Behold the left wing of the United Methodist Church!

June 15, 2015

Glutton for punishment that I am, apparently, I sometimes interact with fellow United Methodist clergy from around the country on the UMC clergy Facebook page. Last Saturday, I participated in a lengthy comment thread about “evangelical left” leader Tony Campolo’s alleged change of heart on the LGBT issue. In a statement that surprised no one, Campolo now says that homosexual behavior isn’t inherently sinful.

One outspoken progressive colleague (whom I haven’t met, although we’ve argued online often enough) accused me of “eisegesis” in my traditional interpretation of scripture regarding sexuality. (Eisegesis means reading something into the text that isn’t there.)

By the logic of my college’s argument, however, if I’m misinterpreting scripture regarding homosexual practice, I’m also misinterpreting passages related to other sexual sin, including adultery, fornication, and lust. So I asked him repeatedly to clarify himself: are these other sexual sins in the Bible not really sinful? Does Jesus himself have a problem with sexual sin, however much we may disagree on what this category includes?

Here is the most interesting part of the exchange. (I’ve removed his name and photo, not because this clergy page isn’t public—it’s open for all the world to see—but because I believe he ought to be ashamed of himself, and I don’t want to pile on.)

He begins by telling me that he’s “inviting [me] to examine [myself] and [my] assumptions.”


At that point, one United Methodist “concern troll” posted the following:

This isn’t conferencing. This appears to be about winning points for one’s side. Where’s the listening? The attention to making sure all are understood and respected?

Both Mr Wesley and Paul might describe this as unprofitable conversation.

I can only imagine what “Mr Wesley” and Paul would say about my colleague’s viewpoint! What does Paul say of those in the Galatian church who were telling Gentiles that they must first get circumcised in order to become Christian?

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

How “unprofitable” on Paul’s part!

18 Responses to “Behold the left wing of the United Methodist Church!”

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    I’m not sure what “profitable conversation” is.

    Is it relativism?

    “You have your opinion; I have mine, and we’re both okay”??

    When the modernist knows they can’t win on Scripture, is this their default position?

    • brentwhite Says:

      “Profitable conversation” is that which agrees with the left-wing of the church. The “concern troll” was concerned because he knew I drew blood.

  2. Gary Bebop Says:

    The progressive left is on the verge of renouncing even Jesus on sin, scriptural authority, and the order of creation. Jesus will soon be moved to the legacy collection of the United Methodist Church. He will become an artifact of tradition. His words will not be understandable in light of the emerging new dogmas.

  3. Grant Essex Says:

    The movement to apply epistemological contextualism to Holy Scripture is another “Alice and Wonderland” trip through a mirror.

  4. Josh Says:

    That article from USC that you linked to is dumber than a rock. Since when has Tony Campolo been a “bedrock of evangelicalism? I have been a part of the evangelical community for almost 15 years now and Campolo has always been on the fringe. He used to do youth ministry stuff and a lot of us youth ministers liked him because he was against the cold, loveless “Christian” culture of the older generation. But a “bedrock”? That’s stupid. I hate it that he finally threw his towel in with the far lefter’s but it doesn’t surprise me. His wife already was already pro-LGBT.

    I think we really need to pray and intercede for these people who are giving in to this deception. When the steam runs out of this LGBT “inclusion” train (and it will; all movements that are not empowered by God do; just ask Gamaliel) then a lot of these people are going to find themselves in the company of a lot of sad, resentful, and bitter folk. There won’t be no loving Jesus community, that’s for sure. For us who are sticking to the Sciptures, obeying the Lord and not man, and seeking to do mission in the midst of all this mess – we are going to rest easy, be glad that we took the path that we did, and enjoy the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I mean, I feel sorry for these folks in a way. They are going to be held accountable for teaching things that are plainly contrary to the Scriptures. They’re going to reap what they sow. In the midst of all this fighting and confusion, let’s make sure that we’re truly interceding to the Father for these folks. There’s going to be a lot of people who wish they had never taken the path they did. They’ve pretty much lost their credibility among the faithful.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Right, Josh. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.” But if you don’t really believe in God’s judgment, I guess there’s no fear there. Right? Praying for them is a great idea.

  5. bobbob Says:

    it would appear Rev Brent that there is fast approaching a time when the only arbiter of sin will be ‘did it feel good? did anyone get hurt?’ and even this will not be any kind of, solid, objective standard. fluid it will be.

    • Grant Essex Says:

      When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “then neither do I judge you, not go and sin no more”, that there was an expectation that she saw her sin and would try and change. If she had been brought before Jesus again, for the same offense and repented, Jesus would have told her the same thing. In fact, I suppose he would have done that “seventy times seven”.

      Jesus did not come into the world to judge it. He came into the world to save it. BUT, he will judge when he comes again.

      So, what are we to do with our sin. Jesus is quite clear on that too. Repent and sin no more. Lay your sin on me. My yoke is light. Narrow is the way to salvation, but wide is the road to destruction. etc, etc.

      Gay Christians don’t want to repent and change. They want for their lifestyle to be removed from the category of sin. The church cannot really do that. Only God can, and I just don’t find it in his Word.

      There will be plenty of churches that do affirm them though. Guess that will leave the “final exam” to the second judgement, which is actually true for all of us.

      • brentwhite Says:

        “If she had been brought before Jesus again, for the same offense and repented, Jesus would have told her the same thing. In fact, I suppose he would have done that ‘seventy times seven.'”

        Very well said, Grant. Think also of the tax collectors, such as Zachaeus or Matthew. Would our progressive Methodists, who are also usually politically liberal and deeply concerned about social justice, be happy with Jesus telling these men who literally robbed from the poor that repentance was unnecessary, that he forgives them just as they are, with no change necessary?

  6. Grant Essex Says:

    Spot on!

    I have a question of a different nature:

    Who “owns the real estate”, in Methodist churches? Does each local congregation have the ability to just say “adios”, and take their church over?

  7. Grant Essex Says:

    Really? Wow!
    Who is on the debt? The conference? That’s a lot of debt when you add it up then.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Now you’ve got me wishing I didn’t sleep through polity class. The conference holds the deed to the church property. So what does that mean?

  8. Tom Harkins Says:

    Another example of Paul’s being “unprofitable” in the sense suggested is when he “withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed.” Also, how about Jesus calling the “religious leaders” Pharisees “hypocrites.” You’re in good company, Brent!

  9. Grant Essex Says:

    When I was a banker, we did a few church loans. Even one synagogue. It’s pretty much like your home mortgage. The bank takes the real estate as collateral for the loan. The most we would lend was 70% of value of the real estate as general purpose land and building. The “special purpose” of the real estate made getting it in foreclosure problematic. I never had a denominational loan, but only where that congregation was on the hook. In a couple of cases a wealthy member(s) would guarantee a portion of the loan to increase our comfort level. The amortization of the loan came out of operating income of the church, and we usually controlled the main account, so we could watch cash flow. All of our loans performed beautifully.

    But, if the conference owns the real estate, it must be done differently. Maybe the conference is in second position to the lender, with the congregation still the primary source of repayment.

    So, it looks like that’s going to be an issue if a lot of folks want to “split the baby”. In and even split, neither group is likely to have the cash flow to handle a heavy debt load. If the “leavers” just move to rented space, it could get interesting, potentially in a bad way for the debt holder.

    That’s down the road though. I was just curious.

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