As promised, I wanted to follow up with you concerning the questions regarding the “Leading Now and Into the Future” statement from the Iowa United Methodist Bishop and District Superintendents. The first question was,
“Where is Jesus or any Scriptural references in such an important document as the vision for the future of the churches in Iowa who call themselves United Methodist?”
Where is Jesus?
In the “Our Vision” portion of the document, there are two references to Jesus. The first:
The word, “believe” is unfortunate. We don’t KNOW people need Jesus. We believe they may. KNOW is too harsh and definitive of a word.
The second and last occurrence Jesus makes in this document is in the final sentence. It is the mission of the United Methodist Church (which I like) “…to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Overall, two mentions of Jesus. The first, the reader is left with a feeling of we aren’t sure who Jesus is, but we believe people need him. The second echoes the official mantra of the UMC.
Where are the Scriptural References
Before I comment on this, I would reference you back to one of my previous blogs entitled, Iowa United Methodist Church Amid Chaos III - Square Peg in a Triangle Hole. In this, you will find the importance of Scriptural truths in Wesleyan theology.
The primary Scripture used which can be so plainly seen in the graphic used for the document is,
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
It looks like the ONLY Scripture reference the Iowa UMC leadership used is no different than the dozen or so coffee mugs you may have received as graduation gifts.
Other Scriptural references are only alluded to…
I shake my head when thinking our Iowa United Methodist Bishop and her District Superintendents believe, “Relationships are more important than theological convictions.” Relationships ABOVE Theology.
Skipping item number 2 above, the Iowa UMC Leadership would have you believe primary focus is on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.”
Let’s take a look at these.
The Great Commission from Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
The Iowa UMC leadership made a common mistake of focusing on verse 19 without following up with verse 20, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
The Great Commandment from Matthew 22: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
Again, the Iowa United Methodist Bishop and her District Superintendents seem to be stressing the “second” commandment of “Love your neighbor as yourself” and not the full text.
With the above three Scriptural references,
Jeremiah 29:11 – “plans to prosper you and not harm you…”
“The Great Commission”
“The Great Commandment”
It's my opinion the Iowa UMC leadership simply went to the local Christian bookstore to obtain Scriptural relevance for a document which is seen as the new context in which over 700 churches do ministry.