Methodism’s Future

There are unique and disturbing challenges facing The United Methodist Church. After 40 years of holy conferencing and discussion, some United Methodist leaders have decided to disregard the will of all previous GeneralConferences regarding marriage and sexuality and superimpose their own progressive agendas in their episcopal areas.

From Seattle to New York City, several bishops have decided not to honor their pledge to uphold the Book of Discipline and have found new ways of circumventing the will of the General Conference. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, believes that United Methodists are at a crossroads.

In this video, Renfroe, author of The Trouble with the Truth (Abingdon), spells out the hard choices that must be made in regard to United Methodism’s future.

Comments

  1. David Blanchard says

    Rob,

    Thank you so much for this direct, honest, and compelling video. As a lifelong Methodist I am truly saddened by our current state of affairs. However, as we heard from Dr. Deichmann on Sunday, there is hope for the future in Jesus Christ.

    If, indeed we do split, I am hopeful for a new way forward. However, I agree with you that the best possible future is a future where the UMC is united in Biblical orthodoxy. Let us pray for the renewing spirit of the Holy Spirit to infuse our catholic church with new life and an abundance of faithfulness.

  2. John Donaldson says

    So what is the name of the new traditional / conservative UMC? And why can’t it start now?

  3. What you’re scheme will cause is splitting the majority of Methodist churches, spending money on legal fights over who owns church property, causing people who now work together to be in combat, anger, hatred.
    All of this because you worship ideas that mostly began in the mid-19th century, not with Wesley, instead of trusting in the one who welcomed/welcomes everybody, though some took offense at who he welcomed and ate with. Beware lest we are the proud Pharisees of today!

    • norbert bennin says

      Jesus did love everyone, remember what he told the women caught in adultery your sins are forgiven
      go and sin no more. I think the key is go and sin no more.

      • norbert, do you believe being LGBT is a sin? There are 6 clobber texts (used to clobber other people) in the whole Bible far outnumbered by love your neighbor period. Face the facts: LGBT are born, created by God. They are sinners just like you and I, judged in the same way.
        Face the facts in my post; some churches will be progressive and some hard right, but most will split as I said, causing people to be hurt!

        • Pastor Yeaman,
          If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re suggesting that the reason for preserving the UM church is so that people won’t be hurt. This presumes that, in spite of decades of increasing division between UM progressives and UM traditionalists, no one has yet been hurt by this schism. With all due respect, sir, many have left the church over this very issue and each day the church and its’ people are being hurt. You seem to indicate that the UM church must accept the lifestyle preferences of people in order to show God’s love to people, regardless of scripture or church discipline. Respectfully, the price you are recommending that the church pay to preserve itself is too great. When scripture and church discipline become charming vestiges of a bygone day, people are being hurt; I am being hurt. When confronting an issue which has grown and festered for decades, we need to be strong enough, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to bring the hurting to a conclusion. In this case, I believe that the hurt will only cease when we show Christ’s love to each other…and go our separate ways.

        • Brandon Fulmer says

          Rev. Yeaman,
          I’m sorry but I would say that you, and those who hold the position you hold, are the ones who are not loving their neighbors. According to my understanding of Scripture you are telling people it is okay to be out of step with God’s plans and purposes for their lives. You are telling them it is okay to blatantly disregard God’s clear teaching regarding human sexuality and sexual fidelity. My problem is not LGBT people. My problem is a church who will offer them no hope. To say you’re born to be this way, don’t worry about it, isn’t hope. Hope is in the One who has the power to give us victory over sin and it’s effects. When you refuse to admit homosexuality is sin, you’re denying the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, a doctrine Wesley saw as fundamental to our faith. And if there is no doctrine of Original Sin, then eventually there is no doctrine of Atonement, and before it is all said and done there is no church, because nobody has anything to be saved from. I don’t deny that LGBT people feel that they were born with inherent homosexual feelings. I just know God says that’s not his plans and purposes. I think the church is supposed to offer people hope of victory over sin, even the sins that were inherent in their birth. The truth Rev. Yeaman is we don’t disagree about loving LGBT people. (I have many who are friends, and church members, by the way.) We disagree about our understanding of what the role of the church is in society, and how the Scriptures are to be read and interpreted. Maybe those are the facts we need to face. Pointing that out is not sinful, but honest and faithful. People are already hurt by the stance of those who are ignoring out Discipline. What about them? Do they not matter? If some want an openly LGBT church then the UMC, as it is currently constituted according to its Discipline, is not that kind of church. Something is going to change, as Mr. Renfroe has said. It will not continue as it currently is. I’d just ask you to consider why you want to stay part of a church whose discipline doesn’t reflect your values? And why you would want me to stay in one that doesn’t reflect mine? Unless you believe my values should change, which just leads us back to the fact that we have a fundamental difference about how we view the role of Church and Scripture. I can keep trying to change you, and you can keep trying to change me, but how is that helpful? I just ask you to consider that Mr. Renfroe, and others like him, are just trying to be honest about where the UMC is as an institutional body. Thank you.

        • Brandon Fulmer says

          The problem is there are no pro-homosexual scriptures. There are both pro and anti slavery scriptures. There are both pro and anti women-in-ministry scriptures. There are no pro-homosexuality scriptures.

          • “There are no pro-homosexuality scriptures” because homosexuality was not a concept, idea until couple of hundred years ago. The Bible does have clear teaching about sexuality as a profound way for two people to become one, expressing their sexuality. My wife and I learned this over 62 years. During Bible times there was NO understanding of women’s sexuality. We dare not live by the Bible’s one sided (paternalistic) view of women’s sexuality! Like homosexuality it is a very recent discovery. MY BASIC FACT is my original comment: dividing the Church will be disastrous!

          • Rev Yeaman,
            At Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus affirmed God’s created order for marriage in his discourse on divorce. We cannot say that our Lord was a captive of his time, thus did not know that his definition of marriage would become dated. That would approach blasphemy. He is the all knowing Lord from the beginning to the end. Nothing that he said or taught is time locked, it is for ALL time. Same for all Scripture, same for all Scripture on sexual immorality — it is not captive of the time it was written as the progressives are trying mightily to convince themselves and the rest that it is in order to excuse a sexually immoral sin.

    • Gay Wilson says

      24″Therefore God gave them overin the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the Truth for a lie and worshipped created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised.Amen26Because of this God gave them over to shameful lustsEven their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.27In 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 recieved in themselves the penalty due for their perversion.28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a DEPRAVED MIND to do what OUGHT NOT TO BE DONE.29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.They are FULL OF ENVY (ofclaiming their righteousness?of calling the shots for the Church, of not being Christians, Of being in the wrong?”), murder (of themselves, their soul, their right standing with God?)strife(evident in this),deceit and malice(making their agenda to be of God?) They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful:they invent ways of doing evil;they disobey their parents they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.Although they KNOW God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they do not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them
      Now how do you argue for homosexuality, and then marriage of homosexuals-which would be approving of them with God’s own Word here which is clear. Do we want a depraved mind Church?Do we agree with the Devil and call it Love? Where and When do we stand for God and what He says–if not here and now then the Day of Accountability. Let them have their own so called Church and pray for them–because according to this Word-the Bible, NEW Testament, Romans!:24-32, they are completely dependent on our prayers to move the devil out and the Holy Spirit in. What is being done about that?- that method of prayer and the time spent corporately in prayer to see the lost , found.

  4. john mushenhouse says

    I would like to see a split. I left in the 80’s as I saw many didn’t believe the bible. This, of course, leads to all manner of sin which you can’t wish them away by “reducing” them to clobbering scriptures.

    How stupid.

    I suggest that with reading the bible all the way through one would also read sermon 86 of Wesley’s standard sermons.
    Heck read them all and then re-post.

  5. Please consider these three responses:
    The first response is from the science of demography; a well-designed survey has annually measured responses to the question, how do you feel about LGBT people? From the beginning there has been an age line between those who have no issues and those who do. That age line has risen every year, which means that less and less people – aging people – have a problem with LGBT people, while the growing younger population has no problem. While neither group is 100%, the percentage is significant (I am 86 and no problem like many older). Draw your own conclusion; as I see it a church made up of those uncomfortable with LGBT will die away; the future of the United Methodist Church is attracting and accepting the younger cohort.
    My second response is that I believe Scripture is like a mountain range with many peaks of inspiration and many death valleys such as Psalm 137, commands to put down women, kill enemies, stone people, and most passages that use the word abomination. The peaks of inspiration are many: the Shema and its repetition with love of neighbor many times, and discussions of how to love your neighbor in the midst of such contemporary issues as meat offered to idols that provide insight to dealing with our contemporary issues.
    Instead of talking about the inspiration of the Bible, I prefer to ask, how is the Bible inspiring your trusting God, and to what behavior is the Bible inspiring you.
    To those who take the Book of Discipline too seriously I quote Bishop Carcaño: “The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (is) an imperfect book of human law that violates the very spirit of Jesus the Christ who taught us through word and deed that all God’s children are of sacred worth and welcomed into the embrace of God’s grace.”

  6. Peter Tindle says

    “The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (is) an imperfect book of human law that violates the very spirit of Jesus the Christ…”

    If Bishop Carcaño believes the Book of Discipline is so gravely in violation of the spirit of Jesus, why in God’s name does she continue to identify herself as a Methodist? She should do the honest thing and join one of the many Christian denominations that will welcome her with open arms.

  7. Rev. Tom Teate says

    What we need is a little clarity. Both sides of this issue believe whole heartedly that God is on their side. And I wonder how many of us will hear our LORD say to us “I never knew you!” I believe it comes down to what we use as our standard for truth. If it is reason, then I think it is reasonable to say that eating a piece of fruit as Adam and Eve did is not a sin. If it is tradition, then when our children come home and tell us, “Everyone else is doing it!” we will go along with it too. If it is experience, then when our sister or brother becomes a child molesters we may see them in another light as good people who deserve our full acceptance and blessing. But if our standard is God’s Word, then we don’t get to decide what is and is not sin. That is God’s domain! And I don’t remember God ever seeking our input in the matter of sin. Why did God tell Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit? I mean it was just a piece of fruit! What harm could there be in simply eating a piece of fruit! There are all kinds of reason to eat it. God made me with an appetite for all kinds of fruit! Yet… God said, “Don’t eat from that tree!” Why? Because God loves humanity and when humanity disobeys God’s commands it causes a separation between God and His creation. If you love someone you do not want to be separated from them. You want them to be in relationship with you! So, the enemies of God told Eve that God’s word was not good for her to obey! She would fulfill her potential as a human being if she ate the fruit! And in getting Eve and Adam to eat the fruit God had commanded them not to eat, God’s enemy brought division between God and mankind. The enemy is doing the same thing within the United Methodist Church today. Some have bought into Satan’s idea that sexuality is a gift from God and is to be used however we want to use it even if God commands us to not use it in the way we choose. We argue, “But God made me this way!” But if you think about it, God made us all the way we are. Does that justify murder, rape, incest, or child molestation? After all these people were often born with this disposition. I was born with a hostile disposition! But does that mean God would approve of me punching your lights out if I disagree with you?
    So, what will be our standard for sin? Will it be what we think is right or will it simply be what God commands? I vote for sticking with what God commands and when I fail and fall into sin, I will trust the Holy Spirit to convict me and lead me to confess my sin to God and receive the repentance He grants to all who seek Him! Repentance… that means turning from my sin and turning toward God. In so doing God grants reconciliation. But what if we decide that what God says is sin is no longer sin? Then we won’t confess and we won’t repent and God will not forgive and grant reconciliation.
    Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
    Now, if you were the enemy of God, would you not try to get Adam and Eve to believe God’s word was not a sufficient standard to live by? If you were the enemy of God within the Body of Christ, what better way to cause division than to plant the thought that some of God’s word isn’t a sufficient standard to live by and therefore isn’t sin at all! And if it isn’t sin, then there is no need to confess or repent of it! Think about it for just a moment! If the side that says homosexuality is sin as the Bible teaches is wrong and people repent for what isn’t a sin, do you think God would reject them from His presence as stated in Matthew 7:23? I don’t think He would! But what if the other side is wrong and homosexuality really is a sin and we tell people it isn’t sin, you don’t need to confess and repent of it! Do you think God would reject them from his presence as stated in Matthew 7? And if we think we can pick and choose the verses we believe and reject others haven’t we fallen into the same trap that Adam and Eve fell into? They simple ate a piece of fruit that God said don’t eat!
    So, maybe we need to count the eternal cost of our position and be sure we are representing God and not the spiritual forces of darkness in this issue. You may ask how can you tell? I don’t know apart from scripture!
    If there is to be reconciliation between God and humanity then there must be confession of sin and repentance! How is it truly love of your fellow man or woman to tell them they have no need of reconciliation even if God’s word states they do? I believe that many of the ordained Elders and Bishops in our Church will find that God does not know them at all in the end! God’s Word says, “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us!” It is no longer a matter of he said or she said, it is a matter of what God has said and whether or not we believe it to be true! Wouldn’t that be an awesome question for the Board of Ordained Ministry to ask those seeking ordination? Wouldn’t it be an awesome question the ordained need to ask themselves? And where is the honesty and integrity in the words of an Elder or Bishop who swears to God that they will uphold and teach the Discipline of the United Methodist Church when that is in fact a lie?

    • Dear Rev. Tom,

      Your zeal is beautiful, it is amazing to see great pastor who is not afraid to say his opinions and stand up for them. Everything is true to the extent that we agree with it and live by it. Then we live the truth. But it would be naive to believe that our truth is universal moreover forcing someone else to live it. We are only people with limited judgments and each with its unique experiences upon which we distinguish the truth from falsehood. Let us therefore be tolerant of other’s opinions as well as we wish they were tolerant to ours.

      God’s enemy – In my opinion God has no enemies, we all belong to Him and we all are his amazing creatures who He loves the most.

      There is nothing to fight with. God does not have to fight. Maybe we are fighting sometimes with ourselves but God is not like us. He is love. Love does not fight. Love embraces. Therefore He embraces everything we do and call it “his” even if it might have been better and we could have been better.

      Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” – He will drive away from himself our old “I” and build our new “I am”, such that will be burning within us, blazing love towards Jesus and our Father, because it is the most important thing and if we are occupied with other things then today we are already evildoers. But it doesn’t need to be like that, we don’t need to be evildoers always. If we recourse we can live in God’s kingdom today.

      Repentance is good and many times it is useful. But it’s not all. Love is the highest one. Feel love, see love in everything, love yourself, see the love flowing within you, see the love flowing in everything you can see, see the love in a leaf, see the love in your enemy. Then you will find God as you will see the world with his eyes.

      I believe that many of the ordained Elders and Bishops in our Church will find that God does not know them at all in the end! – God knows and always will know all of us. We are his creatures, his children even if we fail. He loves us and our souls love him too. It is an unspeakable love.

      I am sure He will never break his covenant with us.

      aneta

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