Holiness Churches & Denominations

 The Bible Methodist Connection

History Statement of Beliefs

History:

The History and Development of Bible Methodism

with special attention to the Alabama Conference

written in 1995 by A. Philip Brown II

Taken from HERE

Introduction

On June 6, 1967, representatives of twenty-eight Wesleyan Methodist churches met at Camp Eden, Alabama, to organize themselves into The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. Since no written history exists which details either the events surrounding the secession from Wesleyan Methodism and the formation of Bible Methodism[1] or its subsequent development,[2] this history is in many ways suggestive rather than exhaustive. The thesis developed here is that Bible Methodism is essentially Wesleyan Methodism renamed. The reasons for the Bible Methodist secession parallel in many respects those of the Wesleyan Methodists in their secession from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843. This history begins with a brief sketch of the beginnings of Methodism under John Wesley and its subsequent planting in America. Next, the secession of the Wesleyan Methodists from the Methodist Episcopal Church as it provides a backdrop to Bible Methodism is discussed. The third section surveys the secession of Bible Methodism from the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In the fourth section, contemporary Bible Methodism, particularly the Alabama Bible Methodist Conference , is examined, and the final section offers an analysis and critique of some of the positive and negative elements of Bible Methodism.

John Wesley and American Methodism

While “no man is an island entire of itself,” the impress of some men’s lives spans both their time and continent. John Wesley is such a man. Educated at Oxford University, Wesley vainly sought peace with God and assurance of salvation through methodical practice of holy living. As he labored to find soul satisfaction, God was seeking him. The process of God’s providence may be seen in the several journeys which brought Wesley through Georgia, over the Atlantic with Moravian Peter Böhler, and down Aldersgate Street one spring evening in May of 1738 to saving faith in Christ alone. Despite a flickering initial faith, God molded Wesley into an instrument for His reviving of England. When Wesley died he had imparted to the world the revived doctrine of the assurance of salvation, the practical doctrine of Christian perfection, and a vibrant Wesleyan Methodism.

The planting of Methodism in America took place through a few Methodist laymen whose hearts were ablaze with a zeal for God and a passion for souls. Methodist societies were established in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.[3] By 1768, they were in need of experienced pastors to nurture and direct the new works that had sprung to life. Wesley sent several ministers for this purpose over the course of the next several years. Francis Asbury and Thomas Cokes[APBII,1] were two of the most significant leaders in the formation of American Methodism.

In 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church came into being, uniting the sundry societies under the direction of Francis Asbury as general superintendent. As its name indicates, the church polity was episcopal. Wesley felt very strongly that the responsibility for the oversight of the societies lay upon the clergy and not the laity. He wrote in 1790, “As long as I live the people shall have no share in choosing either stewards or leaders among the Methodists. We have not and never had any such custom. We are no republicans, and never intend to be.”[4]

The American Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) grew rapidly in the years following its inception. The revivals of the late 18th and early 19th centuries resulted in a great swelling of Methodist ranks. However, the thorny issue of slavery which was beginning to work its way into the nerves of American society in general, became a rancorous issue within the ranks of the American Methodist Episcopal Church.

Slavery, Episcopacy, and Wesleyan Methodism

By the 1830’s there was a growing sentiment in the North against slavery. A strong abolitionist element became increasingly vocal within the AME through the publication of Zion’s Watchman. The official response of the AME Church was that neutrality on the issue was the proper position.[5] As the abolitionists continued to raise their voices, sentiment actually turned more and more toward a pro-slavery position. Abolitionists were debarred from membership, censured, and sometimes expelled for their outcry against slavery. Feeling that “the Bishops were arbitrary in their methods of favoring pro-slavery resolutions and articles, and in opposing and hindering any and all abolition resolutions,” they announced their intention to withdraw from the AME Church in the first issue of the True Wesleyan:

We wish it to be distinctly understood that we do not withdraw from anything essential to pure Wesleyan Methodism. We only dissolve our connection with Episcopacy and Slavery. These we believe to be anti-Scriptural, and well calculated to sustain each other.[6]

So it was that in 1843, “while everybody was watching with bated breath, hoping the unreconciled Southerners would not bolt and sunder the church, [the abolitionists] marched out in the other direction.” Orange Scott and La Roy Sunderland along with a “small band of preachers and followers withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church.”[7] The key issues driving this withdrawal were the social issue of slavery and episcopal church polity.[8] While slavery was the dominant issue of the times, it was not actually the propulsive reason for withdrawal. The unjust treatment of the abolitionists which episcopal polity made possible was the effective cause. This same social issue-church polity combination reemerges as the underlying cause of Bible Methodism some 120 years later.

The Wesleyan Methodist solution to this problem of polity is reflected in the name of the new organization: The Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America. [9] The Episcopal form of government inherited from Wesley and Anglicanism, was replaced with a loose connection of societies or churches which characterized the Methodist movement in its earliest days. Essentially, Wesleyan Methodism established a congregational republican polity. The primary differences between the Methodist Episcopal Discipline and the newly created Wesleyan Methodist Discipline were “the form of the government and in its attitude toward certain moral questions.”[10]

The subsequent history of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection is a long and rich one. However, only those points which serve to elucidate the background of Bible Methodism will be noted. The fact that no doctrine was at stake in the Wesleyan Methodist withdrawal is particularly significant.

The Wesleyan Methodists became progressively conservative both practically and theologically throughout the 19th century.[11] The doctrine of entire sanctification, so intimately connected with Methodism, was further refined in the General Conference of 1891, evidencing the influence of the burgeoning Holiness Movement. Wesleyan Methodism was closely associ­ated with the Fundamentalist movement in the early part of the 20th century. Nicholson, writing in the 1930’s, states “The Wesleyan Methodist doctrines are distinctively allied with the group known as ‘Fundamentalists.’”[12]

Worldliness, Episcopacy, and Bible Methodism

Background

The years following World War II were in many ways turbulent ones for the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Nicholson describes the national atti­tude as one of “indifference toward spiritual values.”[13] In the face of a growing tendency toward independence on the part of the local churches and the Annual Conferences, the General Conference began moving to strengthen its supervision of both the Annual Conferences and the local churches. In 1943 the General Conference recommended the devel­opment of a stronger, “central supervisory authority to oversee the work of our Church.”[14] This recommendation was adopted by the 1947 General Conference along with the change of the name of the denomination from The Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America to The Wesleyan Methodist Church of America. Although these two changes were slow in coming, they reflect a monumental reversal of the very ecclesiological and church polity princi­ples which were at the heart of the creation of The Wesleyan Methodist Connection.

“The foment which the [WM] Church experienced over the next twenty-one years revolved about the quest for a proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, the authority and the respon­sibility of the annual conference, and the power of the General Conference.”[15] Accompanying this movement toward greater centralization was a trend away from the standards of separation from the world which had previously characterized Wesleyan Methodism.

Another background factor in the process that lead to the creation of Bible Methodism that is completely unrecognized by Nicholson is the influence The Inter-Church Holiness Convention (IHC). The IHC was created in 1952 as a means of bringing together the conservative element of the Holiness movement in one place for mutual edification and support. The Convention was a tremendous success and was regularly attended by thousands of holiness people. During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, Communism was thought to be the forerunner of the Anti-Christ, and an indication of the imminent return of Christ. The National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches were considered by many to be front organizations for Communism. Much of the preaching of this era communicated the belief that these world-encompassing groups were soon to take over the world, that the believer should guard against any encroachment of worldliness, and that he should separate from those who were “going worldly.” This focus gradually developed into a powerful emphasis on, in Trouten’s words, “come-outism.”[16]

Issues and Conflict

Several issues which were crucial in the formation of Bible Methodism clearly emerge from this period: 1) the question of merger, first with the Free Methodist Church, and then with the Pilgrim Holiness Church, 2) the continued strengthening of the General Conference’s authority over the Annual Conferences, and 3) the growing concern over “worldliness,” viz., the use of the Television, dress standards, and the wedding ring.[17]

Concern over an encroaching worldliness led the Ohio Conference to adopt a resolution in 1951 which gave greater specificity to the Wesleyan Methodist Discipline’s requirement of its members to have “left off the wearing of gold.” The resolution specified that the wedding band was included in this prohibition. In the 1955 General Conference, the Conference President, Dr. Roy S. Nicholson, ruled that such an interpretation was unconstitutional. His ruling was appealed, and the Board of Review sustained his ruling.[18] The Tennessee Conference passed a similar resolution concerning TV, which, when appealed by certain members of the Tennessee Conference, was overruled by the 1959 General Conference.[19]

Concurrent with these issues was the question of merger. The first merger attempt with the Free Methodist Church met great opposition primarily because the Free Methodist Church was episcopal in government. A 96 to 62 vote defeated the merger proposal in 1955. The second merger proposal concerned the Pilgrim Holiness Church.[20] This proposal was eventually adopted in 1966 despite strong opposition, and the merger was scheduled for 1968. All of these issues together provided the impetus for the secessions that followed the 1966 General Conference.[21]

Secession and Establishment

The stated reasons for secession from the Wesleyan Methodist Church differ among the conferences which seceded. The Ohio Conference was the first conference to withdraw. Rev. Edsel Trouten, the leader and spokesman for the Ohio group[22], was adamantly opposed to the purposeful shift within Wesleyan Methodism toward a more centralized church government. “The primary issue was never standards [worldliness]; it was always govern­ment.”[23] Roy Nicholson offers an insightful analysis of the underlying reasons for the schism:

It is not without significance that some of the most active agitators in the schismatic efforts were not originally members of The Wesleyan Methodist Church. ...Also some had not been trained in Wesleyan Methodist principles and polity by Wesleyan Methodist teachers in Wesleyan Methodist institutions.[24]

E. R. Trouten was trained at God’s Bible School (GBS) in Cincinnati, Ohio. While TroutenWhileTrouten was at GBS, a non-denominational holiness Bible college, the book which most profoundly affected his understanding of ecclesiology was The Doctrine of the Church in these Times by Chester Tulga, a Conservative Baptist fundamentalist.[25] Thus it was Baptist fundamentalism which provided the initial foundation for the polity of the man most instrumental in articulating the reasons for the withdrawal. Trouten authored The Manifesto and Constitution of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism which served as a rallying point for both the conservatives within the Ohio Conference and the Alabama Conference. This Manifesto primarily focuses upon the opposition of the conservatives to “the relentless move to a centralized and arbitrary character of government, that in our own historical context was considered to be justifiable grounds for separation from the parent body.”[26] The stated purpose of the Manifesto was the creation of a society within the Wesleyan Methodist Church for the preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism.[27] It was not originally intended to be a statement of withdrawal. Once formed, the Society resurrected the original organ of Wesleyan Methodism, The True Wesleyan, as a means to call the Wesleyan Methodist Church back to its roots.[28]

Approximately six months after the creation of this society, dialogue with Leslie D. Wilcox, the Ohio Annual Conference President, revealed that the differences between the purpose of the newly formed society and the direction of the Wesleyan Methodist Church were irreconcilable.[29] On June 7, 1966, the pastors of the Society who were withdrawing from the Wesleyan-Methodist Church met with the Ohio Conference trustees to discuss the settlement of the church property problem. Trouten comments, “These men worked fairly and equitably with all the withdrawing churches.”[30] On June 9th the society adopted the name Wesleyan Connection of Churches and ratified a revised edition of the Wesleyan Methodist constitution which Trouten had edited.

The Alabama Conference waited until its official Annual Conference in 1967 to withdraw from the WMC. The issues cited in “A Brief History of The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches,” a prologue to the Minutes of the First Annual Conference of Bible Methodist Connection of Churches, were “(1) The wearing of the wedding band by members of the church; (2) TV ownership and viewing by ministers and laymen;” (3) “Worldly trends which were making inroads into our area college [Central College];” (4) Opposition “to any connection whatever with the National Council of Churches;” (5) Opposition “to the increasing trend toward centralized government in the General Church [WMC].” “These issues, however, climaxed in the issue of church merger.” The approval of union with the Pilgrim Holiness Church by the 1966 Wesleyan Methodist General Conference was the spark that lit the powder keg.[31]

In 1968, while the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church were merging, the Ohio Wesleyan Connection of Churches was meeting with the Alabama Bible Methodists to see if a union of these two like-minded groups could be effected. Eighteen months later, in May, 1970, the First General Conference of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches met on the campus of God’s Bible School to officially unite these two groups as the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches with a total membership of 794 persons. The official Declaration of Purpose reads as follows:

Recognizing from past histories of holiness bodies that a decline in emphasis upon personal holiness seems to coincide with the increase of emphasis upon organization, centralization of authority and the machinery of church life, the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches wishes to state that the whole and sole cause and purpose of this connection of churches is to spread scriptural (second blessing) holiness over the lands, building up a holy and separated people for the first resurrection.[32]

Bible Methodism Today

Doctrine and Practice

The Articles of Faith of Bible Methodism come directly from the 1959 Discipline of the Wesleyan Methodist Church which appears to be unaltered since the 1891 General Conference. The theological perspective of Bible Methodism is classic Wesleyan-Arminianism. It is fundamentalist in character, though the very “connectional” nature of its organization allows for a diversity in application of the doctrine of separation. Its doctrinal distinctive is primarily the belief that Christ’s atonement provided for salvation in this life from both sin as a practice and sin as an inherited principle. The Discipline defines Entire Sanctification as:

that work of the Holy Spirit by which the child of God is cleansed from all inbred sin through faith in Jesus Christ. It is subsequent to regeneration and is wrought when the believer presents himself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, and is thus enabled through grace to love God with all the heart and to walk in His holy commandments blameless.[33]

That this is not teaching a sinless perfectionism is clearly seen in the statement under the heading “XII. Sin after Justification”:

After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin and by the grace of God rise again to amend our lives. Therefore, they are to be condemned who say they can no more sin as along as they live here or deny the place of forgiveness to such as repent [italics mine].[34]

The mode of baptism is not addressed the Discipline, and, while immersion is the normal practice, the other modes of baptism are not criticized.

Practical separation from the world continues to be a major emphasis of Bible Methodism. However, Bible Methodism evidences a good balance between the twin truths of external separation from the world and the absolute necessity for those standards to come from a heart motivated to please God, rather than from conformity to a standard for the sake of outward acceptability.

Declension and Expansion

Bible Methodism began with 794 members in 36 churches. In 1993 total membership was 534, in 1994 the total membership was 578, and in 1995 the total membership was 623. Although the author does not have a continuous record of membership totals, both oral interviews and personal observation indicate that a sharp declension in membership occurred in during the first ten years following the withdrawal. This was, in many cases, the loss of those who were children during the withdrawal and were disenchanted by the withdrawal and the attitudes of certain participants in the withdrawal.

Within its thirty years of history, this declension apperas to have reached its nadir and is begianning to be reversed. The reasons for this reversal are not clear at present.

Education

Currently the Presidents of the three3 major colleges of the Conservative Holiness Movement, Hobe Sound Bible College, God’s Bible School, and Union Bible College, are all members of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. There is a renewed emphasis on the necessity of educational preparation for the ministry. Young men are actively being recruited to serve in pioneer works with in Bible Methodism.

Elementary and Secondary Christian education has a significant role in Bible Methodism. As of 1995, six Christian day schools are owned and operated by the Bible Methodists.

Analysis and Conclusion

Negative Elements within Bible Methodism

Bible Methodism lost its focus on aggressive lay evangelism in the process of the secession. This is a result largely of a inadequate appropriation of its Wesleyan heritage. John Wesley was a man of one passion: “I have nothing to do but save souls.” The full implications of his statement include both an aggressive evangelism and a clear call to living a holy life. The believer was to pur­sue entire sanctification pur­sue with methodical focus, and, if attaining to this grace, was to continue seeking to grow in his love for God and his fellow man. The theological development of Wesleyanism since Wesley placed the emphasis on attaining entire sanctification. Throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century this dual emphasis continued to be the rallying cry of conservative Methodism. However, beginning in the 40’s the focus on external manifes­tations of holiness began to choke the life out of the evangelistic part. When Bible Methodism came out of Wesleyan Methodism, though for Trouten and those first Ohio secessionists the primary moti­vation was polity concerns, for the majority of the ministers and laity, the greater concern was worldliness. This concern developed into a “hold the fort” mentality which created suspicion of anyone or anything that might dilute the conservatism of Bible Methodism. Hence, the churches turned inward and lost sight of the greater issues and needs of their world.

Bible Methodism lost a clear Biblical presentation of the doctrine of entire sanctification, and consequently this doctrine has been largely unpreached, particularly by the second generation. Where it was preached, the lack of clarity both in oral presentation and living representation generated more confusion than clarity. The doctrine was not abandoned, but was unpossessed by many of those who grew up within Bible Methodism. This lack of clarity resulted to some degree from the leftover elements of unbiblical terminology from the Holiness Movement which began in the last century. The Holiness Movement was dominated by godly, but uneducated preachers whose colloquial expressions of their personal experience became the standard terminology for theological definition and expression (e.g. second blessing holiness). The terminology, while not Biblically wrong, is not Biblical in origin and has tended to be both misdefined and misunderstood.

Bible Methodism lost the personal accountability that was so characteristic of Wesleyanism, and consequently lost the dynamic which had constantly propelled Wesleyans on in their pursuit of holy living. The decline of the “class meeting” became most prominent during the years 1940-1960. By the late 60’s it was largely a relic of a bygone era, practiced by few.

Though the reasons for this decline are surely complex, Norwood’s comments on the nature of early Methodism are insightful:

Idea of churches still functioning as societies, but now the societal element has been largely replaced by the “standard” church mentality.

Positive Elements in Bible Methodism

Like the tender green leaves of Spring, some positive trends are becoming increasingly visible within Bible Methodism. The primary areas of this resurgence are in missions and church planting.

At present Bible Methodism has more churches on mission fields than any of its separate Annual Conferences have. Its primary field is in the Philippines where it has some 40 churches and a Bible College operating under national leadership. The Philippine work is organized with its own National Conference with four Annual Conferences. In Mexico, the Bible Methodist Churches were organized into a National Conference in 1992. There the Latin American Bible Institute is operating, with intermittent struggles from lack of faculty and non-cooperative Mexican authorities, on the Mexico-Texas border to train Mexican laymen and pastors to do the work of the ministry. In 1992, two men from South Africa came to the United States seeking for a Methodist Church to affiliate their pioneer work in that country. After traveling throughout the States meeting with various denominations they found Bible Methodism, with its conservative lifestyle and emphasis on holiness, to be the most compatible with their own beliefs. Subsequently, they joined Bible Methodism and become an arm of Bible Methodist missions operating in South Africa.

Home Missions, or church planting, was a dead issue in Bible Methodism until the last seven years. The results of the ingrown focus were isolation and stagnation. However, with the entrance of aggressive leadership in this area, Bible Methodists are beginning to see the potential for evangelizing their communities. Beyond this, at least two new daughter churches are being pioneered, with the evident blessing of God.

Conclusion

While this history leaves many gaps in the history and development of Bible Methodism, it is hoped that enough evidence has been presented to confirm the general thesis that Bible Methodism is Wesleyan Methodism revived. Its doctrine, polity, and standards of personal holiness distinctively mark it as a child of Wesleyan Methodism


SOURCES CONSULTED

Hilson, James Benjamin. History of South Carolina Conference: Wesleyan Methodist Church of America. Winona Lake, Indiana: Light and Life Press, 1950.

McLeister, Ira F and Roy S. Nicholson. Conscience and Commitment: History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America. 4th rev. ed. Marion, Indiana: The Wesley Press, 1976.

Nicholson, Roy S. Wesleyan Methodism in the South. Syracuse, N.Y.: The Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House, 1933.

Norwood, Frederick A. The Story of American Methodism. New York: Abingdon Press, 1974.

Trouten, Edsel R. Manifesto and Constitution of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism. Pamphlet. Self-Published, Feb. 1966.

Watson, Philip S. Anatomy of a Conversion: The Message and Mission of John & Charles Wesley. Grand Rapids: Frances Asbury Press of Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.

Bible Methodist Publications

Alabama Annual Conference Minutes. Twenty-ninth Annual Session. 1995

Discipline of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. Published by The General Conference, 1991.

Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. First General Conference. 1970

Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. First Annual Session. 1967.

Quadrennial Report of the General Missionary Secretary to the Seventh General Conference. June 15, 1994.

Oral Interviews

Brush, Norman, former Bible Methodist Pastor (1963-68), presently in Hobe Sound, Florida. Interview by the author, 13 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone interview.

Littleton, Curt, Alabama Bible Methodist Home Missions secretary, Lawley, AL. Interviewed by the author, 17 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone Interview.

Parker, John, Pastor of Easley Bible Methodist Church. Interview by the author, 14 April 1996, Easley SC. Personal interview.

Trouten, Edsel, former Bible Methodist pastor and spokesman for the Bible Methodist secession, presently in Barberton, Ohio. Interview by the author. 15 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone interview.

Unpublished Materials

Trouten, Edsel, R. Chapter 1 - Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism. Handwritten manuscript recording the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism and the events leading up to and just following the formation of the Ohio Wesleyan Connection of Churches, subsequently the Ohio Bible Methodists. [no date].

________. “Why the ... True Wesleyan?” Unpublished paper. [no date]. Gives the reason for the creation of the publication, True Wesleyan, by the Wesleyan Connection of Churches.

________. Discipline of the Wesleyan Connection. 1966. Handwritten-typed original manuscript revision of the 1964 Wesleyan Methodist Discipline for the creation of the Discipline of the Wesleyan Connection.


[1] Roy S. Nicholson presents elements of these events in his discussion of the Wesleyan Methodist transition to superintendency and the merger with the Pilgrim holiness in his history, Wesleyan Methodism in the South. (Syracuse, N.Y.: The Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House, 1933), chs. 16-17. However, his presentation, though accurate as far as it goes, is spotty and naturally one-sided in its perspective (he was General Conference president of the Wesleyan Methodists during this period). No mention of the pivotal significance of the Inter-Church Holiness Convention is made or of the subsequent development of Bible Methodism. While Rev. E. R. Trouten, one of the leaders of the Bible Methodist “come-out” movement has collected much of the pertinent material, he has not had time to leave the pastorate to pursue a doctoral dissertation or to write on this subject, Edsel R. Trouten, Telephone interview, 14 April 1966.

[2] The lack of a history of the subsequent development of Bible Methodism stems from the relative recentness of this movement. Although Trouten specifically disavowed any appeal to history as judge of the propriety of this secession at the time of the merger, such an appeal was made by the early leadership of the Alabama Conference, Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. “A Brief History of The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches.” (First Annual Conference, 1967), 1-2. Enough time has now passed for such a judgment to begin to be formed.

[3] One of the most prominent lay preachers in American was Robert Strawbridge. He planted societies throughout Maryland and Virginia. Captain Thomas Webb was “active in lay preaching in New York, Long Island, Pennsylvania and other centers. Frederick A. Norwood, The Story of American Methodism, (New York: Abingdon Press, 1974), 67.

[4] Norwood, 40.

[5] In the Quadrennial Assembly of 1836 the bishops’ Episcopal Address stated, “From every view of the subject [slavery] which we have been able to take, and from the most calm and dispassionate survey of the whole ground, we have come to the solemn conviction that the one safe, scriptural, and prudent way for us, both as ministers and people, to take, is wholly to refrain from the agitating the subject.” Norwood, 194.

[6] Nicholson, Roy S. Wesleyan Methodism in the South. (Syracuse, N.Y.: The Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House, 1933), 9-12.

[7] Norwood, 195-96

[8] The reasons for withdrawal were cleared stated as follows: “The Methodist Episcopal church is not only a slave-holding , but slavery defending Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church Government contains principles not laid down in the Scriptures, nor recognized in the usage of the primitive church-- principles which are subversive of the rights, both of ministers and laymen.” Nicholson, 11.

[9] Luther Lee, one of the founding Wesleyan Methodists, commenting of the name given to this new church states, “...the term “Connection” was approved by all, as it expresses a principle. Single Christian congregations are held to be Churches, in a New Testament sense, and that all these Christian congregations, collectively, are not a Church. All the Wesleyan Methodist churches in America, are not a Church, but being connected by a central organization, they are a connection of Churches, hence we call ourselves, “The Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America.” Ira F. McLeister and Roy S. Nicholson, Conscience and Commitment: The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America, 4th rev. ed. (Marion, Indiana: The Wesley Press, 1976), 33-34.

[10] In summary: the AME allowed the use of intoxicating drinks without restriction whereas the WMC prohibited completely the social uses of alcohol; the AME permitted the buying and selling of slaves whereas the WMC forbad it entirely; in the AME the General Conference consisted only of ministers elected by ministers at the Annual Conferences whereas in the WMC the General Conference consisted of an equal number of ministers and laymen elected by the ministers and laymen at the Annual Conference. McLeister, 32.

[11] It was not until 1930 that the Wesleyan Methodists prohibited the use of tobacco by their members. Norman Brush, Telephone interview.

[12] Nicholson, 14.

[13] McLeister, 222.

[14] McLeister, 244.

[15] Ibid., 222-23

[16] Trouten, Interview.

[17] McLeister, 230.

[18] McLeister, 270, ftnt. 9.

[19] McLeister, 245.

[20] Nicholson fails to give the reasons for the proposed merger in his discussion of this issue. The basic reasons for the merger are given in the Merger Proposal recommended to the Wesleyan Methodist General Board by the Pilgrim Holiness Church Commission on Merger which was presented at the 1966 International Conference. In summary the reasoning was: 1) Merger should enable the churches to do unitedly what they could not do separately; 2) Through merger, the churches should be better able to do together the things which they were not doing separately; 3) Merger became a strategic opportunity to correct weaknesses in both churches, to utilize their strengths to greater advantage, and to find new and better ways to communicate to this generation, and 4) merger will bring both the discipline and the delight of wider fellowship.

[21] It is perhaps worthy of mention that out of the desired merger of two churches to form one united body, six distinct denominational bodies came into being: the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection, Bible Methodism, the Tennessee Bible Methodists, the New York Pilgrims, the Midwest Pilgrims, and the Wesleyan Church. The merger resulted in the loss of 10-13% of the members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church alone. McLeister, 310-311.

[22] A group of 13+ pastor from the Ohio Conference.

[23] Trouten, Interview.

[24] Nicholson, 311.

[25] Trouten, Interview.

[26] Edsel Trouten, Manifesto and Constitution of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism, Self-Published Pamphlet. Feb., 1966.

[27] The presence of H.E. Schmul, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-Church Holiness Convention, as the speaker at the first meeting of the “Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism” may reflect the influence he had in all of these events. Edsel Trouten, Personal notes, p. 4. [Post-class notes from Trouten: Schmul’s influence should be studied. The influence of IHC on the come-out movement was profound. Schmul insisted that the IHC was not designed to start a new church. The creation of Bible Methodism along the lines of Wesleyan Methodism was to accommodate people like Wilcox and Gale who were strongly Wesleyan Methodism. ERT]

[28] Edsel Trouten, “Why the ... True Wesleyan?” Unpublished paper.

[29] Trouten’s personal notes from a phone call with the Conference President, L. D. Wilcox, record Wilcox’s official response to the Society after meeting with the Conference Advisory Board: “If after further careful and prayerful consideration you still feel strongly that you are committed to the support of the Manifesto, we recommend that you take step to withdraw from the Church (Wesleyan Methodist Church), since we foresee no possibility of accomplishing the objectives named in the Manifesto.”

[30] Trouten, personal notes.

[31] Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. (First Annual Session., 1967).

[32] Bible Methodist Discipline, 7.

[33] Bible Methodist Discipline, 12. It is noteworthy that this is the exact definition adopted by the 1891 General Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection.

[34] Bible Methodist Discipline, 11.

 

 

Statement of Beliefs:
The doctrine and purpose of the Bible Methodist Church is to proclaim scriptural holiness. It is our persuasion that God's people should be a holy people, having an impact on their world through Godly lives, enabled by the power of daily Spirit-filled living, that brings total victory and deliverance.
  • We believe that the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) contains all things necessary to salvation, fully inerrant, infallible and fully inspired by God in their original manuscripts and are superior to all human authority.
  • We believe in the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. In this unity of the Godhead here are these three persons of one substance, power, and eternity.
  • We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He is the sacrifice for the original and actual sins of men to reconcile us to God.
  • We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day. He ascended into Heaven and there sitteth with the Father until He returns to judge all men in the Last Day.
  • We believe in the Holy Spirit as the office worker of God and Father and God the Son. He is the very presence, majesty and glory of the eternal God.
  • We believe in the free will of man.
  • We believe in the twofold nature of sin.
  • We believe that one is saved by grace through faith.
  • We believe that good works are an evidence of active faith.
  • We believe in Justification by faith.
  • We believe in Entire Sanctification by faith.
  • We believe in the ordination of the Sacraments; Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
  • We believe in the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final Judgment of mankind.

Written in 1995 by Dr. Phillip Brown, Professor, God's Bible School and College Introduction