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God Is Falling

By John Warrener


"The Methodists must take heed to their doctrine, their experience, their practice, and their discipline . . . and if they do not attend to their discipline, they will be like persons who bestow much pains in cultivating their garden, and put no fence round it, to save it from the wild boar of the forest." --John Wesley, 1783

At our recent District Mission School the opening worship included an "Affirmation of Faith" from a Celebrate Women worship resource. This new confession of faith began and ended with "We believe in God, Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer of Life."  The doctrine of the Trinity, "God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" had been dropped in favor of a more gender neutral version of God. The rest of the confession celebrated God, Christ and Mary Magdalene as if they were equal. Also, at the 1999 North Texas Annual Conference Communion services before the regular business session of the Annual Conference, God was re-imagined into a goddess and was addressed as "Our Mother, who art within us, many are your names" as a substitute for the Lord's Prayer.  Again, God and Jesus Christ were re-imagined into female gendered deities of  "our Mother and Daughter, and to the Holy of Holies."    Now to some, this seems of little consequence at first glance and hardly worth a protest until you consider the consequences of such literary freedom in our confessions of faith and worship liturgies. This is the reason that the early church fathers declared such confessions a false doctrine, condemned by the early Christian Church. They called it the heresy of Modalism in the case of the first affirmation and the UMC declared re-imagining God into a goddess "inappropriate." (Judicial Decision 714)

First, by addressing God as an occupation or mode of operation, "a maker, redeemer, or sustainer," we deny the personhood of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit – "God, in three persons, blessed Trinity" as the old hymn teaches us. The spiritual danger is akin to when we refer to those who we are to be in personal love relationships with as plumber or accountant instead of my father or my son. Soon all plumbers and accountants are the same and likewise, the personal relationship with Christ is lost among the many redeemers who claim the same occupation. Also, the number of God’s occupations increases to include a great number of names and modes and the triune nature of God becomes a unitary God with many functions. We have then become universalists who believe in a god with many different occupations and many redeemers, while denying the deity and primacy of Christ. We are no longer standing in Christian tradition or the Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

Second, such liberal treatment of Church confessions and worship liturgies lead us to change the words and therefore the doctrines which define Christianity. The above confession and excerpts from North Texas Communion Liturgy become our cases in point. The first "neutering of God" began as God the "Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer," a phrase used by Episcopal leaders to append to or replace "God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Jesus made no such appendage when he gave us the Great Commission:

(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

God, the person of our loving Father, has fallen once to the occupation of just creator, and twice to the lesser occupation of a maker. A maker fabricates from what is already created! Does this mean that God has fallen in status again and is no longer creator or Father, or is it just another occupation of God making Him a quintinity or a unity with many occupations as the Unitarians believe?  Yet again, the persons of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have fallen to be re-imaged into a Mother, a Daughter of unknown origin, and the Holy of Holies which is a place and not a person.  The person of God continues to fall into a whirling vortex of confused "re-images", persons, and modes of operation leading to great confusion and controversy.

Third, by changing our confessions and worship liturgies which express what we believe, we are changing our doctrines which is what we teach. This creates confusion which allows immorality and the denial of Christ as the one and only Savior to prevail unchallenged by the discipline of orthodoxy (right doctrine). The Bible warns us of this:

(2 Timothy 4:2-4 KJV) "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

It is no coincidence that the neutered and re-imagined formulas for God are the ones being used by the feminists who would deny the deity and need for the atonement of Jesus Christ and promote the immorality of abortion. It is also the confession preferred by those who promote the immorality of homosexuality and same-sex unions. The Bible informs us that this has in fact happened in our denomination.

Finally, by faithful Christians joining in such liberal confessions of faith and re-imagined worships, the "lustful teachers" can justify their immoral doctrines to a confused next generation, our children, because the great doctrines of our church have fallen, along with God, by our joining in these new-age worships and confessions of faith.

Our early Church fathers saw the danger of such and disciplined the Church by affirming its orthodox doctrines and rejected these confessions and worships as heresy. The "wild boar of the forest" is rooting up the garden of our beloved Church again. Will we protect it be putting up the fence of discipline called orthodoxy, the right doctrines of our Church, or will we give our children over to the "lustful teachers" of this sinful and perverse generation with their new unholy confessions, worships and doctrines?

Article I——Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. ( 62. The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church, 1996 Book of Discipline)


Celebrated at the Thomasville District Mission School. (from Celebrate Women)

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

We believe in God, Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer of Life, without beginning or end, whose life-giving love was let loose on the first Easter Sunday and whose life-giving love we share and proclaim here today.

We believe in God who gave up the divine life and submitted to the darkness and terror of the grave; and who enters with us unto every darkness and terror we shall ever face.

We believe in God who raised Christ from the death of the grave to glorious new life; and who raises our lives from sin and despair to newness and hope again.

We believe in God who met the grief-stricken Mary in the garden and called her into hope by the uttering of her name; and who meets us in our grief and gives us courage to hope again by tenderly calling our name.

We believe in God who sent Mary out from the garden to be the witness and apostle of the resurrection; and who commissions us, like Mary, to be bearers of hope and good news in our world.

We believe in God, Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer of Life, without beginning or end, whose life- giving love we share and proclaim today to all men and women, wherever and whoever they are, loved, blessed and called by God, without beginning or end.


(From one of three Communion services before the regular business session of the North Texas Annual Conference)

Our Mother, who art within us, many are your names. Your wisdom come, your will be done, unfolding from the depths of us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits, and we let go. You support us in our power, and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be now. Amen. (Miriam Therese Winter)

THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD AND SHARING THE CUP

THE 23RD PSALM
adapted by Bobby McFerrin

The Lord is my Shepherd,
I have all I need.
She makes me lie down in green meadows,
beside the still water She will lead.
She restores my soul;
She rights my wrongs.
She leads me in a path of good things,
and fills my heart with songs.
Even though I walk through a dark and dreary land,
there is nothing that can shake me;
She has said She won't forsake me,
I'm in Her hand.
She sets a table before me
in the presence of my foes.
She anoints my head with oil,
and my cup overflows.
Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me
all the days of my life.
And I will live in Her house forever,
Forever and ever.

Glory be to our Mother and Daughter,
and to the Holy of Holies.
As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen.


John Warrener is:

  • a second career pastor, probationary member of the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • currently pastor of  Brookfield/Enigma United Methodist Church
  • a graduate of Drew Theological Seminary
  • webmaster of:
  • a member of Walk to Emmaus and Kairos Prison Ministry

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