In the first installment of this discussion on Methodism, we mentioned that churches (denominations) often die from within. It would seem to us that this is exactly what has happened to the Methodist Church in America and globally. The church that Wesley built has had the spiritual structure to last for centuries, but apparently no more. If there was ever a person who saw and then seized an opportunity it was Wesley. When the doors of the church were closed to him, he began to preach in the open air. He migrated to a physical building only when weather and crowds made open air preaching impractical.
Wesley’s approach to his faith seemed unbending, uncompromising, and deeply grounded in Biblical principles. When he began to preach outside of physical churches, he had to withstand serious criticism from within the established church. Many within the Anglican Church were not willing to accept his message without a struggle. From our perspective, Wesley never seemed to want his movement to replace the Anglican Church, but instead to be a “methodical” way to learn about Christ and about education.
Wesley seemed to foretell the coming challenges the movement would face when he said:
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
“My fear is not that our great movement, known as the Methodists, will eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. My fear is that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great.”
Churches, like companies and countries, die from internal or external forces. They often rot from their success when they attract leadership more concerned with money, power, and self-aggrandizement than their core spiritual mission. But they can also be attacked from within and outside by those who seek to destroy the church and what it stands for within society. Those who would seek to reduce the influence of the church in everyday life, some to replace the Church with the State. We have seen this in our public schools and the same forces are at work in Methodism. The State has no moral compass, it must be guided by the aggregate thinking of its citizens. This may or may not be grounded in moral thinking, and increasing in our society there is a taste for no grounding at all. These are not seeds of progress as often sold, but seeds of destruction.
We know that our public schools have been attacked in a systematic way by those who would destroy our Country by seizing the reins of youthful instruction. The process has proceeded along a systematic path for decades, knowing that controlling the education system will eventually graduate children who have a distorted view of our Country, and seek to replace our Republic with other forms of government.
“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
“If we were to remove the Bible from public schools we would be wasting so much time punishing crimes and taking so little pains to prevent them.”
There is little reason to suspect that these same forces have not been at work in the Seminaries of our major religious denominations. Today there are only eighteen Methodist Seminaries listed by the church, five of those are outside the United States. The thirteen recognized seminaries in the United States date back to only 1968 when the UMC was formed. John Wesley could never have imagined how these halls of study could be turned into breeding grounds of destruction rather than seeds of faith. These far left and often irreligious graduates eventually make their way to local congregations, and this has in large part been Methodism’s undoing.
A major cause of the split in Methodism is the use of money from local parishioners to support programs and schools only adhering to a far-left ideology, an ideology that no one could believe Wesley could or would have endorsed. This is the same ideological split we see in our national politics. Many of the Methodist seminaries focus on secular issues and mask them as religious tolerance issues. They become halls of study where the focus on religion and the teachings of Wesley are secondary to secular issues. Wesley was not a tolerant person, otherwise he would never have taken the difficult path he embarked on in his time.
In just one heavily subsidized seminary courses include: Queer Spirituality in the Visual Arts and Support of the LGBTQIA+ Community (35% of the students identify as LGBTQIA+). It is difficult to fit this into Wesley’s religious concepts. These seminaries have slowly been infiltrated with thinking by Universal Unitarian and neo-pagan faculty. It seems to most Methodists that their seminaries should be primarily focused on Christianity. Christian students need to understand other religions and even pagan influences but having them on faculty is a deliberate undermining of the faith. These are not the false religions Methodists need for building the faith, they are the adversaries of Methodism.
With the separation of the Methodists underway how these schools realign will be interesting. Those in the original line of thought, true Wesleyan beliefs, will most likely leave the United Methodist Church behind to seek a more traditional path. Those on the far left will, in our hopes, perish from lack of moral principles and funding. They will last for a while, but as funding dries up, we must hope that true Wesleyan thinking washes away these organizations.
Wesley would likely have endorsed a single small group meeting to further the faith than the secular behemoth the UMC has become. Next, we want to look at how the movement away from the United Methodist Church is progressing and how it is changing the surviving churches, and in some cases the world.
Resources Used In This Article
Drew Theological School, drew.edu, accessed last on June 20, 2023.
John Wesley’s Birthday, by Tommy Herndon, Virginia United Methodist Foundation, vaumfoundation.org, June 21, 2021.
The Institute on Religion & Democracy, www.theird.org
Sponsoring Seminaries, The people of the United Methodist Church, www.umc.org, last accessed June 21, 2023.
The Truth about United Methodist Seminaries, Matt Jameson, www.jucyecumenism.com, September 14, 2022.
UMDATA.org, Last accessed, June 24, 2023.
United Methodism’s Iliff Seminary Embraces Paganism, by Matt Jameson, https://juicyecumenism.com/2022/02/14/united-methodist-iliff-paganism/, February 14, 2022.
United Methodist Seminaries Promote Unitarian Universalism, By Collin Bastian, United Methodist Seminaries Promote Unitarian Universalism (juicyecumenism.com), July 12, 2022.
Wesley Theological Seminary, www.wesleyseminary.edu, last accessed June 21, 2023.
What difference does it make to read the Bible as followers of John Wesley?, Wesleyan Theology, Wesleyan Theology (matthewschlimm.com), by Matthew Schlimm.