The United Methodist Church’s divorce and the issues behind it were recently covered in this op-ed I wrote for the Washington Examiner. We are grateful for the opportunity to briefly summarize the range of theological as well as social issues dividing the two main factions of the UMC as they go their separate ways.
After decades of infighting, America’s second-largest Protestant denomination is now undergoing a slow-motion schism.
Theologically “traditionalist” members of the United Methodist Church want their church leaders to agree on basic doctrines about Jesus Christ while tolerating a range of political opinions. In contrast, liberal United Methodists welcome wide disagreement among church leaders over theological doctrines but push uniformity on left-wing social justice causes. As newly elected liberal United Methodist Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai recently declared, in the UMC, “it is not important that we agree on who Christ is.”
Our divisions are misleadingly reported as mainly about homosexuality. Yes, we have important disagreements over how (not whether) we should genuinely welcome our loved ones who are gay. But as has been well documented, the differences between factions encompass much more.
Click here to continue reading about how “The United Methodist Church is undergoing an increasingly nasty divorce” at the Washington Examiner website.
Comment by T.S. Holden on March 27, 2023 at 2:28 pm
As a whole we have forgotten to beware of heresy. Blatant Arianism and Nestorianism. And perhaps most significantly, Antinomianism, which John Wesley considered the worst of all heresies.
Comment by George P. Bonville on March 27, 2023 at 6:30 pm
How sad and tragic. As a Roman Catholic and former Director of Continuing Education at Methodist College (now University) in Fayetteville, N.C., I so loved the charity and brotherhood I witnessed in helping to organize working groups for the annual UMC conference. As Christ, the risen Savior said to Peter, “Quo Vadis?”
Comment by Carolyn Cambridge on March 27, 2023 at 7:31 pm
First off, it is and always will be who Christ is. 2nd, the Bible states Women are to be silent. 3rd, don’t tag yourself as Christian if you are not following God’s word. Every word.
Comment by Bill Cockerham on March 27, 2023 at 7:34 pm
I feel like one half of a married couple who’s mate is having an adulterous affair and not only insists that I condone it, but demands that I approve of it. I’m heartbroken.
Comment by JoeR on March 27, 2023 at 10:52 pm
You may be a Bishop but you don’t get it.
It is CRITICAL we agree on who Jesus is!
You don’t need to go to seminary to figure that easy answer out!
Comment by John Smith on March 28, 2023 at 8:32 am
Bill: They want more than approval; they want you to join in.
Comment by David Gingrich on March 28, 2023 at 8:51 am
Sorry to see JE use the inaccurate term “gay’. The word has been ruined. “Rainbow’ is not far behind.
Comment by Anthony on March 28, 2023 at 10:57 am
The liberal hierarchy of the UMC ceased being Christians years ago and transitioned into a liberal social activist organization. Disguised as Christians, they use cherry picked Christian references to fool as many as possible in order to keep the apportionments flowing, a reprehensible sin, in order to pay for their pagan agenda. The organization has become little more than a political branch of the American Democratic Party. They’re unable to coherently articulate a Christian purpose since that would be in conflict with their contemporary cultural purpose of power and influence. Their purpose certainly is not Christ crucified and salvation. What do they promise their followers except joining the crowd and riding their culturally popular social activists train – a train headed to its ultimate catastrophic collision with God?
Comment by George on March 28, 2023 at 1:42 pm
What happened to our church is no different than what has happened within our homes, schools, states, and our country. Laws change. Rules change. Everything changes and either we don’t hear it or see it or care enough to get involved when we do become aware.
Now boys are girls and girls are boys. A bishop now says Jesus is who ever you want him to be. Bishops have no rules they can’t break. It is cultural chaos everywhere and we allow those under 30 years of age dictate to us what is right and fare.
The cause of this UMC divorce can be blamed solely on those liberal woke individuals who led us to this place to begin with. And folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I can only imagine what we will be dealing with in another decade or two.
Comment by Jay Whisnant on March 28, 2023 at 4:12 pm
I think it is great that the United Methodist Church is allowing the deadweight of the conservative traditional Methodists to get out of the way of a better more inclusive lgbt welcoming United Methodists. I am an Episcopalian and we are very inclusive and welcoming and encouraging all people including lgbt to pursue deep relationship to God. We encourage and celebrate all those who want to be deacons, priests, and bishops.
Comment by Brad Van Camp on March 28, 2023 at 4:55 pm
In a nutshell, what ails the Methodists is lack of a Sabbath. Sunday is no longer a special event.
Comment by David on March 28, 2023 at 6:17 pm
When the Pew Survey people last studied United Methodists, they found that only 71% had absolute certainty in the existence of God. Only 61% thought religion was very important in their lives and 44% attended church weekly while 17% did so seldom or never. This does not indicate a church of strong belief or practice.
Debates over the nature of Jesus were quite common in early Christianity. A particular viewpoint won out and others were suppressed. There seems to be a return to this period of debate.
Those that claim we should follow “God’s word” have some work cut out for themselves as there are contradictory verses on some rather basic issues. The Book of Job denies the resurrection/afterlife and this was the viewpoint of traditional Judaism for centuries. Is the Lord our God one or a trinity? The Hebrew scriptures say nothing about the Messiah being anything other than a mortal human being.
Comment by George on March 28, 2023 at 6:35 pm
Well David. You either have it or you don’t. And you ain’t got it.
Comment by alison klein on March 28, 2023 at 9:51 pm
This is an apostate taste of the falling away, prophesied for the birth pains before the end of days.
The seat of the false prophet is in place as the pains grow more frequent and more agonizing.
But take heart, in a moment, Jesus will return for the bride. This precedes the Wrath to Come- The Tribulation, The worship of the Antichrist, The Beast and it’s mark and the martyrdom of Tribulation Saints.
Do not despair. All is unfolding as the Word says. Check it out and be at peace.
This severance is proper. More will fall away.
Comment by Michelle on March 29, 2023 at 12:21 am
I was christened and confirmed in the UMC. I left in 1993 when, after church during Easter, my daughter had absolutely NO idea who Jesus, Mary or Joseph were and did not know the Lord’s Prayer. None of it was being taught in Sunday School! My nephew was denied Christening due to the female preacher was “unable to find any record of the parent’s tithing”. After that, the rest of my family quit the UMC.
Comment by Pastor Mike on March 29, 2023 at 6:51 am
The Book of Hebrews establishes the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ over all (1:1-4; 9:11-14). His sacrifice was enough to take away our sin; He is all we need to come to God today. A mortal human being could not.
Comment by David on March 29, 2023 at 9:35 am
Ad hominem (Latin for ‘to the person’), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a term that refers to several types of arguments, most of which are fallacious. Typically this term refers to a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.
Comment by Jeffrey Walton on March 29, 2023 at 10:46 am
David, George might be referencing 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” We can have no expectation that those outside who are looking in are going to perceive anything other than foolishness. Only the work of the Holy Spirit makes possible in our hearts an understanding of the Gospel.
Comment by David on March 29, 2023 at 10:01 am
The UMC Articles of Religion hold that the Old Testament is not contrary to the New. This, of course, is not true. Why should Hebrews or any New Testament book be given precedence over any canonical book of the Old Testament? There is a certain arbitrariness in Christian beliefs.
Comment by Anthony on April 3, 2023 at 10:07 am
You just identified the root of the UMC schism. Ironically, instead of the pagan world, it is the liberal hierarchy of the denomination, that is supposed to be offering Christ crucified and salvation to that pagan world, as ones on the outside —- “We can have no expectation that those outside who are looking in are going to perceive anything other than foolishness.”