FOUR CHRISTIAN VIEWS ON SEXUALITY

April 2, 2023 By dwayman

In an attempt to provide clarity in the discussion on Christian responses to same-sex attracted individuals, Josh Proctor provides a nomenclature of Four Christian Views on Sexuality.  These views are stated simply providing resources in support of each view, while emphasizing the SIDE B position.

Proctor notes that this is not a grid for understanding transexual persons, and then says:

“When it comes to Christian understanding of sexuality, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs and perspectives. Today, one of the main systems which has emerged to categorize these perspectives is the “Sides” terminology which is predominantly encompassed by four Sides: Side A, Side B, Side Y, and Side X. No system of belief categorization is perfect, but it can help us better communicate nuances within the conversation.

Before delving into the detailed differences of the Sides, here are quick definitions for each one:

Side A – God intentionally created queer people to have sexual attractions to members of the same sex and blesses sex between members of the same sex within certain boundaries.

Side B – God intended sex to be reserved for the lifelong covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. Therefore, God calls all believers (queer and straight alike) to the vocation of celibacy within community or to a monogamous marriage with a member of the opposite sex. Still this does not erasure sexual orientation. Therefore queer identity is a healthy way of communicating one’s experience and desires.

INFANT BAPTISM and INFANT DEDICATION

INFANT BAPTISM and INFANT DEDICATION

March 31, 2023 By dwayman

One of the expressions of our Free Methodist “via media” is to bring together both Infant Baptism and Infant Dedication giving the parent(s) the opportunity to choose for their own child(ren).  To do this the Study Commission on Doctrine created this educational document expressing the support of each theological position.

INFANT BAPTISM/DEDICATION

Study Commission on Doctrine

   In the Free Methodist Church, both divine grace and personal decisions are considered integral to the Christian life. The practice of two seemingly contradictory rituals in the church is a witness to this reality. While infant baptism highlights divine grace infant dedication emphasizes personal decision.

The two rituals share much in common. In both, families present their children to the Lord in the presence of the community of faith. Prayers are offered for these children, especially as concerns their spiritual development and personal salvation. The families and the church acknowledge their responsibilities and make commitments as regards the bringing up of these children ‘in the Lord’s discipline and instruction’ Prayers are offered for the families as regards their special role in this process.

Both rituals reflect a prayerful expectation of the children’s role in personally experiencing and affirming God’s grace in their lives “at an early age.” God’s help and blessing are invoked.

The Scriptures do not state explicitly whether infants should be dedicated or baptized, or whether baptism should be reserved until one is able to respond personally in faith to God’s grace (as a mature child,

BEYOND THE WESLEYAN QUADRILATERAL? by David S. Wisener

March 11, 2023 By dwayman

By David S. Wisener

Rev. Wisener is a Free Methodist pastor planting a church in north central Florida

RESPONSE by Howard Snyder

Dr. Snyder is a retired Free Methodist professor from Asbury Theological Seminary

WISENER:

I come from a long line of mainline Methodists through my mother’s family, so from an early age, I was taught the unique emphases John Wesley put on the Christian faith. As many have noted before, Wesley’s evangelism was instrumental in contributing to the Great Awakening and reshaping Christianity over the last 300 years.
I began to develop a love for philosophy in my late teens and early 20s, particularly a field known as epistemology, which is the study of knowledge or, more specifically, what it means to know things. I was interested in exploring the ways in which Christians justify our beliefs as a genuine form of knowledge and, as a good Wesleyan, that led to my first introduction to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is, as described in the Pastors and Church Leaders Manual, “an effort to describe a Methodist methodology for theological formulation.” In other words, it’s meant to be a way for Methodists to determine spiritual truth.

Theologian Albert Outler coined the phrase in the 1960s as his way of explaining how Wesley came to his theological decisions. It lists four sources of truth: Scripture, tradition,

THE ART OF SUPERINTENDENCY

THE ART OF SUPERINTENDENCY

June 25, 2022 By dwayman

Denny Wayman – October 2020

Forward 

For over forty years I have supervised persons in ministry.  From the more formal structure of the Free Methodist polity to the informal conversations of counseling and friendship, these relationships have taught me what is and is not effective in supervising local church and conference ministries.  I learned most of these principles through direct experience as a lead pastor for 40 years, an Assistant Superintendent for 20 years and a Conference Superintendent for 10 years.[1] But I also learned other valuable insights through embarrassing and often debilitating failures.  The Southern California Conference is an extremely complex multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual ministry with varying sizes and styles of churches and with vast differences in pastoral training and experience.

I present these thoughts in service to God in fulfilling His call on my life and what I hope to be a gift to those who have similarly been called to superintend His church.  The unnecessary pain in so many of our pastors, pastoral families, congregations and conferences grieves us all.  It is my desire to help give the eyes to see the opportunities and dangers long before they come upon us.  To do this we need each other’s insights and experiences.  My thoughts are conversation starters.  It is my hope that each of us will bring our own experiences and unique situations into this discussion as together we can develop a robust understanding of the art required in effective superintending.

RESTLESS DEVICES: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age

RESTLESS DEVICES: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age

April 7, 2022 By dwayman

In an insightful study by Dr. Felicia Wu Song titled Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age, this professor of Sociology examines the impact of our ubiquitous and often devious devices.  Noting both their benefit and their peril, Song provides research, analysis and treatment for all of us.

Dr. Song says in part:

“What do we talk about now over two decades into the twenty-first century?   We still marvel over the efficacy of social media-driven campaigns like #metoo, still chuckle over the latest memes. But we are equally concerned about how our search engine algorithms results and social media feeds are driving our country toward increased incivility, polarization and extremism.  We examine the growing data on digital addictions from neuroscience and psychology research.  We wonder about the future of a democracy in a world where fake news is normalized, and we argue over the legal obligations of privacy protection: Who has a right to what information about us and when?…”

Noting the designed manipulation of social media users, Song writes:

“Tristan Harris…has been heralded as the ‘closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience.’ For several years he has been calling out tech companies for their exploitation of users’ psychological vulnerabilities and actively campaigning for ethical design.  And if you watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, you saw that Harris is just one of several Silicon Valley insiders who are choosing to tell all. 

CONSENT IS NOT ENOUGH

March 25, 2022 By dwayman

In the decades since the sexual revolution which unmoored our sexual ethics from any resemblance of Biblical teaching, the results are now clear: Consent is not enough!  This observation made by Christine Emba in the Washington Post provides an insightful place from which to consider where we go from now.  Not appealing directly to the Biblical teaching, Emba nevertheless uses a definition of LOVE that requires the life-long commitment to the well-being of the other.

Emba states, in part:

“Even when it goes well, sex is complicated. It involves our bodies, minds and emotions, our connections to each other and our deepest selves. Despite the (many, and popular) arguments that it’s only a physical act, it is clear to almost anyone who has had it that sex has vast consequences, some of which can last long after an encounter ends. Over the past several decades, our society has come to believe that consent — as a legal standard and a moral requirement — could somehow make our most unruly activity more manageable. But it was never going to be that easy….”

“The problem with all this is that consent is a legal criterion, not an ethical one. It doesn’t tell us how we should treat each other as an interaction continues. It doesn’t provide a good road map should something go off the rails. And it suggests that individual actions — “ask for consent,” “speak your mind,” “be more forceful in saying yes or no” — are enough to preempt the misunderstandings and hurt that can come with physical intimacy.

ACT JUSTLY

ACT JUSTLY

February 9, 2022 By dwayman

At the 2022 Andrews Chair in Christian Unity lecture, the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, pastor of  St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, London, presented an insightful and inspired path Christians can take in order to ACT JUSTLY.   Wells notes that we often focus on ending injustice while missing the opportunity to do justice. Presented to the faculty and student body of Greenville University, the lecture is a timely presentation in an unjust world as he calls the church to a holistic understanding of how we act to bring justice into our churches, communities and nations.

The lecture is presented here in Facebook Video format:

5th Annual Andrews Chair Lecture:  Act Justly by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells

 

 

HONORING GOD’s COVENANT:  Caring for the Earth

HONORING GOD’s COVENANT: Caring for the Earth

January 18, 2022 By dwayman

Free Methodists and Creation Care

Honoring God’s Covenant: Caring for the Earth

Howard A. Snyder

Introduction

God has an everlasting covenant with His earth, as well as with His people. Since we humans are God’s stewards on earth, called to care for the garden (Genesis 2:15), God’s earth covenant is our stewardship commission. This is particularly true for Free Methodists, called to “maintain the Bible standard of Christianity.”

God’s Covenant with the Earth

The Lord God brings salvation to earth through a series of revealed covenants, culminating in the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ. The first of these covenants, following humanity’s fall into sin and after the flood, is revealed in Genesis 9.

God says to Noah after the flood, “I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark” (Genesis 9:9–10 NRSV). God makes it clear that this covenant is “with every living creature” and is “for all generations.” It is in fact an “everlasting covenant” — true and to be observed throughout all history. God calls this simply His “covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:12–16). All covenants have a sign, and the sign of this covenant is the rainbow.

CALLED FROM HATE AND DISDAIN TO LOVE

CALLED FROM HATE AND DISDAIN TO LOVE

January 10, 2022 By dwayman

At the beginning of 2022 the Word of the Lord came through Jim Wright to all of us.  Representative of the thousands of sermons given on January 9th, Wright provides us with God’s guidance in times when we often look to others far less helpful.  A lawyer and professor, his message to us is that we are called away from hate and distain to love toward all.

His text is 1 John 3:16-24:  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him,

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,