The UMC and the Church
On February 26, 2019, the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted to maintain its traditional stance against same-sex marriage and non-celibate gay clergy. The “Traditional Plan” of the UMC narrowly escaped with 438 votes in favor and 384 votes against, but the future of an already divided denomination was left uncertain during the four day global delegation. The greatest disparity among the conference’s delegates was found between those who are from America and those who are from Africa. The delegates of Africa hold approximately 30% of the final vote, and their traditional stance against same-sex unions was evident in the final vote. The delegates from America are much more divided.
The UMC has spent the past decade perfecting their tagline - “open hearts, open minds, open doors.” The One Church Plan, which supports individual pastors, churches, and regional bodies to follow their own consciences in regard to the acceptance of homosexuality, have used the motto to manifest the hypocrisy of the “Traditional Plan.” The denomination is in complete disarray, especially in the United States. Rob Renfroe, pastor of the Woodlands UMC in Houston, Texas, said –
But again, some are so frustrated by what has happened that they just want to be done…Every congregation will have to think and pray and go through a period of holy conference to discern what God is calling them to do.
The future of the Methodist denomination simply looks unpromising.
The debate among denominations concerning the inclusion of the homosexual agenda will only continue to grow and multiply. It is imperative that we learn from their mistakes of adoption and tolerance by continuing to stand strong against the rising tide. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ question regarding divorce gives us the foundation of the marital relationship and God’s design –
4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
The marriage relationship was designed from creation to be between one male and one female for life. It does not matter what arguments may be used in rebuttal, the Creator instituted marriage and its relationship between one man and one woman. When man chooses to rebel against God’s design, then to him it will be counted as sin. There is no need for “holy conferences” and time given over to prayer to see what God is calling for us to do. Our Creator has expressly given His mandate through the order and function of His creation.
One of the most fascinating comments found in the article manifests the reality that many of the denominational world has long forgotten. The attendee spoke concerning the inevitable split of the UMC –
I can’t decide if the Lord is saying now, ‘You created the structure and polity of the United Methodist Church. I didn’t. You wrote the Book of Discipline. I didn’t. If that’s being dismantled, that’s OK.’
The fracturing of the UMC gives New Testament Christians the perfect opportunity to teach their neighbors, friends, and co-workers concerning the One church of the New Testament. Are we prepared for the opportunity?
The Church of the New Testament was never intended to be an amalgamation of a thousand different denominations under the one headship of Christ, but rather ONE church with ONE head. The apostle Paul wrote – 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23). The Savior of the church has complete authority over its work, worship, and organization. Jesus never desired to see the division and disunity found in the denominational world today, but rather the complete opposite. Jesus prayed –
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me (John 17:20-23; emphasis mine, bcj).
Unity is the key ingredient of Jesus’ prayer on the evening of His betrayal. This unity will never be found by submitting to creed books written by men, but rather will only be obtainable through the submission to the inspired Word of God.
We live in a changing world both physically and spiritually. The landscape for many mainline/progressive denominational groups have already opened their doors to the inclusion of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, etc. The influence of the LGBTQ agenda will continue to try and infiltrate every denomination, but what about the Lord’s church? Will we stand for the truth? We have a tremendous opportunity to teach others concerning the Church of the New Testament. This means that we must give attention to remaining united through our faith in Jesus Christ, our work in His vineyard, and giving our lives completely to the glory of the Father. We have a responsibility to portray the gospel in every aspect of our lives. May God bless our efforts to reach the lost and teach those who find themselves intrenched in the denominational world.