The Struggle for the Perfect Plan for The United Methodist Church

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Perfect is whatever I say it is in my own little life

Perfect is whatever we say it is in our own little UMC

Thank you

Richard F Hicks more than 2 years ago

Our structrual problem

"The UMC is a conciliar representative church, meaning that its decision-making authority is not a Pope or from a rigid document, but by the clergy and laity elected as representatives to General Conference. GC is the highest authority, yes, but in practice, The UMC is a collection of subsidiary conciliar authorities: the jurisdictions and the central conferences. These authorities can create or dissolve annual conferences and practice Wesleyan Accountability of their region’s bishops."

General Conference is the highest authority, However, without any accountability back to General Conference, over time the office of Bishop has developed into its own free-wheeling local seat of power. There are documents on paper that define who we are and what we believe, but there is no way to enforce those. So, in practice, we have all developed completely understandings of what it means to be a United Methodist. Some are still rooted in an historical understanding of what that means. Others have decided it has evolved into something new. So, the reality is that your suggestion that all the different entities be set loose to do whatever it is they want to do is right in line with how the American branch of the United Methodist Church is currently functioning.

betsy more than 2 years ago

I never had an Historical Understanding

I went to church
I met people who were in the church
I engaged in missions work, helping others through the church
I taught young people in sunday school
I listened to sermons
I prayed for, and with, others
I sang with gusto
I pledged funding
I labored directly
I invited others
I made coffee
I made (and ate) casseroles

I occasionally have an alcoholic beverage.
I've never actually been a part of a formal small group.
I never had to pass a test about Wesley
Nor did was I ever required to shun 'certain' others.

John Wesley himself declared,
The Methodists alone do not insist on your holding this or that opinion; but they think and let think. Neither do they impose any particular mode of worship; but you may continue to worship in your former manner, be it what it may. Now I do not know of any other religious society, either ancient or modern, wherein such liberty of conscience is now allowed or has been allowed, since the age of the Apostles. Here is our glorying; and a glorying peculiar to us. What society shares it with us?

But Betsy - your ongoing comments seem to indicate that I'm not really a Methodist, because I don't follow your fundamentalist views.

JR more than 2 years ago


You might want to leave Wesley out of this. He was pretty clear that you could not be a Methodist if you were not a part of a “formal” small group. Other than that, feel free to opine away.

Frank Ashton more than 2 years ago

That's why I noted it

If we're picking teams based on who does what, I want to be clear where I've fallen short. :)

JR more than 2 years ago

If you are a Methodist you are a fundamentalist

Each Methodist takes a vow to resist evil and to uphold Christian teaching as provided in the Old and New Testament. If you take your vow seriously, then you are ascribing to follow the fundamentals of Christian teachings. So, I agree with your conclusion - you can’t be a Methodist if you don’t follow fundamentalist views. Otherwise, you are breaking your vow. Of course that doesn’t seem to be a problem for progressive clergy so I guess progressive laity are simply following their lead?

Steve more than 2 years ago

Incorrect quote

"To receive and profess the Christian faith as contained in the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

Fundamentalist: "a person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion."

Methodism: "While we acknowledge the primacy of scripture in theological reflection, our attempts to grasp its meaning always involve tradition, experience, and reason. Like Scripture, these may become creative vehicles of the Holy Spirit as they function within the Church. They quicken our faith, open our eyes to the wonder of God's love, and clarify our understanding" - Book of Discipline (2016), pg 84.

Methodism is NOT fundamentalism. Full stop.

Fundamentals of Christian teachings are NOT fundamentalism.

JR more than 2 years ago

Wait, JR....

In your description of your activities in the church, nothing you have done violates the beliefs of fundamentalists (except the possible avoidance of a small group, but I don't know any fundamentalist drumbeat about that omission). Please indicate why you think that Betsy or other fundamentalists object to your above church activities.

Dave more than 2 years ago

No one objects to my activites.

But she's the one beating the drum for the "historical understanding".

I'm not inside that circle.

As I noted, Betsy's "ongoing comments seem to indicate that I'm not really a Methodist, because I don't follow [her] fundamentalist views."

JR more than 2 years ago

Hey Betsy

I looked over JR's comments and his list of activities in the UMC. I don't think you would exclude him from the UMC based on this, would you? In fact, I believe you would include him in the UMC if he was a practicing homosexual, is that not correct?

Dave more than 2 years ago

but if i was a practicing homosexual

I'd be a second class member, unable to be married in my own church.

JR more than 2 years ago

No you could still marry

You could still marry in your own church. It just couldn’t be to someone of the same sex. That rule would apply to everyone. So, there would be no discrimination or second class. Everyone is treated the same. You can marry whomever you want of the opposite sex.

Steve more than 2 years ago

e.g. second class

You wouldn't be a member of a church that defined who you could and could not marry if the person you loved was on the outside of that circle. Don't even pretend that you would.

If you were in love with a woman of a different race, and your church didn't agree with that? Would you remain in that church? It was a pretty common problem 100 years ago.

What about a different religion, e.g. if you were Catholic and fell in love with a Jewish woman? She'd have to convert or you couldn't be married there. Greek Orthodox does that, too. Probably many others.

Better bring a better argument to the 'Open Table' than that one, Steve.

JR more than 2 years ago

Ok here's a thought..

Steve could just leave that church instead of staying and complaining about it. Yup, my same old song, because it just makes sense.

Dave more than 2 years ago

Hey Betsy...

See how Progressives work. First you are accused of excluding anyone from the UMC who is not a "Traditionalist" (which BTW is a gross misstatement of your posting). Then when that point is proven false, they move on to another hurdle for Traditionalists to hurdle. When will it end? Unfortunately never

Dave more than 2 years ago

Not quite, Dave

Betsy has a pretty interesting backstory, from what I've gleaned.

She's in a moderate/progressive congregation, and she found some of the Traditionalist propaganda (I don't mean that in a negative way, for the record) and wanted to include it/distribute it in her church - the pastor forbade it. That seems like some serious overreach.

And Betsy puts a lot of verbiage on these boards - I keep trying to engage her in discussion, but she rarely replies. It's mostly just a 'push' of her views. I often disagree, so I put out a counter argument.

But Dave - I didn't shift any goalposts. I didn't even claim she'd "exclude" me from the UMC (your word, not mine) but that she'd look at me as not a 'real' Methodist because I don't toe the line on the Historical Understanding idea. Which ties into there being second class (not 'real') Methodists.

JR more than 2 years ago

Camus and Sisyphus

You might want to rethink the final analogy. One can only imagine Sisyphus happy because there is no god to whom he is either accountable or by whom he might be judged/blessed. The story works great for existentialism, not so much for Christianity.

Frank Aston more than 2 years ago