July 30, 2019

Methodism’s Yalta?

Recently I participated in a gathering hosted by three United Methodist bishops for dialogue among conservatives, liberals and self-identified centrists. Our topic was the impending division of the United Methodist Church. The day-long conversation was off record, but you can read the United Methodist News Service report, which includes my quote:

Tooley said he has opposed division and for 30 years has worked for a “vision of denominational revival.”

“I now admit division is inevitable,” he said. “It will happen of itself, chaotically. Or it will happen through negotiation and some leadership. The latter seems preferable.”

After the meeting, which was in Chicago July 19, a clergyman tweeted: “United Methodism held it’s own Yalta Conference in Chicago this week. I just hope we don’t get too bogged down in attempting to label the various attendants Chamberlain, Roosevelt, or Stalin. #umc”

Initially I laughed out loud in response to this wonderful absurdity. (Of course Churchill, not Chamberlain, attended Yalta.) But this tweet maybe was more insightful than I initially realized. United Methodism will tragically divide, as Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain after WWII. This division results from tragic necessity and shouldn’t be celebrated. But God is sovereign and His Gospel will prevail even in adversity.

In the UMNS story, a “centrist” participant who favors liberalizing United Methodism faults evangelicals for dividing the church, insisting “progressives, centrists, and central conferences want to stay together.” But liberal dissenters as a minority have loudly proclaimed their refusal to live under the continuously reaffirmed official teachings of the church, ensuring schism between themselves and the traditionalist global majority.

Five of seven conferences in the liberal Western Jurisdiction voted this Spring to consider separation from United Methodism. Several other liberal conferences elsewhere approved similar moves. The schism has begun, led by the liberal side of the church. When heterodoxy displaces orthodoxy, schism usually results.

We should pray that United Methodism’s institutional schism between liberals and traditionalists is negotiated relatively amicably, with a fair division of assets, maximum laity participation, and minimal disruption to most local churches. But even in a best case scenario there will be acrimony in thousands of congregations.

The new liberal denomination will follow the path of decline universally true for liberal Protestant denominations around the world. But the new conservative church should not assume growth in the USA just because it is formally orthodox. Orthodoxy is a requirement for sustainable church growth and vitality but it’s no guarantee. There are plenty of declining and dying orthodox denominations and congregations.

To help avoid their fate, we who are orthodox must ponder how we failed, despite the opportunities God allowed us, to revitalize all of United Methodism and avoid division. Could we have worked and prayed harder for renewal? Could we have loved our adversaries more? Did we sincerely seek transformation for them and for ourselves?

We who are orthodox can’t just blame liberals for United Methodism’s division. This schism is a divine judgment on us all. We all have failed in His sight. Yet God has preserved us and preserved Methodism, however fractured, despite ourselves. He graciously has good plans for the future of His church and for us.

Let’s pray that the new liberal Methodist church, and that all liberal denominations, will, in God’s own time, under a new generation of leadership, rediscover the glories of Christian orthodoxy, inseparably in doctrine and ethics.

And let’s pray that the new traditional Methodist denomination will learn from the past, cleave to orthodoxy and the universal church, while rejoicing in the chief task of evangelizing new disciples for the Kingdom.

Methodism must endure our own Yalta of tragic but unavoidable division. We have brought it on ourselves. Yalta of 1945 divided Europe for 45 years but occupation and dictatorship eventually collapsed. Methodist division will also not be permanent. Sound doctrine based on the Eternal Word will prevail in the end to the benefit of all. We should strive to be faithful until that day.


 

53 Responses to Methodism’s Yalta?

  1. Ed says:

    Chamberland???

  2. Charles Jessup says:

    Well written. Thank You. Your piece so eloquently states what I have been feeling but have not been able to say without babbling. It is time to go our own way- without anger or blame. Following God’s principals will lead us to do His will and will help the Methodist church spread His Word. Thanks again for such a well written article. I will be sharing it.

  3. JR says:

    “Let’s pray that the new liberal Methodist church, and that all liberal denominations, will, in God’s own time, under a new generation of leadership, rediscover the glories of Christian orthodoxy, inseparably in doctrine and ethics.”

    Maybe the prayer should be that those denominations help bring people to know Jesus and God? I think that’s much MUCH more important than having them ‘turn back to orthodoxy’.

    Unless you think that orthodoxy > God. Which would be a shame.

    • Joan Wesley says:

      Orthodoxy–correct teaching–is what leads people to an understanding of the existence of a great and loving God, the triune God of holy love who loves each and every one of us more than we could ever think about loving ourselves. Orthodoxy is what led me to the wide open space of God’s most amazing grace after spending most of my life living in a non-descript gray area caught between a muddled understanding of God and the lure of the world. During that time I was a loyal, church going, church supporting Methodist/United Methodist–at least I was right up until the moment the church left me so broken and confused, I was forced to wander off in search of a better and clearer understanding. And I found it in the orthodoxy of historic Christianity. My teachers were an odd assortment of teachers from the communion of saints past and present, and included John Wesley himself.

      • JR says:

        Hi Joan,

        Respectfully:

        “Orthodoxy–correct teaching–is what leads people to an understanding of the existence of a great and loving God, the triune God of holy love who loves each and every one of us more than we could ever think about loving ourselves.”

        Orthodoxy led you to a better understanding of God and Jesus.

        To say that it’s the *only* way to a better understanding… I think that’s a big leap. Consider that others might have had other ways to come to Jesus; look beyond your own story.

        And that’s where my critique of the article lies. It seems that there’s an elevation of Orthodoxy beyond Christian love, beyond worship of God/Jesus.

        • William says:

          The below Scripture is the cornerstone of orthodox Christianity, spoken directly by Jesus right before his Ascension. It was definitely the ONLY explanation offered by Jesus so as to bring full and complete understanding of the Gospel and God’s love. If liberals have additional understandings of ways to salvation minus repentance, then it is about 50 years past the time of this current conflict as to when they should have revealed it and stopped the conflict back in the day.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A45-47&version=NIV

        • Randy Kiel says:

          “Consider that others might have had other ways to come to Jesus; look beyond your own story.”

          A problem our world faces today is the post-modern idea that each individual may have his/her own “truth.” Orthodoxy, and the (hopefully) resultant orthopraxy, are the historically proven means of leading people to worship God. If you have found a new method, undiscovered for 2,000 years, that you have seen to have long-term success, please let us know. The next iteration of Methodism could use some great ideas.

          • Mike says:

            ^^^ LIKE! ^^^

          • JR says:

            Makes only some sense. Good works bring in many people who would otherwise not know of Jesus. Orthopraxy need not follow orthodoxy – it might be an end in and of itself.

            In the churches I’ve attended, I’ve not heard even once that ‘homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’. I disagree with that. If it had been preached when I walked in the door, I’d have walked right back out. Does that mean that my church wasn’t orthodox, and therefore I’m not a real Christian?

            Instead, I’ve been brought to better know Jesus and God through good works. I’ve been on missions, I’ve taught, I’ve traveled a little. I’m not an evangelistic type – I’d rather serve quietly. That seems unorthodox compared to your description. And I think that, by your logic, I’m not a real Christian.

            But to think that there’s only one real way that God can reach us to come to Him … that seems like you are really putting limits on God. I’d prefer to think the limits are instead on your imagination and experience. 🙂

        • John says:

          We are correctly taught to worship God in spirit and in truth and to extend the Christian love (agape) poured into us by God outward to our neighbor. That’s the core of orthodox belief and practice. If orthodoxy is “correct teaching,” then what is not orthodox must, by definition, be “incorrect teaching.” What incorrect teaching leads us to God’s salvific work in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ?

      • Michael says:

        One of the consistent divisive strategies of our time is that the “traditionalist/conservative/orthodox” is vehemently portrayed by change agents (dividers) as the divisive party.

    • Lee D. Cary says:

      In the history of human civilization, major calamities are perpetrated by failed systems that enable faulty decisions. (The 20th Century was fraught with horrible systemic failures on a mass-casualty scale: e.g., World War I; Nazi Germany; Fascist Italy; Communist Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia; and France’s, then America’s, adventure into Vietnam.)

      The dissolution of the UMC is, in the scheme of things, a minor and insignificant illustration of how a failed system facilitated the faulty decisions that brought internecine strife to the last of the Liberal Protestant “Seven Sisters.”

      Whatever new ventures evolve from today’s UMC each should avoid replicating the failed system that brought the divisive strife.

      • JR says:

        Agreed wholeheartedly. Whatever comes from this has to learn from the mistakes of the past.

      • Steven Joseph Soller says:

        The way forward for the “Traditionalist” UMC MUST be inclusive of the “Priesthood of all believers”! What has gotten the UMC to this point is NOT the involvement of the laity…it has been that the laity have given over the majority of the running of the UMC to the Clergy (Bishops, Pastors, etc), and to every more liberal and unconnected Seminaries, and to a every more liberal and unconnected bureaucracy. The ONLY THING that can now accomplish a revival in the church if the true commitment of ALL BELIEVERS (Laity outnumber Clergy 200+ to 1) to the Bible and to the UMC Book of Discipline. The Clergy has lost their way…guided and influenced by Seminaries that have lost their way.

    • JR,
       
      Please explain to me, in your own words, what Jesus of Nazareth, in His orthopraxy, did for you.

      • JR says:

        Interesting question, I’ll give it a go.

        Jesus sacrificed himself for me (for all of us, of course).
        He engaged in righteous acts over legal restrictions – healing on the sabbath, for example.
        He fed the hungry (loaves and fishes).

        Now I suppose you could argue that the second two are as much about the teaching as the acting – and I’d agree with that. But the example of the ‘right action’ is part of the ‘right teaching’.

        Counterpoint, Loren:

        Please explain to me, in your own words, what Jesus of Nazareth, in His orthodoxy, taught about divorce.

        • JR,
           
          Please accept my apologies for a less-than-prompt response, as I was out of town, with no access to my computer, to respond to your question earlier.
           
          There are four passages in which the Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, addressed divorce (Mt. 5.31-32, 19.3-9, Mk. 10.2-12, Lk. 16.18), and in each of these it was always in the context of divorce and subsequent remarriage to someone other than one’s divorced spouse.  The fullest exposition among these is found in Matthew 19:
           
          “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’  He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’  They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?’  Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.’” (vv. 3-9)  And in the other three passages He adds, “And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Mt. 5.32b)
           
          To suppose that this was all He had to say on the subject, however, would be an unwarranted presumption.  He and the Father are one (Jn. 10.30); they are in all things agreed.  “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (Jn. 14.10b-11)  Thus, the Old Testament ordinance against divorce (Dt. 24.1-4), set as they are in the context of the giving of the Law in Deuteronomy 12-26, were given by the Lord God to the children of Israel, that they “should be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth” (Dt. 12.1).  The Lord Jesus denied the freedom of a man who “has found some indecency in” his wife to divorce her, except on grounds of sexual immorality (Gk. porneía), which under the Old Covenant was punishable by death (Lev. 20.10-21, 21.9).  But implicit in His oneness with His Father is their shared hatred of divorce (Mal. 2.16), and His agreement with His Father that the first husband of a woman twice divorced “may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD”, which is the very thing proscribed in Deuteronomy 24.1-4.  For of the Old Covenant, the Lord Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches other to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5.17-19)
           
          Moreover, not only are the Father and the Son one, so also are the Son and the Holy Spirit.  To the Apostles the Lord Jesus said:
           
          “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn. 16.12-15)  And again, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” (Jn. 20.22b-23)
           
          The authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is invested in the Apostles by virtue of their inspiration by the Holy Spirit, an authority that ensures whatever they “bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever (they) loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16.19).  And this applies likewise to Paul, whom the Lord called to be an Apostle in the place of Judas Iscariot.  Thus, the Lord Jesus likewise agrees with teachings of Paul, who wrote on the subject of divorce:
           
          “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
          “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.  If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so.  In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.  God has called you to peace.  Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband?  Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?” (I Cor. 7.10-16)
           
          Thus, the only two provisions for divorce and remarriage allowed His disciples by the Lord Jesus, either directly during His earthly ministry, or indirectly through the pen of His Prophets and Apostles, who wrote the Scriptures under the inspiration of His Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1.19-21), whom He sent, are sexual immorality or the desertion by an unbelieving spouse.
           
          In the case of domestic violence and/or abuse, such is evidence that an unbelieving spouse is unwilling to live with a believing spouse, and the believing spouse is not obligated, according to the Apostle Paul, to live with an unbelieving spouse who demonstrates an unwillingness to live with a spouse who is a believer.  Supposing the unbelieving spouse has self-identified as a believer, then he (or she, but most often he) is subject to the authority and discipline of the Church.  If he refuses to submit to the Church’s discipline, then it is evidence that he is not a believer.  If he goes through the motions of the disciplinary procedures the Lord Jesus outlined in Matthew 18.15-20, even to the point of a Church trial, and he still does not repent of his domestic violence and/or abuse of his wife, then he is to be excluded from the Church as an unbeliever.  And for the sake of the safety of the believing spouse, she should by no means be compelled to remain with the abusive spouse during the trial period.
           
          But apart from these limited exceptions, it is clearly the Lord’s command that the husband should not divorce his wife, nor the wife her husband, and if they do, they should seek reconciliation and not remarriage to someone else.
          ___________________________________________________
           
          This, in a nutshell, is “what Jesus of Nazareth, in His orthodoxy, taught about divorce.”
           
          Now, as a follow-up to my previous question, I ask you this: What do you believe that the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself has accomplished for you?

          • JR says:

            Jesus sacrifice was preordained. He knew the scriptures of the coming of the messiah, he actively worked to fulfill those scriptures – and even up to the night before, he prayed that there was another way forward.

            But when one was not presented, he went forward.

            Jesus died on the cross for two reasons, in my opinion.

            The first was the cleansing of sin. Despite being reviled by his own people, he allowed himself to be that sacrifice for all of us.

            He was also an example to his followers. ‘Take up your cross and follow me’ – be a sacrifice for others. It’s not the rules (acting on the sabbath) that matters as much as the purpose (healing someone) that is important – the religious leaders of the time failed to understand that, just as some of this time are failing to understand that.

            ——————–

            Follow ups on Divorce – If Jesus had to explicitly call out that Moses was pushed to include the divorce laws and then stated what was acceptable, that calls into question the ‘godly inspired’ word from the OT. Why doesn’t the UMC follow the strong Biblical principles from Jesus re: divorce? Why isn’t the IRD fighting that particular battle?

          • “If Jesus had to explicitly call out that Moses was pushed to include the divorce laws and then stated what was acceptable.“
             
            I am sorry, JR, but you have come to a false conclusion.  The Lord Jesus did not say that Moses was “pushed” or coerced in any way “to include the divorce laws”.  He did so willingly under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1.19-21).  As the Lord attested of him, “If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses.  He is faithful in all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.” (Num. 12.6-8)
             
            What the Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees with respect to what Moses had written regarding divorce was simply this: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives.”
             
            “(T)hat calls into question the ‘godly inspired’ word from the OT.“

            Again, I am sorry, but you have failed to apprehend the Lord’s purposes in the Law He gave to Ancient Israel.  He had promised to their forefathers Abraham (Gen. 12.1-3, 17.1-8, 18.18), Isaac (Gen. 17.19, 26.2-5), and Jacob (Gen. 28.13-15, 35.11-12, 46.3) that He would make of them a great nation, and in taking the Israelites out of slavery in the land of Egypt and into their forefathers’ inheritance in the land of Canaan, He was beginning to fulfill the covenant promises He had made to the three patriarchs.  However, in keeping those covenant promises, there needed to be a new covenant administration over the great nation that Israel had become, and part and parcel of this new covenant administration was a divinely given Law that would govern Israel as a sovereign nation.
             
            Now, there were three kinds of ordinances contained in the Law that God gave Israel by Moses.  The first of these three were the moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments, that expressed God’s righteous expectations of all humankind, not just of His specially called people Israel.  The second were the ceremonial laws that governed the sacrifices and defined the system by which the Israelites were to approach the presence of God with their burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offerings, including laws that stipulated the things by which one was made ceremonially unclean and unfit to approach the altar, and the sacrifices and other requirements that were necessary to make one clean once again and eligible to present one’s sacrifices as an atonement for one’s sins.
             
            The third set of ordinances found in the Old Testament Law were the judicial laws.  These included laws stipulating a penalty for things such as one’s responsibility if one’s ox were to get loose and gore another animal to death, or worse, a person (Ex. 21.28-36), or the specific restitution one was required to pay for theft (Ex. 22.1,4), as well as the death penalty for certain violations of the moral laws (Ex. 21.12-25, 22.18-24, Lev. 20).  It also includes requirements to make provision for the poor (Ex. 22.25-27, Lev. 19.9-10, 23.22, Dt. 24.19-21), it includes laws regulating slavery (Ex. 21.2-11,16,20-21,26-27,32, Lev. 25.39-55, Dt. 15.12-18, 21.10-14, 23.15-16, 24.7), and it includes laws regulating divorce and remarriage (Dt. 24.1-4).
             
            However, as we Presbyterians confess regarding the judicial laws, “To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” (Westminster Confession of Faith §19.4)  The Law, as an administration of the Covenant of Redemption (or the Covenant of Grace; WCF §7.3-§7.6), has passed away, having been fulfilled in the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who kept the Law perfectly, and along with it have passed the judicial and ceremonial laws (WCF §19.3), but not the moral, which “doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.  Neither doth Christ, in the gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.” (WCF §19.5)
             
            Thus, the Lord’s purposes in the Old Testament regulation of divorce and remarriage have been fulfilled.  Divorce and remarriage under Deuteronomy 24.1-4 were sanctioned by the Lord under the Mosaic administration of the Covenant of Redemption, on account of the hardness of the Jews’ hearts, despite His hatred of it (Mal. 2.16).  But as the Lord Jesus made clear in His argument against the Pharisees, divorce and remarriage have no sanction under the New Testament administration of the Covenant of Redemption for the people of God (Mt. 19.6-9).
             
            “Why doesn’t the UMC follow the strong Biblical principles from Jesus re: divorce?“
             
            Good question.  Why doesn’t the United Methodist Church—especially here in the United States—follow strong Biblical principles?
             
            “Why isn’t the IRD fighting that particular battle?”
             
            This is another good question.  Why don’t you ask them?
            __________________________________
             
            Now, as a further follow-up to my previous questions, you stated that the first thing that the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself accomplished on your behalf was the cleansing of your sin.  What do you believe that sin is?  Why do you believe that you need to be cleansed of it?  And what do you believe about how the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus cleanses you of it?

    • Skipper says:

      JR, Right belief means the truth and the truth is vitally important. Jesus stressed it. The New Morality people ignore the truth (God’s values) to present values they find and like in the world, such as adultery or same-sex relationships – behaviors that the Bible condemns. Spreading a false gospel doesn’t help anyone – we must have the truth.

      • JR says:

        So, because I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin, I’m not a Christian?

        I want to make sure I understand your point of view fully here.

        • Debra says:

          Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. All Christians are sinners, even those with wrong beliefs. Jesus says. “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more. His mercy is what changes hearts and desires. Make Christ your life. He loves you.

        • Skipper says:

          First of all JR, I don’t know how important my point of view is here. It’s God’s point of view that we need to carefully consider. God does not hide his feelings over morality, He makes these plain for all to see. You are already aware of what God’s Word says in Genesis, Romans and Corinthians on homosexuality aren’t you? You can accept the “New Morality” over God’s Word if you want to and God gives you that choice. You might want to remember that Jesus said many will take the wide and easy road that leads to destruction. He said few will find the Narrow Gate.

          God has a wonderful instruction manual for life in the Bible. It contains the Truth of God. And that is very important. Satan modifies the truth into a lie to deceive people. Today many people believe morality can be defined by culture rather than God. The Bible tells us of times when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Today we see self-proclaimed “Progressives” who say the Bible is not longer relevant and needs to be reinterpreted to fit today’s culture. They say they are Christians even as they pervert the truth of God. But the truth is what people desperately need today.

          When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” He meant she could be forgiven, but she needed to change her life. Was she willing? I would think she probably was, as a response to the mercy Christ offered. But we don’t know the end of the story. She may not have changed her life.

          Jesus spoke of the wide and easy road that many people will take and we see that today. Some not only take that road, but they are “roller skating” down it with all speed! Yet they can change their lives if they choose. They must sincerely “Ask, Seek and Knock.” God is always waiting for sinners to come home.

  4. Rich says:

    The LGBQT community represents approximately 3 to 5% of the world population. For my entire adult lifetime (roughly 40 years) this group has been shaming and ridiculing Christians who believe in Biblical Orthodoxy. This method works on those who are weak in their Biblical knowledge and those who seek the approval of others.

    When the schism occurs there will be a small remnant of LGBTQ who remain in the orthodox church. No matter how hard we work to be loving in our interactions this small group will criticize, shame, and seek concessions. We will see the movement repeat itself starting with the small movement of the 1960s and working up again to what we see today. Then we will schism again.

    This isn’t necessary, but it will happen. It will happen because modern Christians lack the will to follow Christ’s guidance in Matthew 18:15-20. Unless we cast out from fellowship every member who advocates for continuing sinful behavior – sinful behavior of any nature – we will repeat the cycle. And please note I did not say we must cast out sinners, our pews and pulpits would be empty indeed if we took that approach. We must cast out those members who advocate for a life of sin. That was God’s plan for dealing with sin in the church and we have failed to fulfill his plan and we are paying the price for that failure.

  5. William says:

    Maybe it’s just me but most of the Progressives and Centrists appear to have scowls on their faces, while the Conservatives are smiling. What’s that about?

  6. Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret.) says:

    “But God is sovereign and His Gospel will prevail even in adversity.”

    Adversity? I don’t perceive that as the dominant attitude among the laity. It’s more a sense of betrayal by the church leadership. Adversity is when you lose a child, or contract stage 4 lung cancer, or have both parents living in a nursing home with dementia.

    “We who are orthodox can’t just blame liberals for United Methodism’s division. This schism is a divine judgment on us all.”

    With respect, I don’t see it as a “divine judgement on us all.” Had a laywoman in a small UM church once whose husband died just before retirement as a door-to-door Fuller Brush Man (some of you will remember them). She kept his slippers beside their bed. Came to church every Sunday. Her name was Legion, for there are many like her. The “Legions” did not bring the UMC to this point. They are victims – not perps.

    “Methodism must endure our own Yalta of tragic but unavoidable division. We have brought it on ourselves.”

    I don’t think that sort of blanket condemnation on all UM’s is either fair or accurate.

    • CBByrd says:

      Amen. Many were fighting tooth and nail for revival and biblical truth in the UMC and getting swatted by conference elites and religiosity hangers-on regularly for the effort. No discipleship to be seen in many spaces and places…… just agendas driven by more money and more degrees.

      • Joan Wesley says:

        Thank you for standing up for laity–the most unheard voice in this debacle. Betrayal is an excellent description of what I feel; especially since I spent my life as a Methodist/United Methodist simply because it was a huge part of the life I was given. Although my theology closely aligns with the traditionalist faction, I refuse to align myself with any faction because they all had their missteps, and miscalculations that led to this point of no return. I have given up on trying to make sense of The UMC. It is the church that put me on the path to an historic understanding of the Christian faith and now there are many–especially denominational leadership–who leave me feeling like personae non grata because I am a traditionalist. This response to a post on another website sums it up nicely:

        “The only sickness in United Methodism now is theological pluralism. It is abundantly clear that under the present regime all views are tolerated, so long as they reject the basic elements of the historic faith contained in the Nicene Creed.”

        • Dudley Sharp says:

          Dear Joan:

          I am non denominational, which appears, accidentally, to be the safest denomination.

          When i read the following, my thought was, all denominations are going to blow up:

          “A punishment that is not open to hope is not Christian and not human,” said (Pope) Francis during his sermon to the prisoners. “That is why the death penalty is neither human nor Christian.”

          Truly bizarre.

          I, somehow, had the impression that a Christian’s death, no matter the manner of death, is always open to the greatest realization of Christianity’s hope – our own resurrection in Christ, within an eternity of grace, the example for which is the Passion of the Christ, through the punishment of death, the Perfect Sacrifice, the foundation for all Christianity, the pure manifestation of hope, an eternity in Christ.

          Obviously, I misunderstood.

    • Randy Kiel says:

      Understand your concern for and defense of the vast majority of laity who did not lead us to this point. However, the bulk of the populace of Germany and Italy were not responsible for the governance of their countries that led them into WWII, either. After the war, Europe still needed governance. After whatever comes at GC2020, the Methodist movement will still need governance. Yalta is a very apt analogy.

    • Steven Joseph Soller says:

      The way forward for the “Traditionalist” UMC MUST be inclusive of the “Priesthood of all Believers”! What has gotten the UMC to this point is NOT the involvement of the laity…it has been that the laity have given over the majority of the running of the UMC to the Clergy (Bishops, Pastors, etc), and to ever more liberal and unconnected Seminaries, and to a ever more liberal and unconnected bureaucracy. The ONLY THING that can now accomplish a revival in the church is the true commitment of ALL BELIEVERS (Laity outnumber Clergy 200+ to 1) to the Bible and to the UMC Book of Discipline. The Clergy has lost their way…guided and influenced by Seminaries that have lost their way.

  7. Matt Musson says:

    In 1851 – the Methodist Church divided. But not over the Great Moral Issue of the Time: Slavery. Instead, they divided over the structure of the Church Hierarchy. They were too afraid to even consider the issue of Slavery.

    Today, the Methodist Church once again fights over a matter of
    lesser import while ignoring the GMI of our time: Abortion.

    Methodists deserve whatever they get.

  8. Roger says:

    As you ponder how the Orthodox failed to maintain the Church from division is because progressive leadership undermined the weakness of the tradionalist at their overtures of good faith to remain united. The weakness is not recognizing that “tough love” was required instead of trying to bend to appeasement and logic with the progressives. The apostle Paul had to deal with the Judaizers that the Law and circumcision was required for Salvation. He kept on with his “tough love” that Grace was better than the Law. God’s dispensation to the Jews was put on hold and a new dispensation was begun with Grace unto the Gentiles. The Methodist Church needs a new dispensation with God and be separated from those that want to change from faith of our heritage and Biblical truths of the Bible.

  9. David says:

    What is the likelihood of the orthodox remnant UMC joining with the ACNA? Given that the Wesleys never intended to break with the C of E, it seems like a natural fit.

    • Mike says:

      David,

      Interesting idea, but I think there are still significant enough differences in our denominational distinctives to make us want to pursue a different path.

      Some evangelical clergy here in Minnesota have been meeting, and one question we’ve been very serious about is, “With so many great evangelical churches around today (both denominations and independent), why does the world need another “Methodism”?

      We all believe strongly that the answer is Wesley’s distinctive take on sanctification and holiness – that God promises that we can live in love fully in this life, and we need to continue to pursue this, cooperating with his grace. The scripture “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” is only one among many that points to God wanting to fully sanctify us.

      So many believers today need to be challenged to both hear this promise and seek to see it fulfilled in their lives, that they might both be blessed and become a blessing to others for Christ’s kingdom – right now; today!

        • William says:

          Our Wesleyan Heritage is still “on paper”. JUSTIFYING GRACE is where our current schism is found. Simply put, our liberal brethren have abandoned the pillar of Wesley’s three stages of grace and the very Gospel itself — JUSTIFYING GRACE, especially with relation to contemporary sexual immorality with their radical support of all the varying forms of sexual immorality practiced in the LGBT+ community, not to mention all forms practiced in the heterosexual community.

          http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/our-wesleyan-heritage

          • John Schuh says:

            “Orthodoxy” in the Methodist context is means adherence to the Book of Discipline”, to the moral theology that even Unitarians adhered to at that time. In the dispute between Calvinism and Arminianism, Wesley had a foot in each camps, but certainly he held to what the New Testament says about morality in general and sexual morality in particular.

      • Roger says:

        How does one get into Christ? By believing 1 Corinthians 15:1 – 4. When you believe this Gospel of Grace, you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (Church) ( 1 Corinthians chapter 12) Through faith, you become a new creature (creation).

    • John says:

      Seeking reunion with charismatic/pentecostal groups or Wesleyan/Holiness denominations like the Wesleyan Church, Free Methodists, Nazarenes, etc. is another appropriate path. Our theological distinctives like entire sanctification/Christian perfection would be upheld in holiness circles but diminished (or lost) among Anglicans.

  10. William says:

    “Comes from doctorates” — 60 scholars”.

    This must be in the lead for the “Most Preposterous Award of the Year” contest.

    Let me get in line to get their autographs.

    https://www.umnews.org/en/news/scholars-gather-to-champion-lgbtq-inclusion

  11. Here is some of what I sent to my congregation recently:
    >>>
    There is, as of now I think, a widespread belief among all sides of that issue that no compromise-outcome is really possible. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s observation in his 1858 “House Divided” speech, that every solution to the slavery question had been attempted and failed and no more compromising was possible. The nation, he said, would eventually either legalize slavery in every state or in abolish slavery in every state. What it could not do any longer was maintain the status quo.

    I think that is what progressives and traditionalists alike are concluding about the UMC’s position on homosexuality. Everything that can be tried has been tried, and the subject is still not settled within the denomination. The One Church Plan, endorsed by the Council of Bishops, was rejected last February and no one today is promoting it for next May.
    <<<
    http://pastordonblog.blogspot.com/2019/08/there-is-said-to-be-chinese-curse-that.html

    • William says:

      Engaging your congregation in this is most commendable. At my local UMC, no such thing is taking place, yet. As you know, no congregation will be able to stay intact at decision time, whether the decision is made at the conference level, district level, or local church level. Each individual at each UMC will have to decide, one way or the other, which church he/she wants to be affiliated with —- an orthodox, Bible believing church or a progressive, Bible questioning-doubting church. There will be no such thing as a centrist church, or third option, since that would essentially be a milder version of a progressive church. Of course the actual third option is to leave, which is already underway. So, the rubber is about to meet the road across all of the UMC with decision time right on its heels.

  12. Rev. Robert W. Smith says:

    I have read through these comments and did not see a single one that expressed the true foundation of the MeThodist Church; SCRIPTURE! as MINISTERS (AND BISHOPS, THOUGH THEY SEEM TO HAVE FORGOTTEN IT) we are called ans sworn to “spread SCRIPTURAL holiness through this land.” And scripture is absolute in its condemnation of homosexuality. From Genesis to Revelation, homosexuality is presented as an abomination to God and a sin unto death. There are no exceptions! To open the Church to them is to invite the Devil himself into church. Anyone who can show me anywhere in the Bible where sexual immorality (homosexuality, sodomy, fornication, etc. ) is spoken of as anything but an abomination (sin), please respond with that quote and where it is found. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut about their acceptance as Christens. You must REPENT of your sins to be a Christen. They refuse to even accept what the Holy Scriptures say about homosexuality and except that it is a sin. Christ said that if you say that you “have not sinned, you are a liar and that the truth is not in you.” That would apply to all who accept homosexuality and homosexual who clams to be a Christian. To all of the people who want to claim that “everyone is of sacred worth”, I have a question. Does that include Satan? Or all of his demons? What about all of the Muslims who denounce Chris as not being the son of God. (And for all of you who have never read the Qur-an, God and Allah are NOT the same being!) I can keep going, but what is the point, homosexuals have already totally rejected the Word of God. The real problem in the UMC is that we have been betrayed by our lying Bishops. They took an oath to God to support and follow the Discipline , and they have not. God help us!

  13. Typically, the Progressives in every mainline denomination will espouse “church unity” as a premier virtue as they excoriate traditionalists for splitting the denomination (as they follow their consciences along traditional interpretations of the faith).
    We are not even hearing something like “3 good reasons” or “how God is better glorified” through such changes, but if you will not change, you are a schismatic, damaging the body of Christ.
    Let’s be clear: when a new idealism wants to steer the train off its tracks (tracks are so binary, don’t you think?), then to leave that train in order to reunify with others still on the tracks is not schism, but sane reunification with the larger Body of Christ. Progressives are yet to supply a biblically-based rationale of why it is now time for the church to depart its 2000-year-old, worldwide unanimity on sexual ethics. Mark is correct: splits are a-comin’. And the conservatives will be blamed for it.

  14. Delaine B Lester says:

    Simply put, we failed because we compromised with the devil by watering down God’s word and accepting the worlds view of what love is. We rejected the teaching of what God tells us about the consequences of disobedience to His way of life and to present our bodies a living sacrifice to Him. When you teach/preach only about the love of God and do not teach about the punishment of God, we open ourselves up to division; God tells us that a ‘house’ divided, will fall. Did we not read that part of the Holy Scriptures or understand it’s meaning. Seems pretty simple to me!

  15. John Smith says:

    I think the Chamberlain inclusion, while not historically accurate, is a better reflection of the times. How much will the conservative/orthodox give up to get the liberal/progressives to leave in peace? A disproportionate amount of property, money, trusts? And do they think all of the dissidents will be appeased, leave and trouble the UMC (an ironic name) no more? Or will they come back in couple years and start making demands again?

    • William says:

      Give the liberals the majority of the bloated general church bureaucracy since that part of the church has been in their control for some time now anyway. And, throw in the liberal bishops, liberal clergy, and liberal seminaries as a bonus.

      • John Smith says:

        You do realize a lot of the property, trust funds, pension and healthcare funds go with the bureaucracy? Its not about what you want to give up but what will be taken to buy the “peace”.

        • David says:

          I was speaking to someone who has reason to know about GBCS , about the organizations finances. He said “ they have more money than God” I asked “ more money than God has money or they have more money than they have of God ?” He responded “yes”

  16. Lissa Mattson says:

    I lived on Long Island for 65 years. During that time I attended the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Port Jefferson. This was the church I grew up with. I stopped attending when the merge with the Methodists took place. I’m not surprised to see the problems occurring now. The EUB Church has churches in PA, Ohio, Indiana. Not in NY unfortunately.

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