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,