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July 7th, 2000
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
Reporting From The
Northern Illinois Conference
THE CONFESSING MOVEMENT WITHIN THE UNITED
How Do We Find Unity?
Occasionally I clean up my office, usually it happens when I can't find something important. I then begin the process of doing triage and decide which documents still have life in them and those which need to be taken off of life support and given a proper burial. There are usually many surprises as I discover little gems of verbal treasure which I had "saved for using later". Then occasionally as I am about to discard something I take a second look and find something very special. In the August 1998 edition of the Chicago Evangelical News I found of all things, A Statement Of Faith by Katheryn Kuhlman. For those who may not know who Katheryn Kuhlman is let me give this very inadequate description of her life and ministry. According to the biography on the back of the book Daughter of Destiny by Jamie Buckinham she had a 50 year ministry in which she publicly ministered to 100,000,000 people. "And wherever she went, people who once thought miracles impossible learned to believe in miracles."
"She had far more critics inside the church than she did outside. The people of the world, hungry for reality, flocked to her services, eager to see with their own eyes what other preachers had been only talking about. There 'people of the world,' as Kathryn called them, had looked everywhere for reality and supernatural power. Many had gone deeply into the occult, spiritism, and witchcraft hoping to find there the answers to their inner thirst. If anything, they could probably recognize a miracle a lot faster than those blinded by the churchy tradition of false and dead religion which preached that the age of miracles was past (or in a more modern context that supernatural miracles [such as the virgin birth] have never happened) in an effort to defend their own powerlessness. Over and over she preached. 'We have got to stick with the Word of God. Stay with it. Nothing else and nothing added. The very second you go beyond the Word of God, you go off into fanaticism, and we no longer have the respect of the unregenerated. At that point we bring reproach on the most beautiful person in the world, the Third Person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit'" (page 42 & 43)
We have had dialogues and discussions around the works of Borg in our conference. We have been forced to read his views on what he things is ultimate reality concerning our existence and our relationship with God. Why not do the same using the works of a "theological evangelical" like Katheryn Kuhlman. Might I suggest (with more than just a little bit of mischief in my heart) that in the name of inclusiveness, we consider the words of a powerful woman of faith instead of concentrating our efforts running after another white/male/northern european descended theologian who uses as a foundation human wisdom and reason instead of the inspired Word of God.
"I believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of the Living God; that it is the supernaturally inspired Word; that it was written by holy men of old as they were moved and inspired by the Holy Ghost; that it is the only true ground of Christian unity and fellowship." As long as we disagree on the authority of scripture and its rightful place as the authority upon which to base our beliefs, it will be impossible to find unity! In reality, we will drift further and further apart by every new doctrine that comes along which is based on human reason. The end result will be that to become ordained (and also to reach the upper leadership positions) within the United Methodist Church will be more about personalities and how well you know those who are judging your worthiness rather than how well one knows the Word of God. It will come to the point that the doctrinal sections of our Book of Discipline will become irrelevant because what anyone wants to believe and can articulate well will become acceptable. In fact, in a number of cases I have written about in the past that day has already arrived.
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen