Should Churches Purge Members That Minister Beyond Denominational Limitations?
In response to learning of a number in her district that pursued ordination online, a United Methodist bishop posted on a blog a threat to withdraw from membership anyone she catches committing this crime against the church.
Now would that be a punishment or a reward to be forced off this sinking denominational ship?
The bishop justifies such a hardline position because, “It is an affront to those who have worked hard, studying many years in seminary, spending much money, making many personal sacrifices when others, maybe unknowingly, seek ordinations in an easy, anonymous way.”
One will note that no where in the explanation is God or Christ even mentioned.
That is because, other than the basic criteria listed in Scripture, He leaves it up to the individual to follow the path that is best suited to their own particular calling.
The United Methodist Church is only one expression of the broader Bride of Christ.
Those employed by a United Methodist Church or seeking a career in such might have to abide by the rules that the denomination establishes to determine who it allows to minister as part of its brand.
However, their exists a Christan world beyond this one principality within the larger kingdom.
So long as someone holding one of these alternative ordinations does not try to seize control of a United Methodist Church, they should use the credential to minister in any way possible that is open to them.
The average member is only in church between one and maybe three hours per week.
If someone in the remaining hours of the week wants to fill that time going about their Father's work and they for the most part profess the same basic theological and philosophical worldview as you do, it is the epitome of arrogance for you to punish them simply because they don't hold a certificate with your seal of approval emblazoned upon it.
Any church that seeks to control those not on the official payroll or those that have not agreed to the parameters of ministry within a specific denomination has come dangerously close to elevating the organizational structure above the Christ that it claims to worship.
About the best thing that could possibly happen to someone that looses their membership over such a petty and minuscule offense for simply feeling a call to ministry that ecclesiastical elites fail to recognize is to set up some kind of Methodist or Wesleyan-style church of their own.
It might not be what they have been accustomed to, however, given that these are generic theological labels or categories, should you decide to apply them along with a few distinct modifiers to create a somewhat unique variation on the given theme, there really isn't much that religious power brokers can do to stop you
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.