Of Liminal Times and 'Losers'



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Membership Loss and Loss of Clergy

As people began to become more educated they realized that although. sadly, racism and discrimination will probably always be with us, more and more people know that being LBGT is a matter of one's birth and not a "choice." Just as the color or one's skin or their ethnicity is not a matter of choice. Why, if the UMC finally decided to stop discriminating against or brothers and sisters who were non-white could not they, also, stop discriminating against those who are LBGT? You may wonder what will happen since the Traditionalists are in the majority in the World Wide UMC? Nothing will happen as in Northern Europe and in the USA and Canada the UMC will fully accept our LBGT sisters and brothers. The UMC in Africa is new to the Bible and therefore takes it more literally than we do in most of the USA and Northen Europe. The number of Traditionalists in the UMC will dwindle and in the not too distant future will be ignored. Frankly, I am happy to say, with the exception of the churches, new to the Bible in Africa and the Phillippines the Progressives are in the majority.

Carla and Robert more than 2 years ago

IRD's Mark Tooley

Thanks to Cynthia Astle's excellent reflection on "Liminal times and 'Loosers.'" Well said. Three thoughts. 1) The liminality concept from Victor Turner's anthropological work is precisely as Cynthia states -- the liminal time is a time of creativity and the development of newly aligned cultural and societal patterns. Painful as this period is, what is emerging will be a response to the fear-based brittleness of much of Christendom (or should we call it "Methodist-dom"? Whatever emerges it will not be in the three neat categories that Mr. Tooley lays out but will continue along the edges of each new expression. 2) Thanks for noting the demographic realities behind membership decline, Cynthia. This is spot-on and something that is so obvious that it is sad that so many of our "church growth" specialists miss it entirely. Yes, evangelism -- true evangelism and not sheep stealing is an issue. A larger issue is keeping our young as they pass out of adolescence. It doesn't take much observation to know that the direction Mr. Tooley has been calculatingly pushing for decades is not an attractive one to our young. 3) Finally, this sad awareness, as I watch Steve Bannon's efforts to insinuate his his bigoted ideology on the Roman Catholic Church just now (in his fight with Pope Francis) it dawned on me a few days ago that United Methodism's equivalent is Mark Tooley -- outsider, with enormous financial backing, determined to turn the church into his playground for opposing a call to allegiances beyond our worship of flag and money. So, to these ole eyes, Cynthia's theological call to follow the risen, new space making Christ, is precisely the direction all believers -- radical, centrist and traditionalist will finally follow. Sorry Steve, Sorry Mark -- but the gospel transcends your ideologies.

Philip Amerson more than 2 years ago

Your frustration with Mark Tooley

Is the product of the important question the church is dodging because it will truly expose the great divide that is fueling the sexuality question: Does Christianity as a whole have a single doctrinal center that has been in place for a very long time and does Methodism have its own unique sets of dogma/beliefs.

"This [Apostle's] creed is the ancient pledge and anthem of our faith: it is the non-negotiable of what it means to be Christian. Denominations have their dogma (like free will vs. predestination) and then there are opinions (like liturgical vs. modern worship). But regardless of dogma or opinion, doctrine matters. The creed matters. It is non-negotiable.
"…What is your non-negotiable in the faith, and is it a matter of doctrine, dogma, or opinion?" https://www.seedbed.com/the-truth-about-what-we-believe/

My non-negotiable is that Christianity as a whole does have a doctrinal center that has been in place for a very long time and that Methodism has its own unique set of dogma/beliefs. Furthermore, I believe that Methodism has the most going for it because it is firmly rooted in historic Christian doctrine and its dogma has been borrowed from multiple faith traditions across the centuries. My final non-negotiable is that the American UMC has not possessed this type of understanding of itself for over a century and the result is that everybody is now working from their own individual "truths"/opinions about God, the Bible and the church. And that is nowhere close to being a Wesleyan understanding of the church or of the person who is truly of the catholic spirit.

And there have been other times when the church lost sight of its true doctrinal center with disastrous results.

betsy more than 2 years ago