By Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.
This sympathetic, balanced, well-documented history of the United Methodist Church (UMC) reveals the development of the Methodist Church leadership’s progressive acceptance of Darwinism and all the racist and atheistic baggage that goes with it. The history of the UMC in America was also reviewed and the reasons why it rapidly became the largest Protestant denomination in our country, spreading its theology throughout the entire continental United States. It was especially effective in rural America which was not served by many of the major denominations before the 20th century. It pioneered the circuit rider clergy system enabling the gospel to be preached throughout the United States for the first century and a half of America’s independence. The UMC also was a leader in establishing colleges and universities through the United States, many of which are today academic leaders of higher education.
Professor Bergman’s review covers the early 1800s to the present, focusing on the rapid spread of Darwin’s ideas after 1859. It documents the fact that the average members, and much of the UMC literature, accepts the broad view that God is the creator of life, and this fact can be seen in both surveys of members and reviews of the literature intended for laypersons. An entire chapter covers evolution, defining in detail what this worldview of the natural world entails, and the evidence for it. He relies on the leading cosmologists and evolutionists to cover the field authoritatively and accurately.
Also covered is the UMC past support of slavery and eugenics, both now recognized as major mistakes for which the church has formally apologized. A major problem that was documented is its tendency to conform to society’s fads in an effort to be acceptable to society’s leaders. Both well-informed supporters and critics of Darwinism are quoted in detail. It is shown that abandoning the core of Christianity will eventually be lethal for the church. The problem raised in this book is not unique to the UMC but plagues all of the major mainline Protestant churches, including the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, the United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and even some Baptist churches.
The author, a multiple award-winning teacher and author, has taught science, including biochemistry, genetics, anatomy and physiology, at the college level for 45 years and is the author of over 50 books and 1,500 articles, mostly in peer-reviewed journals. So far, over 80,000 copies of the books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. Bergman’s writings are also in over 1,600 college libraries in 34 countries. He is a Sunday school teacher and lay speaker in the Methodist Church where he has attended since he married his wife, Dianne, 35 years ago. He has also spoken over 2,000 times to college, university, and church groups in America, Canada, Europe, the South Sea Islands, and Africa. A major area of interest for him is the creation-evolution issue, the topic of many of his publications, including his popular monograph Teaching About the Creation/Evolution Controversy published by the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.