December 7, 2018

United Methodist Heresy Complaint Filed Against Karen Oliveto

A heresy complaint has been filed with the appropriate authorities in the United Methodist Church against the Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto.

In July 2016, the denomination’s schismatic Western Jurisdiction illegitimately elected her to the office of bishop, in open defiance of our denomination’s longtime rules banning “self-avowed practicing homosexual clergy” (let alone bishops). Oliveto is an openly partnered lesbian activist.

However, the Christian Post reported earlier this week that this new complaint was NOT submitted over anything related to sexuality. Instead, this complaint accuses Oliveto of the arguably more serious charge of heretical false teaching.

This stems from a public message Oliveto offered in 2017 in which she encouraged people to take an essentially Unitarian view of Jesus Christ being “as human as you and me,” to the point of His being sinful and having “his bigotries and prejudices,” which he needed another person to teach Him to give up in what Oliveto called “his conversion.” You can read more here about what she said.

The Christian Post quotes the complaint from the Rev. Robert Barnes, a concerned pastor in our denomination’s Baltimore-Washington Conference, as outlining these problems:

“Although it is commendable and necessary for United Methodist Bishops to teach against bigotry, Bishop Oliveto’s teaching does so by directly contradicting what Articles 1 and 2 of the Methodist Articles of Religion and Articles 1 and 2 of the EUB Confession of Faith, stress concerning the full divinity of Jesus Christ.”

“Even beyond that, however, the Bishop’s remarks are not only contrary to our theological and doctrinal standards regarding the divine/human nature of Jesus but a) they denigrate Jesus to being that type of human being we might not always have respect for, due to His alleged prejudices and b) in doing so they elevate her own beliefs to a level higher than the beliefs that Jesus had early in his ministry.”

The Methodist Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (referenced by Pastor Barnes) are part of the core, official United Methodist “Doctrinal Standards,” which even our denomination’s highest governing authority, the General Conference is constitutionally forbidden from revoking, altering, changing, or contradicting.

Here are the particular sections Barnes charges Oliveto with contradicting:

Methodist Articles of Religion

 Article I — Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

 

Article II — Of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man

 The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

 

Confession of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church

 Article I — God

We believe in the one true, holy and living God, Eternal Spirit, who is Creator, Sovereign and Preserver of all things visible and invisible. He is infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, and rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of men, to the glory of his name. We believe the one God reveals himself as the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power.

 

Article II — Jesus Christ

We believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, in whom the divine and human natures are perfectly and inseparably united. He is the eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As ministering Servant he lived, suffered and died on the cross. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to be with the Father, from whence he shall return. He is eternal Savior and Mediator, who intercedes for us, and by him all men will be judged.

 

 

Barnes declined to share updates on the complaint (reportedly filed sometime in late September) with the Christian Post, citing the confidentiality of the process and negotiations that could lead to a possible “just resolution.”

But when you look at Oliveto’s teaching, there is simply no way that her view of Jesus Christ being a bigot and less wise than Karen Oliveto can be compatible with what United Methodist doctrine teaches about His eternal divinity and His infinite wisdom, justice, goodness, and love.

In the secular world, a “gaffe” has been defined as when a politician accidentally says aloud the crazy things s/he actually believes. I don’t doubt the sincerity of Oliveto meaning what she said about how we should not “create an idol out of” Jesus but instead take Him down several notches to our own level, or lower. But is somewhat with such beliefs really the best person to be elevated as a prominent teacher and leader within our denomination, even apart from questions of sexual immorality?

It is not clear what will happen with this complaint. The Christian Post reports that it was submitted to Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Desert-Southwest Conference, who is president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

But in the meantime, this raises several serious questions for our denomination.

Can there be ANY Christian accountability within the Western Jurisdiction? Dr. Oliveto has been under complaint for sexual immorality for over two years. But she has continued to illegitimately occupy the office of bishop in the Denver-based Mountain-Sky Area, acting at times like a petty dictator eager to intimidate and pressure people into personal loyalty to her. The bishops of the Western Jurisdiction have evidently buried the sexual immorality complaint, out of a commitment to keep Oliveto in office no matter what. Will things be any different with this new complaint? Even if they are all uniformly committed to the agenda of LGBTQ liberation, is there anyone within the Western Jurisdiction leadership at least willing to take a stand for drawing a strong line against Oliveto’s denigrating Jesus Christ?

If any of the Western Jurisdiction bishops truly values core reverence for Jesus Christ over idolizing the cause of LGBTQ liberation, then why did not one of them file a complaint against Oliveto for her teaching, which has been widely known for a year? It would not have taken too much courage or risk for them to do so, given the formidable position bishops enjoy in our system.

Instead, a less prominent local-church pastor stood up and called for accountability after bishops and other official leaders failed to lead by doing so. This was a rather brave stand for Barnes, considering how he is a pastor under appointment in the liberal-dominated Northeastern Jurisdiction, in a liberal-dominated annual conference, under a bishop who publicly supports Karen Oliveto.

And what about the rest of our bishops? After years of hearing bishops say that it is unfair to blame them for not doing more to hold each other accountable because our governing Book of Discipline gives them limited tools for doing so, we recently enacted some new requirements to give the global Council of Bishops new powers for holding individual bishops accountable. While some of this may have been invalidated by a recent Judicial Council ruling, other parts of this new accountability system should remain intact.

Bishop Ken Carter of Florida, who is now president of the Council of Bishops, along with the majority of other American bishops have left no doubt about their commitment to pushing General Conference proposals to roll back our denomination’s rules against same-sex weddings and homosexually active clergy (effectively rewarding those in the “disobedience movement” who have been provocatively breaking those rules). But what about core commitment to Jesus Christ? With the new tools they have been given, can the majority of our disproportionately American-dominated Council of Bishops at least be trusted to say or do anything draw a firm, public line against denigrating Jesus and calling Him a bigot?

It is also worth noting that the Western Jurisdiction bishops, Karen Oliveto herself, and some ofOliveto’s strongest supporters are also prominent promoters of the so-called “One Church Plan” (OCP) proposed for the 2019 General Conference.

If this “One Church Plan” is as moderate as its marketers would have us believe, where do the leaders promoting it stand on Oliveto’s bizarrely anti-Jesus theology, in light of this new complaint? Are ANY willing to take a clear, strong stand that Oliveto’s theology goes too far and does not belong at the highest levels of leadership of the “One Church” they seek?

Sadly, all that I have seen from the most prominent OCP leaders has been quite consistent on this point. Even after Oliveto’s bizarre theology of rejecting the words of Jesus Christ and defending the alleged benefits of demon possession was publicly known, several leaders of “Uniting Methodists,” a single-issue caucus devoted to passing the OCP, went out of their way to show support for Oliveto (as previously reported here and here), while two advisory board members of “Mainstream UMC,” another single-issue caucus devoted to passing the OCP, went out of their way to defend Oliveto’s election before the Judicial Council.

When news broke of this new heresy complaint against Oliveto, an outspoken member of the Uniting Methodists leadership team wasted no time in denouncing the complaint and expressing support for Oliveto in the face of these concerns about her false teaching.

Let us be in prayer for this complaint process.


22 Responses to United Methodist Heresy Complaint Filed Against Karen Oliveto

  1. Mike Murphy says:

    This sounds more like something from “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti. This wonan is clearly possessed by some sort of evil spirit. It sounds as though she has surrounded herself with others who are likewise so possessed. This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. I fear the Methorist church may fall to Satan if radical faith is not displayed by warriors of the faith.

    • Daniel says:

      I just read that book last year! I was thinking the same thing. I have respect for Oliveto as a woman and child of God, but not as a bishop. Her lesbian activism pales in comparison to her heretical views on Jesus Christ. She can always stop being an activist, but if she doesn’t believe in the divinity of Christ, I’m not sure why she believes she’s a Christian, much less wants to be part of the UMC.

  2. UMC Woman says:

    Oliveto is all about Self over God’s righteous Word and law. She is poison, a divider and an abomination. Jesus righteously turned over the money changers tables. UMC should righteously over turn Oliveto’s false position as “Bishop.”

  3. Dan says:

    If they didn’t do anything about Joe Sprague, why would they do anything about Karen Oliveto?

  4. Edward Rodarmel says:

    I’m not shocked although I though our current decay would have evidenced itself in someone else, not this Bishop again. This current issue, and especially how you will see it’s handling, again illustrates the formal issue before the church. It’s not the issue of sexuality nor the engaging in alleged heretical language by the Bishop. It simply comes down to a scripture and then a church discipline problem. This Bishop is merely a manifestation of the deeper problem within the UMC. Do we still believe what scripture says as paraphrased in our doctrinal statements and do we have the courage to act upon those beliefs? If lawlessness is to be rewarded, you will see no end of it, regardless of the controversy of that particular time. This is why three plans are presented and promoted in vain. A plan, any plan, even the schemes of the devil, has to be adhered to in order to realize the intended goal of the plan. But plans are for plan followers and laws are for the law abiding. If we cannot commune in agreement over a common law, sacred writ, we cannot commune at all.

  5. David says:

    The nature of the person of Jesus was probably the number one issue in early Christianity. Documents unearthed from the sands of Egypt provide very different ideas from that we understand to be traditional. Some point out that the Gospel of Mark, presumed to be the earliest of our present gospels, makes no mention of the Virgin Birth. Could it be that was not a belief at the time it was written? References to “Behold a virgin” in Isaiah have nothing to do with the time of Jesus if one bothers to read the whole chapter and beyond.

    In any event, if you are a member of a church, one is normally expected to follow the tenets of that church, especially as a member of the clergy. Christianity has split many times over matters of doctrine and this process will likely continue.

  6. Dan W says:

    Reverend Robert Barnes is a blessing to the United Methodist Church. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is acting as a proxy for faithful Methodists in the Western Jurisdiction. It is clear we need to overhaul the U.M. episcopacy immediately. The current system does not advance or protect our denomination. We must pray for our leadership and support leaders who stand up to corruption and heresy.

  7. Palamas says:

    David: Nothing you say bears in any way on Oliveto’s heresy. The Egyptian documents to which you refer are Gnostic, and unconnected with what was ever official teaching of the church, much less reflective of Scripture. The question regarding Mark has been asked since at least the mid-19th century, and disposed of repeatedly since. The Isaiah passage is prophetic, and while important doesn’t bear on whether the virginal conception actually happened (it could well have done so even absent any prophecy).

    You are quite correct that clergy can and should be expected to follow, teach, and defend the tenets of the church they serve. How the rest of your comment matters to that central reality, I’m not at all sure.

  8. William says:

    The LGBT IDOL is clearly being WORSHIPPED in certain parts of our denomination. In order to do that with a straight face, the basic tenets of Christianity must be rejected and replaced with this hogwash theology of the Karen Olivetos since their positions are the anthetisis of Scripture. Even they know that and are, therefore, required to stake out these bizarre theologies to avoid looking like hypocritical fools among their own kind. They are obviously and tragically no longer Christians but followers of the Great Deceiver who has done the proverbial number these poor souls. Of course, the UMC can no longer exist in this schism.

  9. Lance Thomas says:

    William nailed it. Olliveto’s herretical belief that Jesus is a bigot is part & parcel of the tenants of her demon praising LGBTQ / secular religion. You cannot overlook one problem without addressing the other. If the church is to be the body & bride of Christ then we have some cleaning up to do! The Olliveto Church Plan /OCP is a plan to secularize the UMC one church & conference at at time.
    Its goal is to destroy the UMC. The CCP leads to the same end as the OCP. The UMC must decline the offer to join EPUSA & PCUSA on the broad secular road to destructuon. The Traditional Plan with graceful exit is the plan to save the UMC. The COB supports secularization & OCP so they will not denounce her heressy.

    Father, fill the lamp of the UMC with the oil of your Holy Spirit. Please help the UMC to remain faithful & ready for the coming marriage ceremony with Jesus. Amen

  10. John Humphreys says:

    This rewriting of Scripture is one of satin’s major tools to destroy the church. My own (female) pastor gave the same message almost word for word recently.

    Lord, save this church!

  11. Richard says:

    The UMC is in serious trouble as evidenced by what has been taking place in the Western Jurisdiction under the Rev. Oliveto. The Heresy Complaint filed by Rev. Barnes, if denounced could be the final assault on those core beliefs of the UMC. The fact that Oliveto’s supporters have spread throughout the demoniation is more evidence of why I personally believe schism will spread. Further, the OCP is already in effect as shown by Mark Tooley’s Nov. 27th article, Immigrant Creed. That public display by a UMC pastor interfering with a legitimate law enforcement function shows how some churches in North Carolina set their own operational priorities.

  12. Thomas Jones says:

    How can any theologian be so dense as to lift one sentence out of the Word and then make such a convoluted claim as this bishop has done? The woman of Tyre fits between the two stories of the loaves and fishes. First Jesus feeds the Jews who had long awaited the expected messiah. His disciples collected twelve baskets of left overs symbolizing that there would be enough for all Jews. Remember that twelve is the number of the tribes, etc. Christ then needed to take the feast to all, but He needed a transition so that the message would be clearly understood. Jesus went to Tyre because He knew the woman of Tyre would be waiting there and had such a strong need that she would approach. (Remember that Jesus knew about a fish who had swallowed a coin sufficient for the temple tax and that He could command it to take the disciple’s hook. No mere human here. But I digress.) After the petition from the woman of Tyre, He had to first offer the challenge that He had only come for the Jews, as had been their expectation. His attendants needed to hear that. Then in an instant, He embraced her need and in the process all people. This was done so that we would understand what came next. He headed back to the decapolis to complete the invite to God’s table. The four thousand were gentiles and this time there was seven baskets of leftovers. Seven is the number symbolizing “all”. The woman of Tyre was called by God to teach one of the most meaningful lessons in the Holy Bible. The long expected Jesus came first to the Jews and then expanded His mission to include all. That had been foretold just as the miraculous birth, the cross, and the empty tomb had been. There was no happenstance in Jesus’ experience on earth. From birth to cross, to tomb the divine plan was being played out. Trying to reduce Jesus to a mere mortal to justify a lack of control of one’s own human weaknesses is indeed a blasphemy. Jesus was totally human so He could empathize with us; but He is totally divine as He effects God’s plan.
    We are entering a dangerous place in our church. We are seeing leadership twist and even deny the Word to sell a contrary point of view. There will be a huge price to be paid. God embraces and loves all people. Not so all behaviors.

  13. Blake White says:

    So what is a basic grassroots member to do NOW? Obviously The UMC de facto position is NOT to punish Discipline EvilDoers. Do I still tithe (& my apportionment $$ go to these bishops) or do I walk? The denomination is “in schism” now!
    My East Ohio Bishop is crickets on this

    • Dan W says:

      Blake White my guess is whatever happens at the 2019 General Conference will keep 90% of members and congregations in the UMC. Will it or the 2020 General Conference keep the UMC relevant going forward? No I don’t think it will. I think local congregations will have to find their mission for their communities, and the ones that succeed will have to lead. If African and Asian UM congregations are successful the rest of the UMC will have to learn from them. I plan on sticking around for awhile. If God does something amazing with the UMC I would hate to miss out on it 🙂

  14. John Smith says:

    Charges have been filed. Not a story. Charges are always being filed and nothing is ever done. All these people touting the traditional plan forget one thing. Its an invitation to maintain the status quo. If nothing was done before to enforce the BoD why do you think it will change? Same charges, same standards, same people, same results. Wake me when the UMC decides defrock a bishop, revoke an elder’s credentials or when the lights are turned off because no one is left and no one is willing to pay the bills for the comedy any more. Guess which will probably come first?

    • John Smith says:

      I suppose I should acknowledge that if the progressives get their plan through we will see defrocked bishops and revoked elders as they will not tolerate deviations from their orthodoxy once they are in control.

      • William says:

        John,
        Sadly and tragically you are absolutely correct. A purge would commence —- utilizing some of the most passive aggressive, deceitful, dishonest, and destructive schemes imaginable. And, they would do in in the name of LOVE.

  15. Thomas Jones says:

    How can any theologian be so dense as to lift one sentence out of the Word and then make such a convoluted claim as this bishop has done? The woman of Tyre fits between the two stories of the loaves and fishes. First Jesus feeds the Jews who had long awaited the expected messiah. His disciples collected twelve baskets of left overs symbolizing that there would be enough for all Jews. Remember that twelve is the number of the tribes, etc. Christ then needed to take the feast to all, but He needed a transition so that the message would be clearly understood. Jesus went to Tyre because He knew the woman of Tyre would be waiting there and had such a strong need that she would approach. (Remember that Jesus knew about a fish who had swallowed a coin sufficient for the temple tax and that He could command it to take the disciple’s hook. No mere human here. But I digress.) After the petition from the woman of Tyre, He had to first offer the challenge that He had only come for the Jews, as had been their expectation. His attendants needed to hear that. Then in an instant, He embraced her need and in the process all people. This was done so that we would understand what came next. He headed back to the decapolis to complete the invite to God’s table. The four thousand were gentiles and this time there were seven baskets of leftovers. Seven is the number symbolizing “all”. The woman of Tyre was called by God to teach one of the most meaningful lessons in the Holy Bible. The long expected Jesus came first to the Jews and then expanded His mission to include all. That had been foretold just as the miraculous birth, the cross, and the empty tomb had been. There was no happenstance in Jesus’ experience on earth. From birth to cross, to tomb the divine plan was being played out. Trying to reduce Jesus to a mere mortal to justify a lack of control of one’s own human weaknesses is indeed a blasphemy. Jesus was totally human so He could empathize with us; but He is totally divine as He effects God’s plan.
    We are entering a dangerous place in our church. We are seeing leadership twist and even deny the Word to sell a contrary point of view. There will be a huge price to be paid. God embraces and loves all people. Not so all behaviors.

  16. William says:

    Should the UMC ‘one’ church plan pass, as the majority of bishops are advocating, this would become one of the larger breaches in Christian history. They would have managed to seize on an opportunity of complacency, Biblical illiteracy, secularism, and satanic intrusion and cashed in when their called duty by God was to defeat these destructive forces and lead their flock not into temptation but to deliverance from evil. Of course the ultimate victor of this would be the Great Deceiver.

  17. A Rus says:

    God’s children are not to be under the counsel of the unrighteous. That was the first mistake.

  18. Skipper says:

    Here is an obvious False Teacher telling people they can continue their life of sin without repenting and turning from sin as Christ said we must. The General Conference must see that such False Teachers are removed before they cause more harm to God’s people. This is truly an emergency. The Conference must act.

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