THE Methodist Conference has confirmed what the Church, i.e. the Colossians 1 body of Christ, has known for some time – that institutional Methodism had long amputated itself from the corpus.
It is not surprising, but disappointing, that in completing this inevitable process at its 2021 Conference, members lacked the courage to be honest.
Instead of simply saying, ‘we don’t like what the Bible says’, they use nice-sounding, inoffensive-seeming Christianese to try to convince themselves (no need to convince the world – they’re joining them) that it’s all OK because it’s just being nice. And religious.
The problem with such pronouncements is that they empty words of all meaning. They not only do a disservice to the Church, but also to the English language.
The claim by the Conference is that the approval of so-called same-sex marriages and the special recognition of living together (cohabitation) came only after prayerful consideration.
That sounds right, no? Praying is good. Nothing is said about this type of praying, though. This is a type of praying to God, presumably, where God agrees to someone else’s interpretation of His own words.
Or could it be that they’re putting words in God’s mouth? Could it be that while ‘The (Methodist) Church recognises that the love of God is present within the love of human beings who are drawn to each other’, God doesn’t?
This seems like a curious kind of praying that leaves God out – more of a communal spiritual monologue. If God has said that something is wrong, does the Methodist Conference consider prayer to be a means by which God is invited to do a rethink?
Or do its members think that the persuasiveness of their arguments or fervency of their desire will get Him to change His mind? Or do they just not really care what God thinks?
It’s hard to know just what the Conference is thinking because of its dishonest use of language. If that’s harsh, then it certainly is a wishful use of words.
The Conference wants the Bible to mean something other than it states, and wants God to require something other than He does. So members wish it so and they wish it hard enough that, hey, presto! it comes true.
It is as if a person’s ‘own lived experience’ is authoritative, and not the sacred text. ‘The marriage of any two persons’ will always be right in the eyes of those two persons who wanted to be married, but that’s subjectivity. The Bible is objective.
Wouldn’t it have been better if the Methodist Conference just admitted it, and said: ‘We’re not Christians any more – we’re Methodists, a people generally guided by what the Bible teaches’? Just like Mormons.
Instead, the professing Church, the body of Christ, is left having to explain to the world how very distinct and irreconcilable Methodism is from Biblical Christianity. This is to a world not very equipped to – nor interested in – understanding where significant differences on truth exist.
There is an angst in Methodism, and has been for some time – as it also is in the Church of England and the Baptist Union – about the ‘depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is’ on these moral questions.
Of course there is – sin has that effect. It is upsetting when Nature and your own conscience (and inconvenient Bible texts) accuse you of rebelling against God’s commands. The truth hurts – there’s your pain.
Things at the Conference, as they often do, wrapped up with the usual trite call for unity, as if resolving disagreement about the colour of the new carpets.
This might be possible in that world of wishes where unity matters more than truth. But truth matters, and the Bible is truth, and the Bible is clear that all sexual sin is just that: Sin. Whether fornication or adultery, or homosexuality.
That’s what started this slide towards the cliff for Methodism, and that’s what has finally pushed it off.
Apparently there is a concern that Methodists do not ostracise fellow Methodists who opposed these measures. The rebels have occupied the citadel, and there is an easy solution to ensure no retribution for its former defenders: Leave. Flee. Right away.
Yes, it was a historic day for Methodism. Like for Romans when the Visigoths arrived in the 5th century AD. History, that’s what Methodism finally is.