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Dialogue Which Can Never Be Dialogue

by John Warrener


The North and South Georgia Annual conference newspaper, "The Advocate" reported, a consensus among participants at the recent "theological dialogues" in Nashville, Nov. 20-21, with Bishop Judith Craig, who described two divergent world views within the United Methodist Church:

  1. The first believes the "...Holy Spirit's activity is such that we continue to receive new revelation of God..."
  2. "...while the other believes the Holy Spirit is active in helping us comprehend what has already been revealed."

For those who were in agreement with Craig's statement, I would like to point out that for those of the former view (#2), which in reality is the "first" view held by Methodists since John Wesley, and the Church since Jesus Christ, that view #1 is neither theological nor spiritual.  View #1 would more accurately be described as a myth of the sinful flesh, or "sarkikology" (knowledge of the flesh) and not "theology" (knowledge of God).  If you look at what this view supports, you will find sexual immorality, the murder of abortion, and other sins of the flesh, as well as rejection of the spiritual authority of the Bible, historic Christianity, the Discipline of the United Methodist Church, and most revealing of all, the deity, atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which make this view non-Christian!

Therefore, there can be neither theological discussion, dialogue, compromise, nor accommodation, for those of us who hold to the historic Christian view (#2), because one is of the "flesh" and the other is of the "Spirit."  These views are opposed to each other by God's design and cannot be reconciled according to our view.

(Gal 5:17 NRSV)  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.

Some may ask, by what authority do I have to say one view is of the flesh and the other of the Spirit?  I was formerly of view #1, educated in a liberal UMC seminary, supported the pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-you name the sin of the flesh "sarkikology" and was in agreement with my seminary professors and liberal peers.  My UMC theological school placement service even placed me as a counselor in an abortion clinic!  Then, I met the living Jesus Christ and he saved and delivered me from my sins.  The Holy Spirit came in and he transformed my "sarkikology" (knowledge of the flesh) into a "theology" (knowledge of God) and now I understand the difference and can stand firm with the witness of the Bible, John Wesley and the living Jesus Christ.

The great Apostle Paul puts is all together for us when he wrote to the Corinthians:

(1 Cor 2:14 NRSV)  Those who are unspiritual [view #1] do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

(1 Cor 2:15-16 NRSV)  Those who are spiritual [view #2] discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny.  "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

I would like to offer all of view #2, that what we face as a denomination is not new and will not be resolved by dialogue which can never be dialogue. It will be resolved only if we have faith the "...Holy Spirit is active in helping us comprehend what has already been revealed."  His revelation can be experienced personally according to his promise, affirmed by our historic church tradition and confirmed by the Holy Scripture.

(2 Timothy 4:1-4 NRSV)  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.

I urge and pray fervently for all of view #2 which is, by its very description, the Christian view, to take the great Apostle's advice above. The time is now here!


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