Schism Has Already Taken Place #UMC

Good News Magazine released a statement today from 80 United Methodist pastors and theologians who agree it’s time to formalize a schism that has long been informal.  Quoting from the press release, Rev. Maxie Dunnam says,

“We can no longer talk about schism as something that might happen in the future. Schism has already taken place in our connection,” said Dr. Maxie Dunnam, retired pastor, author, and seminary president. “There are conscience-bound persons who find it impossible to live in The United Methodist Church as we presently define ourselves in relation to human sexuality. Others could not live in The United Methodist Church if the present position of the church on human sexuality were changed. Forty years of wrestling with the issue is enough, and has proven the solidity of the belief systems of the two groups.”

I believe he is right.   Schism has already taken place in our connection.   We have not been of “one mind” for a long time and this division within our ranks is what is hurting our witness.   Codifying what is already obvious to all will allow both sides to move forward with integrity rather than waste more time and money in caucus wars.

Steve Manskar disagrees.  He thinks this statement is “irresponsible” and “selfish” and contradicts our Wesleyan way, as he states on the Wesleyan Leadership blog.    I can understand why people would feel that way when they describe our differences as mere matters of “opinion” rather than “doctrine,” as Manskar does and many others who advocate for some “middle way.”

But this is just the problem, isn’t it?   We can’t even agree over the seriousness of the matter which threatens our unity.   Are we not talking about sin?   If it is true that God has declared the practice of homosexuality as sinful, then surely this is of great importance, yes?  At the heart of our divide is a difference of opinion, it would seem, and it’s much deeper than human sexuality.  It’s the authority of God’s word regarding said sexuality.  

Is it not still true that our ability to grow in holiness and to call others to do the same rests in no small part on our ability to articulate what we need to die to and what we need to live for?   How can we be united in our mission of making disciples if we cannot even agree on what a disciple must sacrifice or accept?

We are talking about sin, and what separates one from the kingdom of God or not. If that ranks low on our list of doctrines or matters of importance than something is terribly wrong and we need to reassess our priorities.  

I believe those who are calling these calls for schism irresponsible or selfish would do better to realize that we are already divided and call those who have brought this division upon us to repent and be of “one mind” under God’s law regarding human sexuality.   It is only through repentance that we can be even remotely close to the sort of unity both Jesus prayed for and John Wesley wanted for his Methodists.    Anything short of massive repentance and revival will be a false unity, one which neither Jesus nor John would endure long.

See also:  John Wesley on Schism and Catholic Spirit

A Time to Rend (John Meunier)


8 thoughts on “Schism Has Already Taken Place #UMC

  1. Pingback: Responses to ‘a time to rend’ | John Meunier

  2. Chad,

    To me, and perhaps to others, this post demonstrates where you and perhaps others are missing it. No, it’s not about sin, but about whether or not what the few authors of Scripture proscribed (on the authority of God, nonetheless) regarding homosexuality is what we today ascribe to homosexuality. I’m at a loss as to why you keep repeating the same error.

    When demonstrated time and again that this issue is not about sin, nor about one’s obedience or faithfulness to Scripture, you keep insisting the opposite. You assume your position is “the” biblical position, and then argue against any opponents (like fundamentalists do). I am not surprised at all that you encounter opposition when you keep doing this.

    Why this frustrates me so is because I actually agree with you about the proscription on homosexual sex. I just happen to recognize that the debate today is not about sin or Scripture but about identity — that the authors of Scripture might have been referring to a different aspect to the context of homosexuality, and that *this* is what they were proscribing. You may think that this issue is about sin, but your opponents sure don’t, because of their perspective, which I see you completely ignoring.

    I would hate to think that you have fallen into the trap of viewing all progressives (especially on this subject) as Christ- and/or Scripture -denying nominal believers.

    • Credendum,
      I’m not sure I follow you. You seem to imply that because some people disagree with me (and to be sure, I’m only saying what Christians have been univocal about for 2000 years up until 50 years ago) that I am misunderstanding the issue. Is that fair to say?

      I’m convinced of this: That the Bible is unequivocal in it’s condemnation of same-sex sex and names it as sin (have you read Gagnon’s “Bible and Homosexual Practice”?) And to approve of that which God has called sin (Rom. 1:32) is quite possibly a greater sin than the sin itself (I hold our preachers, self included, and teachers/bishops to a higher standard than the rest of the Church). I believe that any nods toward “identity” is also answered in Scripture in that we are all born in sin, and all have “disordered loves.” All of us have been born with desires that conflict with God’s law and it is our pride which continues to ask the same question asked of Adam and Eve, “Did God really say?”

      Yes, I believe we are talking about sin and the way we know what is and is not sin is through God’s law, which tells us. Our divide, I believe, begun long ago when we began seeing ourselves as judges of God’s word rather than the ones being judged by it. It’s true that this happens in all sorts of areas of our lives, not just in matters of sexuality, but it is this present issue, or symptom, which has revealed what’s really in our hearts. And, I believe, the UMC has been found wanting.

      Personally, I believe the ensuing schism is God’s judgment, which I view as mercy. My hope and prayer is that it will wake up those of us who have fallen asleep and have pridefully assumed we know better than God. There’s a great delusion over the American church, I believe, and times like these can either lead us to repentance or harden people’s hearts.

  3. Pingback: .00064% of the #UMC just called for schism – what that really means | Unsettled Christianity

  4. Pingback: Let them go in peace and start over from scratch like Wesley did | Mercy Not Sacrifice

  5. Pingback: The UMC Is Not Heading for a Split -- unless 0.00064 Percent Count as the Majority - ONews.US - Latest Breaking News | ONews.US - Latest Breaking News

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