Splitting the Church is Just “Tacky”

© Ivan Grlic, Dreamstime

 

Thoughts of splitting The United Methodist Church trouble me for a host of reasons Some theological and missional.

This polarized and violent world desperately needs the witness of a community that grapples with disputes and differences with humility, mutual respect, and compassion. While divisions have been part of our heritage since the beginning, they never bode well for our commitment to oneness in Christ Jesus.

We need one another, whatever our labels. God has already reconciled us! We have been made one, whether we like it or not. So, I don’t quite understand why we can’t live the reconciliation already accomplished in Christ. If Christ has made us one, should we not live that oneness?

But I’m also troubled for personal reasons.

I’ll always remember that fateful Sunday morning almost 65 years ago when this son of Appalachian tenant farmers and textile workers walked shyly into a Sunday school class at McKinley Methodist Church.

Mrs. Mahoney greeted me at the doorway with a warm hug. I remember the Bible story she told that day. It changed my image of God and set me on a life-long quest to love, trust, and serve God. It was the story of the Good Shepherd. I can still hear her say, “God is like that shepherd.”

That was radically different from the messages I had been hearing in the church of my early childhood. I had the notion that God was like that cruel landlord who once dangled me over a rain barrel to “teach me to respect” him. God was the strict judge who expected, above all else, our respect and obedience. Eternal damnation awaited those who lacked such deference and compliance.

Mrs. Mahoney introduced me to a God who delights in rescuing little lost lambs, a God who invites us to share in the search and saving of the least, the lost, and the wayward. She invited me into friendship with Jesus, a friendship rooted in love not fear.

McKinley Methodist Church became my spiritual home as an adolescent. There I was baptized and received into membership. It was there that I:

• Received a new identity (beloved child of God)
• Learned I didn’t have to take the Bible literally to take it seriously
• Was elected to my first church office (president of the MYF)
• First spoke publicly before a group
• Had my first for-pay job (janitor)
• Taught my first class (Vacation Bible School)
• Was called into ordained ministry
• Introduced to the church as connectional (we were on a circuit)
•Selected to attend the National Youth Conference where I heard an African    American preacher for the first time (James Thomas)
• Approved for candidacy and granted a local preacher’s license

At a conference youth assembly, I met my beloved wife, Linda. We were married in the Methodist Church. She was educated in a Methodist college. We attended a Methodist seminary and spent 42 years living in homes provided by the church. Our daughters and grandchildren have been baptized in United Methodist Churches.

I’ve been privileged to serve eight wonderful congregations and two strong episcopal areas. Additionally, I have taught in a United Methodist seminary, sat on the governing boards of numerous United Methodist related institutions and agencies, experienced the world-wide mission of the church while visiting in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

All of this is to say, it’s impossible for me to sever my life from that of the denomination in which I have been and continue to be formed.

To me the reasons being advanced for splitting the denomination seem extraneous to the core Christian gospel and the church’s mission in this polarized and violent world filling up with lost lambs.

When I entered McKinley Methodist Church as a child of poverty, I wasn’t looking for dogmatic pronouncements. I was longing for a community in which I was accepted, valued, and loved. I wanted a place to grow in my understanding of and friendship with God. And, I needed a purpose worth my life.

The church I joined gave me room to grow, and I’m still growing. It moved me beyond provincialism, challenged my racial prejudices and patriarchal practices, gave me a theological lens through which to view every aspect of life, anchored me in sound doctrine while encouraging continuing theological exploration, extended the horizons of God’s salvation to include the healing and transformation of human hearts, communities, nations, and the entire cosmos.

I’m not worried about the survival of the Church. The Body of Christ has been raised from the dead and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And, I know the institutional form which the body of Christ takes is always changing.

But dividing The United Methodist Church into “Progressives” and “Traditionalists” is just plain wrong. As the late Will Campbell said about the death penalty, “I just think it’s tacky!”

115 thoughts on “Splitting the Church is Just “Tacky”

  1. Thank you Bishop Carder! The Church seems to have lost its way and your perspective shines light to that. We seem to have forgotten that GOD IS LOVE and LOVE IS GOD.

    Liked by 1 person

      • love of things displeasing to God is not God. doing things that glorify humankind is not love, loving others more then God, many of kinds of love is not God. God is love We are told in Romans to remember God’s love and His justice; and in some translations His severity.

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      • Thank you Bishop Carder. I have always thought of the United Methodist Church as a church which opens the door to all which includes all races, all sexes, including homosexuals. Now is not a time of exclusion, but a time for inclusion.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My comment is for the benefit of the confused. Regardless of what one may see or hear in isolated congregations, this issue is NOT about whether or not LGBTQ folks, alcoholics, drug users, cussers, (fill-in-the-blank) are welcome in any Christian Church. Those serving in the pulpit have a different calling. Take time to do the research. In the meantime, we are listening.

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  2. Church is the body of Jesus Christ. Splitting the church by any reason is not by the Holy Spirit. The “tacky” is the easy way of collecting the cheap grace. Lord, help us to love and care for each other in this troubled world.

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    • Homosexuals coming to church to change their life style and accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and savior is what the church is to provide direction and guidance. The homosexuals are not wanting to change, but wanting the church to change and they want to control the church. The church must split because the homosexual, sinful life style, is not compatible with holy living. The classic example is the mountain conference

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  3. This is the kind of bishop that invites us to grow in God’s love. This is the Methodist Church that I grew up in and is the one that I hope & pray has a place for all God’s children with no exceptions and no favorites. We are all one in Christ.

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  4. Pingback: The Way Forward: A Comprehensive Compendium – People Need Jesus

  5. I believe it is George McGovern who once said,” Everything I know about politics, I learned in the Methodist Chuch”. I remember the day we became “United” with the EUB. It was a day of feeling bigger, closer, in communion, with the concept of God loves everyone. The Administrative politics of today would divide us, our mibds, our heats, our living the light and our spreading Gods’ love in order to dillute our God presence on this planet. Do not be deceived by this you or me, them or us, mine or mine mindset being propoagated upon us. Were we not warned of antichrist?

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  6. “I was longing for a community in which I was accepted, valued, and loved.” I think this is how of brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ community also feel.

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  7. Problem is, we probably have different concepts of “love”. Check out this response to another Bishop who stated that we just need to “love one another”:

    “If a way forward is not to be found in doctrine or communal moral discernment, then how should we, or can we, proceed? The bishop’s prayer identifies love as the answer: “God help us! Help us…above all else, to simply take the one next faithful step forward, out of love, only love; nothing less, nothing more; just love; undiluted love.” The prayer suggests that such love is the key to knowledge: “Then…only then, can we know…that the way forward is with you…that our way forward is through you.” While I affirm the importance of love, we must be clear about what we mean by love.

    “Vague, flaccid platitudes will not help. Any notion of love devoid of doctrinal content is merely an empty shell. The substance of love is inescapably theological, and so doctrinal and moral, because God is love.

    ..”.Our Wesleyan tradition confirms the central insight that love and truth (doctrinal and moral) go together. In my book God’s Love through the Spirit: The Holy Spirit in Thomas Aquinas and John Wesley, I offer this reflection on the relation of love and truth:

    …”‘in a largely therapeutic age such as the present, in which love is sometimes reduced to a matter of mere human feeling or simply meaning well, love can easily be misconstrued and even cheapened through a dumbing down or stripping away of its essential theological elements. One challenge for those seeking to retrieve and update Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection is precisely to avoid this tendency. If love is to be made perfect, which Wesley tirelessly propagated as a genuine possibility under grace, then the operative understanding of love must itself be sufficiently theological, or else it is by definition something other than love in its truly Christian sense. For this to be the case, love cannot be understood as somehow independent of knowledge and truth.’

    “As Wesley helps us see, Jesus did not in any way set aside the doctrinal and moral dimensions of love. Rather, he came to bring us both. Jesus came to bring us God, and to show us our way to God in truth and love, or in a single word, in holiness.

    “In The UMC, and in our world today, this is a time to love. It is a time for the beauty and power of the love of God to be shown and shared in word and deed, and nothing less will do. To speak of love apart from doctrine or moral discernment is to strip it of that same beauty and power. Love is not a theologically empty concept. Paradoxically, true love empties itself in service and sacrifice as our Crucified and Risen Lord has done for us all (Philippians 2:1-11). In Jesus, almighty God intersected our time and redeemed it on the cross. The particular love that we have to offer is the love of Jesus, and that is precisely the love that makes all things new.

    “As we stand in desperate need of renewal and divine guidance as a denomination, amidst our division, turmoil, and uncertainty, we can be certain of this: now is the time to love. To be specific, now is the time to love in faithful response to the fullness of God’s love shown so extravagantly, even radically, in Jesus—the very love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This love is inherently doctrinal, rooted in God. It is intrinsically moral, calling us all to scriptural holiness. And this love—“pure, unbounded love” as Charles Wesley would have us sing—is freely given to us and our world in Jesus Christ, whom truly to know, love, and obey is perfect freedom. God help us, indeed.” http://wesleyanway.org/?p=3048

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  8. You’re right, Bishop, it is “just tacky.” So why did the Western Jurisdiction insist on doing it?

    This statement: “To me the reasons being advanced for splitting the denomination seem extraneous to the core Christian gospel” proves that you have no understanding of the traditionalist view. The reasons DO go to the core Christian gospel. They address how we understand God, what we believe about what it means to be human created in the image of God, what it means to call Jesus “Lord” and follow him as a disciple. Those are core issues.

    I also have deep, deep roots in the Methodist and United Methodist Church. So your attempt at emotional manipulation doesn’t work for me.

    I am sad that the church I have loved has been broken by those who want to do their own thing, but I love Jesus more than I love the UMC. I pray that whatever comes next will be more faithful to the gospel and will reclaim our beautiful Wesleyan heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Bishop Carder! For some reason my email was not accepted so that I could write a response, but I agree wholeheartedly. Our paths are so similar–small rural church, loving Sunday School teachers, call to preach at 16, Methodist college, Methodist seminary, Methodist career of 46 years plus 16 more teaching in an AMEZ seminary and now writing a book, “The Methodist Story” with a publisher for next March. Thank you for endorsing my last book on our grace theology.

        Thank the Lord for you! How is your beloved wife?

        Your brother in Christ and in United Methodism,

        don haynes

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your response. Please do not dismiss my perspective as an “attempt at emotional manipulation” or that I have “no understanding of the traditionalist view.” Both “Traditionalists” and “Progressives” are committed to understanding God, what it means to be created in the image of God, and what it means to call Jesus Lord. Neither has a monopoly on what those mean and what it means to be shaped by those basic affirmations, and neither has the complete corner on the Wesleyan heritage. We need one another and an extra measure of humility.

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      • “Neither has a monopoly . . . neither has the complete corner. . .” That’s the standard progressive line which fails the smell test. The weight of the entire universal Church across time and around the world today has spoken to honor a traditional sexual ethic. The current revisionist theology refuting the LGBT+ prohibitions found in Scripture has been found to be lacking in honest scholarship. Theological inquiry is at its worst when we start with trying to make Scripture say what we want it to say. Scripture, reason, experience (of the Holy Spirit), and tradition all point toward one truth. Truth is a monopoly – progressives and traditionalists cannot both be right. And God has given us a clear witness on what the truth is on this issue. We should be working to present God’s highest ideals (the truth) for humanity – in this case on human sexuality – while witnessing to the amazing grace of God since we ALL fall short of God’s truth. All fall short. All are loved. If we could reclaim this message, then your vision will become reality. Otherwise, it lacks the power of the Gospel.

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      • Thank you for sharing your perspective. God has given us a clear witness of what is truth on the issue of oneness in Christ and God in Christ has already made us one. Living that oneness is our challenge.

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      • Progressives can understand God easy. Read his word and live by it. Some of you Methodist Bishops are playing with fire and in the end, you are going to get burned. No gray needs to he in pulpit. It’s a disgrace and God is watching

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      • Please be assured that I have been reading, studying, teaching, and attempting to live by God’s word as revealed in Scripture and supremely in Jesus the Word made flesh for 70 years. I claim no infallibility and I have learned that when I am sure that I totally understand the mind of God then I have the wrong god. From my perspective, humility is the proper stance before God, who is greater than our minds can totally comprehend. We live by faith, not certainty.

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    • Some see “tacky” while others see necessary. The BOD has already been disrespected (i,e., Western Jurisdiction bishop) with no Judicial corrections. We are already split. Many are confusing what the Bible really says with what they wished it said. Those who have chosen to do their own thing and bring homosexuality into the pulpit need to pull together, organize, and form their own movement that is completely distinguishable from the United Methodist Church. Many of us want to keep our BOD as is and we heed the warning from Isaiah and Paul of the time when “right will seem wrong and wrong will seem right.” We will continue as the United Methodist Church. As always, all will be welcome into our congregations to worship and grow in relationship with Jesus and His children. We cannot all be under the umbrella of unity. In reality we find ourselves under the umbrella of hypocrisy and “unity” has become an idol. Let’s all of us keep our Christian hats on, pray for each other, and stop spending time, money, and effort on false unity and get about the business of making disciples for Jesus Christ.

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      • How do you understand “oneness in Christ” and its relationship to unity? Unity is not synonymous with uniformity. I agree that “Many are confusing what the Bible says with what they wished it said” and neither “Traditionalists” and “Progressives” are innocent of the practice. Regrettably, the Bible is often used to support positions that run contrary to the central message of Jesus who is the eternal Word of God.

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  9. I am so sorry that I knew so little about you and your views when you were Bishop of the MS Conference. It would have helped my formation and my voice. What you are saying in this article is what I have felt about living in MS when living elsewhere would be more compatible with what I believe. But if I leave the South (if the UMC splits) how do I continue to work for the beliefs I have about equality and respect and opportunity for all people? How do I honor those whose voices are not being heard and impact the people and system whose hands are superglued over their ears? If the UMC splits we will no longer see the need to negotiate and educate together. Please keep writing. Warmest regards for you and your bride.

    Judy Powell Sibley

    > >

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  10. Thank you for stating my own feelings and similar experiences. Let us be one in the spirit and one in the Lord, and continue to work for unity. One house & one Lord, especially whenwe disagree about some aspects, we can agree on our loving Father who created us all and wants all His children to care for one another.

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  11. Though not nearly as dramatic or distinguished, or even as longstanding (beginning in 1970) my relationship with the UMC, my journey in it (retired after 38 years of ordained service), and its effect on my life are identical to yours. I encountered God’s love for the first time in a UM congregation (in my case, it was St. Matthew’s in North Houston) and the UMC is the only church I have ever known. Plus, I’m a Blue Devil!

    For some time now, I have summed up what you share here by contrasting the terms UNITY and UNIFORMITY. Unity is the gift of God, freely bestowed on us whether we like it or not. It is beyond our power to create. All we can do is try to live into it.

    By contrast, Uniformity is our deeply flawed and unsustainable imitation of Unity. It involves compliance, enforcement and exclusion, which are utterly foreign to the spirit of Unity offered to us as members of Christ’s body. And when that Uniformity requires assent to propositional statements approved by the votes of only a modest majority, it is nothing more than the tyranny of that majority over those who are its brothers and sisters.

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  12. Bishop Carder,

    Your words and story of welcome moved me. I experience you as caring and thoughtful pastor. I have felt the same embrace growing up as a United Methodist–in every threshold of my journey: Baptism, Sunday School, Youth Group, Marriage, Ordination, Raising my children, etc.

    The thing I keep thinking about in your story is how different it would have been for you if you were LGBTQ. Just that one thing. Would the same embrace have happened at every step along the journey? After Sunday School–at the point of ordination and marriage–would you be in the UMC, and if so, would you be buried so deep in the closet it wouldn’t be safe to express your opinion? Would you bear the privilege of writing this article as a UMC bishop? As a straight person myself, this is what haunts me about this talk of unity. That’s why for me it isn’t a matter of whether we set aside our extreme differences to stay one church; the heart of our crisis is who do we pretend is not here in order to maintain unity, and at what price? The critical issue is not how to we stay together. God’s church will be the church whether we buy in or not. At some level, our crisis isn’t even about inclusion, though that’s important. It is about saving lives. We have sacrificed too much–and too many–in order to maintain the appearance of unity and be a church committed to “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Which world? A world that excludes LGBTQ people? If we can’t find a path in the life of the church for even little gay children raised in Appalachia–including ordination and marriage–then who are we really?

    We have chosen to eat our own at a perilous cost: their lives and our church’s soul. Surely, that can’t be the Jesus way forward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much for your thoughtful, sensitive, and challenging response. I am aware that I write from a position of privilege as a white, straight, male, to say nothing about positions I’ve held. I, too, am haunted by the tensions; and I do not want to silence or minimize the clarion calls for justice and inclusion for LGBTQ bothers and sisters. As we both know, our oneness in Christ includes reconciliation grounded in justice and agape. A church and world that denies the inherent worth, dignity and inclusion of ALL as beloved children of God falls woefully short of the reign of God embodied and brought near in Jesus Christ. Thank you for your insights, sensitivity and commitment to “the Jesus way forward.”

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  13. Bishop Carder has served the church honorably in many ways, and not just because my daughter and son-in-law appreciated his insights at Duke. The McKinley Methodist Church that nurtured him with grace 65 years ago no longer exists (says UMDATA) and the percentage of Americans claiming Methodist affiliation has declined over 55% since his initial encounter, folks who didn’t split but more or less vaporized. An angry and nasty split absolutely would not honor God’s will or way. A mitosis (cell division) within the Body of Christ that pushes the re-set button on a struggling dysfunction system, affirms the richness of our shared Wesleyan DNA, aligns for mutual goals and ministries (UMCOR comes to mind), and turns the page on 40 years of barking and hissing over sexuality can become a vehicle for a positive Spirit-led renewal. Please consider that possibility as maybe wacky…maybe wise.

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  14. To me this issue is not about any person but about a corporate interpretation of the Bible saying homosexual practice is not sin and accepting persons who embrace that interpretation without teaching them the need for repentance. To take that position ultimately leads to compromise and rejection of the Bible’s teachings. That is certainly not what John Wesley proclaimed. It is the message of false teachers. Our current struggle is part of the ongoing spiritual warfare between Christ and Satan. We must focus on lifting up the truth of Scripture. In love, yes, but firm in our affirmation of the righteousness it teaches.

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    • I agree it is spiritual warfare the church is dealing with. I think we are living in the time the book of Jude warned all the churches would come. It is the message of false teachers. God is love,but not all love is God. It is not the person of the LGBTQ that I object to. It is allowing their belief of any kind of sex is God approved and where that would be taught in the class rooms and from the pulpit. In the church, where the word of God is proclaimed to the glory of and for the glory of God, is where they and us should be.

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      • I am interested in how do you interpret 1John 4:7-21? I hope you are not suggesting that LGBTQ people believe that “any kind of sex is God approved” and that they advocate that such a position be taught in schools and from the pulpit. Many LGBTQ people live in committed covenant relationships and are not promiscuous. And, as we know, sexual unfaithfulness is not limited to LGBTQ and is prevalent among heterosexual persons. God grant us all faithfulness to God and one another.

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      • in reply to explain 1john4::7-21.It says to me that love has its origination from God. John does not say love is God. John is teaching that what we believe about love is divine, but rather God gives us the meaning of love. Our love or what we believe love is does not define God. Rather, God is the source of our love. Love is what God has done on our behalf. Love is Jesus the human along side us as we walk in this world. yes,I apologize for the the way I stated “any sex is God approved.”However to say they would not be an advocate for what I interpret the Bible to say about unnatural sex, for what they do and proclaim by their life style as leader in Christian education. I refer to my comment else where about the different between worshiping and the leading in worship and study. Yhank you for all the conversation on this subject

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      • I appreciate your thoughtful response. As I understand it, no word, including LOVE exhausts who God is; but I do believe that there is no genuine love apart from God. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend a book by a colleague at Duke, Norman Wirzba, entitled Way of Love. I do take literally John’s statement “Whoever loves knows God for God is love.” The challenge is how to define love and I affirm that Jesus is the embodiment and definition of love and that we are to love others as he loves us.

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      • To continue my response, I cannot love my brother by failing to warn him of God’s commands. Several Scripture passages declare “sexual immorality” as sin (Leviticus 18:22-23, Hebrews 12:16, 13:4). I love him by encouraging obedience to Scripture and repentance for disobedience (Luke 13:3).
        I believe there is a big lie at the bottom of most of this. Some LGBTQ seem to feel God created them this way. This leads to rejection of Scriptural authority and a feeling that repentance for sin is not necessary. There is a passage in Romans 1:24-27 that says that God looked on men who rejected Him and “gave them over to sinful desires of their hearts.” We of the church should lead them to the love, knowledge and forgiveness of Christ at the cross. But we should never compromise on the authority of Scripture.

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      • I wish we could have extensive conversation face-to-face, for I value your commitment to the authority of the Bible and to be faithful to God. However, you and I have different understanding of the meaning of “authority of Scripture” and the origin of sexual orientation. Do you remember when you chose to be heterosexual? The growing evidence is that sexual orientation is not a choice. I am deeply committed to the authority of Scripture and this is how I understand that authority: The authority of the Scripture lies in its authentic witness to God’s saving acts supremely in the Word Made Flesh in Jesus Christ and in its power through the Holy Spirit to transform individuals, communities, and the entire cosmos into the likeness of Jesus Christ. For me, the test of commitment to the authority of Scripture is this: Does our reading and study of the Bible make me more Christlike and empower me to love as Christ loves. May God’s Holy Spirit guide us all to grow in Christlike love.

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  15. About Time to join the communion with Episcopal and Lutheran. Now internal split will ruin all the spirit of “United.” It’ll bring back beyond 40 years back. All efforts with money, time, and personnel could be in vain. It’s not wise but filling of xenophobia only with limited cultural and political influence in time.

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    • This responds to Bishop Carder’s post to me of August 27 at 11:05am. I believe the authority of Scripture lies in the fact that God said it. When God says, “See to it that no-one is sexually immoral” and “Keep the marriage bed pure”, He doesn’t equivocate. I can’t imagine how He could be more clear in forbidding homosexuality and adultery. That makes it sin. For the UMC to teach that it is not sin flaunts the authority. Yes, we need to receive persons afflicted by these sins with love and grace and lead them into the transforming love of Christ, but we must be honest about what God’s standards are.

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  16. All these fuzzy happy words that make us feel good and are meant not to affend anyone has already split the church. The Bible is clear about homosexuality. Gods word is non negotiable. You can not change the laws of God. Twisting and bending God’s word for our on weak faith is has always been the vehicle to make it read what we want .

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      • John 8:7
        And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

        John 13:34-35
        34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • When you say the Bible, you are probably referring to the Old Testament or to
      St. Paul, who also said pejorative things about women. Jesus preached love, and obviously had little or no concern about homosexuality as never mentioned it except perhaps in passing. Such biased beliefs as you and others express are unnecessarily provoking the schism in our beloved Methodist Church.

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      • Did Jesus Christ himself not say that marriage is between man and woman? Is sexual relations outside the covenant of marriage not a sin?

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  17. If “condoning sin” is the issue then any who are jealous, slanderers, malicious, adulterers, gossips, or are ever rude or proud, take a seat. There are some here right next to me. If the commandment is to love one another however, second only to loving God with everything we’ve got then how do we stand against God’s call on whomever He chooses?

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  18. Reblogged this on philipamerson and commented:
    Thankfully, Bishop Ken Carder continues his witness. Truth and Love cannot be separated. The church he describes is the one that nurtured me as well. For those who think a narrowing of our community will bring growth, I would simply ask them to consider, that it was the “Big Tent” Church following WWII that grew the most rapidly in recent years. Yes, we were riding a cultural wave — even as some “traditionalists” are riding theirs today. Whatever, even if severed away, split into, these who might place themselves on the other side will still be my brothers and sisters in Christ. No General Conference action can change this.

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  20. Re:Splitting the Church is Just “Tacky” Bishop, you mention many truisms in this article. However, you fail to suggest specific remedies for the disagreements. Splitting may be “tacky”, but allowing sin to enter the ministry pulpit is blasphemy. That is the reality..

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    • John 8:7
      And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

      John 13:34-35
      34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for your words and telling your story. I’ve read the attacks against you do with those who hate rather than love. I came into the UMC from a narrow dogmatic interpretation of King James Scripture. Joining the UMC was a freeing experience that allowed for differences in opinion around the interpretation of Scripture. God did a new thing in Paul and Peter in announcing g the good news of salvation under grace with the abandament of kosher laws and the holiness code. And that unhindered Gospel became the salvation to us Gentiles. Traditionalists seem to think homosexuality is promiscuity, and such views dismiss the committed, faithful and monogamous relationship of same-gendered couples as valid expressions of our faith. We are talking about only 4 percent of our population in Indiana. By refusing to fully accepting LGBTQ United Methodists in the life of the church we are denying them the full expression of their faith. I’m for an open and accepting church willing to welcome all people.

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      • That is the issue. all should be in the church, all. All should not be preachers teachers leaders or teaching doctrine. Scripture says sexual sins are different from all other sins. Love is not love when it breaks what is truth.If warm friendly close loving relationship is the definition of marriage, one should be able to marry their dog which is all of the above; always warm loving and a good friend as well.

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      • Please do not assume that I am saying that “warm friendly close loving relationships is the definition of marriage.” I am talking about love as embodied, taught, and commanded by Jesus, the Incarnate Word. We are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us. Jesus is the definition of love.

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    • I don’t believe any Traditionalists disagree with your concluding sentence. “Welcome all people.” Yes to that. It’s changing the definition of marriage where we part company. See my other comment, below.

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  22. The One Church Plan changes the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two adults.” This change would apply to the entire UMC. The present definition is Biblically based. The change is, at best, non-Biblical. At worst it’s anti-Biblical. How can you defend such a change?

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  23. Thank you bishop for your heartfelt affirmation of the love of God, as you experienced it in the Methodist Church from adolescence. After 40 years as a UM elder under appointment to the local church in the Missouri Conference, I too am still growing and being formed by God’s unconditional love and amazing grace. It is my hope that our denomination will drop all anti-LGBTQ language from the Book of Discipline in February 2019 here in St. Louis where I reside. If we truly believe that God is love, how can we not affirm ALL persons as children of God? I plan to be present in the gallery for all the GC sessions. If we truly believe that God is love, how can we

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  24. 1 John 3:11-4:21

    Love Each Other
    11 From the beginning you were told that we must love each other. 12 Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the devil and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? He did it because his brother was good, and he was evil. 13 My friends, don’t be surprised if the people of this world hate you. 14 Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if you don’t love each other, you are still under the power of death.

    15 If you hate each other, you are murderers, and we know that murderers do not have eternal life. 16 We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other. 17 If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God. 18 Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.

    19 When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God. 20 But even if we don’t feel at ease, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him. 22 He will give us whatever we ask, because we obey him and do what pleases him. 23 God wants us to have faith in his Son Jesus Christ and to love each other. This is also what Jesus taught us to do. 24 If we obey God’s commandments, we will stay one in our hearts with him, and he will stay one with us. The Spirit that he has given us is proof that we are one with him.

    God Is Love
    4 Dear friends, don’t believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, 2 and you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body. 3 But when someone doesn’t say this about Jesus, you know that person has a spirit that doesn’t come from God and is the enemy of Christ. You knew that this enemy was coming into the world and now is already here.

    4 Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit[a] is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world. 5 These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language. 6 We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don’t know God won’t listen to us. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.

    7 My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. 8 God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. 9 God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. 10 Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.

    12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.

    13 God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us. 14 God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. 15 God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God 16 and are sure that God loves us.

    God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. 17 If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment. 18 A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love.

    19 We love because God loved us first. 20 But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see? 21 The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I think that our Christian brothers and sisters who are not homosexual and support this issue of homosexual clergy and homosexual marriage in the church see this as a civil rights issue and not as a theological and moral matter. They have accepted the world’s view that homosexuality is ok and think the church should do the same.

    As Americans we believe that individuals should not be discriminated against because of their homosexuality and believe that we should not judge people who are of this sexual orientation negatively. As Christians we strive to express the love of Christ in our relationship with them and should never consider not accepting them in the church. This is not to say that we should consider their sexual practice to be consistent with the church’s stated beliefs on this matter. Even if we were not Christian I believe that it is self evident that human beings were purposely created to be male and female and to express their sexuality in this created order.

    Homosexuality has existed since biblical times and then as now major religions consider this practice as outside the boundaries of what is morally right and consider it as immoral and sinful. To try to force this issue in the church is, to me, a self-serving effort by homosexuals to try to subvert not only what the church has always considered wrong, what is self evidently wrong, in order to give validity to the homosexual practice for the sake of gaining recognition from the institution whose beliefs and theology they spurn.

    Let us not bring the world’s morality into the Church, let us try to impact the world inside and outside the Church with love and offer our congregants and the lost and wayward clear biblical guidelines of what we believe. Let us not accept political correctness, let us resist political pressure to accept something we do not believe in. Finally, let us not compromise by making unholy concessions or agreements.

    I’ve heard it say “If you don’t stand for something … You will fall for anything!” And so it will be with our United Methodist Church beginning with this issue, then on to the resurrection, Jesus divinity, and other tenens of our faith.

    Like

  26. Interesting, Rev. Carder, that you “Like” those comments in agreement with your views, but completely refuse to engage the substantive points in those comments with which you disagree. I will ask again:

    The One Church Plan changes the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two adults.” This change would apply to the entire UMC. The present definition is Biblically based. The change is, at best, non-Biblical. At worst it’s anti-Biblical. On what basis do you defend this change?

    And from Ms. Ramsey:

    Does God’s word condone and bless the sanctity of marriage between the members of the same sex?

    Asked another way:

    Where in the Bible is marriage described as anything other than between a man and a woman?

    And a substantive response to Mr. Navarrete’s thoughtful comment would be appreciated, too, I’m sure.

    We’re all trying to understand God’s word and what is true and right. You preaching to your choir, so to speak, doesn’t deepen understanding.

    Like

    • Thank you for challenging me to respond to your questions. I have tried to respond to many of the comments and will respond briefly to your inquiry. I wish we had another venue in which we could discuss fully the issues you are raising; and I will be posting in the near future my own position on the issues of same sex marriage and homosexuality, as well as the authority of Scripture. Let me briefly respond to your specific questions. First, The One Church Plan does not mandate that all United Methodists support the notion of “two adults” which can include same-sex couples. The definition currently in the BOD was added specifically to exclude same-sex couples. The change does not require universal acceptance that “two adults” means acceptance of same-sex marriage any more than the BOD’s opposition to capital punishment or collective bargaining means all UM must agree. Individuals, pastors, and congregations will decide if marriage as “two adults” includes same-sex marriage. But it also allows for those who believe that same-sex marriage can be a legitimate covenant blessed by God. My personal position on the issue has evolved over the years, as I will explain in a subsequent post. As a delegate to GC, I voted for the current legislation. I now consider that vote an error for several reasons that do not fit within this space. But I believe currently that the fundamental issue of Christian marriage is the meaning of covenantal love, not the gender of the persons involved. It isn’t homosexual marriage that is threatening the definition and meaning of marriage and family; it is the lack of faithful covenantal love in heterosexual marriages. Homosexuals and heterosexuals can live in faithful covenantal love grounded in God’s covenantal love; and both heterosexuals and homosexuaals can be unfaithful to such love. Marriage is about much more than sex! The Bible contains many expressions of marriage that changed over the centuries as polygamy and relations with concubines was once accepted and as the subordination of women as property was common practice. What the God blesses is covenantal faithfulness grounded in agape love. I appreciate your expression that “We’re all trying to understand God’s word and what is true and right.” I don’t want to preach merely to the choir. I have found too often that we are more determined to be right than to be good and loving. I don’t want to do that and I am willing to engage with openness of mind and spirit to those who differ from me. I believe that in Christ we are already made one, and I want us to live out that oneness. I think the One Church Plan overs the best way for us to live toward our oneness in Christ.

      Like

      • Thank you for this reply. Much appreciated. I look forward to further posting on your “position on the issues of same sex marriage and homosexuality, as well as the authority of Scripture.” I anticipate it will be along the lines of Adam Hamilton and his “buckets.” (If not, I will be pleasantly surprised.)

        I have already studied Hamilton’s position and found it shallow, unconvincing, and, essentially, poor rationalization for going with the cultural flow. The lengthy chapter on homosexuality in Hays’ scholarly book The Moral Vision of the New Testament is much more convincing. I found it revealing that Hamilton’s references to other works on the subject conveniently don’t mention Hays.

        Again, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I have read Richard Hays’ boo.k and find it helpful as well. Richard is a friend and former colleagues at Duke. I value his scholarship very highly and am especially appreciative of his character which has been shaped by the grace he so eloquently articulates. While I appreciate his position, I am also grateful to the careful scholarship of those equally qualified New Testament scholars who differ from Richard–Luke Timothy Johnson and Victor Furnish to name but two. Equally devout and gifted biblical scholars are not in full agreement on this issue, which is all the more reason for UM to stay together in dialogue as we search for common clarity on this and other matters. None of us has complete knowledge on any issue and all the data on sexual orientation and desire isn’t in yet.

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      • The Mountain conference has an open homosexual as bishop and she is over 400 churches and guess where her teaching and the placement of ministers direction is going to be. Also, the Queer Clergy organization in the UMC should never have been licensed to preach in the church.

        Like

      • One more question regarding the elephant in the room, as you said “Marriage is about much more than sex!” Are you saying you support same-sex marriage as long as it doesn’t involve sex? If not, then you are condoning acts that have, since the beginning of time, been considered immoral and not part of God’s plan for his children. When it comes down to it, this is the heart of the matter, but not typically part of the conversation, given the discomfort it causes. And isn’t that discomfort revealing?

        Like

      • I am not saying that same-sex marriage does or does not involve sex. I don’t know what heterosexual or homosexual persons do in their bedrooms. I am saying that the essence of Christian marriage is faithful covenantal love grounded in God’s love/agape. I know scores of committed same-sex couples who have lived in faithful covenant for decades. As a heterosexual who has been married to my beloved wife for 57 plus years and who is in severe stage of dementia, I assure you that our relationship is not rooted in sexual expression. She continues to teach me what it means to love faithfully and joyfully apart from sexual expression. There is room for interpretation of the meaning of “homosexual” in the Bible,
        What is clear is the admonition against sexual promiscuity and exploitation. I suspect that the “elephant in the room” is not really about sex and biblical interpretation. If it were we would be discussing and considering division over divorce and remarriage, the commercializing of sex and exploitation of women, sexual boundary violations by heterosexuals, and many other forms of injustice and exclusion based on gender.

        Like

      • Here is what the man who is now Pope had to say on the subject of same-sex marriage:

        https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/03/letter-of-cardinal-bergoglio-to.html

        You write “I am saying that the essence of Christian marriage is faithful covenantal love grounded in God’s love/agape. I know scores of committed same-sex couples who have lived in faithful covenant for decades.”

        Hamilton says the same thing. I have close friends who are gay. So I understand the desire to view their marriages as no different than those of a man an woman. But I find it difficult to avoid concluding, as the Cardinal did, that this is “A clear rejection of the law of God.”

        Like

      • I respect your position and that of the Pope. I do not agree, however, that it is “A clear rejection of the law of God.” The current Pope also has cautioned against judging homosexuals as a group. I hope that both of us will leave open the possibility of being wrong. God isn’t finished with any of us yet! We live by faith not by sight or certainty and when in doubt we are to keep loving as Christ loves us.

        Like

    • I bristle at being accused of “judging homosexuals as a group.” This is not a matter of me or us sitting in judgement; it’s a matter of what the Bible says on the morality of homosexual acts and relations.
      I have little doubt that the Traditionalists who have commented here take no issue on matters of loving one another–gay, straight, or otherwise–and recognizing that we’re all sinners. It’s changing the definition of marriage where we part company. Can you cite any scripture reference to the practice of homosexuality that is not negative? Isn’t it true that Jesus and Paul both define marriage as between one man and one woman?

      Like

  27. I’m still working through my position on the same sex issues. I’m ok with gays participation in worship. I’m not so clear on gay clergy or the church sanctioning same sex marriage. I’ll continue to work on those. What has disappointed me most and caused me to question my continuation as a member of the UM church is the question, “When did it become ok for our clergy to lie?”. Every actively gay ordinate lied at least once when ordained as a deacon, three times when ordained as bishop. They lied to those present, the greater UM church and ultimately to God when they pledged to uphold the laws of the church as expressed in the Book of Disciplines. And not just those who lied at ordination, but those how turned a blind eye to their same pledge when they either officiated at or did not sanction those who violated the laws of our church. For me, that’s the bigger issue. When did it become ok in the UMC to lie?

    Like

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response and question. I appreciate your obvious openness to continued growth on this issue, as am I. There are so many complex issues involved and I certainly do not claim to know all the answers. We need one another since I believe the Holy Spirit works within community to discern the truth and to grow into Christlikeness. We do not condone lying so I hear your concern and desire that all of us behave with integrity and honesty in all that we do.

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  28. I can’t help but wonder…would you feel the same way were we debating whether African-Americans should be honored as children of God and fully included in the church? If a significant fraction of “the church” cannot tolerate recognizing the full dignity of other human beings who have been created in God’s image, I don’t understand why the rest of us should be forced to honor their intolerance. No one wants to Christians splintered but there are times to take a stand for what is right. This is our moment in history. If “traditionalists” refuse to move forward in Christian love, the rest of us should not be forced to remain behind with them in a tragic past full of fear and hatred.

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    • Ma’am, you conflate matters that are not the same at all and mistake the traditional view by saying traditionalist do not welcome those from the LGBTQ community. Traditionalist recognize we are all sinners. The point really boils down to believing if the Bible establishes that homosexuality is immoral and that one must recognize it as sin before one can confess the sin and seek to repent. Love of others is not the issue. The first principle to be established (agreed or disagreed) is if the act of homosexuality is a sin.

      Like

  29. In 1987 I finished my Northwestern Univ. dissertation on the Inclusive Language Movement with a chapter that characterized the two tectonic plates under American Christianity as those who interpreted the meaning of sacred words as “frozen” or “having several layers of meaning.” My current dissertation (third doctorate) examines the middle between these two tectonic plates. And that is to focus on the soul which ought to be the only focus of the Christian fellowship. The liberal extreme wants to change society; the conservative extreme wants to create a theocracy. I say: “a pox (curse) on both of those houses.” The liberal extreme focuses on taking positions on issues; the conservative on enforcing behavioral rules on everyone outside the church and on other churches.

    In Methodism we have made two grave errors: we have removed the decision making on how to interpret biblical ethics from the individual to the largest group–the General Conference. Second, we abandoned our original focus on a small group grappling with the question “how is it with your soul?” The only task of the Christian fellowship is to enable all who present themselves seeking fellowship with those who follow Jesus to find spiritual balance through the shared pain of others who have grown in holiness (wholeness, healthiness) by following Jesus. All secular issues, all signs of wealth, all attachments to maleness or femaleness, all differences in color, age, allegiance to sex in any form, are left outside.

    The basic issue of life is the question: Is there any reason for me to continue to live? All forms of the church have slashed open their arteries and are now anemic and ready for the ICU unit and then the morgue. What must come out of the death of American Christianity is the fellowship of those who like AA admit we are powerless to keep our lives in balance, know that in confession, penance and Christ infused love by others is our hope of living. The reason why young adults call themselves “spiritual but not religious” is not that they are spiritual but that we have failed to teach them how to be spiritual and that is their real need not the need to be religious.

    Let there emerge from this useless battle a new Christian fellowship:

    a Christian fellowship that admits that the Old Testament is not our scripture; it encourages land grabbing and war, suicide (there are several of them without any acknowledgment of the pain such an act causes), assassination, blind obedience to support ugly acts of killing, etc. It is not our book!!!

    a Christian fellowship that keeps no records of attendance, has no permanent building that sucks up most of the money for ministry, continues to keep the fellowship to 12 by establishing new groups with the leadership honed in the first fellowship.

    a Christian fellowship that renounces the concept of being a social institution by abolishing the concept of membership IN a church; substituting that with a freely chosen fellowship of struggling Christians.

    a Christian fellowship where Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, very educated and barely educated can kneel before the Cross and partake of the sacraments, receive the oils of healing, and share one another’s struggles without knowing each other’s name.

    Only this kind of fellowship will provide life to American Christianity. Ray Penn

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I am one of those in my congregation that urges everyone to study, learn, listen and pray that we do God’s will on this issue impacting our Church. I am always curious to understand how at this time in history we have become enlightened with a view that is different from Christians of 2,000 years? I mean this question sincerely. Was John Wesley wrong and how would a man who felt the Church constitution should not be able to be changed view how we change our Book of Discipline? Can we imagine what John Wesley may say if he were with us today, again this is not indicating one side or other with this question, just what do we really think he would say? Did he not advocate studying the words and position of those closest in time with Christ as most authoritative? Can anyone identify writings for me from the 19th Century or before that tells us that the changes being proposed are based on sound theology. I would like to study those if you can help me. What truly are we to do with so many of the writings of Paul and words of Christ in recognizing what constitutes a marriage? My issue I wrestle with is simply this all stated in form of rhetorical questions. Am I not to recognize that I am a sinner? Am I not to ask forgiveness and try to repent, to stop committing that sin? Do we make decisions based on defining certain acts as not sin or that we need not seek to repent of our sins? I do not like trying to draw parallels as it often opens arguments on the parallel matter as opposed to the basic principle that is trying to be analyzed. But if a man is an adulterer, and openly lives a life cohabitating with two or more women would we consider it sin? If he publicly said it is not sin and has no intention of repenting from this act as he views it as without sin and he wished to be an ordained minister is that then wrong for our Church to deny that wish? Lastly, I truly seek to understand are changes being proposed because homosexuality activity is no longer to be considered sin or is it that one need not seek to repent from and ask forgiveness for sin? My questions are not sarcasm but sincere from a man who seeks to understand before deciding my life position on this. I know my opinion matters not in this world, but my decision and how our church decides will guide me in determining if the denomination I have affiliated myself with for since birth 60 years ago is the church that I hope to be with at death in this life.

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