Welsey's Greatest Fear Has Come True.
by Rev. Dennis Hartman
Published July 27, 2010
In the last few months my wife and I have visited several Southern Methodist Churches. One was in a state of spiritual renewal while the other was staggering along. One had the leadership of a pastor who was not dependent on music for growth while the other looked to a new pastor steeped in the art of preaching while mixing it with Country Gospel music. While their names on the sign outside said Methodist, their hymn books on the inside seemed to be in denial of their particular Arminian doctrine. Or perhaps they just were not paying attention to what their hymn books were saying.
Today is the same as yester year in that a Church is known by the music it sings. In our contemporary society and in the Church, music has become the primary tool of getting people to attend and even getting them saved. It is amazing that after one reads the Gospels, and the Book of Acts, that you find so little mention of music and worship. Nor in the New Testement do we have a musical disciple, apostle, or Christian leader, like unto David, that ministered in music and worship or prasie. Yet in another book Paul suggests that we sing in our hearts. The misplaced emphases on music in these time is from the strong arm of marketing, and the dispensational ideas of worship. This strange emphases on "music ministry" causes great problems in discerning the difference between entertainment, emotional excitement, and the actual movement of the sweet Holy Spirit. Rarely are the old hymns and standard gospel song that use to be found in hymns books song. The words are projected on the wall with exciting backgrounds for visualization sake. In todays standard of the Church, we no long believe that the preaching of the gospel is foolishnes to them that are lost, but the singing is foolishness to those don't love Christ. The New Testement is very clear here. It is not by human might, power, wisdom, marketing, or our music that turns people to Chirst, but by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit accompanying the Word. IT IS NOT BY MUSIC.
Now when you do find hymn books in many churches, the selection of songs are interesting. One thing that you can give to a Baptist or Calvinist credit for, is that they do at least check what their hymns are saying. Allow me to give a prime example.
Charles Wesley wrote a song titled "A Charge to Keep I Have." It is a song that encourages the Christian into service to God, of judgement to those who do not do their all, and encourages the Christian to watchfulness in the faith. In short, it serves as a warning to keep the faith. While most of the song is not offensive to the none Wesleyan, the last phrase of that song totally oppose their beloved doctrine of eternal security. Charles Wesley writes,
"Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die."
What is found in the hymn books of the Calvinist and Baptist is somewhat a strange miracle. Most of these brothers use little phrases like "I am just telling you what the Bible says." Many condemn the United Methodists for changing the lyrics to the great hymns of the faith. Yet, ever so quietly they slide their changes in to protect their ugly doctrines. So when it comes to this neat little hymn, the truth is not found in their hymn books. They carefully and quietly replace this warning and in its place they add a "precious promise." WOW! What a miracle for these pious people who condemn Methodists for changeing their lyrics. Now don't that beat all. Theer's miracle song reads
"And let me ne'er my trust betray,
But press to realms on high."
For the eternal security folk, they places no responsibility on the human. That is "And let me ne'er my trust betray," meaning that God will not allow such a dreadful event to happen to the saved or elect person. "But press to realms on high." So if God loves us so as to ignore sin and account it to his "payment," we have no other reason then to be able to get to heaven as we move on.
Now there needs to be no explanation for Wesley's meaning here. That is, if one tamper with sin, and plays ball with the devils people, dosen't bother going to church, and turns his/her back to live a life full of sin, he/she has betrayed not God, but themselves. After all, salvation takes two things to happen. One a human soul willing by God's grace to receive salvation and two, God who happily bestows salvation to all who seek him. If the Christian entangles himself with sin, and rejects the savor who died for him and the gift he received, he will once again be lost, and never again can he be saved. He sinned away his baptism.
What is interesting is this, both of the Southern Methodist Churches had the Baptist variant in their hymn books. What has happened to Methodism? Where are the leaders and concerned pastors? And let me boldly add that this is not particular only in the Southern Methodist Churches nor is this error repeated in all the Southern Methodist Churches. Not in the least! I only use them here as an example of such theological carelessness. Surprisingly, the United Methodist got this one right in their hymn book. Thererfore, because the Southern Methodists, Wesleyans, and others in Wesley's family brag that they are more conservative then the United Methodists, what I ask, is the reason of this unexcusable nonsense? The answer is NONE.
Years ago I was invited to speak at the Eternal Security conference in West VA. The pastor of the Church was a good man, a very good man. He stood firm for the Wesleyan doctrines as well as hymns. Now picture me preaching when I concluded my sermon, I asked for this song to be song. To my surprise, and to his horrible embarrassment, his hymn book had the Baptist version in it.
This is scandalous! Words can not be found to express my discuss in the recklessness of these pastors and the church committees in choosing song books. But when it comes to their Country Gospel, they let their hair hang down, they get excited, and the jubilee begins. And they leave nothing out such as mic's, speakers, amps, cd's remotes, and the style that the artist used when he/she sang those songs in Nashville at the Dove awards. The words must mean something to this generation that honest doctrine does not. It is this kind of pure nonsense that drives many of our people to the Baptist or Calvinist movements in order to find deeper meaning in their religious experience. Yet we have it, in the hymns of Wesley, Watts, F.Crosby, Martin Luther, and many others. Wesley's advice to his preachers was to teach people to "flee from the wrath to come" has been replaced with a jamboree. All this rich material and advice flushed for a cheap jublee found in all to many Churches of Wesley's family almost every Sunday morning. It is the new tradition that we have replaced the old tradition with.
Our music has become a knee jerk reaction to the perceived coldness found in Methodism today and I fear in religion in general. But wait, not only a reaction, but it has also become the thing to do in order to grow and atract people. The Country Gospel music has aided the Charismatic movement more then Christian purity. Like them, we use our music to wipe up the crowd, and wipe down the Spirit, with singers with mic's in hand, mimicking the body movements of the "big time artists," and getting juiced for the week. When we are tempted and fail, we blame it on the devil, someone else, or our own weakness. The real problem is this. Where is honest Bible teaching today in Methodism? Where are the real preachers of Methodism today? You can't find them! But don't worry, you can't find much real Christianity in most other churches today either. But a praise and worship services are a universal being found in most "conservative" churches. And that sort of service boarders on everything but true worship.
Come on my Methodist brothers and sisters. Read your Bibles and tell me where all this worship and praise stuff comes from in the New Testament?! That is, particularly the way it is practiced today. While music is an out growth of real faith, it is not the primary instrument to get people saved. And Methodist preachers would do well not only to read your Bibles, but Wesley's sermon "Almost a Christian." Then put your contemporary and country gospel music to the test. Is this not lasciviousness and carnality gone wild in our part of the Christian family? You may have a crowd, but they will remain largely a mission field right in your sanctuary.
And what about your doctrine? O shucks, I for got. When we wipe down the spirit of God, who needs a doctrine that warns us of loss of salvation! After all, who wants to spoil the excitement that the music creates by such a dreadful warning?
Allow me to close with this quote. "That song is not marketable." This is what one Southern Methodist pastor told the congregation at a conference as he readied himself to sang a song that he wrote. He then defended his song by saying how it stayed he in the top 100 on the gospel charts in the country for almost three months. Marketable? Marketable?! May Christ find everlasting shame for chasing the money changers out of the tempel. All they were doing was making life easier. As he started to sing the people just whopped it up and that passed as some sort of movement of the Holy Spirit. Methodism, in the last 100 years, has had to deal with apostasy, has had spit poor leadership in almost every branch of Wesley's family, and now it even has the "Free Market System" encroaching the Holy Spirit's work by telling us that this new music can put us in touch with God. One Methodist branch has professors who deny God, while the other Methodist branch whops down God through the incantation of loud, foot stomping, hand clapping, rockin' music. Welsey greatest fear is now come true. He never feared that Methodism would parish, but that it would become a mere dead sect.
While God will condemn the nonsense of eternal security, the dogmatics of immersion, Calvinism, and Pentecostalism, he will condemn us more so for having the correct Biblical doctrines and running from a real debate. If we preach the truth, and preach to the people to "flee from the wrath to come," God will once again move among us. All to many pastors are finding ways to keep from calling a sin - sin. Instead, they assume that many problems we use to call sin can be "treated." While treatment might help, sin is still sin, and according to my Bible, King James for what it is worth, most sins can only find a true treatment in the blood of Christ.
So come on my Methodist brothers, let's get on with God's program. Put your cd's away, lay down your mic's, and sound off for God in his power alone trusting only in his Spirit to do his work and not in your human tools!
Pastor Hartman has been in the ministry for thirty seven years. He graduated from the Institute of Christian Service of Bob Jones University. He also holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Columbus State University and did post grad work at the same school. He has taught in the public school system for fifteen years, and is currently working with a small private academy. He 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. After resigning form his pastorate in 2005, he does supply work for other pastors in the community. While he is Independent Methodist, he is currently attending a neat conservative Church. If you wish to contact Pastor Hartman, please feel free to do so.