More about our purpose continued...
Why have we been involved, with others, in setting up and participated in a Theological Seminary with Jacobus Arminius Courses of theological study and local church based Bible Institutes?
Firstly, because of the religious tolerance towards Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christian Education found within the United States. Also, Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christian Education is facilitated better by some States in particular. The United States is still primarily a Christian nation, tolerant of Puritan, Dissenting and Non-conformist Fundamentalist Protestantism, with a constitution and system of government which should aid the cause of such a religious view.
Secondly, the acceptance in the United States of the granting of internationally recognised religious degrees to be used solely for vocational purposes by an institution of religious education, without having to carry an unnecessary liberal arts program or the employment of higher and lower criticism as a philosophical prerequisite of deductive reasoning when addressing all aspects of education in a theological college and/or seminary.
Some Christian denominations within worldwide Christianity will not accept study, degrees or ministerial training, unless the student has been trained at a college that is theologically sound with good Biblical and Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christian doctrine. Independent Methodists do not trust their clergy being trained by secular educators universities or liberal theological seminaries. They do not see the necessity of their clergy having achieved some secular university degree prior to going on to study theology for the ordained ministry of the church. Internationally, Independent Methodists, like to send their students for the ministry to a Bible school, college or theological seminary in the United States for training. Many Christians will only recognize American study from accredited, or indeed independent unaccredited but doctrinally and scripturally sound American Christian Colleges and Seminaries. This is understandable, as many institutions inside and outside the United States are subject to being forced to include liberal arts courses in their curriculum before they can grant degrees. Others, through government and secular society's imposition of 'political correctness' and 'religious tolerance', are forced to teach comparative religion and to have that ethos prevailing throughout all their curriculum subject matter.
In some countries outside of the United States and from the United Kingdom in particular, we have noted a distinct snobbery by secular educators, religious educators and by members of the public towards America, American education and in particular American theological training. We have found that, to the contrary theological education in the United States at whatever level far surpasses any other nation on earth simply because of the volume of students, supply and demand by pulpits and the number of actual Christians, not nominal or "cradle roll counted Christians", who make up the US population. Therefore, this "anti-cowboy", "anti- Americanism" we repudiate as racist and repugnant slander. We respect all nations on earth and particularly those who foster a climate to help and promote the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But in saying that, we believe that the United Kingdom has really got something to offer. Our goal is to own an establish a Seminary campus somewhere with the UK or Ireland. We would like to see students eventually coming from all over the world to study with us at that Seminary campus, but it would give us great joy to have people from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland coming to study with us and achieving their goal in being trained for ministry. We, in this part of the world have something special to offer. I know that whenever I am invited to speak in some of the largest churches in the United States and in fact sadly in some other places as well, I have found people in ministry who act like royalty, or who have an air about themselves. This is wrong. One church where I was the invited preacher, I was expected to be ushered out during the final verse of the chorus at the end of the service in case any of the congregation tried to speak to the leadership or me. Do you know, I refused to do it and after remonstrating with the Pastor, I walked down one of the aisles to the doors at the back of the church and I stood and shook the hands of all of the 3000 plus membership of that church. They were shocked! They had never seen anything like this. Some of them had never met the Pastor in the fifteen years they had been attending. How sad! They just had to deal with his fifteen screening secretaries. I never knew Jesus to have needed secretaries!
We in the United Kingdom have something special to bring to the ministry. "Ordinary-ness!" There is no such word but I know that you will know what I mean. We British clergy expect respect when we are in the pulpit or because of the office that we hold. But, when we climb down from the pulpit or we are not functioning in the office of ministry then we are just ordinary folk like any other. We have no "Prima Donna's" I hope in the pulpits of the British Isles, nor would we tolerate them. Neither do we demand respect, but rather we gain it by who we are, how we treat people and above all else we know that we are here to lighten burdens and not to impose heavier ones. So, we have a lot to give and this is why I invite any people from these islands who are wondering whether they should study for the ministry to wonder no more and to write to me.
However, just because we are a denomination based in the UK and Ireland does not change our attitude regarding Christian or Theological education. We, in Independent Methodism do not recognize any secular degree granting institutions or secular accreditation authority, national educational department or secular elected or non-elected governmental authority as having any rights in the regulation of the necessary requirements for the training of ministers of religion. We believe that those secular bodies should stick to their own secular sphere of influence, which has nothing to do with Christian training, doctrine, indoctrination, theological training, belief or faith and practice.
We expect recognition and respect for these our religious beliefs. Just as those self same secularists openly accept that Islamic Imams, Jewish Rabbinical training and in fact all other religions have no interference from outside authorities regarding the training of their Clergy, therefore we expect the same. Other religions have been given respect by secular society in regards to all or any degrees they may have achieved and have recognized within their own societies and religions. We therefore, expect the same religious tolerance, lack of prejudice and religious discrimination afforded to us as Christians, in our endeavours to further our understanding in the beliefs and the faith that we hold dear to our hearts.
We see this as an issue of justice under the law. Freedom of Religion is a legal right and we shall contend for, if challenged.
Certain Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations together with certain Roman Catholic Theological Colleges and Seminaries must be commended, for not submitting themselves to secular recognition's requisition of only accepting secular accredited individuals into Christian Ministry.
The Independent Methodist training has no link with any secular university accreditation, or the inclusion of any 'liberal arts course' into the training or the recognition, of those "called to Christian Ministry".
In short we believe, maintain and advocate the total separation of church and state in every facet of life. Therefore, we uphold the American stance regarding the separation of Church and State as displayed in the United States and advocate the disestablishment of the state Church in England. The same position as the Church of Ireland and the Episcopal Church in Scotland should be afforded the Church of England in England. Frankly, we believe that Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church. This will once and for all distinguish Christian education and theological study from secular society.
Also, recent wrong assumptions by uninformed internet commentators, who's assertions seem profound but are in fact outside of the due processes of the law, need to be addressed by the law.
Therefore we recognize that many fine Christian institutions have been wrongly labelled in "wikipedia" and other self appointed "grand arbiters" of what is and what isn't a good "Bible School", simply because they would not submit to having to carry a liberal arts program in their curriculum to gain state accreditation. It seems as though those who edit "wikipedia" go by a "one size fits all" attitude and are betrayed by their own secularist leanings which are easily detected by the reader. We repudiate their categorical assumption that secular humanistic accreditation is a prerequisite for theological training excellence. In fact, we see secular accreditation as an abomination and a hindrance to anyone seeking to serve in the capacity as a religious minister.