The United Methodist Church: Many False Teachings and Practices


The United Methodist Church:

Many False Teachings and Practices

Part 18


Many False Teachings and Practices

In previous studies in this series on the United Methodist Church, we have examined over a dozen different points and many of these have been negatives. Now, let’s make passing reference to various other negatives in the United Methodist teaching and practice. We won’t need to elaborate to any great extent.

  1. Methodism says that it is not important for a person to know when he has been born again or saved. Harmon says, “Being regenerate and born again is something else. Many sincere Christians have not been able to tell when they became Christians. But they know they are.”[i] But Scripture says that at a specific point in time a person is born again, saved, forgiven, sanctified, redeemed, reconciled to God, and given the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38-41; 8:12, 35-39; 16:15, 30-34; 18:8; 22:16; Romans 5:6-11; 6:3-11; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Colossians 1:13; 2:11-13). It is not an ambiguous concept or nebulous feeling.

If one is forgiven and saved at a point in time, shouldn’t this time be known? How can one be saved without knowing it? Further, as we have seen, if one is forgiven by grace through repentant faith when one is buried in baptism surely this point in time would be known. If one forgets, all he would need to do would be to call the person who did the baptizing. If the early traditional Methodist teaching of infant baptismal regeneration is followed, then surely the Methodist would know the precise date of his or her regeneration. (We are not saying by this that there is any justification for infant baptism.)

2. Methodists teaches a doctrine of entire sanctification. Harmon explains: “Entire sanctification is a state of perfect love, righteousness and true holiness which every regenerated believer may obtain by being delivered from the power of sin, by loving God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and by loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. Through faith in Jesus Christ this gracious gift may be received in this life both gradually and instantaneously, and should be sought earnestly by every child of God. We believe this experience does not deliver us from the infirmities, ignorance, and mistakes common to man, nor from the possibilities of further sin.”[ii]

Pertinent questions would be: Can this state of “perfection” continue for one day, one week, one year, or a lifetime?  Will this experience keep one from sins of ignorance?  Wesleyans limit sin to known sin and they don’t believe that this state of perfection will keep one from unknown sin—of which there could be many. What about sins of thought and speech? We question this experience for if it were true, surely one of the writers of the New Testament would have written about it. As an utterly-important doctrine, surely it would have been described. But where is it clearly presented in the Scriptures?

3. Methodism practices “confirmation” of young people who were “baptized” as babies. Many churches that baptize babies instinctively know that something is missing when such a rite is administered to unconscious infants who don’t know anything about what they are doing. Further, they discovered that many of these infants grow to be unconcerned and irreligious adults. This is the background of the unscriptural practice called “confirmation.”

Harman explains, “Later on it was felt that when children grew to the age of accountability, they should speak for themselves with relation to church membership. So the office of Confirmation was begun, in the ancient church and is continued today in the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church. [It is also found in other baby-baptizing denominations, such as the Lutheran Church.] . . . . Since 1964 . . . it has frankly been termed ‘The Order for Confirmation and Reception into the Church.’ It presupposes that those being confirmed have already been baptized.”[iii] The United Methodist Hymnal further explains: “Those baptized before they are old enough to take the vows for themselves make their personal profession of faith in the service called confirmation.”[iv] This shows that one unscriptural practice (baby baptism) leads to another practice without Biblical authority (confirmation).

4. As in all of the mainline Protestant denominations, we generally find an apathetic church involvement in the UMC. In the beginning, Wesley stressed the importance of public worship, the Lord’s supper, and prayer (see Rules 22-25), but today is different as it is in other mainline denominations (such as the United Church of Christ, the Lutheran Church, and the Episcopalian Church). The Hebrew writer makes it clear what God’s heart is in this matter: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (10:24-25; cf. 3:12-13).  However, we discover that only 36% of Methodists attend church weekly, indicating a lack of enthusiasm for such spiritual pursuits.[v] Keep in mind also that this is not speaking about gathering two or three or more times a week, but only one time a week!

5. One other point worth noting is sharing of one’s faith. We know that the gospel is to be shared with all people (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20). How did Methodists answer the question, “How often in the last month did you participate in witnessing/sharing your faith with strangers?”  Only 28% of Methodists said “once or more in past month.”[vi] This compares to some 17% of Presbyterians and 70% of Pentecostals.

6. As with many other religionists in America, The United Methodist Church states that it accepts the existence and promotion of labor unions. We read, under “Collective Bargaining,” the following: “We support the right of public and private (including farm, government, institutional, and domestic) employees and employers to organize for collective bargaining into unions and other groups of their own choosing.”[vii]

We can’t deny that many positive effects have come to workers who have organized themselves into labor unions.  However, we realize that not all things that appear to “work” and have good effects are right in themselves.  The pragmatic approach is often wrong.  It is sinful to do wrong to bring a good result (Romans 3:8). It is better to go to God’s Word to determine His mind in all matters of society.

A number of Biblical principles are violated with the Labor Union movement. The parable of the “laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) points out that the owner and manager has the right to set the wages for his workers (vv. 2, 13). In the parable, the owner said to workers who grumbled, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?” (v. 13). It is wrong to agree to work for a certain amount and then pressure the employer to change and give more—and threaten to harm the company if he chooses to refuse the request. Christ’s teaching about not resisting the evildoer also speaks to the matter of using a labor union to coerce the employer to give and pay more (see Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:27-30).

We might also remember the scriptures that urge the slave (or the employee) to be obedient and submissive (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2). The slave is not to be “argumentative” or “contradict” the master (Titus 2:9-10). He or she must even submit to the “unreasonable” or “perverse” master (1 Peter 2:18-20). Of course, we must remember too that the employer/master must treat the workers with kindness and fairness (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

You may wish to check out further information on the United Methodist Church:

[i] Harmon, p. 63.

[ii] Harmon, p. 71.

[iii] Harman, p. 137.

[iv] The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), p. 32.

[v] Stark, p. 19.

[vi] Stark, p. 25.

[vii] The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1988, p. 103.

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