The UMC and a “Third Way”

The UMC and a “Third Way”

Quite a while back, I wrote regarding the challenges that our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church were facing in regards to the leftward direction that denomination has taken for several years.  I noted at that time a couple of years ago how there seemed to be a shift in that direction, with the General Conference rejecting several liberal motions and adopting some conservative ones (including a severing of ties with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an organization the UMC had been affiliated with for decades and that describes all abortions as “holy”).  The issue that remained unresolved, however, was how the denomination would handle homosexuality.  The UMC Book of Discipline is quite clear on the issue, but several pastors and bishops have simply flat-out ignored the prohibitions of ordaining active homosexuals and presiding over same-sex weddings.  Seeing that a resolution would not be achieved, the Council of Bishops called for a special General Conference in 2019 (they usually take place every four years) where they would present some alternatives for the delegates to considers.

That date is fast approaching, and recently the Council released the three plans they intend to present to the delegates.  The “Traditionalist Plan” recommends maintaining the existing prohibitions and increasing enforcement (currently, very little enforcement of the Book of Discipline has occurred, and what enforcement has happened has been overturned).  The “Connectional Conference Plan” recommends reorganizing the denominational administrative districts in the US so that there are two or more nationwide (as opposed to regional) districts, each of which would have its own theology and policies related to marriage while remaining one denomination (similar to what the Episcopal church did).  The third plan, and the one that the bishops intend to recommend, is called the “One Church Plan,” which “encourages a generous unity” by allowing individual districts, churches, and pastors to make their own “contextualized” decisions.  In other words, if one church wants to ordain active homosexuals and/or conduct same-sex marriages, they can.  There would be no discipline, and everyone can just remain one big, happy denomination.

Except, they cannot.  These so-called “third way” options only end up one way:  with a wholesale affirmation of sinful behavior.  We have witnessed this over and over again.  It is as if these churches and denominations have forgotten the truth of what God told Cain regarding sin, that it is crouching at the door and its desire is to devour us.  So often the rationale given for such a shift away from biblical morality is that otherwise, the church will cease to be “relevant” to the culture and there will be a great falling away of church membership.  Yet the denominations that have adopted cultures accommodating to sinfulness are the ones that are witnessing massive decreases in membership.  Those who remain faithful to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ are seeing God keep His promise of drawing sinners to Himself and seeing them regenerated and healed of their sin.  I encourage you to pray for our brothers and sisters in the UMC, that they continue to take a faithful and obedient stand on this issue, and to pray for our denomination, that we will continue to faithfully resist the calls of this world to “get on the right side of history.”  Just something to think about…




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: