Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Those Who Are With Us Are More

2 Kings 6:16

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

img_0063-2I’ve been spending some time today and over the last year (or even 4 decades) – praying and thinking about the predicament the United Methodist Church finds itself in these days. More and more the minority of the denomination but the majority in the USA have been pulling our denomination away from traditional Scriptural truths. It seems like time and again the left or liberal portion of the Methodist Church has been succumbing to the standards of the world rather than the standards of God’s Word.

Over our history – others have pulled away from the main Methodist group because they believed the denomination was leaving the core Biblical truths. There are many Wesleyan denominations – branching off from the core Methodist Church. Here is a list of some of the Wesleyan/Methodist churches in the USA. There are other branches around the world. African Methodist Episcopal ChurchAfrican Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchAllegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (Wesleyan Methodist Church)Association of Independent MethodistsBethel Methodist ChurchBible Methodist Connection of ChurchesChristian Methodist Episcopal ChurchChurch of the NazareneCongregational Methodist ChurchEvangelical Methodist Church of AmericaEvangelical Methodist ChurchEvangelical Wesleyan ChurchFirst Congregational Methodist ChurchFree Methodist Church, The – North AmericaFundamental Methodist ConferenceMethodist Protestant ChurchNational Association of Wesleyan EvangelicalsPrimitive Methodist ChurchSouthern Congregational Methodist ChurchSouthern Methodist ChurchUnited Methodist ChurchWesleyan Church.

As far as I can tell – almost all of these branches of the Wesleyan or Methodist theological strand are more conservative than the current UMC. At some point – each decided to disassociate with the Methodist core or main denomination.

Primary Methodist denominations still active today in the USA are the Wesleyan Methodist, the Free Methodist, the African Methodist Episcopal, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion, the Christian Methodist Episcopal, the United Methodist, the Free Methodist Church of North America, and The Wesleyan Church.

Some articles about the current unrest and possible split can be found on the Wesleyan Covenant Association website. The WCA is a traditional group within the UMC that has tried for many years to hold the UMC accountable to our Book of Discipline and our traditional doctrines to no avail in some areas of church life. Here is a page where some articles can be found. You can also read a draft of the New Book of Discipline if the traditional churches in the UMC split here.

I call all of our readers to pray for the upcoming General Conference of the UMC. This conference will be held from May 5th to May 15th. I do not pray for what I want – but rather what God wants. I hope you pray the same.

When one looks at the witness of faith – those who are opposed to the doctrines found in the Book of Discipline of the UMC in our area can seem overwhelming. I serve in a conference that is a majority left or liberal when it comes to their theological understandings. I have talked to some and served on the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) for 8 years many years ago and have heard some of the following. Some don’t believe Jesus is the only way to the Father – or that there is a hell – or that Christ died and rose again. Some do not believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God – instead calling it a book about the interaction of God and God’s people or a good book where one might find some words of God. Some believe that all will go to heaven (Universalism – the belief that all humankind will eventually be saved). Some do not believe that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. Some do not believe in the Virgin Birth. Some struggle with other Christian doctrines long considered the foundation of the faith. As a conservative serving amongst a majority liberal pastoral base for 40 plus years – at times I have felt overwhelmed by the battle before us.

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. It brought me great hope when I read it again today. 2 Kings 6:8–17 – 8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.” The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. 11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” 12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As I prayed and read Scripture – God reminded me that those who are with us are more than those who are with them. I’m not just talking about the majority of the United Methodist Church (the majority has been more and more traditional over the last 4 decades) – but the majority of Christians past and present around the world. Here’s an interesting article by Professor William Abraham concerning reasons for a split so that the traditionalists may be freed from defending their Biblical view at every turn – taking away energy – time and resources from kingdom work. Here’s another interesting article titled UMC Separation Primer: It’s Not About Cats or Sex.

We will pray and see as the months unfold. Remember – the Church is supposed to change the world – not the other way around. We are called to transform the world after Christ – we are not called to reconcile Christ to the world.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

February 21, 2020 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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