Slavery and Methodism Today

Slavery and Methodism Today

An excerpt from “Slavery and the founders of Methodism

In 1774, John Wesley published his “Thoughts Upon Slavery.” The founder of the Methodist movement insisted that the concept of enslaving other people was based on “false foundations.” He described the horrific evils of the slave trade. He denied that it was acceptable for anyone to be excused from judgment on the grounds that one was not personally a slave owner. For Wesley, merely tolerating the existence of a system of enslavement was an accommodation with evil.

In 1780, the American Methodists required preachers to deliver sermons against the evils of slavery. Church leaders declared that the enslavement of other persons is “contrary to the laws of God.”

In 1785, the first Book of Discipline published by the Methodists included a piece of church legislation that any church member who buys or sells slaves is “immediately to be expelled” from membership, “unless they buy them on purpose to free them.”

In 1800, the General Conference issued a “Pastoral Letter on Slavery.” It said “the whole spirit of the New Testament militates in the strongest manner against the practice of slavery.”

That pastoral letter directed annual conferences to appeal to the legislatures in their respective states for the emancipation of slaves. And it called for “the universal extirpation of this crying sin.” So the documented history of Methodism makes clear that the founders of the church considered slavery to be “evil.”

Forty-four years after the General Conference enacted church laws to demand that Methodists free their slaves or leave the church and to insist that Methodists take public antislavery steps, the denomination decided to divide. Rather than require a slave-owning bishop to emancipate the people whom he considered his property, Methodists split into two denominations. Rather than politically mobilize to end the system of slavery in each state, Methodists split along the boundaries of states that affirmed enslavement.

This is the legacy of Methodism in the United States with regards to human slavery.

But what of slavery of a man or woman’s soul?

The irony of the pending UMC split is that a great many are focused on making atonement for the sin of slavery by others, while they themselves are promoting a form of slavery that leads to a never-ending darkness.

As the above article makes clear, John Wesley,”Denied that it was acceptable for anyone to be excused from judgment on the grounds that one was not personally a slave owner.” In our day, we might say, “Yes, she or he is a slave to sin, but what is that to me?” Worse, we call slavery, freedom.

If we do not believe sin leads to slavery and death, then we should love our neighbor as ourself and affirm our neighbor’s behavior.  Each of us must give an account to Christ for every word and act. The costs of our beliefs, whatever they may be, is great. 

Methodists split into two denominations. Rather than politically mobilize to end the system of slavery in each state, Methodists split along the boundaries of states that affirmed enslavement.

Methodists are on the verge of another split, this one along the boundaries of those who affirm the good and perfect law of our Lord (Psalm 19:7) and those who deny the liberating and transforming power of Christ.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-36)

Do we believe the perfect royal law of our Lord as found in Scripture (James 2:8) is of man or God? Slavery to sin and the author of Scripture marks the line of demarcation for the UMC split. 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant — the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:27-28)

If we do not believe sin is slavery then we deny Christ, for it is because of sin that he came and died.

The legacy of Methodism today will last, not merely for a few centuries, but eternity. May God have mercy on us if we fail to feed the sheep of Christ with the words of his–and our–Father.

Do Methodist Believe Everyone Is A Child of God?

UMC Split

Do Traditionalist Methodist Believe Everyone Is A Child of God?Question: Do Methodist believe everyone is a child of God?

Answer: Great question. According to United Methodist teaching, Methodist believe the Apostle Paul’s summary of the condition of mankind: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

But that does not mean that all UMC congregations teach this.

“No hopeful covenant for unity can change the fact that church law, for nearly 50 years, has categorically denied the first principle of unity, that “we are all children of God.” – Darryl W. Stephens
(It’s unclear to me from the covenant for unity if Mr. Stephens means all persons when he says “we are” or only United Methodist.)

“We believe that all people are children of God.” – Collister United Methodist Church.

“Everyone is a child of god,” Becky Hall, Executive Director of Christ United Methodist Church in Chattanooga and a delegate to the UMC Conference.

Seabold United Methodist Church believes that everyone is a child of God.” “We believe that everyone is a child of God.” Algoma Boulevard United Methodist Church.

What does Christ say?

“While everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:25. And, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” Matthew 15: 13-14. “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world; and the good seed, these are the children of the Kingdom; and the darnel weeds are the children of the evil one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31-46

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47-14:12

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12.

“You are doing the works of your own father,” Christ said. But they protested, “We are not illegitimate children. The only Father we have is God himself.” Christ replied, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.” John 8:44

“God predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:5. Paul writing to the church in Ephesus.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Galatians 3:26. Paul writing to the communities in Galatia.

While it might sound pleasing to welcome everyone into a congregation and assure them they are God’s children, Christ says only those who profess faith in him are his brothers and sisters and God’s children. It’s a simple matter to be adopted.

If you wish to become a child of God believe that Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, walked as a man, kept the whole law without committing one sin, and died so YOU could be saved from the death that never ends.

Confess your sins, ask this Christ to become your savior, and believe he now is. Then become baptized with water as an outward sign that you are marked as a child of God and be baptized with the Spirit of Christ so you can be transformed into his image.

Can We Serve God and Caesar?

Can We Serve God and Caesar?

Can we serve God and Caesar? In many ways “our rights” go to the heart of the impending split within the United Methodist Church–and for that matter to the divisions within the Body of Christ.

We speak of surrendering to Christ. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23. When they hurled their insults at Christ, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, Christ entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24.

Though Christ was the Son of God–in fact God himself–he waved his rights in order to save us. We are called to do the same.

And we claim that we have, that we follow Jesus above all others.  Until we are offended. Until we are persecuted. Until we are threatened. Then we claim our God-given rights awarded to us in the Kingdom of Man.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day claimed loyalty to God. Then their position and power was threatened. Turning away from God, they claimed their rights under Caesar. With the force of Roman Law, they demanded the execution of Jesus.

There are but two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. If we truly are dead in Christ then we have no rights in the Kingdom of Man. We’re dead. If the cancel culture has proved anything it is that the dead have no rights. The dead cannot defend themselves, protect their reputation, or prevent the living from slandering them.

If we wish to test our pulse, to see if we are still living in the Kingdom of Man, read these verses and see if our blood boils.

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” – Matthew 5:38-40

Jesus said, “If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”  Luke 6:34

Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together.” Matthew 5:25

You must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Romans 13:1-2

Those living in the Kingdom of God have no rights in the Kingdom of Man other than the right to follow the example of Christ.  If in reading any of these verses you think, “Yes, but. . . ” then you are still living in the Kingdom of Man. There is no “but” in the Kingdom of God except, “But God. . . “

But God remembers the righteous.
But God has seen our hardships.
But God meant it for good.
But God has gives us peace on every side.
But God redeem us.
But God remains the strength of our hearts.
But God is compassionate and gracious.
But with God all things are possible.
But God gives us the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
But God raises us from to life.
But God show his love for us.
But God is rich in mercy.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
But the word of God cannot be chained.

Any time we claim that the Bride of Christ must adapt to the Kingdom of Man in order to. . .  be relevant, grow, be more inclusive, be more loving, stand up for. . . , we are asking that we relocate from the Kingdom of God and move back into the Kingdom of Man.

The Bride of Christ will only be relevant when she is married to Christ. The Bride of Christ will only grow, welcome and love all when she is married to Christ. The Bride of Christ will only be worthy of Jesus when she waves all rights and submits fully to him.

God is Jesus. Jesus is God. This God-Jesus-Savior has asked for your hand in matrimony. Will you say yes?

Can Same-sex Marriage Be Consecrated by the Word of God and Prayer

UMC Split

Hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron, forbid people to marry. For everything God created is good. Nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:3, 4-5

If nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, then can same-sex marriage be consecrated when bathed in the word of God and prayer?

If clergy–who are ordained, set apart, and elevated above laity, consider a couple to be united in holy communion–then on what grounds could a believer possibly object to the wedding of a same-sex couple?

Finally, is it hypocritical for heterosexual believers who live in ungodly ways to prevent same-sex couples from marrying?

With these few verses to Timothy, the Apostle Paul seems to suggest that those in the church of Ephesus needed to check their own spirit before preventing others from marrying. Do these verses support same-sex marriage? 

Worms fer thought. What says you, mate?

Have we stretched this passage ter far? Sailed over tha edge? Be fer ya keelhaul me, think on how some others might see this verse and ponder how ya might respond in kindness ter thar way of thinking things.

Hold Onto That Loving Feeling

Can the UMC Denomination Avoid Divorce?

Hold Onto That Loving Feeling

“I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” – the words of Jesus from Revelation 2:4-5

The church in Ephesus started out well enough, but over time it fell out of love. With whom or what, Jesus does not say, but we might suspect it is the Lord himself. Christ is, after all, the groom and his Church, the bride. Perhaps he sensed those in Ephesus had lost that loving feeling.

In chapter four of his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes: “Live a life worthy of the calling you received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is but one body and one Spirit. Speak the truth in love.

Paul went on to say: “So I tell you, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do. In the futility of their thinking they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more. Therefore, put off falsehood and speak truthfully, for we are all members of one body. Speak only what is helpful for building others up. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Be imitators of God and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.”

“Among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or greed. These are improper for God’s holy people. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

Later Paul wrote these words to his spiritual son Timothy. “The goal of [my] command is love. Love comes from a pure heart. Love comes from a good conscience. Love comes from a sincere faith. We know the law is good if one uses it properly.” What Paul did not say, but which he may have hinted at with his command to love is this: “The law is good if one uses it properly in LOVE.”

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Timothy 15:15

Our calling is to proclaim the Gospel of God and the core of God’s good news is redemption. Christ saves us from sin, error, and evil. This is why he came and died.

Love first, love second, love last. Knowing about sin, reciting a list of sins, never saved anyone. Only the love of God as shown through the sacrifice of his Son saves.

Avoid sin, yes, but never avoid loving others. Be perfect as Christ is perfect and as much as it depends on you, live a life worthy of the calling you received.

Where Do Methodist Stand On Climate Change?

Traditionalist Methodist Questions and Answers - FAQ

Did God Really Say Climate Change Is Real?

Question: Where do Traditionalist Methodist stand on climate change?

Answer: Great question.

The planet’s climate is under constant transformation and has been since earth’s creation. In chapter one of Genesis we read that the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. Then light burst forth. God separated the water on the earth from the water above it and he called the water above “sky.” God caused the water on earth to be gathered into one place so that ground appeared. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” We do not know the number of hours, days, years, centuries this process required. Some interpret the word “day” in Genesis to be twenty-four hours. Others interpret the word “day” to represent and event, like saying, “One day I made up my mind to …”

Regardless, during this process the earth’s climate was undergoing dramatic changes – and it has yet to stop.

Climate reacts to forces in the atmosphere and on earth. Some scientists argue humans are now the dominant force behind climate change. But are we? Had we lived during the days of Noah, “When men began to increase in number on the earth …” would scientists have blamed the increase in human population for the Great Flood? Did the the increase in livestock and raw sewage entering streams cause the skies to burst forth with rain and the creeks, streams, and rivers to “well-up” from beneath?

Drought was a constant problem in the Old Testament. Drought caused famines in the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:10 ), Isaac (Genesis 26:1 ), Joseph (Genesis 41:27 ), and the Judges (Ruth 1:1 ). Drought also impacted the Israelites during the days of David (2 Samuel 21:1 ), Elijah (1 Kings 18:2 ), Elisha (2 Kings 4:38 ), Haggai (Haggai 1:11 ), and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:3 ).

Did human behavior cause these droughts or did God have a hand in it?

In the Book of Revelation we read, “hail and fire mixed with blood was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” Revelation 8:7

Will climatologist blame this event on global warming, climate change, and the burning of fossil fuels?

Trees affect our climate, and therefore our weather, in three ways: they lower temperatures, reduce energy usage and reduce or remove air pollutants. When we lose a third of the trees and all the grass, we can expect a substantial increase in global warming, a strain on our power grids, and an increase in air pollution.

And what of our water supply? “Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. And a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. A third of the waters turned bitter. Many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation 8: 8-10

Scientists warn of rising sea levels, but if the event mentioned above occurs, the melting of arctic ice at the Poles will be nothing compared to the sea-coast flooding we will experience when large tsunamis hit the coastlines of populated continents. Whole navel fleets will be wiped out. With a third of our streams and rivers toxic, those living further inland will scramble to find clean drinking water.

And what of the sky? “A third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” Revelation 8:12

The first thing we will notice is an increase in darkness — then extreme cold. The planet’s temperature will drop several degrees Fahrenheit over the course of weeks and months. With less sunlight, the amount of photosynthesis will decrease. Plants will begin to wither and die. Animals that rely on vegetation to survive will be left with a shrinking food supply.

We might imagine that people would rush to spend time in the sun during the reduced daylight hours, but “the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire.” Revelation 16:8. We will long to stand in sunlight, but the sun’s intense rays will prevent us from enjoying its warmth.

Sea levels will rise dramatically. “Every island fled away.” Revelation 16:20

Tectonic plates will shift, leveling whole mountain ranges. “The mountains could not be found.” Revelation 16:20

Rivers will shift or disappear. “The great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up.” Revelation 16:12

Some, maybe most, Methodist believe climate change is real, but is global warming man’s fault? God’s? A little of both?

A new heaven and a new earth  are promised for those who accept Christ as their savior. Revelation 21:1. But God also commands us to be good stewards of our planet. It is our duty to protect and preserve what God created. It is also our responsibility to let others know that Christ can change each person at a soul level if they will only ask him to do so.

As Christians we should be good stewards of creation and seek to leave things better than we found them. (The “campsite” rule.) But we should also be good stewards of the words of instruction given to us by the Creator and seek to share God’s Good News with all we can whenever we can.

What’s Up With Infant Baptism?

Traditionalist Methodist Questions and Answers - FAQ

Will Traditionalist Methodist Keep Infant Baptism?
Question: Why Do Methodist Baptize Infants?

Answer: Great question. According to United Methodist teaching, “any age is appropriate for baptism since all persons stand in need of God’s grace. Infant baptism is a powerful expression of the reality that all persons come before God as no more than helpless infants, unable to do anything to save ourselves, dependent upon the grace of our loving God.”

Article XVII of Methodist Articles of Religion on baptism state:

“Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.”

It is clear that within current UMC structure Godly parents who wish to “commit” their child to the Lord are encouraged to do so. But how can we know we have received the Holy Spirit? The baptism of Jesus offers one example: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” As parents do we see evidence of the Holy Spirit in our child’s life?

In most cultures only after an individual reaches the “age of reason” — seven, ten, twelve … twenty — can they appreciate the words of God and become convicted of their sin. Before this moment we are:

  • Dead in our sins and transgressions.
  • Follow the ways of this world.
  • Follow the ruler of the kingdom of the air.
  • Follow the spirit who is now at work in those of us who are disobedient.
  • Gratify the cravings of our sinful nature – which is our fleshly desires.
  • Fail to realize that we are, by nature, children of wrath.

It is by grace you have been saved. This is a gift of God.” Ephesians 2:2-10

For Christ, his adult baptism indicated that he was consecrated and committed to God. An infant is wholly dependent upon others for their care and feeding. If sprinkling water on an infant would save their offspring from hell and a life of sinful behavior, a great many parents of all beliefs, even unbelief, would ask that their child be dipped and flipped for God.

In his baptism Christ was officially approved by God. “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16. As parents did we hear God speaking at our child’s baptism? Will the infant remember God speaking to them?

After the baptism of Jesus the Holy Spirit was seen descending on Jesus. After our baptism of water we should experience the Holy Spirit descending upon and coming to live in us. In fact, receiving the Holy Spirit marks the beginning of our “new birth.” From that moment forward, the spiritual DNA of Christ is transferred into our spirit. This starts our sanctification — a fancy word that means “set apart,” “made holy.” The old body remains, but a new spirit begins to grow within us. The baptism of Jesus as an adult is our example.

Do you know that his Spirit lives within you? “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him [Jesus] ( you, me, and all who receive Christ into themselves). The Spirit of the Lord provides spiritual wisdom and of understanding, counsel and of might, knowledge and fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11. This is but one way to know if you have God’s Holy Spirit. Here are other ways to check your spirit and confirm that the Spirit of Christ is working inside you.

  • The Holy Spirit helps us live a righteous and faithful life. The Holy Spirit will never guide you to be unfaithful to God or act in a wicked, sinful, evil, unfair or unjust manner.
  • The Holy Spirit helps us to testify about Christ and act as a witness-emissary on his behalf.
  • The Holy Spirit helps us to minister to others.
  • The Holy Spirit also acts as a comforter who intercedes on our behalf, especially in times of trial.
  • The Holy Spirit transforms us into a person of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness — someone who is gentle, modest, self-controled, faithful to God, and refraining from any sexual conduct outside the bonds of marriage.
  • The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of his acts and what Jesus said while he was on earth.

Is there any benefit in infant baptism? Perhaps. Probably. But let us also hope that every Christian follow the example of Christ’s disciples who, when told to “wait for his Spirit,” gathered together in worship and became filled with his Spirit and power. In doing so, they taught and preached with authority, healed the sick, raised the dead, and forcefully expanded his kingdom here on earth. May we go and do likewise.