Opposing Methodist Schism

on January 21, 2020

Opposition to impending United Methodist schism maybe more generational than ideological. One example is retired seminary chief William Lawrence, who’s declared as “truly appalling” the recently unveiled Protocol proposal to divide the denomination.

According to Lawrence, “for decades, ‘traditionalists’ and their allies have held the denomination hostage over legislation on homosexuality.” And the Protocol’s payment of $25 million to a new traditional Methodist denomination is a “ransom note.”

Lawrence is upset that potentially “more than $50,000,000 [could be paid] to a new Methodist denominations that might continue advocating discrimination on the basis of human sexuality without having to define the theological, ethical or moral basis on which it will deny the ‘sacred worth’ of all persons.”

Of course, Lawrence doesn’t admit that traditionalists are the global governing majority of United Methodism and could instead theoretically lay claim to all $800 million in general church agency assets.

Lawrence “wonders if a progressive group might arise, ask for similar privileges, and seek equal amounts of funding for some new Methodist denomination of its liking.” The Protocol potentially provides $2 million to any other new denomination. But progressives are essentially, under this plan, inheriting most United Methodist assets. Apparently he thinks the traditionalist majority should get nothing and, as in other Mainline denominations, simply flee as refugees.

The Protocol is backed by liberal and conservative caucus groups who collectively realized schism was needed and inevitable. Traditionalists have a governing global majority thanks to the growing churches in Africa. Liberals still firmly control the declining USA part of the denomination.

Some older institutionalists are more firmly committed to preserving United Methodism structurally as it is, even as that structure implodes. But the age of great denominational bureaucracies in America is ending as deep loyalties to denominations are ending. American Christianity for better or worse has become post-denominational and congregationalist.

Older liberal institutionalists like Lawrence are nostalgic for bygone decades when evangelicals in USA United Methodism were a barely tolerated disdained minority. Liberal bishops and church agency bureaucrats dictated denominational policy nonchalantly and indifferent to dissenting traditionalists. They assumed that United Methodism as a wealthy liberal Mainline church was a permanent reality. This assumption began to collapse, at least for younger church elites, as membership and finances glided ever downward.

Older liberal church elites, along with nearly everybody else in the USA church, were unprepared for the sudden rise of United Methodism in Africa, which gave traditionalists a new governing majority. Under this new demographic reality, United Methodism gained a new trajectory very different from its sister liberal Mainline denominations. Unlike they, it would not liberalize its teachings on marriage and sex. And unlike some of them, it would not effectively expell traditionalists and seize their church properties.

For older liberal church institutionalists like Lawrence, the last 10 years in United Methodism, climaxed by the 2019 Special General Conference, where liberal elites were defeated on sex, have been an unexpected nightmare. Traditionalists who were supposedly defeated and made irrelevant early in the last century are now ascendant, getting a “ransom,” and a large chunk of USA congregations plus the overseas church, collectively the majority. What’s left of the liberal USA church will face accelerating decline while saddled by unsustainable archaic bureaucracy. Even without schism and the Protocol, the USA church faces this grim future, plus continued civil war.

Lawrence offers no alternative to the Protocol. He only heeps sarcasm on its organizers for their “appalling” presumption, with their “bold requests,” “aggressive claims,” and demands for “special privileges.” He wants all the fuss to go away and to pretend as though it’s still 1985 when confident liberal institutionalists still smoothly steered a slowly sinking tanker, bringing us to the present moment of schism.

Fortunately, 2020 offers more opportunity for Methodist revival than did the suffocating decades of liberal institutionalism, when steady unquestioning decline, managed by an aloof bureaucracy, was the only appalling option. Lawrence warns that “breaking up is really hard to do.” He’s right but it’s far preferable to near certain denominational death.

  1. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks, Mark, for these necessary critical comments on the debate over the Protocol. We are in the trough between Protocol and resolution. I have seen plenty of naysaying by irritated and irate traditionalists insulted by the Protocol and unwilling to yield to reasonable arguments. Traditionalists in leadership must have cool heads and strong hearts now in the face of irrational fury.

  2. Comment by Houston Parks on January 23, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    It is not, in my view, irrational to think the Protocol is a slam-dunk victory for the progressives who are intent on wrecking the church. Traditionalists at that negotiating table gave away the store, or, rather, something far more valuable – the church. A commenter’s statement that the progressives get to keep the name “United,” when they have caused division, is ludicrous. I don’t want the name, but they haven’t earned it. This lifelong Methodist is fast falling out of love with the Methodist Church as presently constituted and as the Protocol projects.

  3. Comment by Bruce on January 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Amen! Well said.

  4. Comment by mountaingirl on January 31, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    I hope that both of you (above) will have an opportunity to read the explanation by Riley Case (The Confessing Movement) which I believe will be published in their online newsletter this month. I as a staunch traditionalist felt just like the 2 of you seem to feel. I wrote a response much like yours above to an article written by Riley Case in January, which explained briefly the “Protocol” being offered to General Conference, and in which he indicated his own approval. I was basically irate, and could not understand why anyone with his staunch traditionalist convictions could approve of such a plan, but I did tell him that my very high respect for him as another strong traditionalist, behooved me to calm my ire just long enough to request and listen to whatever explanation he could offer as to why he, from a strong traditionalist position, would ever, ever approve such a plan. Being a genuine UMC peon, I never expected a response from such a leader to my personal email — but lo and behold, I received a prompt, personal and generously-detailed explanation of why he believes the Protocol being offered is actually a good, and even best, outcome for Traditonalists — even as the majority party, with the most voting weight (and I suppose one might say, with the “right” to the whole UMC). I thanked him strongly for his response, because his powerful reasoning made the most sense of anything I’d read on this whole mess and helped me to personally see clearly why this would be a GOOD move indeed, for traditionalists. In a nutshell, without trying to directly influence me, he utterly and completely changed my mind about this, without a coercive word! I replied, thanking him for a personal reply I never expected, and for “turning the light on” for me — and I literally begged him to publish his exact words online, just as he wrote them to me, because other fuming traditionalists need to read them. He said his position would indeed appear in the Confessing Movement’s next newsletter (not sure exactly what date that’s due but very soon). I urge both of you, my Christian siblings, to contact the Confessing Movement and read their next newsletter if it contains, as promised, Riley Case’s rationale for approving the Protocol. Please take his words completely to heart before you make up your own minds, my friends in Christ. They make sense — even when you’re coming from the UMC majority as a traditionalist. My mind is now totally at ease with it, having done a total 180. I hope maybe yours will, too. But whatever you decide, thank you for your biblically-faithful hearts and minds, and your holding to the sound traditionalist position, when it seems that the whole UMC, but for the traditionalists in the pews, has otherwise gone deeply mad.

  5. Comment by Mark on January 21, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    I think you have once again correctly described the situation. White-haired left-leaning elites can egotistically lament the demise of yet another legacy mainline, but, as you creatively point out, it is they who have been guiding this long term devolution. One can only hope and pray that the “new thing” God is doing will involve revival of the orthodoxy that has grown and sustained the church for millenia.

  6. Comment by Richard on January 21, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the article Mark. And, for clarifying some things for me. I have quoted some aspect of the Bill lawrence article but did not know where he stood as an individual on the Protocol.

  7. Comment by Polly on January 24, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Elites, or whatever they may be called did not start this, but they have been mightily used , along with the lgbt, PP, Islam, Atheists, pedophiles, or whoever else the communists could find to bring down the West, including our nation. I was always taught that John Dewey was the father of progressive ed. I had no idea what that really meant, until I discovered Dewey was in love with the Soviet Union and was a most likely a communist who went to study their ed system before initiating changes in ours. He was the one who separated our schools into age groups, where the one room system , with its built in older kids no longer was being any kind of influence on younger kids; they were much more easily manipulated by their teachers and would not disagree with peers. This was in 1928. The Frankfort School, established in 1923, stated it was going to make the West so corrupt it stinks, and detach them from all moral compass. Now we come to today, with schools all over the US being infiltrated with curriculum designed by PP , pushing the LGBT agenda. The curricula makes grown men blush. So, what has the church done about this growing influence in schools on children? Where is it in all this? We wonder why transgenderism has galloped onto the scene? This whole movement was set off years ago, plans put into place by our little Communist drones, working hard to get their agenda in place. Mainline denominations splitting over the lgbt agenda is exactly what they hoped for. PP pushes too. My heart grieves for these lost children. We can talk all day, but this whole thing is satanic, as he’s the center of communism, wanting us to worship govt. Methodists like to to be logical and calm and outline arguments that make sense to them. They don’t talk about satan very much, but this split is his playground, especially with figuring out the money aspect!! Much prayer is needed. Look at how many other denominations are experiencing this. It is a defined war against traditional Christianity that started long ago and is now bearing its , in many cases, awful fruit.

  8. Comment by David Gingrich on January 25, 2020 at 6:55 am

    I left the UMC 10 years ago over this. Happy PCA now. Just reminding the “leavers” that this heresy started in the seminaries. I pray the traditionalists will guard their seminaries.

  9. Comment by Jonathan H on January 27, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    This right here is the root of the problem. Its not mostly the congregations, but the heresy coming out of our seminaries. Candler and Duke might as well not even be considered Christian seminaries. Its appalling.

    Many of our Methodist congregations are led by the congregation – strong and vibrant small groups led by Christians who read and apply the word of God while senior and associate pastors try to fecklessly apply cultural standards, not scriptural standards. I’ve seen it in my church over the decades.

    Its starting in the seminaries, and they have become hostile to the teachings of scripture.

  10. Comment by JR on January 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Only question I have: If the IRD is so sure that a liberalized UMC is going to fail, will they support the Traditionalist offshoot and leave the UMC alone, or will they instead see blood in the water and attack the liberal denomination?

  11. Comment by Lee D. Cary on January 22, 2020 at 9:10 am

    JR: Explain to us, please, why the liberal residue of the UMC should have the right to call itself “United,” since it is the primary catalyst for disunion?

    I look forward to your response.

  12. Comment by JR on January 22, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Lee,

    Because they will be the largest piece after the schism.

    Interestingly, the Traditionalist side has just as much right to call themselves ‘United’. I don’t think they want to, but they surely can.

    Your question calls out one of my own – are you unaware of where the ‘United’ in the name of the UMC came from?

  13. Comment by William on January 22, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    “Largest piece after the schism”. Please show us the math.

  14. Comment by Lee D. Cary on January 23, 2020 at 7:25 am

    I suspect you’ll get no definitive answer to that query.

  15. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 8:30 am

    $25 mil vs…. what is the total value of the UMC?

    The team that did the negotiating already did the math for you – about 1/3 of the liquid capital of the UMC is going to go with the Traditionalists.

    If that group thought they could get more, they would have negotiated for more.


  16. Comment by Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret. UM clergy) on January 23, 2020 at 7:24 am

    I am aware.

    In fact, JR, I once pastored a small rural N. IL. UMC in a town where the former EUB building stood empty. In that “union” process (which happened a bit more than 10 yrs earlier), more than a couple of former EUB members still mourned the loss of their church as the new UMC gained some of their former EUB members, but far from all.

    I predict that the sum total of former UM members in the constellation of “denominations” that follow will fall considerably short of the former “united” total.

    It won’t be pretty, JR. There will be no “winners”,” outside of the non-denominational independent congregations growing like weeds all across America.

  17. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 10:43 am

    “I predict that the sum total of former UM members in the constellation of “denominations” that follow will fall considerably short of the former “united” total.”

    I think you are correct in that prediction.

    “It won’t be pretty, JR. There will be no “winners”,” outside of the non-denominational independent congregations growing like weeds all across America.”

    I think you are correct in this as well. Lots of damage has already been done, and there’s no quick fix there.

    I’m not sure why you think I think otherwise.

    But my question is towards the IRD specifically, and I guess to Traditionalists in general. If you think that this is the wrong path and doomed to utter failure, are you going to just let that happen – or are you going to actively work towards it’s demise?

    I’m totally on board with an amicable split and each side going on to do what they feel called to do here. But if you want to have active undermining going forward, I’d like to have you put your cards on the table.

  18. Comment by Elaine Miller on January 27, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I sense Rev. Lee that you are critical of the small nondenominational congregations “growing like weeds” across America? Please help me to understand, as we left the UMC approx. 15 years ago when the pastorate of our congregation openly espoused pro-choice, pro-homosexual, and other liberal ideology over the clear teaching of Scripture, which was given perhaps 10-minutes tops in liturgy and “feel better about yourself/your sin” became the crux of many senior pastor’ sermons.

    After a 4-year search, we found an independent nondenominational local congregation with a seminary-trained, Bible-believing pastor who “feeds the sheep.” Truly, I don’t understand the benefit of belonging to a denomination at this point.

  19. Comment by Gary on January 27, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    My Mom was EUB and she felt that they were largely ignored in the merger of the two denominations.

  20. Comment by Lee Cary on January 23, 2020 at 7:31 am

    “Because they will be the largest piece after the schism.” says JR.

    I dropped a glass the other day in the kitchen. The largest piece was small.

  21. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 8:32 am

    And yet you still called it glass. It didn’t magically become coal or paper.

  22. Comment by John Smith on January 24, 2020 at 6:13 am

    United came from the absorption and dissolution of the EUB. Should the UMC name be retained it will be ironic since what will be united is a liberal US/Europe and a conservative 2/3’ds world. Probably operating with 2 separate/regional BODs the unity will be a papered over canyon. At least with the split the UMC and ELCA being in full communion will finally make sense.

  23. Comment by Lee Cary on January 23, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Where you been, JR? The liberalized UMC has ALREADY failed.

  24. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 8:34 am

    I must have really struck a nerve here. How many responses are you going to make on this?

    If it’s failed already, then the IRD and the traditionalists should walk away and let it rot on the vine, right? Move on to greener pastures.

    I have my doubts about that, thus the questioning.

  25. Comment by John Smith on January 24, 2020 at 6:18 am

    As far as active participation in the affairs of the UMC that would depend. After all the non-USA portion of the UMC would seem to be kin to the IRD and its fellow travelers. Is helping family meddling? But I would expect reporting on conditions in the UMC to continue.

    Same question to you, if the new denomination succeeds and prospers will the liberals/LGBTQ+/progressives leave it in peace or will we see a repeat of the assault that has left the UMC and the rest of the seven sisters on a death watch?

  26. Comment by Jeff on January 21, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Dear JR
    I have been reading IRD for years and they are always gracious in my view. The liberals however show great intolerance to the traditional crowd who upholds 2000 years of Christian doctrine.
    As far as I am concerned the liberals who deny Biblical morality are not even Christians and need to repent or die in a lost state.

  27. Comment by JR on January 27, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    More than 1500 of those years of doctrine (which preceded Christ, and which he didn’t stop) included slavery. Do you really want to put your daughter up for sale because ‘doctrine’ says you can?

  28. Comment by John Smith on January 29, 2020 at 5:47 am

    Such a boring argument that reveals such a deep ignorance of scripture which makes understandable the Progressive’s hearty embrace of sin.
    1) Regulation of something does not mean approval of something.
    2) That which was enjoined upon Israel for civil administration is not enjoined on the world as a whole.
    3) Rules/law for civil administration are not doctrine.
    There is much more but I know the Progressives will never give up the argument since it requires no thought or effort and impresses their adherents while being ignored by others.

  29. Comment by Jim Lavender on January 21, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Supremacy of Christ and authority of Scripture. THEN and ONLY THEN can one discover an apologetic that will float one out of the sociological swamp. Don’t mention discrimination until you have honored Christ.

  30. Comment by Elaine Miller on January 27, 2020 at 12:48 pm


  31. Comment by Not exactly buying everything said here on January 21, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    This is an interesting quote: “American Christianity for better or worse has become post-denominational and congregationalist.”

    Is that really the case? I see lots of supposedly non-denominational churches with the same name, the same graphics, the same branding, probably working through the same mission organizations, and maybe/likely using the same materials and plans to start new churches.

    In fact some people sees groups involved in the latest proposal to split as being a group of larger churches wanting to go off on
    their own, and i have read where one group is trying to develop documents on ‘best practices’ for churches to follow to grow and succeed.

    I would suggest the word ‘denomination’ is bad word, and it is being replaced by ‘brand’, but it means the same thing. An even better word might be ‘franchise’, though it would take a long time to define that work in this context.

    When I went to school years and years ago, an ethics professor said in class “One of the great things about the church, and a unique gift of it to society, is that we can argue and fight over issues, but at the end of the discussion we can still be brothers and sisters in Christ.”

    Sadly the left of the church has destroyed that truth, and the richness of a ‘denomination’ and what that word means has been destroyed and replaced by a business term; a cold, clinical, and ugly word with a bad meaning for the church..

  32. Comment by Elaine Miller on January 27, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Agree. Very well stated.

  33. Comment by Randy on January 22, 2020 at 6:09 am

    I’ve said, for a long time, that progressives like Lawrence, do NOT want a seat at the table. They want us to believe like them–all the while shouting the mantra: “Open Hearts Open Minds Open Doors”

  34. Comment by Steve on January 22, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I assume IRD will continue to report on the continuing mistakes and decline of all mainlines like they’ve done for years, in an effort to avoid the same problems. Obviously some people would prefer these things be hidden.

  35. Comment by JR on January 22, 2020 at 9:06 am


    Will he go with the Traditionalist offshoot, or will he remain in the UMC and push his cause?

  36. Comment by Steve on January 22, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Guess we’ll see. Don’t really see it as a blood in the water situation considering liberals will have complete control. Tend to think things will be rough for traditionalists that remain. Doesn’t mean the UMC won’t continue to decline; UMC bureaucracy will probably survive by liquidating assets, clergy will find increasingly fewer opportunities.

  37. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 11:20 am

    I think that’s probably correct.

    I expect retired traditionalist to stay with the UMC though, because they aren’t going to put their money where there mouth is and chance a reduction in their pension benefit down the line.

  38. Comment by Steve on January 22, 2020 at 11:07 am

    By the way, here’s an amazing article about a new methodist strategy to improve numbers: throw out the old people.
    Out With The Olds
    Go away, Mammaw, you’re harshing the Methodist vibe

  39. Comment by JR on January 22, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Steve,

    one instance does not a trend make.

    Of course, there are also other spins on that instance.

    Often it’s best to go right to the source.

  40. Comment by Steve on January 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    Never said it was a trend, and that letter doesn’t even try to explain why they’re supposed to stay away from their church for two years. It’s the church equivalent of “it’s not you it’s me” and “I need my space”; everybody knows better.

  41. Comment by Steve on January 22, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    But members who did not join the new church’s planting team were encouraged to step aside and temporarily attend the Woodbury location, which is about eight miles away, before transitioning back to the Cottage Grove location after 15 to 18 months.
    Wetterstrom’s timetable for the transition explains: “15-18 months after weekly worship is launched at Cottage Grove campus — those members of the current campus who are interested in migrating back … connect with (Peters) about how to best make that transition.”

  42. Comment by Lee Cary on January 23, 2020 at 7:27 am

    I seem to remember the “plan for growth” in 2000, shortly after I retired, to double the UMC membership. Blue Sky stuff.

  43. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 8:37 am

    “here’s an amazing article about a new methodist strategy to improve numbers: throw out the old people.”

    “Never said it was a trend…”

    No, you implied it though.

    Do a little reading on the method, which has shown some results. I’ve never gone through that, but it seems pretty similar to letting a field lay fallow for a season or two. It’s not like they are closing down a vibrant growing church – average attendance is 25-30 people. And not all of them are elderly, either.

  44. Comment by Steve on January 23, 2020 at 9:38 am

    I mentioned _a_ strategy being utilized at _one_ Methodist church. I did not express any opinion whether it was happening anywhere else, much less whether it is a trend.

  45. Comment by Steve on January 23, 2020 at 9:45 am

    On the other hand, after faulting me for allegedly suggesting this is a trend, you go on to essentially confirm that this is not an isolated occurrence, saying that it has been done with positive results elsewhere.

  46. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Hi Steve,

    Let’s read it again, shall we?

    “By the way, here’s an amazing article about a new methodist strategy to improve numbers: throw out the old people.
    Out With The Olds
    Go away, Mammaw, you’re harshing the Methodist vibe.”

    I stand by my assessment.

    Isolated means far away from everyone or everything else. It’s not a singular event, but it’s certainly not common – i.e. not a trend.

    If an annual conference was doing this regularly to “throw out the old people”, then I wouldn’t use that word. This case is specific to the details on this particular church in this particular town. The same procedure can and has been used elsewhere, when particular facts suggest it could work.

    And with that point, I’m going to leave this conversation, as it’s only going to spiral downwards.

  47. Comment by Steve on January 23, 2020 at 11:53 am

    I never said it was common either. I said it was amazing because I’d never seen such a thing, ie, in my experience the opposite of common. Incidentally, something being common is not the definition of a trend either. A trend is when the occurrences are increasing or decreasing. I have no knowledge of that in this instance and never claimed I did.

  48. Comment by JR on January 23, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Ok, Boomer.

  49. Comment by Steve on January 23, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Guess you changed your mind about being done.
    Its not just this boomer that is appalled.
    More coverage:
    Rude Church Kicks Out All The Old People In Hopes Of Attracting Young Hep Cats
    Robyn Pennacchia
    January 22, 2020 09:04 AM
    What’s Really Going On Inside the Minnesota Church Accused of Trying to Expel Its Elderly Members

  50. Comment by Steve on January 23, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    I thought you’d made your last post on the subject?
    More coverage:

    Rude Church Kicks Out All The Old People In Hopes Of Attracting Young Hep Cats
    Robyn Pennacchia, Wonkette
    January 22, 2020 09:04 AM

    What’s Really Going On Inside the Minnesota Church Accused of Trying to Expel Its Elderly Members
    Ruth Graham, Slate
    JAN 23, 2020

  51. Comment by Scott on January 22, 2020 at 9:35 am

    For all my fellow traditionalists, while the vote has not been taken this is basically a done deal. Mainstream USA which is highly organized, even here in the deep south holds just slightly less than 50% of the vote and the protocol gives them what they want. The Africans and Philipinnos also seem to be on board in large part. Even a small percentage of their votes will win the day for the protocol. I am hopeful that the majority of traditionalist delegates, most of whom in my region are aligned with the WCA will also vote for the protocol. Is it fair, no. Is it the right thing to do, absolutely, then we can get on with the job of serving Christ and winning souls for Christ. There are many, many members of the UMC in progressive areas that would love to be in the new traditionalist denomination. I think the entire 25 million should go to either supporting the churches that go traditional in those areas or founding new churches in the Northeast and West. Please grasp the reality of the situation and prepare to take advantage of the opportunity that is being handed to us. Let us thank God for this fresh chance to serve him.

  52. Comment by Pudentiana on January 22, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I am so thankful that traditional Methodists will have a lifeboat as the sinking UMC descends into chaos. Lawrence is a perfect example of why we have lost the denomination. He is one of the many blind leading the blind who, even though he is an expert in Church History, doesn’t understand what truly drives the Church. We are to serve God, not Man. It is not the worship of Man as the Progs seem to believe. Let us throw off the chains that bind us, come out from among them and worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

  53. Comment by DANIEL V MANNINGHAM on January 25, 2020 at 9:29 am

    I am amazed that a Christian minister can blythely ask for the theological basis for theological basis for criticizing homosexualoity. What are these guys reading? Clearly not the whole book of scripture. And, what are they smoking?

  54. Comment by Charles Walkup Jr on January 23, 2020 at 11:33 am

    The Discipline states (correctly) “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” As one who grew up weekly memorizing scripture and also dealing with same-sex attraction, I affirm the Discipline is correct. The key word is “practice”. We may experience a feeling but acting on it (or not) is our choice. Cain experienced anger (at God & Abel). God warned him “Sin is crouching at your door. It wants to have you. You must master it.” Jesus reinforces this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5) regarding anger & lust. Inner desires are the root of actions. God wired our brains for relationship (Goleberg, Social Intelligence). Yet, our emotional brain can be contaminated before our thinking brain is aware. Hence, God’s expectation that we are to control our emotions rather than allowing emotions to control us. I Peter 2 warned “Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” It is ego/self-centeredness that separates our spirit from God & others. This is our immature stage as God’s children. Who we listen to is critical. There are 2 choices. (1) Listen to God’s loving voice and obey it, or, by default, (2) give authority to the World (Satan’s domain) to define us. Our God-given need for relationship tends toward immature immediate self-gratification that the World offers – poor substitute pleasures that keep us blinded to the “real life” and pleasures that only God can provide. It is by feeding on God’s Word, combined with a “hunger & thirst for righteousness” desire, that we allow God to grow us in His likeness.
    As for those who are trying to remove the Truth from the Discipline, I have yet to see any comprehensive argument from God’s Word to support their position. Generally, the non-US Methodists are adhering to scripture; US churches are going the way of the World. When some of Jesus’ followers found his teaching hard, they left. Jesus didn’t say ‘Wait, come back!” He said to Peter “Don’t you want to go, too?” Peter: “No Lord, where would I go? You have the words of life.” As I see it, those who can’t adhere to God’s Word should be the ones “leaving”. They are no longer “united” in spirit. Jesus gives them the Liberty to make that choice. Ergo, all congregations should take a vote. Depending on the above-50% level of churches choosing to “leave”, the material details of separation can be worked out. The above article and comments focus on material things, as does the current proposal from what I have read. The main focus must be on God’s Word. Methinks the current proposal does not do that and should not be approved.

  55. Comment by Marvin Jones on January 24, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Charles, I have read commentaries giving the opinion that Saint Paul was one who had to deal with same sex attraction. The theory is that his personal angst was part of his drive to destroy the new Christians and their movement. Then he had his Damascus encounter where he learned that Christ loved even him. Whether this theory is true or not, I do not know.
    But if so, from that point forward, Saint Paul stood on the strength of Christ to manage his personal yearnings while providing awesome love, logic and language to lead others to the arms of Christ.
    What I do know is that you show the wisdom and courage of Saint Paul in your own writing. We all have temptations to sin but the power of Christ and the Word can turn us away. And that is the path we are are called to follow, not the path to self gratification and rationalization.
    Our world and our church so desperately need your voice just as the early church needed the voice of Saint Paul. Please maintain the courage to stand and speak. I hear Paul speaking through you.
    Thank you

  56. Comment by Bill on January 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Am I the only one who has grown tired of the smug condescension and histrionics of the academic elites in our denomination. People like Lawrence have driven us right to the edge of the cliff and just as we’re about to go over the edge he wants to blame Traditionalists for HIS reckless driving?

  57. Comment by William on January 24, 2020 at 7:53 am

    You express my sentiments exactly. Who do these people think they are? These liberal theologians who claim to be scholars in order to gain notoriety and academic standing among their secular peers by bashing the Bible, historic Christianity, and the Orthodox Church, which is the trendy thing to do in secular academia, are the primary reason for the UMC schism. Then notice what they do — claiming no responsibility, like children, they blame the traditionalists.

  58. Comment by Marvin Jones on January 23, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    That great prophet, Johnny Cash, gave us his insight into our dilemma in his song, “The one on the Right was on the Left.” He even prophetically reveals that the guy in the rear was a Methodist.
    All kidding aside, we are riding toward a similar train wreck described by old Johnny in that song.
    We are faced with those on the left and those on the right. Both sides know they need the ones in the middle to have any hope of surviving. So what to do? Push out the Traditionalist and you might be able to hold on to the indifferent middle. If you put the shoe on the other foot and push out the Progressives, then Traditionalists have the same hope of retaining the middle. Retaining the middle is the only path to success.
    This is the reason the Progressives have negotiated a position to push the Traditionalist out; their desperate bid to hold onto the middle.
    Set up a play where one goes and one stays. Then get both sides to agree to be the one who goes based on a coin toss. Only if both sides can come to that indifferent agreement do you have a truly unbiased proposal for severance.

  59. Comment by Vicki on January 24, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    “Set up a play where one goes and one stays. Then get both sides to agree to be the one who goes based on a coin toss. Only if both sides can come to that indifferent agreement do you have a truly unbiased proposal for severance.”

    This is Solomon style wisdom! I like it!!!

  60. Comment by Benjamin on January 23, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    As someone that has gone to many different churches over the decades (from Baptist, pentecostal, Nazerene, Catholic, and multiple non-Denom’s, and multiple UMC), the politics of the UMC is frustrating, but not personal. We do attend a small UMC in a rural area, and we made this choice mainly b/c proxemics and the community aspect of interacting with our neighbors. My problem is that the leftists continue to promote their own opinions, that fly in the face of scripture. The so called progressives are largely for abortion, now late term abortion, the whole alphabet soup, generally the end of sin. Anyone selling “love” as doctrine and denying sin is dangerous and not from God. So I consider these folks as being misled by Satan, or by their own hedonistic desires, wrapped up in acceptance of anything. The new modern religion of neo-communism and anti-christianity, which apparently is alive and well within Christianity in small numbers. But many Christians want to ignore the bible and virtue signal or feel self-righteous with the world, claiming that this is showing love. Leftists aren’t going to do anything but help the churches implode more quickly then they already are. The new religions of the world are just a shade of Marxism, and hedonism. There is no bibilical argument, but there are clear biblical texts against active homosexuality. Hetero’s probably aren’t doing much better with so few people even making an attempt to wait until marriage.
    The leftists have a schism with the bible, they are pursuing political issues of the world, and clearly don’t care what the bible says on the matter. Many Christians apparently care more for being part of the world in good standing, rather than being risked being called a bigot b/c the bible shows sin should not continue to be pursued. It’s not loving as a christian to tell someone that God accepts anything. Faith without works is dead, correct? Again, homosexuals that are willing to overcome the obstacle of their sexuality should be welcomed and supported. But those that don’t begin to try and clearly don’t care for the Bible if it goes against them personally. Churches shouldn’t be promoting hedonism and narcissism wrapped up in the cloak of “love”. Anyone that has read the scriptures should be well aware that Jesus expected radical change, being a Christian is a radical change. Broad and spacious is the path leading to destruction and narrow is the path leading to life. Modern churches are too into filling seats or worldy things. A church of 10 souls the love God and are trying with all their might to overcome their own weaknesses and spread God’s word is a success, maybe not to the world, but I think the Bible is clear, it would be to God. Jesus said that all the nations of the world were under the power of the wicked one, well I for one think that all the Churches are also in a struggle with the unseen, in addition to their local politics, and the desire for people to excuse themselves of anything, especially in this modern self-absorbed society that has been created.

  61. Comment by David on January 24, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    Well said Mark. However I see no one talking about the other issues that divide us. The role of Bishops, term limits to Bishops, the accountability of Bishops, the use of church funds by the General Boards and Agencies, the use to the Book of Discipline. I could go on and on. Homosexuality is not the only issues that with which we are wrestling.

  62. Comment by Skipper on January 25, 2020 at 11:11 am

    What we have is a situation of Liberals behaving badly. They break any rule they don’t like without realizing that rules are there to help you. They don’t show respect for other people or democratic process, that is rule by majority.

    Liberals are a minority but control the Council of Bishops. Liberals are a minority, but have made United Methodist seminaries so liberal that ministers need to go elsewhere. Liberals are a minority, yet control the national boards and agencies. Liberals are a minority yet control publishing. A homosexual bishop was elected yet they prevented her removal. Then the General Conference passed a motion that made marrying a person of the same sex proof a person has homosexual behavior. Yet she still has not been removed. The system is not working. That’s why Traditional Methodists are a majority, but need to leave. It’s the only way to honor God and show our God the respect He is due.

  63. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 25, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Mark Tooley: Am I right in discerning a wedge among the traditionalists in Timothy Tennent’s three-part blog? He says he supports the Protocol but has criticized it with an enfilade of withering fire. Does his appeal to the Wesleyan heartland intimate that resistance is in the works?

  64. Comment by Roy on January 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    The fact is Jesus has removed His lampstand from the UMC. This is not to say that there are vibrant, Bible based, evangelical churches in the UMC. The institution called the UMC is dead! My own conference lost over half its membership since 1964! Is that an indictment or not? I am for the new Protocol. Let us shake the dust of the dead old institution off our feet and get on with a passion to do what Wesley, Asbury did: Preach free Grace in Jesus Christ and help people to flee the wrath to come!

  65. Comment by Smitty Eason on January 26, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Am I mistaken in thinking I had read that millions of dollars have been held in trust for decades by the United Methodist Church for evangelism in China, but that it was never used because of the Communist take over of China? If so, where do those designated donations go?

  66. Comment by Bern Patman on January 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    The leftists in the UMC aren’t happy with having their cake and eating it too, they also want to eat the cake of the traditionalists. However, given the sharp decline in the UMC, there probably won’t be much cake left once the finally agree to split.

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