Are We [AMEs] Fundamentalists? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Perhaps no doctrinal statement of faith is more controversial than the issue of Biblical inerrancy. Recently, I searched our Book of Doctrine & Discipline to see where we explicitly stand on the issue concerning the literal truth of the Bible and its companion topic, the Bible's absence of error. Much to my chagrin, I have been unsuccessful in identifying where we stand on this paramount issue. Can someone direct me to a reference where our Zion takes a definitive stand on this issue? I am unequivocal in my faith about the redemptive power of The Resurrected One yet I do not particularly beleive that ALL Scripture is historically true or scientifically valid. For example, many fundamentalists believe that the universe as we know it is a little over 4,000 years old. This "time-dating procedure" is based on using geneaological data found in selected passages of Scripture. Even if one doesn't understand the intricacies of C-14 dating techniques, or the anthropological studies of Dr. Leakey, rudimentary scientific analysis rejects the fundamentalist conclusion. I believe in the truth expressed in the first eleven chapters of Genesis but I reject the historicity of the characters and attendent subject matters. Who was Cain's wife if the "first family" consisted of Adam, Eve, Cain & Abel" according to Gen 2-3? Other anomalies exist if we committ to a fundamentalist reading of the Sacred Text.

For me biblical history begins with the calling of Abram in Gen. 12. While only an apostate would declare faith irrelevant in understanding the character of Yawheh, exegesis has its limits as well. This is an area where I believe our clergy must take the lead and teach what truly "thus saith the Lord". The Bible is the truth but everything in the Bible may not be true. QED

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2001


It's hard for me to stay silent this long, so let me make a weekly post and offer this food for thought.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2001

Did you review the Aricles of Religion in the Discipline? God bless.

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

I am glad the question about the bible...

If Adam and Eve were the first people, then who was Cain afraid of? Why was it necessary for G-d to mark him? The bible said that he was sent into the land of Nod. The Land of Nod is next to the land of Cush. Why are their two Lands of Cush? The other is in Africa. Keep in mind that words do not mean the same. Europe thought the world was flat till 1492. And killed anyone who dared speak anything different. Therefore, what did the writers mean when they said “world”? Was it as far as the eye could see?

Why was it necessary for G-d to make the Jews the "chosen" people? Why was this story necessary? G-d is not respect of person. I believe this is an attempt of creating history to justify to behavior of a group of people.

If Jesus had twelve disciplines, why are their only four gospels? What happened to the rest of the books the other disciplines wrote? Why is there so much emphasis on Rome and Paul? Is the bible skewed toward Rome? Constantine, during the Council of Nicea, decided which books to use. He set up his religion to subjugate the pagans, who were uncontrollable. Based on historical information of this man, can he be trusted? Within three years of the council, he killed his nephew, his wife and son. Then preceeded to convert people using his bloody sword. Accept Jesus or die. Immediately following the Council, the (Europe) world sank into dark ages. Only the popes/monks were educated. The rest of the people were uneducated and barbaric. This cast seriously doubts (in my mind) about the accuracy of the text. Plus, many of the stories, especially Psalms and Proverbs are found in earlier scared texts from other spiritual perspectives. (Also keep in mind that Africa had great libraries and advanced civilizations. The Greek and Roman people went there to study. What was happening in their areas during the development of Christianity and the dark ages)? For example, in the Book of the Death, there are 42 negative confessions of MAAT, which contain the 10 commandants. Did Moses receive his teachings from the burning bush or from the breast of his Egyptian mother?

I don’t have any problems with the spiritual teachings of the Bible, which are True. However, the allegories and stories about Egypt and Rome are euro-centric and in my opinion slated toward the victor. Afrikan Americans are the only people on the planet who practice the religion of their oppressors. I believe that Afrikan American Church most revise the way it practices Christianity, looking at the Bible from its own Spiritual perspective.

In Love and Light, Brenda

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

Mr. Dickens, You have certainly raised an interesting observation. I have also observed some anomalies in the Bible also. I certainly hope people will be open minded and not persecute you for your observation. However, despite the anomalies, I believe that the Bible is inerrant. The translators and keepers of the oral tradition made some mistakes in relaying the word of God down the centuries. This was further exacerbated by various misinterpretations which persist today. The sad thing is that most people in the church have not even read one book of the Bible. I mean some people have not even read one of the gospels. It seems to me that despite all the modern translations people in the church are not interested in reading the exact quotations of God and Jesus.


P.S. What does QED mean?

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

Everything, which we believe as domination can be summed up in the 25 Articles of Religion and the Apostles' Creed. Each of these may be found in the Book of Discipline. Some of these are elaborated upon in the Catechism of Faith, but the Articles really cover the gamut of all that we believe from the Holy Trinity, to our participation in government. They come to us by way of John Wesley and have been contracted from the original 39 Articles of the Church of England, to which John Wesley belonged. Thus our doctrinal beliefs are compatible with those of the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church, and all other Methodist Denominations.

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

Re the original question: Are we (the AME) fundamentalists? If that word means what I think it means...I hope so. I heard a preacher put it well: "The Bible is inspired. The footnotes are not."

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

Brother Matthews put it best, what we believe in is summarized in the 25 Articles of Faith and the Apostles Creed. Now it is precisley those documents which I carefully surveyed [as well as other documents] and determined that no direct reference is made concerning the issue of Scriptual inerrancy. Muted reference to Scriptual inerrancy, ipso facto, logically concludes that we as AMEs are not strict fundamentalists. As Bob Matthews correctly notes, our Articles of Faith are not unique to African Methodism but nothing more than a derivative of Anglican tradition. This finding raises an interesting question. When was the last time our Articles of Faith were amended? I would put forth the argument that a doctrinal position about how we interpret the Holy Bible is essential for group edification. Jesus said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God". If the Bible is the conduit for what comes "out of the mouth of God" I think it behooves us to know where we stand on appropriate interpretation. QED

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2001

If believing the Bible makes one a Fundamentalist, then count me in because I do believe it. Jesus, Himself qouted from the Old Testament, even read from the book of Isaiah. If there was some portion we were to reject, don't you think He would have told us? Or do you think that He was not aware of what the Old Testament contained? Or perhaps He did not know we would be having this discussion. You see, if Jesus is God (and I am firmly convinced that He is), then God would be making a horrible mistake to not tell us that some portion of the scriptures were not to be used or required the wisdom of men to interpret. Jesus claimed that the entire Old Testament spoke of Him. Can you accept that? I can. Blessings Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2001

For thoughts :

Unanswered Prayers

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2001

Does believing the bible is without errors mean that our understanding is without errors? I fail to see that my belief in the inerrancy of scripture makes me a fundamentalist. I find errors in their interpretation, not necessarily in the scriptures that they interpret. If all scripture is "God breathed", then will I tell God He made a mistake, or just let something slip out of His control?

-- Anonymous, February 07, 2001

Your comments concern me greatly.  When you you the word fundamentalist or fundamentalism, you seem to use in the the modernistic, secular context, not in the historical meaning.   Unfortunately, the Body has adopted the media's negative connotation of the term to the point of it being synomynous with "Right Wing," bigotry, intolerant, and hate monger.  Bro, I'll give you chance to answer that.  But in the meantime, let me attempt to address another portion of your post, Cain's wife.  Since the Bible describes all human beings as sinners, except the God-Man Jesus, and we are all related ("And He has made all nations of men of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth" Acts 17:26), the gospel makes sense only on the basis that all humans alive and all who have ever lived are descendants of the first man Adam. If this were not so, then the gospel could not be explained or defended. The Book of Hebrews amplifies how Jesus took upon himself the nature of a man to save mankind (Hebrews 2:11-18). Thus, only descendants of the first man Adam can be saved. Thus, there was only one man at the beginning -- made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). This also means that Cain's wife was a descendant of Adam. She could not have come from another "race" of people and must be one of Adam's descendants. In Genesis 3:20 we read, "And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living."   In other words, all people are descendants of Adam and Eve -- she was the first woman. Eve was made from Adam's rib (or side) -- this was a unique event. Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6) and Paul (Ephesians 5:31) use this historical and one-time event as the doctrinal foundation for the marriage of one man to one woman. Also, in Genesis 2:20, we are told that when Adam looked at the animals, he could not find a mate -- there was no one of his kind.  All this makes it obvious that there was only one woman, Adam's wife, at the beginning. There were never any other women around who were not Eve's descendants.

If Christians cannot defend that all humans (including Cain's wife) can trace their ancestry ultimately to Adam and Eve, then how can they understand and explain the gospel? How can they justify sending missionaries to every tribe and nation? Therefore, one needs to be able to answer the question about Cain's wife, to illustrate that Christians can defend the gospel and all that it teaches.  Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve recorded in Scripture (Genesis 4:1). His brothers, Abel (Genesis 4:2) and Seth (Genesis 4:25), were part of the first generation of children ever born on this earth. Even though only these three males are mentioned by name, Adam and Eve had other children. In Genesis 5:4 a statement sums up the life of Adam and Eve -- "And the days of Adam after he had fathered Seth were eight hundred years. And he fathered sons and daughters." This does not say when they were born. Many could have been born in the 130 years (Genesis 5:3) before Seth was born. During their lives, Adam and Eve had a number of male and female children. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that, "The number of Adam's children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters."

The Bible does not tell us how many children were born to Adam and Eve. However, considering their long life spans (Adam lived for 930 years -- Genesis 5:5), it would seem reasonable to suggest there were many! Remember, They were commanded to "Be fruitful, and multiply".  If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal prejudices or other extra-biblical ideas, then back at the beginning, when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to have married sisters or there would be no more generations! We are not told when Cain married or any of the details of other marriages and children, but we can say for certain that some brothers had to marry their sisters at the beginning of human history.  Many people immediately reject the conclusion that Adam and Eve's sons and daughters married each other by appealing to the law against brother- sister intermarriage. Some say that you cannot marry your relation. Actually, if you don't marry your relation, you don't marry a human! A wife is related to her husband even before they marry because all people are descendants of Adam and Eve -- all are of "one blood." The law forbidding marriage between close relatives was not given until the time of Moses. Provided marriage was one man to one woman for life (based on Genesis 1 and 2), there was no disobedience to God's law originally when close relatives (even brothers and sisters) married each other. Remember that Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 20:12). God blessed this union to produce the Hebrew people through Isaac and Jacob. It was not until some 400 years later that God gave Moses laws that forbade such marriages.  When all is said and done, the Word of God totality, even the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

-- Anonymous, February 10, 2001

Chuck's last post on this topic represents a well-thought out apolegetic about fundamentalism. We are enriched by his additions. Let me preface that I do not attempt to use the term "fundamentalism" in a pejorative way. My reference of the term is defined as a form of Biblical exegesis which allows for strict Sriptual interpretation. This is the theological equivalent to what constitutional law describes as a judge being a strict constructionist regarding the Constitution. The issue in the first 11 chapters of Genesis are problematic if one applies the rule of chronological ordering of events. The first family in the Garden of Eden implies no other human existence. When Cain was exiled from the Garden after his confessed homocide he fould refuge in a city. Again, much like his wife where did these people come from if a linear and sequential ordering of population are not discussed previously? I conclude that the first 11 caapters of Genesis is myth and not to be interpreted as literal historical truth. Now some may object to my characterization of Scripture as myth. Truth can be embedded in myth. The basic truths are present in Gen. chapters 1-11. However archeological evidence about specific places and events is decidely inconclusive at best and non-existenent at worst. This is a basic tenent taught at all of the leading seminaries where our clergy is trained. interesting how we quickly abandon scientific rigour once we obtain the clergy collar and a church :-) QED

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ