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Evangelical UM Leader Declares UM Denomination Sick,  Urges Teach Christian Doctrine If UMC Won't

United Methodist Pastor Bill Bouknight of Christ UMC [editor's note: UM Logo missing from website!?] Memphis declared that The United Methodist Church is in recovery from decades of spiritual anemia. But he warned, “Many of our leaders and professors ignore, deny, or are embarrassed by the belief in the atoning death of Jesus Christ.”

Bouknight spoke in Orlando, Florida to the annual United Methodist Congress on Evangelism, sponsored by the Board of Discipleship’s Council on Evangelism. Over 500 clergy and laity warmly greeted his message.

“If the United Methodist Church could be compared to a hospital patient, after about 1970 she would have been ‘in serious condition,’“ Bouknight recalled.. “Fifty years of steady biblical criticism in the seminaries had left her spiritually anemic.”

The church’s low point came in 1993, Bouknight said, when the “Re-Imagining Conference,” with much United Methodist support, promoted goddess worship. The “faint response ” from UM leadership indicated United Methodism had slipped into “critical condition.”

Bouknight called the 2000 General Conference, which strongly reaffirmed traditional Christian teaching on theology and sexual morality, the “Cleve land comeback.” As a hospital patient, The United Methodist Church is now in recovery. He credited the prayers of thousands of United Methodists and the work of the church reform movement.. That is the good news, Bouknight said. The bad news remains that many United Methodist officials do not believe Christ died on the cross to atone for sinful humanity. Christ’s atonement is central to Christian faith and the “cornerstone of John Wesley’s theology.”

“Today Mr. Wesley’s core beliefs are disregarded by many,” Bouknight lamented. He cited several examples. In an article several years ago in the Interpreter, a United Methodist magazine, the Rev. James Lawson, a prominent United Methodist, wrote: “We must stop preaching that Jesus died to save us from our sins.’”

Bouknight described a recently published United Methodist confirmation resource from Cokesbury called “Claim the Name.” It does not mention Jesus’ atonement, the cross, or Jesus’ role as Savior. “It is a primer for universalism,” Bouknight said, urging that supplemental materials be used with it to explain orthodox Christian beliefs to young people in confirmation classes.

The popularity of New Age author Marcus Borg on some United Methodist seminar y campuses is another example of the problem, Bouknight said. Borg, who calls himself a “panentheist,” has written “Jesus did not see his own mission or purpose as dying for the sins of the world.” Borg was enthusiastically introduced by Bishop Mar y Ann Swenson at Iliff School of Theology several years ago.

“Isn’t it a form of pernicious pride that assumes that if I cannot understand something, it must not be real?” Bouknight asked.. Faithful Christians may not entirely comprehend the atonement, but they rely on it. He quoted retired UM Bishop Earl Hunt: “I do not understand the cross fully, but I have been saved by it.”

Every time he sees a cross, Bouknight said, he feels like the three Vietnam War veterans whose names were erroneously carved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “My name is written on the cross; I can read it with my heart. He died in my place so that I might live eternally.”

Bouknight urged all United Methodist clergy and churches to take three actions:

(1) Devote at least part of a sermon once a month to proclaiming the cross to “unsaved people.”

(2) Examine confirmation materials to ensure that children have a chance to understand the meaning of the cross.

(3) At least annually, teach a course on “essential Methodist beliefs.”

“May God help The United Methodist Church never to get over the cross, but indeed to glory in it, and to shout it from the roof- tops,” Bouknight concluded, to warm applause.

Action: Write the Rev. Bill Bouknight and thank him for his message to the Congress on Evangelism.

Rev. Bill Bouknight
Christ United Methodist Church
4488 Poplar Ave.
Memphis TN 38117


Ask your Pastor and Administrative Board to take the three actions suggested by Rev. Bouknight.

Source: http://www.ird-renew.org/documents/umactionmar2002_v8.pdf


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