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Commentary


Drawing The Line Against Apostasy

by Kent L. Svendsen



The questions raised are not a forum within which we can have diversity since they strike directly at several issues relating to the essentials of salvation. They define a point at which we must draw a line and separate ourselves from apostasy.

It should be noted that I did not give the title to the article [Pro-homosexuality Conference Leaders Use "Clergy Forum" To Promote Doctrines Contrary To UM Teachings in N. Illinois] nor did I personally post it to this site. But since it was made public I will comment since I have been accused of all sorts of things in response to its being posted.

I would not have made any comments at all except that this was promoted and made public by the conference through official leadership sources. It raises the question of having a "reformation" which is in fact a redefining of what it means to be Christian. That strikes at the heart of Wesley's demand that we have unity as concerns the essentials of faith. The questions raised are not a forum within which we can have diversity since they strike directly at several issues relating to the essentials of salvation. They define a point at which we must draw a line and separate ourselves from apostasy. These questions and particularly the way they are formed reveal an attempt to deny the "biblical way to salvation" that Wesley proclaimed. A better discussion perhaps would be a way for all of us to get together and begin promoting a division of the denomination at our next general conference so that those who reject the biblical claims can (in my opinion) teach their apostasy without coming into conflict with those of us who hold firm to the Word of God.

The questions raised are answered quite completely by the Word of God which is something I guess is not much more than an inconvenience to some. It is evident that they substitute human philosophy for and reject divine revelation. In fact, the Bible tells us that this very type of situation would come about. II Timothy 3 tells us this:

"... continue in what you have learned and have been convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have know the holy Scriptures, which are able to make your wise for salvation (A UM doctrine) through faith in Christ Jesus. (That's the Jesus who is The Way, The Truth, The Life and the only way to get to God.) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness... It continues in Chapter 4: "For the time will come when (humanity) will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths...

The list of questions your forum offer contain a large number of "myths" which deny not only the scripture way to salvation but the proper role and authority of Jesus Christ. In this regard we should take a lesson from the German Protestant theologian Gerd Ludemann who said: "I no longer describe myself as a Christian". Professor Ludemann considers the biblical witness as "the great deception" and criticizes "liberal theologians" who he says are attempting to reinterpret Christian doctrine so they can continue to describe themselves in good conscience as Christian.

I have no problem with people embracing any belief or doctrine they wish and far be it for me to criticize them for it. However, when you do so in an attempt to make it mainstream within United Methodism you are at that point tampering with MY faith and practice.

Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
Elder
Northern Illinois Conference


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