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Will the outcome of the UMC debate on human sexuality--whatever it is--be a tragedy for Christendom?

Declining liberal Protestant churches are soft targets for hostile takeovers


By —— Bio and Archives--February 14, 2019

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Declining liberal Protestant churches are soft targets for hostile takeoversThe United Methodist Church may soon become the last of the more liberal “Seven Sisters” of Protestantism in America to fully align with a progressive worldview.

In late February, lay and clergy delegates from the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., along with United Methodist Church (UMC) delegations from several other nations, will decide whether or not to yield to an LGBTQ hostile takeover.

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The UMC will hold a special General Conference on February 23-26, in St. Louis, Missouri to address at least three principal options for altering the church’s doctrine and policy concerning (1) permitting UMC clergy to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies, and (2) approving the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.

The news from St. Louis will likely not spread far beyond the 12.6 million United Methodists, with non-U.S. congregations representing about 5 million of those. Whatever the outcome, the likely net effect will be to accelerate the numerical decline in U.S. membership underway since, at least, 1965.

Besides Methodists, why should anyone care what happens in St. Louis? Answer: Because it offers a case study in some of the methods progressives use to co-opt institutions—both religious, political, and secular. In the UMC case, we’ve seen these actions:

  1. First target the leadership, superstructure and academe of the organization

The more hierarchical and bureaucratic the profile of a religious entity, the more vulnerable it is to a takeover. Its leadership (Bishops in the UMC), its several silos of largely independent sub-units (national UMC Boards and Agencies), and its academic institutions (affiliated colleges and seminaries) have long tended to attract persons more liberal than the general church membership—i.e., the people in the pews.

A majority of UMC Bishops support a plan that favors the LGBTQ agenda. And, from the academe we hear this: “Duke University along with 93 other [UM related] colleges, is demanding the Methodist church stop believing that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and accept members of the LGBTQ+ community into the church.”

  1. Frame the debate so as to disadvantage the opposition

This is from a post elsewhere: “The LGBTQ agenda driving the United Methodist Church (UMC) debate concerning human sexuality is based on political religion and stems from identity politics. Human sexuality is not a theological debate. The Church reacts to political pressure, just like other venues of American culture. When a politically-driven ideology defines Church doctrine, the result can assume the patina of a state religion. And, if that happens next February at a special UMC meeting in St. Louis, it could implode the denomination.”

For at least the last two decades, the LGBTQ movement has defined itself as representing victims of discrimination. Its advocates demand full inclusion in the life of the church. In reality, LGBTQ laity have long been fully included and active in the life of the UMC. The issue today pertains to the employment and behavioral requirements placed upon the clergy, and the clergy only.

  1. Weak enforcement of church law encourages further violations

Here’s just one example of weak enforcement: The case of the first married lesbian United Methodist Bishop, Karen P. Oliveto, has been in adjudication in the UMC’s version of the SCOTUS since 2017. But since at least 1992, she has openly conducted scores of same sex marriage ceremonies.

Gary North’s book “Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church” is a detailed description of the final stage in the demise of the Presbyterian Church from 1900-1936. He writes, “There must be negative sanctions. Excommunication and removal from ordained office are essential to the maintenance of any ecclesiastical creed or confession, and ultimately every organization has a process of excommunication, for they all have implicit creeds.” (p. 26)

Continuing later, he writes, “The tree of orthodoxy is watered by periodic heresy trials. After 1900, the mainline Protestant churches ceased watering the tree of orthodoxy, just as European Protestantism ceased watering it in the nineteenth century. The twentieth century’s mainline Protestant churches were the desiccated result.” (p. 293, italics in original)

  1. Claim victim status to shame the alleged victimizers

“In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector.” (p. 183), “After the ball: how America will conquer its hatred and fear of homosexuals in the ‘90’s,” Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen.

Also, from Kirk and Madsen: “Our campaign should not demand explicit support for homosexual practices, but should instead take antidiscrimination as its theme. Fundamental freedoms, constitutional rights, due process and equal protection of laws, basic fairness and decency toward all of humanity—these should be the concerns brought to mind by our campaign.” (p. 187)

  1. Piggyback on the current discord in American politics

In her book “Together at the Table, Diversity without Division in The United Methodist Church: First Openly LGBTQ Bishop in the United Methodist Church,” Bishop Oliveto wrote, “Perhaps even more than any issue, race relations in the United States provides evidence of the empathy deficit we face. Whites have difficulty seeing beyond the privilege their race affords to seeing those who experience is much different. Racial discrimination is often discounted or denied. There is an inability or lack of will to open oneself, up to the real lived experiences of another.” (p. 51)

And, she invokes this analogy to the immigration issue in America today, “Currently, this othering is most evident in the public square conversation regarding the building of a wall and repeated attempts at a refugee ban. The darker the skin, the more to be feared. The more unlike our speech or religion, the more suspect. So we build a wall to keep us in and them out. We close borders, again to keep some in and others out. Even though the apostles Paul and Peter both learned that God keeps pushing borders wider, not to keep some out, but to include them, we fail to live this out in church and society. The essential divine oneness of creation and humanity is broken into a thousand sharp shards.” (pp. 42-43)

  1. Disregard the church’s freedom to define its clergy employment standards

Roger Williams (1603-83) declared the basic separation of the American church and state in “A Plea for Religious Liberty (1644) which, in part, reads, “The means whereby the church may and should attain her ends are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five. First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his Word. Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ and the publishing of His laws. Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only, as Christ hath appointed in his Word. Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved and inflicting spiritual censures against them that to end. Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.”

Conclusion

Will the outcome of the UMC debate on human sexuality—whatever it is—be a tragedy for Christendom? Of course not. It will merely further the progressive co-opting of the Seven Sisters that has been underway for well over 100 years in America. They have long been soft targets for hostile takeovers.

Those laity who leave the UMC, because they disagree with whatever decision is made in St. Louis, will worship elsewhere. Meanwhile, the less liberal Protestant denominations will continue to grow. And the non-denominational, independent congregations—unbound by highly developed hierarchies and bureaucracies—will keep spreading like wildfire.


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Lee Cary -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Since November 2007, Lee Cary has written hundreds of articles for several websites including the American Thinker, and Breitbart’s Big Journalism and Big Government (as “Archy Cary”).  His work has been quoted on national television (Sean Hannity) and on nationally syndicated radio (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin).  He is quoted in Jerome Corsi’s book “The Obama Nation,” in Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny.”  His pieces have posted on the Drudge Report and on the website Real Clear Politics.  Cary holds a B.S. in Economics from Northern Illinois University, and a Masters and a Doctorate in Theology from the Methodist seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army in Military Intelligence. Cary lives in Texas.


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