Sears and the UMC: Both Bankrupt, Looking For Easter

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Faithfulness to His Lordship, come what may

We are not called by God to be "successful" (such as man defines such things). We are called to be faithful, and allow God to grant such "success" as He will. Each of us will stand before His judgment seat, and some persons -- including persons who were very busy with church work -- will hear the Lord say, "I never knew you." Some persons who believe themselves to be "saved" will go to hell for eternity. That is the word of our Lord.

Therefore, let us examine the decline of "liberal" churches and the (comparative) growth of the "conservative" ones...but let us not consider decline/growth to be dispositive. Instead, we must ask: Are we guilty of editing the Lord's mail?

No one denies that persons with Same-Sex Attraction are made in God's image. No one denies that we are obligated to defend them against all attacks on their intrinsic dignity as human persons. No one denies that, if a torches-and-pitchforks-wielding mob were to converge on the house of our "gay married" neighbors (be they Methodist, Hindu, or atheist), we ourselves are obligated to defend them from lynching -- if needed, to the death.

But if -- IF! -- Our Lord's moral law relegates all human sexual activity to the married-man-woman variety we might have to die for our gay neighbors' rights while still saying, "...but God's moral law still prohibits your sexual activity, and you still risk hell if you don't submit to His Lordship, at whatever cost."

And if -- IF! -- that's the case, then the ordaining of actively homosexual clergy by United Methodists (or the treating of same-sex unions as similar to God-ordained marriage) will turn out, in the end, to be nothing less than our cooperation in the damnation of souls: Our own, and those whom we deceive by "editing God's mail."

We'd better not do THAT, whether it grows the denomination or shrinks it!

On the other hand, if Our Lord's plan for human sexual activity were (all along) intended to open it up to wider expression (to include acts which are intrinsically sterile and non-dynastic) then to FAIL to treat persons fairly, whatever their sexual proclivities, is a heinous sin. Moral culpability in that might also result in hellfire, for God is not mocked, and injustice towards "the least of these" could result in the Lord saying, "I never knew you."

That is our situation. Scylla and Charibdys. This situation cannot be viewed correctly in any other terms. We cannot avoid the question: Are homosexual acts sinful in the eyes of Jesus our King (even if we're not wise enough to see why)?

If so, we must -- MUST -- submit to His Lordship, come what may.

If not, we must -- MUST -- submit to His Lordship, come what may.

For myself, I can answer that question confidently. But I choose not to give my answer in this posting. My purpose, in this posting, is only to show what The Heart Of The Matter Is, so that nobody can avoid it.

Don't get distracted. Eternity -- yours? others'? -- can hang on it.

R.C. 9 days ago

Rebuttal

Christy,
You make some good points but the issues you raise are self-inflicted. First, for one I am tired of hearing the progressive talk about the future of the church. Look at every church that has embraced the LGBT++++ mantra. They are in steep decline. Name one, and I mean just one that has embraced same-sex unions, clergy, and marriage that has experienced growth. We cannot name one. They were in decline when adopting pro-LGBT+++ stances and upon adoption there decline has accelerated. The only denominations that are holding steady are evangelical with a biblical definition of marriage. And the growing congregations are non-denominational with conservative view on the Bible and authority of Scripture. Second, GC2019 has spoken. So as pro-LGBT+++ there are two options: accept and abide by the wishes of GC or leave. If you cannot accept the outcome leave. WCA was prepared to leave if the OCP had passed. So, show some integrity and either comply or leave. Third, the fact that UMC pastor's are over-worked is the fault of the denomination. The UMC has failed at making disciples. As a 30+ year United Methodist I have witnessed congregation after congregation be satisfied with "pew sitting" rather that discipleship. Pastor's have taken on their role because they and the Church failed to motivate and energize the Church. And the Council of Bishops have completely failed at leadership. Fourth, the COB has shown themselves to be incompetent, manipulative, and vindictive. As a leadership body that lack integrity and cannot be trusted. Finally, the UMC has become a social activist organization and that's why evangelicals leave for the SBC or other evangelical churches. What's more, the position the UMC takes on social issues furthers the decline of morality and holiness within society. The WCA was willing to break off and go at it alone. Perhaps that is what the LGBT+++ crowd should do.

Jeff Lucas 10 days ago

Growth

The stats indicate that neither theological approach is a winner when it comes to growing congregations. That is a given. I think part of it is people expect the televangelist experience. They want the big experience, yet they want a personal pastor. I recently spent some time in a large non denominational megachurch that was very conservative. Ironically, contrary to what the staff though there was a huge variety of people both left and right, LGBT and non LGBT. They just ignored what they didn't agree with and supported with money what they did. They all wanted a dynamic worship experience, great kids and youth ministry and services like counseling or a book store. Pew Sitting as you put it is as prevalent in the mega church as it is in the micro church. Most people are just coming to church. I think we need to just get back to worshiping God intensely again. Just truly worshiping God. I believe that worship can heal all wounds. Now if people want to break up the UMC to get to the point fine. But at some point we have to get back to just singing and being grateful for God and living out Jesus's call.

eric 10 days ago

yeah, i agree.

I tend to agree on this. What people are craving is spiritual experience, community, and relationships. People do not particpate with churches in order to valudate their political preferences.

We would do well to concentrate more on our liturgy, our relationships, our sacramental experiences, and how god touches us and transforms our lives. Clergy are here to help us know god, to teach the faith of our fathers, and to help us through life. Sadly, these qualities are in short supply with our umc clergy these days.

td 8 days ago

Decline

"However, white evangelical Protestants declined from 23 percent of the population in 2006 to 17 percent of the population in 2016. In 2017, they declined to 15 percent of the population, the Public Religion Research Institute has found. "

David 10 days ago

Sadly, numeric declines are for everyone....

Sadly, numeric declines are for everyone.... Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway (Reynoldsburg, OH) is Council Chair of the WCA. His church, Reynoldsburg UMC has seen Membership and Attendance decline by 50% in just 4 years according to UMDATA.org http://www.umdata.org/ChurchProfile.aspx?ChurchID=669363

Chris 9 days ago

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