Saturday, May 03, 2008

Question of the Day

General Conference is now over. What are your impressions? Are you pleased or displeased with the results?

85 comments:

doubleplusundead said...

Beyond displeased, furious! Furious I tell you!!!!

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Okay, I'm Catholic and have no idea what you're talking about.

Craig L. Adams said...

Y'know, now that it's over. I actually feel pretty good about it. It was okay. (I don't think we need a new Hymnal. That seemed kinda dumb.) But, over-all I'm basically okay with it.

John Wilks said...

I'm more than a tad concerned about the potential separation from the central conferences. Hopefully, the Annual Conferences will kill the move towards segregation. At the very least, it isn't a done deal, so there is reason for hope.

That said, "separate but equal" is not an option for me. If we restructure in such a way as to marginalize foreign voices, I don't know that I could continue on.

I'm just hoping it doesn't come to that.

So once again, I find myself thinking "we'll figure it out during the next quadrennium."

I guess that's us, The United Mañana Church, putting off the problems of today until a far-off tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

john wlks,

I was a little uncertain of how that legislation read and what happened.

Did they vote to seperate the conferences pending votes by U.S. annual conferences?

Or did they vote to study the issue and come back with a more official recommendation for action in 2012?

Either way, I'm very concerned by this development. I'm not at all pleased that so much of General Conference is taken up (at least emotionally) by issues that are so divisive, and so little of the event truly seems to be about our purpose of "making disciples to transform the world".

Especially not if we have voted to seperate from our brothers in another part of the world!

John Wilks said...

My understanding is that the GC has adopted a separation plan and the ACs must vote to ratify or not. If I understand it correctly, once adopted by enough Annual Conferences, our Constitution would be amended and there would be no going back. If I have that wrong, someone please correct me.

Basically, the US and the Central Conferences would all become Regional Conferences- each able to adopt their own social principles and ordination rules. There would still be a General Conference for matters which effect all UM members around the globe- though I'm not sure what those matters would be.

In essence, this would remove just under 300 overseas delegates from debates over matters like Paragraph 314. Given the way the vote went this year, it doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out how such a vote would go down if only Americans were voting.

The Ironic Catholic said...

doubleplusundead--
LOL!

Anonymous said...

JW,

Thanks for your answer. If this is indeed what happened, I am flabbergasted!

I understand why the 40 % left leaning U.S. delegates would have voted for this. I DON'T understand why the majority of theological U.S. conservatives who were voting delegates at G.C. would vote for this ammendment.

This will be presented to the different Annual Conferences as a financial decision, and as a way to "empower" the Central Conferences to make their own decisions. My pastor and our lay delegate to A.C. are theologically conservative, but I'm not at all sure they would even consider voting against the approval of this ammendment.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the breaking up of U.S. and Central, the UMNS wrote this:

"The assembly passed 23 constitutional amendments proposed by the Task Force on the Global Nature of the Church. The amendments will allow for the creation of a regional conference for the United States and change the words “central conference” to “regional conference.” The legislation does not create a U.S. regional conference but makes it possible for General Conference to do so at a later time. The assembly created a task force to examine possibilities"

So apparently the Central conference will retain it's representation at the next G.C. in spite of this ammendment, regardless of how the annual conferences vote. However, the stage is set for things to change come 2012.

Here is another very worrisome amendment in my opinion:

"Annual conferences will also be voting on proposals that provide for newly created conferences to be represented at General, jurisdiction or regional conferences on a non-proportional basis. The issue arose after the Côte d’Ivoire Conference was assigned two delegates for the 2008 General Conference."

If the theologically liberal delegates and groups such as RMN, can limit the voice of the Central Conference, this will basically ensure passage of their causes.

Anonymous said...

The RCRC is an anti-christ. I think the partnership with this heinous group makes the UMC's impact on the society a negative one. A split is the only way I'll remain a methodist. Unity at the price of TRUTH is useless.

the reverend mommy said...

I don't think that waiting and thinking is a bad idea. It's not all put to bed.

Amerians (Westerners) and Africans (as well as the Asians) fundementally think differently. The strong individualistic bent of American thinking is anathema to the African mindset. Their ethos is much more concerned about honor/shame rather than power/control.

We are not grasping that in our discussions about separation. There are theological liberals in the African conferences; progressives as well (consider the fact that there are liberation theologians within not just South American but Africa and Korea). This is not at heart a conservative/liberal issue; it is reductionistic to claim so.

In fact, I would claim that the nexus of the next "Age of Christianity" has shifted away from the U.S. and to S. America, Korea and parts of Africa.

John Wilks said...

TRM- that shift in the next in the nexes of Christian vitality is exactly why we need to remain strongly linked with overseas United Methodism. God is leading through them. If we loosen the bonds, we will surely be left behind while God does a new work.

James O'Kelly said...

John W,

Do you really think there is any hope left? Can you not see the writing on the wall?

It seems to us that the United Methodist Church in this nation is all but dead. The time to rise up is now.

To those posting anonymously in this thread, we would welcome your thoughts at the Society of James O'Kelly blog. We accept e-mail submissions. Speak your mind! Speak the truth!

http://jamesokelly.blogspot.com/

JD said...

The biggest vision that the church continues to loose in all these discussions if the fact the God and His word do not change while we may. We are meant to conform to Him and His word, whether we agree with it from a "social" perspective or not. Truth is truth, plain and simple. Here is a perfect example of not letting God guide the church, but man and his ideas. I see a schism on the horizon, or a revival. I hope the later rather than the former.

PAX
JD

Craig L. Adams said...

jd says: "I see a schism on the horizon, or a revival. I hope the later rather than the former."

Honestly, gang, I see neither. I see the UMC holding itself together, while slowly bleeding out it's life in it's more "progressive" sectors. We lumber forward. The schism would have to develop at some point after 2012. And, as for revival: No.

Anonymous said...

Craig,

I've enjoyed reading your blog, and especially appreciated the one you wrote nearly a week ago about whether or not the UMC truly matters. Ultimately, I have to say "no", but I am thankful for how God has used the Methodist church in years past, and even today in many cases.

I regret having to agree with you about the dismal chances of revival in the Methodist church. While I see some churches engaged in purposeful, Biblical, and evangelical ministries, the VAST majority of UMC churches are dying a slow, painful death. And far too many UMC clergy are passionate only about social causes with little regard to the larger purpose and mission of ministry.

I've only been in the UMC for about 4 years, and all of that time working in vocational ministry to students. I've seen God bless the work in some tremendous ways, and I feel strongly that any church--regardless of denomination--can be in effective ministry to students, the community at large, and the world. I believe specifically in the ability of the UMC to be effective IF we get serious about the true mission of the church.

But the most recent G.C. and so many other events in the UMC lead me to believe it is VERY unlikely to happen for the UMC at large (at least not to happen in the U.S. Region). I am very saddened by this.

TN Rambler said...

I have to wonder if some of the folks commenting took time to watch any of the plenary sessions or took the time to read any of the blog reports from actual delegates and volunteers at GC. What I saw and read outside of the partisan organization reports (RMN, IRD, etc.) gave me great hope for the church. I for sure saw a church that is working to reach out where we are to share the love of Christ to a world that desperately needs to hear of that love.

Oh, and anonymous, your characterization of the "vast majority" of UMC clergy is way off the mark, at least in my experience.

Wayne

Anonymous said...

TN Rambler,

I did read several personal blogs from delegates at G.C. and I watched the live feed several times during the week.

I'm sorry, but neither the blogs nor the viewing have given me much hope for revival in the UMC.

I also want to respond to what you said about what I said. This is what I wrote:

"the VAST majority of UMC churches are dying a slow, painful death. And far too many UMC clergy are passionate only about social causes"

Please notice that I did not say the VAST majority of clergy...I said the VAST majority of UMC churches are dying a slow death. And my concern about "far too many clergy" makes no reference to exactly how many or it even being a majority.

But in my opinion, even a handful of clergy who aren't faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture, evangelism, discipleship, AND social concerns, is too many inept clergy members.

I also might add that my concerns about some of the UMC clergy are due in large part to many of the blogs I've read this week (and previously) as well as what I've encountered personally with regard to UMC clergy.

Anonymous said...

TN Rambler,

I just went to your blog, and would have loved to post comments but they are apparently closed.

I did notice that you only referred to IRD as a "liar" on your blog, but here at John's you also brought RMN into question with regard to their reporting. I'm curious why you didn't mention that on your blog...

By the way, I post as "anon" only because I don't have a blog, google, url, or "open id". I'm Ronnie...I'm not the "anon" who posted about RCRC, but I do believe I'm the "anon" for all other comments in this thread.

While you may disagree with IRD's reporting, I did watch the 22 minute demonstration (not just 15 minutes), and found the whole thing to be in extremely poor taste.

Non delegates were allowed on the floor to "witness" against the votes of duly elected delegates. (Only official delegates are supposed to be on the floor). A broken chalice on the communion table, a communion table shrouded in black because one group did not agree with the vote of duly elected delegates at G.C. People encouraged to lay additional black shrouds at this communion table, and non-delegates given access to microphones to "share their pain" caused by the faithful witness of others.

I find the actions of Bishops who "negotiated" this protest to be shameful and a slap in the face of those who felt just as valid about their votes and witness and commitment to expressions of God's love.

Furthermore, the delegates had little choice during this "break" but to stay on the floor since the aisles were overtaken by "witnesses" and the presiding bishop simply just turned the time over to the protestors.

While I can understand your disagreements with IRD's version of events, I don't think they were completely off the mark, and I think you were less than honest in describing it as a 15 minute event. Kind of puts you in the same boat, and I say that respectfully. I don't think you "lied" per se...just think that was your perception of the event, the way that John Lomperis wrote his perception of the event.

Anonymous said...

Apparently John Wlks has very valid concerns about the proposed ammendments. According to the Good News Website, this is what will be accomplished with the ammendments if passed by A.C.'s :

"According to the plan present “Central Conferences” (these are conferences outside the United States) would continue as they are except for the name change. What is different is that the United States would become its own “Regional Conference” in order to deal with matters of U.S. national interest. All the Regional Conferences would then gather together for what is now known as the General Conference. "

furthermore, :

"No one yet can explain how this would work practically. What is known already is that there is a difference of opinion as to whether the Social Principles (and particularly the part dealing with homosexuality) are principles to be applied globally or regionally. Arguments are already being made that homosexuality, for example, is a regional issue. What the African culture believes to be sin is not considered sin in the U.S."

JD said...

"Arguments are already being made that homosexuality, for example, is a regional issue. What the African culture believes to be sin is not considered sin in the U.S."

There is a serious problem in any denomination that feels sin is sin only in certain parts of the world, personal circles, or regions of the US. I am all for social justice, but justice is also calling people to task. While the church does a really good job at pointing out sin, it does a poor job, at times, at addressing it. Maybe that is why so many find it easier to label things like "homosexuality" as un-sinful because they are afraid of dealing with the sin and working through the process of redemption and forgiveness that must occur. We have programs and support groups that work with drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers...but not homosexuality. We can't call it sin in the name of social justice and sensitivity.

OK, off the soap box....

My point was, Craig said the following in a response to me:

"Honestly, gang, I see neither. I see the UMC holding itself together, while slowly bleeding out it's life in it's more "progressive" sectors. We lumber forward."

How can the UMC not schism when there are different definitions of sin within the church and Christianity?

PAX
JD

John Wilks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Wilks said...

JD-

That's the question I keep asking myself. The answer, I fear, is because we are in denial. We keep acting as if somehow this whole debate will just go away or as if there is a middle ground.

I am increasingly convinced that the United Methodist Church is home to two religions- each Christian in title, symbol, and vocabulary, but polar opposite in terms of soteriology and other theological concerns.

I don't see how lumbering on as presently constituted is helpful to either side. In the long run, I still think that all sides would be better served by a amicable split which would allow both expression of Methodism room to spread their wings and fly.

Then again, I'm still here. I'm still seeking ordination, I'm still preaching and studying. God alone knows why. I just cannot leave.

And maybe we lumber on because people like me cannot bear to pull the trigger.

And maybe that's what God wants after all. Maybe there is something holy in our denial and indecision.

Or maybe I'm kidding myself.

Time and the Holy Spirit will have the final say, I suppose.

Craig L. Adams said...

Every four years around GC time folks start talking schism. Every four years the UMC dodges the bullet. Again. There isn't going to be some clear crisis that will settle things for people.

I'm glad TN Rambler feels as positive about the church as he does. It's possible that he & I are like the blind men describing the elephant: and we are "seeing" different but equally valid (in their way) things. I'd actually like to think so.

To me the corollary to: God doesn't need the UMC is God can still use the UMC. Faithful witness & service within the UMC is still faithful witness and service. And, God can and does still bless the faith and efforts of faithful Christians.

And, don't think for a minute that schism will "solve" (so to speak) the "homosexual issue." Same-gender attraction is a human reality. The issues that currently divide our denomination (what the Bible/Christian tradition says about sex vs. the experience of persistent, unchanging same-gender attraction in some people) will simply resurface anew over time in the splinter-churches.

Our hope always has to be in the God who has called us. Our ecclesiastical organizations are flawed. Isn't that what you would expect, anyway?

Don Yeager said...

I know this sounds rather cynical, but I view GC as "successful" if it doesn't do anything to greatly embarrass us or negatively impact our ability to do mission and ministry in the local church. In that regard, GC 2008 was successful, in my opinion.

I personally am glad that the statements on sexuality weren't changed. That definitely would have made it harder on the church in my part of the country. I hate to see us go through that painful process every four years.

I'm glad that the budget was only increased moderately and that they chose to focus on the four core areas of leadership development, new places for new people, poverty, and global health. Interestingly, those are not far off from where Rick Warren has chosen to devote his energies lately.

I'm sorry they didn't decide to cut ties with the RCRC.

I'm glad local pastors may get to vote on GC and JC delegates.

I will be interested to see how the new members of the Judicial Council operate.

And I will also view with interest the long-term effects of the decision on regional conferences.

John Meunier said...

How can we avoid schism if there are different definitions of what constitutes a sin?

By deciding not to split.

It is that simple.

JD said...

Craig said:

"And, don't think for a minute that schism will 'solve' (so to speak) the 'homosexual issue.' Same-gender attraction is a human reality. The issues that currently divide our denomination (what the Bible/Christian tradition says about sex vs. the experience of persistent, unchanging same-gender attraction in some people) will simply resurface anew over time in the splinter-churches."

If the curch splinters, it will be on the basis of orthodoxy and not on a specific issue. Sin is sin, no matter the time or place. God is God, and he does not change. The one thing I respect about the Catholic Church is its strength to keep true to Christian tenets regardless of societal pressure and the corruption of moral relativism.

PAX
JD

the reverend mommy said...

I'm an optimist, I suppose.

I belive that anywhere that God exists, there is hope.

I agree about differing opinions of lists of sins -- however both would agree that 1) sin is bad 2) sin destroys our relationship with God and each other. I personally have problems with the lax attitudes of Afrikaners have with personal nudity -- you might even call it a sin. They have problems with homosexuality; I have problems with their rampant sexuality and promiscuity. I have enormous problems with the way the typical Afrikaner shuns those who are sick and dying. Even among those who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. The point is, each society has their own cross to bear -- each has their own spin on things.

I believe that if God is present and active in even one single UMC congregation, there is hope.

If by "there is no hope that we will maintain the status quo" then I agree that there is no hope of that and praise be to God about that!

The people called Methodists have reshaped their selves several times over the history of the movement. It was essentially a revival movement, then a charismatic movement, then a missional movement, then one concerned with the plight of slavery, alcoholism, woman's rights and civil rights.

We will reshape ourselves hopefully to meet the world's needs. I believe that there are scads of us who believe that God has not left the building.

JD said...

REV MOM said:

"We will reshape ourselves hopefully to meet the world's needs."

As long as that reshaping focuses on ways to reach others for Christ not backing down from the truth we are trying to reach them with. God's truth will stand on its own, the message is clear and simple and it is not up to us to minimize things for culture. If there is a problem "with the way the typical Afrikaner shuns those who are sick and dying. Even among those who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord," then there is an issue with it, especially if it directly conflicts with Christ's message. Our brothers should be challenged on this. We are called to do so.

"I believe that there are scads of us who believe that God has not left the building."

I agree with this, and love for the Lord will get us through, but when, in our life, we choose to call something a sin or not a sin because society does or does not see it that way, is moral relativism and minimizes Christianity as a whole.

PAX
JD

the reverend mommy said...

JD,

I suppose what I resist is a "list of sins." We can agree on the 10 biggies -- and then the greatest commandment that Jesus gives us (to love one another). I grew up in a town where going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon was called "sin." I have neighbors who believe because I cut my hair and cut my children's hair, I am sinning. They can't even wrap their brains around the fact that I, on occasion, will preach from a pulpit. They consider that so sinful, it causes them to sputter.

I applied for a job at a Christian School where they wanted me to sign an affidavit that I would never ever ever allow alcohol to pass my lips. I couldn't do that.

I have a friend who flies people in and out of "Darkest Africa" where it is considered a sin to place the penis gourd below the seatbelt. I have no idea why, but he now has seat belts so that the penis gourd can be above the seat belt.

Is going to the movies on a Sunday or playing tennis on a Sunday sin? Is playing cards a sin? For me, I would say no. However for my cousins I would say "yes" because they believe it so. And when I am with them, I will not have a glass of wine or play cards or go to a movie on a Sunday afternoon.

There are specific injuctions that we will agree on - and break anyhow (the Sabbath thing for instance.) What do we do there?

I don't think God is finished with us yet....

JD said...

REV MOM,

Need to spend some time with family and will reply in more detail, but my basis for sin, is it in the bible, then it is sin. If not, probably not so much.

PAX
JD

Anonymous said...

Rev. Mommy,

We aren't talking about whether culture calls it sin or not. It'a about the authority of Scripture.

Scripture is very clear about issues on sexuality. Scripture is also clear that the things we do should be to glorify God. If going to the movies on a Sunday does not impede my ability to glorify God, then where is the problem?

I think we would find much agreement on the cultural issues (hair cutting, movies on a Sunday, etc.), but there are issues beyond the "big ten" and the great commission that are clearly black and white. I think the UMC should affirm all teachings in Scripture and would love to see all of our leadership have to backbone to do so rather than continue down this road of moral relativism--on either side of the cultural fence.

JD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...

‪Rev Mom,

I am glad I took a step back on this entire subject the last few hours and I think back to college. When I first joined my fraternity, I did so out of respect and admiration for the men that were in it. There were some troubling times that we went through with membership, and our standards, as well as holding true to the principles of our fraternity and chapter began to slowly slip away. Although I love the men that I joined with, the fraternity, specifically my chapter as it is today, resembles very little of the passionate, God serving group that I joined almost 15 years ago.

If we, all Christians, continue down this road of moral relativism, being people pleasers and not God pleasers, the Christian faith that has been with us since Christ died for our sins will be nothing more than a perversion of truth meant to attract members, and not bring souls to Christ.

In order to remain relevant in the world, we must remain true to scripture regardless of societal pressures not to. Please pray for unity and wisdom in Christ.

PAX
JD

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Lots of discussion about the future - not all of it equally hopeful (will there be schism? how about revival?). To this I simply declare that Jesus Christ is risen!

On General Conference - I was pretty pleased on the whole - though it seemed like a lot of potentially important stuff was simply deferred to 2012.

I'm glad about the full communion with the Lutherans - now maybe we can open up talks with some non-liberal/mainline groups? Wouldn't that be diverse/inclusive of us...

New worship/hymn book could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how they do it, but I agree that it wasn't really an urgent need.

No one seems to be clear on what restructuring the church will mean, beyond some slogans about "globalizing" and that worries me. I would like to know in detail what this amendment does that we will be voting on at Annual Conference.

the reverend mommy said...

I would agree about calling sin exactly what it is. And I agree about moral relativism. I suppose I like to stir the pot...

And that's probably what I like the best about the Methodist church -- we have the ability to stir the pot. We live in tension between the extremes; and from that tension we all encounter growth as individuals and as a church. We have the freedom within our Theological Task to disagree. I've belonged to denominations where that is not so; that to disagree with the Pastor of the Pope is called "sin" -- and members are not encouraged to not think for themselves. That is the true distinctive of the UMC for me; real inquiry.

Living in the tension causes us to think and question, no just our church but ourselves; it helps us define for ourselves what sin is and what exactly we believe.

It's the "margins" between the deep forest and the meadows where 80 to 95 percent of wildlife lives -- in the tension between the forest live and the meadow life. It's a rich place to live.

jimmorrow said...

rev mommy says: God has not left the building.

Jim Morrow says: He has not left the building, indeed.

Mar Vista Mustang said...

No, God has not left the building. In comparison to churchwide assemblies of other denominations, it is evident that United Methodists still value a personal relationship with Jesus.

Don Yeager said...

I forgot to mention that I am actually quite pleased with the decision to go ahead with a new hymnal. I think we need a new one each generation.

I'd like the inclusion of more contemporary songs. I serve a pretty traditional congregation in an historic sanctuary, so screens are not an option, but I think our folks would accept new music if it were in the hymnal. It's a hassle to print an insert or have two hymnals in the pew. Make a combo of the best of the UMH and Faith We Sing with some other music and we might have a winner.

John Wilks said...

Don,

I'm w/ you on the hymnal unless they plan on re-writing the lyrics of all the old hymns to be more politically correct.

The Chapel at Brite/TCU has the most recent Disciples hymnal and they've butchered many of the classic hymns. I'd rather not sing the classics at all if we can't keep the lyrics. And you can forget about "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit language."

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for with adding new language to describes God which moves us past patriarchal limitations, but I stridently object to erasing every single mention of male language in liturgy and hymnody.

wes said...

I have to say on some level I have issues with General Conference and other ways I don't (cryptic right). I don't like the restructuring idea because we are a global church, and we would be possibly cutting ourselves off when we have to actually deal with being global (make sense).

The sin issue is one that we won't solve. I mean no direct offense to anyone posting here but I would be more afraid if we didn't have discussions about what constitutes sin. If we didn't that would mean we have God (and scripture) figured out and personally I'm not to interested in a faith that has all the answers (even though we have the ultimate one).

In part I'm a little more worried about the discussion here because someone named "anonymous" would rather remain anonymous than own their words. If we truly believe that Christ is alive and well within our church and our discussion than there should be no reason to fear or hide. Other than that I find this discussion and the discussion at General Conference (even though some important decisions were put off) to be a healthy sign that there is still life and vitality in the UMC. just my two bits.

JD said...

Wes said:

"In part I'm a little more worried about the discussion here because someone named 'anonymous' would rather remain anonymous than own their words."

The main contributer is named Ronnie. He said so:

"By the way, I post as 'anon' only because I don't have a blog, google, url, or 'open id'. I'm Ronnie...I'm not the 'anon' who posted about RCRC, but I do believe I'm the 'anon' for all other comments in this thread."

PAX
JD

JD said...

Wes said:

"The sin issue is one that we won't solve. I mean no direct offense to anyone posting here but I would be more afraid if we didn't have discussions about what constitutes sin."

It has been resolved. If we would just look at and read scripture and stop trying to intertwine our need to make things morally relative to our time, then we wouldn't debate them. That is not having scripture figured out, that is trusting God and the other divinely inspired writers that were guided by the Holy Spirit to write down what God wanted. With that, God meant what He said and said what He meant. Some things in life are as simple as black and white. {:^)

PAX
JD

R D Mack said...

JD,

Which Fraternity were you in if I may ask? I've seen the same thing happen to a fraternity chapter I helped start in Alabama. No greek letters, but it is an "honest-to-God" greek organization: Farmhouse. The original chapter was founded by 5 guys who held Bible studies together in an old farmhouse. For over a century now, there has been a "hard and fast" rule prohibiting the use of alcohol in fraternal houses. We were the only dry fraternity house on campus.

While there are still some members who are very committed to being a voice of Christian conviction, the chapter now looks and acts much the same as other fraternities on campus.

Also, I tend to agree with you on the sin issue. While I can find some truth in Rev Mommy's and Wes's post, I think the ability to define sin is much easier than many of us admit. In my case, easier to define, than I live by.

Healthy living, obeying laws (especially traffic laws), time management, thought life, time management, sins of ommission...these are all things I wrestle with almost daily. I recognize them as sin, but unfortunately, don't often consider them "serious" enough to make changes.

Does that make sense?

I also recognize the importance of living in Grace and the freedom found in Christ rather than living a life of legalism and guilt. While it's true that some denoms, and religious people will claim non-sinful things to be sin (going to movies on Sunday as an example already mentioned), I think it's pretty obvious to most people what is simply legalism versus true areas of sin.

wes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wes said...

JD -
Thanks for the clarification about the name I must have missed that info in all the other reading :) I still stand by what I said that we need to continue to have conversations about what constitutes sin. In my opinion its healthy to ask questions about what we mean when we say sin.

When It comes to sin, I don't believe that scripture is "black and white" on the issue. For example it is quite clear in scripture that what we term as "disabilities" are often the direct result of sin. Speaking as an individual who is deaf I have difficulty believing this "black and white" explanation of sin within scripture is acceptable and should be kept as part of our world view and part of how we believe God interacts with the world.

My personal experience has found that quite often we (meaning everyone) are only black and white on the issues that have no direct effect on ourselves. I agree that on somethings scripture is very clear, however not all of scripture is that clear hence the function and role of hermeneutics.

One final thing JD, whether it was intentional or not I do not appreciate the insinuation that I (or anyone who feels the definition of sin is up for discussion) don't read the bible. Having spent just about half of my young life studying it, I feel that the problem most people have is that they just "read" scripture and don't seek to apply it. And if we are to interpret the cultural relativism of our day as influencing this discussion we need to acknowledge the place that the "modern" scientific method has played in the discernment of sin. A "black and white" world view may not be whats needed today, especially when people are hurt and need the salvation that only Christ can offer.

PS. I'm the one that deleted the previous comment I made just above this one because I wanted to clarify things further.

JD said...

R D Mack,

I was and still am, in Lambda Chi Alpha.

PAX
JD

Ignobleone said...

I see our church being very like the church at Corinth reflected in Paul's letters. On the one extreme with have "super-spiritual" leaders/activitists and members who see no sin but that which causes physical, psychological, or spiritual harm as they percieve it. The other "super spiritual" leaders fear the no sin party will overcome the gospel. While these groups "eat their love feast" with only their parties, at the ends of the table, most of us remain, quietly sharing the good news and trying to love everyone as we are commanded to. That keeps the core of this church alive, and if not growing, sound.

Yours in Christ
ray w

JD said...

Wes said:

"Thanks for the clarification about the name I must have missed that info in all the other reading :)"

Dude, it's not like the comments are long or anything. You should have caught it. {;^)

Wes asked:

"One final thing JD, whether it was intentional or not I do not appreciate the insinuation that I (or anyone who feels the definition of sin is up for discussion) don't read the bible."

No Wes, I did not mean that, and I am sorry that I was flippant in my answer. A little frustration coming out from some of these discussions. There are some pretty straight forward things in the bible that are listed time and again as sin. I am not trying to focus on the "homosexuality" thing (Daniel posts one of the best, non-politicized, looks at the this issue on his blog, I recommend a read through), just overall, I continue to have problems with the Christian church not holding true to the convictions of Christ to change due to cultural pressures and acceptance. There are a few times that Paul warns us against it. The main reason I did not respond to REV MOM last night, was my frustration. Then, I actually deleted the original post, because, as with my response to you, it was a little caustic, though I did not mean to be.

I admit, I have learned a great deal in the last 2 years bing involved in these conversations. Dan Trabue, though we have sparred on a few occasions and to this day have some fundamental differences, has had a big influence on some of my thinking about Christ and our role in the Church, as well as my current pastor, Andy Nixon.

Thanks for the input.

PAX
JD

the reverend mommy said...

I feel the job of the pastor is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

I must ask, why capitalize my name? That puzzles me.

JD said...

No reason. Respect maybe. It just seemed appropriate. I truly did not even think about it.

PAX
JD

the reverend mommy said...

Thnx -- it's funny -- in this medium it is so hard to read the intended tone of voice.

wes said...

Thanks JD, I assumed that it was frustration coming out but needed to say something any way. I'll read up on the links you put in your post.
Peace

Don Yeager said...

jd,
Thanks for linking to the essay by Bishop Whitaker. That should have been required reading for all GC delegates.

JD said...

Don,

Don't thank me, thank Daniel McLain Hixon. He's the man on all things Anglican in nature.

And yes, a very good, highly enlightened read.

PAX
JD

Mar Vista Mustang said...

I simply loved seeing the African delegates. The sight of them was a continual reminder of the sacrifices made by generations of missionaries who left the comfort of home and family to spread the Gospel in parts unknown. What faith those missionaries exercised! And God blessed their faith!

Stephen said...

Question of the Week??? :)

RERC said...

I would like to comment on the international delegates and conferences.

The growth of Methodism worldwide seems to me one of the most important developments for the UMC and challenges for the U.S. part of the denomination. Here are some
random things I thing the U.S. church will be wrestling with in the coming years.

U.S. folks of all political leanings are going to have to re-examine themselves and their attitudes towards non-U.S. people deeply, as well as what role the U.S. part of the church should have in the worldwide UMC. We are so used to running things and having our issues be paramount, and now the distinct possibility of change arises. How will we respond?

The U.S. part of the church, like our country in general, exhibits racial unease. I have always been intrigued by how the U.S. part of the UMC apologizes as a denomination for its specific racially-related sins of the past. It seems we can never stop apologizing for certain incidents. This year once again we repented of the Methodist-related Native American massacre, for example. That has been done several times before, but we keep revisiting it in an effort to repent adequately. It seems to me to be one thing to acknowledge heinous things from the past and repent. It seems to be much more difficult to have everyone agree that finally an adequate repentance has been made. I am NOT saying we should then go on to forget what happened and blot it from our history. NO, it should remain there and be remembered with sorrow. I am only saying there is something strange theologically in repenting over and over for the same incident, hoping to finally get it right.

I believe our own past and political issues make us uncomfortable with the presence of the international delegates and their conferences. Yet at the same time we are doing some pretty strange things. It is strange to be talking about how much they should “count” and how much “say” they should have. I keep thinking back to the old, bad “3/5ths” of a person reckoning whenever I read about some of the proposals on how to handle the growing international church.

I appreciate the discussion here about how our international friends see our issues and could and should speak to them, but how it really needs to be OK for us to see their issues and speak to them too. I fear that the U.S. portion of the church does not do well in either of these areas.

In the cell phone controversy this year, much of the talk about whether the phones were “buying votes.” I heard a patronizing tone, as in “we’d better protect the Africans from what is going on here, because they wouldn’t be astute enough to figure out there might be some influence peddling going on.”

I wonder whether the growing international presence might be something that begins to break into the liberal/conservative battle lines in the U.S. This year I saw both sides challenged by the international presence, and both sides reacting in interesting ways to those challenges. Could God be at work in this?

This is going to be a long road, both for the U.S. church and for the growing international UMC. I think it is one that is well worth traveling, both for the future of the UMC and the future of the kingdom. It will be interesting to see how things play out over the years.

Sorry for the randomness. These are some things that have been running around my head.

James O'Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James O'Kelly said...

rerc- I think you are dead-on. The African delegates are intelligent people and a great many of them have faced various forms of political manipulation, corruption, and even persecution. Even if the intent behind the cell phones was bribery (something I personally do not was the case,) it is supremely arrogant and yes racist to assume that the delegations from Africa and other parts of the world would be so easily swayed. The outrage on the part of RMN over the cell phones sent a very clear message: that the folks at RMN think people from Africa lack the intelligence and moral fiber to hold their ground. RMN still thinks Africans are for sale. And they are wrong- and they are racist.

Racism isn't always dressed in a white robe and a hood. Sometimes, it smiles warmly and gives out platitudes and a few charity checks. It marches in parades shows up for protests in inner cities while scouting our new McMansions in secluded (and all white) neighborhoods in the suburbs. The new racism is adept at hiding itself and even lying to itself.

Rich, white, progressive liberals are the worst kind of racist around because they don't know that they are racists. But when you perpetually treat people from Africa like children who need to be protected from those mean, manipulative Evangelicals, you're denying the agency and intelligence of African Methodists.

Tim said...

I don't understand the "bribery" charge on the cell phones. I read the IRD pages and it seemed obvious it was about creating a network between the African delegates and the conservative US delegates. Communication and planning so they could form a working majority. Wasn't that clear?

No sarcasm--I'm honestly confused why there's any controversy.

Rev. Mommy--do you mean "African" when you write "Afrikaner"? An Afrikaner is a white South African of Dutch descent.

gavin richardson said...

whew.. all that work and all i got was this lousy cyber t-shirt. &:~D

John B said...

I'm glad that rerc & james had the courage to speak the truth. The racism demonstrated by the liberals at GC made me sick. It's obvious to anyone who has eyes to see that there was a deliberate attempt to surpress the African delegates. I didn't hear of any liberal American delegates who would give up their cells phones for GC, but they couldn't bear the idea the the conservative Africans and Asians had the same access to communication as they did. The libs are more than willing to do whatever it takes to marginalize the Africans and Asians, including breaking the US off into its own Central Conference. Their desire to push their homosexual agenda blinds them to their racism. It's as if they are saying, "Certainly, we American are much more in tune with what God wants for our nation and any colored foreigners." Such arrogance is revolting. And it's about time that someone calls it what it is.

John Wilks said...

JohnB,

As a seminary student and a candidate still very much in process, I am honestly intimidated when it comes to those comments. I don't want to wreck my career by accusing the left of our denomination of racism.

That said, I've been wrestling with the seperation concept for over a year ever since we examined the propsed legislation in our polity class at Brite. At the time, I remember drawing the ire of my professor (who I very much respect, but with whom I very frequently disagreed) and my classmates because I made the comment that this plan feels like "seperate but equal" to me.

At the risk of ticking off all the wrong people, I still feel that way. I don't like this legislation one bit.

On the other hand, if I were an African or Asian or Latin American United Methodist, I might view this as both insulting and liberating. At this point, I wouldn't be too shocked if our brothers and sisters across the globe wanted to be free of our influence just as badly as the left wing here at home wants to be free of theirs.

I'm not ready to go as far as "james" (or, if their blog is to be believed, the jameses,) but I'm very, very concerned.

I think racism may be the wrong word. I don't think skin color has anything to do with it. It seems more like classism and elitism to me- a sense of American entitlement and superiority.

RERC said...

As John Wilkes said, there's some classism and elitism here too. I'd throw in patronizing, paternalism, colonialism, and yes, I'd keep the racism too.

I will go a step further. I am not so naive to think our conservative friends are completely devoid of these things either. Perhaps some think the international delegates will be the easy votes they've been looking for. Were these delegates ready-made liberals, I wonder whether American conservatives would be acting any differently than our counterparts are right now.

As I tried to say in my overly long post, I think the mere presence of international delegates that one has to actually meet, interact with, and take seriously--who are our equals who have and want a seat at the table, and who are not some far-off people we can dismiss or think about how we wish--their mere presence is going to shake things up.

Hallelujah for that.

Larry B said...

An interesting discussion about how to deal with the international delegates. I was a little skeptical at first that the "left wing" of the church was so openly hostile to the new delegates because of their conservative leanings. However this post today from a pastor in the UMC:

http://www.generalconference2008.org/2008/week20/index.html

Has some very explicit detailing of how the new international delegation is a threat. Some really troubling comments excerpted from the link above:

"International delegates --now more than one-quarter of all voting delegates-- are in a clear alliance with the most conservative elements of the American United Methodist Church.

We have feared this for years. You may recall that I mentioned this issue last week. But it is now a crystal-clear truth to all of us. This is a development that should be a concern for everyone in United Methodism"

and

"But the voice of the American Church was thwarted by the alliance between conservative American delegates and international delegates.
And this makes the issue of restructuring an even more pressing concern than ever.If we cannot restructure to allow regional autonomy to every part of our global church, then we literally risk losing the moral voice of the American United Methodist Church, not just on GLBT issues, but on a wide range of crucial social issues"

This is really disappointing to here from a Methodist Pastor.

Don Yeager said...

Question of the Month?

Jeff the Baptist said...

Question of the Month?

John has been overcome by events in his candidacy. He's taking some much needed time off. He might get back to blogging as early as next week.

Keith McIlwain said...

From a distance, it seemed like a spirit of confusion and divisiveness was truly present in Fort Worth. It could not have been a comfortable experience. Holy conferencing seems like a good idea that doesn't bear much fruit.

BUT...where Jesus is, there is always hope, and, for better or for worse, I still believe he's with us. So there is hope.

Whether or not I am pleased with GC 2008...time will tell.

Don Yeager said...

John -- we miss you! Hope all goes well with candidacy. The parts of your paper I read earlier this year were good.

On the idea of regional conferences -- how far are we willing to stretch this idea? If the U.S. becomes a regional conference, and a particular group doesn't get its way on an issue, will they push to further divide the U.S. into regions, since it seems pretty clear that there are regional voting differences (e.g., western & southern jurisdictions)? In this plan are the seeds for the division of the church. Are we "United" or "Untied"?

Matt Algren said...

I've been trying to stay away from talk about GC2008 (blood pressure, you know), and for the most part, I've been successful. But somebody pointed me in the direction of this blog (a whole other post) and I can't help but respond to some of the charges in the comments section.

My name is Matt Algren. I'm a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in the West Ohio Conference. I'm gay. And I was told last month that I am of no worth to the United Methodist Church.

The fact that people are okay with people being turned away from the United Methodist Church because their sin is somehow too great for God to handle is beyond troublesome. It is anti-Christ.

The fact that the United Methodist Church is currently bearing false witness by actively refusing to even acknowledge that there is disagreement on the issue of homosexuality is beyond dumbfounding. It is anti-Christ.

The fact that the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted that homosexuals shouldn't be discriminated against and then decided that ministers can discriminate against us as long as they really really want to is beyond insulting. It is anti-Christ.

The fact that people here on this blog talk about discrimination and bigotry as something distant and removed is ironic. Not sure if that's anti-Christ, but it does show an alarming lack of self-awareness.

As for General Conference 2012, make no mistake; we'll be back. We'll be back just as the women came back in 1956. We'll be back just as the African-Americans came back in 1968. You've locked us out of the church for 36 years, and enough is enough.

When we do return, and maybe even before, I hope we'll be able to convince you that Jesus' first rule is Love, that His gold standard is inclusion, and that He values all of us. Even when we disagree about who we should be attracted to, or whether we should be permitted to divorce, or whether we can work on Sunday, or even whether we can actively discriminate against one group or another, Jesus stands by waiting for us to ask Him what He thinks.

Thanks for listening.
-Matt

(I'm not sure about this hymnal business either, but that's for another day.)

John Wilks said...

Matt,

Of course gays are loved by Jesus as much as straights, bis, a-sexual, who ever. And if a gay person is willing to be celibate, they are welcome to be a part of all levels of leadership including Elder and Deacon.

This is not about condeming people, it is about acknoledging God's intent in human sexuality.

If you choose to frame this as "if you don't embrace my libido, you don't fully embrace me," that's your call.

Anonymous said...

Matt Algren,

You like most practicing homosexuals have totaly misread the UMC. When we say that all persons have spirtual worth, we mean it. But when we say "homosexual behavior" is incompatible with Christian teaching, we mean that also. Your reference to women and African-Americans is disingenous. Women, African-Americans and gays are welcome in the UMC, both as members and inleadership roles, as long as they are not openly, willfully and in-your-face engaging in sin. Just as the church shouls oppose the membership of an unrepentent African-American adulterer, or an unreprentant female thief, so the church should also oppose a homosexual who is unrepentatnt in their homosexual activity. Or for that matter any unrepentant sinner. The church condemns behavior, not people. Any member who stigmatzes someone for merely being "gay" they've commited a sin of their own. If you'll look in the Hymnal, you'll see that in the service of reception for new meembers, you were (or should have been) asked "do you repent of your sin". If you answered yes, while intending to continue with your homosexual behavior, You lied to the church and to God.

Ivan Walters
member St. John's UMC
delegate SC annual Conference

Matt Algren said...

John: I'll try to explain it to you as I tried with someone else a few weeks ago.

My grandfather was left handed, and when he was growing up... Well, you didn’t let your child be left handed. So he was forced to learn how to write with his right hand. For the rest of his life, he forced himself to live as a right handed person. But it wasn’t natural, and it wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t good. (And his handwriting was terrible, but that's neither here nor there.)

Multiply that by about a billion, and you have the effect on telling gay people that in order to be Good Christians they must be celibate.

It's not a matter of libido. It's a matter of telling the truth about God's creation. (Hopefully you've figured out by now that I'm in the group that says that it isn't a sin. Brush up on your Greek and Hebrew and you'll see why.)

Ivan: First things first, no, gays are most certainly not welcomed as members in the United Methodist Church, at least not in our General Conference's eyes. Ministers have absolute discretion on the matter. Just ask Joey Heath.

The problem with the situation, as I see it, is that the Church has picked homosexuality as the One Great Sin to focus on. Does your church refuse membership to divorcés? The Bible says you shouldn't get divorced, but we accept divorcés as they are. Heck, I've twice had ordained ministers who were divorced women. That's two strikes against what the Bible says.

Does your church refuse membership if the candidate doesn't tithe? The Bible is crystal clear on the subject of tithing. By the logic of the No Gays Allowed policy, failing to give a full 10% (before taxes) should preclude people from entering into full acceptance into the church.

Tattoos, shellfish, cheeseburgers, polyester, and trimming your sideburns are all directly spoken against in the same section as the big "gotcha" passage. Somehow we get past all those sins, not even thinking of them as sins. And don't talk to me about context, because we ignore the context of the gotcha's.

I guess that's what I don't get about the whole issue. One of the basic qualities of the United Methodist Church is our inclusive nature. I know Methodists who think it's a sin to drink alcohol, and I know Methodists who get drunk every Friday night. I know Methodists who think women shouldn't be ordained, and I know Methodists who actively prefer a female pastor. These people all share the same pew on Sunday morning and have no a problem setting aside the difference of opinion on the definition of sin and doing what we're supposed to do: Love each other and worship God.

Until The Gay walks into the room*. At that point, we start frothing at the mouth and telling people that they're 'incompatible with Christian teaching', kicking them out of the congregation (okay, it happened once [so far]) among other things. This seems to be the ONE issue that we still stumble over in our ever-quest for unity in communion with Christ.

*At least that's how the Book of Discipline reads. In other matters, we acknowledge the difference of opinion, ask that people make wise decisions based upon knowledge and prayerful study, and expect God to be big enough to understand our confusion. In my personal experience, people don't react nearly as adversely as the Discipline would suggest.

Anonymous said...

Matt:

Your response was interesting but incorrect. Many people on both sides of this issue argue about whether the predisposition to engage in homosexual behavior is inborn or a choice. Actually I have no problem with the idea that it is genetic, but it doesn't matter. The evidence is piling up that all sorts of behavior such as homosexual inclinations, alcoholism. kleptomania and violence are genetically based, but all these behaviors are still sinful. All of us are born with a gentic inborn desire to sin. That's a result of the fall of Adam. We can't give any sin a pass because "I was born to do it".
Homosexual christians are called to be celibate. Look, I'm married. There are about three billion women in the world. I was born with an inborn sexual atrraction to women. But God has said I can only have sex with one of them. Note it's not status or condition that condemmed, but actions.
Yes, gays aren't accepted as fully as they should be. However, the attitude of a lot of gays that they're going to continue their sinful behavior put off a lot of people. Plus I hope you and other gays will remember that " the church is a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints". we're not perfect and don't claim to be.
Your comments about divorces and non-tithers are off target. When you join they church you admit that what you did in the past was wrong and with God's help, you're not going to do it again. Even if you slip up and re-transgress, that's an entirely different attitude from "What I did wasn't wrong and I'm going to keep on doing it."
Sorry, scripture is clear beyond all doubt that homosexual behavior is wrong. Instead of writing a volume I'll refer you to this blog:
http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/
Some of the archived discussions cover this in great detail {at the moment he's engaged in a debate with the Mormons]
Tattoos, shellfish and cheesburgers are allowed now.Read Acts chapter 15.
Except for not eating meat offered to idols or strangled and all sexual sins, Christians don't have to follow the Law.
Yes, the church concentrates too much on homosexual behavior at the expense of condemming other bad behavior,but that should not serve as reason to not point out the sin of homosexual behavior.

Ivan Walters

John Wilks said...

Matt,

I admit that my Hebrew stinks.

But my Greek is pretty good. In college, I studied under Dr. Phil Shueler, a long-time Jesus Seminar member. At Asbury, I studied under Dr. David Bauer and Dr. Ben Witherington. I wasn't a star pupil by any stretch, but I did well enough in their courses. I'm not bragging because I know many readers of this blog can sight better pedigrees than mine. But your assertion that my views on homosexuality stem from ignorance of the Biblical text is unfounded.

I've translated Romans 1 multiple times, done word studies, consulted with scholars, and can find no other conclusion than this: Paul told the Roman church that men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women is unnatural and sinful.

JD said...

Matt said:

Multiply that by about a billion, and you have the effect on telling gay people that in order to be Good Christians they must be celibate.

First, read the following paper that I posted earlier; it best addresses the true issue.

Secondly, it is the "act of homosexuality" that is the sin, just as much as it is sinful for a married man to commit adultery, or a single person not to be celibate. IT is all sin, equal in the eyes of God. In the 10 Commandments, God called us to "Not Commit Adultery." In the broader sense, he called us to “Keep Sex Sacred.” That means procreation, not recreation. Sex is for the unification of a man and a woman in marriage and open to the miracle of life. It is not for swinging, bestiality, orgies, flings, "friends with privileges," pornography, prostitution, masturbation, you get the point. Have I sinned here? Yes. But I have asked for forgiveness, not mocking the Spirit, and turned from my ways. Yes

As the previous posters have stated, regardless of your sexual orientation, or attraction, if you will, if you are not in a married relationship, open to the miracle of life with a member of the opposite sex, then you must remain celibate, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

I used this example once: If I knew my married pastor had committed adultery, or my single pastor was living with her/his fiancé, I would call for their defrockment as quickly as I would for a homosexual minister flaunting their homosexual relationship with their partner.

The burden that most individuals that consider themselves "homosexual" carry is the challenge to beat down the stereotype portrayed by Hollywood and individuals that look at homosexuality as an expression of sex more than a loving relationship with another. Until you destroy the stereotype, you will, however unfortunate, suffer this persecution. Just please; don't go searching for a boogie man in every church and in every heterosexual Christian. That makes you just as inappropriate as those you feel disrespect you.

PAX
JD

Matt Algren said...

Again, my point is that there is disagreement, reasonable disagreement over whether homosexuality is a sin. You say that scripture is "clear beyond doubt" that it is a sin, but I say with similar fervor that it isn't. (I looked at that blog and found it to be basic conservative talking points, not intelligent discussion. I'm going to save you the trouble of looking at the blog I'd send you, because you'd find it to be the same.)

The Acts 15 reference is irrelevant, because (based on my reading (and that of some scholars) of the OT) man-man sex is not listed as immoral. It's a mistranslation that has caused much pain in the world, and it's about time we dealt with it -- and ourselves -- accordingly.

Since you mentioned it, though, Acts 15 does say that you shouldn't eat blood. How do you take your steak? If it's too rare, do you send it back in order to comply with the law? I also notice that the chapter describes a procedure strikingly similar to the General Conference model. Interesting.

But let's lay all that aside and assume that homosexuality is a sin. Just for the sake of argument.

When you accept people into membership in the church, do you make sure they know they have to give the church 10% of their pay? Do you check their tax returns to see that they do? If you find out that someone isn't tithing in full, are they admonished publicly and rebuked for their sinful behavior? If they were to tell you before they take their membership vows that they only intend to give 5%, do you turn them away? Or would you be thankful that they have the faith of a mustard seed and accept them where they are?

When a married couple gets divorced and it turns out that one or the other has been having an affair, do you admonish them in public? Do you rebuke them? Do you remind them that they said they wouldn't do that, so now you have to put them out? Do you? Or do you accept them where they are and work with them on it?

And how do you reconcile the ordination of women with Paul's letter to Corinth? It's pretty darn clear, but we ignore it.

Over and over, Jesus made the point: People are more important than a list of rules. In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, breaking his own rule. He does it again in John 9. Again in Matthew 12. He memorialized the new rule in John 13, and right away people started ignoring it because it's easier to build walls than bridges. It's easier to accept that you're better or more accepted or more worthy that the person who has the sin that doesn't relate to you.

And I wonder if that's the problem. It's a lot easier to forgive or overlook a sin that you've struggled with, isn't it? Easier to decide that this sin or that one is a deal breaker when the decision might have some ramification to you personally. Then it's personal, not academic. Kind of a new application of the Taxation Without Representation problem when you think about it.

Anyway, I s'pose that'll be my final word here. I've taken up the blog comments section for too long as it is. And like I said, my blood pressure can't take too much discussion of this.

John Wilks said...

Actually, Matt, Paul's word sabout women in Corinth are addressed to specific tensions on Corinth- the passage is not a general theological argument such as Romans 1 (which I notice you are ignoring.) Note that Paul himself sent Pheobe to preach his message in Rome and Paul worked with Pricilla and Aquilla- a clergy couple where both the man and woman functioned as elders. (Granted- Pricilla is never expressly called an Elder, but her role was such.)

In other words, the New Testament is ambiguous about women in ministry. it is not at all ambiguous about sexual sin. The connection you are trying to make simply isn't there.

Which leads to another problem with your posts- you keep moving the goal posts. First, it was that if we actually knew the Bible, we'd see that it doesn't condemn homosexual behavior. Now that we've debunked that, you're arguing that the Bible is wrong about women, so it must be wrong about sexual ethics. Once again, we've debunked that. I can't wait to see what you come up woith next.

As far as Acts 15 goes, no method of butchery removes all blood from meat. The issue in the dietary laws about blood as to do with methods which intentionally preserve blood and certain ritualistic forms of butchery common to pagan lands. If you knew your history, you'd know that blood dishes all but disappeared from European menus over the course of the last 1700 years because the Church has tried to honor Acts 15. So, really, you're off base yet again.

Steve West said...

I was a delegate and want to clear up a serious misunderstanding in the early posts about the constitutional language changes. In no way is this a "separating" from the African church. It is for 3 things: 1) a way of making language less reminiscent of the racists "central conferences" of our past by calling the US church by the same terminology, which acknowledges the increasingly global nature (and less US-dominated nature) of our church. 2) It would (if ratified by 2/3 of AC's) prepare the way for a new global structure (these changes don't do anything ... they just prepare the way to consider a new regional conference structure in 4 years). 3) A large portion of GC is spent focusing on US-only issues like budgets, pensions, and church and society legislation. That's so true. So the talk was not about "separation" at all. Having said that, what will be hotly debated in 4 years (depending on what the study proposes) is whether regional conferences will be able to "interpret" social principles for their region. Of course, I remind myself that because Central Conferences changing a name to Regional does not mean any change in whether social principles apply. It was articulated that we do not want to "become another anglican communion" and most delegates who spoke indicated this sentiment. Honestly, after hearing all the debate I'm sold that these changes are a good thing, because it makes language and structure consistent world-wide. In 4 years, we'll see what is proposed.

Steve West said...

These posts represent very well the polarization of language we have about homosexuality. When I attended GC, it was as if we don't talk, we fire legislative missiles. We use polarizing language about sin and the devil on one side and spiritual violence, rejection, even slavery on the other. It was as if 10% was on one end of the universe and 10% on the other, neither able to live with the other view, when 80% of the church is in some place of diverse gray, wanting to hold inclusiveness high in one hand and holiness in the other in creative tension. It was hard to feel that moderates have a voice (this is the downside of a legislative process). And all this is fueled, honestly, not by our church but by what is going on in our culture! But I believe God might yet renew our church in spite of this gridlock. That is my hope, though transformation would mean taking up a cross, letting some aspects of instutionality die that will be painful. I have posted an essay on my blog with thoughts about this, if anyone would like to see it. It's at stevewestsmusings.blogspot.com.

Matt Algren said...

Just a quick note, now that I've seen the response: John, no goal posts were moved. My point (one of them) is that there is more than one argument. The Bible doesn't say X as you claim, but even if it did it doesn't say Y either.

Not ignoring Romans 1. Interpreting it differently and suggesting that Methodism has a history of tolerance and inclusiveness seeing beyond disagreement about scripture that the GC has continued to lay aside for this one issue.

As for the rest, you've largely ignored anything I've posted so far, and I see no reason to try again, at least not with you. You've made up your mind, and all I can do at this point in this medium is feel sad about it.

Steve, I think you're right. We (both sides) do use polarizing language, but in my obviously-biased opinion, anything less than calling bigotry what it is would be unhelpful to the cause of equality.

(Now that's polarizing! ;) )

John Wilks said...

But you ARE moving the goal posts. First it was "the Bible doesn't say what you think it says." Then it was "well, it says it, but that doesn't make it binding" and now its "in Methodism diversity is its own end and trumps the Bible anyway." From my point of view, you seem to have an a priori outcome and will use any argument necessary to justify it. Deep down, there is a part of me who hopes you are actually right. But before I can come into agreement with you, I need a logically cogent, Scripturally-based argument for LBGT inclusion. Until someone gives one, I cannot embrace your views. Doctrine on based on wishes- even high-minded and seemingly noble wishes- is not sound theology. We need evidence! Thus far, neither you nor anyone else in the pro-LGBT camp have made a single convincing argument which is strong enough to turn centuries of theology and hermeneutics on it's ear.

Nathan Mattox said...

John--

Good article in the Reporter today! I've always thought my candidacy mentor who said the "If you can do anything else, do it!" line was cynical and seemingly disheartened by ministry. I think Wesley wanted ministers who were Renaissance men (and women) and would be proficient in other fields of interest as well as ministry (Bishop Ken Carder and others touch on this in a paper put out by the GBHEM a few years ago--found here GBHEM
--wouldn't people who are interested in a broad range of topics be able to envision having a different kind of vocation? Anyway, thanks for posting that and putting it into words. I appreciated the examples you used.

Tor Hershman said...

Did you ever see (It's at YouTube) The Dead Milkmen's video "Methodist Coloring Book"?

I know it's true 'cause it happened to moi.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Now that I've had much longer to ponder it, I have got to say that (in addition to my initial mildly positive reaction) I am a little distressed at how quickly many of the votes were taken and how little thoughtful discussion seemed to surround much of it.

Most of the controversial material seemed to be crammed all together at the end, with 4 minutes of discussion (that is, competing monologues that may not actually address the concerns of the other sides) and then a quick vote. Whatever we want to call that process, I think "Holy Conferencing" must be a mis-nomer.