Regarding United Methodism’s Future

Over the past six weeks more than 80 pastors and theologians have been involved in conversations about the future of The United Methodist Church. These pastors represent all five jurisdictions and more than 30 annual conferences, and many serve as lead pastors of some of the largest congregations in United Methodism. After several consultations via conference call and email, these leading pastors and theologians are issuing the following statement as a progress report on their deliberations.

We have come together because of the crisis besetting our beloved United Methodist Church.

  • It is a crisis of covenant, where numerous pastors have violated or have announced their willingness to violate our Book of Discipline.
  • It is a crisis of organizational discipline, where pastors in many of our annual conferences now know they may be disobedient to the will of General Conference without meaningful consequences; in fact, some know they may be disobedient to the Discipline and receive their bishop’s blessing.
  • It is a crisis regarding the inspiration and the authority of the Scriptures, where some believe that, rightly understood, the Bible is the infallible word of God, and where others believe that significant parts of the Scriptures do not provide an accurate understanding of God’s heart and mind and may be discarded as uninspired and in error.
  • It is a crisis of discipleship, where there are dramatic differences in how personal and social holiness is lived out and taught.

It is time to recognize that traditionalists and progressives are pursuing divergent paths as we try to follow Christ and be faithful to what we understand to be the Gospel. Though there are deeper issues that divide us, our differences, unfortunately, have now come to the fore around the subjects of marriage and human sexuality.

Traditionalists are convinced that God’s will is for sexual relations to be enjoyed exclusively within the bounds of heterosexual marriage. Progressives believe sexual relations within a covenanted relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, are pleasing to God and should be affirmed by the church.

While traditionalists affirm the sacred worth of all persons and believe United Methodists’ hearts, minds and doors must remain open to all people, they also believe the Scriptures are clear in prohibiting same-sex relations. Adopting any other view would require their being unfaithful to the Bible as the ultimate authority for determining spiritual and moral truth.

Progressives cannot change their minds because they hold that the teachings of Scripture are compatible with their views. They believe the full inclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, in all areas of the church, is a matter of God’s love and justice.  Giving up their attempts to change the church’s present policy would require them to violate their consciences and deny the wideness they find in God’s grace.

We need to recognize the reality that we – laity, clergy and even the Council of Bishops – are divided and will remain divided.

Talk of a “middle-way” or of “agreeing to disagree” is comforting and sounds Christ-like.  However, such language only denies the reality we need to admit. Neither side will find “agreeing to disagree” acceptable.

Progressives will not be satisfied with a denomination where openly gay clergy and same-sex marriage are affirmed in some congregations but not in others. They will continue to work until all UM pastors are expected to preside at same sex weddings and practicing homosexual persons are fully accepted for ordained ministry. Justice would demand no less.

Traditionalists will be unable to live with and support a denomination that allows same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing gay clergy. They believe these actions are incompatible with what Scripture reveals to be God’s will.

Are we not at a point where we can acknowledge, after years of dialogue and debate, the depth of our differences and together, progressives and traditionalists, give each other the freedom to pursue our understanding of God’s will? Can we not learn from the pain that other mainline denominations have experienced and find a way forward that honors Wesley’s rule that we do no harm? A way where there are no winners and losers, but simply brothers and sisters who part ways amicably, able to wish each other well?

While we are willing to consider many options, we wonder if it is not time for persons of good faith, representing the spectrum of theological positions within The United Methodist Church, to begin discussing ways to create a “win-win” scenario for the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of everyone involved? In the manner that Paul and Barnabas chose to part amicably (Acts 15:39-41), can we not work for a way of parting that honors the sincerity of those with whom we differ and no longer brings pain to persons made in the image of God?

We look forward to partnering with others of good will as we pray, seek God and try to discern his guidance.

###

To read the press release from the Revs. Maxie Dunnam, Charles Savage, Larry Baird, and Tom Harrison that accompanies this statement, click HERE.

To read the earlier press release from the Revs. Maxie Dunnam, Tom Harrison, Steve Wood, and Charles Kyker, click HERE.

 

Comments

  1. Wputnam says:

    Thank you for standing faithfully in the midst of the midst of such brokenness and confusion. I pray God will direct every step through these difficult days.

  2. Jane L. Bonner says:

    The statement regarding United Methodism’s Future is clear and reasonable. I hope that in finding a way out of this maze of confusion each person involved, no matter which position they hold, will be able to see this proposal as an opportunity to walk in the love and light which we have received. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Love does not mean agreeing.

  3. Bill Reincheld says:

    I wish the issues we face were as simple as the one Paul and Barnabas faced.

    • Rebekah R Arnold says:

      Yes. And I wish the crisis of the “authority of Scripture” was noted first & foremost.

      • There is no crisis of the authority of scripture. That is a rhetorical illusion. It is possible to hold either the progressive or traditionalist position and defend them without marginalizing the authority of the Bible. The illusion comes about because people cannot conceive of others not interpreting the Bible the same as they do. So the logic runs thus: if there are no other valid ways to interpret scripture besides how one side of the issue interprets it, then the other side must therefore be seen to not hold scripture as the authority.

        • Marvin J. Hudson says:

          Granting that there may be a wide variety of hermeneutical models floating around, it remains that the varying results of those models may be utterly incompatible. It appears that we may say at least that much in the case of these intractable issues. Further, if our presuppositions as to how biblical literature functions as Scripture are as widely separated as appears to be the case, the result would probably be the same. It is probably a miracle of sorts that we have been able to hold it all together for the past forty years.

          • Indeed Marvin. There does seem to be something about this issue in particular that brings a lot of the differences among the varied hermeneutical models out in the open. I’ve been criticized by some in my previous church (previous because of a move to a new town) for not holding to a literal six-day creation model, but it never impinged on our friendships. We were able to agree to disagree on that issue. Food for thought.

        • Myrna says:

          Thank you!!!

        • Linda Richard says:

          I agree with you totally!

    • Vielsa Harding says:

      It is simple to me. The church, does not compromise and worse promote sin, period. We are to serve God not ‘human’ desires. Remember, before the second coming of Jesus, there will be one global religion and it isn’t going to be necessarily Christian. I believe the World Counsel of Churches is the means towards this awful event…the moment it compromises and chips away on morality ( not progressive morality by the way or political correctness ) it should be reason enough to flee…!

  4. Mark says:

    While I think it overly kind to the “progressive” point of view—which denies absolutes and currently endorses an unBiblical “sexuality-as-identity” movement—I do appreciate the civility and goodwill of the article. It is time to recognize and remedy the situation that has been an unnecessary impediment to the church’s mission for many years.

  5. I find the following quote quite helpful: “Talk of a ‘middle-way’ or of ‘agreeing to disagree’ is comforting and sounds Christ-like. However, such language only denies the reality we need to admit. Neither side will find ‘agreeing to disagree’ acceptable.”

    If it sounds Christ-like, why not ask us to reassess what is really possible in the light of it, rather than asserting our own realities against it?

    • Jeffrey Rickman says:

      Yeah that was an unfortunate phrase to include. I don’t think Jesus really associated his person or his ministry as a ‘middle way’ in the sense of how it is used in this context. I don’t know why they chose that as a descriptor. If we are wanting to carry the banner of Christ, we should value truth more than any false unity.

      • Bryson Lillie says:

        “Neither side will find “agreeing to disagree” acceptable.”

        This is true if there were only two sides in this argument. But there are more moderate perspectives, who believe that the Middle Way is a totally possible, albeit difficult solution. Yet they are totally ignored and denied their right to contribute by statements like this. Sadly, I don’t think the Good News is totally alone in shutting out the middle. Those on the opposite pole (i.e. the RMN) are guilty of doing this as well.

        There are not just two perspectives here, my friends. Branch out so we can find the bridge that helps maintain unity in the Body of Christ.

        • John Astle says:

          Those are my thoughts exactly, Bryson. There are extremists on both sides. While I don’t really like “agreeing to disagree” as an option, there does not seem to be any other option open if we wish to maintain any kind of unity.

          • David Boger says:

            Unity ? ? I suppose if we want a “agree to disagree” type Church . . . to be honest I submit that we just have a change of our name. We cannot continue as “The United Methodist Church” we must change our name to “The Divided Methodist Church”.

  6. James T. Smith says:

    THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG AND THE SO CALLED PROGRESSIVES ARE WRONG. PERIOD. NO DEGREES OR SHADES, JUST SIMPLY WRONG.
    THIS IS CLEARLY DEFINED SIN AND SINNERS CAN NOT STAND IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. FURTHER IT IS NOT UP TO THE PROGRESSIVE TO JUDGE THE TRADITIONAL AND /OR TRADITIONAL TO JUDGE THE PROGRESSIVE. GOD IS NOT MOCKED, WHATSOEVER THOU SOWEST, THAT SHALL YE ALSO REAP. PROBLEM IS, SOME OF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THERE IS ULTIMATE JUDGEMENT AND PUNISHMENT. THESE ARE THE ONES WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND BELIUEVE WE SHOULD LEGALIZE EVERYTHING THAT IS ILLEGAL PURELY FOR OUR OWN SELFISH DESIRES. SEXUALITY IS INTENSELY PERSONAL AND COMMANDS NO PLACE ON THE FLOOR OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE AND NO ACCOMPANYING “RIGHTS” ARE IN ANY SOCIAL CONSTITUTION PROVIDED FOR HOW YOU DO SEX.

    • Chill out a bit. Take a breath. Calm down. You should probably not be discussing this issue unless you are in a state of mind that is capable of dialogue. I get where you are coming from, but your comment isn’t helpful. It also demonstrates that you are not listening to what the “progressives” have to say.

      Seriously, do you honestly think (in a calm moment) that anyone calling him/herself a Christian would want to “legalize everything that is illegal purely for our own selfish desires?” In logic, all-or-none claims (using the word “everything”) are extremely hard to validate. A clear implication of your statement that sexuality should command no place on the floor of the General Conference would necessitate the conclusion that the clause in the Book of Discipline declaring the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching never should have been put into the Book of Discipline in the first place.

      With that “logic” the progressives should thank you. …or perhaps you should comment when you are in a calmer state of mind.

      • Jim Fetterly says:

        Lee, Could it be that James was speaking from a passionate position? There was a time or two that Jesus did the same. The Bible is very clear on the subject of sexuality.

        As a side point, the yellow sign in the article showing the arrows turning to the left and to the right, should have shown one turning to the left and one continuing to go straight, no pun intended.

        • He is no doubt speaking from a passionate position, and there is nothing wrong with being passionate about something. The problem is really when our passions get away from us and lead to some not-so-kind wording.
          I don’t think the Bible is as clear on the subject of sexuality as you suppose Jim. I used to be a traditionalist myself, and I know the arguments better than you think. I even wrote and preached a sermon defending the traditionalist position once upon a time. I still think the arguments I made then still have merit, but I am aware of other arguments from the progressive position that I find to be much more compelling. That said, I can respect those with whom I disagree, but bring your “A Game” when you talk to me on the subject. Chances are I know what you are going to say before you say it.
          As to the sign metaphor? I can agree with you, but which side is really the one continuing the church faithfully into the future?

          • John Hill says:

            Wow, I believe one of the factors as to why this topic has reached this level is due to a great deal of people on both sides believing that “Chances are I know what your going to say before you say it.” How does a attitude such as that lend itself to open dialogue and possible resolution?

          • Point taken John Hill! My word choice was not as conducive to dialogue as I would have wished. I do have a willingness to learn and listen to others, including traditionalists. Since I used to be traditionalist it can feel like I’ve exhausted all avenues of argument from that position. I actually feel that I have, but I’ll admit that I could be wrong.

            The traditionalist arguments I developed when I was a traditionalist were not from the perspective of someone who subscribes to Biblical inerrancy or infallibility. That put them in a category that few progressives are prepared to defend. I have found that many progressives assume all traditionalists are akin to fundamentalists so that some of them are quite shocked to see a defense of the traditionalist position that is based entirely on progressive theological presuppositions.

            I have yet to see any other traditionalist pull off arguments like that (that doesn’t mean no one else has, just that I haven’t come across them–and I’ve been looking for it). To use someone’s own presuppositions against them has a lot of rhetorical power. I’m often surprised that many traditionalists haven’t tried that type of argument yet.

            Thus I feel like I know all the arguments that traditionalists can put forward, but I’ll admit I could be wrong. Thus far no one commenting here has even come close to surprising me. Most just say “the Bible is clear about that” as if that somehow ends the debate. It is far from over at that point…

      • Dan Greene says:

        ‘Seriously, do you honestly think (in a calm moment) that anyone calling him/herself a Christian would want to “legalize everything that is illegal purely for our own selfish desires?”

        In fact, that will be the face of the final One World Religion – to which the ‘progressive’ offshoot of the UMC – in whatever iteration it devolves – will willingly embrace. Sin is sin and God will not be mocked.

    • Barbara says:

      My only alternative if I am confronted by having a gay Pastor or my church performing gay marriages, will be to leave the United Methodist religion and attend some “born again” church. I know what the bible says about homosexuality being an abomination before God and man so for me, there is no “middle ground.”

      • Stephen says:

        Amen! Barbara.

      • Adam says:

        Amen! Jim and Barbara! You both took the words right out of mouth! If our Church was confronted with a homosexual Pastor our entire congregation would dissolve.

        • Jenny says:

          Do you also reject women pastors? 1 Timothy is very clear, and to do anything less is to reject the scriptural authority as read for the first 1956 years of the United Methodist history, and authority clung to today in Roman Catholic and many evangelical churches. What does this schism mean for women, will they continue to be ordained?

      • Ann says:

        I wonder how many folks who are so vehemently “against homosexuality” actually love someone who is gay? Not just know of someone who is gay, but actually love, like a son, daughter or close friend? Because, I think you’ll find, it becomes a little more difficult to look those folks in the eye and call them an abomination. And, it also becomes far more difficult to stay in a church that can’t accept them.

        • Debra says:

          Love the person, not the act of sin. That’s what the progressives don’t want to hear from the Traditionalists or Orthodox Christians. We are not saying the person is an abomination, but the act, the sinful lifestyle is. No different than an adulturer. Love the person, not the act of sin.

          • Marco Luxe says:

            But WHY is the physical consensual act a sin? Of the sins we have not already rejected as anachronistic, all are justified by reasons that we easily accept. They have a ready answer to the question ‘Why is it a sin?’ We have rejected other OT sins. WHY not this one? Blind rule-following is not in the UMC tradition.

        • Vielsa Harding says:

          Ditto..I say ditto Debra. I look forward witnessing to a guy or lesbian in the family..to abandon that way of life. Never hate, no way. They are people as anybody else, loved by God, why would’t I love them..now the lifestyle..that is another story. So, any relative in those circumstances will know, that I will never condone the behavior in any way, they will also know that I will give them a coat of many colors and embrace them when the they find their way back to God.

  7. Brad Scott says:

    I think this is a responsible and reasonable way to handle our present division. Thank you for striving for a wise and Godly way to handle this. In the mean time, I hope we will all, traditionalist and progressive alike, live in a spirit of love and forgiveness as we map out a future in separation. I hope we will all grow in grace as we try to be faithful to what we believe God has placed in our hearts to do.

  8. Eric Snyder says:

    Thank you for this. It is clear, respectful, and hopeful. The time to move forward has come.

  9. KP says:

    It would be a gracious move of transparency for you to tell us who is included in this group of 80. Anything less seems a bit oligarchical, especially if you pretend to making decisions for the future of the UMC.

  10. The Rev. Holly Boardman says:

    This is rather like facing surgery–the amputation of an infected limb. Scary, sad, but necessary. Unfortunately, I think those who will form the new communities will probably keep some of the “democratic” processes that have led us to this point. I wish we could figure out a way to eliminate voting, Robert’s Rules of Order, and the current constitutional format for a more appropriate ecclesiology. If we don’t spend enough time praying and planning a new start, we will be right back where we are in another generation.

  11. Christopher says:

    Lipstick on a pig. You don’t like me, you don’t want to break bread with me, you want me gone. Any notions of civility is a facade.

  12. Scott Mann says:

    I’m curious to know some things about the individuals who were a part of this gathering. How many of them graduated from one of our UM seminaries? How many are ordained elders? I don’t know that such things are vital but it strikes me as some interesting things to ask.

  13. KP says:
  14. Kevin says:

    Who are these 80 theologians and who says they represent their conferences? Why are they not standing their ground? Don’t run away.

  15. To paraphrase Chesterton, the middle way has not been tried and found difficult. It has been found difficult, and left untried.

    • Bill Reincheld says:

      Drew, G. K. Chesterson did NOT say that about any “middle way.” But he did say, “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

  16. In the midst of a document that blames progressives for leaving behind the traditional authority of scripture, this press releases approach is somewhat confusing. Both the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith have very similar things to say about scripture, but the press release borrows language from fundamentalism rather than from the traditions of the United Methodist Church: “The Bible is the infallible word of God.” Seems that, whatever the progressives are doing, the conservatives are leaving behind the Methodist understanding of the authority of scripture.

    • Clinton Grant says:

      When I joined the Methodist Church in 1945 at 10 years old, we had the same Scriptures we have today. It took at least 15 years before I found out there were people who did not believe the Bible was the inspired Word of God yet still claimed to be Christians. They were few in number but have worked hard over the years to convince others to their belief (or non-belief} and to gain much control over the administration of The Church. They have been very successful although the means used were in many cases less than honest. That is, they are willing to lie to gain control. Liberal Bishops and Preachers lied when they took the oath to uphold the Discipline. Otherwise, when they could not follow their pledge, they would have resigned their position in The Church.

    • David Wehrle says:

      Borrows language from Wesley that has been redacted by progressives:
      “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;’ consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true.” (Wesley 1872, vol. 5, p. 193).
      “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” (1872, vol. 4, p. 82)

  17. “It is a crisis regarding the inspiration and the authority of the Scriptures, where some believe that, rightly understood, the Bible is the infallible word of God, and where others believe that significant parts of the Scriptures do not provide an accurate understanding of God’s heart and mind and may be discarded as uninspired and in error.”

    I don’t think that statement is accurate at all. The reality is a lot messier. Epistemically speaking, how do you know when you have “rightly understood” the Bible? Is God on your side? How often has that been heard in history–that God is on “our” side? Does God even have a “side” to be on?
    Claims of infallibility are a joke. Sure the Bible is authoritative. All Christians agree with that whether they are traditionalist or progressive. It is possible to be a progressive and believe in the infallibility of the Bible, just as it is possible to deny the Bible’s infallibility and be a traditionalist. If the traditionalist conclusion is that progressives discard parts of the Bible as “uninspired and in error” then they haven’t been paying attention to the breadth of opinion progressives have on the issue. I am familiar with several different methods for defending the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons of faith. They do not always start from the same point, and they do not always use the same logic. This is also true of traditionalists. There are multiple lines of argumentation used by different traditionalists to come to the same conclusion that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching, and the logic of some of them is mutually exclusive. No traditionalists I know use the logic put forward by Westboro Baptist church (a version of high Calvinism). Thus I wouldn’t want to assume all traditionalists are in agreement with Westboro Baptist’s logic, and form a statement that assumes only that as the basis for the condemnation of homosexual practice, and critique that. That would be the “straw man” fallacy, and that is precisely what I am accusing the architects of this statement on amicable separation of in the above quotation.

    • Scott Mann says:

      Amen. I believe this minority American schism’s goal is to do exactly as you suggest. I also believe that by doing so they wish to avoid the dire consequences if the reversionary clause.

    • Reverend Jay Archer says:

      Lee Karl Palo makes some good points. Much of my heart and mind is with the 80, but if and when a United Methodist remnant is formed that allows a more cohesive orthodox and evangelical Wesleyan expression of the Methodist Church to prosper, much more care will have to be taken to state what this remnant will have at its core in relation to theology, Biblical perspective,mission, etc. The language in this article about such things is not careful enough to draw folk who would actually “sign up” and claim identity with the group. I am disaffected enough to seek a parting with some portions of the United Methodist Church, but I need more to have me locate with another option.

    • David Wehrle says:

      If infallibility is a joke, then so is John Wesley:
      “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;’ consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true.” (Wesley 1872, vol. 5, p. 193).
      “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” (1872, vol. 4, p. 82)

      • I think Wesley’s view is a little more complicated than that. In any case, I wouldn’t want to assume that Wesley’s understanding of the Bible is infallible either. I’m sure if we were to go before God and discuss our theologies (like Barth thought) God would probably find our theologies amusing, but not wholly correct.

        None of us are perfect in the Platonic sense. We say we are “going on to perfection,” in the Biblical/Wesleyan sense. I’m sure if you are that familiar with Wesley you are well aware of areas you would not agree with him either. Nevertheless we can be Wesleyans without agreeing with everything Wesley said.

      • Although I admire John Wesley very much, your logic is not sound. You assume that if infallibility is a joke, then John Wesley is a joke. By that logic, you are also assuming that John Wesley is infallible. That’s the only way the 2 statements would be correct.

        Could John Wesley have been wrong in certain areas? Definitely. He was human. He was not God. Did he do a lot of good for the Church Body? Absolutely.

  18. Jeff McBride says:

    I believe same – sex marriages are WRONG – let alone Gay people serving in the status of ANY church. I believe Gay life styles are against God’s word. I will not hate you for the life you choose – but, don’t push it onto me or my family and I will not push my life style on you. – and we’ll probably at least get along.

    • K Matthews says:

      I agree.

      There can’t be two rights. One side is right, the other is horribly wrong.

      • Annie says:

        They have every right to be just as wrong as they choose to be. Let them have their way! Except for one minor detail and that is they are not happy just having their way. Their agenda is to force, in one way or another, “their” way on everyone else. It has been proven over and over again. Boy Scouts of America is a glowing example. Why didn’t “they” create their own organization for boys, in whatever manner they choose and not destroy a wonderfully functioning entity that had been in existence for so long to the benefit of so many. I do find it very hard to believe that young boy children are seeking to fulfill any mission having to do with sexual matters of any sort. Such things do not, and should not matter to children. It is only possible for that to happen in one way and that is upon indoctrination by adults, who, as i said, do have an agenda!

  19. Evan says:

    So when/if GC rejects legislation from this group to formally split our church, are you who are involved and support this willing to bow to the will of the only body that can officially set law and polity for our denomination?

    • Mike says:

      Either that or leave, but I won’t disrupt meetings and I won’t engage in ecclesial ,clerical or lay disobedience.

  20. Gary Bebop says:

    Watch the blog posts now of progressives. They will be unhinged at the thought that their disobedience was taken seriously. The sought to overthrow church law by their infidelities, but they have unleashed a host of unintended consequences. It time for progressives to pick up their own lunch tab.

    • There is plenty of “finger-pointing” to go around. Many progressives have found it frustrating that their Biblical exegesis is largely ignored by traditionalists, as well as their concerns. It is as if progressive people are only worth listening to when their conclusions are the same as the traditionalists. I’m not defending the “disobedience,” but I could see it coming based on how traditionalists treated progressives’ concerns, particularly at the last General Conference.

      How does this work?
      Traditionalists believe that the Bible makes it clear that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching.
      Since progressives believe in the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church they are perceived by traditionalists either to not know how to interpret the Bible correctly, or as having rejected the Bible’s authority.
      Neither conclusion sits well with progressives.

      Personally, I haven’t found any traditionalist rhetoric that I can’t successfully challenge–from the Bible itself!

      So when progressives are ignored or treated as Biblically illiterate, the consequences can hardly be said to be surprising!

      • Gary Bebop says:

        Hermeneutics is not won on filibuster. In this case, truth will out over volume of words. Sadly, progressives (in some conferences) have tried to control every expression of biblical literacy by talking matters to death. They have aggressive mocked and marginalized orthodox perspectives. That hegemonic way of dealing with orthodox Methodists is now anachronistic. The pushback has begun. Get used to it. This will not abate; it’s the beginning of a Holy Spirit awakening.

        • I know what you mean Gary. I know progressives who have not been kind or respectful toward traditionalists. I apologize if I have stepped over a line myself. I wish to be respectful. I used to be a traditionalist myself, and I remember what it was like. I would occasionally feel like progressives were treating me as if I was a moron.

          However, I am reminded that we are to strive not to “repay evil with evil.” Because some progressives are insensitive jerks does not mean all of them are. Conversely, I have seen many traditionalists whose behavior toward progressives is just as mean and insensitive as what you object to Gary. There is plenty of blame to go around!

          I would ask that you not assume all progressive people are insensitive jerks who think they are better than everybody else. I don’t think I am better than everybody else.

      • Dan Greene says:

        ‘LGBTQ persons’

        Who said anything about bisexuals or transgenders?

        By this we see your true goal – to bring your Leftist your politics into the church.

  21. Robin Williams says:

    The battle has been over for decades. If the Lord is God follow Him!
    According to Romans 1:27. The thing that you are eye witness to is JUDGEMENT.
    The years of silently standing by and allowing error has produced this fruit.
    The most heartbreaking reality is the harm that has been done to the souls of those who have bought the lie. I think of the generation of children who have been raised up under the weakening message of the Gospel. Christ is POWER and His blood sets men free! He changes us!!! We see Christ on the cross, we see our sin, we are broken and we cry out in repentance, Christ covers us with His powerful blood and we are changed inside and out, in our body, in our minds, our hearts, our desires, our vision. We are filled with Holy Spirit power that burns like a fire and we are changed. The flesh wants to stay but Christ offers a way to overcome it. By His blood and us looking to HIM!
    The message has never shifted. It remains the same. Please stop compromising the message of the Gospel. The children are still watching to see if you will choose Christ and His way or if you will continue to compromise with evil in hopes you will save your “life”. God will provide! He promised!
    Prayerfully,
    Robin

    • Anne says:

      Thank You for this… “The years of silently standing by and allowing error has produced this fruit.” I pray this time has come to an end… I fear we have missed opportunity for great ministry while dealing with these issues… the youth, the children have suffered greatly… it’s time to focus on the gospel of Christ.. and serving Him alone..

    • As a progressive, I’d say the message of the Gospel has not at all been compromised. The message has certainly changed over time however. Views on the afterlife are a good example of this. Read N.T. Wright’s book, “Surprised by Hope.” There was a time when Christianity was not obsessed about where you go after you die, but that changed. Ideas about the afterlife have changed a lot too. There was a time when “I believe in the resurrection of the dead” meant something other than your immortal soul ascending to heaven upon your death.

      I also fail to see how condemning homosexual practice is central to the faith. I’ve never read it in one of the Ecumenical Creeds. I believe in those creeds!

      • Martin Keene says:

        The word of God has been under attack and is in about the same shape as the Founding documents of this Republic. God is most certainly not dead but I fear his people wither away under the burden of becoming the self-actualized “new man”. The pagans of the Fabian Society, et al, have produced ever increasing doses of poison for the well. God will prevail over all this our perverse discernment of the teachings of his Son.

    • When Elijah saw the beginning of a schism during his days he was confident that God would deal with ignorance at Mount Carmel. We now know that God did not hide or shy away in exposing a theological error. Progressive and traditional theologians may be eager for a Mount Carmel parallel in our day. It appears theological arguments will not produce the breakthrough we all seek. Homosexuality as a practice, phenomenon or spirit should either be encouraged or discouraged to our children after some ecclesial testing.

  22. Warren Lathem says:

    I was involved in this debate for all of the 40 years. We are no closer to a resolution than we were in the early 1970′s. Time to end this and devote our energies to that which we say is the mission of the church – whether traditional or progressive. Just stop the bloodletting, split amicably, and move on toward the vision we separately believe Christ has for the church. .It certainly is not the same vision.

  23. Karl Kroger says:

    As someone who’s more progressive, and as someone who is concerned about the future of the UMC, and as someone who’s very uncertain about the best path forward…I am very grateful for these gracious words. Rarely have I seen those on the left or right, speak to charitably of the other. Thank you.

  24. Lois C says:

    I think Psalm 37 says it all. I will trust in the Lord and do good.

  25. Stephen says:

    Face it. It is inevitable. There is no agree to disagree or another words sweep it under the rug and no one will notice. Just split and get it over with. When pastors and bishops start stepping on what they swore to uphold, the time has come. Stop tip toeing and get it over with. This has been going on long enough. Lets get back to ministering to the homeless, the hungry and those that have lost hope.

    • Annie says:

      Thank you, Stephen!!! Pastors and bishops have desecrated what they once swore to uphold, upon becoming “enlightened.” Enticement by satan is more the case. Of course, they don’t believe the devil is real either, and they circumvent the Discipline at their own whims, which is enough to qualify them to resign their positions.

  26. robert reeves says:

    From my reading many of these posts two things greatly concern me. While I would be put into the “Traditionalist” group by anyone who knows me well I’m still thinking two things about all this. First, we should all be reminded this is talk and no more than that! Are these 80 pastors influential enough to force or carry out any type of amicable division? Secondly, I’ve served the UMC nearly 30 years and before I go voluntarily off with some new group or get carried off with some new group or wave good bye to some group leaving I will have my say in the issue. As far as I’m concerned, every Elder (which I am) and every local pastor with some minimum year experience served for both groups should have a say in such a monumental decision as a division. I’m not saying it should not necessarily happen but this cannot happen by just representational vote! Comments please?

    • I agree with you. I am concerned about many of the UM organizations like the Publishing House (that I used to work for), UMCOR, General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Women, General Board of Global Ministries, and so on. There are a lot of consequences for splitting the denomination that I’m not sure people have considered. There is also the matter of pensions for retired clergy, etc. Any split in the denomination has severe financial consequences to many of the United Methodist Church’s financial obligations.

      How would a proposed schism work? Are traditionalists proposing to eject those from the denomination they feel have left in spirit anyway? There certainly seems to be a lot of anger toward those perceived to be “disobedient” to the Book of Discipline. Where would such “witch-hunting” end?

      I am a seminary-educated layperson, and my previous pastor (an ordained elder) was on the traditionalist side. I know we disagreed with each other on the issue of sexuality, but we always respected each other. I was even on the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. I feel it is possible to “agree to disagree,” but this group of 80 seems to think otherwise.

    • Thank you for the question. I think any plan of separation in order to be legal would have to suspend or change the constitution of the UM Church. That would require a 2/3 majority of the delegates to General Conference and a 2/3 majority of all the voters at annual conferences. So every clergy person and all lay members of annual conferences would have an opportunity to have a say.

  27. Mary says:

    Truthfully, I identify myself with Christ first and foremost. I am a United Methodist; it’s where I worshiop, praise and fellowship wholeheartedly. I recently studied the book of Matthew. Jesus traveled with Judas for 3 years and knew Judas’ heart and sin, as He did all the disciples. Ultimately, Jesus allowed Judas to kiss Him goodbye and Jesus totally understood what that kiss curtailed for Judas-eternal damnation. It is ok to part company with known sinners and let the justice of God prevail.

  28. As one who is orthodox in doctrine, I cannot subscribe to this part of the statement:

    “It is a crisis regarding the inspiration and the authority of the Scriptures, where some believe that, rightly understood, the Bible is the infallible word of God…”

    That is not an orthodox understanding of Scripture in a Wesleyan ethos. And the via media/middle way comes from our Anglican background of which the Wesley’s claimed and lived. And if it sounds Christ-like, it just might BE Christ-like. Some better wordsmithing and recall of our own Wesleyan heritage is needed in this statement.

    Sky+

    • The Rev. Holly Boardman says:

      I agree, Sky. The word “infallible” makes me squirm. It is loaded with too much baggage. The pope is considered to be “infallible”; and in reaction some Protestants made a substitution to say the Word of God is infallible. The word has been used as a bludgeon to beat people up for centuries. Let’s just stop it.

    • David Wehrle says:

      “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;’ consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true.” (Wesely 1872, vol. 5, p. 193).
      “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” (1872, vol. 4, p. 82)

    • I am a progressive who is also orthodox in doctrine, and I agree with you there Sky! I believe the Ecumenical Creeds. Nowhere in them is a doctrine of the infallibility of the Bible. Rev. Holly Boardman also “gets it.” I have been “bludgeoned” many times by people using the word infallibility against me. I would LOVE to discuss how to best interpret the Bible, but what I most often get is something like this: “the Bible is clear on the subject, so I don’t need to discuss anything with you.” I remember one of my favorite quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” The understanding and use of the term “infallibility” has changed over time, as Rev. Holly Boardman implies in her comment, which is something David Wehrle doesn’t seem to acknowledge (he made roughly the same reply to me earlier in the comments.

      There are a great many things both progressives and traditionalists can agree on, it just seems like the issue of sexuality is somehow the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I still feel it is possible to “agree to disagree” on this issue. I certainly do not think schism is a good idea.

  29. Peg says:

    The conversation of splitting makes me sad in one way, but in another way I wish the Methodist church would ‘just do it’ as we seem to be having non-productive Annual Conferences and local churches whose divisiveness are just causing loss in membership. In order to do anything but split, one side or the other is going to have to “give in” and abandon their values/beliefs to which they espouse.

    • I really lamented how the Slaughter/Hamilton statement at the last General Conference was voted down. What did it mean to vote it down? It was a refusal by traditionalists at the GC to even acknowledge that there are differences of opinion on the issue of sexuality! It is hard to have productive talks when one side doesn’t think there is anything to say–that the other side is not even worth listening to!

  30. Bryan says:

    I think the article and the second article that came out with quotes from Maxie Dunnam and Tom Harrison and others is well written, thoughtful, clear, and with a loving spirit. For me, it was good to see someone finally say it and allow the conversation to begin. I think many people have been wanting to bring the topic up but didn’t want to be the one to do it. As I read the article I experienced a sense of relief. The discussion is now out in the open and can be discussed. I hope it will be discussed from all sides with a serious spirit of respect and love.

  31. Tom Getchell-Lacey says:

    As others have noted, it is interesting that the vast majority of the 80 pastors who are behind this statement remain anonymous. Good News has an article that identifies a few of this group, all of whom are older white males. I have no doubt that this statement speaks to that demographic of our church. However it does not speak to a growing segment of our church, particularly among our younger members. In fact, an argument can be made that this statement is a frightened, reactionary response to the rapidly diminishing number of Americans, both within and without the UMC, who hold to a so called “progressive” perspective around human sexuality.
    There are two main reasons why I cannot support their call for a separation, amicable or otherwise. First, I predict that within the next 10-15 years, the logiam around issues related human sexuality will begin to significantly clear. It would be a profound mistake for us to spilt over an issue that will not be an issue in the not too distant future.
    But even if my prediction is wrong, I cannot support a split because I, along with many others, would find it difficult to pick a side in this divide. My concern is that if the two sides go their separate ways, it will have the effect of bringing out the worst in both sides. I have no desire to participate in a church that is merely an echo chamber of my own thoughts and views. I believe that a split would impoverish both camps, and dilute the integrity of theological conversation within both camps for decades to come. I invite others to join me in praying that a split would not occur.

  32. Laurel Bouchard says:

    Human Sexuality – these words are heavy laden as they describe someone emotionally and physically. Throughout the history of human kind, sexual express has taken the form of heterosexual, homosexual, beastiality, pedophilia and possibly others. Can it be said that all of these expressions of human sexuality be in the best interest of the human? Or is there a God-designed BEST interest of all human beings? If there is, then where do we find this BEST example? The only place we have is The Bible. If we apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to the topic which Wesley, himself, gave superior authority to Scripture, above reason, above experience, above tradition I’m unable to find scripture that supports any expression of human sexuality except through a heterosexual marriage. The tradition of homosexuality, beastiality, pedophilia tips the balance towards harmful for all participants across all continents. God’s grace, love, rules are supreme and there ARE consequences if we choose to live in disagreement of these. The Bible describes the situation of being unequally yoked. I believe it is time for the organization of the United Methodist Church to decide what does this mean and act accordingly.

  33. Bill Lentz says:

    Denominations with links to historic and traditional Methodism and Wesleyanism are out there as a port in the storm for those who by conscience wish to leave the UMC. Another new denomination only adds to the dreadfully broken Body of Christ. For the sake of the witness of Christ, then, depart for what already is rather than fracturing more to meet self-indulging needs for control.

  34. Dave Hurst says:

    The situation within the United Methodist Church has reached the point of hopelessness. But this statement “Regarding United Methodism’s Future” is the first genuinely hopeful message for Methodisim that I’ve seen in years! Its focus appears to be centered upon the UMC’s mission “to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” it is grace-filled, and strives to factually and fairly summarize the two polar positions (as much as that is humanly possible in this emotionally charged situation).

    It is interesting that some are wondering warily about the identity of the 80 while others clearly are attacking the messengers because of the message. My perspective is that they simply are filling a vacuum created by the lack of leadership of our Council of Bishops. Who they are hardly matters. When it comes time to vote at Annual or General Conference, they are only 80 votes under our polity. If their perspectives and opinions don’t reflect that of a majority of our delegates, they have no more power or authority than I do.

    Those institutionalists still favoring the middle ground deserve credit for tenacity. Forty years is more than enough for me. It’s time to move on, show the world how Wesleyans can part lovingly over sincere differences and watch how God uses refocused Methodist churches to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

  35. revjimmyray says:

    I believe if we the clergy and leadership do not resolve this issue
    And soon , the laity will leave the UMC causing a split without us.
    The time has come for action rather than reaction.

    • Adam Hamilton’s Church of the Resurrection went through this, and indeed lost some members, but the church is surviving and thriving. There is hope (at least from the progressive side).

  36. theenemyhatesclarity says:

    I worship at a church with attendance averaging about 250. There are people that I know and love on both sides of the issue. Despite the fact that this has been an issue in our national church for 40+ years, it has not directly affected our local church (and I have been here 35 years). The reason it has not affected us is because both sides in our church have been willing to live by the Discipline and the results of General Conference. What we don’t like, we grumble about, but grin and bear it. (And although I am a “traditionalist” on this presenting issue, there are plenty of things our General Conference does or doesn’t do that tick me off, but I live with them).

    However, two things are now different, and unless they change, our church will dissolve. 1. More and more of those on the “progressive” side are no longer willing to abide by the rules. If they don’t like the rule, they break it. If they don’t like the results of General Conference, they disrupt it. 2. The Bishops no longer enforce the rules. This would stop in a hurry if the Council of Bishops simply said that while of course any pastor is free to argue for any change, any pastor who disobeys the Discipline or disrupts General Conference will be immediately suspended pending a trial, and absent repentance, will never be appointed to another church.

    The Discipline is our rulebook. It is what holds us together in covenant. If blatant violations are ignored or brushed off, we effectively no longer have a rule book. And if we no longer have a rule book that we all agree to live by, we are no longer in covenant. And that is how our great church is coming to an end.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

    • My perception is that the Bishops are enforcing the rules, but many of them are finding ways to avoid being harsh. One pastor I personally know in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference was suspended for a day as a consequence of performing a same-sex marriage. I guess some traditionalists want the Bishops to exact a “pound of flesh” instead of leniency.

      Perhaps the next step at the next General Conference will be for traditionalists to pass legislation requiring all violators to be defrocked.

      • theenemyhatesclarity says:

        Lee, leniency is for those who repent.

        In Christ,

        The enemy hates clarity

        • You are right that leniency is much more typically given to those who repent, and I don’t know of any pastors who have performed same-sex marriages who are repentant about that (and I personally know more than a few of them). I suspect Bishop Hagiya is sympathetic to the progressive side. Nevertheless he was elected Bishop, and it was his decision as to what consequences he felt were appropriate. My point is that some people are asserting that active Bishops (I am excluding Bishop Talbert since he is retired) are not doing their jobs, when that is not in fact the case.

          It is perfectly reasonable for a traditionalist to claim that the active Bishops are being too lenient, but not that they are failing to uphold church doctrine.

          Hopefully that provides sufficient clarity to my position.

  37. Chris W. says:

    As a former member of a Methodist Church I can say this is EXACTLY why I left this denomination about 10 years ago. I stayed, prayed, had a voice that was never heard. Why would a believer stay in a congregation that questions the infallible Word of God? That alone in itself is HUGE! The splitting of the hairs stems from that one decision. Is it God’s spoken Word or not? For all of us who firmly believe that to be the TRUTH the only decision is to leave and do not look back! They should have divided years ago. The Bible believing churches support all of this nonsense. Look at where the money comes from so pull out and let them try and stand on their own. Let the unrighteous 4% cover all the expenses and see how long they last. How can a follower support a minister/leader of their church who cannot make a stand for the Word of God as being TRUTH? I will never support a church with my time, prayers and money that waivers and supports these things. What is happening is a revival in the pews and people are reading and being taught and they cannot line up with the confused Methodist churches stand on NOTHING. They do not speak for or against anything. They are neutral and try to be politically correct as not to offend. Revelation 3:14-16: 14″To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15′I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16′So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.… Right now I think I know what God thinks about what is going on in not just The Methodist Church but all the churches who are denying His Word and really when you get down to it – they are DENYING HIM.

    • Perhaps it is best that you left. Many traditionalists I know don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible any more than I do as a progressive. Claiming that the Bible is infallible is often just a facade that means one’s own interpretations are infallible.

      I don’t know anyone who is an infallible interpreter of the Bible. Do you?

      The Bible is without a doubt, whether progressive or traditionalist, the primary authority for the church. Sure there is Albert Outler’s coining of the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral,” but the quadrilateral is just a way to be honest about how we can’t help interpreting the Bible. We understand the Bible through the lens of tradition, reason, and experience.

    • Robin Williams says:

      Our family left 2 years ago. We attended a rural church and was lied to by Pastors and the lay delegate who would slant the news coming out of Annual Confer. God had to wake us up to the reality of what was taking place in the shadows. Our small church went for about 5 months without a Pastor and with much prayer and seeking Christ for answers God sent a Holy Spirit filled Pastor to our church. Through the mighty hand of God I was sent as a reserve delegate to the 2012 General Conference in Tampa. My eyes were opened and my heart was broken to be an eye witness to the spiritual adultery, the demonic strongholds, and the dullness of the people.
      The homosexual issue is only a symptom of a much deeper and more severe sickness. When we turn from God’s Word or use it as a licence to sin and remain unchanged. We deny the power of the cross.
      I have since learn that many UMC and the church they call the face of “National United Methodism” in DC celebrates a day of denying the resurrection of Christ. Look it up!!!
      Run out of there and never look back! This is a sickness unto death. God will provide for His faithful followers. Yet we must continue to pray and speak the truth in love because God will awaken all who will repent and look to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. God is love!

      Robin Williams

  38. Israel Alvaran says:

    i posted this comment on the good news press release: “I’m wondering why such an important statement is cloaked with secrecy and anonymity. Organizing by press release is not a form of dialogue. Conversations happen in our annual conferences and local churches – churches invested in our connectional structure, and not mega-churches whose pastors don’t really itinerate. The threat of schism is real, but the roots are not fully exposed. I even wonder if these 80 or so leaders have LGTQ friends or family that they have spoken with or in relationship with. Have they had honest-to-goodness conversations with the persons they agree are people of sacred worth without having one hand of fellowship extended and the other brandishing a machete just in case the conversation got a bit rough and divisive? Breathe, pray, witness. This statement is an acknowledgement that its leaders have closeted concerns about the efficacy of graceful, personal engagement and would rather cut their losses and take what they can before the wall of discrimination starts crumbling down.”

  39. Kathie Lonh says:

    I have been a Methodist for more than 30 years. I was raised Baptist and gave my heart to The Lord at age 12 As a young adult, I joined the local Methodist Church so that my children would be raised in a loving congregation. I wanted to worship within my own community. In our small town, there is a Baptist Church that questions the school curriculum and runs their own Food Pantry, rather than participate in the community pantry which is a ministry of my United Methodist Church. The only other church in our community is Lutheran and questions why we have their parishioner’s names on our church prayer list. Guess our prayers might taint their prayers? So anyway…I have become a faithful Methodist. I am the Lay Leader, teach Sunday School, administrate a local food give away program for school children, and am UMW secretary. I am also the mother of a gay son and have a gay brother. Both my son and brother are in long term committed relationships. I thank God for the love in their lives. It hurts my heart to know that many Christians see them as perverted sinners. I want for them to be able to marry and be accepted by society and the church. I am quite sure that they did not “choose their lifestyles.” In my family, I also have a gay cousin, and 3 of my cousins have gay children. Anybody thinking “genetics” here? In my small church of about 120, 3 if us have gay children and another has a transgender child. One of our members had a gay child who committed suicide.
    I am not judging opinions presented here, but it sickens me to have homosexuality compared to bestiality, child sexual molestation, or child pornography. I do not know what our church will do, but I personally have had enough of humankind deciding who is acceptable in God’s heart. Slavery was supported for years, because the Bible states that slaves should obey their masters. All I know for sure is that Jesus taught us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourself. The Bible is open to interpretation. There are few absolutes but loving God and each other. Open hearts, open minds, open doors…oops, only if your sexuality is “normal.” Make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, but if you happen to be born gay, please don’t apply for discipleship in the United Methodist Church. I have no answers in how to come to middle ground on this issue. I do know that loving each other shouldn’t be this hard.

    • Thetroublewiththatis says:

      Kathie,
      You argue then that despite the Biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sin, because your family members were “born that way” everyone else should accept them. Here is the fallacy of that thinking; you go on to suggest others who are born with sexually deviant tendencies (pedophiles for example) sickens you. How do you choose which of the forms of sexual deviance is acceptable and should be celebrated in the church and which shouldn’t? And why do you suggest that someone who draws the line in a different spot from yours is not loving?

      • I believe it is possible to do so. Here the work of Michel Foucault is very instructive in this regard (see his “History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction”). No one is claiming that there is a “pedophile” orientation, etc. To make such an assertion makes sense from a traditionalist worldview, and I understand it. Be careful about how you phrase it, because it only appears as an “ad hominem” to the majority of progressives (the progressive worldview does not allow for such comparisons to be legitimate).

        Probably the greatest difficulty in this entire debate is that traditionalists and progressives are coming at the debate from radically different worldviews (Thomas S. Kuhn’s concept of “paradigm” is perhaps a more accurate term than worldview, but not everyone is familiar with Kuhn). What does that mean? Both sides use the same language, but mean radically different things by the employment of various terms. I have seen some traditionalists at least demonstrate the beginning of some type of an awareness of this when phrasing things like progressives defend the “lifestyle,” however even that is inaccurate, and relies upon a traditionalist worldview (no progressive is defending an immoral lifestyle, they are defending moral persons).

        You can trace the evolution of the class of LGBTQ persons through history, which is what Foucault’s work demonstrates. Part of the debate in this regard, to my mind, is whether how we understand “orientation” to be a reflection of intrinsic qualities of humanity that can perhaps be demonstrated through science (the most common defense from the progressive side) or if we instead understand “orientation” to be largely a social construct having arisen more recently. Regardless of which option you subscribe to, the class of LGBTQ persons etc. can be defined and defended based upon the fact that there is a mutuality, an equality, the ability for there to be a truly loving relationship. Love in all legitimate sexual relationships (to put this in terms that the traditionalist worldview employs) requires that there be the possibility of reciprocity and that no harm is done to the sexual partner. Under those parameters, it is clear that pedophilia can never be understood to be legitimate from either the progressive or traditionalist worldview.

        The conclusion? There is no “choice” about “which of the forms of sexual deviance is acceptable.” Based on the arguments I have just made above, the likening of LGBTQ persons to other deviant expressions of sexuality is logically prohibited and demarcated from such deviant expressions, even from a traditionalist understanding. There is no cause for concern that promoting LGBTQ rights will lead to a completely immoral society (at least from the progressive worldview).

        Perhaps you should consider that at least one of the major reasons for the promotion of what progressives refer to as “marriage equality” is that it facilitates more loving and committed LGBTQ relationships. If you believe that heterosexual couples ought to get married in order for there to be a truly loving sexual expression between them, from the progressive Christian worldview it is just as true that non-heterosexual couples ought to be married in order for there to be a truly loving sexual expression between them. Traditionalists often assume that gay marriage sort of solidifies immoral behavior, when from the progressive worldview, it couldn’t be further from the truth (gay marriage strengthens loving relationships.

        Thus there is no “trouble with that” at all. I can understand the choice for anonymity in posting as “Thetroublewiththatis.” By likening LGBTQ persons to pedophiles you are open to the charge of being racist from the progressive worldview. I understand that that is not in fact the case having been a traditionalist myself once upon a time. I ultimately found the progressive position to be more persuasive, perhaps you will too. I hope this response helps, it is meant to be respectful.

        In Christ,

        Lee Karl Palo

  40. Catherine Devlin says:

    It’s true that I won’t be satisfied with the status quo and I will continue to work to try to persuade others within the denomination. That is entirely different from saying, “I am unwilling to share a denomination with those who disagree”. If that’s what I thought, I would have been gone years ago.

    This article tries for a respectful tone, but it tries to portray schism as belonging equally to progressives and traditionalists. The truth is that LGBT-friendly Methodists have been here for years, patiently working without schism, and it’s only now that we have managed some small progress in denominational policy – namely, in not having our pastors expelled – that some anti-LGBT Methodists are calling for a split. So I don’t think it’s honest to portray schism as a mutual decision.

  41. John Wesley prophesied. “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”

    SHAME ON US THAT IT HAPPENED ON OUR WATCH! GOD WILL HOLD US ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR GENERATION!

    I WANT TO ENCOURAGE THE 80 PASTORS AND OTHERS WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE. DO NOT BACK DOWN! GOD WILL MAKE THE WAY. DO NOT HOLD OUT FOR SOME KIND OF BARGAIN OR DEAL. GET OUT! START NEW CHURCHES THAT WILL TELL THis GENERATION THE TRUTH AND THE FULL GOSPEL OF REPENTANCE. REVIVAL WILL BREAK OUT ON THE LAND. IF WE PREACH THE GOSPEL! IT IS A POWERFUL MESSAGE AND PEOPLE WILL BE SET FREE!
    SEND REVIVAL LORD JESUS!

    Robin

  42. Pam Garrud says:

    I understand that the issue for conservatives is Scriptural interpretation and that it is a difficult gap to bridge between conservative in this area.

    It’s disappointing, however, to see that in an official document from an organization whose board is mainly comprised of ordained Elders, that the only alternative hermeneutic (process of interpretation) to Biblical infallibility is expressed as the stance that “…that significant parts of the Scriptures do not provide an accurate understanding of God’s heart and mind and may be discarded as uninspired and in error.”

    Rhetorically, this is called a straw-man argument. Surely those who have been to seminary understand that there are many approaches to biblical interpretation and that viewing the Bible as able to be discarded (a fancy way of saying rubbish?) is not the only alternative nor is it a view held by most progressive Christians.

    Emotionally, this is called demonizing the other. Spiritually, this is bearing false witness. Yes, I realize that progressives have also demonized conservatives and borne false witness against conservatives and that these too are sins that we must confess and of which we must repent.

    It seems to me that our greatest sin as Methodists is that we have taken the worldly route of digging ourselves into camps and believing the worst possible motivations of each other. This route can certainly result in schism. It also results in living in sin and failing to see the truth about our brothers and sisters because we are so intrenched in our defenses and our need to be right at all costs. Ultimately, investing our energies in proving others wrong means we have no energy left for our relationship with God.

  43. “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to get him to esteem more highly those that think alike than those who think differently” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    The problem I see is that traditionalists, for the most part, aren’t interested in dialogue. The assumption is that progressives are unBiblical, and this very statement attests to that reality. Does no one on the traditionalist side even ask how it is that progressives can claim the Bible as the Word of God, as well as their primary authority, and yet be open and affirming of their LGBTQ brothers and sisters? I suppose if traditionalists only talk among themselves, and only read stuff their leaders write on the subject, then it can hardly be surprising that we have now seen a proposal for schism from the traditionalist camp.

    I can articulate a defense of the progressive position that does not require me to say any of the verses on the topic of homosexual practice are in error! Does no one wish to ask me how that is possible?

    I can recite the Ecumenical Creeds in good conscience. I believe the Bible is the Word of God (though I do not subscribe to a doctrine of inerrancy or infallibility as I believe that neither is a truly Wesleyan way of looking at scripture, and thus are more characteristic of fundamentalist churches).

    …and I am a progressive.

    If you are brave enough, you can read a blog post I have written on one issue of the topic. I think you will find that is is a fair piece. http://paradigmone.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/jesus-never-said-anything-about-that/

  44. Denise says:

    What does Jesus say about divorce? Should all who have been divorced be forced out because they are sinners? Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. He said a lot about compassion, healing, justice, and forgiveness. At the end of the day, that is what I’m concerned about.

    • Barbara says:

      In Romans 1:27 “in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” But I guess if you want to pick and choose what “God Really Meant” you can find some way to excuse what is being said. To me it is pretty self-explanatory.

      • Barbara says:

        The plain truth is that we are all sinners, however, to recognize a sin and not call it as such is not benign. Those who say there is nowhere in the Bible where homosexuality is addressed are just plain wrong. The following contain very explicit words in the Holy Bible regarding this subject: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Genesis 19:4-5, Leviticus 18:22 and Judges 19:22.

        • I am a progressive. “To recognize a sin and not call it such is not benign.” I agree with you there. I am aware of the passages you cite. I would dispute the relevance of Genesis 19:4-5 and Judges 19:22 to the debate. That homosexual rape is threatened is not the same thing as a statement prohibiting all forms of homosexual relations. You left out Leviticus 20:13 though (it is a chiastic parallel to Leviticus 18:22).
          At issue is whether the texts having relevance to homosexual intercourse in the ancient world are applicable to the contemporary reality of the LGBTQ community. The progressive position is that the cited texts like Romans 1:26-27 speak to a very different situation than what we find today, and can be seen as not relevant to the contemporary reality. I would not wish to deny, out of hand, that the texts condemning homosexual practice in the ancient world were justified. However there are many texts in the Bible that we no longer find relevant to the world of today. For example a case is made that we need not follow the Sabbath laws in the Old Testament (which includes the Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee as well). There are issues like divorce and the ordination of women where verses in the Bible speak to those issues, but are seen to not be relevant to the contemporary reality of the church today. Thus there is precedent for considering that the passages cited on homosexual practice may not be relevant to the contemporary situation.
          I’m not saying a case cannot be made by traditionalists for the continuing relevance of the passages condemning homosexual practice, but I am saying that the case needs to be made one way or the other.
          I hope that helps you understand where the progressives are coming from on the issue. We do not wish to ignore any passages of the Bible, rather we wish to interpret them properly.

  45. orter t says:

    I take the traditionalist view on this matter; I have read nothing that convinces me that there is any new and great insight as to what is or is not sexually moral. Furthermore, the pro-contingent tends to confuse Wesley’s principle of social holiness with social justice when they are two completely different things. In addition, I have my own reasons based on personal experience for thinking that the UMC is extremely flawed and based on that experience, I believe this argument is a symptom of a deeper spiritual failure. But this flawed institution is all we have at the moment.

    There is one aspect in this argument that is never commented on. What I see is, despite its failures and flaws, over a period of 40 years, the General Conference, which is the only thing designated to speak for the whole church has consistently come up with the same answer 10 times in regards to this issue!!!!!!!!! Why does that not count for something?????? Why is that not a sign???????. At what point do we accept the answer and move on. Is the same answer given 10 times over a period of 40 years really some sort of fluke?????? Come on folks, accept it like adults and move on so this lunacy can stop! And I am talking to both sides of the issue!

    There are bigger problems to be tackled, such as the failure of the church to consistently share a gospel message with the people in the pew that will, to use a Wesleyanism, “amaze [them] unto the dust at the love of God in [our] Lord and Savior Christ Jesus”. It just took me 59 years of being a good Methodist to track down that knowledge–and wouldn’t you know it, the only place I could find the teaching is in the Heidelberg Catechism and a book about it by a Presbyterian pastor! So, what is the real reason the UMC failing???????

    • Wanda says:

      Thank you for verbalizing what I have thought for years – asked and answered!!! Enough already. How many times do we have to vote on this before the progressives quit trying to push their agenda.

  46. Ryan says:

    This solution, while written down may sound good, wholesome, mature, and Christian (and would be if it were in the proper scenario), is very mislead. If half of these people (the progressives) are denying the unchanging truth of God’s word, and even specifically Jesus’ words about marriage and salvation, would it not be safe to say that those who hold this position cannot simultaneously hold the position of Christian? Yet this article is assuming everyone involved to be devoted to Christ at least at some level, whether strongly or distantly – which is very dangerous to assume – especially when beliefs such as these are expressed so adamantly. I do not think the solution is as simple as parting amicably, as Paul and Barnabas did, considering they were two brothers in Christ. It seems this is being approached irresponsibly.

    • No one on the progressive side is “denying the unchanging truth of God’s word.” To be blunt, our understanding of God’s word is always changing (whether one is progressive or traditionalist). Just look at the Dead Sea Scrolls–they help us to better understand the Bible, and our understanding has changed as a result. To assume that you are in sole possession of God’s truth is dangerously close to the idolatry of your own intellect. No one but God has a God’s-Eye perspective on the “unchanging truth of God’s word.”
      That isn’t a ‘cop-out’ argument. It is a statement that all committed Christians put in work (whether conscious or unconscious) to interpret scripture. I found the tenor of the statement to be an attempt to be respectful toward progressives, and it largely succeeds. The progressive position is mischaracterized somewhat (as I’ve mentioned in an earlier comment), but the effort to be respectful did not go unnoticed.

  47. Jim Wolfgang says:

    I am furious at this talk of schism. There are five reasons why churches/denominations split: purse, property, politics, power, and pride! Which of the five is what this schism really about-all of them? What hypocrisy to say this is about theology. Every general conference has upheld our biblical view on sexuality and the last one revealed the majority view on that is gaining strength, so why would this group of 80 be having a problem? (the above five) The LGBT adherents are getting desperate, hence their more radical behavior, if they can not abide our theology let THEM go. We have biblically based disciplinary action in place and it works; if a bishop,clergy, or annual conference can not abide by that let them answer to the general conference, and the LORD (whose church this is by the way)! EVERY split in Methodism has been due to sin.The General Conference alone is the equivalent of the Jersalem Council, the final authority of the N.T. church outside of Christ. Every lay person, congregation, and one with apostolic authority true to the New Testament model abided by its authority; this has not changed, unless these schismatics have a better model of the the church than the New Testament one. Do not be fooled by the talk of separation being for some “higher righteousness,” like the Beroeans of Acts 17:11 see if these things are so.

  48. W Kelly Martin says:

    Thank God for James T Smith! Lee Karl Palo is employing the “death by a thousand small cuts” strategy and he’s very good at it. So was Lenin, Kruschev, Stalin, Ho Chi Min, Pol Pot, Amin, Mao, Alinsky, etc. Mr. Smith sees the forest; it’s time to decide and stand. The liberals know by remaining engaged in “dialogue”, inflicting small, weakening cuts over a long time, in this case 40 years, they can destroy any institution not to their liking “without firing a shot”.

    United Methodism is indeed on the brink. Mr. Smith and I have decided and we are standing for the Godly heritage of our church. Please join us. Be active: write your bishop, district superintendent, conference delegates, church newsletter editor and tell them your decision is made and you demand adherence to our book of discipline. Speak to your congregation; get on SPR, administrative board; be a delegate…put a harsh light on the liberals and most importantly: NEVER quit. They sure won’t.

    Stand. Otherwise, enjoy those small cuts.

    • The “ad hominem” was uncalled for, and is completely inappropriate. Do you have the decency to engage in civil dialogue? Is it the fact that no one has been able refute the points I have made that makes you angry enough to call me names?

      I can defend the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons of faith in the life of the church from the Bible itself, and I can refute the arguments that traditionalists have put forward to condemn homosexual practice.

      Has the heart of the issue now shifted so that traditionalists, being unable to refute the logic the progressive side uses to be welcoming toward their LGBTQ brothers and sisters, have now decided that schism is the only way they can preserve their perspective?

      • Paul W. says:

        Lee, I believe you are sincere in your beliefs. However, I also believe you are dead wrong in your beliefs. You also seem to be saying the same things over and over (no offense intended).

        Now, please re-read the article: It clearly makes the point that progressives interpret the Bible one way and traditionalists interpret it very differently; both approaches are 100% incompatible. It is time to stop arguing and recognize that fact.

        Traditionalists are tired of hearing that you “can defend the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons of faith in the life of the church from the Bible itself, and [you] can refute the arguments that traditionalists have put forward to condemn homosexual practice”; we’ve heard it 100 times before and hearing you say it again isn’t going to make any difference. Likewise, progressives like yourself are tired of hearing the traditionalist position repeated over and over; you even said yourself earlier that you feel you can effectively counter any of our arguments.

        Nothing more is going to be accomplished by further discussion; neither side is going to budge an inch. All you are accomplishing is annoying traditionalists since you keep stating that we are not being completely honest, we aren’t educated enough, we haven’t valued past dialogue, we are unable to “refute” your arguments, etc.

        The point of the article is that we are at an impasse and we need to shift focus to determine honestly and amicably how to move forward.

        • Some good points Paul, and I appreciate the manner in which you have communicated them to me. I suppose what I was hoping to illustrate is that dialogue hasn’t really been tried. I have indeed re-read the statement above a few times. What I find that is inaccurate is that the statement assumes progressives have forsaken the authority of the Bible. It is simply not the case that all progressives have done this. That is what leads me to the view that either dialogue hasn’t really been tried, or people aren’t willing to listen.
          What I would appreciate is the acknowledgement that both sides hold the Bible as authoritative, but that there are different interpretations of the Bible going on. There are many different issues in which Christians disagree as to what the best interpretation of the Bible is. The issue of homosexuality has somehow become a topic that defines whether or not a person believes the Bible at all. That sounds odd since the Ecumenical Creeds were seen to represent what is truly important in the Bible. So we come to a proposal for schism on an issue that heretofore has never been a central issue to the Christian faith.
          As I have also stated more than a few times, I used to be a traditionalist. I do not think I was stupid then, and I certainly do not think all traditionalists are stupid now (nor do I think all progressives are very intelligent, as I’ve seen some pretty bad rhetoric coming from them on occasion). What I was trying to do in the earlier statements (like that I am familiar with what most traditionalists will likely say) was to challenge people to talk to me about how they interpret the Bible. What I get most of the time is “the Bible says so.” That isn’t an argument or a defense of the traditionalist position. To defend it would require traditionalists to explain how the passages cited in reference to the issue are relevant to their conclusion that the practice of homosexuality today is incompatible with Christian teaching. Can reasons be put forward as to why the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings, or is it a case of “it is wrong because I said the Bible says so?”

          To express an alternative view to the traditionalist position would doubtless annoy some, and I don’t think that can be helped. The reverse is also true that many progressives would get annoyed when presented with an alternative view to theirs. I think it is possible to budge more than an inch. Even if people do not change their minds they can at least know what the other side is really saying. It still frustrates me that many progressives don’t listen closely enough to what traditionalists are saying to note that likening them to racists is not logically possible from the traditionalist worldview. That label hinders dialogue and only appears as an “ad hominem” to traditionalists.

          There is plenty to learn if people are willing to listen. The question is: Are people on both sides willing to listen? Are we truly at an impasse?

          • Gustave Schaefer says:

            Lee, I think you as a Progressive would agree with this position statement -The “orthodox” are going to have to explain how they can permit female clergy (extremely clear in the NT that this should not be the case) with culturally conditioned readings and not acknowledge same-sex monogamous partnerships by applying similar culturally conditioned readings. Very interesting point. This concern pointed toward the Group of 80 and their request for schism. Taking the same-sex issue by itself and as you stated in your comments of May 28, “I can defend the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons of faith in the life of the church from the Bible itself, and I can refute the arguments that traditionalists have put forward to condemn homosexual practice. ” If you could respond with this defense from the Bible, it would be most helpful.
            In His Rest,
            Gus

          • Thanks for the interest Gus! It would take a lot of time and space to do the argument justice, and whole books have been written on the subject. Truth be told, I am working on one about this subject. The first task that is often the most difficult is to listen carefully to what each side says. As you note, the issue of women’s ordination is indeed an example of interpreting the Bible in light of many factors. A ‘plain reading’ of the Bible might lead some to believe that women shouldn’t be ordained, but I suspect the majority of both traditionalists and progressives would agree on many points in an argument defending women’s ordination. The example is often brought up to remind people, usually traditionalists, that just because there is a ‘plain reading’ of any part of the Bible, that doesn’t mean we want to embrace such a plain reading.
            As many in the above comments have noted, some progressives are able to defend the full inclusion of LGBTQ people by marginalizing the Bible’s authority. This has always annoyed me greatly. It frankly seems like a ‘cop-out’ because interpreting the Bible is legitimately tough at times. You don’t have to say “the Bible is wrong about it” in order to defend the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons. I have always found it best to make a case from the Bible. Usually when I talk with traditionalists, at least they respect that I honor the Bible’s authority (even if they disagree with my conclusions).
            There are issues in the Bible that illustrate how times changed withing the period of time covered by the Bible. You can trace themes like the need for various sacrifices outlined in Leviticus in the Old Testament to its conclusion in the New Testament when the Christian community commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. We don’t offer sacrifices today, even though there are commandments in the Old Testament that prescribe them. That type of example is easy enough.
            If we move on to the issue of prohibition of homosexual sex in Leviticus it isn’t quite so easy. There is no clear-cut case of the New Testament writers now saying homosexual practice is now okay. However Paul does make a couple of changes to it. First, he adds lesbian sexual relations in Romans 1:26. Secondly, Paul eliminates the Old Testament’s prescribed punishment for such sexual relations in the latter half of Romans 1:27. That second point is almost completely overlooked in the rhetoric. Some progressives argue that Paul is only condemning a certain type of homosexual sex that was common in the Roman world. I find this unpersuasive. Sure Paul may have had that in mind, but he writes the prohibition at its ‘face-value’ as universal in scope, thus all homosexual sexual intercourse is prohibited. Paul clearly has the Pentateuch in mind when he is writing to the mixed group of Gentile and Jewish believers in Rome. What does this new group of believers Paul is writing to have to follow in the Torah? My conclusion is that he affirms the Levitical condemnation of homosexual practice even as he eliminates the prescribed punishment for said practice.
            The argument doesn’t stop there, however. When you talk with most LGBTQ people, it is easy to see that life for them today bears no resemblance to what life must have been like in the First Century CE. If we today are living in a radically different environment than that which spawned the initial condemnations of homosexual practice, it would be hard to say the texts condemning homosexual practice were written for the world of today. I would presume that there were good reasons as to why homosexual practice was condemned in the Bible. Most reasons for prohibiting certain behavior have to do with the detrimental effects the behavior has on its participants. Today it is hard to see where any harm is being done when there is an emphasis on marriage between two loving and committed people as the proper context for homosexual sexual relations.
            Sure there is promiscuity, but that happens with heterosexual sexual relations as well. I don’t know of progressives who advocate for promiscuity of any kind. Rape, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is universally condemned. That brings us back to the Bible. Some traditionalists argue that the story of the destruction of Sodom provides a condemnation of homosexual practice. It would be more accurate to say it condemns homosexual rape than the type of mutually loving relationships we see among the LGBTQ community today.
            I have mentioned Michel Foucault in an earlier comment. His work on the history of sexuality demonstrates how homosexuality as we understand it today is a much more recent phenomena in world history. Prior to this, one can argue that same sex relations had the character of power-over-another, than there being any kind of equality or mutuality. If the reason why homosexual practice is condemned in the Bible has to do with that power-over-another, then it is easy to question whether such condemnations are still applicable today. Keep in mind that the Bible does not state why homosexual practice is condemned–it just is.
            The conclusion is that the homosexual practice the Bible condemns can not possibly be the same type of thing we see today (granted we would still want to condemn homosexual rape, and we would not see sex outside of marriage as appropriate for anyone). Therefore the condemnations can be seen as not relevant to today’s world in the same way that we are not bothered by tattoos, wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fiber, etc. Verses on slavery are also not seen as relevant today, largely because the world is not the same as it was when those passages of the Bible dealing with slavery were written. No one wishes to resurrect slavery just so we can obey the Bible literally on it.
            Again, this is a very brief overview of the argument, but it should be sufficient to give you an idea of this form of the progressive position.

  49. Phil says:

    The wounds from the last time our church formed a schism still burn for many and now wish to inflict new ones upon us? Is there nothing good or decent you can still see in the eyes of your gay, lesbian, progressive, and conflicted brethren that you no longer wish to have us in your presence? Is there nothing you see that still unites us. If so, than I am truly sorry for you, for ALL OF YOU. Even all that still holds us together were but the simply unmerited grace of God, then that only would be stronger than force or belief that seeks to drive us apart. I for one would take a church any day where we hold one another close in the midst of our doubt and confusion, then two that pull away out of their certainty. The last thing John Wesley ever wanted to do was split from the church that nurtured him. There are those among us who will work to preserve our beloved United Methodist Church with every birth within us. If we have to lock the doors of General Conference or kneel at the altar of every reconciling or conservative church in the country, we will do it.

    • theenemyhatesclarity says:

      Phil, do you think the progressive leadership, particularly Bishops and clergy, will keep their vows to uphold the Discipline?

      In Christ,

      The enemy hates clarity

  50. W Kelly Martin says:

    Dear traditionalists, please stand. The liberals destroying this church can’t deal with that. They bully you with lofty rhetoric ad infinitum and when you see right through it, still standing, they declare you not decent, not listening, ignorant, narrow-minded, selfish, intolerant, backward…whatever.

    They want to fundamentally transform your church simply because it is not to their liking. Beyond that they have nothing and their unholy insurgence implodes.

    They are disobedient, from the laity to the bishops. They have attacked our laws and they have failed every time. So all they have left is outright disobedience. They are performing same-sex marriages, openly declaring the fallibility of God’s word, and promising to split the church. I am a firsthand witness. Stand against them; press charges against their disobedience; remove them. As for the disobedient bishop, nothing is more terrifying than the notion of an apportionment revolt.

    Welcome repentant sinners with open arms but never, ever allow the un-repentant to redefine sin. Charge into them. The Holy Spirit is your power, courage and authority. Stand in obedience; fear no judgment; know no defeat. Whether sudden, wearisome or in-between, God’s results are perfect and your perseverance will be honored in the fullness of His time.

    Stand.

  51. Grant says:

    I vehemently disagree with fellow Christians who mandate a lot of things that I believe are not commanded by either Jesus or the Apostles—no real wine for communion, no dancing, no work on Sunday, no card playing, no placing a bet on a horse, no buying even a $1 lottery ticket, calling feminism gender-neutral, calling God she, etc. I can also live with people who think they can speak in tongues and do so loudly, cross themselves, have and “Old Testament” marriage not recognized by the state, drive only black cars, believe that veils are mandatory or even believe that polygamy was never forbidden in the New Testament.

    I can live with them, fellowship with them and have communion with them all the while holding to my own faith on these matters. Their freedom of religion does not threaten mine. I can also live with other pastors performing gay marriages even though I disagree completely and as long as they do not require me to. I can continue to have communion with such pastors. I can continue to fellowship with them. Why then cannot we remain as one denomination?

  52. quickster says:

    Shout out to all those “pious” defenders of the Scriptures. How come United Methodists, even the conservative ones accept remarriage after divorce. Jesus actually commanded against it. Also, why do conservatives allow divorce outside of the parameters Jesus gave? Oh, I don’t know maybe it’s because currently 50% of our population IS divorced., too bad LGBT only make 10 %. So interesting that they will come down staunchly at calling out the sin of homosexuality but let others go unchallenged. Sorry folks but in your compromise long ago, you gave up the moral high ground.

    • As Wesleyans, we all know that scripture is interpreted through the lens of tradition, reason, and experience, but do we acknowledge this in practice? Do we assume that some passages of scripture are immune to this? Sure we all seem to be rather ‘progressive’ in our views on divorce and women’s ordination, interpreting the relevant passages carefully through the above-mentioned lenses, but why is it that this is not always done for passages condemning homosexual practice? What is the answer I so often hear from the traditionalist side? “The Bible says so,” or “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Where is the case made as to why the Bible passages seeming to condemn homosexual practice are demonstrated to still be relevant to the world today? Clearly there is much in the Bible we can say is relevant to the church today, but there is also plenty that we see as not relevant.

      I want to see a traditionalist argument that can make the case, through the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience, that passages in the Bible condemning homosexual practice (see Robert Gagnon’s book on the subject) are still relevant to the world today. So far I am not seeing this from the traditionalist side.

  53. Nate Melcher says:

    Unless the “more than eighty” in this group make their names / signatures available publicly, there can be no dialogue and I encourage people to please ignore this anonymous statement.
    http://thelifemosaic.com/2014/06/04/ignore-the-anonymous-eighty/

  54. Lloyd E. Fleming says:

    At some future date, this discussion will seem as alien and odd to people as debate over whether the world is round or flat does to us today. In that future, biology will have demonstrated that homosexuality is also part of God’s good creation; Biblical references will be understood as the topical and period references that they are, like slavery; the Methodist Discipline will have been amended to allow gay marriage and ordination; the world will have changed as it always does. Let us pray that we don’t destroy the United Methodist Church in the meantime.

  55. We should always remain hungry and thirsty in this way. “It is truly an exceptional, indescribable experience for travelers when they see the Bible come to life before their eyes. And seeing the setting as it was in the time of Christ helps bring relevance to the teachings, parables, and images Jesus used when preaching.

  56. Skipper Anding says:

    To the several of you who do not like our Methodist rules on morality:
    We are not going to abandon God, so you might as well join a group you agree with. Immorality was wrong yesterday, is today and will be evil tomorrow. But be warned, you will not have a good relationship with God if you ignore His rules, so don’t fool yourself! The consequences of ignoring God are complete brokenness. Do you really want that when God cares about you very much?

  57. Skipper Anding says:

    God’s rules are there to help us. The Methodist way is to respect God’s plan for families. You really don’t want any other plan anyway. True happiness comes from co-operating with God. He knows what is best for us!

    As for the future of the United Methodist Church, it is imperative that the revolting people (on morality) be “reeled in”. They can’t be allowed to oppose God so forcefully while saying they are on his side. It is not right and there is far too much at stake!

  58. Gay Wilson says:

    There is not one word I have read of celibacy in these letters. If this were practiced there would be no evidence of sin and we could live in Christ’s way and love.

  59. a says:

    Asking questions are actually fastidious thing if you are not understanding
    anything completely, except this article presents fastidious
    understanding even.

  60. Orlan Lehmann says:

    I agree with Warren L. Since our two theological interpretations are at odds with each other, there can be no hope of arriving at an acceptable solution to either one. Therefore I support the idea of the two groups separating . We will have to drop the name “United” from the Methodist church and let the progressive group choose a new name or we will have to join one of the other “Wesleyan” denominations. As to property transfers , I guess we will have to let annual conferences decide which group they will become a part of. Or maybe each local church and congregation will be allowed to choose there preference. Whatever arrangement works best, ,it seems that the G. C. will have to either agree to a split. or it will have to excommunicate the progressive group and they will then have to form their own church or join a denomination that thinks as they do.
    If G.C. does not decide on a split, there will be many members who will leave the present church and seek to worship with another denomination or an independent church. There is no other alternative.

  61. Rev Hale says:

    07/16/2014

    With the desire and effort to be loving, we Bible-believing Methodist have neglected the deeper spiritual implications of the homosexual issue.
    #1 The greatest love is to desire that no one stays in their sin, especially once they come to Christ. We love the gay community more that anyone else, because we care about their souls and life with Christ.
    #2 Yes, among so many others sins, we do not condone or say homosexuality is “ok”.
    #3 Satan’s desire is to scatter the sheep, to kill, steal and destroy. Let us not be deceived. The UMC is under attack.
    #4 With the set-up of ownership of great amounts of funds and all the church property, the gay promoters behind the scenes know they will enlarge their coffers considerably if they can become captains of the ship called United Methodist. They know that many UM’s will depart very quickly and that’s all right with them.
    #5 “For lack of knowledge” gays and supporters of the gay community need to know that God has apparently allowed them to believe a lie (Romans 1). They have been deceived, and are in need of repentance. {We wrestle not against flesh and blood but spiritual wickedness…They call evil good and good evil}.
    #6 The “vocal majority for gay agenda” have chosen the UM for our lack of knowledge concerning sins of the body, lack of knowledge of spiritual warfare, and for our financials. But on the other hand they have not gone after bible-reading and believing churches because they know the battle could not be won. The fact they have chosen us should wake us up to put on the whole armor of God and having done all, to stand against this attack from the one who seeks to destroy us or at least scatter us, then steal our connectedness.

    Darkness and Light cannot come to an agreement through conversation. The many articles pro and con will never have a “middle” road. For example, for the pro-gays to say that the Bible is an evolving document helps bible-believing UM’s understand why the pro-gays feel free to argue their points. But will they convince others? Well, yes they have, due to many “being tossed about by every wind of doctrine”. Ephesians 4:14(KJV)14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
    2

    Those who intend to leave the United Methodist Church should not be accused of being homo-phobic. We are God-phobic. We have a sincere, reverent fear of God. We know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 18:20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.;. . . Genesis 19:24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven…
    Finally, Bible-believing UM’s do not want our names on the roles of pro-gay UM Churches out of the reverent fear of God. I will conclude my comments with this text found in Ephesians Chapter 5 (KJV)

    5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
    5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

  62. Billie Taylor says:

    Where are they going. I am in a large conservative church and as a progressive I am going no where. I helped build the church and will watch our children tell us we were wrong. I am 84 and will live long enough to see it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] group of 80 United Methodists has declared that we are a church in schism and now it is time to figure out how to manage the […]

  2. […] College of Cardinals mysterious cabal of conservative pastors and theologians announced in a press release through Good News that schism is already a reality, and we should  be Christian enough to go our […]

  3. […] those who have been following this development, the statement from the Good News movement today will not be surprising. Some have pointed out the apparent […]

  4. […] A group of United Methodist pastors and theologians is calling for an amicable split of the denomination, saying differences over homosexuality and other issues are irreconcilable.The group describes itself as traditionalist and says its ranks include more than 80 members, including pastors of some of the larger United Methodist congregations.“Are we not at a point where we can acknowledge, after years of dialogue and debate, the depth of our differences and together, progressives and traditionalists, give each other the freedom to pursue our understanding of God’s will?” the group said in its statement. […]

  5. […] News Magazine recently published “Regarding United Methodism’s Future,” which is intended to be, more or less, a report on the collective work of faithful United Methodist […]

  6. […] May 22, 2014, a statement was released by the Good News Magazine, a publication that holds a more conservative viewpoint on issues of religion and politics, calling […]

  7. […] having a day to reflect (while fighting a cough and a headache) and reading the actual statement released by Good News Magazine on behalf of 80 pastors, I do think it is important to state that there has been no actual call for a split of the United […]

  8. […] 80 pastors and theologians within the United Methodist issue a statement on the state of their denomination. […]

  9. […] 80 pastors and theologians within the United Methodist issue a statement on the state of their denomination. […]

  10. […] find a way forward that honors (Methodism founder John) Wesley’s rule that we do no harm?” the statement says. “A way where there are no winners and losers, but simply brothers and sisters who part […]

  11. […] find a way forward that honors (Methodism founder John) Wesley’s rule that we do no harm?” thestatement says. “A way where there are no winners and losers, but simply brothers and sisters who part […]

  12. […] exploded last week after the primarily anonymous “Gang of 80″ announced through Good News their desire to split The United Methodist Church. In my opinion, anyone who thinks this […]

  13. […] way forward that honors (Methodism founder John) Wesley’s rule that we do no harm?” the statement says. “A way where there are no winners and losers, but simply brothers and sisters who part […]

  14. […] a group of over 80 United Methodist pastors and theologians released a press statement recommending a plan for the separation of the United Methodist Church into two denominations based […]

  15. […] notice that Good News Magazine released the press release and did the story as if the group is separate from […]

  16. […] calling for “traditionalists” and “progressives” to part ways “amicably.” The group’s press release described the debate regarding homosexuality and other issues as […]

  17. […] is a signatory to a recent ministerial letter [see article about it here] calling for the consideration of separating the Methodist […]

  18. […] we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one," concludes a statement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An […]

  19. […] few weeks ago, Good News publicized that 80, mostly anonymous United Methodist leaders had concluded that the way forward for the […]

  20. […] we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one,” concludes astatement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An […]

  21. […] we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one," concludes a statement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An […]

  22. […] we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one,” concludes a statement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An […]

  23. […] church buildings, it will not be clever to fake any longer that we’re one," concludes a statement final month from eighty traditionalists from throughout the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. […]

  24. […] May of this year, more than 80 United Methodist pastors and theologians issued a statement: “We need to recognize the reality that we—laity, clergy and even the Council of Bishops—are […]

Speak Your Mind

*