What John Wesley would say to United Methodists in Africa today.

John Wesley needs no introduction. However, let us remember that he was one of the main actors of the Methodist Revival which caused a real religious, moral and social upheaval in the 18th century, deeply marked by sin and worldliness. Indeed, the vigor of the Reformation had long since cooled. The preaching, as a whole, had detached itself so well from the biblical doctrine.

John Wesley and his friends at the Oxford Club calmly observed the religious and social situation of their time throughout Great Britain. As a response to the need of their society, the Oxford Club initiated the Methodist Revival!

After the death of John Wesley, it was found that he will have traveled on horseback, 40,000 km (360,000 km for other historians), in his evangelical mission, since 1739. This represents 9 times around the earth. I remain convinced that if, in his lifetime, Africa were already won over to Methodism, John Wesley would, on many occasions, visit Methodist churches in Africa.

His pastoral journeys, which lasted forty-eight years, would certainly take him to Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola, Kenya, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and everywhere in Africa where the Methodist Church would be planted. John Wesley would have given very good advice and gospel messages to Africans.

But what would he say today?

Considering the situation that the United Methodist Church is currently going through, John Wesley would certainly say something to the United Methodists of Africa, in this context of crisis between the Theologically Conservatives and the Theologically Progressive.

Surely John Wesley would find that The United Methodist Church is going through a very turbulent zone, because some would like to legalize homosexuality and others seek to maintain The United Methodist Church in its traditional position on human sexuality. The Church is going through a period in which some seek to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, while others as a union between two persons of faith. A period during which the influence of the United Methodist Church in America weighs enormously on Africa because of some of the African leaders who allow themselves to be manipulated by the American Progressive Liberals who do not resign on their means to influence their position in Africa.

John Wesley would urge Africans who want to legalize homosexuality to listen to the voice of God through the Holy Scriptures. He would tell them to maintain the Church in its traditional position. John Wesley would tell everyone that marriage is a lasting bond and love between a man and a woman and that marriage is a sign of God’s love for humans, a sign of his Covenant.

  • John Wesley would ask Africans to pray for their Bishops and other leaders who work openly or covertly on behalf of gay Progressive Liberalism. He would ask African Methodist members not to follow such leaders, who without a real conviction for homosexuality, simply pursue materialistic and financial interests.

 

  • John Wesley would instruct Methodists in Africa to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures only according to the Holy Scriptures.“Scripture must be its own interpreter. Nothing but diamond can cut diamond; nothing but Scripture can interpret Scripture,” said Thomas Watson.

 

  • John Wesley would tell Africans to be careful with dogmatic Theology. This should not give too much space to vain civilizations and the elubrations of pseudo heretical religious thinkers whom the Holy Scriptures name, False Prophets or False Doctors of this world today, a world where evil has become good and good is called evil. A world that has lost its spiritual balance and appreciates the antivators. A world where the truth is ridiculed and corruption becomes institutionalized. A world where the Church has become a business unit for making money!

 

  • John Wesley would ask Methodists in Africa to be careful with Bishops who play duplicity to undermine the Orthodox faith. Don’t some Bishops in Africa work for Progressivism, while pretending to be Conservative Traditionalists? Are they not very very dangerous for the future of The United Methodist Church in Africa? John Wesley would say this to these Bishops in Africa: “Do in all things, not according to your will, but as Sons of the Gospel.”

 

  • Since it was through him that the Modern Evangelical Movement flourished, John Wesley would advise African Methodists to hold fast to evangelical orthodoxy.

 

  • Already in his time, for John Wesley, the Proceedings of the Methodist Conferences regulated questions of Organization, Discipline and Doctrine. Today, he would ask Methodists in Africa to strictly adhere to the decisions made at Conferences and recorded in the Books of Discipline.

 

United Methodists who disregard the decisions made by our Conferences, and who intentionally violate the provisions of the Discipline, would find no place in the heart of John Wesley.

 

The chaos that the United Methodist Church is currently going through, for example, is it not the consequence of not respecting the decisions made during the 2019 General Conference? Isn’t the disorder experienced by Annual Conferences and Episcopal Areas the consequence of arbitrary decisions made by Bishops and Councils of Ordained Ministry, trampling on the provisions of the Book of Discipline? John Wesley, who liked to work methodically, would never agree with this messy system of working. He would call on all Africans to work methodically, in order and discipline while respecting the established law.

 

  • Faced with the debate over human sexuality in The United Methodist Church, John Wesley, who used to challenge long-established traditions in order to offer people the hope of Christ, would ask Africans to protect the moral, cultural and legal values specific to Africa. He would ask Africans to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures with respect for the will of God, while also respecting African realities not contrary to the Gospel.

Conclusion.

Meeting and addressing the United Methodists of Africa, John Wesley would be pleased with their position in this debate on human sexuality; on the ordination of LGBTQ+ people and their refusal to perform same-sex marriages. In short, on their refusal of the legalization of homosexuality.

The United Methodist Church in Africa has a prophetic mission despite its economic and financial poverty. John Wesley would speak to Africans and urge them to remain faithful to the Holy Scriptures and to the Traditional Position of The United Methodist Church. He would ask United Methodists in Africa to remain faithful to evangelical orthodoxy and the Wesleyan Methodist Tradition. In short, to Traditional Conservatism.

For John Wesley if he could still speak, The United Methodist Church in Africa should always remain in Connection with the whole Methodist World Church because, he said, “the world is my parish”. Thus, it would be possible for Methodism to win the whole world under the authority of the Holy Scriptures, away from any plan or project for the legalization of homosexuality in The United Methodist Church.

The Methodist Movement must remain God-centered (Scripture); and on certain values such as love; justice and the holy life in order to offer the hope of Christ to the whole world as well as for the transformation of the World, according to the mission that the Lord entrusts to us in Matthew 28: 19-20″: “Go, do with all the nations of the disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

Author’s profile

The Rev. Ben Ilunga Banza, studied Theology at the Methodist University of Katanga, Mulungwishi. He is a lawyer trained at the Faculty of Law of the Free University of the Great Lakes Region (ULPGL). Ben Ilunga Banza is Itinerant Senior Pastor in the United Methodist Church North-Katanga Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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