For a long time the conventional wisdom from MSM and Christians on the left insisted that unless you throw out the bits of the Bible that you don’t like and redefine sin the church will collapse.
Many Protestant denominations took that advice and frankly have been never heard of again because their influence has dropped so much that they have no significance or influence in everyday American life.
Apparently the United Methodist church has decided they want a shot at bucking this trend.
The denomination’s “Traditional Plan” passed, with 438 votes in favor and 384 against (53% to 47%), in the final hours of a special UMC conference held this week in St. Louis to address the issue of human sexuality.
The decision leaves a sizable, vocal opposition, ensuring the exit of many progressive pastors and churches from the largest mainline Protestant body in America. After the final vote, protesters began chanting “no” and “stop the harm” through the rest of the session until the conference ended over an hour later.
The Traditional Plan preserves existing UMC positions and adds further accountability measures for those who violate them by performing same-sex ceremonies or ordaining gay clergy.
Apparently it occurred to the majority of the voters at the convention that there just might be a reason why the UMC remained the “largest mainline Protestant body in America” and that reason just might be that they haven’t taken the wide gate that leads to destruction espoused by the liberal left. As an African Bishops at the conference said in a speech a few days ago.
And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.”
Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.
We stand with our Filipino friends! We stand with our sisters and brothers in Europe and Russia! And yes, we stand with our allies in America.
Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, dean of Gbarnga School of Theology at United Methodist University in Liberia.
One might argue that the significance of this move is the first defeat for the left in mainline Protestantism in a while but I think the real significance here is that it creates a data point which is in contrast to all the others.
We have significant amount of data on the rates of membership in Protestant denominations that have accepted the LGBT liberal line now we will be able to collect data on membership on a denomination that explicitly rejects it.
If in 10 years the denomination’s decline in membership is greater than the decline in membership in Denominations that accepted liberal change then the left can blame said decline on this decision.
If in 10 years the denomination’s decline in membership is equal to or not significantly greater or less than that of Protestant Denominations that accepted liberal change we can infer that the decline in all these denominations is independent of this decision and part of the general decline in belief.
If however the denomination’s decline is significantly less or stops (which is very possible as they are giving Protestants who believe in scripture a Protestant place to go as opposed to becoming Catholic) then we will be able to say that the assertions that the Christianity in general and the Protestant churches in particular must liberalize to survive is false.
On and one side note, If you expect to see a lot of liberal Methodists either breaking away or joining other denominations expect to be disappointed:
Someone once asked a famous dissenting theologian why she remained in the Church if she found so much of its doctrine and practice so detestable.
She answered, “It’s where the Xerox machine is.” In other words, she remains b/c the Church butters her bread and pays her rent. The Church provides her with the resources she needs to undermine the Church.
If they join other denominations they’re just another face in the crowd and are no longer significant, if they form independent churches they become a small congregation that won’t last a generation but as long as they remain dissenters within the the UMC then they are assured of getting attention, fawning press and financial support from outside organizations opposed to this vote and anxious to redefine sin for their own purposes.