Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Question of the Day

¶ 17 of The Book of Discipline (2004) constitutes the First Restrictive Rule. It reads:

The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.

¶ 102 (p.70) includes Wesley's Sermons as among the doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church:

In the Plan of Union for The United Methodist Church, the preface to the Methodist Articles of Religion and the Evangelical United Brethren Confession of Faith explains that both were accepted as doctrinal standards for the new church. Additionally, it stated that although the language of the first Restrictive Rule never has been formally defined, Wesley's Sermons and Notes were understood specifically to be included in our present existing and established standards of doctrine.

In his sermon "The Cure and Cause for Earthquakes", Wesley argues that earthquakes are caused by divine wrath for sin, and they are preventable by repenting of our sins.

Are United Methodist pastors required to teach that earthquakes are caused by sin and cured by repentance?


United Method said...

hahaha, you are so funny John. Clever! Bringing up earthquakes and sin to distract us from the vitally important matters we will be hashing out at the upcoming general conference.

The question in my mind is not whether we are required to teach that earthquakes are caused by sin, but instead whether I should break fellowship with those who disagree with me.

yep, I said it. ;)

Scott said...

It all depends on what the definition of is is.

John said...

It's not a distraction. It' just not my job or the purpose of this blog to cover General Conference with any degree of intensity. If you want serious GC coverage, go to UM Portal.

The question occured to me recently while writing commissioning paperwork. If I were asked this question by the BOOM, I'm not sure how to answer.

Keith McIlwain said...

It's a trick question.

Only Wesley's Standard Sermons are part of our doctrinal standards, not every sermon he ever wrote/preached. I don't believe the sermon you cite is among them; one is thus free to interpret or disregard as one sees fit.

Stephen said...

Keith's right.

I don't think the earthquake sermon is considered part of Wesley's Standard Sermons.

John said...

Just checking online, it looks like you're correct.

Todd said...

But you can also say that while Wesley may have been divergent from modern, scientific thought, he is correct theologically. We do hold that sin was at the heart of the destruction of the harmony of the world. Prior to the sin of Adam and the sin of Noah's generation, scripture shows the natural world in a different light.

Stresspenguin said...

Where did you find a list of the Standard Sermons? And where did you find your confirmation that only those are considered doctrinal? I've been looking for the same information for those same reasons.

United Method said...

I was definitely kidding. Sorry, I thought you were too.

Honestly? No, I don't think we are required to teach that earthquakes are caused by sin and cured by repentance. I agree, it sounds like a trick question and I'd be really surprised if someone pulled that out in a BOOM meeting too.

Stresspenguin said...

I just went through some of my notes from UM Doctrine...

Are we talking the 44 standard sermons, the 53 standard sermons, or the 141 standard sermons? The are not, as Keith indicated, all of the sermons he ever wrote or preached, but those he chose to publish. Despite the efforts of Bishop Jones, there is no set definition of which sermons are the Standard Sermons. The Discipline is unclear on that (surprise). If anyone says differently, then its opinion, not doctrinally defined fact. There's may be a Judicial decision about it, but I wouldn't know how to find that out.

It's the notes that are more disconcerting. Especially when he predicts the biblical end times (sometime in the 1800s I believe) and which Pope was the anti-Christ. there's some other weird stuff in the Notes as well.

As for the "Cure and Cause for Earthquakes," I think the theology behind it is sound, evidenced in I.2. II.5, II.6, and III.3. I'd teach it. In modern language, of course.

Just my 1/50 of a buck.

Brett said...

Some UM pastors seem to ignore everything else John Wesley taught. Why hold them to this?

JD said...

Touche, Brett, touche.


decaf owl said...

An interesting approach to questions of doctrine can be found in Albert Mohler's
A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity. The article suggests three levels of Doctrine - that which is essential, that which is not essential but important, and that which is not particularly important (I know that may be in infelicitous summary.)

I would recommend you read it.

Larry McCallister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry McCallister said...

What do Wesleyans do with his sermon #155, "On Faith", where Wesley speculates that ghosts (departed spirits) exist? Perhaps he believed that answers the question about "Old Jeffrey"? :-)

Dale Tedder said...


I'm definitely filing this one away so I can ask you about it at both the DCOM and BOOM. When are you coming through so I can prepare for those interviews by reading and rereading your blog's entries over the last couple of years. Should be good fodder to make you squirm a bit.

Just kidding...as far as you know.

John said...

Dale, it's nice to know that your power of life and death over my future hasn't gone to your head.

I'm turning in my commissioning packet on Tuesday.