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Public Domain Photo
John Wesley PreachingJohn Wesley preaching at Epworth Market Cross.
John Wesley Preaching
The landscape has already changed in the US and the reason that the Republicans lost is because they did not recognize the changes. This sounds eerily similar to the situation in the United Methodist Church. Our base is shrinking. We are 92% white, getting older, and dying out. If we don’t do something immediately to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people then we can start planning the denomination’s funeral.
The election has convinced the last naive dreamers that this isn’t our parent’s USA. Certainly there are conservative Democrats and progressive Republicans and vice versa, but, for the most part, the two parties are differentiated by ideology and demographics. The results are in and once again we’re a blue state/red state country. Those most upset by the election results are the ones who had hoped that ideological and even theological conservatism had one more shot at relevance. The likes of Billy Graham even disregarded the cultic heresy of Mormonism to endorse Republican Mitt Romney. Mormons are the only so-called Christian group that UM clergy have to rebaptize because their baptism or religion does not represent orthodox Christianity (2008 Book of Resolutions #3149, pp. 306-307).
In last week’s election many people saw something more frightening than the upcoming fiscal cliff. They saw the world as it has been known pass the tipping point between the way things used to be and the ways things are going to be. It’s about time reality set in! Have mercy, as a District Superintendent, I am often reminded of our denomination’s inability to be forward-thinking. Some of our new churches and a few existing ones are multicultural and represent many races, but those are more likely to be adjacent to a nearby military post. The majority of my churches are not diverse. It’s a significant indictment upon our inclusiveness when the US military out gains the church in reflecting the diversity of the Kingdom.
Now, I get our mindset. It’s a natural propensity to hang on to the status quo, and to be homogeneous. Humans have a history of us vs. them that goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. I am not arguing that we need to become flat-world universalists, but that we become whole world evangelists holding fast to salvation through grace, repentance and reconciliation. Orthodox Christianity has an opposite anthropology than Mormonism. Mormonism has a system that exalts humans to gods with their mantra, ”As Man is, God once was.” In other words, they actually believe that human beings can attain Godhood through a litany of requirements.