Surprised by the Methodist!

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Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:51 am

I've been considering my options, now that I've come to believe in UR. Because of most churches' exclusive Statement of Faith, I cannot in good conscience join them knowing that I disagree with their SoF and knowing that it is such a big issue with them. And I am not one to just attend, fill a seat, and not get involved. I've tried to do this for a little while now and just cannot continue to do so. On top of that, I continue to get increasingly frustrated with these exclusive elements of the church we've been attending. From my perspective, UR vs. Hell or Annihilation is not an issue that should divide us and keep us from working together; I believe there needs to be room for differences of beliefs on this and many other issues. I believe that if we're loving God and loving one another then the rest of the stuff can work out.

Anyhow, this weekend at a wedding, I shared UR with some people I met and they said that's what they believed, they just didn't know that Universalism is what it was called. Their church focuses loving God and loving people in very practical ways and is open to a wide variety in beliefs and doctrine. They personally believed in UR, believing that such empowers them to stop worrying about who's in and who's out and simply love people, leaving judgment to God! It was an awesome conversation and I was greatly encouraged! And they attend a United Methodist congregation.

So in checking out this I've come to see that they are open to their members having a variety of beliefs. In fact, their focus is on praxis, practically loving one another and reaching out with love to those who do not know the Lord. Their focus seems to be more on "How to" as opposed to "What if".

I had never even considered the possibility of me becoming a Methodist, but the more I read about them, the more it seems that at heart I already am one, sharing their values and philosophy of life and ministry! I didn't know that there was such a denomination. I do wonder though how rigid they are and how open the local congregations are to growth and change. And coming from a Charismatic/Pentecostal background I'll likely miss the passionate and expressive worship, assuming that the worship services are more traditional. We'll see though.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:00 am

Hi Sherman,
i'm not sure what differences (if any) exist between the Methodists over there and the Methodists over here, but i can agree that i am quite favourable to them.
the style of service i've attended (while visiting my non Christian yet girlfriend) have been very similar to Church of England.
they seem quite liberal, and in fact the message preached at Easter was asking the question about why Jesus died...it interested me because rather than taking the normal route, the pastor(?) spoke about God intending to address man's fear of death. ie, if Christ demonstrates God's power over death, what is there to fear?
it was very interesting and thought provoking!

my assumption is that they are quite liberal and open-minded in many ways, and so it's been fun getting to know them, and instructive for me. i don't know if they are UR proponents but they are probably open to discussing it.

if this is in any way similar to the group you've found, i wish you well in joining with them!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:05 am

My take is that there is a wide range of Methodist theology.
The "we accept everybody" motto, which doesn't jive well with the concept of Church discipling is how they advertise. In my reading of Scripture, God's Spirit is not so "tolerant". It seems to me that the holiness of God is manifest in his punishments and discipling (ECT or UR or CI all claim this).
On the other side, I have heard of some biblically committed Methodist who haven't become intoxicated with the "spirit of the age".
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:18 am

I suppose I've come to the place that if I err, I choose to err on the side of Grace, Mercy, and acceptance and leave judgment to God. I've seen so much negativity, judgmentalism, and fear in the church that I'm sick of it! (The negativity, judgmentalism, and fear, not the church.)

From experience, I've found that church discipline is usually, almost always, rooted in pride, self-righteousness, fear, and even selfish ambition. I don't know that I have ever actually seen church discipline done in a manner and spirit that actually accomplished reconciliation. And I've never seen it done following the principles set out by our Lord.

So bring on a little liberalism and generosity and acceptance!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:23 am

Sherman wrote:I suppose I've come to the place that if I err, I choose to err on the side of Grace, Mercy, and acceptance and leave judgment to God. I've seen so much negativity, judgmentalism, and fear in the church that I'm sick of it! (The negativity, judgmentalism, and fear, not the church.)

From experience, I've found that church discipline is usually, almost always, rooted in pride, self-righteousness, fear, and even selfish ambition. I don't know that I have ever actually seen church discipline done in a manner and spirit that actually accomplished reconciliation. And I've never seen it done following the principles set out by our Lord.

So bring on a little liberalism and generosity and acceptance!


But don't we want to accurately represent God, the fact that He asks us to repent of our sins?
Whether congregations discipline like Jesus is a different matter than whether we teach what God has revealed.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:02 am

roofus wrote:But don't we want to accurately represent God, the fact that He asks us to repent of our sins?
Whether congregations discipline like Jesus is a different matter than whether we teach what God has revealed.

Of course we want to "accurately represent God" as best we can. And teaching and preaching what is right and good can be done in the context of grace, mercy, and acceptance. Yes we need to teach repentance; but it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance! It's the love, acceptance, grace, and mercy of God that empowers us to live right. Of course we need to teach what God has revealed, but/and we need to do so in the Spirit that He gave it.

Yes we need to call for change, a change of heart, mind, and lifestyles! God desires to give us an abundant life, a life filled with His love, grace, mercy, righteousness, and truth! And it requires repentance to embrace such. He desires for us to be whole personally and relationally, for our towns, cities, countries to be filled with the knowledge of His Word and Truth because He loves us. We who have been reconciled are called to a ministry of reconciliation!

And I believe that the above is best accomplished in a spirit of humility, grace, and acceptance. Such a presence is like cool spring of water to a man dying in the desert. After displaying tremendous acceptance grace and forgiveness, Jesus encouraged the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more". But the "go and sin no more" followed the grace and forgiveness.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:32 am

Officially, the United Methodists do preach repentance from sin unto salvation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Methodists

http://www.umc.org/

They're relatively conservative; but I've heard for some time that they unofficially allow universalism to be held privately and debated among specialists without penalties as a legitimate theological opinion so long as it isn't claimed to be the official doctrine of the church or in such a way as to interfere with necessary doctrines. (i.e. much the way the Eastern Orthodox do.)

Officially, though, they're Arminian and so non-universalistic:

The framers of The Confession of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, back in the 60s and still held officially today, wrote:Article XII—The Judgment and the Future State

We believe all men stand under the righteous judgment of Jesus Christ, both now and in the last day. We believe in the resurrection of the dead; the righteous to life eternal and the wicked to endless condemnation.



Worth looking into anyway. :)
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby amy » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:21 pm

Sherman, thanks for sharing and let us know how it goes. Maybe this is an option for Gene and I to try too. We have one in our city. In fact, it was the church Gene attended as a little boy. I wonder what his thoughts are on this. I'll have to ask him. I agree, too, with you, better to err on the side of mercy!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby TotalVictory » Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:01 pm

Well Sherman, as one who has read and admired your contribution and witness here, I think this is just cool.
But keep in mind, you may have simply stumbled upon a particularly enlightened congregation.
So where ever this goes, whatever you do/decide, I bless you to the top of my lungs! (I love mixed metaphors!)

But here's a thing... And I wrestle with it all the time...
... IS my task to "find" a place where I feel comfortable? A place where they seem amenable to the beliefs I already hold?
... OR -- am I being called to bloom where I am planted: to be a witness to the truths I hold dear, in a place which has not yet (takes optimism this...) seen this vision...

No matter what you do, or where you go, this always holds: Be faithful to the vision of the Lord you now adore and worship...
He will bless you if you do this no matter what/where you decide to go...

My take
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:56 pm

amy wrote:Sherman, thanks for sharing and let us know how it goes. Maybe this is an option for Gene and I to try too. We have one in our city. In fact, it was the church Gene attended as a little boy. I wonder what his thoughts are on this. I'll have to ask him. I agree, too, with you, better to err on the side of mercy!


But you guys, WHY ERR?
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:55 am

roofus wrote:
amy wrote:Sherman, thanks for sharing and let us know how it goes. Maybe this is an option for Gene and I to try too. We have one in our city. In fact, it was the church Gene attended as a little boy. I wonder what his thoughts are on this. I'll have to ask him. I agree, too, with you, better to err on the side of mercy!


But you guys, WHY ERR?


:roll: I don't think they're saying we should insist on erring on the side of mercy when we know the truth is the other way.

The concept, rather, is that where the result is ambiguous we should risk erring on the side of mercy rather than of non-mercy, since we have been explicitly told (especially by Christ!) what's going to happen if we refuse to act in mercy.

It's also a popular argument to risk erring on the side of non-mercy, so that any errors won't be disappointing. :)
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:35 am

roofus wrote:
amy wrote:Sherman, thanks for sharing and let us know how it goes. Maybe this is an option for Gene and I to try too. We have one in our city. In fact, it was the church Gene attended as a little boy. I wonder what his thoughts are on this. I'll have to ask him. I agree, too, with you, better to err on the side of mercy!


But you guys, WHY ERR?


I trust you said that tongue-n-cheek. I appreciate the humor.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:15 am

Jason,

You're correct, UR is not the Methodist official doctrine, but one they are open to. Their philosophy of ministry is different from Protestant churches. Their foundation is not their Statement of Faith, but their common love for God and love, respect for one another, and mission to make disciples of Christ. In fact, they have two statements of faith, at least the United Methodist do, one Methodist and the other from the Brethren church. The Methodist one doesn't mention punishment, but the Bretheren one does mention eternal punishment. Their foundation not being their Statement of Faith though affords members the room to have personal convictions on many different issues, including UR/Hell/Annihilation.

It's a significantly different philosophy of ministry from Protestant churches that are founded upon specific systematic theologies, where the Statement of Faith is the tool used to Exclude others. Apparently Protestants believe that we cannot love and worship God "together" unless we all agree upon various lists of beliefs. There is little or no room for honest and respectful disagreement. And yet from experience I've found that most believers do not ever even read the Statement of Faith, and many don't agree with everything in their chruch's SoF.

Well, I haven't visited a local Methodist church yet, but hope to do so soon. There are three in my little town.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:38 am

TotalVictory wrote:Well Sherman, as one who has read and admired your contribution and witness here, I think this is just cool.
But keep in mind, you may have simply stumbled upon a particularly enlightened congregation.
So where ever this goes, whatever you do/decide, I bless you to the top of my lungs! (I love mixed metaphors!)

Thanks Bod, I appreciate you too.

But here's a thing... And I wrestle with it all the time...
... IS my task to "find" a place where I feel comfortable? A place where they seem amenable to the beliefs I already hold?
... OR -- am I being called to bloom where I am planted: to be a witness to the truths I hold dear, in a place which has not yet (takes optimism this...) seen this vision...


The passage where Jesus said that one should not take new wine and pour it into an old wine skin speaks powerfully to me. This is especially true for "new" doctrines to Protestant churches. When a new doctrine comes in, it usually, if not always, results in the church splitting, and some people getting so disallusioned that they just give up on church all together. In the Charismatic movement I've seen this happen a lot.

Now church splits are not totally bad; in fact, I think they are one of the primary means that God uses to expand the Kingdom. Splits are often a "dysfuntional" way of planting new churches, kinda like a C-section instead of natural child birth. C-sections are invasive, violent, and dangerous, but sometimes necessary.

No matter what you do, or where you go, this always holds: Be faithful to the vision of the Lord you now adore and worship...
He will bless you if you do this no matter what/where you decide to go...

My take
TotalVictory
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Thanks for the encouragement Bob. I've wrestled with starting a fellowship but the door has not opened for that yet. And I'd much rather work with an existing fellowship than start a new one. Right now I'm just looking for a fellowship where my wife, family, and I can worship together in peace. I've tried to set my passions and gifts aside and just sit on a pew, enjoy worship, and keep my mouth shut - but it kills me. I've always participated and it's difficult for me to just sit. Well, anyhow, thanks again for your encouragement.

Blessings,
Sherman
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:41 am

JasonPratt wrote:
roofus wrote:
amy wrote:Sherman, thanks for sharing and let us know how it goes. Maybe this is an option for Gene and I to try too. We have one in our city. In fact, it was the church Gene attended as a little boy. I wonder what his thoughts are on this. I'll have to ask him. I agree, too, with you, better to err on the side of mercy!


But you guys, WHY ERR?


:roll: I don't think they're saying we should insist on erring on the side of mercy when we know the truth is the other way.

The concept, rather, is that where the result is ambiguous we should risk erring on the side of mercy rather than of non-mercy, since we have been explicitly told (especially by Christ!) what's going to happen if we refuse to act in mercy.

It's also a popular argument to risk erring on the side of non-mercy, so that any errors won't be disappointing. :)


The issue here seems to be looking for a church that accurately teaches Jesus's teachings. I'm not sure that we have to compromise regarding the matter of how God "accepts people". This seems to me to be at the heart of the message of the Gospel: how to be reconciled with God. I think that a church that "accepts people as they are" as their message is being unclear about the message. Did Jesus "accept people as they are"? No, I don't think He did. I think that He clearly asks everybody to change.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:27 am

But Jesus did accept people where they were at, and then showed them how to change for the better. That is the difference.

The inclusivist says, come and join me on my journey. The exclusivist says, convert or die (or these days, be excluded from the group).

Sherman seems to have found a group that takes the inclusivist route.


Which one are you likely to want to change to be more like?
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:35 am

Sigh,

I think topics got conflated somehow back upthread.

You had expressed concern that the big-tent inclinations of the UMs (despite the very conservative foundational docs of the United Methodists) were for some congregations so big that the inclinations conflicted with "discipling". (Actually, the UM bishop assembly has regularly defrocked clergy who insisted on operating outside doctrinal boundaries, but whatever.) I took this to mean doctrinal discipling, but Sherman seems to have thought you were talking about "disciplining". The two topics are related, of course, but as you yourself mentioned afterward "Whether congregations discipline like Jesus is a different matter than whether we teach what God has revealed."

Sherman agreed that there was a distinction between them; acknowledged that they were also necessarily related; affirmed that accurately representing God as best we can is something we want (and ought) to do as faithful Christians, and that we need to teach what God has revealed; affirmed that teaching repentance and a call for a change of heart, mind and lifestyles is part of our evangelical duty--all of which fits with affirming the importance of "discipling" and of not watering down the doctrinal an penitent importance of "discipling"--and then went on to connect this with "disciplining" by concluding (on the basis of some standard theological doctrines) that any disciplining ought to be done in better ways than what he had experienced and was complaining about. (A complaint you seemed to agree was valid but distinct from the larger process of discipling.)

Amy agreed with Sherman about erring on the side of mercy when it comes to the church discipline process that Sherman was complaining about never being done correctly in his experience (not when it comes to larger questions of making disciples).

Your reply to her agreement about this was "But you guys, WHY ERR?"

Frankly, I wasn't sure which topic you were asking about (since you had seemed to agree that an unmerciful church discipline process was wrong but distinct from doctrinal and penitence evangelism which you were concerned the United Methodist congregations weren't strong enough on. Assuming you had the UMs specifically in mind, which is who Sherman and the others were talking about, and not Methodists in general or another Methodist body.) Were you emphatically asking "why err" on the side of mercy in the church discipline process?--which is what they were talking about. Or "why err" on the side of mercy in promoting and teach church doctrines and penitential evangelism?--which they had already agreed shouldn't be done. (Thus Sherman's guess that you were trying to be tongue-in-cheek humorous.)

Consequently I tried to phrase my reply so that it could apply either way. Which, although I thought I was being usefully multi-purpose, maybe didn't help matters after all. ;)
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:30 am

roofus wrote: The issue here seems to be looking for a church that accurately teaches Jesus's teachings. I'm not sure that we have to compromise regarding the matter of how God "accepts people". This seems to me to be at the heart of the message of the Gospel: how to be reconciled with God. I think that a church that "accepts people as they are" as their message is being unclear about the message. Did Jesus "accept people as they are"? No, I don't think He did. I think that He clearly asks everybody to change.


Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him. Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. But his acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented. Rather His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance. Repentance is not a requirement of grace.

To me the heart of the Gospel is that God was/is in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself. The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt. It was God's love and acceptance of me that drew me to Him. And it was the love and acceptance of people that revealed to me the love of God.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:34 am

JasonPratt wrote:Consequently I tried to phrase my reply so that it could apply either way. Which, although I thought I was being usefully multi-purpose, maybe didn't help matters after all. ;)

I always appreciate your participation Jason. Thanks.

And on threads like this, not discussing a specific topic, it's okay to ramble, I think, and just go wherever the conversation takes us or those involved want to go.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:42 am

It seems that the Methodist have a significantly different Philosophy of Ministry. Protestantism is founded upon their Statement of Faiths, doctrines that they believe to be correct. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter how much one loves God and loves people, if one does not agree with everything in the SoF, then one cannot be part of that fellowship. Mutual love and respect for God and one another is not enough and there is little, if any, room for differing understandings of scripture. I look forward to visiting a few Methodist congregations and will keep you informed.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:46 am

Sherman makes a good point related to numerous already/not-yet positions taken in the scriptures.

God doesn't wait until His people are perfect before accepting them. He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, which involves them renouncing their sins.

What God doesn't accept (although He may "wink" at it, as St. Paul very daringly puts it, in longsuffering patience) is impenitent sinning. In that regard alone, subsidarily to the overall acceptance of the person (since without continuing active grace from God the person could not continue to exist at all even as a sinner abusing the grace of God), God can be said not to accept the person either.

This pattern is complex, but I think it is demonstrably and routinely repeated in the scriptures at many levels, whether we're talking about the pre-Abrahamic people, pre-Mosaic Jews and Gentiles, post-Mosaic Jews and Gentiles, or post-Messianic Jews and Gentiles.

The complexity and nuance, however, can lead to confusion, especially when various portions of the total situation are also routinely stressed (with exceedingly strong language no less.)
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:48 am

Methodists protest Western (and Eastern) Catholicism claims, too, you know. ;)

(Heck, they protest Anglicanism to some extent!--being a direct offshoot not strictly identifiable with it.)
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby dirtboy » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:37 pm

The UM's are different everywhere you go! I went to a conservative UM church from 1993 to 2002. The church was conservative, but that was quite maverick for the conference which was quite liberal. The conference wanted to break it up and they did so by sending our pastor away and replacing him (the UM church very frequently changes their pastors by re appointment) with a pastor who gave a young man in the congregation an American Indian prayer book for his birthday. We grilled this pastor when he was up for appointment and he claimed to believe in the various things we asked him about, but after he was appointed, he showed his true colors. He was more of an "all roads lead to God" kind of guy and the church fell apart, just as they wished.

The years I was there, it was a great church, though I wasn't into UR at the time. They started a modern church service and my brother, a non methodist, became the pastor of that service. It was very maverick for them. I think you might find a UM church that could fit in with your beliefs, but it would more likely be a matter of luck since every congregation can be different.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:54 pm

Sherman wrote:
roofus wrote: The issue here seems to be looking for a church that accurately teaches Jesus's teachings. I'm not sure that we have to compromise regarding the matter of how God "accepts people". This seems to me to be at the heart of the message of the Gospel: how to be reconciled with God. I think that a church that "accepts people as they are" as their message is being unclear about the message. Did Jesus "accept people as they are"? No, I don't think He did. I think that He clearly asks everybody to change.


Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him. Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. But his acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented. Rather His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance. Repentance is not a requirement of grace.

To me the heart of the Gospel is that God was/is in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself. The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt. It was God's love and acceptance of me that drew me to Him. And it was the love and acceptance of people that revealed to me the love of God.


Those are interesting thoughts. So you would say that discipleship is optional to be saved? But without faith it is impossible to please God!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:06 am

roofus wrote:
Sherman wrote:
roofus wrote: The issue here seems to be looking for a church that accurately teaches Jesus's teachings. I'm not sure that we have to compromise regarding the matter of how God "accepts people". This seems to me to be at the heart of the message of the Gospel: how to be reconciled with God. I think that a church that "accepts people as they are" as their message is being unclear about the message. Did Jesus "accept people as they are"? No, I don't think He did. I think that He clearly asks everybody to change.


Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him. Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. But his acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented. Rather His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance. Repentance is not a requirement of grace.

To me the heart of the Gospel is that God was/is in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself. The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt. It was God's love and acceptance of me that drew me to Him. And it was the love and acceptance of people that revealed to me the love of God.


Those are interesting thoughts. So you would say that discipleship is optional to be saved? But without faith it is impossible to please God!

the best my poor brain could come up with is that true discipleship must come after the grace, and grace is a free gift to those who believe...
but grace is offered while we're still sinners, so we "accept" it by believing it...and then God starts to disciple us.
He does not require that we change as soon as we meet Him. He is the one that is faithful to bring to completion what He has begun in us.

i'd summarise by saying discipleship is the child of God's love (as demonstrated by grace) and our faith in His ability to help us change
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:50 am

dirtboy wrote:The UM's are different everywhere you go! I went to a conservative UM church from 1993 to 2002. The church was conservative, but that was quite maverick for the conference which was quite liberal. The conference wanted to break it up and they did so by sending our pastor away and replacing him (the UM church very frequently changes their pastors by re appointment) with a pastor who gave a young man in the congregation an American Indian prayer book for his birthday. We grilled this pastor when he was up for appointment and he claimed to believe in the various things we asked him about, but after he was appointed, he showed his true colors. He was more of an "all roads lead to God" kind of guy and the church fell apart, just as they wished.


I'm pretty sure this is the sort of thing Roofus is complaining about. Which is not the same thing that Sherm (and others) are complaining about. Which Roofus agrees with them in complaining about, as they agree with him in complaining about this--but for some reason Roofus wants them to be not complaining about this and complaining about what they agree with him on instead.

sigh.

So for example:

Sherman, in replying to Roofus wrote:Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. [...] His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance.


Roofus, in replying to that wrote:Those are interesting thoughts. So you would say that discipleship is optional to be saved?


Image

He was talking about Jesus leading sinners into repentance from their sins so as to make His disciples of them (instead of being rebels against Him). How is this in any way a denial that discipleship is optional to be saved??!

But of course, you weren't replying to (or even accounting in) those portions, Roofus. You were only looking at the other parts:

Sherman also, in replying to Roofus wrote:Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him... His acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented... Repentance is not a requirement of grace... The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt.


But this is only to say what no Calv or (thoughtful) Arm would ever deny: namely that God (including in and as Jesus) doesn't wait for us to repent before acting to reconcile us to Himself, or even before accepting us despite our sins. We don't earn God's salvation. We don't convince God to desire a relationship with us by saving ourselves from our sins.

Loving the sinner but hating the sin. Loving the sinner involves accepting people "as they are" even though they're sinners. Hating the sin involves recognizing they're sinning and leading them out of that.

That's what Sherman is talking about. He isn't talking about, much less advocating, what you're complaining about, namely ignoring the sin and not calling people to repent of it. He and other people here (not only you) are concerned about being careful not to get involved in a congregation of that sort.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:09 am

sorry Roofus but Jason's right...and LOL to Picard
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:21 am

roofus wrote:
Sherman wrote:Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him. Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. But his acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented. Rather His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance. Repentance is not a requirement of grace.

To me the heart of the Gospel is that God was/is in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself. The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt. It was God's love and acceptance of me that drew me to Him. And it was the love and acceptance of people that revealed to me the love of God.


Those are interesting thoughts. So you would say that discipleship is optional to be saved? But without faith it is impossible to please God!


Nope, wouldn't say that at all. I'd say that salvation was the beginning, the start, the foundation, and goal of discipleship, AND without faith it is impossible to please God. The kingdom of God is both now and not yet, today and to come!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:43 am

Sherman wrote:
roofus wrote:
Sherman wrote:Actually, I think Jesus did accept people as they are. Sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors were drawn to Him. Did He encourage them to change? Of course he did. But his acceptance of them was not based on them having already repented. Rather His acceptance of them produced in them the desire, will, and strength to repent. Grace produced repentance. Repentance is not a requirement of grace.

To me the heart of the Gospel is that God was/is in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself. The good news is that God loves us, accepts us, and desires a relationship with us no matter how big of a mess we're in or we are. That's good news for someone who is as big as a mess as I am! If grace and salvation was dependent upon my goodness one iota, man, I'd be in a world of hurt. It was God's love and acceptance of me that drew me to Him. And it was the love and acceptance of people that revealed to me the love of God.


Those are interesting thoughts. So you would say that discipleship is optional to be saved? But without faith it is impossible to please God!


Nope, wouldn't say that at all. I'd say that salvation was the beginning, the start, the foundation, and goal of discipleship, AND without faith it is impossible to please God. The kingdom of God is both now and not yet, today and to come!

auuugh much more elegantly put than i managed! well said, sir!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:21 am

Thanks James.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:45 am

Hi Sherman,
Boy that didn't make *any* sense to me. Can you explain that or at least direct me to some scholars that can explicate such?
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:54 am

roofus wrote:Hi Sherman,
Boy that didn't make *any* sense to me. Can you explain that or at least direct me to some scholars that can explicate such?
r

try reading it again, and a bit slower?
was 100% clear to me
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:40 am

corpselight wrote:
roofus wrote:Hi Sherman,
Boy that didn't make *any* sense to me. Can you explain that or at least direct me to some scholars that can explicate such?
r

try reading it again, and a bit slower?
was 100% clear to me


Don't be rude. You aren't infallible and are capable of being decieved as much as anyone else. Because something is clear to you "don't mean a thing". It's clear to atheists that there is no God.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:11 am

roofus wrote:Hi Sherman,
Boy that didn't make *any* sense to me. Can you explain that or at least direct me to some scholars that can explicate such?
r

What do you not understand specifically? To expand upon my points though:

I believe that salvation is the beginning and end of discipleship. On one hand, we do not begin being disciples of Christ and growing in Christ likeness until we are saved. On the other hand scripture affirms that we are to work out our own salvation, becoming more like Christ every day. And from another perspective, our salvation was accomplished in Christ through his sacrifice. And from another perspective we do not fully become like Jesus until we see Him face to face on that day. etc. etc. etc. Salvation is like a diamond with many different facets and hughs.

And concerning the Kingdom of God being both now and not yet, it's a common means of referencing the very present reality of the Kingdom while all the while reconizing that it is not fully seen/understood/experienced yet by us. The kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future hope for us.
Last edited by Sherman on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby corpselight » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:13 am

roofus wrote:
corpselight wrote:
roofus wrote:Hi Sherman,
Boy that didn't make *any* sense to me. Can you explain that or at least direct me to some scholars that can explicate such?
r

try reading it again, and a bit slower?
was 100% clear to me


Don't be rude. You aren't infallible and are capable of being decieved as much as anyone else. Because something is clear to you "don't mean a thing". It's clear to atheists that there is no God.

i don't know how i could've been more polite! i just suggest you read it again. i am definitely not infallible, and many many things are unclear to me. but sometimes i reread something and it makes sense.

a) you've suggested that we are saying that it's unimportant for people to be discipled...and that sin is OK and let's all be happy
b) we've said that isn't the case...but discipleship must come from a place of love...and if someone hasn't experienced grace, how can they be discipled? you can't disciple an atheist, for example, until he accepts the grace.

so...where is your problem with what's been said?
what isn't clear to me is why you have any issue with what people are telling you? it's fine to question and debate...but this is getting ludicrous.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:57 am

corpselight,
I apologize for getting you wrong. Sorry, man. I don't think that the speed at which I read it will make much difference, as these are issues that I am quite familiar with and I have found much confusion from many angles (so it isn't such a simple matter that it could be resolved by reading it slower!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:17 pm

corpselight wrote:sorry Roofus but Jason's right...and LOL to Picard

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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Let's try to narrow the topics a bit. Here is what I have seen among some Methodists: the message seems to be that God accepts you as you are (to the unbeliever). Perhaps this is true in one sense as Jesus trys to woo the unbeliever into a covenant relationship. But here is what is *so* often left out (it seems to me that Sherman left it out, but I may have to check again. I only heard one aspect of how Jesus views the unbeliever.

But it is also true that the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever. I mean, that is what Jesus said, right? Seems obvious to me. I won't ask you to "read more slowly", just read it for what it says :) I know that it is a painful verse, but it needs to be accepted.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:16 am

roofus wrote:I only heard one aspect of how Jesus views the unbeliever.


Well, Sherman talked explicitly about of Jesus viewing the unbeliever as someone who needs accepting by God first before they can be saved.

And Sherman talked explicitly about Jesus viewing the unbeliever as a sinner who needs repenting of their sins in order to be saved.

That's two aspects. Which one of those did you hear and not the other?

roofus wrote:But it is also true that the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever.


I'm pretty sure Sherman has elsewhere affirmed that God punishes impenitent sinners, and keeps on doing so for as long as they remain impenitent. (We have ultra-u's here, as you know, but I don't recall Sherman being one. I know several of the other people in this thread aren't either, myself and Sonia prominently. Every ultra-universalist I have met on this site, however, still affirms the two things Sherman did.)

I don't recall him explicitly mentioning God's wrath on impenitent sinners here--probably because the topic hadn't specifically come up yet--but it fits conceptually under his affirmation that sinners need repenting of their sins in order to be saved from their sins.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:21 am

Jn.3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

As long as a person does not believe in Jesus, he will not see (percieve, understand, embrace, experience) LIFE, and in fact, he continues to live under a sence of God being angry at him, cut off from abundant life in Christ. Note though that this statment doesn't imply that the person will never repent, either in this life or post-mortem. In fact, it is meant to inspire people to repent and put their faith in Jesus so that they might have Life!

Concerning whether or not repentance is left out of the message of the Methodists, I know not. If so, they've departed far from the message of John Weasley their founder. They do appear to be much more inclusive in their approach to minstry and life than Evangelicals, but that's part of the reason I'm attracted to them. In evangelical circles, it really doesn't matter how much one practically loves God and loves people, what matters is what one believes. One can be a member of the church though he be a drunk, mean man, IF he says he believes everything in their statement of faith. But if one disagrees with anything on the statement of faith, it doesn't matter how much the person loves God, his fellow man, and lives a righteous life-style, he cannot be a member of that church. Something's wrong with this picture, I believe.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:31 am

A biblical example of post-mortem salvation - Jonah.

Jonah rebelled against God, fleeing His presence, drowned, died, and in Sheol (the grave, realm of the dead, "Hell") feeling cut off from God, in torment, repented, turned his face to God, prayed, and God heard his cry, saved him, and even brought him back to physical life and set him back in the ministry where he continued to repent, grow, learn.

The wrath of God that lasts but a moment, but His love endures forever!
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Gem » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:49 am

I have appreciated Sherman's posts as well, but I hear roofus.

...based on my personal experience with a church going, seminary trained, christian professor, evangelical christian husband who was a porn using sex addict (strip clubs, and a couple seasons of adultery- one of them while we were church supported missionaries). The way I handled it where he kept on dabbling in it looks a lot like "mercy and acceptance" (I call it enabling and dumb. It was "hell on earth" for me and the children). The way I handled it where he finally stopped sure does not LOOK like mercy and acceptance. "Get out of the house. I'll give you 40 days to cease and desist all of your addictions, or I'm filing these divorce papers I have all filled out".

God never FORCES anyone to stay around. And if they stay around, seems to me as though the dross must GO.

Nevertheless, Sherman, keep us posted on your methodist experience. One of our old friends is a methodist minister. They are encouraged NOT to get attached to their church; to avoid attachment, they move them around every 2-3 years, so the atmosphere of the church may change depending who is the pastor.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:43 am

Thanks Gem for sharing. And I completely agree that love has a tough side. We must hold eachother accountable to righteousness. Tough-love is needed many times in relationships. And God uses tough love with us, in this life and the one to come. Judgment I see as tough love and fully expect the fire of truth to burn the hell out of us! The difference between UR and ECT is seen in that UR affirms judgment and punishment of sin, but such flows from the love and acceptance of God and has a positive purpose; it's tough-love. ECT affirms that judgment and punishment of sin flows inspite of the love of God, and ultimately only has a negative purpose, vengeance and even the continuation of bondage to evil from within and without. People are locked into their sin instead of delivered from it. In ECT, the kingdom of Satan knows no end; he forever torments the tormented and perverts what was created to be good.

The more I look into the Methodist denomination, the more I think it might be an ok place for my family and I to rest for awhile, but I doubt that I'd fit in it as a minister because of the denomination moving ministers around so much. That's one thing I don't see as being healthy, as a rule. I don't know though for I've never experienced that. Ultimately I think I'll need to start a fellowship, but until I have unity in my family I feel that I cannot do so. I pray and trust the Lord for His will to be done in due season, and would appreciate your prayers too as I do my best to discern the will of the Lord.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Melchizedek » Fri Jul 15, 2011 2:27 pm

Gem wrote:I have appreciated Sherman's posts as well, but I hear roofus.

...based on my personal experience with a church going, seminary trained, christian professor, evangelical christian husband who was a porn using sex addict (strip clubs, and a couple seasons of adultery- one of them while we were church supported missionaries). The way I handled it where he kept on dabbling in it looks a lot like "mercy and acceptance" (I call it enabling and dumb. It was "hell on earth" for me and the children). The way I handled it where he finally stopped sure does not LOOK like mercy and acceptance. "Get out of the house. I'll give you 40 days to cease and desist all of your addictions, or I'm filing these divorce papers I have all filled out".

God never FORCES anyone to stay around. And if they stay around, seems to me as though the dross must GO.

Nevertheless, Sherman, keep us posted on your methodist experience. One of our old friends is a methodist minister. They are encouraged NOT to get attached to their church; to avoid attachment, they move them around every 2-3 years, so the atmosphere of the church may change depending who is the pastor.


I appreciate your practical insight here, Gem. It reminds me a lot of McLaren's discussion in The Secret Message of Jesus of inclusivism vs. exclusivism. Everyone is included, but they have to make the choice to participate in the kingdom; they cannot be part of it until they do. The dross must indeed go; the robes have to be washed clean, or there is no entry! But once they are, they may partake of the life there freely and without cost.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby roofus » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:28 pm

JasonPratt wrote:Sherman makes a good point related to numerous already/not-yet positions taken in the scriptures.

God doesn't wait until His people are perfect before accepting them. He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, which involves them renouncing their sins.

What God doesn't accept (although He may "wink" at it, as St. Paul very daringly puts it, in longsuffering patience) is impenitent sinning. In that regard alone, subsidarily to the overall acceptance of the person (since without continuing active grace from God the person could not continue to exist at all even as a sinner abusing the grace of God), God can be said not to accept the person either.

This pattern is complex, but I think it is demonstrably and routinely repeated in the scriptures at many levels, whether we're talking about the pre-Abrahamic people, pre-Mosaic Jews and Gentiles, post-Mosaic Jews and Gentiles, or post-Messianic Jews and Gentiles.

The complexity and nuance, however, can lead to confusion, especially when various portions of the total situation are also routinely stressed (with exceedingly strong language no less.)



When you said: "He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, which involves them renouncing their sins", what is the "which" that you are referring to? Is it:
1) Perfection which involves them renouncing their sins, or
2) His acceptance which involves them renouncing their sins?
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby firstborn888 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:23 am

United Methodist ministers are given a lot of theological leeway. Basically if you keep "Jesus" in the equation somewhere then you're officially okay. So - UMCs can range from fundie type dogma all the way to very liberal beliefs - including UR.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Sherman » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:47 am

This last Sunday, my family and I visited an interdenominational church in Hendersonville TN, about 30 minutes from where I live, and I'm very suprised to find that they describe themselves as interdenominational and inclusive. I haven't met with the pastor yet, but I think they are open to UR. We'll see. It's a large church, probably 1000 people or so, and they seem to have a lot going for them. I hope to find a fellowship where my wife (an infernalist) and I (a universalist) can worship together.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:39 pm

roofus wrote:
JasonPratt wrote:God doesn't wait until His people are perfect before accepting them. He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, which involves them renouncing their sins.



When you said: "He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, which involves them renouncing their sins", what is the "which" that you are referring to? Is it:
1) Perfection which involves them renouncing their sins, or
2) His acceptance which involves them renouncing their sins?


Sorry I never got around to answering that.

I meant the "leads them" by the "which". So to rephrase, "He accepts them and then leads them to perfection, a leading which involves them renouncing their sins."

Sinners don't have to renounce their sins before God accepts us enough to act to save us from our sins, but neither are sinners expected to first become perfect and then renounce our sins.
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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby Matt Wiley » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:29 pm

I've been thinking of checking out a United Methodist church in my area too. They seem to be pretty open-minded and non-judgmental. I'll try to check it out sometime after Thanksgiving. I'll let you all know how it goes when I do. :)

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Re: Surprised by the Methodist!

Postby firstborn888 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:28 am

JasonPratt wrote:God punishes impenitent sinners, and keeps on doing so for as long as they remain impenitent.
I know we've covered this ground before but AISI there is no punishment beyond the emptiness of the sin state itself. The "wrath of God" was and is a metaphor describing life outside of the knowledge of paradise (ie: all mankind was driven out of the garden because the first couple disobeyed).

In real life we see that the same tragedies befall both the good and the evil. The only difference is that Christians (generally) call one "the wrath of God" and the other "tests". Tribulation and anguish comes upon the soul which is missing the mark and it comes from the fact that the mark is being missed. In this state humans behave crazily because they are clueless to God's full and unconditional love. To picture God smacking around sinners in anger because they have the sin dis-ease is a ridiculous and unreal image. Seeing the Father as He is is the only thing which cures one from the sin-state mindset.

FWIW - becoming a "believer" in the Christian sense doesn't necessarily free the mind or spirit or body from anguish/torment. Until repentance is granted no one repents. Even people who desperately WANT to have a change of heart many times cannot. Yet - an open knowledge of God's goodness and perfection cures everything, every anxiety. So any "wrath" or anguish I am experiencing stems from a lack of knowing the truth - that God is holding NOTHING against me or anyone else. It is our adventure and journey to return from our exiled state (a state which includes our vain imaginations about an angry/wrathful God) by realizing the truth of what is happening here and why, and it's NOT because God is angry at impenitent sinners. I know some will say "but the scripture says" but it is mystery layered upon mystery. These things are purposely hidden, and it is our honor to search them out.

That the modern Methodists are leaning toward a more liberal theological mindset is a very positive thing AISI. Of course - fundies hate change and many will stick to their literalist guns to the very end. But I don't dislike blind people for not seeing, I just feel sorry for them.
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