Thrown Scabbard: The great Apostle Peter has warned in the second chapter of his second epistle that false teachers will try to attack the church from within with what he calls damnable heresies. I take this to mean that even United Methodist pulpits and councils will be occupied by wolves. Will you give us some marks of "wolves in sheep’s' clothing" who may preach as Methodist ministers?

John Wesley: The first and great mark of one who corrupts the word of God, is, introducing into it human mixtures; either the errors of others, or the fancies of his own brain.

TS: Mixing the Bible with human inventions will require a lot of Scripture-twisting, will it not? How will a fraud preacher manage this?

JW: When the imposture was too bare-faced, and the text cited for it appeared too plainly either to make against it, or to be nothing to the purpose, then recourse has usually been had to a second method of corrupting it, by mixing it with false interpretations. And this is done, sometimes by repeating the words wrong; and sometimes by repeating them right, but putting a wrong sense upon them.

TS: Putting a wrong sense. That is -- giving a wrong interpretation to the verses.  What is a sure mark of an interpretation with a wrong sense?

JW: [It is] one that is either strained and unnatural, or foreign to the writer's intention in the place from whence they are taken; perhaps contrary either to his intention in that very place, or to what he says in some other part of his writings.

TS: A wrong interpretation does not fit in the surrounding verses, doesn't it?

JW: [Yes.] Any passage is easily perverted, by being recited singly, without any of the preceding or following verses. By this means it may often seem to have one sense, when it will be plain, by observing what goes before and what follows after, that it really has the direct contrary.

TS: Aside from taking verses out of context, what else do false teachers tend to do with the Word?

JW: [Another] sort of those who corrupt the Word of God are those who do so, not by adding to it, but taking from it; who take either of the spirit or substance of it away, while they study to prophesy only smooth things, and therefore palliate and colour what they preach, to reconcile it to the taste of the hearers.

TS: Oh, eliminating hard-to-swallow verses such as...

JW: Not one word must be said of the tribulation and anguish denounced against sinners in general; much less of the unquenchable fire.

TS: I have often heard it said that this is love. They just don't want their hearers to be terrorized or hurt. Is this love?

JW: [No.] They purpose to do good by the gospel of Christ; but it is to themselves, not to others. These are the methods of those corrupters of the word, who act in the sight of men, not of God.

TS: So, who then are the true loving and faithful ministers?

JW: [They know that] it is not their own word they preach, but the word of Him that sent them. They preach it genuine and unmixed. As they do not only profess, but really believe, that, "if any man add unto the word of God, He will add unto him all the plagues that are written in it."

TS: Purity of the Word with no additions! What else?

JW: In the next place, they are as cautious of taking from, as of adding to, the word they preach. They must publish, as proper occasions offer, all that is contained in the oracles of God; whether smooth or otherwise, it matters nothing, since it is unquestionably true, and useful too.

TS: Purity of the Word with no subtractions!

JW: [And also] They speak with plainness and boldness, and are not concerned to palliate their doctrine, to reconcile it to the tastes of men. They endeavour to set it always in a true light, whether it be a pleasing one or not. They will not, they dare not, soften a threatening, so as to prejudice its strength, neither represent sin in such mild colours as to impair its native blackness.

TS: A marriage of truth and passion, light and heat, logic on fire! We need more preachers of this frame in the 21st century, Sir Wesley. We praise Jesus for raising you as one in your own century.

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