By Robert Jackson
I became a member of the Methodist Church at Charlotte, Tennessee, at the age of twelve. This was the result of being brought up in a Methodist family. I had been taught that one should believe in Christ and then join the church of his choice, and his choice as a rule would be the one of his parents. On June 5, 1948, I obeyed the gospel of Christ, thus leaving the Methodist Church. Since that time I have often been asked, “Why did you leave the Methodist Church?” I will try to answer this question as briefly as possible in this article.
I Did Not Leave Because . . .
First, I will state some of the reasons why I did not leave the Methodist Church:
1. I was not made to leave. There was no pressure from within the Methodist Church for me to leave.
2. I did not leave because of the people in the Methodist Church. There are some of the finest moral living people in the Methodist Church that you would ever want to know.
3. I did not leave the Methodist Church because it was not a popular church. The majority of people were Methodists in my home town.
After my discharge from the Navy in 1946, I had again made my home in Charlotte, Tennessee. In 1947, Grover Stevens moved to Charlotte. I was attending many of the services of the church of Christ where he was preaching, and became very angry at some of the remarks made by brother Stevens. During this same time, brother Leonard Tyler conducted several meetings in this area which I at- tended and at which I was made angry. I became so mad at some of their remarks that I began to study my Bible to try to justify myself as a Methodist and at the same time to find error in their teaching, which I would have been happy to expose.
Finally, I saw that I was fighting a losing battle and I either had to obey the gospel or stay with the Methodist Church. I must say that it was a very difficult battle, knowing that I would be leaving that which I had been taught from childhood up, knowing that my personal friends would turn their backs upon me, and knowing the heartache that it would cause my mother to see her only child leave the family religion. I made up my mind to put God first and obey his will.
The results of my leaving the Methodist Church were due to the fact that error was exposed and truth was taught in a plain manner of speech and yet with love. I am deeply grateful to such preachers.
1. Name. The first impression that was made on my mind was that the Methodist Church was wrong in name. Such a name could not be found in the Bible. I was called a Methodist, but yet no one in the Bible was ever called such. I was taught that they were called Christians (1 Pet. 4:16; Acts 11:26). I immediately saw that I could not scripturally justify the use of the name Methodist.
2. Wesley, the founder, not Christ. It was made clear that John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church and not Jesus Christ. If I wanted to be a member of the church that Jesus built, then I could not be a Methodist. Such preaching stirred up my spirit to the extent that I became dissatisfied with being a member of the church that John Wesley built.
3. Faith only salvation. I had always believed that one was saved by faith only. This is exactly what the Methodist Church teaches about salvation. However, when I was told to read James 2:24, I was made to see in words that none could misunderstand that “faith only” was wrong. I began to read more and found out that Jesus required faith and baptism (Mark 16:16).
4. Choice of baptism. I had always been taught in the Methodist Church that there were three ways to be baptized — (1) sprinkling, (2) pouring, (3) immersion. I was led to believe by Methodist preaching that it was up to the individual to select his own choice. To become a member, I selected sprinkling. The preaching that I heard exposed this error. I was told to read Colossians 2:12 and then Ephesians 4:5. Even with a mind as weak as mine, I could see that according to God’s teaching there was but one baptism; but by Methodist teaching, there were three. I believed God.
5. Instrumental music. We had the instrument of music in the services of the Methodist Church, and were led to believe that it was only an aid in the worship. It was plainly proven to me that such was not an aid but an addition to the word of God. I then was reminded of John 4:24, that one must worship God in truth. I was told that my worship would be in vain if done by the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:9).
6. How to raise money. In the Methodist Church, we would have ice cream suppers, rummage sales, etc. to raise money for the church. The preaching that I heard by brother Stevens and others brought to my attention 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. This as God’s plan of having the church members raise its money; and the pie suppers, etc., were the ways of men.
These were a few of the things that caused me to see the way of my error. Of course, since that time I have studied and found out many other errors within the Methodist Church. I have never regretted my leaving the Methodist Church. I wish all would see their errors.
Thank God for Christ, his gospel and his church!