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
THE CHURCH AND MISSION

THE CHURCH AND MISSION

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

Dr. David Bauer and Dr. Denny Wayman

The recent tendency to use the word “missional” to divide the church’s inward and outward responsibilities is true neither to the Church’s nature nor its God-given mission. Mission is the very essence of the Church’s existence. Mission is not something the Church does. Mission is what the Church is. Mission encapsulates the Church’s entire life. This Church’s existence — its mission — is made possible by the calling of God. Indeed, God’s calling brings the Church into existence and directs its life. The Church’s mission is its response to the calling of God.

The Church lives out its mission first in relation to God. Its primary stance toward God is vital relationship with God, expressed especially through worship and submission. Yet the Church’s relationship to God inevitably involves its relation to itself and to the world. In its relation to itself, the Church cares for its own; it lovingly embraces and nurtures those within its fold. In its relation to the world, the Church —by the Holy Spirit’s power — witnesses to God’s end-time rule that has come in Jesus Christ and is about to be consummated by Christ at His appearing. This witness is active proclamation, which will be expressed through sacrificial service in Jesus Christ’s name to the needs of all those within the world. This witness will be formally expressed through the verbal announcement of the gospel of Jesus Christ in preaching and teaching.

All the Church does expresses mission.

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

A fact sheet and call to action for local churches

Slavery and human trafficking in all their forms are unjust, destroy human dignity and devalue human life. We denounce and resist all forms of slavery and human trafficking: indentured servitude, trade slavery, sex-slave trade, and the forced sale and/or transport of people (forced adoption for profit and mail order bride for profit). We actively oppose slavery by establishing local and global networks in conjunction with existing Free Methodist ministries to combat slavery through prayer, education, advocacy, rescue, protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims. We oppose the people and organizations responsible for human trafficking and call for the application of justice. (Position adopted by the 2007 General Conference of the Free Methodist Church – USA.)

Did you know? Slavery still exists!

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation.
Slavery is illegal in virtually every country in the world. However, it is still a relatively common human rights violation in almost every country in the world.

More than 27 million people are currently enslaved.
While the numbers shift constantly, and because slavery is underground it is difficult to assess, careful review suggests that more than 27,000,000 people are enslaved in the world today.[1]

More than 50,000 slaves are being used in the United States.
While estimates vary widely, conservative estimates tell us that at least 17,000 people are trafficked and forced into slavery each year in the U.S.

GOD IS RESPONSIVE

GOD IS RESPONSIVE

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

Dr. David Bauer

Free Methodists believe that we must take seriously the fact that Scripture presents God as both knowing the future and sometimes changing his mind. Some readers of the Bible take these two descriptions to be contradictory. After all, they would say, how can God change his mind on the basis of something that happens at a point in time if God had had full knowledge of the future and was thus aware of all that would happen? This consideration has led certain readers of the Bible to deny either God’s complete foreknowledge or God’s practice of changing his mind on the basis of what human beings do.

But the Bible affirms both of these descriptions of God, and does not consider them contradictory. Although the biblical writers do not argue explicitly for God’s complete foreknowledge, they do assume God’s foreknowledge and many passages describe God as knowing the future (Genesis 15:13, Daniel 2:21-49, Acts 20:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). In addition, there are several New Testament passages that represent Jesus as knowing the future (Matthew 24:5-25, 13:11 and 38; 21:18-19).

Other biblical statements describe God as changing his mind on the basis of what humans do (Exodus 32:1-34, Jonah 3:1-10; 1 Samuel 15:1-35, Matthew 2:20-22). The Old Testament describes this divine change as an instance of God’s “repentance.” This language does not suggest that God realized that what he intended to do was morally wrong, and therefore changed his behavior. Rather, it indicates that in response to specific human actions God reconsidered what he had intended to do.

Pastoral Responses to Marital Failure

Pastoral Responses to Marital Failure

December 20, 2016 By douglas-britt

Dr. David Kendall

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?[1] 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, except in cases where the wife has already violated the covenant on moral grounds.

SEXUAL ISSUES: A Pastoral Resource

SEXUAL ISSUES: A Pastoral Resource

December 20, 2016 By douglas-britt

Dr. Denny Wayman

We live in a day when Christians are being confronted on a variety of fronts. Perhaps the issue most frequently challenged is our view of sexual purity. Based on the statement in Genesis which Jesus affirms in Matthew, we teach that “in the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) This statement posits the simple fact that our sexuality is a God-intended biological and relational unity that has deep spiritual significance.

Welcoming those who struggle with sexual issues is an important part of pastoral responsibility. In the discussion that follows, we offer answers founded on our understanding of biblical teaching, with the supportive resources of reason in the study of the sciences, the wisdom of our church tradition and the verification of our own experiences.[1] This is not intended to be the final word on these issues and we invite other input on this vital area of pastoral care.

In the vast arena of sexual concerns, this discussion looks at three general areas: sexual purity, sexual variance and sexual disorders.

Sexual Purity

The biblical commandment to “not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) describes God’s counsel and spiritual requirement in relation to sexual purity.

FREE METHODISM’S LIVING WITNESS: Sesquicentennial Reflections

FREE METHODISM’S LIVING WITNESS: Sesquicentennial Reflections

December 20, 2016 By douglas-britt

Dr. Howard Snyder

Bishop L. R. Marston got it right when he named his 1960 centennial history “From Age to Age a Living Witness.” Free Methodism’s witness is still a living one, despite the amazing changes of the past one hundred fifty years. Our new age is the twenty-first century.

Today there are nineteen Free Methodist bishops throughout the world, and only four of them are North Americans. Worldwide Free Methodist growth has birthed a church where less than 10 percent of its approximately 900,000 members live in the United States and Canada (about 76,000 in the United States; 7,800 in Canada).

What would B. T. Roberts think? Certainly he would celebrate! This is what he would have wanted to see. Of course he would quickly ask: Is the church maintaining the Bible standard of Christianity? Is it preaching the gospel to the poor?

The growth of global Free Methodism truly is something to celebrate. Like most movements, Free Methodism is more dynamic at its growing edges than at its historic center. But signs of life are everywhere. Like a one-hundred-fifty-year-old tree, the FM Church grows mainly in its branches. Yet it still draws life from its roots and trunk, even as it is nourished by its branches. For continued health, the roots must grow ever deeper as the trunk grows sturdier.[1]

Free Methodism’s roots go deep and far. We trust they are still nourished by Scripture, in good gospel ground.

GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSED AND EXPERIENCED: A Pastoral Response to Same-Sex Attraction

GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSED AND EXPERIENCED: A Pastoral Response to Same-Sex Attraction

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

By Dr. Denny Wayman

An application of Experience and Reason in Caring for Persons with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Orientations and their families Free Methodist Study Commission on Doctrine

The church’s care for persons who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender1 is important to God. This paper attempts to provide Free Methodist pastors with guidance to faithfully fulfill our calling and express God’s love. As a part of the larger work presenting the Wesleyan Quadrilateral’s reliance on Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, this paper focuses on the wisdom gained from our Experience and our Reasoned study of human sexuality.

An important premise of Wesleyan Theology is that we have faith in God that is not driven by fear, but rather by trusting in the power of God’s sanctifying work. This faith provides space in the individual’s life as well as in the church for God to do His work. According to the Pew Study of 2013, 51% of persons who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are actively involved in religion.2 The opportunity to care for such persons and trust in God rather than fear, judge or exclude such fellow seekers is our God-given opportunity. The deep longing of every person’s heart is to be accepted and loved. This longing is not only a longing for God’s love but for the love of family and church just as we are. When the church singles out particular groups of people from full inclusion in the community of faith,

TWO BECOME ONE: God’s Blueprint for Couples

TWO BECOME ONE: God’s Blueprint for Couples

December 20, 2016 By dwayman

Summarizing concepts in the book by Donald and Robbie Joy
Evangel Publishing House, 2002

From slow reflection across 56 years of marriage, we want to bring together here a record of how we have come to see the bold and empowering vision of Creation — how Man and Woman came into being to create a mystery in the image of God with an echo of Trinitarian mystery two become one! And we will construct here the unfolding pieces of that discovery, how God’s original creation “male and female in the image of God” descended into the pain of deformity as the Woman’s worship focused on the Man, and the Man responded by ruling over the Woman. The long-term goal of the Gospel includes healing that universal human deformity and pointing us toward the ultimate wedding and the heroic Bride and Groom at the end of Scripture.

Slow Learners

I, Don, grew up, as Robbie did, in a home punctuated by prayer and Bible reading for the whole family. I enjoyed life in a family which fairly glowed with parents who lived and worked together in a glorious harmony and synchrony. It was clear that all of us in our home and extended family lived under the lordship of Jesus. The wall motto in my grandparents’ house, visible to the dining table participants said it all:

Christ is the head of this home,
The unseen guest at every meal,