John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in 18th century England, is famously quoted as having written:
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
John Wesley, “Thoughts Upon Methodism,”(1786)
This quote has become something of a rallying cry for those of us orthodox, evangelical United Methodists who have witnessed the steady drifting away of some, especially in the Western Jurisdiction of the denomination, from the “doctrine, spirit, and discipline” which is foundational for all Wesleyan Christians. The formation of the New Room Conference, just completed in Franklin, Tennessee, and the new Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) to be formed this month in Chicago are signs of life for traditional Wesleyan United Methodists, hopeful that the denomination can return to its biblical roots and halt its drifting and decline. Five members of The Fount family (see article elsewhere) are flying to Chicago in order to support and help shape the WCA, as it lends strength to this effort.
Now is NOT the time to leave. Now is the time to, as Wesley wrote, “hold fast”. Because the vast majority of United Methodists worldwide are orthodox and evangelical, the denomination will find a way to either embrace its orthodoxy (and lovingly allow those unwilling to embrace it to leave), or it will find a way to divide so that there is a return to authentic Wesleyan Christian practice and discipline.
My hope is that we will be able to put the controversies and disobedience behind us and move forward, faithful to our “doctrine, spirit, and discipline”, to truly reach the world for Jesus Christ, who is the only One who can transform the world!
I ask for your prayers.