Liberals in the United Methodist Church have masterminded a proposal to resolve the theological debate that has consumed their denomination for decades. But a lifelong member of the denomination argues that their "rigged" resolution is anything but equitable for traditionalists.
John Lomperis, a member of the UMC since he was a teenager, is director of Methodist Action for The Institute on Religion & Democracy. He finds it hard to believe how liberals within the denomination can get away with turning the church in an unbiblical direction with a minority of the vote. In his recently posted blog, he poses:
"Will they really keep demanding that votes be blatantly 'rigged' so that their side would 'win' any annual conference currently subject to the traditional biblical standards of the United Methodist Discipline if a mere 44 percent minority vote for such a liberal take-over, while shamelessly imposing a double standard of traditionalist believers needing to muster a 57 percent super-majority just to stick with the same doctrinal and moral standards we have already had?"
He is mesmerized at how a large chuck of the denomination can be led to disregard God's definition of human sexuality and morality.
"How can someone really keep a straight face, in loudly professing to follow Jesus Christ while stubbornly insisting upon disregarding one of His most core teachings?" Lomperis asks. "How can those bishops who have already broken so much trust be trusted to act with honesty, fairness and integrity in managing the transition and sorting processes? These and other very important question will need to be addressed in the days ahead."
It's expected that the historic break in the denomination will occur on the final day of the UMC's annual conference in May in Minneapolis.
"[T]he current denomination now known as the United Methodist Church will evolve into at least two new denominations," Lomperis explains. "One whose moral standards and underlying theology would allow a more permissive approach to same-sex union ceremonies and clergy being sexually active outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage; and one that would continue the same basic doctrinal and moral standards of the current United Methodist Church."
The major rift, he predicts, will likely be one of unequal proportions.
"The reality is that in any of the likely scenarios for separation, pieces of our denomination – as well as conferences, congregations, and people – will be divided, with some continuing with one of the new denominations and some continuing with the other," Lomperis adds.
According to IRD's Methodist director, one denomination resulting from the split will probably retain most of the current denomination's hierarchy of general agencies while "abandoning" the greater part of the doctrinal and moral standards of the current denomination.
"The other denomination will be the other way around: abandoning most of the bureaucracy while keeping our doctrinal and moral standards," he writes.
Consequently, he says, the UMC of decades past will be no more.
"The end of our denomination as we know it is an occasion for sadness, and will take time for all of us to process and grieve," Lomperis laments. "The United Methodist Church as we now know it – the whole packaged deal of the current structure, doctrine, moral standards, denominational culture, internal divisions, and people – will be no more, and two (or perhaps more) new denomination[s] will be born in its place, each inheriting different parts of the old denomination from which they grew."
The left-leaning branch of the split is expected to fall even further down the road of progressive teachings usurping Scripture, according to Lomperis.
"Each denomination can be expected to move in dramatically different directions, suddenly unhindered by internal resistance from those United Methodists who would now be in the other denomination," Lomperis ventures.
And he agrees with others who say issues other than sexuality will differentiate the new denominations.
"I would expect that rather quickly, some of the most prominent differences between the new denominations would be over matters entirely separate from sexuality," he writes, "such as the size of the denominational bureaucracy, or which denomination supports bishops in publicly teaching that Jesus Christ needed to be converted out of His sinful 'bigotries and prejudices' (and which denomination does not)."
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