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,

THE SUFFERING WITNESS                 by Ayebale Barigye

THE SUFFERING WITNESS by Ayebale Barigye

October 14, 2021 By dwayman

The necessity of hearing the Word of God preached by a variety of unique pastors is vital to a full understanding of the Gospel. Each pastor not only comes from their own place in history but also in geography and culture.  Pastor Ayebale Barigye was born in Uganda and raised in the United States.  He is a graduate of Greenville University.  This blend of international and national experience not only causes Pastor Barigye to have a clear understanding of the justice our faith requires, but the importance of following our Suffering Savior as we also pick up our own cross and follow him.  This sermon is a part of the series on Suffering preached at St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church in Greenville, IL.

This sermon was given on October 10, 2021.  The audio is available on YouTube by clicking here.

LOVING FROM WHERE WE STAND

LOVING FROM WHERE WE STAND

October 11, 2021 By dwayman

When John wrote that the mark of being a Christian is by our love for all, (John 13:35) he established what is our clear Free Methodist understanding of the social concerns of our day.  This truth, also called the Theology of Love by Wesleyan authors such as Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, defines the dynamic power of love that is central to our Wesleyan heritage.

It is therefore appropriate that Supt. Bruce Cromwell was asked as a member of the Study Commission on Doctrine to write about the love we are committed to expressing to the LGBT community as we stand upon the teachings of Scripture.  His guidance has been published under the title Loving From Where We Stand and can be ordered here.

To understand his heart, this interview on FM Radio is a shared conversation with the Rev. Dr. Cromwell and Elijah Drake.  You can listen to the podcast here.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A COLORBLIND CHRISTIANITY

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A COLORBLIND CHRISTIANITY

August 19, 2021 By dwayman

With the 2020 Census revealing that we are increasingly a multicultural nation and therefor must be a multicultural denomination if we are to reach this and future generations, this article provides both an analysis and a call upon us.  Written by Amar D. Peterman in August 17, 2021 the author begins:

“In its early stages, the multiracial church movement felt promising. Inspired by the 2004 book United by Faith, this movement held bold aspirations of a racially reconciled, Revelation-like worshiping community. While many questioned whether this elusive dream might become a reality, I wanted it to be true.

Yet, as Tom Gjelten reported for NPR last year, the multiracial church movement failed. While the movement succeeded in racially integrating congregants, many multiracial congregations remained steeped in a Christian faith governed by whiteness. Congregations grew in diversity, yet governance and meaningful decision-making power was safeguarded by cohorts of predominantly white male leadership.

For all its promises, the multiracial church movement was unequipped and under-resourced to deliver. Most importantly, this movement failed to address the distorted imagination of belonging.

To understand this, one must start with a core interpretive assumption held among mainstream evangelicals. The task of hermeneutics, as I was taught at an evangelical Bible college, is a process of ridding oneself of the baggage — the “bias” and “presuppositions” — we bring to the text: our experiences,

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,

LOVING MUTUALITY AS GOD’S PLAN FOR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

LOVING MUTUALITY AS GOD’S PLAN FOR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

March 14, 2021 By dwayman

LOVING MUTUALITY AS GOD’S PLAN FOR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

The Study Commission on Doctrine Free Methodist Church-USA 2021

Free Methodists celebrate God’s original creation of humans in the divine image. Bearing the Divine Image, among the many particulars we might note, characterizes humanity as male and female, and does so especially when together they fulfill their vocation as co-stewards and governors of the creation (see Gen. 1: 26-31, and the note that “it is not good for the human to be alone,” in 2:18). Both accounts of Creation stress the mutual, collaborative nature of the original human vocation.

Subsequently, the humans disobey the Lord and bring upon themselves and their world multiple forms of disorder and distortion (Gen. 3). Rather than blessing, the world experiences curse; and instead of ruling together over the world, the man and woman suffer brokenness in their relationship. Now, she will desire the man, but the man will rule over her (Gen. 3:16). This hierarchical pattern characterizes human history from that point on and manifests the consequences of human sin. The impact of this altered or broken relationship for women has been bleak. Men take multiple wives. Women are objectified and valued for their ability to produce children and to provide sexual pleasure. As objects, girls are less desirable than boys, except as dowry for the household. As objects, girls are promised and given in marriage to expand the family’s social capital. And, as objects, girls and women are raped as a means of humiliating the enemy and taken as part of the spoils claimed by victors.

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,

TRANSGENDERED IDENTITIES

TRANSGENDERED IDENTITIES

January 29, 2021 By dwayman

Preston Sprinkle, Embodied: Transgendered Identities, The Church and What the Bibles Has to Say, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2021)

David W. Kendall, Ph.D. Bishop Emeritus, Free Methodist Church-USA, provides this review of the book by Preston Sprinkle, Embodied: Transgendered Identities, The Church and What the Bibles Has to Say, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2021)

Bishop Emeritus Kendall writes:

“Dr. Preston Sprinkle is one of most competent and compassionate voices speaking to both church and world today, especially on issues of sexuality, gender, and their interfaces with the church and discipleship.  Embodied reflects why the church would be wise to listen to his voice.

In this book, Dr. Sprinkle addresses “the universe of fact and fiction, Science and Scripture, thoughtful responses and reflexive reactions that surround persons experiencing some form of gender dysphoria – a sense of incongruity between their biologically sexed body and their sense of gendered identity. As he does, he outlines the basics of the sciences—biological, neurological, psychological—and what conclusions can at present be confidently drawn, what questions remain outstanding, and where the data are mixed or ambiguous.

Dr. Sprinkle also outlines the cultural, social and political dynamics that surround the experiences of trans persons and that condition the varied responses they encounter from others. These dynamics provide important context for understanding the marked increase of people experiencing gender dysphoria and self-identifying as trans.

Dr. Sprinkle carefully considers relevant passages and themes of Scripture,

Critical [G]race Theory: The Promise & Perils of CRT

Critical [G]race Theory: The Promise & Perils of CRT

December 17, 2020 By dwayman

We often have a misunderstanding of scholarly work because of the way it is spun, often divisively,  in the various media outlets.  Additionally, our perspective as Christians often takes truth as it is discovered by scholars and gives it a larger reframe and corrective such that we recognize the way God is preveniently at work in the world.  In this article by pastor Rasool Berry, we not only are given an academic understanding of Critical Race Theory, but are given insightful observations about how God’s Grace is at work.  In his article Pastor Berry also imbeds a compelling video of his own.

Pastor Berry writes in part:

“Critical Theorists and Christians often disagree on the answers to key philosophical questions such as the existence of truth or the moral grounding of social justice, BUT we do agree that questions surrounding these issues are crucial. Both the critical race theorists who don’t identify as Christians (contrary to popular belief some do as we will see below) and Christians who uphold the Scriptures agree that human liberation from tyrannical oppression is good, and that our justice system should treat everyone fairly regardless of their economic status, race, ethnicity or gender. We, no doubt, disagree on some aspects of what “human liberation” or “justice” look like. But we all agree that racial discrimination is wrong. C. S. Lewis wrote “The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others,