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La Mesa First United Methodist Church


Church Review
Scriptural View: 2/5
Beliefs: 2/5
Community: 2/5
Preaching: Topical
Worship: Hymns
Service Times: 8:30am, 11am

Website Review
Site Usability: 2/5
Site Design: 1/5
Site Content: 1/5

Review: I attended a service in October 2004. Service began with seven hand bell players ringing out a hymn, as the congregation observed silently. Reverend Fanestil invited the children up for a short story, based on a rose he pulled out of a mystery box. Following this, was a prayer, a testimony and a reading from scripture. Next, Reverend Fanestil walked to the pulpit to preach.

“All human beings live by stories. It’s a matter of which stories you live by. Christians have to rely on the stories and images; these are the stuff of which this faith is made.”

After service, Reverend Fanestil spoke with me about the Christian faith and the Bible’s stories. “The Bible is much more like a bookshelf than a single book. As reading the Bible as a bookshelf instead of a single book, I end up feeling like the Bible speaks with many voices. These voices challenge me and I am forced to struggle with them. It isn’t always if the Bible says it, I believe it. I believe that is an unhelpful way to read the Bible.”

“(The Bible) is inspired by God, but I don’t believe it is inerrant,” Fanestil explained. “The gospel of John was written at the end of the first century, when the church was in great conflict with the Jews. There is an anti-Jewish polemic to the New Testament that needs to be put in its historical context.”

I asked Reverend Fanestil how his view of scripture affects his stance on the controversy regarding homosexuality within the United Methodist Denomination. “There is a split over the issue of homosexuality. A majority of (United Methodists) nationwide adhere to a traditional stance that homosexuality is a sin. They believe we should love the sinner but hate the sin. A majority of people at our church, myself including, believe homosexuality is an orientation for a vast majority of people that is given by nature. And I’ve preached that. The Bible doesn’t always speak with a single voice. We need to treat the words of scripture in ways that demands some tension and complexity.”

I asked Reverend Fanestil how does someone determine what is true in the Bible. “That’s what we all do. We have to choose (what we want to believe). I am very comfortable with saying I don’t know about a lot of things.”

“I believe Jesus is the way, I’ve experienced that in my life. I don’t feel called to pass judgment on the world’s other religions. I don’t feel qualified to pretend to know God’s minds on the worlds other great religions traditions. I certainly am reluctant to conclude that all folks who belong to other religious traditions are all destined for some state of eternal damnation. It doesn’t ring true with the spirit of the Jesus I know.”

The bottom line is La Mesa First United Methodist does not preach that Scripture is true. Therefore, we cannot recommend this church.

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