The three-fold purposes of the Remaining Faithful Network emerge from the letter of Jude, who wrote at a time when unfaithful teaching was slipping into the Church and called the early Christians to keep themselves in God’s love (v. 21) in three ways: ‘contend for the faith … building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit’ (vv. 3, 20).
Contending for the faith
Although Jude would have preferred to write ‘about the salvation we share, I felt compelled,’ he stated, ‘to urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.’ None of us wants to be spending so much time, energy and resources in these current debates; there are more wonderful things by far to be focussing on; yet others have initiated the debates and we are compelled to contend for the faith entrusted to us. At this moment in time, that includes standing for the biblical and apostolic understanding of marriage and relationships. Therefore, we urge all evangelicals to contribute to the consultations which will shortly be held across the Connexion, calling the Church to preserve its present position on marriage and relationships, and we commend our Remaining Faithful Study Guide which has been widely distributed across the Church. As soon as the Connexional guidelines for the consultation are published, we will prepare a briefing document as a further resource. Over the past couple of years, we have been in discussion with other evangelical churches within the UK and Methodist Churches around the globe in order to support one another and stand together, and are now continuing these conversations with strengthened urgency.
Renewing the Wesleyan vision
It is not a narrow focus on the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics that unites us, but a shared and joyful commitment to the whole Gospel presented throughout the whole Bible, and that is the reason these current debates are so important. Jude called the early Christians not only to contend for the faith but also to build themselves up in their most holy faith. The growing momentum amongst those committed to remaining faithful presents us with a wonderful opportunity to renew the Wesleyan vision. Whilst we contend for the faith, let’s also clarify our vision and get on with the work to which the Lord has called us! Our first major focus for this is our inaugural conference, Liverpool 200: Renewing the Wesleyan Vision.
Finally, Jude called the early Christians, in the midst of the troubles they faced, to pray, and he encouraged them to do so hopefully, ‘as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life’ (v. 21). By joining the Renewing Faithful Network, let’s commit to praying regularly for the Methodist Church and for one another, and let’s encourage one another to remain hopeful. Whatever happens, our God reigns! To enable us to pray and confer together, we are organising a number of Remaining Faithful Gatherings across the Connexion in the Autumn and the Spring. We are preparing materials for these, meaning that each of the gatherings will have a clear and consistent focus. Please look out for further details and, if at all possible, prioritise coming along to one at both times of year. If you can’t make it to your local gathering, please travel further to one on another day!