By Rob Renfroe —
This editorial will be a bit different. It’s an invitation to play a game titled “Name that Bishop.” Bishops in The United Methodist Church play a critical role. They not only provide administrative oversight and vision for their episcopal areas, they are also charged in the Book of Discipline “to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church.”
Before we begin our game, it’s worth noting that several of our best-known traditionalist bishops are retiring in 2022. Scott Jones (Texas Annual Conference), Mark Webb (Upper New York Conference Annual Conference), and James Swanson (Mississippi Annual Conference) have announced they will retire this year.
It’s also worth stating that the leaders of all the traditionalist renewal groups, including Good News, believe that after this year The United Methodist Church will never again elect a thoroughly orthodox bishop in the United States. With the mass departure of traditional churches which has already begun, the votes simply will not be there in the future to elect bishops like Jones, Webb, and Swanson.
So, back to our little game. I’ll give you the quote and you try to “name that bishop.” Some are newly retired, others still very active. All of them influential in the future of the Post-Separation UM Church and in guarding its doctrines.
Writing about Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, this UM bishop stated that Jesus had to “come around” to see her as a genuine person and treat her as she deserved because he first judged her according to her gender and ethnicity. The bishop continued, “Like you and me, he (Jesus) didn’t have his life figured out. He was still growing, maturing, putting the pieces together about who he was and what he was supposed to do. We might think of him as the Rock of Ages, but he was more like a hunk of clay, forming and reforming himself in relation to God.” Then this bishop gives us a stern warning about Jesus: “too many people make an idol out of him.”
Who was this bishop who said Jesus was prejudiced, didn’t know who he was well into his ministry, and that he could be an idol, i.e., a false god? Karen Oliveto, bishop for the Mountain Sky Area. Now, can you name the bishop who admonished her for teaching that Jesus can be a false god? You can’t because none of those charged with guarding our doctrine condemned or corrected her heretical teaching about our Lord Jesus.
Name the UM bishop who wrote the following about General Conference 2019: “We prayed for openness to different points of view, unity, communion, gracious listening, holy conferencing, empathetic feelings, and generosity of spirt. It didn’t work. At some point I shifted my own prayers to, ‘Lord, please melt the hardened hearts and smite everyone who intends to vote against the One Church Plan.’” The One Church plan allowed every pastor to determine if he or she would marry gay couples and it permitted every annual conference to determine whether to ordain practicing gay persons. If you disagreed with that policy, this bishop believes you have a hardened heart. The difference, in his mind, is not that you hold to 2000 years of Christian teaching and to what the Bible very clearly seems to state. The problem is not simply a disagreement among good people. The problem is your bad heart, and this bishop prayed for God to smite people like you.
Who was this bishop? Will Willimon, one of our most read and most influential bishops for the past twenty years. Can you name the bishop who called on him to rethink how he framed this message or soften his thoughts about literally millions of good United Methodists who love Jesus, attend church, go on mission trips, and care for the poor in their communities? Of course, you can’t because none did.
Which bishop stated it wasn’t your heart but your head that needed fixing if you disagreed with liberalizing the church’s position on sexual ethics? After stating that persons with a traditional sexual ethic were guilty of homophobia, this bishop went on to state that traditionalists possess an “inability to incorporate the value of reason in their thinking.” You’re simply lacking mentally if you agree with the historic Christian Church and you disagree with him. Which bishop made this statement? Robert Hoshibata, the recently retired bishop of the Phoenix Area.
Can you name which bishop challenged him that our episcopal leaders really shouldn’t call our members mentally defective? No, you can’t, and you can’t because – well, you know why.
Can you name the bishop who demeaned an entire continent of faithful United Methodists? After what this bishop viewed as a disappointing General Conference, she wrote: “Delegates from Africa once again proclaimed that their anti-homosexual stand was what U.S. missionaries taught them. I sat there wondering when our African delegates will grow up. It has been 200 years since U.S. Methodist missionaries began their work of evangelization on the continent of Africa; long enough for African Methodists to do their own thinking about this concern and others.” Disagree with what this first-world bishop believes, and you are juvenile in your thinking. You need to grow up. The world has moved on past what you were taught, past what the Bible states. You need to get with it and believe what post-modern western bishops and pastors believe. Who was this bishop? Minerva Carcaño, bishop over the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
Certainly, something that could be seen as colonialist or even racist would be condemned in a public statement by other bishops. Can you name just one who called upon Carcaño to retract her statement that was terribly unfair and hurtful to our African sisters and brothers? I’ll answer that for you. No, you can’t.
Which bishop was recently quoted in a newspaper article as saying, “And while I believe in our traditional, orthodox faith that’s rooted in the scriptures, I have also always believed that we have to adapt our doctrine and our scriptures to changing life circumstances that people have.” I mean if enough people are experiencing something or if circumstances today are different than they were when the Bible was written, that’s a pretty good reason to adapt our scriptures from what they originally stated and meant, right? We should keep up with the times and let human experience override what has been given to us in the Bible. I mean which would you trust – an old book written by people who don’t know nearly as much as we do or the ever-changing experiences and circumstances of fallen, sinful human beings?
Who made this statement? Ken Carter, the episcopal leader for the Florida and Western North Carolina Annual Conferences, and the president of the Council of Bishops from 2018-2020. And which bishop spoke out against – well, by now you know the next question and you know the answer.
If you have been told that you can “#stayumc” and your traditional views will be respected, you need to hear what our bishops really believe about you and your beliefs. Not what they say when they’re trying to keep your church and your people and your money in the UM Church. But what they say when they are being honest. These bishops who are to provide vision for the church, guard our doctrines, and determine who your next pastor will be, they have told you what they think. Disagree with a liberalized sexual ethic and you have a bad heart, you possess a weak mind, and you need to grow up. If you believe Jesus was not a hunk of clay working out his bigotries and coming to grips with his own identity, you might be guilty of idolatry. And at least one UM bishop has been honest enough to state that he has prayed that God might smite people like you. And all the rest remained silent when these things were said. If you believe these bishops and others elected to replace retiring traditionalist bishops will never send a liberal pastor to your church to “help” you become “a real Methodist church,” you have much more faith than I do.
Welcome to the post-separation UM Church. If you have ears to hear, it’s not hard to perceive where it’s headed and just how welcome you and your traditional beliefs will be.
Rob Renfroe is a United Methodist clergyperson and the president of Good News.
We who are orthodoxy, conservatives and who uphold the Biblical teachings need to continue doing what God has always taught us.
If you could convene the inaugural General Conference many other things are hoping to happen naturally.
Such statements (and no response statements) from our current bishops reinforce my decision the United Methodist Church is irreparably harmed by its non traditional leadership. (And the Western Jurisdiction has just elected for the denomination another active openly gay bishop). It is increasingly clear a traditional United Methodist is on the fringe and at best will be merely tolerated in the very near future. Time to rethink where to exercise your membership. I am going Global Methodist.
It is sad but predictable that this would happen. The grownups have left and the inmates are running the UMC a hellish cultic future
Rob thanks for your faithfulness and courage to take bullets from the likes of Adam Hamilton. I wonder what he will be saying 2 years from now about the state of the UMC?
You should have thrown some recently elected Bishops into the mix as well. Bishops such as Bigham-Tsai and Berlin. https://juicyecumenism.com/2022/11/04/umc-bishop-elections/?fbclid=IwAR011ngrjsNah_MVlu1ewUYs-txFcDTerLx0pZ5S1liVAITt8DS796iQO1k
Great article, Rob – thank you.
Can you do another one (soon) with some quotes from the newly elected Bishops who will begin serving on Jan. 1, 2023?
I’m betting there are some great quotes that would help us all “get to know” this new group of Bishops better – and give all of us even more reasons to #leaveUMC.
“Just the facts, ma’am.”!thanks Rev. Renfro for helping us be articulate about what is truly being said, and not said. Covenant breaking is heartbreaking and oh so serious. “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”
You sound bitter, angry, and tired. My heart is heavy for you. Are you sure this is the witness you desire for the new denomination? I do hope you are able to find retreat and engage in the joy of the new work of the GMC. Publishing at tattle-tale article is not healthy and doesn’t encourage the body of Christ. This article definitely does not reflect the Good News of what God is doing. You are in my prayers. May God Bless you and give you peace.
After reading this….it is enough to make a Christ follower gag and throw up….The very idea that “learned, theologically trained Bishops could say things like this about the Son of God is outrageous to say the least. I may be a layperson, but in my years of reading, learning, moving from milk to meat of the gospel, praying, studying never would I a former Nazarene and presently a Methodist ever in my lifetime think I would be asked to follow these so called Bishops. They do not follow Christ, their vows to God, the Discipline or the gospel I grew up with, under and loving.
I grew up in the Methodist Church. And, now at 75, I have been away from the church I last attended since 1998 when my wife and I made a few physical moves around the country. I also have a younger brother who is a retired Methodist pastor that I probably ought to reach out to on this liberalization of the Methodist Church.
We recently began attending a Baptist church after our latest move and wanting to get back to a normal life of attending church. They recently lost their pastor due to health issues and have enlisted the services of a young policeman who is a little too evangelical for our tastes. The loss of the former pastor also seems to have caused a disruption in the congregation as the few families with young children seem to have left.
Now we are looking again. Thank you for your insight into the direction the new Methodist Church is heading which seems to be what the rest of organized Christianity is going and I cannot follow.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for tolerating this kind of leadership and remaining silent in the past. Help us to defend our faith and the Word through the power of your Holy Spirit. Have mercy upon the UMC. Make us elect genuine traditionalist bishops in the Philippines.
The scripture says ‘The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us”. It doesn’t say the FLESH became the Word”!
To Mr. Renfroe: Could you please provide a link for the newspaper article that quotes Bishop Ken Carter? As a member of a church in his North Carolina jurisdiction, I find these remarks disturbing and wish to see the source material.
Pastor Rob, thank you for taking the time and courage to collect and publish this information.
Everything that is taught to us from the Bible has been turned around and stomped on by these bishops. I am so discouraged and heartbroken from all they are doing. What’s next? Are they going to write their own Bible? What kind of love are they showing the traditional people? They claim we are full of hate and racists. We are not to follow the world only to follow God’s ways. They are way off base. The hurt inside me is so bad I can’t imagine how much God is hurting.
As always Rob you are spot on. Our conference has a new bishop coming. Makes me wonder how my traditionalist views will be seen once he gets here.
Would you mind sending me the specific article that these quotes came from. My wife’s UMC pastor basically says all this is made up. Thank you from your work in exposing the NON Christian teachings of these heretics.
Rob, I pray for forgiveness for my suspicion regarding our GMC bishops, Jones, Webb, and Swanson and the degree to which they will, or will not, have a positive affect as leaders in our newly developing denomination. My suspicions stem from the fact that five times within the body of your editorial you let us know that NONE of the UMC bishops (including Jones, Webb, and Swanson!) deigned to bring charges to the offensive statements and/or beliefs put forth by the five bishops you mentioned. None, zero. The question which has eaten at me all this time is “WHY.” Why did none of the bishops, including Traditionalist bishops Jones, Webb, and Swanson publicly (UMC-wide) condemn their colleagues’?
Given that I am not, nor have I ever been, privy into the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of the COB, it is entirely possible that my suspicions are unfounded and even wrongly put forth. If so, please forgive me! But also, please, enlighten me and others in order for us to see the matter correctly!