Answering Will Willimon

An article was recently published at Religion News with the contents of an interview with Retired United Methodist Bishop, Will Willimon. The article was intended to give some sort of understanding to liberals for what transpired at the General Conference in February. It was a list of reasons as to why the UMC will never unite. But I would contest it is people like Will Willimon that are actually holding the church back.

The bishops labored for two years and came up with these three plans and backed the One Church Plan (which would allow local congregations to decide about LGBTQ ordination and marriage) and pushed that. But the General Conference seems united: We don’t trust bishops.

– Will Willimon

The first problem is that Willimon puts too much emphasis on the Bishops of the United Methodist Church. The Bishops Council, as a whole, is completely out of touch with the majority of the members of the denomination. It is no wonder why they were so surprised when the One Church Plan did not even make it out of legislative committee.

If that unity is disrupted, that puts us back to where we’ve always been: That’s a gathering by Christ of all kinds of people that make up the church.

– Will Willimon

The major mistake Bishop Willimon makes in this statement is that he mistakes what it means for Christ to gather up all kinds of people. Christ does not gather up all kinds of people in the sense he is trying to express and the progressive branch of the church is trying to express. Christ only gathers up the elect. People who are saved, repentant, and seeking to follow Him by making Him Lord of their life.

My message to students is, “If you ever wonder why God calls people like you in the ministry, look at the General Conference. God has called you to save us, redeem us, lead us. Now step up and lead.”

– Will Willimon

This quote is dangerous. Only one can save. Only one can redeem. There is no salvation in any but Christ. There is no redemption in anyone but Christ. There is no direction in anything but the Word of God. That is the problem. A departure from the Word of God.

In a separate article actually penned by Willimon we see something much more diabolical and a man in need of spiritual renewal.

At some point I shifted my own prayers to, “Lord, please melt the hardened hearts and smite everyone who intends to vote against the One Church Plan.”

– Will Willimon

That is right. A retired bishop actually prayed that God would smite those who opposed the one church plan. He prayed that God would smite me. How does this fit in with loving your neighbor? How does this create unity? How does this show the love of Christ?

Will Willimon should be stripped of any and all privileges the church gives him until he repents and he has also shown he is not fit to teach in seminary as well.

Can We Know What The Bible Means?

The question of whether we can know what the Bible means or not is not a new one. The question has come up often when controversy arises. But the answer is simple, yes, we can know what the Bible means. How? We must follow sound principles of Biblical Interpretation.

First, let’s look at how not to interpret Scripture. We don’t go through Scripture acting as if it were written today to today’s audience. We don’t go through Scripture looking for buzzwords and then take things out of context to twist meanings.

So how do we know what Scripture means?

Here are some basic steps.

  1. Observe the passage in our own language. Who is the passage written to? Where was it written? Etc.
  2. Observe the passage in the original language. Are there any nuances of Greek or Hebrew words that might not be conveyed in the English text?
  3. Study the historical and cultural contexts of the day. The purpose of this is that we want to know what a particular passage would mean to the original audience.
  4. Determine the plain meaning of the passage in its original context.

This is not difficult in many cases in Scripture. Yes, there are some passages that are more difficult than others but this is the exception and not the rule. It is not arrogant to say that we can understand the original meaning of the text, nor is it impossible. If it were impossible, what would the point be?

People who say that we cannot know the original meaning with 100% certainty usually say so because the plain meaning and interpretation of Scripture does not mesh with something they want to happen in their life or in society. In other words, they don’t want to see the light.

Another thing to note, and this is important, is that any given passage only has one correct interpretation. Let me say that again, there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture. There can be any number of applications for a passage, but only one correct meaning.

Let me close with an example.

On September 2nd, 1776, General George Washington wrote a letter to the Continental Congress. That letter was written in a different time and culture to a different recipient. Yet, we can interpret that letter with 100% clarity. The army was demoralized and, in Washington’s opinion, underpaid. He recommended the possibility of land being added as an incentive for enlistments.

There is no question to the meaning of this letter from Washington. In the same way, we can look at the books of the Bible, many of which are letters themselves, and interpret the text with 100% clarity.

Book Review: Remaining Faithful in Ministry

John MacArthur’s new book, Remaining Faithful in Ministry, is a convicting, challenging, and motivating read that every pastor or preacher should have in his library.

MacArthur, who recently celebrated fifty years of ministry at Grace Community Church, writes on 2 Corinthians 4 and the faithful ministry of the Apostle Paul. In fact, the book reads almost as a biography of the Apostle.

The book seeks to examine the life of Paul and how he was faithful in his ministry. It does this by looking at nine key areas (convictions) of his life and ministry. These are the superiority of the new covenant, ministry is a mercy, the need for a pure heart, the need to preach the Word faithfully, results belong to God, his own insignificance, the benefit of suffering, and the need for courage.

Throughout each chapter, MacArthur examines the writings of Paul as well as accounts of his life from the book of Acts. Each shows a man who was deeply devoted to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ after his conversion challenging each of us as believer’s to step up and do the same.

The book is well-written and easy to understand.

Overall, I recommend this book not only to pastors and preachers, but to every Christian. It is a short read that can be finished in one sitting of a couple of hours. It will challenge and convict you and stretch your faith for growth and maturity.

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exhange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Can We Trust The Gospels?

Can We Trust The Gospels? by Peter J. Williams, is the latest work in a whole line of works that seek to explain the reasons we have for confidence in the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ. This is a subject that has any number of works written both for and against the validity of the Gospel books in the New Testament.

Williams’ book is masterfully written with a fresh new look at the topic. He incorporates new evidence from archaeology from the last 50 years that demonstrates even further that we can, in fact, trust the Gospel accounts as both historically accurate and spiritually fulfilling.

Williams starts out by exploring the testimony of Non-Christian sources and their take on the Gospel accounts. He finds that they match with precision. If the Gospel writers were putting forth lies about these events, why would the secular sources reference and agree with these same events?

Williams also tackles the question, which books are true Gospels? What is to be included? He puts historical measures for this process in place as well as church acceptance throughout history.

A large emphasis is also put on the knowledge of the Gospel writers themselves. The writers knew their geography. They knew the culture. They knew specific events and names. There are things that are in the Gospels that could not be known if you were not intimately acquainted with the culture and locations in which the Gospel accounts take place.

Another area of focus is whether or not we have the actual words of Christ within the Gospels. A persuasive case is made that we do indeed have the actual words of Christ based on the strong culture of oral tradition that was present in the first century. He also addresses perceived contradictions in the text which are mostly due to people ignoring the fact that words can have multiple meanings.

The final chapter of the book is titled, “Who Would Make All This Up?” This, of course, is a key question. The stories contained in the Gospel were not safe stories to portray in the time immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection. The fact that these people were willing to put their lives on the line gives further authenticity to their message.

Overall, Can We Trust the Gospels? is a delightful, easy and quick read. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the area of apologetics and also anyone who would like to deepen their faith in the validity of the Scriptures.

I received this book free from the Publisher, Crossway, in exchange for an honest and fair review.

If Not Scripture…Then What?


People question the Inerrancy of Scripture and say that Scripture is not our final authority because much of it is not relevant today. We hear things like “Come on, it is 2019!” First, that is an absurd argument. The year may be 2019 but the Bible is still relevant. The Bible is still in force. Sin has not changed. Salvation has not changed.

But if we are not to look at the Scripture as our final authority, I must ask, what should we look at? What has more authority than Scripture for the Christian? Is it science which often changes and/or contradicts itself? Is it culture which changes as quickly as the wind? Is it reason that can explain and justify anything? Is it politics? What should we look to?

Do you see the absurdity of this? The only thing that we should be anchored in as Christians is the Word of God. After all, He made all that exists so I believe He is the most authoritative source on any given subject.

You would not go up to the maker of a machine and say, “What you use this for is not what this is meant for.” That would be absurd. But that is exactly what we do when we tell God that the Bible is no longer applicable today because it is outdated.

No, the Bible is God’s truth. The truth. We don’t get to make our own truth. The Bible Stands. I am reminded of the lyrics of that great song by the same name and I will leave you with them.

The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
’Mid the raging storms of time;
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.

Refrain:
The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.

The Bible stands like a mountain tow’ring
Far above the works of men;
Its truth by none ever was refuted,
And destroy it they never can.

The Bible stands and it will forever,
When the world has passed away;
By inspiration it has been given,
All its precepts I will obey.

The Bible stands every test we give it,
For its Author is divine;
By grace alone I expect to live it,
And to prove and to make it mine.

Haldor Lillenas “The Bible Stands” 1917 Public Domain

Preaching In The Wake of GC2019

There have been a lot of things said about the United Methodist General Conference over the last couple of days. As you know by now, the Traditional Plan has been passed and, barring a Judicial Strikedown, will become church policy in January. For conservatives, like myself, this is a victory.

But how do we encourage members going forward? What will we preach on this weekend? Here is how I plan to preach this weekend.

I plan to preach the Word of God. I plan to be faithful to the text. I plan to decry false teachings. I plan to preach that we are to love LGBT people but not accept their sin. After all, that is loving.

In no way do we fear LGBT. In no way do we wish to push them out of the church. But in no way will we affirm sin either. It is loving to tell them the truth. It is loving to tell them what the Scriptures teach. It is loving to care about where they will spend eternity.

Friends, we must stay true to Scripture. Much Scripture was taken out of context. For example, Jesus did not say to not judge. That is taken out of context. Read the rest of the passage.

Jesus did not accept everyone as they are. No, He said to go and sin no more.

However, we are to do this with patience. After all, we cannot change anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can change others.

So that is how I plan to preach this week. Stand firm in the truth of Scripture and not the words of men. Preach the Gospel. Rebuke sin. Keep the faith.

People Are Broken

I recently read an article that suggests that humanity is not broken. That we are perfect just the way we are. I am sorry but that is not what Scripture tells us. In fact, it tells us just the opposite.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 ESV

We are not perfect. We are sinners. To suggest that we are perfect you must live blind to the things that go on in this world. Sin is abundant. We are a broken people.

This is what happens when we have a low-view of Scripture. When we don’t believe that Scripture is the Word of God. Everything becomes distorted. Lines are no longer visible. Everything is ok.

But we know that the Bible is the Word of God because of 2 Timothy 3:16. It does not say some Scripture is God’s, it says all Scripture. And that includes the passages that say we are not perfect just the way we are. We are broken.

The article was in direct relation to LGBTQ. In fact, the quote from the article says:

Because the truth is simple: We’re all divinely created. We’re perfect just the way we are. Me. You. Your annoying [edit] neighbor. All of us. We’re valuable.

God doesn’t love us in spite of who we are. He loves us BECAUSE of who we are. Gaiety & all.

There is, of course, some truth in this statement. Yes, we are all divinely created, all of us, and we are all valuable. That is not under dispute. But we are not perfect. And it certainly is not true that God loves us because of who we are. We are sinners. God only loves us because of who HE is.

Here I Stand: Traditional Plan Passes

Today the United Methodist Church stands on truth. Truth that God does not affirm the LGBT lifestyle and that they are not to be married nor have leadership positions in the church. This is biblical. This is truth.

I am reminded when Martin Luther was asked to renounce his stance on biblical truth in the face of more progressive theology. He said that he could not go against conscience. Then he said those famous words, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

In the days and weeks to come, we will be attacked. We will be attacked saying that we are doing great harm to people who see themselves as LGBTQ. But that is not the truth. The truth is sin harms. We are showing love by showing we are not going to allow the sin to reign but beg you to come to repentance.

Traditionalists Do Not Hate LGBT

Yesterday’s vote to not pass the One Church Plan out of legislative committee was a definite victory for advocates of the Traditional plan. In the aftermath, attacks from LGBT supporters have been nonstop talking about the hate of the Traditionalists toward LGBT. This could not be further from the truth.

Traditionalists do not hate LGBT. We love our LGBT friends but that doesn’t mean we let our friends continue in sin. Think of it this way. If you stopped someone from rushing off a 1,000-foot cliff does that mean you hate them? Of course not. But that is exactly the logic that LGBT is using to say traditionalists hate them.

Traditionalists hold Scripture in the highest authority. Scripture tells us that LGBT behavior is sinful and, as the UMC Book of Discipline states, it is not compatible with the Christian life.

This is not just LGBT. This is any sin. We are called in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 to preach the word and to reprove (correct false teaching) and rebuke sin. That is what the traditional crowd is working towards. It has nothing to do with hate. If anything, it shows our love for LGBT by wanting them to come to a place where they are free from sin.