Friday, October 13, 2023

United Methodist Church Sees A "Future Of Hope" As They Deny Scripture

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United Methodist Church bishops have expressed optimism over the direction of their denomination after more than 6,400 congregations have voted to leave, with some saying the aftermath of the separation within their conferences has felt like a "revival." 


Thousands of UMC congregations have disaffiliated in the past couple of years amid the ongoing debate within the denomination over whether to change its rules to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

I seriously doubt John and Charles Wesley would have defined the current state of affairs in the denomination they founded as "a revival."

Be informed, not misled.

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The decline of a once great church.

The Church of the Resurrection of Leawood, Kansas, a UMC megachurch headed by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, held a panel of three bishops at its Leadership Institute late last month.

Moderated by Hamilton, the panel included East Ohio Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, Florida Bishop Tom Berlin, and Bishop Mande Muyombo of the Congo Central Conference.

The event comes as thousands of UMC congregations have disaffiliated in the past couple of years amid the ongoing debate within the denomination over whether to change its rules to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals. Although efforts to change the UMC Book of Discipline's stance on these issues have failed, many theological liberal leaders in the denomination have either refused to follow or enforce the denomination's rules.

They have abandoned biblical teachings on family and marriage.

Hamilton, known for his support for changing the UMC Book of Discipline, began by noting that he had heard from people whose conferences had lost between 20% and 30% of their churches, yet they were “joyful” and said, “it felt like a revival.”

Malone, whose conference had 36% of its member churches (237 congregations) leave, said “it did truly feel like a revival” after they left the regional body’s annual meeting earlier this year.

“There was a different spirit in the place,” Malone recounted. “It felt like everyone could breathe. There was a renewed sense of hope and excitement, and really believing that we are ready to forge ahead.”

“We were tired of the fighting, tired of all of the conversations being dominated by separation, disaffiliation. … People were tired, and the conference was ready and is ready and has already forged ahead.”

Malone believes “God is doing a new thing in the East Ohio Conference,” saying that she is “hearing the same things from colleagues that there is a renewed sense of hope” about the UMC.

More than 6,400 congregations have been given the approval to leave the United Methodist Church over the past four years amid a schism within the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States over whether to change its rules against homosexuality. 

Berlin, whose conference saw more than 100 churches leave since 2019 and is battling a lawsuit from another 71 churches over the disaffiliation, said, “We finally have people who love being United Methodists all together in one place.”

“We have been able to release people who just weren’t aligned to what we desire to be,” he continued. “We are not in tatters, but we do have some tattered edges.”

“Healing can come if we will focus on what made Methodism a wonderful movement to begin with, and that is that our strength is that we taught people how to love God, how to love neighbor, and how to love themselves.”

Berlin believes that the UMC has “a future with hope."

Let's focus on what made Methodism a "wonderful movement."

Wesley and the Bible.

John Wesley actually had a great deal to say about the authority of the Bible. In fact, the movement was founded on the authority of the Bible.

Here's a couple of  John Wesley quotes---from many:

"My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small."

--From the Journal: "June 5, 1766"

"But the Christian rule of right and wrong is the word of God, the writings of the Old and New Testament; all that the Prophets and 'holy men of old' wrote 'as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;' all that Scripture which was given by inspiration of God, and which is indeed profitable for doctrine, or teaching the whole will of God; for reproof of what is contrary thereto; for correction of error; and for instruction, or training us up, in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)."

"This is a lantern unto a Christian's feet, and a light in all his paths. This alone he receives as his rule of right or wrong, of whatever is really good or evil. He esteems nothing good, but what is here enjoined, either directly or by plain consequence, he accounts nothing evil but what is here forbidden, either in terms, or by undeniable inference. Whatever the Scripture neither forbids nor conjoins, either directly or by plain consequence, he believes to be of an indifferent nature; to be in itself neither good nor evil; this being the whole and sole outward rule whereby his conscience is to be directed in all things."

--From the Sermons: "The Witness of Our Own Spirit."

Methodists and marriage. 

In 2019, at a special session of UMC General Conference, delegates voted to add Paragraph 2553 to the Book of Discipline, which created a process for allowing churches to leave the denomination amid a longstanding debate over the denomination's official stance on homosexuality.

If Methodism was founded on biblical teaching---and it was according to Wesley, what is the debate?

The Bible is very clear on homosexuality, and marriage.

Focus on the Family says this in clarification of their biblical position regarding gender, marriage and homosexuality:

As an evangelical Christian ministry committed to the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God, Focus on the Family believes that sex is given by God as an expression of love to be shared and enjoyed exclusively between a husband and wife. Further, we are convinced that the Bible leaves no room whatsoever for confusion or ambiguity where homosexual behavior is concerned. The Scripture both explicitly and implicitly regards it as falling outside of God’s intention in creating man and woman as sexual beings who bear His image as male and female.

As for same-sex “marriage,” we see no place for it within the context of a Christian worldview. According to the Bible, marriage is heterosexual by definition. Jesus, when expressing his understanding of the scriptural foundation for the divine purpose and design in marriage, referred to its origins in the Creation account: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…” (Mark 10:6-8, quoting Genesis 2:24).

We realize that not everyone shares our perspective. Even within the ranks of professing Christians there are those who don’t believe that God’s Word and created order affirm heterosexual marriage as the one and only legitimate context for sexual expression. A careful study of this stance shows that its adherents either discount the authority of Scripture or adopt interpretive methods that create the latitude to ignore or distort the plain and obvious meaning of its words.

There is much more information in the link above. I encourage you to read it if you have questions about biblical teaching on homosexuality and marriage.


The Methodists and anyone else who has chosen the path of redefining God's Word are not walking toward revival, renewal, or reconciliation. They're walking toward decline and destruction. 

And hopelessness. 

There is a better way.

John Wesley also said, "If I had 300 men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, I would set the world on fire."

Perhaps the Methodists who are forsaking both God's Word and their founder's wisdom should remember what their logo---the flame---actually stands for.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.