Where Have All the Methodists Gone?
Ecumenism, Everyone?

If doctrinal distinctives do not matter anymore, why don't we all just join the Southern or Independent Baptists and be finished with this painful game that we are playing?
By Pastor D. L. Hartman

Just recently I received a paper from the United Methodist Action committee. In this paper, the UM Action committee gives some of the policies that they opposed such as the same-sex "unions." This is of course commendable.

The periodical also commented on the Council on Evangelism's annual Congress on Evangelism in January held in Washington D. C. This Council is affiliated with the UM Board of Discipleship. The article said that there was talk about "saving the 'lost,'" which according to it was "not often heard at the official United Methodist events." This is no doubt true.

It quoted Bishop Lindsey Davis of Atlanta as saying, "We have barren churches because we have not prayed for the lost." He does have a point. He continues commenting on the tradition that most UMCs have built which is hindering their growth. "They love their buildings. They love their cemetery. They don't love the lost. They are an apostate church." Is this Bishop on a roll or on fire or what? That could cost him his office, don't you think? Still, it is a truth. Most UM members would rather compromise to keep those earthen treasures then to stand and fight in hope of gaining spiritual treasures. The things of this world have blinded their eyes. The blessings of worldly pleasure and comfort are more important to the churches then the blessings of God.

According to this article, the good Bishop said, "If I can find one lay person or one clergy who is willing to love one unchurched person or one unsaved person, then I know that church can be saved." Sounds good thus far, now doesn't it? Bishop Asbury should be jumping up and down in his grave in Baltimore, don't you think? Indeed, soul winning is a primary part of the Christian faith.

Then, according to this overview of the conference, Bishop Davis want on to chid churches who reconcile themselves to the pro-homosexual agenda. Reportedly, Bishop Davis said, "We have a lot of conversation in the church about inviting everybody to the table." He continued by saying that "the Gospel should be allowed to flourish" too and the "authority of Scripture [must be] maintained." On the surface this sounds great. Any real Bible loving Methodist could give a big shout, "AMEN!"

The article goes on to say that last year the UM Church started 3 new churches. That sounds good, but compare it to the days of Peter Cartwright when Methodists built a church a day to the glory of God. Something is terribly wrong. It states that the Southern Baptists started 1600 churches. Of this Dale Galloway, of the famed Asbury Seminary, said "If you don't produce new babies, what happens to the family?" Now there is a soul searching question.

This seemed to be a conference of positive note. That is until you understand that these fellows who are speaking do not really have the true Methodist spirit and heart. Though John Wesley may have gotten along with other Christians of other denominations of his time, he never compromised his strong belief in the scriptures, and much less his Arminian theological positions. That is a matter of record and not up for some new age interpretation. He defended these positions with all his heart and soul. And with the same strength he evangelized a nation and world for Christ his Savior through the army of men that he raised up.

In recent years of this so-called awaking of Evangelical zeal within the United Methodist church, most who have a Biblical concept have given themselves to associating and defending those who hold to the doctrines of eternal security, election, immersion, sanctification, and tongues. That, my friend, is not Wesley's Methodism. One of the main problems with the rehabilitating efforts of the Good News and Confession people is that they refused to be just Methodistic followers of Christ. The reason for this is that many leaders in these para-Methodist movements feel that they need all the help they can get from without to reclaim their beloved church with their beautiful cemeteries. It is a mockery to reason the way they act toward real Biblical Methodist Arminian doctrine and theology. Where are the books against eternal security, Calvinism, or even immersion? You will find none. For they too are guilty of the very thing that destroyed the UM Church. These reformers seem to be tolerant of all other denominational theologies and intolerant to their own theological heritage. Now look to see who is calling the kettle black.

One word explains eighty percent of the problems of the Good News and Confession people as well as the denomination that they want to reclaim. One word that they can not seem to overcome. One word that they view as being the total sum of the Christian faith and Methodism. This word, according to them, seems to teach perfectly the concept of love which both the liberals and conservatives love to use as if they found the real key that unlocks all the secrets of Christianity and the mind of God. This word apparently thrills them more then the name of Jesus, though he gets the blame. The word is defended by both the conservative and liberal United Methodists alike by their actions. This is a word that can be easily spiritualized to obscure their error. What is this fabulous and magnificent gospel binding word that spellbinds all within our beloved United Methodist Church? E C U M E N I C A L is the word.

Let's look more closely. The paper that I quoted from was the U M Action. It "is the quarterly newsletter of the United Methodists working for Scripture-based reform in our denomination." That sounds good thus far but we read on. "The U M Action committee is a program of the ecumenical Institute on Religion and Democracy, which works for the reform of America's mainline churches' social and political activities." Was it not this ecumenical concept that brought us all the liberalism thus far? Was it not ecumenicalism that sold out the main doctrines of the Christian faith of so many great denominations years ago? Now are we to trust these leaders with the doctrines of evangelism and reform in our beloved UM church? I don't think so. To be sure, this committee may mean well. But, what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what of the Good News and Confession people and the role that they play? Are they not more scriptural? I answer, in a way, yes. But they too sold out Methodism in spite of themselves. Their love for ecumenicalism shows in the fact that they would rather support the doctrines of Calvinism and the Pentecostalism of today. Their actions are nothing more than proof that ecumenism can destroy a great denomination both coming and going and in spite of their best efforts.

I wholeheartedly agree with Bishop Davis at face value. Everyone could. That is no big deal. A independent Baptist preacher could say the same thing. But when does evangelism make a real difference between any Christian denomination? Should not all the church be about our father's business? And when do we use evangelism to try to save an apostate church? Are these groups more about saving themselves or saving souls for Christ?

Isn't there a real, genuine, authentic United Methodist Arminian Bible Believing preacher or Bishop in the UMC? If there are, where are they? Speak up, my brothers. Speak out boldly. We here at IMARC wait patiently because we don't believe that there are any left in the UM Church, Good News or Confession movements. You have talked about evangelizing the world, but who shall evangelize you? The point is this, if doctrinal distinctives do not matter any more, why don't we all just join the Southern Baptists and be finished with this painful game? After all, when your members leave the UM church they normally join a Southern Baptist church anyway. Maybe that is why the Baptists are growing? You have spent too much time on the ecumenical band wagon with no real gospel message or much doctrinal difference. United Methodists seeking spiritual food will go even to the tables loaded with tasty but dangerous stuff for the soul. You have trained them well in the humanistic doctrines of ecumenism and not in the doctrines of Methodism, much less Christ our Lord. What is really needed in the UM church is not just the doctrine of evangelization, but the doctrine of repentance as well.

I close by repeating myself once more. If doctrinal distinctives do not matter anymore, why don't we all just join the Baptists and be finished with this painful game that we are playing?

Pastor Hartman has been in the ministry for twenty six years. He graduated from the Institute of Christian Service of Bob Jones University. He also holds a B.S. and a M.S from Columbus State University. His has traveled once to Russia, three times to the Ukraine, twice to England in a humble effort to help the missionaries spread the Gospel of Christ. If you would like to contact Pastor Hartman, please feel free to do so.