Recovering Doctrinal Integrity: The Rule of Faith

This third essay in the series addresses the section of the Articles of Religion that are known historically as the Rule Of Faith. The Rule of Faith identifies the ultimate authoritative source for the church from which all other teaching and practice must be judged. In the original Thirty-Nine Articles this section contains two  statements on the authority of Holy Scripture and one on the place of ecumenical creeds. They comprise a total of five sentences plus a list of books of the Bible. The Rule of Faith for the Church should be that simple and that easy to locate.

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Sermon — Out of Bondage — Exodus 20:1-18

Opens In New Tab…..Resolution 480P….10_16_22….. Run Time:27:05

Deliverance, Spiritual Warfare, Holiness, Christian Perfection, Centrality of the Cross, Atonement (sacrificial, substitutionary, ransom, Christus Victor) New Birth, Real Presence of Christ, the Sacraments, Sanctity of life

I do not publicize where I am speaking nor do I comment on where I have spoken. This message has been posted online by the host church and received sufficient distribution that I feel comfortable reproducing the sermon-only section here,

Recovering Doctrinal Integrity: Nature of the Triune God

The preceding article recommended a path to recovery of doctrinal integrity through the Thirty-Nine Articles which were accepted during the rise of Methodism. The hope is to generate discussion among common laity and clergy ahead of the time when will be asked to ratify our doctrinal standards.  Those of us coming from the UMC have lived in an environment where doctrine was ignored, and anything could be believed and preached. We are products of that environment. Each of us come with preconceptions that may be challenged for the first time. This essay examines what we lost in the abridgement to Twenty-Five Articles from Thirty-Nine and invites consideration for the return of at least some of them.

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A Radical Proposal for Recovery of Doctrine in the Global Methodist Church

The team that produced the doctrinal section of the Transitional Book of Doctrine and Discipline (TDD) gave us an excellent work. They began with existing doctrinal statements of the 1968 uniting conference of the UMC (such as they were) so that we might have continuity and common reference points. They are forthright in their affirmations, and they restrained themselves from innovations. They did not assume an authority that rightly belongs to the conciliar processes of the church. If we read sections that we wish were worded differently—so do the authors. If we find things missing that we wish were there—so do the authors. The TDD presents the integrity of our doctrinal heritage, identifies some weaknesses, and uncovers some controversies that must be resolved. They did their job well. We should expect the work which they left for us to do will take a few years to finalize. It is not something that can be accomplished by sending a dozen people on a weekend retreat.

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How To Read A Sentence

Of first importance when reading a paragraph of the Discipline is an understanding that the Discipline is whatever your conference leadership says it is. Bishop Holston declares par. 2553 not applicable in South Carolina and then declares himself in full compliance with the Discipline. He is correct. Every bishop does the same. They take the paragraphs they don’t want to implement and declare them invalid or not applicable in their context, then they assure us they are in full compliance with the Discipline.

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For Those Remaining in the South Carolina Captivity

I am not a United Methodist. I had my own exit strategy that did not require conference approval. Yet, I have compassion for those South Carolina United Methodists who feel trapped by an unfaithful power structure. What I offer is a personal perspective. It is advice based on how I understand the faith, how I have struggled to express it with my life, and how I understand the processes that move the South Carolina Conference. If you find it to extreme for your liking, then set it aside. Perhaps some part of it will inspire someone to produce better words.  

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