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How Do We Find Unity?

July 7th, 2000
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
Reporting From The
Northern Illinois Conference

(I have been advised that it is important for me to acknowledge that my articles and reports are not in any way shape or form the official voice of the Northern Illinois Conference.  Any similarity in content to those official news sources is strictly coincidental and also not very likely since our news sources are controlled by the "liberal fundamentalists" of our conference.  But of course that is just the opinion of this "Theological Evangelical".  I want to thank Bishop Sprague for giving us that title during one of his sermons at Annual Conference.  It certainly is much nicer than many of the other things we have been called.)

Conference Coordinator

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.

by Katherine Kuhlman (deceased:  February 20, 1976)

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. That it is the eternal tribunal by whose standards all men, and nations shall be judged.

I believe in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as Three separate individuals; equal in every Divine perfection.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  Whose glory is so exceeding bright that mortal men cannot look upon His face and live.  His nature so transcends human standards of comparison that a definition is impossible. If a demonstration of God's existence were possible, He would be too limited to fill the office of Supreme Being and ruler of the universe. Faith begins where reason and logic ends!

I believe that Jesus Christ is the very Son of the Living God, co-existent and co-eternal with the Father, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, taking upon Himself the form of man, and by the shedding of His blood, made atonement for fallen man.

Just as prophecy is the unanswerable argument in the realm of External Evidence, so the Person of Jesus Christ is the unanswerable argument in the realm of Internal Evidence.  Not only does His entire life fulfill perfectly the Old Testament prophecies, but His person, towering as it does above every other, is beyond explanation only as we admit Him to be Very God as well as Very Man.

The miraculous life of Christ is an unanswerable argument for His miraculous birth!

I believe in the Holy Spirit is a Person, and a Divine Person, and not just a Divine influence.  The marks of personality are knowledge, feeling, and will, and any being who knows, thinks, feels, and wills, is a person whether he has a body or not.  All the distinctive marks or characteristics or personality are ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Word.

As a member of the eternal Trinity, the Holy Ghost has aided in the creation of the earth and its forms of life.  He was present at the creation of man.  Hence the words: "Let us make man."  It was foreordained of the world, that the Holy Ghost should be dominant and controlling in the Church.

I believe that by voluntary disobedience and transgression, man fell from innocence and purity, to the depths of sin and iniquity.

Because of man's fallen state, judgments had to be met, law had to be satisfied, penalties had to be paid; all of these things the holiness of God required.

Jesus Christ the Son, through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself to God the Father as a propitiation for sin; that is why Christ is referred to as "The lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

The blood of Christ is so effective that it not only cleanses from all sin, but one day the effect of that blood shed in Jerusalem nineteen hundred years ago will remove the curse of sin from the earth.

His sinless blood is a sufficient atonement for our sin!

I believe in salvation as a definite experience - an experience through which the individual is no longer under the bondage of sin, but "is passed from death unto life," treasformed by the Power of the Spirit.   Quite literally "a new creature in Christ Jesus."

By simple faith, belief in God's Son, and acceptance of Him as Divine Savior, the guilty sinner is made righteous.

I believe in that "called out" body of believers, composed of Jew and Gentile, and individuals from every kindred, people, tribe and nation, originating at Pentecost, and know as "The Body of Christ."

I believe that this Body, comprised of those who have been washed in the shed blood of the Son of God, is to be the Bride of Christ and will reign with Him in His millennial glory.

I believe in miracles!

"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
Ordained Elder
Northern Illinois Conference
The Untied Methodist Church