Tuesday, March 08, 2011

To What End?

The retired UM bishops' statement of protest against the Book of Discipline (ostensibly taking exception to only one, small segment of the entire book) is a shameful example of precisely what is wrong within the United Methodist Church and within the hearts of believers who try to make a theological case without scriptural reference but choose instead to rely on the worldly wisdom of the contemporary age. Of course we will not always agree on matters of human opinion because we all come from different backgrounds and different experiences. When it comes to matters of scriptural authority, however, the Bible must stand as the final word to break all ties just as church governance must depend on the final authority of the Discipline to keep the local church from going in too many different directions and causing nothing but confusion and hard feelings. In both instances these sources help to keep us united and focused but cannot serve these purposes if we do not take the Bible seriously, reject it as "antiquated", or worse; grant to ourselves authority to edit holy writ.

What is most profoundly disappointing, however, are the statements from some active bishops who have publicly expressed support for the sentiments of the retired bishops but nevertheless insist upon the authority of the Discipline without bothering to mention that the Discipline itself derives its authority from the Holy Scripture. The Bible is not justified by the Discipline. Rather, the Discipline can only be justified by the Holy Word.

Yet there is a continued call for "holy conferencing" to further discuss an issue that has been, in my humble opinion and according to the written Word, divinely settled. All are welcome, yet all are called to repentance. All are called to turn away from a life of self-indulgence and self-fulfillment, so what is left to conference about? I do grieve that homosexuality has come to be labeled the "mother of all sins", but I grieve even more that some elements within the United Methodist Church - especially those in positions of authority - seem determined to redefine sin altogether to a more secular notion of feel-good theology in which the pursuit of personal happiness trumps Jesus' clear call to deny oneself and follow Him.

There is nothing more to discuss. There is no new ground to be broken, and there is no "new" scripture or revelation that will shed new light. Homosexual conduct was denounced long ago; when did it become ok and where in Scripture is this reference? We have the Word of the Lord to inform us, to feed us, to sustain us, and to teach and correct us; it "contains ALL things necessary to salvation".

How dare we reach a point in which we declare by "holy conferencing" that the "manna" is no longer adequate or even desired (Numbers 11), remembering instead the "good ol' days" before the Lord justified us and called us His own?

No comments: