Can you help me understand more about the Free Methodist Church? Is it a charismatic church? I know of a church that has been praised for all the good it does in the community and the world. Does it teach faith only? Does it teach that baptism is a command?
I'm not planning to join, but I'm trying to help others see that they are wrong, no matter how great are their good works and love.
The Free Methodists started in 1860 when B. T. Roberts began objecting to the innovations being brought in by the Methodist Episcopal church. He and others felt that the Methodists were straying too far from the teachings of Wesley, who was the founder of the Methodist movement. For his objections, Roberts was kicked out of the Methodist Episcopal fellowship, but he turned around and started the Free Methodist church.
Doctrinally, there Free Methodists are almost exactly the same as the United Methodists even though the two groups remain independent of each other.
They believe in inherited sin. "By the sin of Adam, humans as the offspring of Adam are corrupted in their very nature so that from birth they are inclined to sin" [The Book of Discipline]. This contradicts the teaching of the Bible that sin is not passed down. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).
Like other Wesleyan churches, the Free Methodists believe in two-stages of salvation. One can become a Christian, but sin is not removed until sanctification. "Entire sanctification is that work of the Holy Spirit, subsequent to regeneration, by which the fully consecrated believers, upon exercise of faith in the atoning blood of Christ, are cleansed in that moment from all inward sin and empowered for service" [The Book of Discipline]. The Bible teaches that salvation, justification, and sanctification are terms for the same event, baptism. "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11).
They practice what they call baptism, but it is not an immersion in water, even though the word "baptism" means immersion. They also practice infant baptism. "Baptism is a symbol of the new covenant of grace as circumcision was the symbol of the old covenant; and, since infants are recognized as being included in the atonement, they may be baptized upon the request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training. They shall be required to affirm the vow for themselves before being accepted into church membership" [The Book of Discipline]. The Bible always places baptism after belief and repentance, not before (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36-37). Besides, infants don't have sins to be washed away in baptism anyway (Acts 22:16).
B.T. Roberts believed that women should be ordained ministers and wrote a tract on the subject. The denomination didn't accept women as ministers until 1911. This position violates I Corinthians 14:34-35 and I Timothy 2:11-12.
Methodists are not charismatic groups in the typical use of the term. They believe that the Holy Spirit bestows gifts, but they don't see that as meaning miraculous gifts, such as speaking in tongues. Some among them called themselves "charismatic" but by that they mean they have been given a gift of grace by the Spirit. [The Divided Flame by Howard A. Snyder]
I would quote more doctrinal points, but their main web site has been hacked and redirecting people to a malicious site. I'll try to remember to come back to this later.
I do thank you for the above. We have many Free Methodist Churches here. One by me has over 2,000 members. I just wanted to get a stance on them. The tongues they do, and use I Corinthians 14 to back that up.
Interesting, since I found quotes to the contrary. In "A 60 Second Guide to Free Methodism," I found:
Speaking in Tongues and Other Gifts of the Spirit:
The believer is to seek evidence of the Holy Spirit's fullness not through the gifts themselves, but the Giver. Speaking or teaching to speak unintelligible sounds is not consistent with the order brought about by the Holy Spirit. The language of worship is the language of the people. All communication in worship is to be experienced with understanding.
In "Tongues Speaking: Study Commission on Doctrine Report to the 1989 General Conference" I found a reference to the fact that there is a division in the Free Methodist Churches over the innovation of tongue-speaking:
The Free Methodist Church, throughout its history, has been essentially united in matters having to do with Christian experience. However, in recent times, the emergence of tongue-speaking in western Christianity has produced some tension among us. All Free Methodists affirm the work of the Spirit in the life of the church; we differ somewhat in our response to tongues.
So it appears that group near you has decided to embrace the charismatic movement, though it isn't generally accepted by the Free Methodist Church as a whole. Reading through various documents, it appears that the denomination prefers to avoid taking a stand than to risk dividing their denomination over the issue.