Should the United Methodist Church Be More Like McDonald's?



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Finding the Nuance

Thank you for your gracious engagement, Morgan. I relate to a lot of what you say. In your explication of our position, however, I think you have missed the most basic issue for us, namely, biblical authority. It's not so much that we desire a coherent Gospel (although that is true). We believe that our faith and life is to be governed by Scripture above all else. I have read many various interpretations of the Bible regarding sexuality and found the traditional interpretation by far the most convincing. More progressive interpretations are very recent in history, most likely provoked by cultural changes and a desire to understand the Bible in light of those changes. That doesn't rule out such interpretations, but given our infinite capacity to rationalize our desires, it means one ought to demand a high level of justification for adopting a non-traditional interpretation on this issue. The main attraction of the alternative interpretations is that they line up with the current cultural understanding. Most biblical scholars (OT & NT), including some with a progressive view on sexuality, agree that the traditional interpretation is the correct one. We believe that to adopt an unproven and suspiciously friendly to culture understanding of Scripture is to abandon biblical authority and embrace other norms for doctrine and morality. This we cannot do. We are not afraid or scared of change, we fear (in a biblical sense) the disapproval of our Lord and his abandonment of our church. God's judgment is real, and we have no desire to put our church crossways with God. We believe we have pledged our faithfulness to the Lord and to the doctrines of our church, which include biblical authority. Therefore, we stand for the position we have taken. We cannot imagine being part of a church that declares what the Bible calls sin to be acceptable, normal, or even laudable for the believer. In our view, that would undercut the authority on which we proclaim anything as truth, calling the whole Gospel into question and making for an "uncertain" trumpet call (in the words of I Corinthians 15).

Thomas Lambrecht more than 5 years ago

Like McDonalds?

I applaud you comments, Morgan. We need more sincere, open discussion in the UMC. But once scorn has become the norm for dealing with those we disagree with it is extremely difficult to put aside. For instance, at least twice your stated that "I decided to" presume / believe that they were speaking sincerely. Very gracious, but at least you were able to decide to take them at their word whether or not you actually believed what they said. That is a very important and essential first step to honest conversation. I attended college in the wake of the Lay Witness movement with a number of very early Good New followers. While I agreed with some of their positions, I was put off by their manner of expressing them. I found myself between the two extremes. Over the years of serving an appointment beyond the local church, I looked forward to renewing friendships at annual conference each year. But what I experienced there served to drive me further and further toward the conservative end of the spectrum. I found that I could have open friendly discussions with my conservative friends, exploring our differences, and parting with a better understand of one another whether or not we were in agreement on all subjects. But when I tried to have those same conversations with liberal friends, as soon as I said something they disagreed with the scorn and insults began. One of the most charitable comments they made was "You have been brainwashed." No fruitful discussion could take place. It would be great if the two extremes in the UMC could have a discussion in the spirit of your article, taking one another at face value and honestly listening to and trying to understand the viewpoints and concerns of the other. That would go a long way toward mutual respect and preserving the UMC as a viable witness for Christ. At this point, I fear we are a long way from being able to have that kind of discussion.

Paul Rider more than 5 years ago