The Sin of Love and Peacemakers

by Rev. Dennis Hartman

Published July 02, 2014

Some years ago, when I first entered the ministry, I heard a conference preacher say, "that every time the Devil is attacked he runs behind the word love." Over the course of years that phrase has proven true. But to this idea of love comes still one more important ingredient. That is the one who the Devil can use to twist Christ's teaching on love. So let's look at some of the key verses that deal with love.

John 13:34 Says, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." And in 15: 12, he reaffirms this commandment by saying, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. ... These things I command you, that ye love one another."

Matthew Poole comments on these verses by saying, "He had before pressed the keeping of his words, continuing and abiding in his words, keeping his commandments" This is of interest. Note that Christ did not use this verse to destroy any of the moral commandments that his disciples knew. Christ did not teach that his disciples nor us to consider the Ten Commandments invalid. Instead he calls this a new commandment. An additional one if you please.

Now in John 15:12 and 17 the apostle says about the same thing. Again, love is understood in the context of the scripture and not the secular understanding. According to Matthew Henry, "They are to show their love to him by keeping his commandments." Note here that both Poole and Henry agree. Love is the highest level of all the commandments, but it never serves to ignore other important moral commandments given in the scripture. In reality, it is governed by those moral laws. That is if you want to show your supreme love for God, you will do what God says. And because Christ dwells in you and empowers you you can keep the law in perfect love. You will have no difficulty determining right and wrong when living within the Biblical perimeters that God has set. Not to do so is not to love God. Just that simple. In other words, you should call sin what God calls sin no matter what our civil society calls it. Therefore, love should not be used to excuse any sinful life style or allow it to be embraced any more then any other sinful life style.

The real problem in our modern age is that we have stretched sins into illnesses. For example, just recently a government agency announced that obesity is now considered a disease. Please don't get me wrong here, there are those who have problems of being over weight because of their thyroids and other real physical issues. But the real reason why most people are fat is because they eat far to much. The Bible calls this gluttony which is generally considered a sin. In most cases gluttony leads to obesity. Therefore historically obesity was normally considered a sin and not a disease. Question. Because our society calls something a disease or life style, does that excuse it as a sin in the sight of God? The answer, if we are honest about it, is a resounding NO! This then is where the conflict comes into the church. How does the church speak out against such issues when the society around us no longer sees nothing wrong with certain sinful life styles? How does our opposition to such wrong behavior affect the commission to bring all nations to salvation through Christ his only Son?

This is in part at the heart of the current debate within the United Methodist church. The debate over the gay life style has now erupted into a full fledged forest fire with winds blowing from all directions. The big conference of all United Methodism will set within two years. And from now until that time the church will be treated to all sorts of strange Biblical interpretations and twisted logic from all sides of the issue, but the idea of love will be center. Therefore, in reality the Bible is at the heart of this debate. And the Bible, not the discipline, is timeless authority of the Church through all the ages and not just for the first century Christians. And like any debate, there will be opposing views by different groups of people. That is no different here. But there is one particular class that we seem to hear from far to often at times. They are the Peacemakers.

Peacemakers certainly are a blessed group of people. From Matthew chapter 5:9 we read, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Now no where from chapter five through seven do we get the slightest hint that Jesus approves of sin. It can be easily concluded then that these Peacemakers are not allowed to call that which God calls wrong anything less. If they do disrespect the moral teaching of God, or ignore holy living, or try to find ways to accommodate sin, they become more of a deceiver then a Peacemaker.

Modern Pacemakers will do all that he can to arrange a compromise. To stop the any split. The Pacemakers are found in all levels of United Methodism. Many modern Pacemakers have a tendency to gloss over the real issue. That is obedience is also required in loving God. Or mor bluntly, calling sin what God calls sin. For more years then you can count, these Pacemakers have won the day. They twist and turn truth until it can not be recognized just to keep the church together. Therefore, love has to be made into fitting a multitude of sins. For example how can we witness to the lost if we can not love each other enough to work things out. How can we fulfill the great commission of taking God's love into the world and we can't get along?

These are the fine folks who will do everything in their power to keep the split from happening. In an eariler article I mentioned a blogger. The bloggers name is Dr. Tennent. He posted several articles on how to achieve a compromise between the progressive life style faction and the poor stuck in the mud (my phrase) conservatives. He called for prayer, fasting, more "holy conferencing," dividing the church and letting the people vote and so on. None of these thing will work because of the lawlessness which the progressives have exhibited in politics and religious history over the course time. Because many favor this life style they simply refuse to enforce the agreements that the conference has already agreed upon. The same is true with the defense in marriage act which both branches the United States government agreed upon and signed into law. The current president simply refused to enforce it. The blindness to such trends is a fatal disease that many of these Peacemakers suffer from. It is selective blindness to the fact that the progressives will not live by what has been agree upon. Once this social cancer starts, there are few if any solutions left. But this will not hinder Dr. Tennent and other Peacemakers.

Many of these United Methodist Peacemakers will invoke the "Wesleyan traditions." These supposed traditions always seem to imply that Wesley and many who came after him had an open mindedness which many on the conservative don't grasp. Or they will hail the love by which the great evangelistic efforts of early Methodist lead the way in spreading the Love of God. They pretend an apprehension that if a split comes, what will become of the honest spiritual needs of those left within the bounds of the progressives?

One DS put it like this. If we have a split there will be those good people caught in churches that will still need the love of Jesus. How can we reach them if there is a split in the church? Hence, while he is a Bible Believing man, he errs in his concept of love and the "Catholic Spirit." This sort of idea implies that we must love them to Jesus. We must reach out and put the arms of love around them and bring them to Jesus. What real Bible Believing Methodist preacher wants to do different? But this side steps the issue here. It is not what we want, but what God wants us to do. The new commandment does not embrace those who call themselves brothers or preachers who insist on an anti-Biblical life style.

Since the Wesleyan traditions are invoked, perhaps we need to clear the deck on at least one of them. John Wesley has a group of sermons that we call his standard sermons. Among that group is one titled the "Catholic Spirit." All to many times this sermon is misunderstood as accepting almost anything or anyone who names the name of our Lord. That is no matter how they live, or what they believe, their sins, denying of scripture, and so on we should accept them. While we should not hate them, accepting their error into our circles is to serve no good propose for those who are lost and those who we say we are trying to reach.

In this sermon Wesley uses a phrase for such acceptance of sin. The phrase is "speculative latitudinarianism." The dictionary says latitudinarianism is "a tolerance or broadmindedness, especially in matters of religion; the liberal interpretation of beliefs or doctrines." With the word "speculative" in front of it, it becomes a lethal warning against those who have a loose view of sin. What Wesley is clearly saying is that the acceptance of sin just to get along is not what he means by a Catholic Spirit. Life styles that run against the moral laws of God, for Wesley, would not be include under the idea of a Catholic Spirit. Perfect love for him allowed God to determine the moral values by which a Church should live. In part, real love demands no tolerance of any sin whether personal or with in the family of Christ. The contrary has gone on in United Methodism and many other denominations in the name of love is nothing more then what Wesley would call "speculative latitudinarianism." Wesley says,

"For, from hence we may learn, first, that a catholic spirit is not speculative latitudinarianism. It is not an indifference to all opinions: this is the spawn of hell, not the offspring of heaven. This unsettledness of thought, this being "driven to and fro, and tossed about with every wind of doctrine," is a great curse, not a blessing, an irreconcilable enemy, not a friend, to true catholicism. A man of a truly catholic spirit has not now his religion to seek. He is fixed as the sun in his judgement concerning the main branches of Christian doctrine. It is true, he is always ready to hear and weigh whatsoever can be offered against his principles; but as this does not show any wavering in his own mind, so neither does it occasion any. He does not halt between two opinions, nor vainly endeavor to blend them into one. Observe this, you who know not what spirit ye are of: who call yourselves men of a catholic spirit, only because you are of a muddy understanding; because your mind is all in a mist; because you have no settled, consistent principles, but are for jumbling all opinions together. Be convinced, that you have quite missed your way; you know not where you are. You think you are got into the very spirit of Christ; when, in truth, you are nearer the spirit of Antichrist. Go, first, and learn the first elements of the gospel of Christ, and then shall you learn to be of a truly catholic spirit."

Therefore, the Peacemakers need to mark well what they are dealing with on this social issue. Wesley, the founder of that Wesleyan tradition they keep reminding Methodist of says "Observe this, you who know not what spirit ye are of: who call yourselves men of a catholic spirit, only because you are of a muddy understanding; because your mind is all in a mist; because you have no settled, consistent principles, but are for jumbling all opinions together. Be convinced, that you have quite missed your way; you know not where you are. You think you are got into the very spirit of Christ; when, in truth, you are nearer the spirit of Antichrist." Another part of that Wesleyan tradition is the teaching of sanctification or holiness. Some have expressed it as sinless perfection or perfect love. How can love justify a life style that the scripture condemns? Does embracing such a wrong style of living destroy the Wesleyan tradition?

These same Peacemakers, who are well intended, have been used all to many times over the course of Methodist history to gloss over some of the most serious crimes against God in United Methodism. How they could dare to be Peacemakers when one of their professors years ago said that God is dead I know not! Yet they would agree that was wrong, but to split the church, to purify the believers, they will not. There are a host of other issues which they defended in order to preserve the church. The Church victorious is made up only of those who believe, obey and follow Him. To the Peacemakers I would kindly say, choose you whom you will serve, the love god, or the God of Love. Peacemaking does not mean sin embracing for any unity of a church. This social issue is big just like any other sin. You can not so easily dismiss it in the name of love.

It is time to stand. It may well be that last time that God tries to call the United Methodist to take a stand for Him. From the embarrassment of denying God in front of all Christendom to the closed door of the bedroom, the Peacemakers work over time to preserve in the church what God does not want there. This you call it love and the Wesleyan tradition when in all honesty neither has anything to do with it. In this particular case to embrace the sinner, to love the sinner, to include the sinner, this time means that you are personally embracing their sin. Therefore you are deceived to think that you have the one without the other. When Peacemakers fear the bad press for Christ's sake if the church splits and fights publicly in the courts, they must remember, that this may be the fruit of making the wrong kind of peace over the years.

Those who oppose this life style must be careful in doing so. Seriously! Your love of Christ and the Church should not be evil spoken of. You to must keep yourself clean. You must have a passion for truth, and yet balance that with compassion for those who seem dense in their understanding. Through you, God may have finally found a voice in United Methodism. Many of you have been around for sometime. Yet the two main groups that seem to feed into or off you, the Confessing and Good News groups, are doctrinally silent on other Biblical doctrines of Methodism. So for you another burden must be added. Just what do you really believe my Brothers? I have personally found no scriptural error in Wesleys teaching on Arminianism. But many Confessing and Good News people never get there. They too run to the water god every chance they get seemingly thinking that a dip in the water proves they too believe the Bible. Some of them even embrace Calvinism, and other teach strange doctrines. So please, if a split comes, be Methodists for goodness sakes. Stand!

All the great Methodist preachers, theologians, and writer were by enlarge Arminian in belief until the turn of the twentieth century. It seems that at this time Methodism sold out to Darwian and German higher criticism. This hellish lie came in because of our schools. You can eliminate one of your problems by letting the progressives keep the seminaries. Most are so full of hate toward God that it would be better to start over. So really, the question after the split is then what? Another Baptist or fundamentalist church movement? A merry mix of theological Tom foolery? While these groups are holding the line, they are not altogether right concerning their theology. By standing for your Biblical Methodist Theology, you would be doing them a great favor.

Be strong brothers and 1. Preach the Gospel of Christ with all your might and soul. 2. Embrace with all your hearts love for each other and for those who are keeping his commandments. 3. Be Methodist Arminians. Believe that Book, the Book that Wesley, Luther and others believed. 4. Stand! Stand boldly against those who stand against our dear Lord who loved us first.

You can do it! WE can do it! So lets do it! We have a great cloud of witness cheering their guts out for us. Let us not however, be the ones that God speaks of in the Revelation. Let's return to our First Love. Let's become zealous and repent and avoid being spit our of God's mouth. Let's take John's advice and be zealous for His glory.

Dear Father, I praise your name for this issue. It is indeed an issue that has divided the many churches thus far, but it has united The Church in so doing. But the division is not a division at all. Simply put, you are separating your people from secular denominations who have long forgotten their holy heritage. You are calling out your people. Dear Father, call out the Methodist people from their spiritual slumber. Wake them up with the thunder of your word. Quicken them with the holy lightening of your Holy Spirit. Move your might power over these troubled water and times. And when these good people hear and follow and do the work of righteousness, reward us, O Lord, with the power of a revival. Dear God, let millions stand in the United from all denominations and particularly the Methodists. Let them stand in the north, south, east and west. Raise up Methodism again to be the leaders in evangelism, and defense of the faith. Be with those who want to stand. Give them a winning spirit to be able to persuade the peacemakers into doing the right thing for a change. That is to stand against what God calls sin! To separate from the sinner while still loving him. Give wisdom to those who love you O God that this may be a resounding victory for righteous no matter what. I praise your name for you are holy and lifted up. Your are the lover of our souls. You hold us in your hand. Dear God grant to us Methodists a real victory over this terrible life style. And in Jesus name, raise a powerful standard for yourself even in Washington, D.C. In Jesus Name, Amen!!

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. He has traveled once to Russia, three times to the Ukraine, and twice to England in a humble effort to help the missionaries spread the Gospel of Christ. After resigning form his pastorate in 2005, he supplies for other pastors when needed. 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.