The future of The United Methodist Church [June 17, 2007 {0688}; An e-Review Florida UMNS Commentary by Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker]

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

United Methodism must rediscover that essential message. It energized our years of greatest growth. Regarding the possibility for change, Bishop F. Gerald Ensley, Ph.D., formerly a theology professor at Boston University, acknowledges: “A wide segment of intellectual opinion says, "No." … A person cannot turn his back on his past and become what Paul called “a new creature”. … Man is subject to his antecedents. Every act is the necessary effect of previous conditions.” Bishop Ensley succinctly critiques several of the deterministic philosophies which “teach that man ultimately is molded by forces over which he has no final control — Freudianism, behaviorism, Marxism, and Calvinistic theology.” Bishop Ensley says: “If we are to change for the better, we will need the faith that God is willing to help us in the remaking of life ….”  He stresses reconciliation with God and reminds us that Wesley believed: "With God’s grace we can go on to perfection." Two spiritually discouraged men, Martin Luther and John Wesley, rediscovered the “bedrock” foundation of the Gospel. If we seek God’s grace in humility and repentance, persons can change. Luther said: “It makes us joyful, high-spirited and eager in our relations with God and with all mankind." That is inclusiveness at its very best! Both Luther and Wesley were rescued from their earlier despair and became leaders of dynamic spiritual movements that grew vastly beyond anything either of them could have dreamed. The deepest prayer of my heart is that The United Methodist Church, which I love so genuinely, will rediscover the life and vitality that produced phenomenal growth in earlier years. 

William Roughton
First United Methodist Church, Lakeland

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