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UM Religious Leader Calls For Withhold Financial Support For Heretical Bishops


From: Donald E. Wildmon [mailto:afa@afa.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 5:46 PM
To: John Warrener
Subject: Committee Approves Bishop Sprague's Beliefs (corrected version)
The Methodist Church.com - A message from Donald E. Wildmon
Not Affiliated with The United Methodist Church

Committee Approves Bishop Sprague's Beliefs

What can those concerned do about this situation?

A four person committee, headed by Bishop Bruce R. Ough, has determined that the views of UM Bishop Joseph Sprague are acceptable and there is not enough evidence against the bishop to bring him to church trial. The committee, composed of Bishop Ough, Bishop Linda Lee of Michigan and two other unidentified persons, issued their findings on February 17.

Here are the beliefs of Bishop Sprague which the committee found acceptable.

  • (1) The belief that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. Bishop Sprague called such a belief "an arrogant claim." Of course, Bishop Sprague's refusal to accept faith in Christ as the only way to salvation makes Jesus into a fool. If there are other ways to salvation, then the death of Jesus was totally unnecessary. The death of Christ for the forgiveness of sins of those who believe in Him is, according to Bishop Sprague, "superstition at best" and idolatry at worst.
  • (2) The belief that Jesus was not born of a virgin.
  • (3) The belief that Jesus did not physically rise from the dead.
  • (4) The belief that Jesus was not born the Christ. Bishop Sprague says that Jesus became the Christ by "the confluence of grace with faith."

The committee was extremely critical of those who brought charges against Bishop Sprague, saying their disagreement with Bishop Sprague should have been handled privately. This despite the fact that it was Bishop Sprague himself who brought his beliefs to the public both by speaking in a public forum and in his public writings.

In addition to the above stated beliefs of Bishop Sprague, he has been outspoken in his advocacy of legalizing homosexual marriage and the ordaining of practicing homosexuals.

The ruling means that Bishop Sprague will continue to be a member and bishop in good standing in the UMC, and his salary will continue to be paid by the Episcopal Fund, which is funded from donations by individuals given to their local church.

On February 3, Donald E. Wildmon, an elder in the Mississippi Conference, issued a press release stating that the charges against Bishop Sprague would be dismissed and that he would not be brought to trial. "Leadership in the church will attempt to keep the investigation as low key as possible. The charges against Sprague will be dismissed with little comment and he will continue to serve as bishop," Wildmon wrote. Two weeks later the committee did exactly that.

When ordained a UM minister, Sprague promised to uphold the teachings of the church. He answered yes to the following questions: "Have you studied the doctrines of the United Methodist Church? After full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures? Will you preach and maintain them?" He reaffirmed these when he was ordained a bishop. In addition, he asks those same questions of ministers he ordains into the UM ministry.

What can those concerned do about this situation?

Reaction to the committee's approval of Bishop Sprague's views has varied from withholding funds to organizing for the election of General and Jurisdictional delegates.

Bishop Sprague's salary is paid from the Episcopal Fund. Each local UM church is apportioned a given amount to contribute to the fund. Bishops are paid from this fund. Since bishops are elected for life, Bishop Sprague will continue to be paid from the fund for as long as he maintains his membership in the UMC.

Since the General Conference is the controlling body in the UMC, many United Methodists are gearing up to elect delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference who believe in the orthodox view of Christianity and reject Bishop Sprague's interpretation of Scripture. And since bishops are elected by Jurisdictional Conference, some are putting emphasis on electing delegates and supporting candidates for the episcopacy who are more traditional in their beliefs.

Some UM's are tired of financially supporting leaders such as Bishop Sprague and are withholding their support to the Episcopal Fund by designating where their gifts to the local church can be used. The UM Discipline makes it clear that individual members have the right to so designate their gifts. And there is growing discussion among various local churches concerning the withholding of their Episcopal Fund apportionments.

The UMNews press release and other information relating to this issue can be found on the Internet at themethodistchurch.com. Concerned individuals can also participate in discussion with other United Methodists and get the latest information at themethodistchurch.com.

You are urged to email his bulletin to your United Methodist friends.


Copyright 2003, TheMethodistChurch.com

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