Do you have questions about the meaning of some of the terms and teachings of the The United Methodist Church? In this series, we ask clergy to share their understanding of topics. No preaching, just conversation.
From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.
God doesn’t force us to experience heaven. God doesn’t force us to do his will, he allows us. And, so everyone is invited. We still have a choice, ‘I’m not interested in doing God’s will.’ And so, to me, it seems that there is a natural and logical corollary that there must be a place for those who don’t want to do God’s will. And when I think about Dante’s inferno and these various levels of hell, you know in Dante’s painting, the idea of people gnawing on each other, eating each other, consta
C.S. Lewis once said that what you believe about the afterlife changes everything about how you live your life. If you believe there’s an afterlife, then you’re willing to take risks. You don’t believe this is the end. When you face death, the death of a family member, somebody you care about, you know it’s just goodbye for now. So, how you grieve is different.
• to take the Bible literally should mean to take it at face value;
• to take the Bible literally should mean to take it figuratively and symbolically when it seeks to communicate in that way;
• to take the Bible literally means to take it for what it claims to be (and no more than that!);
• to take the Bible literally should mean to take an historical and critical approach to the task of interpretation.
I think this is also what John Wesley meant by “literal.”
Jesus was very explicit when he said, ‘Here’s what love of neighbor looks like: You saw me hungry and you fed me. You saw me thirsty and you gave me drink. You saw me sick and you took care of me.’ That’s what love of neighbor looks like. And those neighbors, they start right next to you right in your own hometown, but it doesn’t stop there. It goes all the way to the ends of the earth. Wherever you see a need, as the church, as United Methodists, we reach out to meet that need.
The grace with which we are most familiar is what Wesley called justifying grace. The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). Try as we might, we cannot be good enough. We need God to make things right between us, to justify us.
“Justification is another word for pardon,” “It is the forgiveness of all our sins; and, what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God.”
“What does it mean to be saved? Scripture declares that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, we shall be saved. So what does it mean? For me, one word kinda’ encapsulates salvation: assurance. I have the assurance that when I die, I am going to heaven.
Divorce hurts everyone involved. I know this because in 2006, I went through a divorce myself. Associate pastor at a large church, had to make a decision about what I was gonna do with two small children. What happened to me was sad, but I was welcomed in my church. I stood in front of hundreds of people and I told them my story. And afterwards, they hugged me.
They’re the things that set the boundaries for the community. For us, we have what are called Social Principles. So that we know as Christians that we value community. We understand that if there are problems with injustice, if there are problems in the community, if there are problems in race, in inequality we need to be concerned.