Methodists, the Politics of Leverage, and the Future of Protestantism



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Great article

"however, and Protestants now rely on a different kind of political leverage, practicing what might be called enacted defection. When they disagree with church law, they not only disobey it, they refuse to acknowledge the authority of the church to exact any penalty for disobedience, and they deny the authority of the church to act in accordance with its laws."

Thank you for calling this out.

The reason the UMC is in such disarray isn't really about sexuality (the sexuality is a symptom) it's because the UMC has no idea what it believes anymore. Everyone is believing something different. There's no unity at all. They cannot even agree to basic tenets of faith. If the Bishops and pastors cannot agree then would should the congregation?

Sarah more than 1 year ago

The Trouble

Sarah, it is not possible for two people to agree on everything, so how can we all agree on basic tenets of faith?

While one might say that we once all agreed, in reality, those who disagreed with the tenets of faith merely kept silent. Now, people are forward and blunt about what they believe, and so it appears we are more divided than before - but appearances are deceiving.

We should take a page from our Jewish siblings: they regulate action, not belief. So, for instance, Jews are commanded to "honor" their parents rather than "love" them. This is because thought and emotion cannot be forced upon a person. This paradigm is how and why so many Jews with different beliefs live together relatively peacefully even within their Orthodox movement.

This is the way to sanity in the UMC as well. We should command action: attend church, feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless, show compassion towards one another.... Once we break to a focus on action, rather than belief, our troubles will disintegrate because there will be plenty of room for everyone to think and believe as it suits them.

Ben more than 1 year ago

What I have discovered...

Is there is absolutely no consensus as to what we believe and how that belief impacts our lives. I was taught to view The Methodist and then The United Methodist Church as a small part of the holy catholic/universal Church. That means that although there is a common thread of beliefs running through all parts of the much larger and more diverse universal Church, there is a place where each church adopts beliefs and understandings that are unique to only them. There is no consensus as to what it means to be a Christian of the United Methodist persuasion. And as to what we believe, we are all over the map--collectively speaking beliefs that cancel each other out. My own experience has been that a clear consistent message of any kind is MIA in The United Methodist Church; in fact, after I engaged the Heidelberg Catechism I realized that a classical telling of the gospel is the best kept secret of The United Methodist Church. There is no hope for The UMC because we do not start with a common ground of understanding when it comes to God and ourselves--as a result, we talk apples and oranges to each other--and sometimes I am not sure we are even all in the "Fruit Family". Based on my readings, we are on the far end of a long slow drift from what it means to be a Christian of the United Methodist persuasion that has lasted a century.

betsy more than 1 year ago

Let's analyze that last sentence there

The writer is deliberately cryptic because she wants the reader to assume 100 years ago every Christian believed the exact same thing. Such was definitely not the case whatsoever.

Ironically this sentence and the deception (sometimes a self-deception) provides a wonderful exhibit one for why the ideology called "conservatism" - more correctly called "reaction" is such a dismal failure and constitutes what Thomas Jefferson called "tyranny over the mind of man." It is entirely based on a house of cards, a specious nostalgia for a time which never was.

George Nixon Shuler more than 1 year ago


Agreed. We were never in lockstep about belief. Indeed, such a thing is not possible.

We should revert to commanding action, not belief: Feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless. We can agree on appropriate action.

Ben more than 1 year ago


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