August 4, 2018

“Uniting Methodists” Panelists: “The Bible Is Wrong”

On July 16 – 18, the “Uniting Methodists” caucus hosted a conference to organize their support for the so-called One Church Plan proposal for the special United Methodist General Conference in February. Around 200 people gathered at Lovers Lane UMC in Dallas, Texas, along with another 200 watching online. The caucus urges the UMC to unite around the basic idea of ordaining homosexually partnered clergy and allowing but not requiring clergy to perform same-sex weddings, repeatedly claims that such proposals would bring unity to the denomination, and describes itself and its agenda as “centrist” despite actually being rather liberal. John Lomperis has written a series of articles analyzing the Uniting Methodists’ cause and leadership.

Many of the conference’s most memorable moments came from a panel discussion led by Rev. Mike Baughman, an ordained elder serving as the lead pastor for Union, a new church start in Dallas, Texas, and featuring four young millennial leaders from its worship planning team. Disappointingly, the millennial panel lacked the kind of theological diversity that should define any truly “Uniting” Methodists movement. All were fully LGBTQ-affirming. The unorthodox beliefs shared by these “Uniting Methodists” panelists appear to speak clearly to the heart and future aspirations of this caucus and its preferred plan.

Stephen Cristy was brought on the panel to share his story of changing from a conservative, traditional view to a progressive, “compatibilist” one. To Union Church’s credit, when he first came to the church with traditional orthodox views, he was welcomed and encouraged to share his contrasting outlook with the progressive majority. As he spent more time in the congregation, his beliefs shifted. After befriending and serving alongside many LGBTQ individuals there, he came to believe that homosexual practice is not sinful, to support same-sex marriage, and to support the ordination of openly homosexually partnered individuals.

Lauren Manza, who identifies as lesbian, was unabashed in criticizing the Bible itself. She too grew up in a conservative family, and felt conflict with her upbringing. When speaking on same-sex marriage and the verses that traditionalists use to argue against it she said, “I believe if I sat down with Paul today, Paul would say ‘I’m not down for that,’ but I think the Bible’s wrong.”

For the time, Manza refuses to formally join a UMC church because she feels the Book of Discipline calls all of her humanity “incompatible with Christian teaching.” She’s holding out for the UMC, though, hoping earnestly that the denomination that is her church home will change its ways. However, she made it clear that she will only join when all UMC churches fully affirm her sexuality, a goal the “One Church Plan” fails to meet.

Instead of providing a counterpoint to her attack on Biblical authority, Baughman continued Manza’s train of thought. Recalling meetings with some of these young church leaders at Union he said:

“There were times that folks like Stephen and some other members of the team would just say like ‘Can we just say the Bible’s wrong?’ and one of the things that’s been interesting is I think there is this sense among a lot of millennials that just because the Bible says something, that doesn’t mean it has any authority whatsoever.”

Angela Uno, who grew up outside of the church and joined Union a year ago, was surprised to discover that churches were still debating same-sex marriage and partnered gay clergy. She thought the American public as a whole had already “moved on” beyond these issues because the right choice was so obvious to her. “I think that by now, it shouldn’t be a question,” she said.

Sinclair Freeman is a young man who identifies as queer and feels strongly compelled to pursue a life of an ordained minister within the UMC. He currently works for Union as a worship community curator. He, too, grew up in a conservative family, and as a result battled with his sexuality in high school. Today, he is determined to fight for change from within the UMC, even if the “One Church Plan” is not adopted. Like many of the speakers at the conference, he emphasized “intersectionality,” specifically how he saw issues of race and sexuality as entwined. Like his black ancestors before him, he refuses to be denied what he believes are his essential rights: “I’m not allowing my God or a church that I feel passionately about to be hijacked from me.”

Baughman and the panel ultimately presented an approach of disregarding the fundamental concept of the Bible as the ultimate source of religious truth and authority. They commended this approach to their audience on the grounds that some young Americans at this particular moment in cultural history find it acceptable. All believers grapple with understanding the Bible and knowing how to best apply it to their lives, but this was something very different.

Unanimous affirmation of same-sex marriage and ordination of openly homosexually active clergy. Changing from traditional, orthodox views to progressive ones. Placing personal experience above Biblical authority. These were the ideals presented, and these peers of mine were put on stage as shining examples of who the Uniting Methodists hope will lead their congregations in years to come. If there was any doubt that the agenda of the “One Church Plan” and its most enthusiastic supporters is liberalizing the UMC, this panel made it clear.


35 Responses to “Uniting Methodists” Panelists: “The Bible Is Wrong”

  1. Mike says:

    “In those days, there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own sight.” Judges 21:25 Those days are back again.

    • kathy says:

      Methodist leadership in a lot of cases doesn’t represent the views of their congregations. Both views are the choice of the individual. My only real issue is when they want ALL of the affiliated churches to affirm
      their behavior as ok. So homosexual behavior is not wrong but the bible is? Sin is sin and we all sin in some ways. Saying it isn’t so and attacking the source will destroy the church group, but the believers will just go elsewhere. The people are the church, not the organizational group or the buildings. The Methodist leadership needs to realize this.

  2. Dan W says:

    “The value of persistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will finally hear Him.” I think Lovers Lane UMC Dallas failed these four young seekers. If everyone in the UMC began praying earnestly for each other, would we finally hear God?

    • Dan W says:

      What, can’t edit my comment? I mistakenly wrote Lovers Lane UMC had failed these young people and later realized they were from Union Church in Dallas. I sincerely apologize for the error.

  3. William says:

    So, they can declare the Word of God wrong, and that makes it so? And, the UMC, even all of Christianity, will ultimately see the light and board this “uniting❓“ train? Why sure that’s swell.

    At least this bunch is more up front than some other progressives who attempt to twist, misapply Scripture, use subterfuge, and outright deceive. These folks just don’t believe Scripture, and that settles it for them.

    The UMC is supposed to declare the Bible obsolete, even wrong, in order to be inclusive and up to this obvious modern culture?

    Nah, progressives and traditionalists can no longer be of one UMC. This so called “one church plan” is but step one of liberalizing the whole church. If it is adopted, the church splits for all the obvious reasons.

    • Sandra says:

      William, that panel sounds like most young people even in conservative churches. I do not agree with them, but splitting will not make the issue go away in an orthodox Methodist setting. Jesus’s teaching on divorce is the only theological solution to the delimma. Divorce is and has always been sinful, and Moses (Just as the UMC church has done) made exceptions because people were unable to keep the law. LGBT won’t like being labeled “as not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” obviously. But the BOD is flawed and incoherent because of divorce which according to Jesus is a sin, especially if remarried. In that case, remarried people are committing adultery. The BOD should be amended to reflect the same language of “not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” as that for LGBTQ. It is so bias to let divorce stand as it is now. Or else, put in softer language for LGBTQ like was done for the numerous church members and clergy who have divorced and remarried and living in adultery as an ordained clergy. The orthodox wing of the church will always remain incoherent as to the law so long as divorce is not treated as Christ would have taught. There is a solution to the problem, if both sides are willing to adhere to Scripture.

      • William says:

        “sexual immorality” is grounds for divorce, per Jesus. And, yes— two wrongs don’t make a right. The church does need to revisit divorce and get that straighten out instead of using it as a wedge to liberalize its sexual ethics and Christian marriage. As for the young, those seeking an uncompromised Jesus — many have fled the UMC to the nondenominational movement. And those seeking an uncompromised Jesus for the first time are also drawn to the nondenominational churches. Yep, the UMC has certainly dropped the ball in attracting the young seeking an orthodox Christian experience and the truth.

    • Anneke9 says:

      “The UMC is supposed to declare the Bible obsolete, even wrong, in order to be inclusive and up to this obvious modern culture?”

      At least we know what god(s) they worship.

    • Paul. A'Barge says:

      So, am I to take the word of a young lesbian with poor taste in shoes or (gasp) the Bible?

  4. Bill Ivins says:

    The UMNews Service reported that there were 350 people in attendance. I wonder if they’re conflating on site and online attendance to cover up the fact that the movement doesn’t have strong support?

  5. http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/problems-with-pro-gay-theology-2/

    At least they admitted that they know the Bible says it is a sin!
    The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

    – 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
    – 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
    – 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
    – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
    – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

    Having said that, I believe that Christians should support and encourage those who are fighting same-sex attraction. And no one needs to grandstand on the issue before getting to the Good News of the cross: http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/evangelism-experiences-1/ .

    * The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

    1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians)
    2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
    3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

  6. Tom McLaughlin says:

    I’m all for people holding their own beliefs. However, when one group decides not only to follow a track that opposes traditional values and decide that everyone else should change church doctrine to accommodate them, that’s wrong. This country has plenty of room for another separate denomination that holds their beliefs. Here’s an idea: Start another church and leave the traditionalists alone.

  7. jerry reingardt says:

    God knew the earth was not flat long before mankind did. Isaiah 40:22 “God sits above the circle of the earth.” [NLT} Please tell me the statement “Uniting Methodists Panelists:’The Bible Is Wrong’ is fake news.

  8. Paul W. says:

    It’s no secret that “Uniting Methodists” is a progressive (revisionist) group pretending to be centrists; just Google the folks on the leadership team! If they were truly “centrist”, they’d be fine with maintaining the current BoD position, i.e., advocating for a “real” centrist position. But they aren’t; instead they are advocating for nothing less than full acceptance of all the sexual sins covered by the LGBTQIA+ acronym, fully recognizing that all theologically conservative Christians will be forced by conscience to leave the resulting apostate denomination! What the CoB has proposed and this group is advocating is the complete opposite of Wesleyan holiness and righteousness!

    • William says:

      That’s what is so insidious about these progressives. Their usual and customary protocol is deceit since they have no Biblical grounds to stand on since they are actually secularists. You cannot trust virtually anything they say or do. You must constantly try reading between the lines or searching for their hidden agendas. They cannot be trusted. On the other hand, traditionalists usually say what the mean and mean what they say because they use the Bible to stand on and can be trusted.

      So, who are our delegates going to TRUST at the February General Conference, the Bible or Secularism? That will determine how this thing goes.

  9. Bruce Sdunek says:

    Not much I can add to the above. If the Bible is wrong, why do we even have it any more. Just throw it out with the rest of our morals and “do our thing”.
    Satan is alive and well in the Methodist Church – I know he is in ours.

  10. Even Freud, who could not be described as an evangelical Christian, believed that homosexuality was not a natural union. From creation God made male and female (but not another list of gender distinctions). Adultery like homosexuality is a sin. John Wesley would not have elevated homosexuality to a step in the pursuit of holiness. We cannot let a political agenda destroy the roots and Biblical foundation of the Methodist Church. If the LBGT community wants a new denomination, let them start one rather than trying to pervert our history.

  11. Richard Bell says:

    The Bible correctly reveals God’s will for same-sex marriage by the Church. The Bible, understood according to traditional methods of interpretation, proves that God wills the Church celebrate homosexual marriages just as it celebrates heterosexual marriages.
    I expect Mr Moran and most of the commenters here will reject what I just said. If anyone has a mind even slightly open about the subject, ask by email for a copy of my essay proving what I just said: rsbell@ameritech.net
    By the way, as a conservative evangelical Christian, I am unhappy in my awkward position of advocating same-sex marriage by the Church. I beg anyone who reads my essay to refute its interpretations of scripture! If you do, I will thank God and you for leading me out of error.

    • William says:

      Mr Bell,
      We can argue here for ever more, but ultimately you’ll have to take this up with Jesus. On that day you’ll have the opportunity to tell him that he was dead wrong with his definition of marriage as recorded in Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9 during his condemnation of easy divorce.

    • diaphone64 says:

      Then God also wills three-person marriages (reflects the Trinity) and child marriages (let the little children come unto me).

  12. Stan Jefferson says:

    From the responses, clearly a hot-button issue.
    In our world, only one thing is needed for people to change ‘sin’ to ‘not sin’, and that’s the approval of other people.
    The Bible is crystal clear on homosexuality, and that is that it is NOT of the order of the creator. The OT, NT and yes, Jesus himself affirmed that heterosexuality was the only God ordained order of sexuality (Mt 19:4-6). If you start to parse the Bible, and clear doctrine, you are on very dangerous ground.

  13. I am certain. Absolutely certain. That the author and every other Christian believes as these young people do, that there are places where the Bible is wrong. Many Christians believe Paul (more likely Paul’s editors) was wrong to say women should not speak in church. Most Christians, I hope, think the Bible is wrong to prescribe death for same sex relations. Most would say it was wrong to commit genocide, which is commanded.

    • Sean says:

      Rev. Dr. Trench, it seems you not only think the Bible is wrong, but that God is wrong. God is not wrong. He was not wrong when He commanded genocide. He was not wrong when He commanded death for same sex relations. Maybe it’s time to prayerfully look at scripture. Do you understand these things better than God?

  14. diaphone64 says:

    “There were times that folks like Stephen and some other members of the team would just say like ‘Can we just say the Bible’s wrong?’”

    Wouldn’t this be “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church”? Where are those 600 complaint filers when you need them?

  15. Dave Gingrich says:

    If you think the Bible is “wrong”, why are you a Christian at all?

  16. Dan says:

    Just another post-modern, UMC seminary produced version of “did God really say…” And I dare say it will have similar results

  17. Sue Neff says:

    Amen.

  18. Robert L Kuyper says:

    “Love your neighbor” is found in Levitcus. Is that wrong too?

  19. DJ says:

    FYI: Union Coffee house has closed as a new church start and Michael Baughman has charges filed on him for signing a homosexual marriage license in direct disregard for the discipline and our bishop’s direct words about what is not allowed regarding homosexual marriages. Interesting that the “Uniting Methodists” lauds a person who directly violates the current Discipline and is unwilling to respect the authority of his bishop, even when the bishop simply asked for clergy to wait until the Called General Conference in 2019.

  20. Scott says:

    One of the panelists stated that the Bible has no authority. Our entire religion is based on the Bible. If the Bible has no authority than our religion has no basis and is a sham. Therefore under their logic, we should abolish Christianity altogether as a fraud. This makes me wonder why they are involved in any type of church or church panel. Is their goal to increase Christianity or to destroy it. Logic says they must be here to destroy it. The enemy has been laid bare before our eyes!

  21. David says:

    Few parts of the Bible, and none of the Gospels claim to be the “Word of God” in their texts. Indeed, that term is reserved for the person of Jesus. We know today that were a number of early Christian writings at considerable variance to the present New Testament. It might be noted that most of these were attributed to famous persons, not unlike the present scriptures. The Bible did not float down from heaven in a black leatherette binding with gilt edges. Human intervention was necessary to form the scriptures.

    I suppose the rural nature of the US encouraged the tradition of anti-intellectualism that is still with us. This gave rise to what might be called Bible idolatry. Everything was simple and clear cut to those believers. It actually gave rise to the curious practice of bibliomancy where a Bible was believed to fall open to a verse answering a question.

    Unfortunately, there are so many contradictions and factual errors in the Bible that believers are forced to pick and choose which parts to accept or not. Various websites list these at length. So if progressives are secularists, traditionalists are hypocrites. No decent person today accepts slavery and genocide as being moral regardless of what the Bible says. Indeed, an atheist could argue that the God of he Bible lags behind humans in ethical development and is unworthy of veneration. When asked his name by Moses, God replied, “I will be what I will be.” This may not imply unchanging permanence, but an evolution.

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