The United Methodist Church is currently going through a major crisis. The issue that has provoked this predicament is homosexuality. The lines are slowly being drawn. Soon, conference delegates and bishops will decide what the verdict will be. Safe money, looking at their record, says that there will be no realistic or major split, if a bishop does not accompany it.
What induced this event? What went wrong? To answer this question we will need to briefly contemplate Methodist history.
At one time, Methodism built a church a day with hearts afire with the love of God. Bishop Asbury, the first American bishop, was truly validated by God to pilot the early American Church. He traveled through the savage wilderness of frontier America preaching and teaching the Gospel of Christ. He, like the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was a man of the Book. They were not Baptists, Calvinists, nor Pentecostals. They were men who loved the Church, but the Gospel of Christ more. They needed no special anointings, gifts, or revelations because they knew and experienced the grace of God first hand, and realized how unworthy they were. Through them revivals broke out in both England and the United States.
Both Wesley and Bishop Asbury believed that their men should be well read. During their time it was said of the circuit-riding preachers that they did not have much education, but they were well read. Asbury's only experiment in higher education failed when the first school that he and Dr. Coke founded burned to the ground. He was greatly relieved. After all, Asbury and a few generations after him were too busy exposing the lost to Christ.
When Methodism finally got their institutions of higher education, it seemed like the revival fires slowly died out. The same could be said of all major Protestant denominations, and that includes our Baptist and Calvinist friends. By the turn of the century most Methodist schools sold out to the German Higher Criticism, and the evangelical evolutionists of their period. This is well documented in many other sources of literature.(1) Methodism sold out at the top so as not to be offensive, and to prove that they too were very academic. Biblical Methodism was not long for this world. Its death was not due to Arminianism, i.e., humanism, as conservative Calvinists and Baptists incessantly try to prove, but to the simple denial of the Word of God as their authority. They were no longer men of the Book as were their founders.
It was to these institutions that Bible-believing Methodist lay people trusted with their most valued possessions, their children. In turn these young people had their faith in God belittled and finally snuffed out because of the indoctrination of German Higher Criticism and evolution. This process continued over the years until Biblical Methodist Christianity was gradually worn away and nothing was left but the political infrastructure with one philosophy. That philosophy was to gain power and keep control of the masses, while at time some sound like they believe the Gospel of Christ, thereby wearing down the faith of their people with an "anything goes" attitude as long as you "believe."
In the 1960s, when the United Methodist Church Sunday School literature denied the Creation, few if any powerful people from within raised little or any voice to stop it. Good pastors and lay people were frightened off by being told that there was no scientific evidence for Creation. Later, the United Methodist Church had a theologian(2) who announced that "God is dead." The nation was astounded, but United Methodism seemed not to be bothered too much by this. Today, few if any knows anything about Biblical Methodism beyond the life and times of John Wesley and the first Methodists. No one in the United Methodist Church, much less the Independent Methodist movements, cares for the doctrines of Wesley(3).
Now we have this issue of homosexuality. There is great consternation within the United Methodist Church. Why should this be so? You threw out the basis for opposing homosexuality years ago, which is the Bible. If you do not believe the Bible as Wesley and Asbury, why fight homosexuality? Why make a moral stand now? You destroyed your Biblical demur and theological superiority years ago.
Instead of arguing over this issue you need to look to your roots. You cut off Bible-believing Methodism. Your appeal for moral purity is irrational when you consider all the things that United Methodist Church did to destroy the Bible in the recent past.
Take a good look at yourselves. When you leave this Church, will you still be Methodists? Is it fair to throw out all Methodist distinctives and doctrines, because of the blatant liberalism within the UMC? Because you are starved for real meaning in Biblical doctrine many of you will find yourselves, not in Biblical Methodist-type Churches, but will end up in the Pentecostal, Baptist, and Calvinist Reformed denominations across our land. One with a promise of Spiritual gifts, and the other putting you under the water like they think happened to Jesus in baptism.
Dear friends, the problem is not Methodism; it is United Methodism! Learn your Biblical heritage and you will find that Old Time Methodism is more Scriptural then any other Church. Be angry with those who call themselves pastors and bishops and do not fear or exalt the Scriptures. Question the Good News and Confession proponents and see if they even know what Arminianism is. If they declare that they never heard of it, or that it is not important, or that Arminianism is the reason the United Methodist Church is the way that it is, leave them alone. Why? Because Methodism in the days of Wesley and Asbury was certainly Arminian in its theology and the love of our Lord abounded everywhere it went. If you leave the United Methodist Church, and you have a heart for Biblical Methodism, please at least visit other independent Methodist-type churches and give them a chance.
As a Methodist pastor I can tell you that Methodism is not bad. The liberals are annihilating your beloved United Methodist Church and not Bible-believing Methodist Arminians. Most liberals have no concept of the grace of God, much less the way of salvation. It seems as if nothing but the destruction of your souls and church will make them joyous.
Remember, your contest is not with genuine Biblical Methodism, but with liberal theological
"United Methodism," which is not Methodism at all.
1. This trend brought about several written responses which were compiled into a book called "The Fundamentals." Those that adhered to these beliefs were labeled "Fundamentalists," which took over the position of prominence amongst conservatives which up to this point was held by those of the holiness movement. Today, most Fundamentalists could be considered as either five point Calvinists or Calvinistic Baptists and even Charismatic.
2. I have tried to find names, places, and articles to reference this fact. However, the best that I can do is report that the following four men where involved with the "God is dead" movement. They are Thomas Altizer, Gabriel Vahanian, William Hamilton, and Paul van Burn. I do not know the denominational affiliation of each of the above men, but I do understand that one was associated with Emory University.
3. James A. Gibson III, "Letters, Cheers and Jeers," Good News, May June 1999, p.3. Mr. Gibson asks the question, "Which is more damaging to the Body of Christ; clergy training that is more reformed than Arminian, or clergy training that is more pagan than Christian?" So bankrupt is the UMC that they don't even know what made them Methodist in the first place. Peter Cartwright, after doing battle with the reformed, or Calvinists, and winning the day for Methodist Arminianism by now is dizzy from rolling over in his grave because of the above statement. There is also theological denial by the Good News and Confession movements concerning Arminianism, by their brazen unabashed silence on the issue. I have yet to see any articles from these two groups that take on the doctrinal differences that exists between Calvinism, Baptists or any other non-Methodist group. Instead we are feed a diet of how bad the UMC is, and see pictures that obviously promote Pentecostalism rather then Biblical Methodism. I say that the reformed groups are no better then paganism, for their founding leader John Calvin burned people at the stake. Nice Christian he was. This, my friends, is not the catholic spirit that Rev. John Wesley taught and practiced. It is however, the ecumenical spirit of denial of doctrines that really do matter. Come on and stand up and be counted and be real Bible-believing Methodist Arminians. Raise your lives and hearts to God and not your hands and voices. He's got enough of the latter.