Friday, November 9, 2018

The United Methodist Church Plan to Accept Homosexuality and Divide the Denomination


This week, a friend of mine e-mailed me the United Methodist Church's "Plan of Salvation." Okay, so they're not calling it that. It's called The One Church Plan (OCP) concerning how the church will save itself from division over the hotly contested issue of homosexuality. They will do this by accepting homosexuality and dividing the church. Really.

The intention is to split into two different denominations -- the Connectional Conference consisting of Methodist churches that approve homosexual clergy and conduct same-sex "marriages"; and the Traditional Conference consisting of churches that still teach what the Bible says about human sexuality. Supposedly this division will save the UMC from division.

The United Methodist denomination has leaned liberal for quite some time. It was over 60 years ago that they accepted the appointment of women into the clergy, contrary to biblical instruction and what the denomination's founder, John Wesley, taught on the subject. Yet when it came to joining the sexual revolution, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the mainline Presbyterians of the PCUSA have all preceded the UMC in appointing gay clergy and conducting gay "marriage." It's surprising really that the UMC has been slow to join.

There are two reasons for this. First, the UMC General Conference is held every four years. There are smaller, more local conferences annually, but the General Conference is where official doctrine and practices are determined for the whole denomination. Any progression on any issue would be extremely slow-moving when the assemblies are four years apart. Second, the General Conference includes every Methodist church from all over the globe, not just the U.S. Methodism is big in Africa, where churches are much more conservative and much more resistant to the gay agenda.

As it stands, the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline reads, "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." This is the part of the church's doctrine liberals want to upend. They know that they're not going to win at the General Conference, which doesn't meet again until 2020 in Minneapolis. So the gay agenda is being pressed in the smaller, more local, more regularly occurring conferences.

The One Church Plan was proposed in May of this year in Chicago. A special session to receive the plan will be held this February in St. Louis. The four day special session will "take up proposals related to church unity and homosexuality." Specifically, they're trying to figure out how they can approve of homosexuality in the church without dividing the church.

The Connectional Conference Plan, which is the part of the plan that means to ordain gay clergy and conduct gay marriages, is two-and-a-half pages. The Traditional Plan, the part that remains opposed to the acceptance of sexually immoral behavior, is two paragraphs. Here's the gist of their plan.

The One Church Plan

The One Church Plan refers to the gospel as a social mission, not the good-news message of salvation for all who believe in Jesus Christ. "The evangelistic mission of the church," it says, is "inviting them to the spiritual life. It's at the margin that we offer our ministries of mercy, service, and justice to relieve suffering, seek peace, and reconcile people. The role of leadership in the church is to direct the attention of the church toward those contexts, and therefore toward the mission."

As an example, the plan refers to the Apostle Paul, who became "all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:22-23, NRSV). They use this passage to make "space" for part of the church to connect with people who identify as LGBTQ, and part of the church to remain "traditional" for those who don't agree with that agenda. That way, they can be "all things to all people."

Here's what becoming "all things to all people" actually means: Paul became as a Jew unto the Jews and a Gentile unto the Gentiles. Even though Jesus fulfilled and nullified the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law (commands pertaining to diet, cleanliness, the Sabbath, etc.), Paul maintained those practices when he was with the Jews so not to cause anyone to stumble. To the Gentiles, Paul did not keep such practices so they would not feel burdened to keep them. All of this was for "the sake of the gospel," to open a door to preach Christ and Him crucified.

In no way does "I became all things to all people" mean we must tolerate and encourage sinful behavior that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. Just three chapters earlier, Paul said, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

How does the OCP deal with language like this? Well, they don't. The UMC is going to push forward with this agenda regardless of what's in the Bible or their own Book of Discipline. They state:
"The One Church Plan is built on the belief that it is possible to live with more space while we focus on our common mission. The One Church Plan has no impact on conferences outside the U.S. that are located in countries where same-sex marriage is illegal or whose members desire for the current language of The Book of Discipline to remain applicable in their context."
Consider what's being said here: the UMC is driven by culture, not the Bible, nor their own statement of faith. The reason why other churches in other areas are not on board with LGBTQ inclusion is because their cultures are different than ours.

Hilariously, the document goes on to say that "our current impasse over marriage and ordination of homosexual persons does not rise to the level of a church dividing issue." Clearly it does -- for the purpose of the OCP is actually to divide to church into contradicting factions, and this is solely on the issue of homosexuality.

By accepting of the practices of "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) persons," the document states, the framers of the OCP believe the church will be able to continue its mission to alleviate suffering. How do LGBTQ persons suffer? "Currently they suffer as they are unable to live into God's calling on their lives to ordination or lay leadership."

No, God's calling on their lives is to repent of their sin. If they don't repent, the suffering they will face at the judgment seat of Christ will be far, far worse than whatever self-inflicted angst is currently causing them to gnash their teeth. What the United Methodist Church is doing is not a mission of love. It's a death-sentence. It's encouraging sin God has promised He will judge.

The Connectional Conference Plan

So now we get to the two factions of The One Church Plan -- the Connectional Conference and the Traditional Conference. But again, this is to maintain unity and not divide the church (tongue firmly implanted in cheek).

The Connectional Conference Plan begins by arguing that John Wesley would be in favor of ordaining gay clergy and marrying men to other men. Yes, I'm not kidding. To the best of my knowledge, Wesley never dealt directly with the issue of homosexuality. Nonetheless, he affirmed the primacy of Scriptural authority, followed by a secondary but lesser authority of tradition, reason, and experience.

Wesley's convictions have been expressly rejected by the framers of the OCP. Again, by their own admission, appeasing the culture is the driving force here. Throughout the document, Bible references are piece-mealed out of context to argue for the acceptance of the LGTBQ agenda. Likewise, fragmented quotes from Wesley's sermons, all having to do with "love," are given to present a false image of an otherwise God-fearing man who would not have tolerated such sin in his church.

Yet the framers of the OCP recognize that "Faithful Christians have come to different and contradictory understandings of God's will in relationship to the affirmation of sexual relationships between people of the same-gender." They go on to say, "The challenge before us is how to structure the United Methodist Church so that it embodies and spreads [what Wesley called] 'the fire of heavenly love over all the earth' given this diversity and contradiction in conviction and context." See, contradictions don't mean someone's right and someone's wrong. It's a diversity of ideas!

What follows is a series of Scriptural abuses, taking more verses out of context to justify the ordination of gay clergy and acceptance of gay "marriage." In attempting to justify themselves, they actually condemn themselves.
  • "So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • "Look! I'm doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don't you recognize it?" Isaiah 43:19
The OCP framers think this means, "Hurray! We're celebrating a new thing now! Gay marriage!" But these passages mean that if you truly follow Jesus, you will stop behaving in your old, sinful ways and walk in the new life God has given you. Paul told the church that you are to "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Here's another passage taken out of context in the OCP:
  • "No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskin would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe." Matthew 9:16-17
The OCP framers explain, "New structures and relationships are needed for a new time in our Church. Keeping the old structures in place could result in a fracturing of our church." You mean like fracturing it into the Connectional and Traditional conferences?

In Matthew 9:16-17, Jesus was responding to John the Baptist's disciples who asked Him, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus was saying that He didn't come to patch up the old religious practices that the Pharisees had torn up with their legalism. Instead, He came to bring real growth in the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which was like pouring new wine into new wineskins.

The framers of the OCP are worse than the Pharisees. They're not merely tearing up tradition. They're leaving Christianity altogether and behaving as the heathens and pagans. Again, encouraging homosexuality will send a person to hell, not bring them into the kingdom. Romans 1:32 says, "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

Another passage the framers of the OCP take out of context is this fragment:
  • "I am the vine, you are the branches." John 15:5
The framers acknowledge Jesus is the vine, but the branches are the Connectional conference and the Traditional conference. Oh, brother. When you read the fuller context of this passage, it's rather alarming: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned" (John 15:5-6).

In verse 10, Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love." Among His commandments, God said that a man shall not lie with another man as one lays with a woman, for it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22).

Here's another passage:
  • "Christ is just like the human body -- a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many... You are the body of Christ and parts of each other." (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27)
The framers of the OCP state that "we are gifted differently" and their plan "creates space for those different gifts to be expressed in ways that honor conscience, while still maintaining connection to the body." Are they really arguing that homosexuality is a gift?

The Apostle Paul warned against false teaching, "for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene" (2 Timothy 2:16;17). The picture here is that false teaching causes parts of the body to rot and fall off. That's what the framers of the OCP are encouraging -- not love of God, but love of the world.

Oh, but the framers believe that ordaining gay clergy will increase the reach of their church body to the world:
  • "Then He said to His disciples, 'The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for His harvest.'" (Matthew 9:37-38)
The implication here is that if we tell gay clergy that they're unqualified, there won't be enough workers for the mission field. Yet by ordaining gay clergy, the United Methodist Church is recruiting wolves to devour the flock of God. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits... Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 7:15-16, 19).

"In conclusion," the framers state, "The Connectional Conference Plan attempts to find a way of structuring the life of The United Methodist Church so that it can embody the divine love in the midst of our diversity and disagreement."

Embracing and encouraging homosexuality, they say, is divine love. Blasphemy. Malachi 2:17 says, "You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, 'How have we wearied Him?' By saying, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them.'"

The Traditional Plan

While The Connectional Conference Plan was full of Scriptural references and quotes from founder John Wesley, the Traditional Plan doesn't contain any of that. It's relegated to Appendix 3 of The One Church Plan and is exactly six sentences long, a total of 142 words. The closing sentence is this: "We should see the formation of a new Wesleyan denomination as an opportunity for a different type of unity created for the sake of mission." In other words: we must divide to stay united.

In Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, the next General Conference of the United Methodist Church will be held in Minneapolis in 2020. The location of the conference is the Minneapolis Convention Center. In 2009, in exactly that same building, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America changed their policy to accept persons who practice homosexuality into the clergy. (At the same time they were considering such a move, a tornado hit the convention center -- in Minnesota!)

It seems history is repeating itself. Who didn't think the United Methodist Church was going to follow the ELCA and the PCUSA into the LGBTQ agenda? It was a less a question of "will they" and more a question of "when will they." Sin always divides. Prior to coming to Christ, we were "hated by others and hating one another" (Titus 3:3). The decision to divide the denomination and call it unity is a farce. They need repentance. Then there will be unity.

Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:5).

For those persons who do not repent, which will include liars, the idolatrous, and the sexually immoral, "Their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).