Methodism Has Tanked.

by Rev. Dennis Hartman

Published May, 06, 2013

All In - Don't look now, but Methodists are getting dunked
October 12, 2012 Posted by Sam Hodges, Managing Editor

Recently I have responded to "The United Methodist Reporter," an online journal, and the article below is in response to the above named article. The editors evidently felt that my response was unnecessarily too critical. Therefore, they did not post it. I thought it somewhat strange how the United Methodists will stoop to anything to get their churches to grow. Immersion has become the panacea for modern churches, no matter the stripe or color, "demonstrating" that somehow they subscribe to Biblical Christianity. So what's in the water? Nothing! Not one ounce of saving grace at all. Those who believed salvation was accomplished by the dip in the past were called heretics by the mainline churches like the Methodists. Fundamentalists, and evangelicals condemned Methodists saying that we believed infant baptism saved people. However, the same condemnation can be put to their charge concerning immersion in this generation. This article goes far to prove this point. People need to be saved, and lives changed, and no amount of water ever do that. Perhaps if these new immerisonist preachers really preached the gospel, God might draw people to their church without a dip in the tank? Indeed, Methodism has tanked! Here is my response that was refused by these open minded United Methodist publishers.

I have had the privilege of researching the word baptizo in depth. I have now spent several years doing so. I know what I speak of. However, this article is beyond this. It seems to express nothing more then symbolism over substance and publicizes mode as a means to an end. May I therefore indulge on the readers kindness to explain.

The UM seminaries have all to many professors who could care less about God. One was even cited by Time magazine years ago who claimed that God is Dead. They deny the scriptures and try to politically correct the Bible every chance they get. They influence students to doubt the Bible at ever jot and tittle. Social concerns replace the Wesleyan Biblical concept of sin and salvation. They have distorted the Arminianism of Wesley, Asbury, Clarke, Whedon, and a host of other scholars into an anti-Christian humanism. The UMC pastors and laity alike are being forced to adopt abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other issues, that used to be called sin. Methodism should demand better from their schools and leadership.

This article is symbolism over substance. Immersion is that magic mode which now gets a church to grow. Not the preaching of the Gospel. The main reason for people leaving the UMC originally was the lack of preaching the Gospel and pastors who openly denied many parts of the Bible. That has not changed much. People left in droves to seek the gospel and found it in the Fundamentalist movement along with immersion which seemed so Biblical. Even I was swept up in this departure. Immersion seemed so, so, primitive church and refreshing for those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness. Yet, there is not one shred of proof of that mode in the early church. Those Baptist fundamentalists in those days as today condemn we Methodists for believing that baby baptism saves. Those of us who knew the truth, knew that baptism does not save but is a means of grace. Their ridiculous condemnation nevertheless stuck because most of our preachers were too liberal to care. And if a preacher did care, he lacked the tools to respond Biblically.

The thrill of salvation and the totally changed life that one once received at the altar of God is now replaced with a dip in some scum-covered water of make believe that I am a Christian. A mere profession of good works, rather than grace saving faith in God. Since United Methodism has replaced the doctrines of salvation with social concerns, there needs to be some sort of thrill I guess. Methodism has gone from the "Coffee House," folk music, contemporary blended worship to the water god of the Baptists. Hence immersion is the new thrill of faith. Thus Methodism continues to stagger blindly in the wrong direction. Immersion like baby baptism is no longer the means of grace as Wesley and the Bible teaches, it now has been transformed into saving grace itself and a means to church growth. It is now the throb that this generation of Methodists seek. Therefore we somehow believe that we are now at one with the fundamentalists? All we need is a dip, and the water god does the rest - smack - church growth. Problem solved!

The Blacks as well as the Latino churches do immerse. But in South America many Latino churches, as a UM missionary once told me, also have fireworks when they immerse. Fireworks can grow churches too. Why not have fireworks every Sunday from behind the pulpit? If you spend the necessary money for a pool at the pulpit, then spend enough to fire proof the church for fireworks. Makes sense to me. Sadly, St Paul's prescription for Church growth is to preach the Word and walk the walk. I would hasten to add, stop denying His Word in the talk! And by the way, Paul stood up to be baptized - not immersed. Say, maybe the Black and Latino Churches lack scriptural teaching on this subject? Nevertheless, this new consensus in the church about immersion doesn't sanctify the mode any more then that immersion can get a lost soul to heaven.

This article points out the clear vacancy, not brilliancy, of Biblical theology within the UMC's and other mainline protestant denominations who will no doubt follow. Indeed Christ is concerned about numbers, but he also expects those numbers to live like him. Nor did he ever command them to be baptized as he was, and it is questionable that he was immersed. I honestly question the impact on society with all this church growth in recent years whether it be in the independent or the denominational ranks. Something is terribly wrong when the morals of our leaders, educators and society clearly prove that we are helplessly swooping in the wrong direction. I therefore contend that immersion is not the antidote to our spiritual poverty in Methodism or much less any fundamentalist or evangelical Church, but a false mode can can grow the social institution of the church as so eloquently expressed in this article. So tell me please, what is the difference between us and the cults, who are growing, and insist on immersion for church membership and also the way to save your eternal soul? Yes, at all levels of Methodism, it just keeps on TANKING without apology.

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 and working with a neat conservative United Methodist Church. If you wish to contact Pastor Hartman, about this article, please feel free to do so.