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The final MethodistThinker Podcast of 2010 features an address by the foremost American evangelist of the 20th century, the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, speaking at the 1980 United Methodist Congress on Evangelism.

Born in North Carolina in 1918, William Franklin Graham gave his life to Jesus Christ at a evangelistic service in Charlotte in 1934.

The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham

Five years later, he was ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention. After graduating from Wheaton College (Illinois) in 1943, he served as a pastor and radio preacher.

In 1945, Graham became vice president of Youth For Christ, and in 1947 he was named president of Northwestern College in Minneapolis (now located in St. Paul).

Three year later, he launched the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and began his long-running radio program, The Hour of Decision.

In 1956, Graham helped found Christianity Today magazine, “partly to provide a voice for evangelicals in the mainline who did not find themselves represented in the Christian Century,” according to Grant Wacker, professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School.

Throughout the 1950s, Billy Graham held evangelistic campaigns in many major U.S. cities, including a New York City crusade that ran for 16 weeks. He also held rallies in Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe.

Graham continued to travel and preach regularly for five decades, until finally slowed by age and Parkinson’s Disease. His final crusade, at age 86, was in 2005 in New York City.

Billy Graham’s many best-selling books include America’s Hour of Decision, Peace with God and Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham.

The message on this podcast, edited for length, was recorded in January 1980 at the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism, held that year on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

Dr. Graham’s message, “Confusion About Evangelism,” discusses the following:

  • Confusion over what evangelism means;
  • Confusion over the motive for evangelism;
  • Confusion over message of evangelism;
  • Confusion concerning strategy of the enemy in opposing evangelism;
  • Confusion over methods of evangelism.

To listen, use the audio player below (26 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 file (12.3MB).

The Congress on Evangelism is sponsored each January by the United Methodist Council on Evangelism and the UM General Board of Discipleship, with support from the Foundation for Evangelism.

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.

Related posts
Podcast: John Wesley on ‘The New Birth’
Podcast: Eddie Fox—‘That the World May Know Jesus’
Podcast: Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’
Podcast: Harry Denman: ‘Are We Making Christ Known?’
Podcast: Bishop William R. Cannon: ‘The Whole Gospel for the Whole World’
Podcast: Terry Teykl on ‘Praying for the Lost’
Podcast: Charles Keysor—‘How then should UM evangelicals fight?’(NOTE: Keysor, founder of the UM renewal ministry Good News, came to Christ at a Graham crusade in 1959.)
Podcast: Billy Abraham on ‘Connecting Doctrine and Evangelism’
Related articles and information
Billy Graham and his last crusade? | Greg Laurie’s blog (Nov. 19, 2010)
Billy Graham’s legacy | A lecture by historian Grant Wacker, Duke Divinity School (April 24, 2009)
Graham ends crusade in city urging repentance and hope | New York Times (June 27, 2005)
The Billy pulpit: Graham’s career in Mainline Protestantism | Grant Wacker, Christian Century (via Beliefnet) (Nov. 15, 2003)
RNSGRAHAM-thumbnailA copyrighted photo of Billy Graham speaking at the UM Congress on Evangelism | Religion News Service (January 1980)

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The premiere podcast of our fall 2010 season features Methodist theologian Dr. Billy Abraham, the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology

Dr. Billy Abraham in 1992

Born in North Ireland in 1947, William J. Abraham was educated at Queen’s University in Belfast, Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and the University of Oxford in England.

After teaching several years at Seattle Pacific University, Dr. Abraham moved the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. At Perkins, he served as the McCreless Professor of Evangelism and Professor of Philosophy of Religion before becoming the Outler Professor of Wesley Studies in 1995.

Billy Abraham is also an ordained clergy member of the UMC’s Southwest Texas Conference, and he serves on the advisory council of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Abraham’s books include Waking from Doctrinal Amnesia: The Healing of Doctrine in the United Methodist Church (Abingdon, 1995); Wesley For Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox Press, 2005 — also available in an audio edition); and Aldersgate and Athens: John Wesley and the Foundations of Christian Belief (Baylor Univ. Press, 2010 — also available in a Kindle edition).

With James E. Kirby, he served as co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies, published in 2009 (a Google Books preview is here).

This podcast features a 1992 lecture, edited for length, on “The Renewal of United Methodist Doctrine and the Revitalization of Evangelism,” recorded at an evangelism symposium held at UM-affiliated Emory University in Atlanta.

Listen using the audio player below (22 min.) — or download an mp3 file (10.2 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

Dr. Abraham’s full lecture is available in print in Theology and Evangelism in the Wesleyan Heritage (Kingswood Books, 1994).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’
Claremont president: Christians shouldn’t evangelize people of other faiths
Bill Bouknight: What I wish the Council of Bishops would say
Podcast: Bishop William R. Cannon on ‘The Whole Gospel for the Whole World’
Podcast: Sir Alan Walker — ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’
Podcast: John Wesley on ‘The New Birth’
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality

Related articles and information
Canonical Theism: Thirty Theses (book excerpt — via Google Books preview) | William J. Abraham — from Canonical Theism: A Proposal for Theology and the Church (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008 )
Wesley for Armchair Theologians (excerpts — via Google Books preview) | William J. Abraham (Westminster John Knox Press, 2005)
Methodist philosopher Billy Abraham examines United Methodism’s decline | Mark Tooley, UMAction (Jan. 8, 2009)
Judicial Council Decision 1032 and Ecclesiology (PDF) | William J. Abraham — presented at a February 2007 consultation sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry re: the implications of UM Judicial Council Decision 1032, issued in October 2005 (text of decision)
The end of Wesleyan theology (PDF) | William J. Abraham, Journal of the Wesleyan Theological Society (Spring 2005)
United Methodists at the end of the mainline | William J. Abraham, First Things (June/July 1998) (via Leadership U)
C. S. Lewis and the conversion of the West | William J. Abraham, Touchstone (March/April 1998)

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The president of a United Methodist-affiliated seminary says Christians who feel the need to evangelize people of other faiths have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.” The comment from Jerry D. Campbell, president of California’s Claremont School of Theology, was published July 2 by the United Methodist Reporter.

Dr. Jerry D. Campbell

“The correct perception [of following Jesus] is much more on [the] side of learning to express love for God and love for your neighbor as yourself,” he told the newspaper.

Dr. Campbell’s remarks were reported in an article about Claremont’s plan to become an “interreligious institution” that offers clerical training for Muslim imams and Jewish rabbis as well as Christian pastors (see this June 14 MethodistThinker report). Claremont intends to later add training for Buddhists and Hindus, as well.

(On June 25, the United Methodist Church’s University Senate approved Claremont’s new multifaith educational model; details below.)

In dismissing an evangelistic imperative in relation to people who practice non-Christian faiths, Dr. Campbell appears to be calling into question the church’s historic understanding of the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28, as well as much of the Christian movement’s evangelistic and missionary ministry over its 2,000-year history.

Further, Dr. Campbell’s comments seem at odds with official United Methodist doctrine, which declares that the “ultimate concern” of the church’s ministry is “that all persons will be brought into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ” (United Methodist Book of Discipline ¶127). The Book of Discipline also states that while United Methodists “respect persons of all religious faiths,” the UMC “affirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Lord of all” (¶121).

The United Methodist statements about Christ’s uniqueness, lordship, and salvific work stand against a “pluralistic” religious view that sees all religions as equally valid and as serving essentially the same function.

From the religious pluralist’s perspective, evangelizing people of other faiths is not only unnecessary but constitutes an exercise in arrogance, as summed up by missiologist and theologian Lesslie Newbigin in his influential 1989 book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (here via Google Books):

If what matters about religious beliefs is not the factual truth of what they affirm, but the sincerity with which they are held; if religious belief is a matter of personal inward experience rather than an account of what is objectively the case, then there are certainly no grounds for thinking that Christians have the right— much less any duty — to seek conversion of [others] to the Christian faith….

[According to the religious pluralist, we] have no right to affirm…that there is no other name given under heaven whereby we are to be saved.

The issue of how — and if — Christians should seek to evangelize people of other faiths was a “recurring theme” at Edinburgh 2010, last month’s ecumenical world mission conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, according to a June 4 report published by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

Many perspectives emerged among the 300 delegates from 67 countries and more than 50 Christian denominations…. A few voices in a study section on other faiths spoke in favor of a “live and let live” approach to non-Christians, but the temper of the small group reports there reflected that of the overall Edinburgh 2010 conference — witnessing to one’s faith in the contexts of living….

Dr. Dana L. Robert at Edinburgh 2010

A witness approach prevailed among the panelists of conference speakers in the June 4 press conference. “Mission is the church breathing,” said Dr. Dana Robert, the conference keynote speaker, who is a professor at Boston University School of Theology and a United Methodist. “If we don’t breathe, we die,” Dr. Robert said.

In relating to people of other faiths, she recommended an approach of engagement and hospitality to all people…. For Christians, she said, “witnessing to the love of God in Jesus Christ” is an essential part of life, but the results of that witness lie with the Holy Spirit.

Groups participating in the Edinburgh 2010 conference included (partial list): the Anglican Communion, Baptist World Alliance, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches, and the World Methodist Council.

Dr. Dana Robert, in addition to serving as the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission at the Boston University School of Theology, also heads the School’s Center for Global Christianity and Mission. One of the Center’s stated tasks is “to explore the relationship of mission studies and interfaith dialogue in theory and practice.”

In his 2002 book, Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, Timothy C. Tennent, now president of Asbury Theological Seminary, argued that inter-religious dialogue and faithfulness to historic Christianity are not mutually exclusive. But he rejected acceptance of an “all-religions-are-fundamentally-the-same” ideology.

[W]e must not succumb to the forces of religious pluralism that seek to bring to the table of dialogue a version of Christianity that has been robbed of its distinctiveness. For too long interreligious dialogue has been advanced and identified with a pluralist agenda that openly seeks to accommodate other world religions by discarding distinctive Christian doctrines such as the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ….

True interreligious dialogue acknowledges that all religions in one way or another seek to defend certain truth claims. It is not fair to any religion to allow it to be ensnared in the swamp of religious pluralism, which concludes that we are all saying the same thing….

Many of the proponents of dialogue… [insist] that any desire to convert another person is a fundamental violation of the mutuality inherent in dialogue. The result is the advocacy of a dialogue without persuasion. However, the mutuality of dialogue is not sacrificed if everyone is permitted to speak with persuasion….

[W]e must learn to listen to and understand the actual claims of other religions in order to effectively bear witness to our faith. The New Testament does not just call us to preach the gospel, but to communicate the gospel. This means we cannot speak the gospel into thin air; rather it must be effectively communicated to specific contexts, and we must be ready and willing to respond to real and specific objections and doubts, giving reasons for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15)….

[I]t is argued [by some that] Christians who dialogue are actually engaged in a monologue disguised as a mutual exchange. On the contrary, I have discovered over and over again that I am enriched by the mutual exchange….

Asbury's Dr. Timothy C. Tennent

I do not think my own appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity would be nearly as deep if the doctrine had not been challenged so often by my Islamic friends. It was the Buddhists, not my own Christian friends, who finally helped me see the momentous dangers of advocating faith without a clear connection to the historical Jesus of Nazareth….

[W]e stand at an opportune time in the history of the church…. Many who so eagerly jumped onto the postmodern bandwagon are beginning to realize that the true struggle is not between tolerance and intolerance but between truth and falsehood. A new openness to revelation is emerging as well as a desire to reclaim the language of truth that has, until recently, been dropped into the abyss of relativism.

This makes it an exciting and strategic time to sit down at the religious roundtable and bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Although Asbury Theological Seminary is not one of the United Methodist Church’s 13 official seminaries, it currently educates about 17 percent of all those training to be United Methodist clergy, according to a 2009 article in Good News magazine.

On June 25, the United Methodist Church’s University Senate, a elected body that determines which schools meet criteria for being affiliated with the denomination, approved Claremont School of Theology’s new interreligious educational model.

The Senate also ordered the release of an estimated $800,000 in Ministerial Education Fund (MEF) money that had been withheld earlier this year pending a review of Claremont’s multifaith educational model and its overall financial situation. MEF funds are raised from local United Methodist churches via the UMC’s apportionment structure.

Riley B. Case, associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, described the University Senate’s decision in favor of Claremont as “a tragic step for the United Methodist Church to take,” according the United Methodist Reporter (from the same article quoted earlier).

“[Is Claremont] really fulfilling what ought to be the purpose of United Methodist seminaries?” he asked. “Are they tied into the mission of the church, which is to make disciples for Jesus Christ?”

However, Ellen Ott Marshall, associate professor of Christian ethics at the UM-affiliated Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, told the Reporter that Claremont’s interreligious approach is “a tremendous and exciting leap forward.”

Although no other UM seminary has thus far adopted a multifaith model, in 2007 UM-affiliated Emory University, home of the Candler School of Theology, named Buddhist leader (and Tibetan head of state) the Dalai Lama as a Presidential Distinguished Professor.

This fall, Emory is sponsoring an Interfaith Summit on Happiness featuring Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Dalai Lama (a title that roughly translates as “Ocean of Wisdom”), Muslim scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (U.K.).


Related posts
UM seminary embraces non-Christian faiths, will train Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis
Podcast — Bishop William R. Cannon: ‘The Whole Gospel for the Whole World’
Podcast — Harry Denman: ‘Are We Making Christ Known?’
Podcast — Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’
Podcast — Eddie Fox: ‘That the World May Know Jesus’

Related articles and information
Claremont’s religious diversity: Church affirms multi-faith project | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (July 2, 2010)
United Methodist money to train Muslim clerics? | Riley B. Case, Good News (July 6, 2010)
Another PR release for Claremont | Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org (July 6, 2010)
University Senate rescinds public warning (PDF) | news release, University Senate of the United Methodist Church (June 25, 2010)
University Senate organization, policies, and guidelines — 2009-2012 (PDF) | United Methodist University Senate
Members of the United Methodist University Senate — 2009-2012 | UM General Board of Higher Education & Ministry
Methodists, Muslims and Jews: Learning together to lead together | Jerry D. Campbell, On Faith, WashingtonPost.com (June 10, 2010)
Claremont seminary reaches beyond Christianity | Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times (June 9, 2010)
All religions are the same, right? | Bobby Ross Jr., GetReligion.org (June 10, 2010)
Theology school becomes 1st accredited U.S. seminary to train Muslim & Jewish theologians | Islam Today (June 9, 2010)
Methodist and multi-faith dialogue | Sandra N. Bane (chair, Claremont School of Theology board of trustees), Los Angeles Newspaper Group (April 24, 2010)
Being Methodist and multifaith | Jerry D. Campbell, United Methodist Reporter (Oct. 15, 2009)
Why Methodist seminaries are becoming irrelevant and dying | Riley B. Case, Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (July 2009 — via Methodist Examiner)
Report from Church of England Bishops highlights unchanging duty to share the Good News | The Church of England (June 21, 2010)
Christian mission and other faiths: A complex issue | Elliott Wright, United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (June 4, 2010)
Mission and unity in the long view from 1910 to the 21st century (PDF) | Dana L. Robert, keynote address at the Edinburgh 2010—Witnessing to Christ Today conference (June 3, 2010)
Report on Study Theme 2: Christian mission among other faiths | Edinburgh 2010—Witnessing to Christ Today (April 2010)
Statement on Wesleyan/Methodist witness in Christian and Islamic cultures (PDF) | World Methodist Council (Sept. 18, 2004)

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The final podcast of our spring season features one of the most prominent United Methodist leaders of recent decades: Dr. Maxie Dunnam.

Maxie Dunnam was born in Mississippi in 1934. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi (1955), he went on to earn a Master of Theology from Atlanta’s Emory University (1958). Later, he earned a Doctor of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky (1977).

Dr. Maxie Dunnam in 2008

Early in his ministry, he served as the organizing pastor of three Methodist churches: Aldersgate UMC in Atlanta, Ga. (1956), Trinity UMC in Gulport, Miss. (1958), and St. Andrews-by-the-Sea UMC in San Clemente, Calif. (mid-1960s).

Maxie Dunnam then served in several capacities at The Upper Room, eventually becoming World Editor of the ministry’s flagship devotional publication. He also helped launch the Upper Room’s spiritual-renewal ministry that became known as The Walk to Emmaus.

From 1982-1994, Dr. Dunnam served as senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tenn., which grew from 2,000 members to almost 6,000 members during his pastorate.

In 1994, Maxie Dunnam was elected president of Asbury Seminary. Ten years later, he was named the Asbury’s chancellor, and the school’s Orlando, Fla., campus was christened the “Dunnam Campus” in his honor.

Dr. Dunnam is the author of several dozen books and workbooks, including That’s What the Man Said: The Sayings of Jesus (Kindle Edition, 2009), Going on to Salvation: A Study of Wesleyan Beliefs (revised edition—Abingdon, 2008), and The Workbook on the Christian Walk (Upper Room, 2004).

Maxie Dunnam is a past president of the World Methodist Council, and he currently serves on the board of directors of the Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church.

The address on this podcast was presented at the Ordination Service at the 2008 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference.

To listen, use the audio player below (28 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (13.2MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments
Podcast: Bishop James King on ‘Preaching Authority’
Adam Hamilton: ‘We are in desperate need of excellent preaching’
Podcast: Bill Hinson on ‘The Making of a Minister’
Astonishing preaching
Preaching for a response

Related articles and information
MaxieDunnam.com
Former Memphis pastor Maxie Dunnam will air ‘positive’ TV, radio spots | The (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal (June 1, 2010)
Renewing hope: UM evangelicals gather to focus on critical issues | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (Nov. 2, 2007)
Confessing Movement issues statement on unity | Daniel R. Gangler, United Methodist News Service (Sept. 28, 2005)
42 years later, clergy who fought racism to reunite | Associated Press (June 6, 2005) — Related: The “Born of Conviction” statement, published in the Mississippi Methodist Advocate, Jan. 2, 1963 (PDF)
Truth getting distorted about ‘amicable separation’ | Maxie Dunnam, Good News magazine (July/August 2004)
Helping others answer the call: An interview with Maxie Dunnam | Leadership Journal (Oct. 1, 2003)
History of the Walk to Emmaus | Robert R. Wood, 20th anniversary gathering of Emmaus (April 1997)
Placing Christ at the center of all | Maxie Dunnam, Good News magazine (March/April 1996)

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The United Methodist Council of Bishops issues occasional statements and letters intended to “provide spiritual leadership” to the church.

Most recently (November 2009), the bishops issued a “pastoral letter” (PDF) asserting that “God’s creation is in crisis” and calling United Methodists to practice “social and environmental holiness by caring for God’s people and God’s planet and by challenging those whose policies and practices neglect the poor, exploit the weak, hasten global warming, and produce more weapons.”

Bill Bouknight

(A companion web site, featuring “eco-justice resources,” is at HopeAndAction.org; a related YouTube video is here.)

Writing in the March/April issue (PDF) of the We Confess newsletter, Dr. Bill Bouknight, associate director of the United Methodist Confessing Movement, suggests that the Council of Bishops would have provided better spiritual leadership by issuing a letter that set forth the urgent need for the UMC to reclaim its doctrine and its mission.

Below are excerpts from Dr. Bouknight’s article, “What We Wish the Bishops Had Written,” written in the style of a Council of Bishops’ letter:

The early Methodists provided many services for people, especially for the poor, ministering in areas of education, prisons, health care, and financial stewardship. But always their first calling was to call people to repent of sin and to trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for their salvation.

“Know your disease!” said [Methodist founder John] Wesley. “Know your cure! You were born in sin; therefore, you must be born again, born of God” (Works of John Wesley, II, p. 185)

Brothers and sisters, our primary mandate from Scripture is “to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). With sorrow and shame, we confess that we have not been faithful to that mandate. With the exception of a few regions of our Church, [such as in] Africa, we have lost our evangelical focus and passion.

In contrast to the Early Church in which “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47), we seem to have forgotten how to assist God in reaching lost people with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ….

UM episcopal shield

The number of new members received [into the United Methodist Church] by profession of faith is less than half what it was in the 1950s. Over 40 percent of our local churches did not receive even one new member last year by profession of faith….

God asked Ezekiel the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel replied, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3).

And indeed, those dry bones became alive again by the gift of God’s Spirit. The same can happen in our beloved UMC.

With humility in our hearts and with a passionate desire to see the UMC become a mighty movement for God, we, the Council of Bishops, urge all United Methodists to join us in taking the following steps:

1. Following the example of John Wesley, let us observe a weekly fast, repenting for having failed to be an obedient church and especially for having failed to declare the cross-centered gospel to lost persons.

We bishops confess that we have failed to fulfill a promise we made when we were consecrated — “to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” (Book of Discipline, ¶404.1).

2. We call the Church’s attention to the following fundamentals of the gospel, as expressed in our Book of Discipline:

All people in their natural condition are lost souls who need salvation.

“We believe man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil” (Article VII, Articles of Religion).

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Article VII, Confession of Faith).

“We believe in the resurrection of the dead; the righteous to life eternal and the wicked to endless condemnation” (Article XIII, Confession of Faith).

The only way to be saved is to repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord.

“Christ was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men” (Article II, Articles of Religion).

“The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world…and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone” (Article XIX, Articles of Religion).

3. We bishops resolve to teach a course at least annually within our respective Annual Conferences on the basic beliefs in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith. We will invite clergy and laity to attend. Then we will urge our clergy and laity to replicate that course in their respective charges.

4. We urge all ministers to extend regularly an invitation to Christian discipleship in the context of their worship services. Worshipers should be invited to repent of their sin and to trust in the crucified and risen Christ for their personal salvation.

5. We deplore the fact that approximately 43 percent of our local churches did not receive a single new member by profession of faith last year. We pledge, with the assistance of our district superintendents, to meet with pastors of those churches in order to offer to them specific suggestions for helping God lead persons to make professions of faith.

6. We affirm that the single most important criterion of a local church’s faithfulness in ministry is that new disciples are being made and new members being received by profession of faith. Our Lord’s last mandate — “Go and make disciples” — is and should be our first and most important task.

Brothers and sisters, we will undergird these commitments with daily prayers for the renewal of the UMC. Please join your prayers with ours. God may yet make our “dry bones” live again. Rather than becoming a “dead sect” as Wesley feared, we may yet become a mighty worldwide movement for Jesus Christ.

Lord, come quickly and let it be so!

Bill Bouknight retired from the pastorate in 2007 after more than 40 years of serving churches in South Carolina and Tennessee. He became an associate director of the Confessing Movement in August 2008.

Dr. Bouknight is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Truth in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001), and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007). He was educated at Duke University, the University of Edinburgh, and Yale Divinity School.

The initial meeting of what became the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church was convened in 1994 by Bishop William R. Cannon, Dr. Maxie Dunnam of Asbury Theological Seminary, and Dr. Thomas C. Oden of the Drew University School of Theology.

Emblem of the Confessing Movement Within the UMC

Their purpose, in the words of the late Bishop Cannon, was to call the church “to renew itself through adherence to the standard teachings of Christianity and the basic doctrines of the United Methodist Church.”

The UM Confessing Movement’s confessional statement, adopted in 1995 at an Atlanta gathering of 900 United Methodists, is here (PDF).

A study published in late 2002 by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that approximately 40 percent of UM pastors “either support the ideals of or participate in” the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.


Related posts
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders
Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ‘08
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ‘08
Podcast: Bill Bouknight on ‘The Resurrection of Jesus Christ’
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement

Related articles and information
We Confess newsletter (PDF) | Confessing Movement (March/April 2010)
Conference data comparison 2007-2008 (PDF) (all five U.S. jurisdictions suffered a net loss of membership in 2008; not a single conference in the Northeastern, North Central, and Western Jurisdictions showed a gain) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (March 2010)
Confessing Movement issues statement on unity | Daniel R. Gangler, United Methodist News Service (Sept. 28, 2005)
Address to the UM Confessing Movement national conference (PDF) | Bishop Scott Jones (Sept. 23, 2005)
Turning the Mainline around | Michael S. Hamilton and Jennifer McKinney, Christianity Today (Aug. 1, 2003)
A message to the United Methodist Church (PDF), adopted at the Confessing Movement Conference in Tulsa, Okla. | Confessing Movement (April 19, 1998)
Confessional statement of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (PDF), adopted unanimously at the inaugural Confessing Movement Conference in Atlanta, Ga. | Confessing Movement (April 29, 1995)
Do we need a Confessing Movement? | Steve Harper, Good News magazine (March/April 1995)

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MethodistThinker.com is on hiatus from posting new material for several weeks. During this time, we are showcasing podcasts from the fall of 2009.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the Foundation for Evangelism, founded in 1949 by Dr. Harry Denman.

Dr. Harry Denman

Dr. Harry Denman

As young man in the 1920s, Harry Denman showed exceptional gifts in evangelism and administration — both in his service at the First Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, and as a lay leader in the North Alabama Conference.

When The Methodist Church was formed in 1939 (through the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South), Harry Denman was elected to lead the new denomination’s evangelism program.

A decade later, he launched the Foundation for Evangelism as a means of supporting the evangelism ministries of The Methodist Church. (Today, the Foundation’s work includes supporting professors of evangelism at United Methodist-related institutions, sponsoring the biennial Harry Denman Lectures at the UM Congress on Evangelism, and honoring outstanding efforts in local church evangelism through presentation of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.)

Dr. Denman retired from the Foundation in 1965 but continued his ministry of lay preaching and personal witness. Billy Graham once said that he “never knew a man who encouraged more people in the field of evangelism than Harry Denman.”

Harry Denman’s “body” died (that is how he always described physical death) in 1976. He was 83.

This podcast features a sermon by Harry Denman that probably was recorded in the late 1960s. Listen using the audio player below (17:30) — or download an mp3 file (8.3 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

To subscribe to the MethodistThinker Podcast, use the link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Dr. Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 2009 Congress on Evangelism
Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 1980 Congress on Evangelism

Related information
About the Foundation for Evangelism | Foundation for Evangelism
‘I Delight to Do Thy Will, O My God’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (early 1960s) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘Living and Believing’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘A Lonely Place for Prayer’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
Prophetic evangelist: Harry Denman | Ronnie G. Collins, ImageBearer’s Weblog (May 27, 2009)

Books about Harry Denman
Libraries that have Harry Denman: A Biography by Harold Rogers (Upper Room, 1977) | Where to buy a used copy
Libraries that have Prophetic Evangelist: The Living Legacy of Harry Denman (Upper Room, 1993) | Where to buy a used copy

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MethodistThinker.com will be on hiatus from posting new material for the next several weeks. During this time, we will showcase podcasts from the fall of 2009.

The premiere podcast of our fall 2009 season featured one of the most influential Methodists of the 20th century: the Rev. Dr. Sir Alan Walker.

Sir Alan Walker

Sir Alan Walker

Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1911, Alan Walker was the 13th person in his family tree to become a preacher.

In the 1950s, he became known for leading evangelistic meetings across the Australian continent. Later, he came the United States to work briefly with the Board of Evangelism of The Methodist Church (a predecessor denomination of The United Methodist Church).

Returning to Australia in the late 1950s, he became the superintendent of the Sydney’s famed Central Methodist Mission (now known as Wesley Mission), a post he held for 20 years. During that time, he founded Lifeline, an innovative telephone counseling ministry that continues today.

In 1978, Alan Walker became the first World Director of Evangelism for the World Methodist Council. In that position, he traveled to more than 75 countries to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

He was honored with knighthood in 1981. In 1986, he and his wife, Lady Winifred Walker, received the World Methodist Peace Award.

In his 70s, he founded what is now known as the Alan Walker College of Evangelism in Sydney.

The Rev. Dr. Sir Alan Walker died in January 2003 at the age of 91.

This podcast features a recording of Sir Alan Walker from the 1980 United Methodist Congress on Evangelism, held in Tulsa, Okla. Listen using the audio player below (27 min.) — or download an mp3 file (12.3 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

To subscribe to the MethodistThinker.com Podcast, use the link near the top of the right column.


Related information
Honoring Sir Alan Walker | Gordon Moyes, successor to Alan Walker as superintendent of Wesley Mission (from an address originally presented in June 2001)
Theologian, leader, champion of the poor: Sir Alan Walker dies aged 91 | Wesley Mission news release (Jan. 30, 2003)
Sir Alan Walker, World Methodist evangelist, dies at 91 | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (Jan. 30, 2003)
Remembering Sir Alan Walker | Sunday Nights radio program (transcript), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Feb. 2, 2003)
A study in word and deed: A eulogy at Rev. Sir Alan Walker’s Thanksgiving Service | Harold Henderson, author, Reach for the World: The Alan Walker Story (Feb. 11, 2003)

Books by Alan Walker
Standing Up To Preach: The Art of Evangelical Preaching
Breakthrough: Rediscovery of the Holy Spirit
The Whole Gospel for the Whole World (The Wieand Lectures in Evangelism)
The Promise and the Power (The 1980 Harry Denman Lectures)

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The final podcast of our fall season features prayer leader Terry Teykl, author of Acts 29, The Presence-Based Church, and Pray the Price: United Methodists United in Prayer.

Dr. Terry Teykl

Dr. Teykl, an elder in the Texas Annual Conference, is a “prayer evangelist,” traveling across the U.S. and around the world encouraging  churches to develop and maintain prayer ministries.

He also serves as chaplain for KSBJ radio in Houston, Texas. In that role, he developed the Houston area’s “Pray Down at High Noon” campaign.

Terry Teykl holds a Master of Theology from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He earned his Doctor of Ministry with honors from Oral Roberts University.

This podcast features a sermon by Terry Teykl recorded in July 2009 at Sugar Land First United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas. Listen using the audio player below (18:00) — or download an mp3 file (8.5 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, and/or to subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.


Related information
Excerpt from My Most Wanted Devotional: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost (PDF)
Biography of Terry Teykl (Microsoft Word file)
Website of Prayer Point Press and Renewal Ministries
Website of the World Methodist Prayer team
Books and resources by Terry Teykl | Prayer Point Press store
Why you should start a prayer room in your church | Terry Teykl, ForMinistry.com
30 Scripture-based prayers to pray for your pastor (PDF) | Terry Teykl, Church Prayer Leaders Network
Interview with Terry Teykl about the Houston area’s ‘Pray Down at High Noon’ prayer focus | KSBJ (several audio clips)
Brochure for upcoming ‘Prayerful Encounter’ led by Terry Teykl (PDF) — March 5-7, 2010 at Georgia’s Epworth by the Sea

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The current MethodistThinker Podcast features an address by the late Bishop William R. Cannon, a theologian and church historian who authored more than a dozen books, including History of Christianity in the Middle Ages, Theology of John Wesley, and Evangelism in a Contemporary Context.

Bishop William R. Cannon

William Ragsdale Cannon was born in Tennessee in 1916. He attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a B.A., and then went on to Yale Divinity School and Yale University, where he completed a Ph.D. in 1942.

He then joined the faculty of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and spent the next 25 years teaching church history. From 1953-1968, he also served as Candler’s dean.

In 1968, William R. Cannon was elected to the United Methodist episcopacy, and over the next 16 years he served Annual Conferences in North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.

After retiring to North Georgia in 1984, he served as bishop-in-residence at Northside UMC in Atlanta. A decade after his 1984 retirement, Bishop Cannon became one of the principal founders of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, calling on the UMC to “retrieve its classical doctrinal identity.”

Bishop Cannon died in 1997 at the age of 81. Emory University’s Cannon Chapel is named in his honor.

This address on this week’s podcast was delivered at the 1982 United Methodist Congress on Evangelism, meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

To listen, use the audio player below (22 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (10.5MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, and/or to subscribe via iTunes or other Podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.


Related articles and information
Deaths: William R. Cannon, 81, Methodist Theologian | Wolfgang Saxon, New York Times (May 13, 1997)
William Ragsdale Cannon (1916-1997) | Frederick V. Mills Sr., The New Georgia Encyclopedia
Bishop Cannon’s library housed at Lake Junaluska | United Methodist News Service (July 31, 1998)
United Methodists form Confessing Movement | Christian Century (June 7, 1995)
Confessional statement of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church: ‘We Confess Jesus Christ The Son, The Savior, The Lord’ | The Confessing Movement (April 29, 1995)
Atlanta consultation forms steering committee for Confessing Movement within UMC | Good News magazine (July/August 1994)
The Cult of Sophia | Bishop William R. Cannon, Good News magazine (March/April 1994)
Episcopal Address at the 1984 General Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland (text—PDF) | Bishop William R. Cannon
Invocation at the Inauguration of James E. Carter as 39th president of the United States (text—PDF) | Bishop William R. Cannon (Jan. 20, 1977)

Related books
A Magnificent Obsession: The Autobiography of William Ragsdale Cannon (ordering info) | William R. Cannon, Abingdon (1999)
Turning Around the Mainline: How Renewal Movements Are Changing the Church (ordering info) | Thomas C. Oden, Baker Books (2006)

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Foundation for Evangelism, founded in 1949 by the featured speaker on this week’s MethodistThinker Podcast, Dr. Harry Denman.

Dr. Harry Denman

Dr. Harry Denman

As young man in the 1920s, Harry Denman showed exceptional gifts in evangelism and administration — both in his service at the First Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, and as a lay leader in the North Alabama Conference.

When The Methodist Church was formed in 1939 (through the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South), Harry Denman was elected to lead the new denomination’s evangelism program.

A decade later, he launched the Foundation for Evangelism as a means of supporting the evangelism ministries of The Methodist Church. (Today, the Foundation’s work includes supporting professors of evangelism at United Methodist-related institutions, sponsoring the biennial Harry Denman Lectures at the UM Congress on Evangelism, and honoring outstanding efforts in local church evangelism through presentation of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.)

Dr. Denman retired from the Foundation in 1965 but continued his ministry of lay preaching and personal witness. Billy Graham once said that he “never knew a man who encouraged more people in the field of evangelism than Harry Denman.”

Harry Denman’s “body” died (that is how he always described physical death) in 1976. He was 83.

This podcast features a sermon by Harry Denman that probably was recorded in the late 1960s. Listen using the audio player below (17:30) — or download an mp3 file (8.3 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the Podcasts tab at the top of this page.

To subscribe via iTunes or other Podcast software, use this link to set up your feed: https://methodistthinker.com/category/podcasts/feed.


Related posts
Dr. Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 2009 Congress on Evangelism
Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 1980 Congress on Evangelism

Related information
About the Foundation for Evangelism | Foundation for Evangelism
‘I Delight to Do Thy Will, O My God’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (early 1960s) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘Living and Believing’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘A Lonely Place for Prayer’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
Prophetic evangelist: Harry Denman | Ronnie G. Collins, ImageBearer’s Weblog (May 27, 2009)

Books about Harry Denman
Libraries that have Harry Denman: A Biography by Harold Rogers (Upper Room, 1977) | Where to buy a used copy
Libraries that have Prophetic Evangelist: The Living Legacy of Harry Denman (Upper Room, 1993) | Where to buy a used copy

Read Full Post »

The premiere podcast of our fall 2009 season features one of the most influential Methodists of the 20th century: the Rev. Dr. Sir Alan Walker.

Sir Alan Walker

Sir Alan Walker

Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1911, Alan Walker was the 13th person in his family tree to become a preacher. In the 1950s, he became known for leading evangelistic meetings across the Australian continent.

Later, he came the United States to work briefly with the Board of Evangelism of The Methodist Church (a predecessor denomination of The United Methodist Church).

Returning to Australia in the late 1950s, he became the superintendent of the Sydney’s famed Central Methodist Mission (now known as Wesley Mission), a post he held for 20 years. During that time, he founded Lifeline, an innovative telephone counseling ministry that continues today.

In 1978, Alan Walker became the first World Director of Evangelism for the World Methodist Council. In that position, he traveled to more than 75 countries to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

He was honored with knighthood in 1981. In 1986, he and his wife, Lady Winifred Walker, received the World Methodist Peace Award.

In his 70s, he founded what is now known as the Alan Walker College of Evangelism in Sydney.

The Rev. Dr. Sir Alan Walker died in January 2003 at the age of 91.

This podcast features a recording of Sir Alan Walker from the 1980 United Methodist Congress on Evangelism in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Listen using the audio player below (27 min.) — or download an mp3 file (12.3 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

To listen to programs from our spring 2009 season, click the podcasts tab at the top of this page.

You can now subscribe to the MethodistThinker Podcast via iTunes or other Podcast software. Use this link to set up your feed: https://methodistthinker.com/category/podcasts/feed.


Related information
Honoring Sir Alan Walker | Gordon Moyes, successor to Alan Walker as superintendent of Wesley Mission (from an address originally presented in June 2001)
Theologian, leader, champion of the poor: Sir Alan Walker dies aged 91 | Wesley Mission news release (Jan. 30, 2003)
Sir Alan Walker, World Methodist evangelist, dies at 91 | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (Jan. 30, 2003)
Remembering Sir Alan Walker | Sunday Nights radio program (transcript), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Feb. 2, 2003)
A study in word and deed: A eulogy at Rev. Sir Alan Walker’s Thanksgiving Service | Harold Henderson, author, Reach for the World: The Alan Walker Story (Feb. 11, 2003)

Books by Alan Walker
Standing Up To Preach: The Art of Evangelical Preaching
Breakthrough: Rediscovery of the Holy Spirit
The Whole Gospel for the Whole World (The Wieand Lectures in Evangelism)
The Promise and the Power (The 1980 Harry Denman Lectures)

Read Full Post »

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