Let's consider this bit of testimony from pastor Jason Woolever, who along with Emergent theologian Leonard Sweet, happens to be with the very liberal United Methodist Church.With all due respect to Apprising Ministries, this is a great example of a couple of things:
1) How The United Methodist Church is misperceived by those on the outside
2) How Christians are too quick to label other Christians as "lesser" without getting all the facts
First, let's consider how anyone would consider The United Methodist Church very liberal. The only legitimate reason they could possibly have from my point of view is the bad press that we have received over the debates concerning homosexuality. What outsiders fail to realize is that the pro-homosexuality Methodists are in the minority. This is why we continually reaffirm our historic stance that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." Sure there are dissenters. But they are not the majority. And they have not effectively changed policy.
The only other reasons I could see why we are considered very liberal would be our acceptance of:
1) Infant baptism
2) Women in ministry
3) Inclusive language Bible translations
4) Non-autonomous local churches
As far as infant baptism goes, if folks don't support this practice, they should take it up with people like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, J.I.Packer, R.C.Sproul, John Ortberg, none of whom could be considered very liberal.
If folks don't support women in ministry, they could take it up with Bill Hybels, Jack Hayford (member of the Foursquare Pentecostal denomination, founded by Aimie Semple McPherson), or any number of Pentecostals or evangelicals.
If folks call anyone who uses inclusive language Bible translations liberal, they could take that up with Ted Haggard, Erwin McManus, John Stott, Stuart Briscoe, or any number of other evangelicals listed at the TNIV website as endorsers.
If folks think autonomous local churches are a sign of orthodoxy, they should consider that democracy is an American ideal, not a biblical one by any means. What's autonomous about Paul's instructions to Titus (1:5), "I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you." What part of "you should appoint elders as I directed you" sounds autonomous? It's 100% top down.
The second thing that this introduction of me emphasized was how Christians are too quick to label other Christians as "lesser" without getting all the facts. As a solid orthodox evangelical, I am so confused when all mainline churches get lumped into the apostate church category. How are sweeping generalizations biblical? What part of our Confession of Faith is in any way liberal?
My plea is for all of us to quit adding anything to the gospel which causes us to judge or separate from one another. Sure, if someone denies the tenets of faith as spelled out in Apostle's Creed, he's a heretic. But it doesn't mean that everyone who grew up in the same block as him is a heretic!
Click here for a sneak preview of The Rapture. Thanks to John the Methodist for the link.