By salvation I mean, not barely, according to the vulgar notion, deliverance from hell, or going to heaven; but a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its orginal purity; a recovery of the divine nature; the renewal of our souls after the image of God, in rightouseness and … Continue reading Don’t wait for heaven
“I’m a sinner, but I’m forgiven.” If you have been around church or been a pastor, you’ve heard these words. You may have even said them. One of the things I find myself struggling to communicate to people is the importance of not skipping over the first part of the sentence too quickly. We like … Continue reading Skipping over our sin
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?