Scripture Busters

by Rev. Joe Hoover

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John Wesley used four guides to correct thinking about theology: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. But John Wesley still saw the Scriptures as the primary and only authoritative source of our beliefs and practices. A crisis has developed within the United Methodist Church because some are placing a much stronger emphasis on experience than on Scripture. This has stirred the core of a once united church. If the Scriptures are overlooked or an attempt is made to shatter a straightforward rendering of what traditional interpretation of Scripture has meant, then we have a sliding foundation of Scripture that will lead many people into a false and destructive loss of their confidence in what the Scripture can and does teach.

There are now several Bishops and even more ministers which would like to throw away portions of Scripture that call sex between two people of the same gender an abomination unto God. The optimum word, according to them, is that this behavior needs to be accepted as normal and not a sin. A church that is comfortable not calling behavior that is strictly forbidden in the Scriptures "sin" is heading for a fall. If Scriptures can be ignored and our theology can now be based on what an individual or a group can call "normal" then we have lost our directional beacon. The Scripture's have been "busted" and can no longer be used as a guide to what we believe.

I am not ready to give up the Scriptures as the basis for what I teach or practice. I believe the Scriptures were faithfully passed down to give society and the world a teaching instrument on how we should be living as God's people on earth. If we go against what God has shared through these writings then we can no longer be called a people of God. Yes, we all have sinned and do not live up to the highest ideals of the Scriptures. Through the grace of Jesus Christ my sins have been forgiven and I can now walk around as if that sin had never happened. Yet, I also know in my heart that God doesn't want me to continue in my sins. He continually challenges me to put away the behavior that is not Christ-like in nature and is contrary to God's will. Therefore, any sin in ones life -- lust, fornication, lying, murder, or any other sin sexual or otherwise -- needs to be redeemed by the blood of Christ and a cleansing needs to take place that calls us into new life. If I continue to live without seeking the change wrought in Christ, then my sins are not forgiven and I remain in my sins. And the wages of sin is death.

The United Methodist people are still standing on the ground that Scripture and tradition teaches that homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching. We as Methodists do not believe that a practicing or self-professed homosexual should be allowed to be ordained or appointed to a United Methodist Church or agency. We also believe that an ordained United Methodist minister should not perform a "Holy Union" service between two people of the same gender in our churches. If we want this ground to stay firm, it is important that the United Methodist people send delegates to the 2000 General Conference who will affirm the Scriptures and our traditional practices in our United Methodist Denomination. Each Annual Conference in the Summer of 1999 will be electing lay and clergy delegates. Who will you send? How will they make a stand on these important issues? Will you let the "Scripture busters" destroy all that you have held dear? Will You pray for the UMC?

(Rev. Joe Hoover pastors the United Methodist Churches in Ringgold and Castor, Louisiana. )

The Confessing Movement in the United Methodist Church represents 2,390 United Methodist pastors, 1,210 member churches, and 528,000 individual members to date.

You may also wish to visit the following web sites:The unofficial Confessing Movement, Concerned Methodists, and The United Methodist web site and news service.

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume VII, Part 5, May 1999.

Copyright 1999 Joe Hoover. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.