Our Bodies are Evil: The Heresy of Gnosticism and Purity Culture Today

Our Bodies are Evil: The Heresy of Gnosticism and Purity Culture Today

July 20, 2020 By dwayman

In a desire to provide guidance to our children, Christian parents and churches can create an unhealthy, unbiblical and even heretical culture.  In this study by recent Greenville University graduate and St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church assistant pastor Kait Mathews, we are invited to give a thoughtful consideration of the theological heresy and psychological trauma.  Presented on July the 19th, 2020 here is Pastor Mathews’ work:

“As the Gospel began to circulate through the Roman world in the first century, the ancient heresy of Gnosticism was one of the earliest to infiltrate the Church. The word Gnosticism originates from the Greek word gnosis which means knowledge. The Gnostics believed that there was a secret knowledge that was exclusive to those with a true understanding, which then would lead to the salvation of the soul. This spiritual salvation was superior to the Gnostics, because they saw the human spirit as naturally good, but imprisoned in the body which was naturally evil. Thus, the goal of the Gnostics was to free the spirit from the person embodying it and that was only possible with the mysterious knowledge of the “true understanding” that they possessed. The split between spirit and body led the Gnostics to distort the early church’s cognizance of who Jesus was. Gnostics envisioned Jesus as the messenger of the “true understanding” and they didn’t think that Jesus was fully man. Rather, His body just seemed to be human. This is also known as the heresy of Docetism. This seemingly human Jesus is a denial of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus as fully man and fully God.1  I think a danger in reading our passage from Romans today is that we might get the impression that Paul is trying to teach Gnosticism.

Repudiating Any and All Forms of White-Supremacy

Repudiating Any and All Forms of White-Supremacy

June 17, 2020 By dwayman

Bishop Emeritus David Kendall

Making clear and informed statements about racism is a necessary part of leadership.  This is true not only of those who are now leading churches, businesses and organizations, but those who influence the leaders of our world.  Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus David Kendall is one of those influencers.  Having served faithfully for many years as pastor, superintendent and Bishop, Dr. Kendall also has an earned doctorate in Biblical studies.  Writing from this wealth of experience and training, Kendall recently wrote a blog on Racism.

He says in part:

“As a follower of Jesus, I repudiate racism.  This is a matter of commitment to Jesus as Lord.  It strikes me as unthinkable that any trace of racism should lodge in my heart, mind, spirit, sentiments, tendencies, actions or reactions.  Truly.  As soon as I say/write this, though, I recall other attitudes, feelings, tendencies, responses that once lingered within me for some time before I even knew it and then remained for some additional time as I dealt with them and put them aside.  I’m talking about things that are unworthy and contrary to the way of Jesus, such as anger, envy, bitterness and unforgiveness. Likewise, there are things I once put off by the grace of God only later to resurface, sometimes worse than before.  So, I do repudiate racism, and yet I am asking what lingers in my heart that I never knew was there? 

A Neo-Free Methodism: Shadow-Work as a Model for Racial Justice

A Neo-Free Methodism: Shadow-Work as a Model for Racial Justice

May 29, 2020 By dwayman

Having the tools to heal pervasive and spiritually damaging racism requires our best thinking and practice.  In this work by Free Methodist scholar Rev. Dr. Liz Simmons, as a specialist in spiritual formation, we find a persuasive adaptation of Jungian “shadow work” to assist us in identifying and repenting from these suppressed and repressed projections.

Simmons work is stated clearly in her abstract:

“The increase of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States is on a trajectory to shift the demographic of the Church over time to majority non-white. Because of the abolitionist spirit of its genesis, Free Methodist church contexts have the historical and theological foundations to become hosts for multicultural communities and culturally engaging conversations leading to racial justice. The homogeneous demographic of many Free Methodist churches today, however, results in blindness toward privilege and resistance toward social engagement, reinforcing an insulated identity narrative.”(x)

“…this dissertation seeks to answer this question: What could it look like for white people to do their own internal work to take responsibility for their part in racial justice, particularly in majority-culture churches where the surrounding community is also majority white? First, this research recovers and analyzes the inception of the Free Methodist movement in order to understand the gap between its abolitionist beginnings and its present reality. Second, this work identifies the need for a theology of liberation in Free Methodist churches by reviewing the strengths and challenges of Liberation Theology.

Microaggresion as Chronic Abuse

Microaggresion as Chronic Abuse

May 24, 2020 By dwayman

Rev. Dr. Denny Wayman

As a pastoral counselor one of the most frustrating moments is when a person of color is being treated unjustly but the incident is either denied or claimed to be an over reaction by the person of color. These incidents are a form of abuse that have a deep and devastating effect on our brothers and sisters. It is difficult as a counselor to bring God’s healing to this pervasive disease that is pandemic in our broken world.

In this article my experience as a pastor, superintendent and counselor inform the church and Christian schools, as well as the larger culture, that these Microaggressions are actually Chronic Abuse.  I explain, in part:

“When I teach the basics of counseling to pastors, I note that there are two general types of abuse: Acute and Chronic.

To explain the difference, I will have a person place their hand on the table and I will make a knuckle of one finger and tap their hand lightly. As I continue to do so I will say, “that doesn’t hurt, does it?” Nodding in agreement, they acknowledge that each of my taps are not individually painful.

But then I ask, “What if I tapped you for the entire day we’re here in the class?” They will then have a rather anxious look to which I will say, “And what if someone did so for 15 years of your childhood?”

When the awareness sinks in that some traumas cause damage not because of any single incident but rather due to their repetition,

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition

May 22, 2020 By dwayman

As a Free Methodist Elder, the Rev. Dr. Trisha Welstad is on the Portland Seminary leadership development team at George Fox University.  In her February, 2020 dissertation Welstad provides an excellent study not only of our own Free Methodist denomination, but of our sister denominations within the Wesleyan Tradition, including the Salvation Army, Church of God Anderson, Church of the Nazarene, and the Wesleyan Church among others.

Titling her work Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition, Welstad explores the truth that our present churches are struggling to live out the true values of John Wesley and of B.T. Roberts.  Noting that our Five Freedoms are a “…modern representation that encompasses much of the belief of the founder, B.T. Roberts…”, Welstad explores both the current situation and recommended actions.

She says, in part:

“The majority of Wesleyan denominations began with theological belief rooted in social action, particularly as it pertained to abolition and women’s equality. Though their beginnings were radical, today the same groups are primarily homogeneous, representing a largely white congregational and leadership demographic, predominantly led by white males. With a historical theology of diversity and inclusion, this research seeks to understand why women and people of color are excluded from leadership roles in the Wesleyan Tradition and how it may affect the future of these denominations…(ix)”

Speaking of the 2019 General Conference of the FMCUSA,

EVALUATION OF NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION BIBLE ON GENDER

EVALUATION OF NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION BIBLE ON GENDER

May 15, 2020 By dwayman

In her ongoing study of the gender appropriate translations of the Bible, Dr. Laura Hunt provides this study of the New English Translation (NET) of the Bible.  Completed in 2019 the authors claim: “With the first edition completed in 2001, ongoing revisions based on scholarly and user feedback in 2003 and 2005, and a major update reaching its final stages in 2019, the NET’s unique translation process has yielded a beautiful, faithful English Bible for the worldwide church today.”

Specifically focusing on this version being a true translation without gender bias, Dr. Hunt gives this analysis.  She says, in part:

“The first thing to look at is the list of translators. I found it here, at the very end: https://bible.org/netbible/index.htm?pre.htm Note that these are exclusively men, and that Dallas Theological Seminary is heavily represented…

Next, I want to look at a series of verses that are helpful to get a sense of the translators’ gender biases. There are many options, but these are mine:

Gen 3:16: There are two issues here. The beginning of the verse says, in Hebrew, “I will greatly increase your pain and your conception/pregnancy.” Most translators combine this idea with the next line and assume that the pain referred to is specifically pain in childbirth. That is quite possible, and a hendiadys is something that Hebrew does do quite often. However, in the footnote, the translators justify their choice by saying “there is no pain in conception.” That comment could only come from an exclusively male perspective.

DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

May 11, 2020 By dwayman

Superintendent Charles Latchison of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California (FMCSC) writes this as both a personal and pastoral response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging near his home.

Supt. Latchison writes:

“In the midst of this quarantine, with all of the new challenges and new realities around us, it almost seems unthinkable that the world ‘out there’ continues. In that world, we continue to see the reality that injustice continues not just afar but in our nation, states, counties, and cities.

On February 23, 2020, a young Black Man named Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by three men (Gregory and Travis McMichael, the men who shot him, and William Bryan who perversely filmed the incident) who believed they had the right to deprive him of his life and right to due process simply because they believed he was involved in robberies in their neighborhood. This is frustrating and heartbreaking.

We know during this pandemic that people have lost jobs, lost loved ones to this virus, and are afraid of our new realities. We also know that even during this time racism is not only alive but thriving. Ahmaud is not the only Black Man murdered in our country in the past couple of weeks and racist actions towards the Asian / Asian American communities have increased rapidly as well. Our personal worlds might feel like they have come to a halt during this shelter-in-place but fear and anger have continued to move forward.

CAPITALISM AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

CAPITALISM AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

May 11, 2020 By dwayman

The people of God have long had a struggle with the acquisition of wealth.  From the statement of Jesus  that no one can serve two masters (Luke 6:13) to the concerns of BT Roberts when he said “Never was a saint a millionaire. Never was a millionaire a saint. Men who get rich aim at getting rich. They live for that. To this one purpose their thoughts and their energies are directed”(The Earnest Christian, Vol. XXVIII, Pgs. 37-38, August 1874), our biblical and Wesleyan tradition points us toward a wise path. To continue that journey, two Free Methodist scholars present their guidance in a recent article. asking the question “Should Christians endorse or reject capitalism.”

Drs. Kent Dunnington (Biola University) and Ben Wayman (Greenville University) give a thorough exploration of the question in their May 11, 2020 article in ABC Religion and Ethics.  Explaining that there are four definitions of Capitalism, with each having their specific Christian critique, they conclude their study by making four specific recommendations to us within our economic lives.

Witnessing (to) a different economy

“We propose the following four economic postures to mitigate against the sinister power of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, a capitalism whose animating features are captured in the descriptions of (C2), (C3) and (C4) above. Our idea is that these postures adhere to the teachings of Jesus, participate in God’s shalom,

PORNOGRAPHY USE INCREASES LONELINESS

PORNOGRAPHY USE INCREASES LONELINESS

May 3, 2020 By dwayman

One of the pervasive dangers of the modern technological age is the ever-present device that can access pornography.  Though the science is clear that pornography use is addictively destructive, society as a whole and some entertainment outlets in particular ignore this.  In this study Dr. Mark H. Butler, et.al, presents clear evidence that the use of pornography is related to loneliness as loneliness is related to the use of pornography.  Two factors were found to mitigate against the use of pornography: marriage and religious attendance.

These researchers write in part:

“Technological advances of the last half-century have made media a dominant cultural and developmental presence. Media provides powerful behavioral and relational scripts. Sexual media is pervasive, diverse, and highly accessible, bringing sexual content into the cultural forefront of society….”

“Social scientists are in the vanguard in identifying theoretically and empirically the dynamic influences of sexual media scripts on the formation and functioning of human pair-bond relationships. Social scientists also are on the cutting edge of contemporary examination of whether behavioral habituation and compulsivity surrounding pornography viewing and sexual pursuits may fit the addiction template and represent a serious relational and hence public health concern….”

“Loneliness arises from deficiency in key, meaningful relationships, more particularly attachment relationships. Deficiency may be in terms of quality or quantity, or both (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). Joining Weiss (1973) and Mikulincer and Shaver (2007),

VIRAL TRANSFORMATION – What could change due to COVID-19

VIRAL TRANSFORMATION – What could change due to COVID-19

April 30, 2020 By dwayman

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 virus will change the world.  The question in everyone’s mind is:  How will we change?  The Free Methodist Healthcare Fellowship (FMHF) offers these thoughts as a way of opening that conversation among us.  The author of this article, is the President of the FMHF, Dr. Norman Wetterau, M.D.

He says, in part:

“At this point, everything seems negative: staying at home, worried that we or a family member might die from the virus, and the economic collapse that our nation seems to be entering into. This epidemic is uncovering some weaknesses and unaddressed problems in our land. Will we decide to address these? So far it appears we might…”

Dr. Wetterau then explores several issues that he thinks may change as we now recognize both the need and the solutions. Of those possible areas for change is the need for medical care for those who are not insured, the need for equity in resources for homeschooling with everyone having internet and computer access, and the difficulty of those without homes when sheltering is the only solution to viral mortality.

The physician ends with an issue of preparedness for disasters and diseases such as this pandemic.  He says in part:

“…our basic economic system is fine in good times but not for a crisis such as this one. Dr Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and 2001 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics wrote an opinion piece in the April Time magazine: Vol 195,