Cross”, in every service. This is the core of the gospel – to ignore or downplay the doctrine of the Atonement is an abomination.

Two passages come to mind. Paul said:

“22) Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23) but we preach Christ crucified… (I Cor. 1:22-23a).

And: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

I Googled the search string [“Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”] and found many great articles and sermons on the topic. Also, for me many old gospel hymns convey this message in a powerful way. Churches need to sing these hymns again, regularly: “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, etc. I found this YouTube video about these old hymns that seemed appropriate:

I came across an excellent blog from Stand Up for the Truth!, which emphasizes this same theme. Click here for the original site of this blog. I’ve emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Gospel-less sermons regenerate no one

How important is it to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached each and every Sunday?  That we would even need to ask this question nearly 2,000 years after the Church was first established is heartbreaking to me.

I’ve been told by Christians and even pastors that it is not realistic to expect to hear the Gospel preached in every sermon message. “Sometimes we’re talking about a different subject,” they tell me, or “it doesn’t fit in with section five of our 10-part sermon series.” Or this one: “If you think you need to hear the blood sacrifice being preached in every message, you’re  not going to be happy in any church.”

Really? Am I that demanding that I’ve placed an unfair, unrealistic expectation on our poor pastors who are just trying to reach the lost?

Imagine Paul, or Peter, or John, or even Jesus Himself sitting in a typical seeker-driven service on any given Sunday morning and not hearing the message that martyrs still die for: That we are born sinners into sin-filled world at odds with God and that while we still hated Him, He came to earth as a sinless sacrifice, whose blood on the cross atoned for our sins and the punishment we deserve. He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of witnesses, who saw Him ascend to heaven, and those witnesses have been sharing that Good News ever since, that those who believe in Him can repent of their sins and be reconciled to God forever. It is through Christ alone that we are offered Mercy and Grace. Only In His perfect sacrifice, He exchanges His righteousness for our Sin.

In the time I took to read that, 30 seconds have passed. Surely 30 seconds of these life-giving words of the Gospel is the message that we all must hear over and over again. Not just so that we can be saved, but so that we can have real life to the full. A Sunday service without the Gospel regenerates no one.

It is good to talk about making good choices, or treating each other in love. It’s good to sing worship songs and teach about putting God and money in proper perspective. But not at the expense of  The Gospel.  Because if I am still steeped in my sins, unrepentant without knowing who Jesus is, and I’ve just sat through your sermon series on how to have a good marriage or how to feed the hungry, I am still going to Hell when I die.

English: Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558. Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t know what the Gospel is. If you were to ask, they might say that the Gospel is about loving our neighbor, or loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And while important, these are not the Gospel, but are the essence of the Law. And yes, we need to walk the narrow path and live out what God commands.  But His truth also tells us that as hard as we strive, we can’t love God as perfectly as He commands. And by the way, how did you do at loving your neighbor last week? I fell extremely short.

That’s why we need the Gospel, even as we grow into mature Christians. We hear the Gospel so that we can be reminded of how good He is, and how wretched we are apart from Him. And when we do break the Law – any of them –we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.

As writer Mike Ratliff put it so powerfully, God will not tolerate a perversion of the Gospel because it is the only truth:

However, in our time the Gospel has been retold in all sorts of unbiblical ways. Some are outright lies while others are more subtle, for instance, there is the lie that is mostly true in which the Gospel is given, but that part about repentance and the lordship of Jesus Christ being necessary is left out. People want to make the narrow gate wide and easy, but that has never been God’s way. They want to remove the offense of the Cross, but it has to be there. Preaching against sin “puts people off, offends their sensibilities, puts them on the defensive, and makes them uncomfortable” is being cut from most churches in our time to make them more “seeker friendly.”

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked according to the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Paul, speaking to Christians, told them and us that they were once just the rest of the world, which was dead in their own trespasses and sin in which they once walked according to the world system. There are no exceptions t this. A “Gospel message” or “theology” that does not address this is not biblical. In fact, it is false teaching. Those who teach these false teachings are teaching a different Gospel, and God will judge them for it.

The only Gospel is, “Trust in Jesus’ blood as the only redemption from sin.”       (Source: Possessing The Treasure)

In those last four seconds is packed an eternity of truth.  No, I don’t think I’m being demanding by asking to hear the Gospel each and every time. How can we expect anything less for our families, our friends and for a world that does not know Him?  Churches, pastors, Christians: It’s time to step up. Let’s not just squeeze these in around our three main principles or five action points. No, let’s make the Gospel the center of every message, and the rest can flow from Christ’s amazing, perfect love.

Related articles

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Can truly born again Christians “lose their salvation”? Being brought up in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, I believe so. I’m encountering many Christians who claim to be born again, yet refuse to give up ungodly practices such as Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality. They seem to feel safe in Christ, no matter what sins they refuse to give up. Can they continue in sinful rebellion and not build up the wrath of God? I doubt it. In the Bible, Paul makes various statements regarding this; he seems to have feared losing his salvation if he did not remain obedient to Christ.

Many people I know in Spiritual Formation, I thought were born again Christians. But looking back, it seems many never really knew the Lord in the first place.

Yet, I still think we all have free will. We have free will to accept Christ and become truly born again Christians. And truly born again Christians WILL NOT WANT to turn their backs on Christ and leave the faith. Yet, since born again Christians are still creatures of free will, God could allow them to leave the faith if they so choose.

I do think it is unreasonable to fear losing our salvation every time we slip up and tell a white lie, or run a red light on purpose, or whatever.

So here’s my view: I believe in “conditional eternal security.” I came across a very insightful article listing seven “streams” of conditional eternal security (John Wesley, H. Orton Wiley, etc.). I have reposted this article below;  click here for the original site of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [bracketed and bolded in orange].

Arminian Today

The List of Conditional Eternal Security Views

In response to the list of eternal security views that I recently posted on my blog, I wanted to offer a short list of the views held by Arminians on eternal security. You may find it ironic that, like Calvinist, there is no agreement among Arminians over the nature of the security of the believer as this list will hopefully show. I will not give you my opinion on which I hold to and will leave you to your own conclusions on each.

I have tried to go from the most extreme view to the least while still being Arminian in theology and practice.

1. Daniel Corner – Corner is the author of the book The Believer’s Conditional Security. I have a copy of the book and have used it many times. Overall Corner does a good job of presenting logically arguments against eternal security. He also footnotes many quotes from various Calvinist teachers to show the lack of unity among Calvinist over their own teachings. Corner is extreme, however, in his view that only one sin can cause a lose of salvation. Many Arminians are not willing to embrace Corner’s views. Further, Corner’s arguments would be stronger in his book if he covered all of Calvinism and not just eternal security. As Calvinist Dr. James White argues, eternal security is based on the other four points of Calvinism as well.

2. John Wesley – The father of the modern Wesleyan movement, John Wesley taught that sin can cause a loss of salvation and he believed that holiness was indeed necessary for eternal life. Wesley strongly taught against Calvinism in his day despite his friendship with Calvinist George Whitefield. Wesley was not an extreme view of losing your salvation since he did believe that sin did in fact dwell in the believer but Wesley did teach that sin needed to be eradicated and could only be done so by the power of the Holy Spirit living within the believer. Wesley’s views remain in tact to this day and the majority of Arminians hold to most of what Wesley taught. Wesley was brilliant and one of the greatest scholars the Church has ever known.

3. Richard Watson – The 18th century Methodist theologian who took the teachings of John Wesley and first put them into systematic form. Watson’s systematic theology book would remain the standard Arminian source for biblical theology for nearly 175 years. Watson’s writings would later influence many Nazarene, Wesleyan, and Pentecostal theologians. Watson believed in line with Wesley that continued, unrepentive sin could result in a loss of personal salvation and that perseverance was necessary for eternal life.

4. John Miley – The 19th century Holiness theologian and writer deviated from John Wesley and Richard Watson in his teaching on the governmental theory of the atonement. Miley’s book Systematic Theology remains an important work from Arminians theologians. Despite the problems I have with his atonement theory, Miley taught that eternal security was not biblical and that it allowed for continued sin in the life of the saint and furthermore was an insult to the grace of God (Titus 2:11-12).

5. H. Orton Wiley – The prominent Nazarene theologian’s book Systematic Theology remains on the best Arminian theological books available today. Wiley taught that eternal security was not biblical and that a believer could fall from grace through continued sin. Wiley differed with John Wesley and Richard Watson somewhat by teaching the standard Nazarene view that the baptism with the Holy Ghost was necessary to eradicate the sinful nature still alive in the believer and thus help the believer reach a point of “sinless perfection” in the eyes of God. This Spirit Baptism was a second work of grace called entire sanctification and helped the believer overcome sin in this life as long as the believer continued with faith in Christ.

6. Robert Picirilli – A modern theologian with the Free Will Baptist Church, Picirilli’s book Grace, Faith, and Free Will has been called the book that launched the modern Reformed Arminian views. Picirilli is different from many Arminian theologians because he is not Wesleyan but is Baptist. He argues in his book that his theology is true Arminianism as taught by James Arminius. Picirilli argues that one can only lose their salvation through apostasy and not sin. He teaches that perseverance is necessary for eternal life but sin is not the issue as much as faith in Jesus is the issue. Sin, argues Picirilli, clearly reveals a lack of faith in God’s Word and in His Son. Sin, then, is open rebellion toward God and leads to apostasy which can not be undone according to Hebrews 6:4-9.

[I located the following link regarding Picirilli]

Book review of Picirilli’s book Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism

7. James Arminius – I have chosen to place Arminius last because Arminius was not clear on his views concerning the loss of salvation for the believer. In some places Arminius seemed to embrace modern Arminian thought that a believer can fall from grace but in other writings, Arminius seems to teach that a true Christian will persevere by the Spirit of God. As the father of the modern Arminian movement, Arminius helped shape the theology of millions of believers for generations to come while leaving the debate open over the issue of eternal security. Clearly, however, Arminius would oppose Calvinism and its allowance for continued sinning without repentance.

I would have added the Baptist writers Dale Moody, Church of Christ writer Robert Shank, and Baptist apologist Norman Geisler in this list as well if timed permitted. Each of the above mentioned have each made contributions toward modern Arminian theology. However, the greatest influence I believe made upon the modern evangelical church about the nature of salvation is not by any on this list or the Calvinist list but by the 19th century revivalist Charles G. Finney. Finney was neither Calvinist nor Arminian in his theology. While he seems to try to align himself more with Arminians then with Calvinist, Finney and Arminius (nor Wesley) would agree with one another. Finney was semi-Pelagian and most of the evangelical church including the seeker movement, the Purpose-Driven movement, and many denominations such as the Asssemblies of God, the Southern Baptist, and a host of others are more semi-Pelagian then Arminian.

Written by The Seeking Disciple
02/17/2007 at 4:32 PM

FOR FURTHER READING

Wikipedia article on conditional preservation of the saints (conditional eternal security)

Eternal Security: A Biblical Perspective (articles opposing critiquing eternal security)

A list of “conditional eternal security” articles

Bible Texts Calvinists misuse to prove “Eternal Security”

pjmiller,  “Conditional” Eternal Security

Scott Severance, Hebrews 6:4–6 and Losing One’s Salvation

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