Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BSA vs. United Method Church--What Is "A Reconciling Congregation?"

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Seattle's Rainier Beach United Methodist Church can no longer sponsor an approved Boy Scout troop, because Geoff McGrath, who is the leader of the troop, has come out as openly gay and has refused to leave the troop. The United Methodist Church pastor says they will not remove him because they are "A Reconciling Congregation."

The Pastor, Rev. Monica Corsaro says, "The church supports McGrath because his work reflects its spirit and values."

She says, "As a 'Reconciling Congregation' it's important to us that we are open to all people."

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, all the Seattle City Council members and 20 Washington State legislators sent a letter to the Boy Scouts supporting the pastor's position of "reconciliation," urging her to support McGrath while urging the Boy Scouts to essentially not act on their new moral policy.

What exactly does she mean by "a reconciling congregation?"

Don't all churches seek to help people reconcile? Aren't most churches open to all people?

This issue, which I mentioned last week, has now become a national issue.

Geoff McGrath has been leading Scout Troop 98, which is sponsored by the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in a suburb of Seattle.

A few days ago, McGrath told the national media---NBC, he was homosexual.

The BSA said he had "deliberately injected his sexuality" into the scouting program by his statements to the national media and he could not lead the troop with BSA approval.

They also discovered that McGrath had explained his homosexual behavior to the little boys in his troop.

The BSA, as you know, has a newly compromised moral policy that gay men can not lead BSA troops, but gay boys can participate in the Scouts---a compromise intended to please everyone, but has pleased no one.

As we said a few days ago, this affirms what many parents feared. It also affirms that moral compromise does not lead to a good place.

But what is a "reconciling congregation?"

The message of the gospel is indeed one of reconciliation.

The word "reconciliation" as used in the Bible comes from a family of words that has its roots in the word "allasso". The meaning associated with this group of words means to "change" or "exchange." So reconciliation in biblical terms means a change in the relationship between God and man or man and man.

In Romans 5: 6-11, Paul says that before reconciliation we were "powerless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies"--we were "under God's wrath" (v 9 ). Because of change or reconciliation, we become "new creatures."

In II Corinthians 5:17 Paul wrote, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come."

That person has exchanged one life for another.

Reconciliation to God takes place through our personal acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and His sacrifice on the cross for our sin and His resurrection.

Reconciliation is the objective work of God through Christ ( II Corth. 5:19). And it is subjective in that the sinner becomes reconciled to God--- not to a congregation.

The whole biblical message of reconciliation is centered around the love of God and the death of Christ. When reconciliation occurs, change occurs. The changed or reconciled person rejects the sin and walks in the Truth of God's Word by the power of the resurrection.

This personal transformation caused John Newton to write, "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see"---Amazing grace how sweet the sound."

Change. Reject sin as God defines sin and embrace God's grace and power to live according to His Word.

No one is perfect. We struggle. That is why John (I John 1) wrote, "Children, these things I write unto you that you sin not. And if you sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, wrote in his personal sermon notes next to these verses..."But if any of you sin do not lie in the sin, despairing of help. We have an advocate to lift us out of the sin."

Regarding those who had departed from the biblical faith Wesley wrote this next to verse 19: "They were not of us---when they went, their hearts were before departed from God, otherwise they would have continued with us."

Within Wesley's Methodist Church---now United Methodist Church, is a large group of churches that consider themselves "Reconciling Congregations." There are also other congregations that are not associated with the United Methodist Church that are also a part of this association. This is a national list of churches that consider themselves "Reconciling Congregations."

Wesley would consider them groups whose hearts had departed from the gospel he preached.

Their concept of reconciliation is very different from the biblical model of reconciliation.

It affirms the sin and reconciles the person to a local congregation. That is not biblical reconciliation.

People can be reconciled to any number of institutions or clubs, but biblical reconciliation to God can only come through the transformational act of accepting Jesus as Savior and turning away from sin and embracing godly biblical righteousness.

When the Boy Scouts invalidated the troop at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, Geoff McGrath told the press, "Nobody likes to be rejected from the company of people that you have valued."

Repeatedly, homosexual activists told the press during the campaign to redefine marriage in Washington State that it didn't matter that they had all the benefits of marriage, they wanted the "name marriage" to "remove the stigma" of their behavior and affirm it.

To Pastor Corsaro, "reconciliation" means accepting and affirming homosexual behavior without any message of change or restoration. Or deliverance. This is not consistent with biblical reconciliation.

This is a link to the United Methodist "Reconciling Congregation Program".

You will note that there are 16 fundamental statements about the philosophy behind this movement.

It begins with: "A reconciling Congregation is a United Methodist local church that makes a public statement welcoming all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, to participate fully in its congregational life..."

Statement 5 explains that "sexuality is God's good gift," regardless of orientation.

Statement 16 says this: There are some United Methodist Churches which have declared themselves to be "Transforming Congregations, i.e., they encourage persons to change from homosexual to heterosexual. There are at least two significant problems with that."

They continue; "First, these churches seem to require that changing one's sexual behavior is a condition for acceptance into the church. There is no other instance in our tradition of particular behavior barring one from church membership."

Secondly, they say, "There is no evidence that anyone has ever changed their orientation from homosexual to heterosexual."

Statement 7 deals with whether homosexuality is sin, saying that the church has traditionally believed homosexual behavior was sin, however, "This tradition has been profoundly challenged by many biblical scholars over the past three decades. Just as the church has changed its interpretation of the Bible regarding other social groups and practices over the centuries, so its interpretation of this matter is under going change today."

They state that the idea of homosexuality being sin is based on "a few scattered Bible verses."

I strongly encourage you to read these statements.

There is a vast difference between a church doing God's work by reconciling people to God through the transforming power of Christ and reconciling people to a local church group by affirming and celebrating what the Bible clearly teaches to be sin.

Paul spoke directly to matters such as this. He said in the end times, some people will be " holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" (II Timothy 3:5).

The New Living Translation says it this way: "They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that."

If your church considers itself to be a "Reconciling Congregation," I suggest you find another church home. Don't attend and don't raise your children in that environment.

It is spiritual deception in its highest form.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Pro-Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.