Am I like him?

Rob Renfroe of Good News has a video that is both a statement of what it means to be an evangelical United Methodist and a call to action and call to battle for the soul of the church.

Renfroe uses the question throughout the video “I wonder if you are like me?” As I watched I found the question pressing on me. The deeper he went and the more combative his tone became, the less comfortable I was with that question.

It is not that I disagree with anything he says about what it means to be a evangelical Wesleyan orthodox Christian. But the call to conflict does unsettle me.

That does not mean it is wrong. It does not mean it is right. It merely observes my own reaction.

I wonder about you. How do you hear this message?

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17 thoughts on “Am I like him?

  1. “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free?” I hear a brokenhearted pastor pleading with us to recognize what our eyes refuse to see, that this is our historical crucible. Do we see it? “Are we willing to sell our birthright,” he asks. He’s beckoning to us, almost fatherly… for sign that we recognize a son’s moment to bear the scars of obedience to Christ.

  2. I hear it as someone who has been on the front lines of a difficult, painful, soul-wrenching conversation for a long time. I know he has had to take some shots that I certainly haven’t had to endure in my ministry in the local church. He sounds tired and weary.

  3. Very well stated. Clearly sets out the issues in a reasoned compelling Biblical grounded statement devoid of jingoism that reflects a consistent, Biblical, theological and doctrinal integrity. In content and to a large degree in tone his statement resonates with and reflects the understanding of Christian faith held by the vast majority of believers.

  4. I was with him until about minute 14. I am a Christian. I don’t think God cares about what denomination I am. There are faithful orthodox Christians in other denominations. He seems to want to make “Wesleyan Christian” or “United Methodist Christian” important. It may be important to him but it isn’t important to God. And if it isn’t important to God, then it isn’t important to me. There IS unity in the Church. But when Rob or anyone draws such dividing lines in the importance of denominationalism then THEY are the ones causing disunity.

    1. I think I understand your point, Chris, but I don’t see how we can avoid living within one or another particular expression of the faith.

      Denominations may be a result of our fallen and imperfect knowledge of the will of God, but until Christ returns we will remain in that fallen and imperfect world.

      I also believe — perhaps wrongly — that God raised up John Wesley and the early Methodists. Maybe God no longer has need of Wesleyans, but I don’t think the great movements of the Spirit within the church are human in origin, so I am not willing to say God does not care about them.

      1. All of the great movements of the church? Puritans had become universalists by the time of the founding of Harvard; it takes generally three generations for movements of the Spirit to fall into apostacy.

        As a lay person tied to the UMC by membership vows, I cannot weigh the conflict felt by a man or woman who has been ordained by the Church. My allegiance is to Jesus.

        The Weslyan distinctives are alive and well where they have always been found: in the living tradition of the church of Jesus Christ.

        1. Israel fell into idolatry and turned its back on God. That did not mean God was done with Israel. I agree that our church ceases to be a church if it turns its back on Jesus, and yet if we will repent God is faithful. My obedience is to Jesus Christ, as well. Jesus is the head of the church calling the body back to himself.

  5. I kept waiting to hear an expression of faith that moved beyond the individual, but I’m not sure I did. I heard that Wesleyans have a commitment to personal holiness and social holiness, but I feel that everything I heard in that video was about personal holiness. My guess at Rev. Renfroe’s definition of social holiness from that video would be the means of grace and the church changing the culture. These are good things, but they do not encapsulate the call to social holiness that I have heard and attempt to live out as a Wesleyan Christian.

    1. Thanks, JB, for writing.

      Am I hearing you properly that for you “social holiness” refers to something like “social justice”?

      1. Certainly Wesley’s works of mercy and works of justice are part of social holiness. However, I think Rev. Renfroe’s emphasis on personal holiness missed the importance of the community of faith and the body of Christ, which I would also point to as part of our emphasis on social holiness.

        1. Thanks for the reply. I appreciate you lending your ears. That did not leap out at me as missing, but my radar is set of by different stuff.

        2. But it has to start with personal holiness. As someone else so aptly stated, “Salvation is not a group plan, it must work its way into individual lives”. My personal experience after more than a few decades of being a good Methodist, it has become too much about social holiness and not enough about personal holiness/transformation. There needs to be a better balance. Social transformation comes on the heels of individual transformation. Wesley was not afraid to emphasize the “me” aspect of Christianity.

  6. The claim that Rob Renfroe ignores social righteousness is a red herring; it’s just not true. But he’s not a liberal marionette, a wooden puppet delivering on all those social mandates promoted by the American Left.

      1. Not to cavil, but you did draw an inference that “Rev. Renfroe’s emphasis on personal holiness missed the importance of the community of faith and the body of Christ…” That’s what I suggest is a false trail. But I’m not trying to pick a fight in this small square. Blessings…

  7. Like you, I became uncomfortable with the combative tone towards the end, but then I have not walked in his shoes; he has been fighting the fight for a long time.

    I have discovered the Daily Text on seedbed.com, a Wesleyan clearing house sponsored by Asbury Seminary. A while back it talked about something I had personally experienced: power for power’s sake vs the power of love. The conclusion was that the power of love makes for lasting transformation, whereas power for power’s sake results only in temporary change; I can personally testify to the truth of that because I experienced both back to back in two consecutive pastors: power lost, love won.

    See what you think about the following quote from today’s Daily Text:

    “Today’s world looks a lot more like Athens than Jerusalem. We have two choices. Unleash our outrage over the loss of Jerusalem or embrace the challenges and possibilities of Athens.
    We will do great violence to people and a great disservice to the Church if we persist in a “take this country back” approach. America, or any other country for that matter, can only be “won” back by the Holy Love of God.
    There’s a third choice: Lament the loss of Christian America. Whatever that once was is no more. Lament offers a healthy outlet for our outrage; the Presence of God. Remember the time Jesus said, “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I think this is in part what he was talking about.
    We have a lot to be “greatly distressed” about, but great distress will never get it done. Creative Love can.
    To lament the loss of “Jerusalem” enables us to get on with the business of winning “Athens.” COME HOLY SPIRIT!” JD Walt, “Why Megan Kelly May Be Wrong Even When She is Right”, Daily Text, seedbed.com, September 15, 2014.

    1. I’ve been away from the blog for a bit. Just now getting time to read and respond. I think it is off base to assume America ever really was a Christian nation in any deep way, but I do agree that lamentation is a better response than a call to battle. The battle is the Lord’s.

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