Browse category by CHURCH AND STATE
PANDEMICS AND THE CHURCH AND STATE IN  HISTORY

PANDEMICS AND THE CHURCH AND STATE IN HISTORY

January 7, 2022 By dwayman

It is helpful to hear from a Christian scholar from Nigeria as we often get caught up in our individual nation’s politics and lose sight of our global Christian witness, purpose and history.  Here Dr. Bernard B. Fyanka, Redeemer’s University Ede, Osun State Nigeria, provides an insightful analysis of the church and state as both encounter a pandemic.

The conclusion to his analysis states:

” In my opinion, the central agitation of the church with regards to this pandemic and possible pandemics in the future should have been over the designation of the churches as entities providing essential and emergency services. This characterization should be based on the original basis of the relationship between the church and state in which the church is viewed as a charitable organization providing medical, social and spiritual relief to communities.The emphasis of the church should not have been on rights to congregate but rights to work inparallel status with doctors, nurses, police, and other emergency services in providing much-needed relief. Finally, as opined by the catholic church, ‘the Church has direct authority fromGod Himself over the exercise of religion and the meaning of faith and morals. But this authority does not preclude cooperation with legitimate governmental entities in fostering the common good, which in fact is required by the Church’s own moral teaching.”

Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus David Kendall notes:  “Dr. Fyanka’s point, as I understand it, is that the church is not called to protect and advocate for its own rights,

BAPTIZED CYNICISM  by Matthew Ruszynski

BAPTIZED CYNICISM by Matthew Ruszynski

October 18, 2021 By dwayman

Rev. Matthew Tuszynski

I’ve never read the ‘Left Behind’ series, but I grew up around the time it was most popular.  That meant that, even without reading so much as the first page of the first book, I already knew most of the major plot points just by virtue of being around people who were entranced by the books.  If you are old enough to remember the 90’s and early 00’s (and I still haven’t fully processed the fact that some of you reading this might not be), you’ll already be familiar with the eschatological hysteria of the period.  It’s a hysteria that had been building since World War I, but something about the turning of the millenia, and some nonsense about the Aztec calendar that was all over the History Channel for some reason, got a good portion of the populous to believe that any moment now we’d live through that ‘empty clothes left where my husband/wife/brother/second-cousin twice removed was sitting just a moment ago’ scene from those novels.

That hysteria imbued much of western Christianity with an almost Gnostic nihilism about the physical world and its problems.  Somewhere along the way the phrase ‘in the world, but not of the world’ was spawned, and it’s become such a fixture in Christianese that we sometimes forget that no such phrase appears in the scriptures.  There are two near analogues; the first is John 17:16–18 (NASB95) 16“They are not of the world,

BT. Roberts’ Up-to-Date Vision of Earnest Christianity

BT. Roberts’ Up-to-Date Vision of Earnest Christianity

June 11, 2021 By dwayman
  1. T. Roberts’ Up-to-Date Vision of Earnest Christianity

© Howard A. Snyder [Used by Permission]

Author, Populist Saints: B. T. and Ellen Roberts and the First Free Methodists

Visiting Director, Manchester Wesley Research Centre

Manchester, England

Roberts Wesleyan College – September 21, 2016

Introduction

Benjamin Titus Roberts always insisted that the mission of the Free Methodist Church was “twofold—to maintain the Bible standard of Christianity, and to preach the Gospel to the poor.”[1] He never lost sight of this throughout his many years of life and ministry.

I invite you this morning to consider the relevance of this mission for our lives personally and for the church today.

  1. B.T. Roberts and the Free Methodist Church were in a broad sense part of the Holiness Movement within American Methodism. This movement was committed to the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification as taught by John Wesley and as interpreted by leaders in the nineteenth-century Holiness Movement.

Roberts shared this concern with sanctification—that is, holy living in every dimension of life. Not everyone in the Holiness Movement however shared Roberts’ particular concern with the poor. In general, early Free Methodists embraced a more radical understanding of holiness as well as a more radical commitment to the poor. Sociologically speaking, the energy that powered early Free Methodism was somewhat separate and distinct from that of the broader Holiness Movement which in the 1860s,

YOUR POLITICS MAY BE RUINING YOUR MINISTRY

YOUR POLITICS MAY BE RUINING YOUR MINISTRY

April 29, 2021 By dwayman

Rev. Dr. Michael Traylor – May, 2021

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

“As people of faith, our challenge is to rise above political ideology and lead on moral grounds.  Don’t go right, don’t go left, go deeper.  (Jim Wallis – On God’s Side)

This last election cycle was among the most polarized and divisive election that I have ever witnessed. The degree of violence and vitriol revealed just how sick society is. Too often the dominant political narratives of our regions and family heritage often define our church culture, which in turn defines and informs the church’s mission. In other words, many churches have become co-opted by political agendas and have lost their true identity.

University of Notre Dame Political Scientists recently published a study which sought to analyze the phenomena of the rising population of people who have no religious affiliation over the past decade (Campbell, Layman, Green, Secular Surge, 2021). What they found was that often those who described themselves as non-religious often did so in reaction to political identities of religious movements,

THE BLACK CHURCH

THE BLACK CHURCH

February 22, 2021 By dwayman

Available both as a book and as a PBS Documentary, THE BLACK CHURCH by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the central role that the church played and plays in the lives of African American people.  Here is the available introduction (read an excerpt) of his work:

“INTRODUCTION

No pillar of the African American community has been more central to its history, identity, and social justice vision than the “Black Church.”* To be sure, there is no single Black Church, just as there is no single Black religion, but the traditions and faiths that fall under the umbrella of African American religion, particularly Christianity, constitute two stories: one of a people defining themselves in the presence of a higher power and the other of their journey for freedom and equality in a land where power itself—and even humanity—for so long was (and still is) denied them. Collectively, these churches make up the old‑ est institution created and controlled by African Americans, and they are more than simply places of worship. In the centuries since its birth in the time of slavery, the Black Church has stood as the foundation of Black religious, political, economic, and social life.
For a people systematically brutalized and debased by the in‑ humane system of human slavery, followed by a century of Jim Crow racism, the church provided a refuge: a place of racial and

*  Although there is no monolithic “Black Church,” just as there is no monolithic “Black vote” or “Black perspective,” for clarity throughout this book,

Government Restriction on Religious Practice Increases

Government Restriction on Religious Practice Increases

November 17, 2020 By dwayman

In this November 10, 2020 article by Pew Research Center, the world is experiencing an increase in government restrictions on religious practices.  The article is based on research done in 2018 and says in part:

“The increase in government restrictions reflects a wide variety of events around the world, including a rise from 2017 to 2018 in the number of governments using force – such as detentions and physical abuse – to coerce religious groups.

The total number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions has been mounting as well. Most recently, that number climbed from 52 countries (26% of the 198 countries and territories included in the study) in 2017 to 56 countries (28%) in 2018. The latest figures are close to the 2012 peak in the top two tiers of the Government Restrictions Index.

As of 2018, most of the 56 countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions on religion are in the Asia-Pacific region (25 countries, or half of all countries in that region) or the Middle East-North Africa region (18 countries, or 90% of all countries in the region).”

“How do restrictions on religion vary by regime type?

In this report, for the first time, Pew Research Center combined its data on government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion with a classification of regime types, based on the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

CHURCH AND STATE and the STATE of the CHURCH

CHURCH AND STATE and the STATE of the CHURCH

October 8, 2020 By dwayman

In this short work, Dr. Kang-Yup Na provides thoughts on the state of the US election with ecclesial insights.

Kang-Yup Na is an associate professor of religion at Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pa.).  An ordained minister and the son of first-generation Christian parents, he was baptized 13 June 1965 in South Korea, moved to Tennessee just before turning ten, and since then has lived, studied, taught, and served churches in various places in New Jersey, Korea, Atlanta, Germany, and New York City.

An earlier version of this article was originally published in Engage (October 2016), a publication of The Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary.  

From more than four dozen political parties and with over 1,200 candidates who have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president, it comes down once again to two people trying to persuade their fellow citizens to vote for them to preside over these United States of America.* We face the music of our republican constitutional heritage by electing our leader from among us every four years. And every four years, we seem to perform this civic dance of ours with increasing fatalism, with more and more citizens voting against candidates as much as for them, knowing that the de facto two-party system enjoys a kind of political perichoresis that will place either a Democrat or a Republican in the White House.

SHIPHRAH AND PUAH:  Defying the State

SHIPHRAH AND PUAH: Defying the State

August 23, 2020 By dwayman

When a State official, whether a Pharaoh, Emperor or President, uses the State’s power to harm, it is the Church’s responsibility to stand in protection.  This protection can be as simple as a protest or as active as a disobedience.  In this study by the Rev. Ben Wayman, PhD, the vicious decree by the Pharaoh of Egypt to kill all the newborn Hebrew boys provides a prime example of how each Christian should use their place of influence and responsibility to protect the vulnerable.  When the State’s rulers and systems are set to oppress, harm and destroy some of the least of these among us, then to do nothing is to participate in the State’s destruction.

Dr. Wayman explains based on these scriptures:  Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

“It’s time to stop fooling around. The gospel, friends, is political. Let me repeat: the gospel is political. Christianity is political. Jesus was political. That’s because politics is about people and people are at the center of God’s heart.

Two weeks ago, we received a message on our church Facebook page that said the following:

“Why would you support a hate group, why get a church into politics. You are the number one reason all churches should pay Taxes. I’m disappointed that you would follow a false narrative such as BLM. I will pray for you and the church to find wisdom and compassion for others as I have been touched by the BLM killing and destroying peoples lives.”

We responded by thanking this person for their prayers and sent them the piece we published in the Greenville Advocate explaining why we think it’s important for the church to say Black lives matter.

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,

CHURCH AND STATE FROM A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

CHURCH AND STATE FROM A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

April 24, 2020 By dwayman

One of the more difficult relationships is that of Church and State.  The reasons are many and must be explored from a variety of perspectives.  In this article, Dr. Jeff Mirus presents a thoughtful understanding of this relationship, and its present difficulties, from a Catholic perspective.

He says, in part:

“The Catholic position has always been what Pope Gelasius described in the late fifth century as the doctrine of “the two swords”. The State (the temporal order) is a natural society over which government presides with a natural authority, exercising that authority for the common good of the community it rules. This is the “temporal sword”. The Church, on the other hand, is a supernatural society which presides with a supernatural authority over souls, exercising that authority for the spiritual welfare of the community, both as a contribution to the common good and so that all its members may attain their final end, which is eternal life with God. This is the “spiritual sword.”

It follows that the Church is our authority for defining moral truth (which is inscribed in natural reality by the Creator) and also the truth which God discloses to us solely through Revelation. To expound these truths is the purpose of what we call “Christian doctrine”. It also follows that the State is our authority for devising and implementing the measures necessary to enforce the moral law most effectively for the good of the commonwealth, as well as the many other measures which will be needed to secure and advance the common good of all under its jurisdiction.”…