Indianapolis Plan Has a Fundamental Flaw



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The biggest part of the problem!

It is "leaders" like Rev. McCracken that are the biggest part of the problem. They offer NO leadership - spiritual or otherwise. They only point out the problems and lead the flock nowhere. Oh - and by the way I am one of those conservative "Republican" United Methodists that want even embrace full inclusion - and - have a fundamental view of the scriptures and believes in salvation only through the blood of Jesus Christ so I suppose I am a REAL anomaly. Waiting for the perfect or ideal solution has gotten us to the quagmire we are in presently. The WCA folks want Biblical purity exclusively (that ship sailed and sank long ago) and the UMC Next folks want all their ideas and everyone has to accept their ways or they are leaving. WHY do we participate in Church? If we sought to be like the Apostle Paul "I am determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him CRUCIFIED" rather than having to have exactly what we each want it might be possible for some LEADERS to sit down and actually come up with a WORKABLE (not perfect) solution that allows the conflict to work itself out OVER TIME. The Indianapolis Plan seems to move in that direction. The Fundamental Flaw is with "leaders" like Rev. McCraken.

David Duncan more than 2 years ago

What it's all about

The question at hand really boils down to whether marriage will be redefined, and by/for whom.
It is beyond irreconcilable and will sort itself out as individuals and congregations align. Many of them already have.

Mike more than 2 years ago

Identifies a Deep Issue - Theology Matters

Rev. McKracken unwittingly identifies a deep issue with the UMC; the lack of a coherent and consistent theology within the laity, and also within a large part of the clergy, in my experience. Leaving aside any LGBT issues, I have had UMC pastors who will openly identify as universalists, deny the essential doctrines of the Apostles Creed as just fanciful stories, and preach justification by works. Is it any wonder that the apocryphal story persists of the layperson who declares that they like the UMC because "you can believe whatever you want." There is a need for much better and more detailed catechesis of both youth and adults. Will this solve all the current issues? Not at all, but people should have a better basis upon which to state what they believe, why they believe it, and if it is congruent with historical Wesleyan doctrine. BTW, it's a shame that the UMC does not have a confessional document like the Westminster Confession or the historical Lutheran confessions.

Dan more than 2 years ago

The UMC does have confessional documents

We've got the Articles of Religion that John Wesley gave to the Methodists in the newly independent American states and the Confession of Faith that came to the UMC from the EUB in 1968. (There's also Wesley's Sermons and Notes, but they're a little unwieldy for a quick summary of what we profess as Methodist Christians.) Our problem is not that we don't have confessional documents--it's that we fail to teach their contents in any meaningful way. We've got seminaries that teach our pastoral leadership that thee are "historical" documents, as if to mean that they're to be relegated to the dustbin of history instead of standing in the main current of historic, confessional Christianity and, therefore, having contents that must be disseminated in our churches. Instead we're stuck with the pluralism we officially taught for only a few years in the 1970s, and we can't seem to eradicate it.

John more than 2 years ago

Indianapolis flaw

Sky identifies one of the aspects of the church's 'wicked problem,' the fact that no solution can resolve the issue because there is no 'the' issue. Sexuality is part, indeed a lesser part, of a far wider series of challenges reflected in trust deficits-miscommunication-outmoded organization-financial and demographic issues-major theological differences-etc. A wicked problem like ours has no stopping point, i.e., a clear end, but mutates whenever any effort to address it is applied. That said, the Indy plan seems a good example of 'satisficing,' (term coined by Nobel economist Charles Simon) that affirms one way to tame a wicked problem is by identifying responses that are 'good enough' to contribute stability to the church and a focus that would empower addressing the other dimensions of what the church is facing. As for the possibility of pain if/when local churches may be asked to decide or align...there are many ways to put out a fire but denying its existence is not one of them. A grace-filled, non-demonizing manner of choosing to align with one or another approach for the sake of the mission of a church now in its 51st year of US decline is an alternative to making this simple a gay-straight vote. Good on the Indy team for taking the first step of throwing the linguini on the wall so lots of eyes can see what sticks and what flops, including Sky's honest remarks.

bob more than 2 years ago


I agree the plan has some flaws but these flaws pale in comparison to having no plan at all. Unless he has a better plan maybe we should be taking this one seriously. The fact that our bishops were not involved in this is encouraging. Our bishops are stuck and have no meaningful way to move forward.

Kevin more than 2 years ago

I agree with your assessment

As a traditionalist, I am very tired of these plans that stop at the level of the annual conference and leaves local churches to fend for themselves. But the reality is the UMC has backed itself against a wall. As you so aptly point out in your other examples, Big Tent Methodism is coming apart at the seams. General Conference is well on its way to becoming nothing more than a very expensive ritual because it is something that is ingrained in leadership to do. But the reality is, many in leadership no longer feel bound to live out its decisions. Overall, the denomination has degenerated into theological factions who have no common ground on which to stand to talk about anything; and, as I have discovered, that is as true locally as it is at the denominational level. So, exactly what is the answer when claiming to be a United Methodist no longer means anything beyond what anybody want it to mean? We are already facing a numerical decline that has the potential to make it unsustainable over the next several decades. Reality is, the American UMC as we know it and many of us love it is done for one way or the other.

betsy more than 2 years ago

The American UMC has exchanged depth for breadth

And now it is coming apart at the seams. Methodism as John Wesley envisioned it is very much in the details; something the American UMC is no longer concerned about as long as somebody--anybody--is sitting in the pew supporting its ministries:

betsy more than 2 years ago

What is your solution

Okay, you’ve made your criticisms known. What is your solution? The status quo is completely unacceptable to both Progressives and Traditionalists. The Indianapolis Plan is the most promising development in years for those seeking a resolution to our deep, deep divisions.

John more than 2 years ago

Personally, it's already happening

People in my area are 'self selecting' towards more progressive or more traditional UMC churches. In many cases they are even leaving the denomination entirely.

I'm very surprised that there aren't any international voices being included in the plan to split. I realize that this is primarily an American problem - but I guess those international folks were only important in defeating the OCP, and otherwise not being considered? They'll be impacted by large parts of this plan.

JR more than 2 years ago

all true.

But many people forget that a large segment of the UMC is in rural areas and small towns. "Picking and choosing" is not as simple as that seems when families (and groups of families) over many generations have invested time and money in their local UMC. Perhaps it is okay for those relationships to die a bloody death.

Truly, one faction will be left with the church and property- and the other will be shoved out due to the resentment that will ensue. Both of those factions have given extensively for years in money, physical sweat, teaching, building repair, and putting up with a woefully inept pastor because Betty who sits by the stained glass window loves him. They have all given to keep these churches afloat- and one faction is going to be out because a simple majority decides that our beliefs must (or must not) change.

Our clergy should have taken responsibility by following the rules and keeping their oaths, and not forcing this issue down to the local church.

td more than 2 years ago

re: Picking and Choosing

Interestingly, Google Maps makes it pretty easy to find the spread of Methodist churches.

There are lots. Even in the rural areas.

Pick a spot, someplace you consider 'deep rural', search for Methodist Church... zoom in our out as necessary.

You'll find that in most cases, people have to drive farther to get to a grocery store than to get to a Methodist church. [There are some exceptions, but those are notably in areas that have other religious drivers - southern Utah, areas with Native American reservations, etc).

Where there are people, there are Methodists. Usually within a 20 minute drive.

But the problem isn't really 'finding another church'. It's the willingness to change - to change your viewpoint, or change your church. People don't like change, because change is hard. So they just want everyone to agree with them. Everyone is their personal Peter standing on the rock, and don't want to be moved.

Even you, in the post above - your solution isn't to pick up and move, it's to blame the pastors who 'forced' you to make a choice when you have to change.

I feel sorry for folks, because many of them don't really care. Some of them care so much that they can't function. And some have to be the first ones out, and some will be the last ones to turn off the lights.

JR more than 2 years ago