Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Why am I United Methodist?

Why am I United Methodist?  A simple question with a variety of answers.

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment.

One might answer – I don’t know!

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist?

What are the good points of United Methodism as part of the Christian faith?  What are the points that aren’t so good?  IYHO (In your humble opinion).

Mt. Oak Fellowship is a Christian Church that is part of the United Methodist Denomination.  That has its pluses and minuses for sure.

This post is not meant to be a praise the denomination or tear it down post but rather I’m interested in what people think about our denomination. (maybe – like one of the responses above – you simply saw us as a Christian church and denomination hasn’t entered your thinking.)

So be gentle and bold at the same time – and try to back up some of your comments.

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February 23, 2010 - Posted by | Church, Denomination, Encouragement, From the Pastor | ,

14 Comments »

  1. What Methodism is now (at least in certain conferences) is not what it once was. The early Methodists like John Wesley, Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke and others were serious minded Christians committed to personal holy living, outreach to the poor and had a major role in the evangelical zeal of both Great Awakenings in our country during the 1700 & … See More1800′s. Methodism in principle is not the problem I don’t think. I identify as Christian first but also as a Methodist because I believe in what it once stood form and I hope to see renewal in the Methodist Church to what it once was. The gospel needs to be preached where it is not already.

    Comment by Brian Berger | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Good word Brian. Sorry about the thumbs down rating – that was done accidentally by an overly sensitive laptop touchpad.

      Comment by Bibi Fuller | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • I agree with you Brian – Methodism in practice is not what Methodism is doctrinally or historically. As a third generation Methodist pastor with a fourth behind me I remember the evangelical thrust of our denomination – striving to reach the lost for Christ – a desire for personal holiness.

      It seems today some in the denomination are more centered on excepting every thought and idea than holding to some standard and having absolutes. Te old work pluralism was a terrible place and time – promoting that Methodist didn’t really believe in anything.

      Doctrinally we still believe the Bible to be the primary source of inspiration and teaching – that sin is sin and not compatible with Christian teaching – that we are lost without the saving grace of Jesus – that not all will be saved – but that none will be saved a part from Jesus – that the church is called to reach the lost – that we are called to follow Jesus – and more…

      I remain a Methodist – now United Methodist – because I believe in the roots of our denomination and can still walk out my Christian beliefs here – although it is becoming harder and harder to deal with the bureaucracy of the denomination and some of her leader’s beliefs.

      As an evangelical I feel that I am in a minority in our conference and region but not in the denomination. As you pointed out in a another post, the denomination is returning to the Biblical foundation of her founding. Each General Conference (the ruling body of the denomination) seems to return closer to the foundations of our denomination. And I am encouraged. I simply have a hard time in our conference because this is not so here.

      Stay in the denomination brother and help bring her back to Biblical truths.

      Comment by raymcdonald | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. I knew we were united methodist at mt oak but always saw us as christian first. Pastor, you always preach the Bible so that is what I seek.

    I saw the comments on your facebook and can see where they are coming from with their thoughts.

    Hang in there pastor, you are doing a good job.

    Comment by JR | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you JR – you bless me with your comments.

      Comment by raymcdonald | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  3. The question of why I am a United Methodist is one that I have been struggling with for the past year, since I have been in Seminary. As I prayed about Ordination, I began to question if it’s even necessary to do the work God has called me to. Then it dawned on me, it’s not ordination I have a problem with but ordination as a United Methodist. I have never considered myself a UM or any other denomination for that matter. I am just a Christian trying to live my life for God. Although I am not new to being a Christian, I am somewhat naïve about denominational issues. I just never concerned myself with it because I didn’t have to, until now.

    The question I ask myself often is – do I want to be ordained by and into a denomination that does not share my belief in the Bible? The answer to that question has not been easy to come by. Must I agree with the theology of the majority to be a United Methodist or ordained as one? Can I still hold true to my conservative theology and belong to a denomination that is growing more liberal by the day? Does it make me a hypocrite if I do? Should I be ordained as a UM because the church I belong to now just happens to be UM? It that reason enough to commit the rest of my life to serving in this denomination, especially since its not guaranteed that I would be able to serve at Mt Oak or in a congregation that is Bible based?

    I am not expecting to be in a denomination or church that shares all my views but at least the “major” ones. Frankly, I don’t care if baptism is done by sprinkling or dunking, if communion is taken weekly or monthly, as long as it is done with the right heart. However, there are certain beliefs that I do feel strongly about – like the Bible being the Word of God and not just literature about specific moments in history. Oh, and don’t forget the one about Jesus being the ONLY way. If Jesus is not the only way and I could enter heaven through other means, then why did He become flesh, suffered, died on the cross and was resurrected? Was it so that just a few of us could be saved through Him and everybody else would find their own way? I think not!

    The question still remains – to be or not to be – ordained or not ordained? United Methodist or Non-Denominational? What will I find there? Are there any denominations that hold true to God’s Word in a balanced way that does not beat you over the head with the Bible?

    Comment by Bibi Fuller | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Bibi, I agree with you that for us as students at Wesley Theological Seminary that it seems like most Methodists are pretty liberal. I would venture to say though that even though our seminary is pretty liberal and the Baltimore-Washington Conference is liberal, the United Methodist Church is a global denomination and as a whole, it is not quite as liberal as one may think it is. Generally speaking, United Methodist congregations in the south (Bible belt) are far more conservative and Bible-based than they are in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Also Korean Methodists as well as some of the Annual Conferences in Africa are very conservative.

      Also, the official positions and doctrines of the United Methodist Church as layed out in the Book of Discipline are very much so biblically based. Read them when you get a chance. The problem is that many leaders and pastors in United Methodist congregations (especially in certain annual conferences) do not preach the truth and often water down the messages. God needs some people to stand up for the truth and this would not make you a hypocrite because as I mentioned, the official doctrines of the church I believe are on target. Someone has to take a stand for them. The real hypocrites are the ones who go their way through ordination lying and saying they do believe in the doctrines of the United Methodist Church when they in fact do not. And that is one of the questions for those seeking ordination is if they do agree with the doctrines of the United Methodist Church. I hope this encourages you as you discern your call!

      Comment by Brian Berger | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Well said Bibi – I too have struggled with some of what you have written. I have always fallen back on the thought that if all evangelicals left the UMC in our area – what would happen to the evangelicals in the pew?

      I remain to preach the Word of God without excuse.

      Comment by raymcdonald | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  4. back this up even more. What makes me a Methodist? I do not consider myself a Methodist. One would argue that because I am a member at a Methodist Church that I must be a Methodist. I strongly disagree with that line of thinking. I am a Christian and why I or anyone needs to be defined beyond that is beyond me. I never understood how there can be so many denominations,all of which claim they believe the Bible to be 100% truth.
    So to answer the original question. I do not consider myself a “Methodist” being as I can not tell you what even defines a Methodist. I am a Christian.

    Comment by b | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • B – I consider myself a Christian that attends a Methodist Church. If I were a lay person – I would seek out a Bible based – loving church – regardless of the denomination. I am married to Jesus – as the bride of Christ – and not the denomination. Having said that – I appreciate much of our history and doctrine as United Methodists.

      Comment by raymcdonald | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  5. Years ago when Anne and I were attending a Presbyterian church we moved to the mountains of Colorado. The only protestant church in the county was a Methodist one. So we started going. When it came time to join, we asked the pastor what the differences were between the Presbyterians and the Methodists. His response: “It’s all in the Lord’s Prayer. The Presbyterians were founded by a bunch of Scots and they were much more concerned about having their debts forgiven than their trespasses forgiven.” Seemed reasonable to us, and so we became Methodists. True story.

    Comment by Henry Koether | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  6. I am a Christian who happens to attend a Methodist church. If Mt. Oak did not have the two pillars: Jesus is Lord, and God’s Word is True, then I would be attending some other church. God placed me in a Methodist church shortly after He saved me, so I have thought that until He wants to move me somewhere else, Mt. Oak is where He wants me. I don’t find anything extraordinary or spectacular about the UMC. Even the historic roots of the UMC are found in other churches – both demoninational and non-demoninational. I once heard a District Superintendent proclaim how wonderful it was that the UMC is a “connectional” church. Frankly, I think that is rubbish, but had the unbelievable discretion and restraint to keep my mouth shut when I heard it. You cannot convince me of any tangible benefits of such a system. Many non-connectional churches reach the lost for Jesus, minister to their people, birth new churches, and even transition pastors without the “benefit” of an external governing body.

    Steve

    Comment by Steven Youtsey | February 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Two great pillars of faith Steve – Jesus is Lord and God’s Word is True – check out the basic Christianity articles I started today on the blog page.

      Comment by raymcdonald | February 26, 2010 | Reply

  7. I can tell you why I’m not a Presbyterian, and I can tell you why I’m not a Baptist, and I can tell you why I’m not Roman Catholic and why I’m not Episcopalian. I’m still learning about Methodist teachings as well as the different branches of the Methodist faith. Perhaps it would be a good idea to post or outline the different doctrines. I didn’t choose Presbyterianism due to the doctrine of election, for example, which was far too problematic for me. I have heard some criticisms of Methodists–that they have a very “emotional” type of worship and faith as opposed to an “intellectual” one based on study and reason. I have also heard that Methodists do not believe in the Second Coming of Christ. Would these two things be a “deal breaker” for me? Well, I really don’t know, but I would appreciate it if someone could expound on the variety of church doctrines that the Methodist church has in place.

    Comment by episcopalianwoman | May 22, 2010 | Reply


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