Letters to the Editor: May/June 2014

So blessed

Thanks to Rob Renfroe we are so blessed by the publication. Have read cover to cover and are thankful for all the work of you and your staff, the writers, and contributors. It is edifying  –  cleansing to my thoughts. I enjoy how thorough it is and the many pictures and illustrations of the subject matter.

Robert Robbins

The Woodlands, Texas

 

A new direction

Thanks very much for the fine editorial (“Methodism’s Late Hour” March/April 2014) in the latest Good News. Your quote from Bob Dylan expresses very well the seriousness of our situation. Your analysis demonstrates the very limited choices we have in seeking to live out our Scriptural, Wesleyan mandate.

A blog by Ben Witherington, responding to Bishop Roy Sano, articulates clearly and responsibly the rationale and urgency of moving in a new and hopeful direction based on a form of amicable separation. This, of course, was the substance of Bill Hinson’s presentation in Pittsburg in 2004. That year’s “unity resolution” expressed both a fearful reaction, and a hope that other options might be more promising. Much has happened in the last 10 years to suggest serious reconsideration of separation.

I am hoping the renewal groups will assemble a well-chosen group of secular and ecclesiastical legal minds that will develop a solid and workable plan of separation, to be presented at the next General Conference. We have run out of time to trudge on as we have and hope for a better result. If we continue our present indecisive struggle, we will only prolong our present self-destruction, in which “progressive” defiance seems to hold an effective veto over General Conference legislation. While all this goes on, our church in the U.S. grows smaller, weaker, and less effective. We also fail to meet the legitimate expectations of our fellow United Methodists around the global church. I’m afraid if we wait much longer, there won’t be much left to divide.

We have struggled energetically, honestly, and compassionately for decades. We can succeed at General Conferences again and again, but we cannot succeed as a living church when progressives systematically defy the General Conference’s authority.

Talk of separation rightly scares most of us, but the alternatives may well be considerably worse. Thanks for your consideration and leadership.

Greg Van Dussen

The Woodlands, Texas

 

A tyranny of crises

Recent developments have put on the defensive those of us who believe Scripture reveals homosexual practice to be sinful (and therefore harmful). I believe we need to be able to formulate policies and practices that will guide the church in loving, life-giving ministry to people affected by these practices as well as to formulate wise, faithful guidelines of how to live in the current cultural situation.

We also need to be able to focus on making disciples for Jesus. However, we are being subject to the tyranny of crises, a tyranny that refuses to allow leaders to develop wise, biblical policies. These crises are dictated by the faction within our denomination that is determined to reverse the policies of the Discipline. This faction has made clear that, until its goal is achieved, it will not stop creating crisis after crisis that challenges the willingness of the church to discipline its membership.

This denomination will not be an effective, faithful, life-giving movement as long as it is being crushed by this tyranny of crises. The situation cries out for the evangelical/conservative majority to extricate itself from the “progressive” minority and from this tyranny of crises. I pray that wise leaders will be led by God to bring this about.

Bill Fitzgerrel 

Via web

 

Staking out our position

There are many good people in the Good News movement and they mean well, but they are moving backward, not forward. The reason we are losing members is that we are not clearly staking out our position. Methodism is not a fundamentalist church. At heart it never has been. We have in recent years appeared to be weak fundamentalists and that does not win against hardcore Calvinistic predestinarian belief that everything that happens is because God made it happen.

After a fatal accident some people say, “Well, that is just the will of God.” This is not good Methodist theology. Our Wesleyan theology comes from Jacob Arminius, a Dutch liberal theologian. Wesley was a great Bible scholar but his quadrilateral included not only the Bible, but tradition, experience, and reason. Wesley was not a fundamentalist. We need to “boldly go where no humans have gone before” in proclaiming a gospel of good news that includes gays and straights. Gays are gays for the same reason that straights are straight. God made us that way. We Methodists were castigated in some circles during segregation days for opposing segregation, but it was the right thing to do. Today, accepting gays and same sex marriage is the right thing to do and when we realize that it will eventually make us a stronger denomination.

 

Inman Moore

Retired United Methodist minister

Via web

On the Ogletree situation

I have been following both the Rev. Ogletree and the Rev. McElvaney situations and wondering what actions their respective conferences would take. While Bishop McLee has obviously chosen to disregard the Book of Discipline and the guidelines of the General Conference, I still hold out hope that Bishop McKee of the North Texas Annual Conference will not take the same path as Bishop McLee.

I have been a Methodist for almost 60 years, and have seen and experienced lots of changes over the years. I recall listening in on all the discussions back in the mid 1960s regarding the formation of the UM Church, and more recently all the discussions over the current state of affairs of the UM Church – especially the activities before, during, and after our last General Conference.

There are people who did not like the outcome of the General Conference as it related to their agendas and beliefs, and who have openly announced that they are going to disobey the Book of Discipline, along with the guidelines from the General Conference. It seems that they are willing to destroy the UM Church as we now know it in an effort to achieve their agenda, and force it upon others who don’t agree or believe as they do.

I am currently a Scouting Ministry Specialist within the UM Church and during these past two years I have seen pretty much the exact same thing happen in regards to the Boy Scouts of America. There was an activist group of individuals who did not agree with the BSA’s policies, so instead of leaving and forming their own group that was in line with their beliefs, they finally forced the National Board of the BSA to implement some changes that were more in line with theirs.

The immediate reaction was for quite a few scouts and adult leaders of the BSA to quit. Some of those folks formed their own organization that reflected the conservative principals that they believed in. At the same time there are still many traditionalist who stayed the course and are still members of the BSA. They said that now that the BSA has compromised with those activists, hopefully they will stop and leave us alone. Unfortunately for them “Round Two” has now started as they demand even more inclusion and adaptation of their agenda. In fact, Disney has just came out against supporting the BSA any longer until they fully accept the activist agenda.

Now the BSA finds itself in a position of having driven off a core group of supporters because of acquiescing to the demands of one group – the same group that is now demanding even more inclusion of their activist agenda. So in fact the BSA has become “lukewarm” and we know what the Bible says about that – Revelation 3:16.

Now I don’t share my longevity as a Methodist, nor my role as a UM Scouting Ministry Specialist to impress you, only to impress upon you what I have personally seen and experienced. There are many of you who have replied to this article that think a splintering of the UM Church is about to take place – or must take place. I can assure you that I hear that quite regularly from not only friends in my Annual Conference, but from UM friends all over the country. And this talk is not just from the “conservative” members of the UM Church, it is also from the “liberal” or “progressive” members of the UM Church who did not achieve their agenda at the last General Conference.

Who knows where the UM Church will be by the next General Conference, or even in a year from now – time will tell. I can only hope that the path we ultimately go down works out for all of us much better than what the Episcopal Church has experienced, and is still experiencing over similar issues.

 

Jon Lannom

Via web

 

Enforcing the rule

The United Methodist Church law says ministers cannot perform same-sex marriages, yet they do and still keep their positions. What good is the rule if you don’t enforce it? I think God is not happy with us. I am not either.

Ruth Rosema

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

 

Over the decades

Thanks for standing for our denomination. I’m a third generation Methodist that I know of and have witnessed the move over the last several decades away from the truth of the Gospel. We in the grass roots churches do not know how to fight the motivational liberal leaders. Our notion, of course, is moving in that same direction, away from honoring God. May God bless your staff with all the courage and wisdom needed.

Janice Pound

Titusville, Florida

 

Not united

One observation — which has been true for some time — is that we do not have one “United” Methodist Church. We have a loose confederation of United Methodist Annual Conferences, all of which differ in their interpretation of the Book of Discipline.

The problem stems from an organizational flaw. We have no chief executive officer to enforce church polity across conference lines – as we did in the days of Wesley and Asbury. What the UM Church needs is a CEO – archbishop? – with the authority to keep conferences accountable. Without accountability, the annual conferences will continue to go their own way.

Since we are not really united, do we still need to pay general conference apportionments? Seems like if the rest of the Discipline is optional, this should go too.

John Donaldson

Via web

 

Real life situation

Recently one of our youth came out as a gay male at the age of 15. I find your point of view of Scriptural reality unteachable for the other youth who also know him.

We can’t live out doing good by not embracing all that he is and loving him unconditionally – no strings attached in this real life situation. Myself and the other youth have known this boy since he was young and to condemn him to a life of no love or intimacy would be inhumane. I also find discriminating against him repugnant. He may be called to ministry and be a terrific shepherd in the future.

Kris Aves

Via web

Comments

  1. Michael Cobb says

    Beloved United Methodists,

    Do we not remember the words that the apostle Peter quoted from Leviticus, “You shall be holy, for I am holy?” In the midst of our debate on homosexuality, it seems as though we have lost focus on the real issue at hand. The debate is not about a conservative verses a liberal interpretation of Scripture. It is not about trying to correct mistaken or uninspired biblical writers or even updating ignorant ancient cultures (let us not forget that Adam and Eve were banished from the garden for trying to correct something God wrongfully forbade). It is not about whether a person was created this way or that way (as if to blame God for all of the argument by making an error). It is not about whether love means to accept this or that group completely or only to a certain extent. Nor is it about being found to err on the side of grace or on the side of justice when our Blessed Savior returns. What this particular question is really about, is whether we are loving our God and Savior by obeying His command to be holy. One of the greatest calls that God places on His people throughout both the Old and New Testaments is to be holy (set apart from the cultures around them). One of the greatest issues of unholiness throughout the Old and New Testaments is sexual immorality (including but not limited to homosexuality, pornography, adultery, sodomy, rape, etc). Let none of us United Methodists be found sexually immoral in that day. Let none of us Christians be found unholy at His coming. Let us return to the Lord and be found to have fought the good fight and have finished the race with a clean conscience and in holiness even as our God, Himself is holy.

    Michael Cobb
    A current UM Pastor

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