UM Bishops (System) Must Be Cast Out—Former UM Pastor Calls For New Methodist Alliance
Friends and Colleagues,
For a generation now we truly Wesleyan Methodists have sought to "renew" our Church from "within." I've always thought "within" was a term of convenience.
I once had a talk with Chuck Kaiser, founder of Good News, while I was in seminary at Asbury. He was at that point a troubled man and, we later found out, a man suffering a fatal illness. But he was also a hurt man. He was made to wait outside Dr. Stanger's office for nearly an hour, for the Asbury community at that time was ashamed of him. He had let it slip that there was talk of separating from the United Methodist Church. He got caught up in his own words, understandably so, given the nature of his illness and the highly politicized atmosphere of the United Methodist Church in those days. Imagine how he would have fared two decades later, when the Re-Imaging Conference laughed at Jesus, when Bishop Sprague ET AL were arrested at Cleveland, when those openly defiant of the rules of the Church skate en masse.
Yet, beyond the indignities of his last days, Chuck Kaiser was a man of action, putting together an effective renewal movement that has grown. Yet, he would have acknowledged, even in a confused state that it was not his doing but under girding grace; for where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.
It has been my privilege over the decades to know wonderful Pastors, professors, friends and colleagues who have led me along the way. Again, it may be said that where sin abounds grace does much more abound.
Taking the measure of how much sin there is and conversely how much grace there is to draw upon, I want to represent an idea that is forming in the minds of many across the country -- that all we can accomplish through "renewal" from "within" existing structures may be coming to an end. New, greater and different sins are in evidence, so the infinite resourcefulness of God is challenged to greater, better and more glorious forms of grace.
"Renewal" speaks to existing structures just as "revival" speaks to a lifting of our spirits Godward with fresh inspiration of the Spirit. "Reform" speaks to structures. In the words of Christ, "New wineskins for new wine." I'm convinced we've done all we can do with existing structures. And I believe the enemies of the Gospel, and there are quite a few, have reached near perfection in the use of existing structures to protect their heresies and outrages.
But we are the true Church, founded upon the rock of Christ and the Apostles, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. We should march against strongholds and cast out the malefactors. And the only way to do that and so fully reclaim the message of transforming love is to assault the structures. The temple has become a fortress for false prophets and false shepherds; and the temple must be cleansed. We are commanded by Holy Writ to cleanse the temple.
The enablers of wickedness in our Church are the Bishops. The structural reform that we must institute by vote of the General Conference in 2004 is to return to the original plan of John Wesley fro the American Methodists. John Wesley rejected monarchial diocesan episcopacy in favor of a presbyterian government.
The Bishops of England did Wesley no good and the Bishops of the United Methodist Church are doing the poor of God's people and the humble servants of God no good. Bishops are not needed either for ordaining or for making appointments. In each Conference the body of Elders may ordain and may elect to open churches the Pastors who will truly care for the tender flock of God.
Let us rid ourselves of coalition politics and virtual idol worship when it comes to Bishops. Let them be the first wicked who are driven from among us. Or let them be Pastors if they are nice about it.
I want to call your attention to http://www.AmMethCh.org/index.html, where you will find a pattern for re-establishing in America the original vision of John Wesley, including a doctrinal discipline that makes orthodox belief part of the Constitution of our Church. It is truly a pattern upon which we can build rather than the bureaucratic manual we have now that is not enforced.
I must do this.
In the last few years I've experienced extraordinary personal upheavals. I nearly died. But there's a Rock that is greater than I. My calling is renewed, my hope reborn, the fire is rekindled. Yet, in the midst of it all, I'll not fret over outcomes ... for all is in the hands of God in Christ, who loves us.
Yours in Him,
Michael D. Hinton, M.Div., L.S.W.
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