By Matt Horan

Christian Fundamentalism started as a reaction against the Theory of Evolution at the 1910 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.  It influenced many Methodist Churches throughout the 20th century.  Fundamentalism is based on a series of “test questions” that measure whether someone is truly a Christian.  These include:

  1. Do you believe that the Bible is free from errors, and is literally true except in places where it says otherwise (such as a parable)?
  2. Do you believe that the conception of Jesus was a miracle performed by Holy Spirit, and that Mary became pregnant with him without the involvement of a human father?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus’s death on the cross served as payment for the penalty owed to God for your sin?
  4. Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead?
  5. Do you believe that Jesus really performed miracles?

A good case can be made for any of these beliefs.  I’m a personal subscriber to somewhere between 3 and 4 of them.  However, Fundamentalism has not been a good influence on Methodism.  Here’s a few reasons why: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Cross and the Flame
A sermon for the Special Session of the General Conference of the United
Methodist Church by Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., President, Council of Bishops
February 24, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of
Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has
broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the
law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new
humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to
God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far
more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which
you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one
another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace.

Ephesians 2. 13-16; 3. 20-21; 4. 1-3

You are here because your people respect you. They have entrusted something
very important to you—the discernment of a way forward for this beloved church. Read the rest of this entry »

I Won’t Be “In the Room Where It Happens”

Posted: February 23, 2019 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

Jim Harnish

I Won’t Be “In the Room Where It Happens”

Whatever happens in St. Louis, I won’t be (with apologies to “Hamilton”) “in the room where it happens.”

After being deeply engaged in the Uniting Methodists movement in preparation for the General Conference that meets this week, an unexpected, unwanted, unpredictable and still-to-be-diagnosed neurological issue landed me in the hospital where I am undergoing “plasma exchange” treatment.  The good news is that it works; the bad news is that it takes time…like 10-15 days. IMG_1024We’re grateful for an excellent hospital just 25 minutes from our home, a top-notch medical team, and a room with a spectacular view.  There’s healing power in a Florida sunrise!

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing woman with whom I will celebrate 50 years of marriage this summer, our kids and grandkids, the wide circle of family and friends who love me more than I ever…

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Pastor Matt’s Bible Minute  | Genesis 38

Posted: February 1, 2019 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

Click here to read Genesis 38

As I believe I’ve mentioned here and there, I’m working on doing a cover to cover reading of the Bible in my morning devotional times this year.  I recently came to Genesis 38, which I find to be one of the most disturbing chapters in the entire Bible.

[In fact, I feel that our usual, the NIV version, really takes some interpretive license and cleans up the chapter a lot.  (It makes Judah seem a lot more romantic than he really is, for example!) For a reading more closely resembling the Hebrew, click here to check out the NASB version.  For you hardcore Bible nerds, click here to check out the Interlinear version.  Just remember that if you give that one a try, it reads from right to left!]

As always, reading the Bible shows me something I hadn’t really noticed before every time, even though I may have read the story plenty of times in the past.  It truly is living and active!  As I am now on chapter 45, I caught a pattern that I want to keep an eye on.  The main part of the story is obviously taking us through the lives and times of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and there seems to be great effort taken to tell the story with accuracy.  

However, there are then interludes that seem to be a tangent, such as the story of Jacob & Esau, or today’s reading of Judah & Tamar.  The first audience to hear these writings was probably the Israelites while they were in the process of taking up residence in their assigned tribal areas, and these tangents focus on using a story of their namesake to explain how the various tribes and families ended up the way they were.  For example, anyone who’s been present at the birth of a baby would find the birth stories of Jacob and Esau or Perez and Zerah a highly unlikely order of events, but they do wind up reflecting the eventual reality of–and thus providing a story and tradition for–the stations, relationships, and interactions of the descendant tribes that were settling in the Promised Land all around them.  

It really is interesting to read Genesis-Exodus through the lens of Moses and others crafting a national story for the people of Israel that will give them the identity that a new nation would need to endure in the face of many dangers lurking around it!