But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. [2 Timothy 3:13-17 (KJV)].
Antinomianism: Antinomianism (from the Greek:"against" +"law") is any view which rejects laws or legalism and argues against moral, religious or social norms (Latin: mores), or is at least considered to do so. The term has both religious and secular meanings.
Apostasy: Defection from the faith, an act of unpardonable rebellion against God and his truth. The sin of apostasy results in the abandonment of Christian doctrine and conduct. With respect to the covenant relationship established through prior profession of faith (passive profession in the case of baptized infants), apostates place themselves under the curse and wrath of God as covenant breakers, having entered into a state of final and irrevocable condemnation. Those who apostatize are thus numbered among the reprobate.
Heresy: 1. a religious belief that is at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine of a church. 2. the maintaining of such a belief or doctrine. 3. the willful and persistent rejection of any belief that is part of church doctrine.
Critical problems now existing in the United Methodist Church did not happen in a short span of time. Actually it has been a kind of evolutionary process that began in the early years of the 20th Century!
A lot of the theological confusion that is now taking place has it roots in Europe and especially Germany. In the latter years of the 19th Century there was a fellow by the name of Julius Wellhousen who was considered by many to be a renowned scholar, theologian, etc. Julius began making his thoughts known. These are best summarized by saying that he no longer believed things that were revealed in the holy Scriptures. To put it crudely, he took the meat cleaver to the Bible and chopped it to pieces! There was a denial of miracles as recorded in the Bible, etc. There were others besides Julius who took the position that you cannot believe everything you read in the Bible! A shipload of such theological junk was imported to the United States. There were seminaries which began to teach this stuff to persons in training to become pastors of churches. And so it came to pass that the theological garbage imported from Europe began to be spread in some of the churches in the United States!
As the 20th Century got underway a kind of theological war broke out. It sometimes has been referred to as the Modernist vs. Fundamentalist Controversy or something akin to that! It was a conflict between those who believed the Bible and those who took the position that some things as reported in the Bible did not really happen and were not actually true! Examples would be the events of creation in early chapters of Genesis, the judgment of the flood in Noah's time, Red Sea crossing by the Israelites under the leadership of Moses, Jonah swallowed by a great fish, the virgin birth of Jesus, His sacrificial atonement for the sins of the entire human race, His literal resurrection from the dead and His promised return to this world at some future point in time as King of kings and Lord of lords! And so the two main positions for those claiming to be Christian was this: you were either a fundamentalist, a firm believer in what was revealed in the Bible or a modernist, a person who did not literally believe things recorded in the Bible!
Time marched on through the decades of the 20th Century with one big change in labeling who was who theologically. The time came when the label, liberal, came to be applied to those who took the view that not everything as recorded in the Bible was to be accepted literally. It was common to deny miracles as literally taking place. My grandfather, who taught a men's Bible class in a Methodist Church for years, became very upset when he learned of a Methodist bishop denying the virgin birth of Jesus. This was in the 40's! A person who literally believed the Bible was still at times referred to as a fundamentalist or possibly some other labels such as Bible believer etc.
Liberalism is much like a cancer out of control. It did increase with more seminaries becoming infected and spreading unbelief in the Scriptures in the teaching process to students who would become future ministers in churches throughout the country. So the term, liberal, continued to be applied to church pastors and church leaders who denied portions of the Bible as being literally true as the 20th Century moved along.
The time eventually came when the label was changed to what was likely the belief that it was more sophisticated and conveyed the idea of moving forward for a greater improvement in the quality of life for the members of the human race. If you were one such person your identity with the improved label indicated you were involved making the country and the world a much better place in which to live! The new identity of clergy persons was the same as many in the political realm - they are now known as "progressives!"
But the roots go back to the garbage theology of unbelief in the Scriptures - that has not changed one bit! At the beginning of this commentary are three words (antinomianism, apostasy, heresy) that clearly define why the United Methodist Church has been in decline for decades. It has been the infiltration of this pure, unadulterated unbelief and the dissemination of the same to numerous congregations that has caused widespread destruction!
It began as mainly unbelief in many of the events as reported in the Scriptures such as the creation account and then the various miracles as noted throughout the Scriptures. But this stuff had a kind of evolution process going on as time passed and so now for some time we have gotten into a war over the issue of human sexuality! That is why the word, antinomian, is appropriate regarding the problem in the United Methodist Church. It means to be against law and in this case the moral law of God! God has explicitly revealed that homosexuality is an abomination in His special revelation. In recent decades there are those within the UMC that are saying homosexuality and lesbianism are morally acceptable even to the point of marriage! And at the present time the denomination has one bishop who is a practicing lesbian who claims to be "married" to her partner! The Judicial Council issued a ruling a while after the election of the lesbian bishop which stated that the election was illegal. However, the Council does not have the authority to remove a bishop from office who has been illegally elected! The lesbian can only be removed when charges are filed and a trial is held with a final verdict determined. None of that is likely to happen since the Council of Bishops has initiated no action and seems to take the position, "She is one of us and doing an excellent job of providing episcopal leadership!"
The next big event will be the General Conference session to be held this coming May 2020. A plan has been proposed for what is described as an amicable separation. That is, those who support same-sex marriage, the performing of such by clergy, and the ordination of homosexuals for ministry will remain in and retain the name of the United Methodist Church! Those who do not accept the foregoing, often referred to as traditionalists, will separate, form a separate group and be identified under a new name!
I object to this proposal and anything similar for the main reason that I and other pastors such as I have kept our ordination vows which included upholding the doctrines of the church, have supported the principles for governing our denomination as spelled out in the Book of Discipline, and support the full authority of the holy Scriptures in all matters related to our faith and practice of that faith, so why should we be the ones who leave, and form a new group with a new name? Let the bunch who have broken their vows, violated the laws as spelled out in the Book of Discipline, and rejected the authority of the Scriptures be the ones who do the exit, form a new group with a new name or join the Metropolitan Church where they will be very much at home! The three words at the beginning identify clearly who and what they are!
As mentioned, a number claim they are "progressive" clergy in the United Methodist Church. About the wildest claim ever made by persons claiming to be "progressive" Christian yet at same time denying the basic truth that is at the very heart of our faith was made a few years ago by two authors in a book they produced. Here is what they said:
"Jesus did not die for your sins, let that be said a thousand times. Jesus did not come from God to rescue fallen, sinful, inadequate, incompetent people like you and me. That is an image of a God who comes to us from outside to rescue this terrible and fallen creation. That is an idea from which we need to escape." (from Living the Questions - The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity by David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy on page 114. Harper One 2012).
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. [2 Timothy 3:12-17 (KJV)].
I now rest my case!
Clayton D. Harriger, Retired Elder, W. PA Annual Conference
Former pastor of Gipsy Christian Church in Gipsy PA (Nov. 1999 > Nov. 2019)
February 21, 2020
For further reference on faith related issues see:
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- The Way - The Truth - The Life
- Meet Me in Heaven!
- Reminders When Mansion Shopping!
- "Pappy, Help Me Build Something!"
- Just Rusting Away -- "Digger's" Object Lesson About Life!
- Trashing Sacred Gifts -- 21st Century Style!
- "But doctor, I feel good and people say I look great!
- By the Way, Did You Know???
- Atrocities? Well, It Depends on Your Definition of What Is or Isn't!
- Social Security "Crisis" According to President Bush - December 16, 2004
- Missing: Millions of Contributors Who Could Have Made a Significant Difference!
- Justice Denied!
- Forget the Terrorists -- the 21st Century Canaanites Are a Greater Threat!
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