Reflections: Letters to the editor (Nov-Dec 2015)
I just read the digital edition of the Sept/Oct Interpreter magazine. It is the BEST issue ever! I am a retired United Methodist local licensed pastor and would like to have a printed copy of this issue for future reference. I would actually like to have multiple copies to hand out to folks I know who could use them.
Leonard Benson, McKendree UMC, Troy, Ohio, and First UMC, Eustis, Florida
The quote under "A Short History" ["It Is All about Relationships," (Sept/Oct)] mischaracterizes both John Wesley and early American Methodism. First, the early circuit riders were missionaries dispatched by Wesley. They understood Wesley's model and replicated it. This includes Francis Asbury. He carefully shepherded the flock until he died in 1816. True, American Methodism was planted by two local preachers from England. They had some irregularities. However, the missionaries fully "Methodized" American Methodism.
Second, like Wesley, early Methodist circuit riders preached to crowds in the open air, taverns, schoolhouses, public executions or anywhere else. When they gave an "altar call," it was to join a class, submit to the Methodist discipline and flee from the wrath to come. They did not give calls to get saved! One fled from the wrath to come by fleeing from one's sins and by growing into the image of Christ. For this reason, it is unfortunate that modern American Methodism has separated evangelism from church discipline, church growth, the assurance of salvation and the pursuit of holiness. In Wesleyan Methodism, they belong together.
In short, early American Methodism was a disciple-making machine that literally changed the people who joined themselves to it. In time, it also changed America. Like Wesley, circuit riders knew that evangelism without a call to join a class did not save people, produce disciples or change society.
Third, many have determined that social justice should be the end state of The UMC's engagement with society. For Wesley, social transformation (reform of the nation) is the fruit of Methodism. It does this by spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land. When The UMC separates social justice from evangelism, it will have neither.
For further reading on this, I suggest my American Methodism: Past and Future Growth (Emeth Press, 2013).
W. P. Payne, Ph.D., professor of Evangelism and World Missions, Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, OH
I am thankful for the thought-provoking and encouraging information that Interpreter provides for our (United) Methodist Church and our members. As district director for lay servant/speaker training and assignment, I appreciate and benefit from the inspiration and new ideas shared from teachers, laity and congregations. We are truly a connectional church ... connected by this wonderful communication tool.
J. Henry Duncan, Bluegrass District, Kentucky Conference, Versailles, KY
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