Conversation or Propaganda?
Since spring of 2011, The United Methodist Church has witnessed a concerted campaign by activists supported by much of the leadership of our denomination to change the church’s position on marriage and sexuality. Looking back, one can see the progression and discern the behind-the-scenes collusion that must have fostered this campaign.
Openly homosexual clergy have discovered that, if they refuse to identify themselves verbally as “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” they cannot be removed from ministry, even though they are “married” or are living in a partnered relationship with a person of the same gender. The Discipline has essentially become unenforceable in prohibiting the ordination or appointment of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as clergy.
In at least 16 annual conferences, bishops have found that they can “resolve” complaints against clergy who officiate at same-sex marriages simply by agreeing to a structured “conversation” in the annual conference about the issue of homosexuality. The offending clergy are not required to acknowledge violating the Discipline, repent of that violation, or commit not to repeat that violation. They suffer no consequences for breaking the Discipline. In these annual conferences, the Discipline has essentially become unenforceable in prohibiting clergy from presiding at same-sex unions or weddings.
Bishops are now sending out letters to their clergy instructing them as to what actions they can do to support the same-sex marriages of their parishioners without running afoul of the Discipline. These permissible actions include participating in the service itself, as long as they do not administer the vows or sign the marriage license. These bishops are essentially undercutting the teaching of the church regarding same-sex marriage by finding ways to communicate the church’s support for a relationship that the church at the same time prohibits and finds contrary to Christian teaching. Even bishops in the “Bible belt” are beginning to call on their clergy to change the position of the church.
The Connectional Table, United Methodism’s missional coordinating agency, allowed its agenda to be hijacked by activists who disrupted their meeting. Besides granting extensive time for dialogue in that meeting with activists (without any representation of those upholding the church’s position), the CT committed to hosting three forums on the issue. These forums have taken place, and there was almost no representation from those who advocate for the church’s position. The only outspoken advocate for the church’s current position was an African, making it seem like only Africans support the church’s position. The forums that were supposed to be an opportunity for fair “conversation” instead were grossly unbalanced in favor of only one point of view.
After only one of the three forums, the Connectional Table already decided that it wants to submit legislation to General Conference removing all prohibitions against homosexual behavior from the Discipline. At its February meeting in Mozambique, the CT refined their strategy to a so-called “third way” approach that legalizes same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals in the church for those who want such, while acknowledging that the church’s current biblical position is “historical” (meaning no longer relevant for today). This group does not fairly represent the global nature of United Methodism.
Since the “Denver 15” in 1996, groups of progressive bishops have spoken publicly to advocate overturning the church’s position on homosexuality. They continued to do so as recently as 2012. Yet no group of conservative bishops has ever spoken out in defense of the church’s biblical position. At its November 2014 meeting, the Council of Bishops declined to even publicly acknowledge that they had received a call from over 8,500 United Methodists representing prominent large churches and respected theologians to defend the church’s position. The Council of Bishops does not fairly represent or lead the global United Methodist Church on this divisive issue. Instead, it has been diverted to champion a progressive agenda.
The latest example of this concerted push by our denominational leaders to affirm the practice of homosexuality comes in the form of the spring edition of the Circuit Rider magazine. The issue is entitled “Sacred Trust and the Divide over Same-Gender Marriage.” Unfortunately, of the nine articles that address this issue, none defends the church’s position. More than half the articles are written by advocates for same-gender marriage, while the rest portray a “neutral” position that advocates for unity and the ability of everyone to live by their conscience (a position adopted in Adam Hamilton’s “Way Forward” and embraced by the Connectional Table in their latest legislative proposal). Again, there is a one-sided message being communicated.
Interestingly, in his Circuit Rider article the late Bishop Reuben Job advocates that we “immediately stop the propaganda.” Propaganda is defined as “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.” It is natural that advocates on both sides of the homosexuality debate will speak to further their cause. What I find disheartening is that our general church leaders have seemingly come to the point where they are also unashamed advocates for affirming same-sex behavior. And this advocacy directly contradicts the consistent teaching of the church as adopted by ten General Conferences over forty years. The body that sets official policy for The United Methodist Church has become powerless to expect its leaders to advocate for and enforce that policy.
What makes this particularly galling is that, in midst of propagandizing for the acceptance of same-sex behavior, our leaders are simultaneously calling for “more conversation.” But conversation is not what they are facilitating. They want to set up “conversations” so that they can give us their propaganda and convince us that we are wrong. There is no sense that they want to listen and learn from us or are open to changing their mind about homosexuality. Conversation has become a strategy to push forward their agenda.
Evangelicals have always been willing to engage in conversation. What we will not support is the open propaganda by leaders of our church that is contrary to our church’s teaching.
If our leaders believe they must advocate for the progressive “side” in this debate, and if they are unwilling to provide an equal playing field for those who represent 2,000 years of Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality to voice our views, then we call upon them to provide a way for conservatives and evangelicals to live by our consciences. Whether this way involves the creation of a jurisdictional separation or the ability of congregations to leave the denomination with their property, some such way must be found. I am afraid, however, that many will consider evangelical consciences much less worthy of protection than progressive ones.
47 thoughts on “Conversation or Propaganda?”
Thank you so much for this information. It is what I have suspected all along. I was VERY upset by the issue of the Circuit Rider
When one person in a marriage is being unfaithful, the other person is understandably hurt and wants to take action. The first person says, “Oh, let’s talk about it. Let’s go to counseling. We need more conversation,” all the while continuing in their unfaithfulness. There comes a point when the covenant is dead, so dead it stinks, and the only right thing to do is call it dead. Perhaps it is time to revive a strong call for amicable separation.
I was really upset by that issue of Circuit Rider as well. I’m not stupid, I know what propaganda is. It just sickened me that a periodical that should be focused on proclaiming the gospel and making disciples (it is named Circuit Rider after all) was focused on promoting perversity.
Tom, are evangelicals/orthodox/traditionalists going to get serious about this in 2016? I am a student pastor at Asbury and I just can’t see myself sticking around in this mess. It’s not worth it. I love my UMC family and I know that most of the UMC churches in my area (the South) are very traditional and orthodox. But I am not going to waste my life trying to turn around an institution. More and more I am being convinced that staying in covenant with these sorts of people who blatantly do sinful things like use propaganda is wrong for me to do.
Thanks for your comments. I am proud to see a young person not swayed by the current mindset that seems to be sweeping, not just America, but so much of the world.
It continues to be unbelievable to me that clergy who claim to be on the orthodox, traditionalists,evangelical side of present day issues like homosexuality,etc. seem so devoid of a backbone and continue to appear to be open to “conversations” which since the ’08 general convention in Fort Worth have been prayers and conversations for only one way-progressivism. I chose to remain away from such a one-sided meeting…I had pledged to attend the prayer sessions but changed to prayer at home after I saw the make up of the praying group.
Therefore, I fully commiserate with the young man at Asbury or any young people going into the weak UM church today. Reconsider your choices and ask God to provide another way to serve Christ. Many conservatives are caving as they realize their need of their incomes, pensions, etc. It is so sad for those of us who are now elderly and gave our hearts to the Methodist denomination, the one taught to us by our founders and John Wesley, not to forget our parents and grandparents and generations before them.
Josh, Thank you for your service and work, you’re in a tough spot but God is faithful. That is a very valid concern!
I am wondering if there is any conversation among the conservative/traditional/Orthodox UMCers about what WILL we do if 2016 or 2020 goes the wrong way? Are we all left to on our own to find a new home? It doesn’t seem that the progressives will repent, so we need to be ready, don’t we? Josh, are there any Nazarene’s or Wesleyan’s in Seminary there? If so, what is your opinion?
Thanks, Jenny and Josh and others. Conversations are taking place. There will be a place for you. I hear Josh’s concern, which reinforces in my mind why we cannot continue much longer as a house divided.
I am exploring options but I am committed to following the leading of the Holy Spirit. And that path might not be the clearest or the most comfortable. I have ministered in other denominations and among other groups – and so I know that the grass in not greener on the other side of the fence. It’s often times just another set of problems. There is actually more things that I love and appreciate about the UMC that I hate. But after pastoring for about 7 years now and seeing how the culture within operates – it is very clear that things cannot stay the same. Even if nothing happens @ GC 2016, things are going to change – churches are going to shut down, money is going to dry up, and many people are going to head out the door. The whole system is unsustainable. This current crisis has shown there is a major accountability problem – people in the bureaucracy can pretty do much do what they want without major repercussions. The denomination has no clear identity – some thing we are just pretty much another benevolence agency, some think we a liberal mainline church, others imitate the tackiness of current evangelicalism. We talk about UMC junk more than we talk about the Bible – and that goes for both conservatives and liberals. There’s just an overall impression that no one knows what they are doing as well as a lack of conviction. I could go on and on but we all know that something has got to change. I’m just taking day by day.
Josh, I too am a student local pastor currently attending Brite Divinity. I often have the same question that you do, but my heart is strengthened and encouraged when I see other young pastors standing for what is right. There has to be a way we can come together and make something happen. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers but I wanted to let you know that I am standing with you.
There seems to be more concern for conversation than for the Word of God. Not that anyone will be convicted by it but among so much other Scripture John, in 2 John 1 warns us to watch out for false teachers and tells us that many deceivers have entered into the world, who don’t confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. They are antichrist and a deceiver. He warns us to watch out that we don’t loose those things we have fought for, but to continue on to receive a full reward. He tells us that whoever sins and doesn’t abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God, but he who abides in His Doctrine has both The Father and the Son and if anyone comes to us and brings not this doctrine, don’t receive him into your house, neither bid him God speed and if we do bid him God speed we are par takers of hid evil deeds. Verses 7-11.
Of course , so many other ‘rules’ have been broken so I’ll be amazed but elated if we do have more of our leaders to fight to keep the Church a separate people as God has called us to be.
i cannot for the life of me understand where leadership’s heart and head are. I suppose years of liberal theological training has undermined the authority of the Scriptures, which are being replaced by “social norms” , “situational morals” and “modern relevancy”. But are there currently THAT many gay members of UMC’s? Does leadership think that sudden openness to gays, pro-gay theology, and gay weddings is going to bring a large influx of members? If so, then they don’t know many gays. Gays don’t attend ANY church much. If they do, they are already attending MMC, PCUSA, or Episcopal churches. But Presbyterians and Episcopalians haven’t reported a huge influx of members. On the contrary, Bible-believing members have fled to Baptist, Bible, and non-denominational churches. The vacuum they created has not been filled. The hemmorage has left those denominations divided, weak and adrift. Is this what UMC leadership want to happen? So what’s driving the progressive drift? Well, as one of those who are still Bible-believing I believe it’s part of Satan’s plan for undermining, weakening, and splintering the church so as to make it ineffectual and irrelevant. The church is supposed to be as a bride adorned for the Bridegroom. Not a harlot who overlooks, no, welcome sexual sin into its midst. “Well done” or “Laodecia”? Which will it be?
Check out the really great articles on church growth and decline across denominations and faith groups at http://www.pewforum.org. There are readable research results on a number of topics. The only churches growing are the evangelical churches, with their emphasis on Scripture!
I have seen churches whose commitment to the poor is sorely compromised in favor of ministry to gay causes. Statistically, gays are one of the best educated and wealthiest minorities, and yet they want more and more concessions. What of our ministry to the poor? Harder work and less glamorous to be sure.
“The body (General Conference) that sets official policy of the United Methodist Church has become powerless to expect its leaders to advocate for and enforce that policy”. That is a sobering and sadly true assessment of a weakened and staggering United Methodist Church in 2015. Saying one thing and doing the opposite is, of course, classic hypocricy. Will the United Methodist Church continue to practice what Jesus strongly condemned in the Jewish religious leaders of his day by turning a blind eye to the abhorrent behavior of these renegade Bishops and other clergy? These gay agenda people in the UMC are lost and refuse to be found. Their behavior is well documented, and they are not going to change. All of the patience, understanding, conversation, phony complaint handling antics, et al have only encouraged them. What the church has done over these past 40 plus years has ended in abject failure. This conversation is over, and It is way past time for the body (General Conference) that sets official policy of the UMC to FIX this schism. And, two jurisdictions or any other local option ideas is NOT the way to fix it. If the body that sets official policy of the UMC cannot agree to enforce its own policies, then it’s time for it to agree to initiate a just process to separate the UMC so that neither orthodox Methodists nor the progressive Methodists have to keep practicing hypocricy in order to maintain “unity”.
I agree about the Circuit Rider, it was a disgraceful example of propaganda without any balance or understanding that the function of UM official agencies is to uphold the Discipline of the Church. I wrote the editor and received no reply at all. Sad. Discouraging.
Divide the Denomination is the only honorable way forward that preserves a semblance of the denomination that once was. I suppose that all biblical Christians will eventually have departed the UMC and gone to various other denominations, but I fail to see the honor in that.
I agree. It is the only thing to do.
In our small town about a third of the people in bible-based churches on Sunday mornings were once Methodists themselves or come from Methodist families.
In my reading, so far, about these jurisdictional solutions, I’m struggling to find them as possible ways forward. To those who study this conflict on a regular basis and have a lawyer’s working knowledge of the Book of Discipline, perhaps such a solution makes perfect sense. But, for the member in the pew, it could never be condensed and adaquately explained in order to render an informed decision. Cumbersome, complex, entangled, theoretical, full of pitfalls, and impractical are some words that come to mind with relation to this. If a current UMC member would be struggling to comprehend such a plan, explaining this new Methodist Church to a newcomer, a visitor would be totally impossible. We would be seen by most as a dysfunctional church in a great deal of confusion. But, the largest obstacle for such a plan even getting off the ground is that there is no evidence that the gay agenda community would abide by it given their history with the current church order. Let us not forget who started this war. Those who start wars have end goals. This solution would not change their end goal, perhaps just prolong it.
Thanks for your comments. Your last point is probably the most telling. We have yet to hear from any progressive organization or leader that they would support a jurisdictional solution. Until that support and indeed advocacy comes forth, a jurisdictional solution is a pipe dream.
The only reason for considering a jurisdictional solution is to find a way for two different churches to exist in one body. There would have to be enough safeguards to protect evangelicals and traditionalists from being coerced or from having to support actions that are unbiblical (in their view). It would enable us to work together on mission work and pensions and other items we might agree on, while giving space for each to pursue ministry as they believe God leads them. We believe that if evangelicals were unfettered by this conflict in the church, we would be able to focus our attention on strengthening the local church’s mission and ministry, as well as greatly expanding our evangelism and church planting. It would be an attempt to find a way for Christians to live together despite deep disagreement.
As I said, however, I am not optimistic that such a proposal would gain enough support to have a chance at passing.
With all due and honest respect, I am just unable to conceive of two churches existing in one body, especially two churches that have such opposite views of sin and the authority of Scripture. Since this conflict is much bigger than the homosexuality and marriage issues and goes to this deeper fundamental disagreement of Scriptural authority, many, many members could not consciously accept a designed hypocricy and would leave. And, for those remaining, it would not be long before these two churches would be forced to dissolve the one body under which they were attempting to coexist and seek their total independence from each other because, I believe, that such an incoherent and convoluted arrangement would be so unexplainable and so incomprehensible that both churches would be virtually paralyzed, especially the orthodox one since it would continue to be under liberal attact for not modernizing and being like its progressive brother.
Thanks for your comments, TD. I think based on what you just said, you understand the strategy.
We are no longer safe even in the Bible belt state of Florida:
Here is some guidance that Florida Bishop Ken Carter provided to his pastors after reminding them that they could not officiate at same sex marriages in UMC facilities:
“If invited, and if your conscience leads you, you may provide pastoral counseling, read scripture, offer a prayer, or give the homily at a same-gender service held in an alternative setting. Whether to do so, or not, is an act of conscience. You can be pastorally present to your people in these ways, and, in my interpretation, these ways of proclaiming the gospel do not compromise the promises made in your ordination.”
Four of the nine general superintendents in the Florida conference endorsed Adam Hamilton’s progressive “A Way Forward for the UMC” as did Bishop Carter’s top aide David Dodge and other key staff members.
I noticed that Bishop Carter also gave the opening address at the Reconciling Ministries conference. Just thought it surprising and maybe hinting a little of where his viewpoints may be heading?
Will the circle be unbroken? It seems to me that the energy,gifts,and resources used to defend/fight Biblical orthodoxy should be shifted to saving souls for Christ. I believe it is “the time” for those of us who believe in what we said we believe and would uphold when becoming active members/clergy in covenant with God to return to our Wesleyan roots. The Wesleyan Church is that “other Methodist jurisdiction ” many seem to keep talking about. For those who are tired of the bureaucracy of the Council of Bishops and all of the programs, expenses, and needless layers that feed on local church apportionments, how about a streamlined system that is nimble yet values “tradition”. For those looking for women’s rights to clergy and management, how about an evangelical denomination whose General Superintendent is a loving, gifted woman of God (Dr. Joanne Lyon).
While there is nothing “United” about the UMC, let’s part amicably before more of The Good News goes bad. As the Fab 4 used to sing, “Get back to where you once belonged”. Praying for The Way and The Truth always
I agree that there is no thing united about the UMC. We have spent 40 years trying to appease the gay agenda but they are not interested in in attending any church. They just want the church to approve of their lifestyle and join the secular crowd. The few GBLTQ people who are interested in what the church has to offer are already in the episcopal , Presbyterian USA church or other main line churches who have embrased the gay agenda.
I call upon the 2016 General Conference to Ex-communicate the pastors and bishops who endorse the gay agenda and ask them to join whatever church they feel embodies their views. If they won’t do that the only action we should take is to allow traditional churches to separate and take with them their church property. We may have to give this separated church a new name but we can not continue pretending we are united.
It is sad to see the UMC let these few people destroy it. I let the Umc a few years ago when they did not revoke the credentials of the Bishop that performed a same sex wedding. If they don’t want to abide by the discipline then they ought to go some that is more inline with their worldly beliefs. If you do not believe the bible is the absolute truth then you walk as a true believer is questionable. I let and became a member of a church that has a higher view of God and holds the Bible ad the only and absolute truth. Paul said if they do not repent then they should be given over to satan in the hope that their souls can be saved.
Tom clearly describes the problem but does not propose a solution, except one he does not believe will succeed. But you and I know that heaping up examples will not bring resolve, but will increase disgust and frustration. I urge Tom to quit stoking the fire and start doing some real cooking. What’s the way beyond this impasse, Tom?
Thank you for the question, Gary. In other posts, I have said that it is difficult for me to believe that the two opposing worldviews in our church could continue to live together in one body long-term. I think our options in 2016 are to either restore accountability to the teachings of the church in the Book of Discipline, or to separate. To continue with the breaking of covenant simply eats away at the connection around which our church is built. We should live by what we say we believe. And if we cannot agree with what the church says we believe, then we should find another church body (or form one) that is consistent with our beliefs. It remains to be seen what General Conference 2016 will or won’t do to resolve this crisis.
How do you believe that first option should work? Restoring accountability? I am not trying to be skeptical here but honestly asking how this would happen.
I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be more of the same. Allowing the liberal minority to run the show and then sweep all the other concerns – such as the fact that we are dying as a denomination – under the rug. Are the renewal groups getting any response from the denomination?
Thanks for your questions, Josh. Accountability could come from a mandatory minimum penalty for clergy performing same-sex unions/marriages, expanding the definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” to include persons in a partnered or married relationship with a person of the same gender, and a global accountability structure for bishops (instead of the current jurisdictional one). I put the odds at 50-50 that these would pass General Conference. We would then need to see if they would be enforced. A lack of enforcement for enhanced accountability would be “game over” in my mind.
It is no surprise whatsoever that Bishops, DSes, pastors, and churches who sets aside or in practice nullify full swaths of Holy Scripture would do the same to the Discipline. I left the UMC 2 years ago over the loss of the Doctrine of the Authority of Scripture and have never regretted it.
Thank you, Tom, for another statement of truth spoken in love. There is no doubt you love the UMC and want to see renewal and revival, so I know it breaks your heart to have to say these things. But your love has not blinded you to the truth of what is going on. The only question left is, how do we stop the propaganda and lies; when do we split?
I amazed that no one on the “progressive” side has not offered their definition of marriage that is different than the one in the current Discipline.
How do they manage to avoid that?
Thank you for commenting, Lon. Actually, progressives offer their own definition of marriage as a covenant between two persons (rather than between a man and a woman). They have offered this definition at General Conference every four years for about the last 20 years. But the General Conference has, until now, remained steadfast with the scriptural definition of marriage. That could change in 2016.
Or, how do they explain away the affirmation of marriage offered by Jesus in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 in his discourse on divorce? Jesus did not challenge God’s created order for marriage and attempt to modernize it after the many, many centuries of its existence. Who do these people think they are in the 21st century by brushing aside Jesus and offering up a new definition of marriage? On what Scripture do they rely?
Thank you for the very clear information in this article. I agree fully with the writer’s position and do not believe that the church should condone sin – whether sexual or otherwise. Clearly, Jesus’ life and ministry showed us that all sin can be forgiven. However, His message to “go and sin no more” is not being honored when strategies are devised by cunning human minds to circumvent the repentance for sin mandate and “allow” those in positions of leadership and “models” for the flock to continue sinful practices. I realize their is a strong push from satan’s kingdom to re-define sin and choose to obey only that which is currently in fashion. However, Jesus never conducted a popularity contest and actually died for righteousness sake. To condone what He died and lives for is shameful in the least and, even more so, demonically inspired.
My only suggestion for the writer is to use “quotation marks” when using the word “progressive”. While I am fully aware of the common usage of this term, I can not agree that those who condone sin are progressive in the true sense of the word: “moving forward; ongoing; advancing”. Condoning sin (which is actually “promoting” sin) in leaders is regressing to a state of behavior which would be expected of those who have not partaken of salvation. Aren’t we to be “moving forward, advancing etc. in our putting away carnality? Sanctification is not a dirty word – it is the opposite. What is the point of belonging to a church which promotes sin and tramples the call to “go and sin no more” under-foot?
The lack of response from the Bishops and the continued in-your-face full-court press for full acceptance of the LGBT agenda by our agencies (e.g., GBCS and the UMC website) causes me to fear that GC 2016 will end very badly for traditionalists. While we are talking “amicable separation”, I fear that the other side is instead working to completely game the system at GC and force through their agenda regardless of how many rules must be ignored or broken. If that happens, it is over — there will be NO tolerance of traditionalist positions after that; it will be: Comply with the new order or quit and walk away with nothing. I fear we are in the same position as the theological conservatives in the Presbyterian Church in 1936 — their denomination’s bureaucracy had became completely liberal in the 1920’s (with no small help from non-Christian funding sources) and the 1936 General Assembly forced out the remaining theological conservatives.
I appreciate the article and all the comments. I myself as a LLP with a 90 mile circuit used to read Circuit Rider and subscribe to Ministry Matters. However after years of this propaganda and being subversively being told if I didn’t agree with the “New thing the Holy Spirit is doing” that I didn’t belong in the church I am done with both Circuit Rider and Ministry Matters. I submit Mike Slaughters recent Blog on Biblical Idolatry in which he proof texts several O.T. parts of scripture to prove his point. And there is Adam Hamilton who now proposes that scripture belongs in three buckets, a bucket that scripture does not apply anymore, a bucket for scripture that still applies and a bucket for scripture that is open for interpretation.
Who can anyone trust in the UMC anymore? I hope that the people who are at Good News have some type of plan after the impending split to bring together the remnant of those faithful to the true message of the Gospel.
The Circuit Rider issue was useless unless you were needing something for the bathroom. I opened it with the hope that somebody in the Publishing House wanted a conversation. I don’t care how many prominent theologians or people who write books have changed their mind. Holy Scripture has not changed. I do believe that we should practice faithful inclusion of all persons who desire to hear the Word of God proclaimed that they “might flee from the wrath to come.” However, I am absolutely to bless one sin while demanding repentance from all others. That is the hypocrisy of progressives and our leadership simply because it is easier than following Jesus. Jesus would not condemn gays by whatever label they choose. However, Jesus always said to those who were healed or sought his help; go and sin no more. Let amicable separation begin and may the plan for separation be publicized before Annual Conferences this year. Let’s go people. Time is running out. That is the intention of the CT. Stall until General Conference and hope that enough Annual Conferences send a “balanced delegation.” Send conservatives and send a message. Let us also emend the Discipline so that the US and European bishops are paid from Episcopal funds raised in their jurisdiction alone.
It seems to me that despite the cry that they are being marginalized, the LBGTQ constituency is actually out to marginalize those who believe in the authority of scripture. As one who has participated in “dialogues” I certainly agree that except for one, they all were orchestrated in such a way as to attack those who hold a traditional viewpoint. This is not simply trying to live together in the same church, it is a plot to keep intimidating until they get the result they want. I strongly suspect that even if we were to separate, there would still be a move to change the remaining conservative church. Only the power of God manifested can save our church. Come Holy Spirit!!
Agreed, Ann. The NC Conference has had “Unity Dialogues” for over 15 years, often several a year. They had other similar gatherings before that; I even presented a paper at one. From the agenda and flow of the meeting to the content, they are utterly stacked in favor of Biblical revisionists who fly in the face of over 2000 years of Biblical preaching, teaching, interpretation and application, even though they are still in the minority.
At the last Unity Dialogue–and I mean the last–that I attended recently, there was one speaker for the orthodox point of view, and he was clearly met with disdain. Everyone else who spoke was in favor of modern and unbiblical reinterpretations. All sorts of little things were done to make it clear that those who favored the Biblical viewpoint were not worth hearing, hateful bigots. The people at the table where I sat constantly went on about how hateful and divisive people in their church were for not accepting the modern reinterpretations and not accepting unrepentant homosexuals as church members, leaders and clergy. There was no chance for dialogue and no apparent interest in unity. That’s what inspired me to write this on my blog: https://compassionofthechrist.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/a-little-less-conversation-a-little-more-action/
You are so right Ann. Only the power of God manifested can save our church. We need to plan for whatever may come as we head for a collision course with this year’s Annual Conferences and General Conference 2016. But ultimately if God does not lead and empower us, and enable us to be His holy witnesses, we are doomed to either be the shattered pieces of a former denomination, or, and I think worse, a denomination that remains together institutionally for the sake of the institution, a form of godliness denying the power and authority of God.
The theologically progressive/liberal leadership are not interested in genuine conversation. And, in all fairness, neither am I. This “conversation” should have been quickly and decisively resolved during the General Conference of 1972. I have no need to debate whether homosexuality is sinful or acceptable because the moral teaching of the Bible is abundantly clear. Their tactic is to beat us over our heads with liberal propaganda until we either go away or acquiesce. At the heart of our theological schism is one singular issue: Biblical Authority. Everything else is a distraction.
Rev Mike Slaughter has published a very disturbing article in Ministry Matters denying Scriptural authority, titled “Bible Idolatry? Link: http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/5835/bible-idolatry
Tom, I hope that your or Rob would write a response to this article.
Thank you. Scriptural authority is the issue, the schism in the UMC. Slaughter’s take on it is just another warn out rationalization attempting to conform God to culture or propagate a man madd agenda. He does highlight one glaring truth. When progressives cannot find Scripture to justify their positions, they attack Scripture and its messengers in an attempt to sow confusion and ambiguity. Then, they thrive in this confusion and the ambiguity – especially with Biblical illiterates. And, with Biblical illiteracy rampant across the UMC these days, they are having a field day. In fact, Satan, the one progressives would also rationalize away at his delight, is having a field day.
As one of my parishioners put it … ‘Satan asked Eve ‘did God really say?’ And its been his tactic ever since to sow doubt and question us ‘Did God really say?’ … Woe to us when Biblical illitericy runs rampit amung us… And we don’t know what God said …or maybe just choose to ignore it.
Sharp parishioner you have their David, great observation.
Many choose to ignore what God says, and many change it, even just a little bit.
When Eve replied to Satan about whether or not they could eat from any tree of the garden, she replied that God said all could be eaten from except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That one, Eve said, God told us not to eat from it [i] or touch it [/i] (Gen 3:2,3). But God did not say they could not touch it, just that they could not eat from it (Gen 2:16,17).
If you want to read more about how the real original sin was misrepresenting God and what He said out of a desire to be our own gods, and how that sin is committed today by Bible revisionists, here is my blog post about it, the first in a series on Biblical interpretation:
You are right David. We are utterly Biblically illiterate in TUMC, and much of it is deliberate. We must find ways to preach, teach, live and apply Biblical truth more faithfully and fully, or we will go the way of the Episcopalians.
I do not understand why a minority, with 2/3rds of the UMC voting for traditional, biblical marriage, can drive the 2/3rds out? It should rather be the other way around. There are other denominations, like the UCC and the UU, who would gladly accept the minority into their fold, as they share their beliefs, and have shrinking memberships.