Wesley’s Followers Have Changed!
THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Massive changes have occurred during the past two and a half centuries since John Wesley initiated his movement in England to revive the Anglican Church. Although Wesley never broke with the Church of England during his lifetime, his movement soon became a separate denomination that we know as the Methodist Church. Although there are many different branches, the largest one by far is the United Methodist Church, an 11 million member body that was formed in 1968 when the Methodist Church and the United Brethren Church combined to form the present church body.
The Methodist Church became one of the leading liberal bodies in the United States in the nineteenth century. Today, it is the second largest Protestant Denomination in this country, second only to the Southern Baptist Church. In the 1800s, Methodist administrators, leaders and educators were in the forefront of the liberalizing trend, accepting the modernist mindset, which included evolutionary theories. Quite frankly, the latter half of the nineteenth century saw the degeneration of once was a comparatively conservative denomination. At that time and in the succeeding years, all of the Methodist seminaries and colleges accepted liberal thought. The Free Methodist Church, Fundamentalist Methodist Church, Evangelical Methodist Church, and other smaller bodies broke away from the parent body as they attempted to maintain some faithfulness to Scripture and Wesleys original views.
A 10-day General Conference of the United Methodist Church recently concluded in Fort Worth, Texas. I found the report of the results of this conference to be interesting as well as revealing. Consider the following points.
The report stated that 66% of the delegates rejected a measure that would have changed the Methodist definition of marriage to include homosexual unions. Some 63% rejected a related measure that would have permitted the ordination of homosexual men and women into the ministry. Along with this, 60% supported a resolution that opposed what they called homophobia and heterosexism. Does something seem amiss here? This would indicate that 34% would have accepted sodomite unions and 37% would be in favor of accepting sodomites and lesbians as pastors! Can we imagine that John Wesley would have tolerated this kind of immoral position? While we cannot endorse a number of the doctrines that Wesley espoused and taught, surely he would have seen homosexuality in all of its forms as sinful and incompatible with Scriptural truth. Whatever is meant by this opposition to heterosexism, we know that God is the One who created man and woman in the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27; Matt. 19:4-6), thus heterosexuality is the Scriptural norm! God is the One who said that homosexuality is a sin that will result in eternal condemnation and prevent one from inheriting the Kingdom of Godunless one repents of this moral perversion (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21).
Why is it that the Methodist Church members cannot see this elementary Biblical teaching? It must be that the Bible has long ceased to be the authority in this liberal denomination. Since all of the seminaries are in the hands of liberal, Bible-denying professors and teachers, this results in the training of liberal, Bible-denying pastors who lead and teach the 11,000,000 members of this religious body. If the Bible is removed as the basic moral standard, then homosexuality and every other immoral practice can be justified.
As an expression of immoral freedom, Methodists Julie Bruno and Sue Laurie exchanged lesbian vows at General Worth Square in Fort Worth during the convention. Further, the news report states that the conference officials invited about 300 gay men, lesbians and supporters to walk onto the convention center floor in a peaceful demonstration. Bishop Ben Chamness of the Central Texas Conference stated that there was a great spirit of holy conferencing . . . by people with different views. This spirit is considered praiseworthy by many of these liberal Methodists.
Questions we would want to ask more conservative Methodists who refuse to break with the body: How is it possible for homosexuals to lead their churches when Scripture plainly says that unrepentant, practicing sodomites cannot inherit the Kingdom of God? How is it possible to financially contribute to a national organization that does not take a clearly Scriptural stand on moral issues? While we are not considering stands on abortion, divorce and remarriage, and other matters here, it is sufficient for us to see the unscriptural stands on homosexuality to know that this cannot be Gods will.
Ironically, the conference also adopted another position. The report says that 96% of the delegates accepted a resolution against war as incompatible with Jesus teachings. Of course, this is true (Romans 12:17-21). But is there not some hypocrisy here? Hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of Methodists have fought in wars over the years. How can a membership fight in wars while stating that it is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Another inconsistent measure was adopted. The record says that 97% of the Methodists supported a resolution calling for immigrants to receive equal opportunity for employment, housing, healthcare and education. While this was not explained in the report I read, does this include illegal immigrants or only legal immigrants? The latter surely should be covered, but how can it be right to support those who are breaking the civil law of the country? How can sinful activity be rewarded (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17)? If it is sinful for a person who is breaking the law to be in the United States, how can it be right to support, endorse, and promote something that is sinful? While it is true that Christians should be compassionate to all, the Bible is quite clear that sin should not be promoted, condoned, or rewarded.
Some years ago, I wrote a lengthy book that examined the teachings of Barry Bailey, at that time the senior pastor of First Methodist Church in Fort Worth, a 9,000 member congregation. This false teacher was on a weekly television program, seen and heard by vast numbers of people in the country. As I remember, this is the third-largest Methodist Church in the world. I carefully documented that Bailey denied numerous cardinal teachings of Scripture. For instance, he denied:
- Biblical creation
- The inspiration of Scripture
- Miracles of the Bible
- The virginal conception of Jesus Christ
- The sinless life of Jesus Christ
- The atoning death of Jesus Christ
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ
- The existence of Hell
- The second coming of Jesus
- The Great Judgment
Yet, with all of his false teachings, Bailey was praised as a good preacher, adored by multitudes. In time, he was accused by women of the congregation of sexual misconduct and compromises, but the denomination did not reject him for his doctrinal aberrations but for this other reason. Something is clearly wrong with all of thisand conservative Methodists surely know this.
We have seen enough to encourage all sincere Methodists to abandon their liberal, compromising, Scripture-denying church body. Be willing to take a stand for God, the Word of God, the Son of God, and the ways of God! That is the only stand that will please the Holy God of heaven. If Wesley were alive today, we are fully convinced that he would not tolerate open sin, immorality, and theological compromise in his fellowship! What about you?