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7 Reflections on the United Methodist Church’s Discipline Against Rev. Frank Schaefer

It may have been lost on us who hang out in only Baptist circles that our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church (UMC) had a fairly serious dust up last month.  For me, I have many friends in the UMC, some of whom are ordained by the church.  In fact, it was one of my ordained friends that passively brought my attention to the situation when she posted on her Facebook page a request for people to pray for the situation.  Furthermore, my wife and I have United Methodist ties in our past.  So, I am always interested about what’s going on with that denomination.  Indeed, all of us who are Christians should be concerned with what’s going on in the United Methodist Church because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and stand as the largest mainline denomination in America.

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But SBC Calvinists Believe That Too

The Southern Baptist Convention has certainly seen a mellowing out of what came to be quite a heated debate once again over Calvinism after the publishing of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” in May 2012.  Of course, Dr. Frank Page’s appointment of the Calvinism Advisory Committee the next month in June 2012 and the unifying document they crafted and published in June 2013 called “Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension” (aka, T5) has had a great deal to do with the mellowing out we are now enjoying, or at least I am.

Nevertheless, there are those still in the convention that are really concerned about the “problem of Calvinism.”  In fact, I recently overheard a group of men eating breakfast before attending the Tennessee Baptist Convention discussing the issue of Calvinism in the SBC.  One of them declared about Calvinism, “Why if I believed that, I’d never go out and share the gospel because it would already be decided who’s going to be saved!”  Apparently this man understood SBC Calvinists to believe that people are saved apart from hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells me that there’s still work to be done in communicating what SBC Calvinists actually believe.  I thought to myself and almost chimed in across the aisle, “No, SBC Calvinists believe too that we’ve got to share the gospel if anybody’s going to be saved.”  Unfortunately, that fellow had a misunderstanding of what SBC Calvinists believe.

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5 Evangelism Principles on the Way to the Seller of Purple

We Southern Baptists are a Great Commission people.  It’s in our denominational blood!  As we come into the state convention season of SBC life, we will undoubtedly be challenged again and again to share the gospel, sHaRe tHe gOsPeL, SHARE THE GOSPEL!  Indeed, I welcome that clarion call from Scripture because it captures the heart of God and needs to be sounded again and again, but the Bible doesn’t simply tell us to share the gospel.  It also gives us principles for how to share the gospel.

One of the richest places to gain some vital principles for sharing the gospel comes from Acts 16.  There were find the history of Paul preaching the gospel in Asia Minor and Europe on his second missionary journey, which led him to a seller of purple named Lydia.  Five principles of evangelism jump out to me there in vv. 1-15 as Paul is heading for a divine appointment with this lady.

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