Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Corinthians 11 and Why I am not a Methodist

I was recently at a Methodist church in town (not for worship, but rather for coffee at their poshly-decorated coffee nook/gift shop), and while there I took a look at some of their documents and doctrine, and more or less confirmed what I already knew about Methodism, and affirmed why I am NOT a Methodist.  It has less to do with their ordination of women (which, of course I have some I Tim. 2 issues with) or their Armenian traditions (which I have some Romans 8 issues with) but more over the Weslean tradition and Wesley's 25 articles. Per this one:

Article XVII—Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.

I've yet to see from Scripture where baptism of children or infants is illustrated or instructed.  From the churches site, "Those that are baptized as children must make the choice to confirm their belief in Christ to continue as members of the church."  To continue as members?  I do not understand the strange idea of a half-sacrament.  Scripture seems to give a solid example of baptism of professing adults, not children.  How can baptism be done with the idea that a confirmation needs to follow separately?

The other article that caught my attention was sixteen, on the "sacraments":

Article XVI—Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him.

I've come to question recently the usage of the word "sacrament", since, by definition, it's held to be a means of divine grace, and when individuals partake of the Lord's Supper, or baptism, they may, or may not, be partaking in these ordinances with the right heart attitude (a non-believer could ask to be baptized - likewise a non-believer could take the elements of the Supper).  So in these situations, is grace ALWAYS understood to be imparted?  I can think of individuals who have walked from the faith but yet were baptized as infants.  Was grace still imparted in that infant baptism?  I would argue not - not just because I do not recognize infant baptism as a valid administation of the baptism ordinance, but because the implication becomes that grace was poured out and essentially WASTED.  I don't think that's right, and this also seems to clash with the reformed doctrine of limited atonement. 

Another thought:  per MW, the English word sacrament is from the Latin sacramentum, which means to make holy, or to consecrate.  Yet are the elements made holy?  Or is the meal, as an ordinance, one of remembrance?  It feels a little like treading into glorifying the meal and the components of the meal, more than the message of the meal, and understanding, per I Cor. 11, the propriety of worship and the proper observation of the meal and preparation of the heart.  This reminds me of another fault with this particular UM church, as on it's site, regarding the Lord's Supper, the warning was merely, "God offers this relationship to everyone, so all who desire to receive are welcome to participate."  All who desire to receive, regardless of genuine faith and repentance?  I was at a UM church long ago, and I recall how, as the elements were about to be distributed, the pastor gave the feeble warning of, "Only partake of these elements if you are a Christian, or thinking of becoming one..."  I'm sure that was right out of I Cor. 11.

There are other things, but those are some of the principle reasons I'm not a Methodist.  Another note from the site was about "If You Have Children", followed by instructions on where to put them for church (because, why would you want them with you during the worship service?  That's just silly to worship together as a family.)


  1. I wonder if the Methodists recognize the infant baptisms of other denominations or just their own?

  2. I'm not sure about that. Some Christian denominations are very specific about if the baptism was done in a Scriptural manner and if not, the baptism isn't accepted. As for me, being an anabaptist (twice baptized) I'd be ok for most of these denominations...

  3. Caholic Teaching and Limited Atonement

    I don't think there's any point getting into another Limited vs Unlimited Atonement debate, so I'll just say quickly what Scripture and Tradition have to say on the matter:


    St. John says: "he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

    The issue here is the use of the 2 phrase "not for ours only" and "sins of the whole world".

    This is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of limited atonement.

    It reminds me of the doctrine of sola fide where Calvinists interpret "not by faith alone" as "by faith alone", and "wills that all men be saved" as "doesn't will that all men be saved".

    (Kind of like the Catholic case: "A bishop should be the husband of one wife" interpretted "A bishop shouldn't be the husband of one wife" - but we don't believe in sola scriptura so we at least have a reason)


    In any case, I think the whole thing is just another great example of the failure of the Reformation doctrine of the Perspicuity of Scripture.

    As Calvinists and Arminians prove by their continued existence, Scripture does need an interpreter, Moses' seat must be replaced with the chair of St. Peter.

    The Patristic evidence is also in complete opposition to the doctrine, as the classic formulation was that Christ died for those whose nature he assumed, meaning all of humanity.

    "Christ Jesus our Lord, as no man who is or has been or ever will be whose nature will not have been assumed in Him, so there is, has been, or will be no man, for whom He has not suffered-although not all will be saved by the mystery of His passion.

    But because all are not redeemed by the mystery of His passion, He does not regard the greatness and the fullness of the price, but He regards the part of the unfaithful ones and those not believing in faith those things which He has worked the rough love (Galatians 5:6), because the drink of human safety, which has been prepared by our infirmity and by divine strength, has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal."
    - Council of Quiercy 853 CE

  4. Hey Michael, thanks for visiting!

    Re: limited atonement, I'm curious why you picked that out of an aside about Armenianism, and why that particular 1 point of the 5? In fact, what led you to this particular post?

    I agree with Calvin's teaching there, b/c it's hard to read Romans not see the message bold and clear (particularly ch. 8). In more practical terms, if Christ died for all, did His blood also atone for the unrepentant 9-11 terrorists who slammed into the WTC?

    In terms of Papist tradition, that's a whole different can of worms for a future "Why I am not a Catholic" post. I don't really care what was stated at Quiercy in 853 *Anno Domini* - the fact of the matter is, the RCC papal traditions often fly right in the face of what Scripture says and make the episcopacy of the Catholic church more of a cult than anything. For instance, elevating Mary as "eternally virgin" makes no sense since James, Jesus brother, wrote one of the NT books, and even Jesus himself makes reference to his brothers in the Gospels. What a terrible way to steer people from the gospel of Christ alone.

    And of course, there's that whole killing thing: I mean, beyond the crusades and inquisitions and other things perpetuated by Rome, you've got situations with folks like Anabaptist Michael Sattler, who taught that believers should be baptised - Rome didn't like that, so they ripped out his tongue, ripped apart his flesh and burned him alive (and drown his wife.) Similar story with Huss and Wycliffe, when all they did was translate a Bible so the common folks could read it. But I'm getting ahead of myself with this post...

    (Best I can tell, though, is that Baptists have never been on the killing side.)

    I will give Catholics this: I respect how vocal they tend to be (in principle if not necessarily practice) about the sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn. How sad that this is so completely overshadowed by the ridiculous and satanic practice of mandatory priestly celibacy (see Genesis 1:28, 9:7) God's first and original command for man - noteworthy in that its NEVER been rescinded. I don't care what any pope might have said - to revoke/violate this law for priests is a decree straight out of the pit of hell.