As I was pondering in recent weeks what it means to preach about the way to heaven, I was caught short in my ponderings by the words of John Wesley in his sermons on the Sermon on the Mount (there has to be a less awkward way to phrase that). I want to explore part … Continue reading The test of a false prophet
When I was writing my last post, I thought maybe I should write this one first. My last post suggested that one reason mainline pastors don’t talk about heaven much is because talking about heaven requires us to deal with questions about who does not end up there. I believe there is truth in that, … Continue reading Another reason we don’t talk about heaven
I have a theory about why some pastors talk so little about “the way to heaven” in the mainline church. I have no evidence at all to indicate whether my theory has any merit, but since it costs you little to read these thoughts, I hope you might indulge me for a few moments. I … Continue reading One reason we don’t talk about heaven
When you go through seminary, you are taught how to listen to other people. In formation classes and in pastoral counseling classes, we are taught how to listen. If you take a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education — as all United Methodist clergy candidates in Indiana are required to do — you get both classroom … Continue reading Open our ears
In my work as a pastor, I’ve come across a curious gap. It looks like this. In my work with regular Christians and non-Christians, the questions I get most often are some version of the following. Who is going to heaven? Is ____________ in heaven? How do I get to heaven? The word “heaven” is … Continue reading The questions I get asked the most
John Wesley held that a preacher needed to offer people both law and gospel. In a 1751 “Letter on Preaching Christ” he wrote that preaching gospel means “preaching the love of God to sinners, preaching the life, death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ, with all the blessings which, in consequence thereof, are freely given to … Continue reading Thoughts on preaching Christ
As Methodist preachers were facing opposition and struggling to bear fruit in Calvinistic Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1771, John Wesley wrote the following in a letter to one of the movement’s supporters: If any one could show you, by plain Scriptures and reason, a more excellent way than that you have received [from Methodists], you certainly … Continue reading How do we dig the wells again?
Do we in the United Methodist Church consider ourselves a church or a human institution? Yes, I know, the answer is both because we in the UMC always say the answer is both. But bear with me for a moment, please. As I’ve listened to clergy in the UMC begin to prepare themselves for a … Continue reading Are we a church or an institution?
Methodists have long struggled with the question of how to relate with John Wesley and how to understand his role and position in the church. Some warn that he should not be afforded too high a regard because his theology is practical rather than systematic. Some defend him. Some dismiss him. Some quote him at … Continue reading Can we follow the prescription?
John Wesley reads the Beattitudes as both an account of the perfected Christian life and as a description of the journey we take toward that state. The first and enduring rung on that ladder is poverty of spirit, which Wesley described at great length but sums up with the following words: Poverty of spirit then, … Continue reading The treacherous first step