These conversations are not statements of our doctrine as expressed in the Book of Discipline, nor are they guidance provided by the Study Commission on Doctrine (SCOD), but they are intended to be open and respectful discussions on various present-day topics. Our intention is not to limit discussion but to elevate it by assuring that God’s love and respect is always expressed. For more information click ABOUT.
Month: December,2016
HOMOSEXUALITY ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

HOMOSEXUALITY ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

December 21, 2016 By dwayman

By David R. Bauer

Like all Christian bodies, the Free Methodist Church is presently confronted with the necessity of responding to strong cultural pressures to accept homosexual relationships, especially those described as “monogamous, covenantal partnerships.” The recent move to legalize “gay marriage” in many states (and nations) has provided the impetus to address this matter with urgency, intentionality, and careful deliberation.

The biblical understanding and evaluation of homosexuality stand at the center of the Church’s response. This centrality of the Bible in the current discussion stems from two considerations. First, the Christian Church in general and the Free Methodist Church in particular hold the Bible to be the ultimate authority in all matters pertaining to faith and conduct. Indeed, the refusal to accept homosexuality in the Christian tradition throughout history derives from the biblical witness. Second, the Bible’s consistent negative appraisal of homosexuality is the primary obstacle to the acceptance of homosexuality by the majority of contemporary Christians and Christian bodies.

A proper examination of the biblical position will be sensitive to both exegetical and hermeneutical issues. In an effort to acknowledge the historical and incarnational character of the Scriptures, an appropriate examination will carefully pursue the exegesis, or interpretation, of relevant passages in order to ascertain how the inspired authors intended that the original readers in their own historical contexts should understand these passages. But such an examination will recognize also that the Bible is more than an amalgam of passages. The Bible is canonical Scripture,

THE FREE METHODIST POSITION ON IMMIGRATION

THE FREE METHODIST POSITION ON IMMIGRATION

December 21, 2016 By dwayman

en español

SCOD 2013
Bishop David Roller and Bruce Cromwell

At the heart of the arguments surrounding immigration matters is a fundamental tension between our desire to care for all persons and our respect for the rights of the state to establish laws, including economic policy. Both are legitimate impulses but their position, vis-à-vis each other, is subject to God’s principles extracted from the Scriptural narrative. If, as we will suggest below, the desire to care for persons is a different and higher category than the state’s right to restrict immigration, then we monitor laws of the state that create friction with the mandate to care for persons (see “A,” “B,” & “E” from 2011 Book of Discipline ¶ 3221) and we advocate to change the behaviors and laws in question (“C” and “D” from the same paragraph).

Immigration laws are based on citizenship (only non-citizens are subject to a particular state’s immigration laws), which is a concept of the state based, in turn, on birth realities. The two opposing birth realities for granting citizenship are “Jus Soli” (right of the soil or birthright citizenship) and “Jus Sanguinis” (right of blood). In the former, citizenship is based on place-of- birth and in the latter it’s based on parent’s citizenship. Jus Sanguinis was Roman law but has gradually lost favor to Jus Soli, especially in the New World.

Both of these rationales, one’s place of birth and parent’s citizenship,

PASTORAL RESPONSES TO MARITAL FAILURE

PASTORAL RESPONSES TO MARITAL FAILURE

December 21, 2016 By dwayman

David W. Kendall
2012

In the gospel records the opponents of Jesus attempt to drag him into the controversy over grounds of divorce. They put the question to Jesus, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason? (Matthew 19:3). Clearly these Pharisees, conservative by bent, observing what they perceive to be Jesus’ rather low or liberal view of law based on His treatment of people and apparent violation of the traditions of the elders, put the question in terms of the liberal interpretive view: Are they correct to say that any offense can be grounds for failing to keep the marriage covenant? Jesus refuses to go there. He cites the Genesis-Creative design and supports the permanence of the marriage covenant. He does so over against the liberal view of the law. But Jesus does not stop with a critique of the liberal view. He implies that even the conservative view may be suspect. He does so when the Pharisees respond by citing the Mosaic provision for a certificate of divorce. Why did Moses make this provision, if not to be used? Jesus answers that Moses conceded to the hardness of human hearts. The provision was made to clean up the relational and social mess created by hard-hearted refusal to keep covenant in relation to wife and God. But it was never God’s intent that marriages should end. So, Jesus concludes that one who divorces his wife forces her to commit adultery,

ISLAM AND CHRISTIANS: A Guide for Free Methodists

ISLAM AND CHRISTIANS: A Guide for Free Methodists

December 21, 2016 By dwayman

by A. H. Mathias Zahniser, Scholar-in-Residence, Greenville College

“We Muslims have to believe in Jesus; so why don’t you Christians accept Muhammad?” Ahmad, my guide at the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Indiana, USA, asked me this question with visible hurt and expectation. The Qur’an requires all Muslims to believe in Jesus and other biblical prophets such as Abraham and Moses. Yet Christianity makes no provision for the Arabian prophet who founded the Muslim faith. More and more Free Methodists will find themselves addressed by this question because the number and confidence of Muslims is growing in all parts of the world.

Understanding Islam

How would you have answered Ahmad? I hope this chapter will help with a reply. I begin with Muhammad then look at the Muslim Jesus. After looking at Islam in the light of its view of Jesus and Muhammad, I formulate a brief answer to Ahmad’s question. Finally, I suggest ways Free Methodist Christians can relate winsomely to Muslim family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

Who was Muhammad?

One night in the year 610 A.D., according to Muslim tradition, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, a camel caravan leader from the Arabian city of Mecca, went to a cave to meditate and pray. He had done this on many other nights; but this night changed his life. Muslims call it the night of power because on it Muhammad first heard a voice saying to him, “Recite!” After hesitation and struggle he opened his mouth and words began to come—not his own words,

WESLEYAN PERSPECTIVES ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY

WESLEYAN PERSPECTIVES ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY

December 20, 2016 By douglas-britt

Azusa Pacific University — July 2005 – Dr. Karen Strand Winslow

This presentation was created to address a need in Free Methodist churches for education about the ordination and placement of women pastors in order that people in and out of the church might experience the salvation of God as preached and enacted by women pastors. In spite of our formal denominational stance, which is to ordain women as elders and located them, Free Methodist women face opposition from local congregations who have not resolved objections to women ministers. Many steps have been taken to ameliorate this problem, which is, to a significant degree, one of lack of education, exposure, and experience. One such step, this paper, requested by the Board of Bishops, was created to address objections, and answer questions regarding women pastors.

Those who resist women preaching and ministering often do so on the grounds of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:12-15, which seem to restrict first century Corinthian and Ephesian women from conversing and teaching in the emerging church. However some of the Free Methodists among these are unaware of why their church ordains women. Like many Christians, they think the New Testament allows women to serve in all sorts of capacities in the church except that of senior pastor. Thus, a large part of the discussion below examines these passages.

Free Methodist churches claim the Wesleyan theological foundation for faith and practice. The term “Wesleyan” means a holistic methodology that widely embraces Scripture,

FMC STATEMENT ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY

FMC STATEMENT ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

Statement adopted by the 1995 General Conference of the Free Methodist Church of North America

The General Conference of 1974 passed a resolution “giving women equal status with men in the ministry of the church” (General Conference Minutes, p. 388). According to the General Conference report in the Light & Life magazine, the vote was unanimous. That vote, in the minds of many, settled the issue and they turned their attention to other concerns. During the intervening twenty years, the denomination’s position has not changed. However, outside the denomination, the voices opposing women in ministry and limiting the leadership roles of women in the local church have become more assertive. Some of those voices are respected evangelical leaders (e.g., refer to J. I. Packer below) who seem to be ignorant of Wesleyan/holiness church history, inferring that anyone who differs from them is playing fast and loose with Scripture. This is confusing to many. On the other hand, within the denomination there is growing concern over the fact that, though women officially have access to full ordination and any role in the church, few women are in leadership positions. At a time when women are entering formerly male-dominated professions in increasing numbers and providing community leadership, the percentage of women among Free Methodist pastors, especially senior pastors, and in church and conference leadership roles, is not growing as would be expected. Given these concerns, the Study Commission on Doctrine believes it is time to articulate anew the church’s position on women in ministry.

WOMEN IN MINISTRY — Some Hermeneutical Reflections

WOMEN IN MINISTRY — Some Hermeneutical Reflections

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

Introduction

Almost everyone believes and allows women to be in ministry. Even those who will disagree with my views on the matter do, in fact, recognize not only the privilege but duty of women to be in ministry (where would the church be if throughout history women had not served in nearly every form of ministry!) The first question is: what limitations have been paced on the leadership of women in ministry and why? The second question is: are these limitations general and universal or specific and contextual? I will return to these questions at the conclusion of this paper.

How We Treat The Bible

I begin with several assumptions I make about the Bible. First, the Bible is the Word of God and is therefore the final authority for Christian believing and living. The Bible is not so much a single book as it is a library of books — different kinds of literature, written over long periods of time, for different life settings of the people of God. Despite all these differences, however, we believe the Bible is unified in its witness to the one true God and reveals His plan for the world and humanity.

These assumptions are critical to our discussion. Let me explain. It is not enough to find a verse or passage that teaches something and accept that as the only or the most important word on the subject. We must rather seek to get a sense of the flow of Scripture,

FRAMING MISSIONAL RESPONSE TO 21ST CENTURY CHALLENGES

FRAMING MISSIONAL RESPONSE TO 21ST CENTURY CHALLENGES

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

By Bishop David Kendall

The Challenges of Same-Sex Marriage

Biblical, Theological, Historical Framework

We will respond to the proponents of same sex marriage and our friends who experience same sex attraction out of the larger historical and theological framework of the biblical story. According to our scriptural story, God created all that is and is committed to redeem the whole of creation. God calls a people through whom he chooses to work for the world’s well-being, in continuity with God’s original creation-design to entrust the world to the care, keeping, and developing of the human beings who bear God’s image. Through the people of Abraham, Israel, Judah, Messiah, and the Church (a renewed and expanded “Israel”) God offers grace and power to redeem the world and its peoples.

As part of the Church, therefore, we are on mission with Jesus to accomplish the plans of God for his world. That mission is revealed in the Scriptures, grounded in the historical ministry of Jesus, and will consummate in partnership with all Jesus’ followers who continue with his power and authority what he began until the end of the age.

Accordingly, we understand our identity and calling in continuity with the historic and kingdom agency of God’s people. The primary trajectories for mission trace to the fulfillment brought in Jesus. We understand our calling to be that of followers, of continuing with Jesus to bring his kingdom work to fullness of expression in our world today.

RESPONSE TO SEXUALITY AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION

RESPONSE TO SEXUALITY AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

By Bishop Matthew Thomas

Anyone living in 21st century North America should be familiar with changing societal mores regarding human sexuality. Most pastors have frequent opportunities for ministry and face questions pertaining to Biblical teaching on sexual matters and how it applies to their ministry- preaching, teaching, baptism, discipleship, membership and marriage. What is the Free Methodist Church’s position, understanding of and ministry counsel related to these matters?

The Biblical and historic understanding of the church on sexuality and marriage have remained largely unchanged in most of Protestantism and other Orthodox movements of the church throughout the centuries. But, societal changes in terminology and sexual expression press the church to clarify its terms and shape the church’s response while maintaining integrity with Scripture and the church’s doctrine. Refining responses and engaging societally changing norms is important for all pastors. Freelancing in theology praxis resulting in simply succumbing to societal pressure for conformity or developing unhealthy and graceless responses are not options for pastoral response. The church’s primary task remains to serve Christ and remain faithful to Him and His Word.

Fidelity to a Biblical hermeneutic and Scriptural authority has been sacrificed on this one issue in many churches and denominations. Modifying Biblical interpretation in ways that forsake sound exegesis in this one area renders suspect exegetical integrity on all other matters. The list of churches and denominations that have modified their exegesis resulting in a diminished their view of Scriptural authority are numerous. This has become a hermeneutical watershed for many since the Scriptures are consistent and clear on most issues connecting gender relationships as it relates to sexuality.

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH HISTORIC

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH HISTORIC

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

By Dr. Bruce N. G. Cromwell

What Does the Tradition Component of the Quadrilateral Have to Say Regarding the LGBT Debate?

Free Methodist Study Commission on Doctrine, 2014

Even a cursory examination of Church history finds numerous statements from mothers and fathers of the faith regarding sexuality, including what contemporary discourse has identified as LGBT sexual orientation.1 When it comes to sexual activity beyond the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, the Church speaks with one voice: such practice is not consistent with God’s will for human sexuality, procreation, and fulfillment in marriage.

Though the focus of such teaching has varied, from a perversion of roles (males playing the part of females), to the corruption of youth (pedophilia), to the inability to procreate (homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life), to the abuse of power (including clergy who engage in sexual liberties), the Church has been univocal. All sexual conduct outside of God’s perfect plan is “ordered toward an instrinsic moral evil.”2

However, in recent years the Church has also been clear and consistent in a call to mercy and compassion. On October 1, 1986, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church published its second document on the subject. Signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by Pope John Paul II, it was called a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.” Within it,