|Posted by msfume on October 3, 2009 at 5:18 PM|
DR. MAXIE DUNNAM SPEAKS AT ANNUAL CONFERENCE MSFUME BANQUET – Friday, June 13, 2009.
By Rev. Wallace Cason
On Friday night, June 13, Dr. Maxie Dunnam spoke to over 300 at the annual banquet of MSFUME, the Mississippi Fellowship of United Methodist Evangelicals, held in the fellowship hall of Galloway UMC in Jackson at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Dunnam is currently Chancellor of Asbury Theological Seminaryin Wilmore, Kentucky. Former President and currently an executive committee member of the World Methodist Council, he is a Director of the Board of Global Ministries of the UMC and a member of the University Senate of the UMC. He was born in Deemer, MS. He was instrumental in bring Emmaus/Cursillo to the U.S.and was long time editor of the Upper Room.
Introducing Dr. Dunnam, Rev. Mike Childs said the Mississippi Fellowship of United Methodist Evangelicals, with a membership of over 2,000, is the largest group in the Confessing Movement of Methodism in the UnitedStates. Another interesting fact: a full 75% of the professors at Jackson's Wesley Theological Seminary are graduates of Asbury Theological Seminary.
After Mrs. Sybil Arant was congratulated for receiving the Harry Denman award, and after many expressions of deep gratitude for outgoing MSFUME president and his wife Rev. Jeffrey and Cindy Switzer, incoming MSFUME president Rev. Ginger Holland reminded us of the little book of Jude, which says that we need to persevere in the midst of ungodliness; be merciful to those who doubt; and build ourselves up in Christ. She asked for help in constructing a new MSFUME website and made a serious offer to come speak at local churches. Ginger asked for volunteers to serve as leaders in their counties or districts for MSFUME. Finally, Ginger reminded us that Satan is the enemy, and not people. She quoted John Wesley, who explained why people heardhim gladly: "I set myself on fire, and they come to watch me burn." That is what each of us should do in our lives for Jesus Christ.
Dr. Dunnam began by saying the world is in an emergency situation, quoting business author Tom Peters as saying "It is an exclamation mark world in which we live." The USA is now third in the world behind China and India in the lists of nations with non-Christians. A full 150 million U.S. citizens are unchurched. In our world today, there is tolerance for everything except Christianity. People no longer believe in absolute truth; marriage is threatened by the rise of homosexuality; Congress is pro-abortion; four or five mainline denominations are close to schism over doctrine; and our religious liberty is threatened. With only 1,500 new churches started every year while 4,000 churches close, there is a 60% decline in the number of churches in recent years.
However, Dr. Dunnam said, there are "enclaves of resistance," where there are those who are not conformed to the world, but are transformedby Jesus Christ. Using Romans 12 as his text, Dr. Dunnam spoke of three essentials for our resistance to worldliness in our time: (1) We must ground ourselves in grace that God's grace may abound; (2) We must have full faith in Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture; and (3) We must return to scriptural holiness.
(1) We must ground ourselves in grace, that grace may abound. We must have ministries to all -- to the gays, criminals in jail, abortionistsand their prey, etc. -- if we are to have any weight in our preaching about God's grace to the lost. For Methodists, our clear understanding of grace is a great asset in resisting the world: We have the Emmaus movement, for example. More importantly, we have John Wesley. We have his teaching about prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. Wesley was all about ministries of grace.
The church is the home of God's grace. Wesley said, "The church is one loving heart setting another heart on fire." We need radical grace, however; "The church must be a home for all, or it is not a home at all," said Dr. Dunnam. An illustration of this occurred at the funeral of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Former President Nixon came to the funeral but was cowering in a corner, rejected by all, until Jimmy Carter showed up and embraced him, saying, "Welcome home, Mr. President." This began Nixon's personal healing. The church must show forgiving grace -- we must welcome all, even though while confronting sin as sin.
(2) We must be clear about the authority of Scripture and confident in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wesley's statement that "We think and let think" has confused some into thinking that you can do anything and still be a Methodist. That idea is wrong. We have lost our identity by occupying ourselves with small issues and substituting ideology for theology. But we cannot be pluralistic in our theology -- we cannot relate the true gospel of Christ if we have no absolutes and no passion, and if we don't believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.
A presenting issue is homosexuality, Dr. Dunnam declared. He said it is tearing our denomination apart. The larger, underlying problem isour non-belief in the authority of Scripture. At a recent American Bible Society meeting, Maxie heard board members say, "The Bible is not essential forcritical thinking...biblical authority must be exploded...sola scriptura [putting Scripture above all] gets us in trouble...." And these were professors from Methodist seminaries! To the contrary: II Timothy 3:16 says "All scripture isinspired by God...." (God-breathed).
(3) We must recover and practice holiness of heart and life. Holiness is not an option for God's people. God makes that clear. God says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." God's grace accepts us where we are, but does not leave us as we are. Maxie illustrated our resistance to living holy lives by telling of a doctor. The doctor told a man with a type A personality that thebest thing he could do would be to go home and rest. The man said, "What's thenext best thing I can do?" He resisted the cure. But we must take God's word as our blue print for living, and that means taking the Bible seriously. Our doctoris God, and we must obey Him rather than quibble about holiness.
At Asbury, there is a life-sized statue of John Wesley preaching outdoors on the square. At the base of the statue are these words of Wesley: "I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out." ["Thoughts Upon Methodism," Wesley's Journal, Bristol, England, July 22, 1786].
Wesley said that if we preach doctrine only, it will lead to antinomianism [belief in salvation by mental assent alone, therefore all immorality is permitted]; if we preach experience only, it will lead to enthusiasm; and if we preach practice only, it will lead to Pharisaism. We must preach all three in balance, and then Methodism becomes full Christianity, like a highly cultivated garden. But without discipline, that garden will become exposed to the wild boars of the forest. We must discipline ourselves in holy living.
Holiness is the enemy of relativism. Dr. Francis Shaeffer said, "Accomodationism is wrong. Holiness without love is not God's holiness; and love without holiness is not God's kind of love." Dr. Dunnam concluded bys aying that we must become what this lost world desperately needs, an enclave of resistance to the things of this world; and if we emphasize these three: grace, the scriptural gospel, and holiness, we can win through for Christ.