The Travail of the United Methodist Church (3)


The Methodist Church to Split

Chicago Tribune Article

If you read the Chicago Tribune you’d be forgiven for thinking that the United Methodist Church (UMC) has worked our an amicable plan to split.  The article in question is titled “United Methodist churches that oppose gay marriage and clergy will break away, form new religion: ‘We came to an impasse that can’t be bridged’” was published on January 3.

The article’s title is one that only someone ignorant and/or vicious could have written.  The reason it’s so long is to highlight this cruel hit statement: “United Methodist churches that oppose gay marriage and clergy will break away, form new religion.”  Note that it is those churches who oppose gay marriage who are “breaking away” to “form a new religion.”  A new religion?!  So “real” Christianity supports gay marriage and thus those in opposition need to form a “new religion” distinct from Christianity!?  The mind boggles.  Perhaps long time readers will recall this figure from my April 13, 2015 post.


All Christian denomination membership in the United States (left) vs. membership of denominations who oppose gay marriage (right).

The reason for this result is that Christianity has from its founding by Jesus Christ Himself defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  The “new religion” being founded is by the Progressives and its certainly post-Christian if not yet overtly pagan.

Now that we’re past the awful title, here’s the core information from the Chicago Tribune article.

The separation plan calls for the creation of a “traditionalist Methodist denomination” that will be distinct from the UMC. While the new denomination, which has yet to be named, will continue to practice the ban on gay marriage and clergy, the UMC will begin the process of removing restrictive language from its bylaws.

Recall that it was the “traditionalist Methodists” (i.e., oppose gay marriage) who won at the last world-wide denominational conference.  And yet the Tribune article says it is this winning group who are expected to exit the UMC.

UMC Pastor Post

However, it’s not as simple as the Chicago Tribune article leads you to believe.  I recently found a post written by a UMC pastor that is likely far closer to the truth, and also deeply troubling.  The author is Donald Sensing.

To begin, the document (called the Protocol by this author) upon which the Tribune article is based in not a statement of official policy.  It is rather a working document that proposes a specific solution.

In fact, nothing has been decided and no actual actions have been taken to split the UMC. That a split is nearly certain to come before this summer is not much in doubt. But what the details will be no one can predict.

The UMC’s only body that can determine policy denomination-wide is the General Conference. Presided over by bishops, who can speak to issues but may not vote, the GC convenes once per four years and does not exist in between. It will convene again on May 5. The “gay issue” will certainly be the priority matter. Voting delegates come from the church’s conferences, which is what the UMC calls dioceses. The number of delegates is fixed; how many come from each conference is based on their membership number. Delegates per conference must be both laity and clergy.

Pastor Sensing has low expectations for the to be formed “Traditionalist” and “Progressive” UMC denominations.

The UM Right has been defining itself mainly by its opposition to the UM Left. Once the divorce is finalized, then what? They do not yet know and it will be conflict-riven to find out. It will splinter the traditionalists’ merely-apparent monolith a lot. Purity codes inherent in religious conservatism will be fought over and will be their own source of energetic dissension. Unity there will not be.

Progressives, whether religious or political simply must have an enemy. There is always an oppressor who must be subdued, always and -ism to be overcome, always a class war that must be fought.

So, after a fully-progressive UM church is formed there will be a period of sweetness and light, and then the in-fighting will begin, then the purges will begin. The only way forward will be ever-more leftward (see: Democrat party). No one will count the casualties because Leftism has never cared about casualties, either literal or figurative. The Left has its own purity codes, too, and enforces them at least as vigorously as the Right does.

As has always happened when the Left attains power, a self-appointed revolutionary vanguard will cement its position and focus primarily on retaining control. The Progressive UM church will become effectively a social-justice-driven political party that uses religious language.

I hope that Pastor Sensing is proved to be too pessimistic.  In any case the UMC is likely to find itself in a travail at least as painful as the PCUSA, and perhaps much worse.  These are just specific instances of our nation’s disintegration into tribalism.

May God have mercy on the UMC, the PCUSA and the United States.

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