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(RNS) The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor from Kansas known for his centrist views, will deliver the sermon at the National Prayer Service Tuesday at Washington National Cathedral, which concludes President Obama's inaugural ceremonies. By Daniel Burke.

55 Comments

  1. “He later tired of Pentecostalism’s “black-and-white, very conservative theology,” and joined the United Methodist Church after reading its ‘Book of Discipline’ – perhaps the most unlikely conversion story since Saint Paul.” That’s the most hilarious line I’ve encountered in quite a while. Congrats, Daniel Burke. Very good line indeed.

  2. Tell me, what is it that is a “skill” about preaching. Is it the practice of emotionally arousing an audience, getting them all hyped up and ready to put lots of their hard-earned money in the baskets or plates that are passed along the pews?

    Can “skilled preaching” be attributed to Jesus? I mean, does one get killed for being a skilled preacher? Is “skilled preaching” measured after the fact by being able to move from a former funeral home to the largest church of one of Christianity’s mainline denominations? What’s it all about?

    And why, while participation in religion is declining in this country, are our leaders who have been hired to perform the civil job of governing on a temporary basis persisting in mixing religion with these civil functions as if they are being anointed as royals?

    • gilhcan,

      What would you accept as being a noteworthy skill? Do you consider Steve Jobs to have been skillful? Mitt Romney? Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? Bill Gates? Do you consider yourself a skilled speaker or writer?

      Having sat in Pastor Hamilton’s congregation for 10+ years, I’d say one of his many skills is to inspire an individual to become a better person or as the church’s mission statement puts it, “To build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.”

      If you’re truly curious, I’d invite you to watch online this weekend on Sunday at 10:45AM (Central time) or at 5PM. http://live.cor.org

      Better yet, head over here: http://www.cor.org/worship/sermon-archives/
      Find a sermon series that looks interesting and watch at least 10 minutes of it and see if you’re hooked. Adam is one of the most gifted speakers I’ve ever met and I enjoy listening to those types of people regardless of the subject matter.

      You’re right in that religious participation is on the decline so it should be noteworthy when a church is going in the opposite direction of the prevailing trend. Might be worth looking into if you’re willing to keep an open mind about it.

      Thanks for posting though — your honest, somewhat respectful, skepticism is healthy (and actually encouraged in Pastor Hamilton’s church). You should find and email him on Facebook if you’d like to go to the source….he’ll usually respond.

      • I also attended for several years. You are right, very gifted/talented man. We found his leadership to be incredible. But, we couldn’t find a whole lot of biblical truth. Justification and rationalization to word. May God bless him during this time.

      • Michael,
        Do you ever get tired of the regular sidestepping of actually teaching the Word? I did, after attending for a over a year, recently. Here’s the script, much compressed, as I remember it –
        “Let’s look at the what the bible has to say (reads scripture passage, TNIV of course. Don’t want to offend women). Now…some people believe this is saying X. Others, however, firmly believe it is saying Y. After much study and prayer, I would say that I would most likely side with the first belief, X, which is found in most traditional Methodist teachings. EXCEPT, that after having met so many people who believe in Y, and hearing their profound intellectual apologetic for Y, I can’t help but believe there is much truth to their understandings”
        Heck, he did it again in this article!! This is exactly the way he taught on –
        -Judaism and salvation
        -Is the Bible the Word of God?
        -Homosexuality
        -Is Christ the Only way to Salvation?
        and the list goes on. I appreciate very much a heart to reach out and include people, and loving all people as creations of God. And, one could make the argument that COR is doing much more good than any harm, getting so many to attend church. However, is there evidence that COR has changed the community of KC, Kansas, for good? Have the abortion rates dropped? Has violent crime lessened? Are there fewer homeless? The answer is no, unfortunately.

        • Scott,

          Yes, I do get tired of the sidestepping but I wouldn’t say he sidesteps teaching the Word. To say that would assume that you, me or Adam have a complete understanding of the Bible and what constitutes a timeless Biblical truth. I don’t think any of us would claim that. But I don’t think it is the job of a pastor to state his stance on an issue and then persuade everyone in the congregation to agree with him.

          What I do appreciate about Adam is that he welcomes the criticism and wants to engage with people that have disagreements with him. He has multiple degrees in studying the Bible and frankly knows more than either one of us about it and I would argue also has a much more dedicated prayer life than at least me…..all this isn’t to say he’s infallible but his stance (albeit hard to pin-down) deserves respect. Do you feel you know 100% regarding Jews and salvation, the timeless nature of scripture vs the writings “at that time”, what God intends for homosexuals or that Christianity has a monopoly on salvation? I would never claim that and even if my pastor held the same beliefs I did and reinforced them time and time again, I probably wouldn’t want to hear it…..I want to be challenged. I think it makes us all stronger.

          One area I would disagree with you on is the change in KC….there’s plenty of evidence. I don’t know that the stats you quoted are those that could ever be attributed to church and definitely not one church in particular but the amount of outreach that goes on in COR is staggering….to say nothing of the evangelism that’s taking place.

          Nevertheless, I appreciate your perspective and is one that I share many times. There are times when I think Adam should take more of a stance and he doesn’t….but I let him know that and sometimes I get an email back further discussing the issue. That openness means a lot to me in a pastor.

    • Richard F, Watkins

      First thing writer should understand is the difference between faith and religion. Faith is a personal belief in a power higher then one’s self. Religion is a formal process by which individuals attempt to give voice to their belief either as a solitary effort or as group called church. We are made in the “image of God” and we are also given free will which allow us to accept or reject God. The Founders were, for the most part, men of faith particularly George Washington who referred to God as Divine Providence. As we, as a society, abandon our faith and the church are we living better more fruitful lives?

    • Religion is the mask used by evangelists to grab your dollars including AH. There has always been lots of people more than willing to throw their millions in the pot in the name of signaling their devotion to God and AH. They’re more than willing to take it and are given “implied” or promised salvation with your contribution. Is it “tithing” mandated by “God” or just a way to line their pockets with your $’s and hide that with a few worthy causes? Before you tell me how wrong I am, save your time. There are many examples of it that have spanned decades and are even recorded in the Bible. To me it’s sacrilige. It’s not even novel. It’s all about money. Might as well be the Koch brothers Church Resurrection. 60 big boys ($’s) almost lightning fast to proliferate the tower to Babel on 135th. Check out your CUR preacher’s digs and enrichment which are not unlike many $ hungry evangelists. Why? Need I say more. Don’t tell me its needed to keep talent. AH is talented in what he would want you to believe is “God work” of relieving you of your money while skimming a lavish lifestyle in the meantime and he has his members doing it for him. Billionaires need more tax breaks too while the rest of our standard of living declines. Get em Adam and give em a little gospel in the process and they’ll come back with even more money. Brilliant! Sick! Manipulation! If you are truly all about spreading God’s work he’ll know and he’ll see how you’ve used his name to enrich your life certainly beyond that of a devoted Christian. 60 million could certainly be used to do a lot of work to those who need it or the paupers among us rather than build your stairway to heaven. It will not go unnoticed and you may want to read your Bible to see what happens. The story has already been told.

  3. Just a brief correction. Hamilton, along with Mike Slaughter, proposed an amendment to the General Conference which would say that all United Methodists are not in agreement about the issue of homosexuality.

  4. Daniel Burke

    Daniel Burke

    Article author

    Celeste: Hamilton’s amendment would have replaced language in the Book of Discipline that calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Not sure what you think needs correcting in my report.

    http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=8079049&ct=11740419&notoc=1

  5. Daniel,

    Hamilton’s proposal at General Conference included this line: “The majority view of the General Conference, and thus the official position of the church, continues to hold that same-sex intimacy is not God’s will.” Thus, although Hamilton’s statement acknowledges that there are differences among Christians, the statement would not have changed the official position of the United Methodist Church, which is that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

  6. Daniel Burke

    Daniel Burke

    Article author

    Jonathan,

    My understanding is that Hamilton’s amendment would have substituted the current language in the Book of Discipline (161f) and replaced it with his resolution. I get what you’re saying, but that would have at least changed the language of official church position, which is no small thing. I remember quite a vigorous debate on this resolution, and a pretty close vote (439 to 513).

  7. Daniel Burke

    Daniel Burke

    Article author

    As a side note, I spoke to LGBT activists before the General Conference last year. Many thought that Hamilton’s amendment had the best chance of achieving their main goal: removing the line in the Book of Discipline that calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

  8. Plastic lectern, jeans, tee-shirt — just another package of cliches’ living in a never-neverland where it is always 1968. This nation needs someone with the guts of St. John the Baptist to speak truth to power, not just another ‘way-cool saddleback dude.

    • So, what a pastor is wearing and the type of lectern he uses directly correlates with his “guts to speak truth to power”? Would it matter if every Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45 services Pastor Adam wore a suit and tie and often robe as well? (Which he does.) You’ve clearly never been to Church of the Resurrection, or heard Adam Hamilton speak, or you would never made the comments you did.

  9. It would be great if men and women would just read scripture and stop trying to rewrite what God inspired men to write. Either the Word of God is 100% accurate or it’s not. It’s that simple! If people would just stop making the Bible an ordering menu “I’ll take the Holy Bible, but please hold the truth! And please hold the Holy Spirit and definitely NO JESUS” because I’m allergic to the truth. One of my favorite versus in the Bible is: For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3. Does it get any clearer than that? People would have greater respect for men and women who would stand firm in their beliefs not wavering left or right regardless of what society thinks; however, it’s sad to say those number are few. 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13. May way learn to surrender our hearts to our Lord and Savior daily seeking to do His will.

  10. Ha, ha!
    Good ‘ol Adam Hamilton. Every time he opens his mouth, I hear Charles Durning singing “Dance a Little Sidestep” from that musical!!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJG75FJkjr8
    Read his comments again – you’ll see that he flip flops in the same breath and in almost every sentence. You’ll come away saying “What did he say?? Where does he stand??”. This is how Adam approaches ANY theological debate that could possibly cost him members – don’t ever let them nail you down to a stance! How do you think his church got to be so large??

  11. I pray that Adam has the wisdom and strength to preach Truth to this crooked and corrupt government and culture. Washington needs a bold Word of truth spoken to it. We live in a corrupt nation that slaughters our children, spends money until we are in debt which is Biblically immoral, and we have pornography flooding our streets as we sexualise everyone.
    Not only that we violate all of the 10 Commandments and act as if they are irrelevant to us as a people. This is not a partisan problem, it is a problem of all of us as a nation. I pray for Adam that he will speak the truth in love at this event.

    • “Now hold on just a second, Ryan. Our nation is only ‘slaughtering children’ if you hold the view that life begins at conception. Many Christians believe that is what the bible teaches, and would tend to side with them. HOWEVER, there are other biblical scholars that believe that life begins at the viability of the fetus, separate from his mother. A study at the Mayo Clinic showed that…blah, blah, blah….”
      – Adam Hamilton -

      • Scott,
        my point exactly. This is why I believe all preachers need prayers to be bold. I know I covet such prayers. Tomorrow is sanctity of life Sunday, and I am preaching on Jesus as Man. So I know I could use all the prayer I can get.

      • Scott,
        Is there only one Christian side in all of these complex issues? Is there no room for questioning or doubt? Don’t you appreciate more information and perspectives rather than less? I fail to believe you think all these issues so simple and there being only one right answer…maybe one or two, but I appreciate someone presenting all sides even though it might frustrate us that he doesn’t take our particular one.

        It starts getting very dangerous when we say we know the only one true, will of God…

      • Adam:
        Go back and read your scripture. Life does begin at conception.
        God reveals to us in His Word that not only does life begin at conception, but He knows who we are even before then (Jeremiah 1:5). King David said this about God’s role in our conception: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb . . . your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13, 16).

  12. Scott,It sounds as though you had a bad experiance at the CORE, but don’t let that eat you up.Pray, and ask God to show you a good church that will fit your needs, and use your knowledge and God given talents to reach and serve others. I for one, have been in a number of churches before out of curiosity going to the CORE. God has spoken to me through Adams sermons and I am serving God in whatever way I can in the years I have left. I am so happy,and I hope you can find a way to serve God in whatever church you desire,Remember;Your preacher is only one of Gods mouthpieces; You have to make the decision to follow God. I wish you well.

  13. Folks,
    All kidding and attempts at humor aside –
    We all have made some valid points, and are probably mostly on the same side of this discussion. However, in the study of scripture and its subsequent interpretation, there is at some point a demarcation point when the totality of one’s beliefs changes from being “Christian” to being “other”.
    I am a “conservative Christian”, if you want a label. I have friends who are professed Pagans. They hold dear certain teachings and truths that I can absolutely endorse and agree with (that don’t conflict with my understanding of the bible). However, the fact that I can agree on those points doesn’t make me a Pagan!
    While not a scriptural designation, I believe scriptural information and teaching can be loosely categorized into 3 categories of priority –
    -Scriptural Esoterica; information that is subtle, not expounded upon at length in the word, and open for interpretation and debate
    -Scriptural teaching that is important, that should be applied to our life and choices, but not connected to salvation or the nature of God, and still open for debate, but based upon a body of scriptural evidence. This category I call the “agree to disagree” category; you and I may disagree, but it doesn’t mean we break fellowship or can’t serve together or support one another.
    -The Non-Negotiables. These are things spiritual truths that the bible would have a LOT to say on, in concrete language, and are necessary to understanding the fundamentals of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

    Michael, those first two categories certainly leave room for debate, differing interpretations, and even doubt. None of us are perfect, and we’ll not perfectly understand the word this side of heaven I can live with a spiritual leader who believes certain things in that realm that maybe I don’t agree with, or see the same way when I read God’s word.
    It’s when the “non-negotiables” begin to be undermined, ignored, or cast aside that I begin to have serious issues. And, sometimes a “non-answer” from a pastor on important spiritual issues is really an “answer”.

    • Scott, The crux of the controversies which have beset Christianity for centuries is that that so many put so many beliefs and practices in your third category [non negotiable] that many many other Christians firmly believe belong in Categories one and two. Probably the most significant one is The Bible itself. What does “100% accurate” mean? In other words, “Is there even anything one can legitimately place in your categories one and two?” Calling upon people to develop their own detailed life beliefs upon a relatively small core, as Hamilton appears to do, obviously sounds like side-stepping to those who are used to having it all spelled out for them.

      • I agree with Morris, there are so few things that are non-negotiable. I think if Scott and Adam both listed their category 3′s, they’d be on the same page. Same with me. I’d label myself a Conservative Christian and among my friends, they would probably put me far more fundamental or hard line than maybe I represent myself here.

        At some point though, I think the church’s reputation (deserved or not) for pursuing dogma has gotten in the way of the “love thy neighbor” and inclusivist way in which Jesus lived his life. I think even the “hard-liners” on this thread would find they differ on what makes up a category 3 because they put so many things in there. I always think of the thief crucified next to Jesus during these types of discussions….I doubt he had many category 3′s and I’m so thankful that God doesn’t require them…

        • Michael, I like your second paragraph on “love they neighbor” and your reference to the thief. It goes to show how much we have in common. Even though I am at the other end of the theological spectrum, our “3s” match quite well

  14. L.M
    Thanks for your concern! Your response is a kind an compassionate one, and I am grateful.
    Don’t worry, though, attending and then subsequently leaving COR (Church Of the Resurrection) has not made me bitter, or angry. I serve in a wonderful, growing, church in Kansas City, one in which my fundamental Christian beliefs are celebrated. Oh, there’s debate! As there should be in any body of believers. However, the debate is done in a loving manner, and doesn’t include the “non-negotiables”.

  15. 1Cor.1:10&19-21 – (10)Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.(19) For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.” (20) Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God…
    2Tim.4:1-4 – (1) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his kingdom, (2) preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and [art of] teaching. (3) For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.

    you see there is God’s wisdom and there is “worldly wisdom”. They are diametrically opposed and according to God’s word, NOT open to debate… It’s God’s way of TRUTH that saves. Not flip-flopping and being non-committal on some really serious issues.

  16. Daniel why is the article so centered around the gay and lesbian discussion? Is that what Adam is to be known for? Is this why he was selected? I’m sure a “religion” that had no concept of sin would have the largest membership in the world. I have to agree with Jesse that the Word is written to contain universal truths and you have the choice abide in them or reject them. You also must bear the consequences. Personnally I’m so tired of all the attention paid to the gay and lesbian issue. Is it a sin or not? How about adultry? Why not an adultry rights parade! Why not? We are all sinners, the question is why do some “christains” want others to say its ok?

  17. It sounds to me like some Methodists have set aside the role of the father in the Prodigal Son Story (Luke 15:11-32), as the model of Christ-like response to his child, in favor of that of the older brother, who refuses to celebrate with his brother, whom he judges a sinner. Jesus’ intention with the older brother was to expose the shallowness of phariseeism, not establish a precedent for one person judging another. Would any really refuse to join the feast, rather than sit among those they judge, but God embraces? It’s better to accept the grace of God and set aside the judgment of others. And it’s time to stop using the Bible as a weapon to exclude any who are different from ourselves, in any way.

  18. As a Methodist, I imagine the Rev. Adam Hamilton was converted by reading the part on our theological beliefs. I can’t imagine anyone would be converted after reading about annual conference property.

    For those that don’t know, the Book of Discipline is the Methodist Church’s law book. It isn’t light or entertaining reading to say the least, even for devout Methodists.

  19. Brian, (from a 26 yr UMC clergy) your prodigal son analogy breaks down quickly when you consider repentance. If the son had returned with his head held high, refusing to admit any wrong and insisting that he was right in his behavior, the Father might have closed the door, or at least not killed the fatted calf. GLBT and their backers push and manipulate . There is no admission of any wrong, therefore no repentance necessary.

    • morris@taber.net

      Pete, Don’t be too judgmental as to what the Father would do in the circumstances you stated. Isn’t it just as likely that the Father would be so happy to have his son home that he would have accepted him “warts and all” ?
      Best not to presume how Jesus or God would/will judge each of us.
      Also best not to assume [and quote Scripture for that] that a condition that is basically genetic is sinful.

  20. According to our religious beliefs, the text in Ephesians 2:3 is supposed to teach that babies are born with a “sin nature” or a “sinful nature” and that they are under the wrath of God because of that nature. But isn’t it a monstrous and a blasphemous dogma to say that God is angry with any of his creatures for possessing the nature with which He created them? (Genesis 1:26-27). Never! God is not angry with men for possessing the nature He has given them, but only for the “perversion” of that nature (Ecclesiastes 7:29 – note the word “inventions” – KJV or “schemes” – NIV). The Bible represents God as angry with men for their wicked deeds (John 3:19),

  21. Adam Hamilton and other clergy, who believe like him, are the reason my husband, my children, myself and about 50 other families are leaving St. Mark UMC of Northport Alabama in July 2013. We have had enough and will be starting a nondenominational church, where scripture will be taught!
    My husband and I have been United Methodist members for over 40 years, but we do not agree with the doctrine and liberal clergy leading this denomination, such as Hamilton!

    • Susan, you and your husband are setting yourselves up as being popes, that only you have the ‘true’ interpretation of what the writers of the scriptures were trying to say. Interpret for yourselves all you wish, but don’t presume to know that others, at least as learned and believing, have come to different understandings as to what God is calling us to do.

    • Morris;
      As a disciple, one reads in context the scriptures. Bible is true: Hebrews 4:12.
      Principles of Bible interpretation are indicated in 2 Timothy 2:15.
      Use prayer- Psalm 119:18–cleansing 1 John 1:9, Illumination of the Spirit 1 Cornin 2:12-16 the mind in context of the writer and rules of grammar. Our relationshipt with the Holy Spirit is the only true meanings of following God’s will.

      • Those are still YOUR selection and interpretation of scripture. Moreover, I am confused as to your last posting. While I agree that we are not born sinners under God’s wrath, I can’t say whether you second one is accepting or denying that various readers will come to different conclusion about the meaning of the Bible for us. Millions differ and/or choose different passages to support their beliefs. Sincere and knowledgable teaching from the scriptures has taken many forms through the centuries. I submit that my Bible scholar father’s understanding and interpretation is likely to be as accurate as others. While I don’t claim to tell you or anybody else how you should live a Christian life, I am tired of people trying to tell me their version is the only correct one and thus that my reading of the Bible is non scriptural and heretical.

  22. This country is being torn apart by entitlement. I am RIGHT. Could someone give me the levels of sin? Is there a number system from 1 to 10. If you worship a false god that is a sin 1. If you commit adultery that is a sin 5. If you are a homosexual that would be a sin 10 . The only person that one has to answer in the eyes of the lord is yourself. Social issues in the church are out of control. Everyone must answer for his sins. Everyone one of us should struggle on a daily basis because we sin everyday in our society. There is no RIGHT answer here. Christians should find the best home for them that speaks to them to worship and commit to support that congregation. I think all of us would agree it is better to be a part of some type of teaching of Jesus Christ and God then being asleep on Sunday morning .

    • Damon-
      I think you makes some good points. I would take this approach if I could. The problem with Christians going to just any old church they feel comfortable with is there is more at stake than just going to church on Sundays. If we are to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ then we should look to His word for this. His word is the Truth. If someone wanted to learn algebra they would study an algebra book and if someone told them a + b = d, they should stand up and say no that is not correct…the correct answer is a + b = c as we learned in the algebra book. See, all to often we exchange the Truth for what makes us feel good. This is because we live in a fallen world, Genesis 3. Our approach as Christians shouldn’t to just be satisfied with a fellow brother or sister attending a church that you know does not teach the word as it is in the Bible. This is where we have to address our own sin. Do we fear man or God more? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction Proverbs 1:7
      God Bless

      • morris@taber.net

        Ryan,
        The problem with your argument is that in certain cases, a + b – d makes perfect sense in algebra. Picking certain verses to prove your point is just as flawed as your example. It depends on how “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “Judge not, least you be judged” fits into your equation and your life.

  23. Ryan,
    The problem with your argument is that in certain cases, a + b – d makes perfect sense in algebra. Picking certain verses to prove your point is just as flawed as your example. It depends on how “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “Judge not, least you be judged” fits into your equation and your life.

    • Morris-
      Thanks for commenting on my post. I was not trying to argue or prove a point to anyone. I have nothing to prove. But, only to provide encouragement to another believer.
      God Bless

  1. [...] Religion News Service: Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton to preach at inaugural National Prayer Service The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor known for his skilled preaching and centrist views, will deliver the sermon at the inaugural National Prayer Service next Tuesday at Washington National Cathedral. Hamilton is founding pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, which began in a funeral home but has grown to 16,000 members, the largest church in the denomination. [...]

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