DIY Faith Opinion

Why a Southern Baptist is watching the United Methodists

Delegates, bottom, attend the day of prayer on Feb. 23, 2019, ahead of the special session of the United Methodist Church General Conference in St. Louis, Mo. RNS photo by Kit Doyle

(RNS) — Though I am a lifelong Southern Baptist, I followed last weekend’s United Methodist Special General Conference very closely. Over the course of three days, church delegates from all over the world joined together to talk about a way forward for their denomination amid their divisions over sexuality and inclusion — the same debates that have rocked almost all major denominations in the last few years.

I watched impassioned speakers from the more conservative wing call for fidelity to the Word of God and those from the more progressive wing call for unity and a faithfulness to the love of God to all peoples, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

I have watched closely because, no doubt like many Americans, I am personally connected to the Methodists. I attended graduate school side by side with those pursuing ordination in the UMC, and some of my family members are UMC clergy. It was a small Methodist church that first taught me of the Wesley brothers and their love for the world’s poor. That same church is where I began to hear the term “human dignity” applied to issues besides abortion. Here was a community characterized, historically, by its heart for people.

Their powerful evangelistic spirit is complemented by the strength of their compassion and service to the world. If my Baptist forebears were known for sending missionaries, the early Methodists were known for their work with the poor and hungry.

But I have watched, too, because the Methodists’ size and witness have made them tremendously influential from their beginning. During the First and Second Great Awakenings, Methodism exploded in growth under the preaching of evangelists such as John Wesley in Great Britain and George Whitefield in the United States. By 1968, the year of the founding of the United Methodist Church from the merger of two denominations, there were more than 39,000 Methodist churches in America, or one in every county (thanks in part to a catalog for individuals to buy church plans).

United Methodist bishops and delegates gather to pray at the front of the stage before a key vote on church policies about homosexuality on Feb. 26, 2019, during the special session of the UMC General Conference in St. Louis. RNS photo by Kit Doyle

The sound of American Protestantism, too, is the sound of Methodism. The hymnody of Christianity owes much to the work of the Wesley brothers — favorites such as “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” and “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” were all penned by Charles Wesley. To speak of American religious history is to speak of the Methodists.

So what does the debate happening today mean for all of us?

More is at stake here than just what the denomination will say to its American churches. Roughly 40 percent of the delegates to the meetings are from conferences outside the United States. The responses of these delegates (who, as a group, favor the more conservative plan) call the church to think not only nationally, but also globally. The message from this meeting will speak for and to Christians who are dealing with these same issues throughout the world.

Church leaders of all denominations should be mindful of the events within the UMC. Evangelical churches, the Southern Baptist Church included, should be mindful of the growing support among their younger members on questions of human sexuality. A 2018 study by the Public Religion Research Institute of the next generation found that 53 percent of young white evangelicals favor same-sex marriage. Though evangelicals are still the least supportive, that support is growing. Church leaders must be thinking about how to answer the questions of their congregations.


RELATED: Grieving, but not leaving, the United Methodist Church


So I am glad that the United Methodist Church met to discuss this issue. The issue of sexuality and same-sex marriage does not occupy the same theological space as prudential questions such as welfare reform or climate change practices. Christians of goodwill can disagree on prudential questions and worship together in full communion.

But when one part of the church believes the other to be illegitimate or bigoted, then that true communion is broken. Conservatives feel like the fundamentals of their faith are being betrayed or misrepresented. More progressive members feel that they are being asked to choose between their church or love for LGBTQ+ members.

Bishops confer over the issue of whether the legislative committee can refer items to the denomination’s Judicial Council for review during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis, Mo. on Feb. 25, 2019. Clockwise from lower left are Bishops Thomas Bickerton, John Schol, David Bard, Julius C. Trimble and Cynthia Fierro Harvey. Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS

Clearly, the passage of the more conservative and biblically orthodox Traditional Plan over the “One Church” plan that was supported by two-thirds of United Methodist bishops shows that the bishops missed a key piece of what was going on in their denomination. This was not a debate about whether each group felt themselves to be Methodists. The bishops mistakenly assumed that if they could work together, then so could the congregations.

However, in a global and diverse body of over 12 million at different points theologically, cooperation was difficult to achieve. Being united in structure or as a body is not the same as being united in mind or heart.

I hope that the United Methodists can still achieve consensus built around a biblically orthodox position that recognizes the worth and dignity of their LGBTQ+ neighbors as image-bearers of God and that is faithful to the biblical understanding of human sexuality.

But as the tally was announced earlier this week, the sizable African delegation could be heard singing in celebration. At the same time, the United Methodist News Service reported that LGBTQ+ activists and onlookers were also singing. The chair called for a song that everyone could sing together. The livestream showed people crying, walking away, or comforting one another. At this point, there was no room for singing together.

This moment was a characterization of the whole process. The members may be united in practice, but they are divided in theology and belief. Whether the denomination fractures or not in the future, it has already fractured in unity and communion. True Christian unity can only occur when there is unity in truth.

I hope my family members (who supported the Traditional Plan) can be gracious to supporters of the One Church Plan. I hope my friends from Vanderbilt Divinity School (who supported the One Church Plan) can be empathetic as they remain in this denomination. I hope that both groups can find healing over the division they currently experience. That healing may take the form of an amicable split or a third option, but I hold out hope that a denomination known for its care for the outside world will also care for those inside its walls.

I long, in short, for a vibrant and strong Methodist church — a church characterized by its evangelistic zeal and care for social concerns. I hope this historic affirmation of biblical orthodoxy is a step toward vibrant renewal in the United States for a denomination birthed in evangelism and characterized by the gospel’s transformation of society.

(Alex Ward is the research and special projects associate at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

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Alex Ward

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  • This Social Justice baloney is exactly what I expected from an SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission spokesman.

    Here’s a quote from a homosexual Methodist pastor: “Our work is to live like that (Methodist) Book of Discipline no longer exists and to be the church,” said gay Rev. David Meredith, an Ohio pastor who has faced denominational discipline hearings since he married his longtime partner in 2016.

    Next stop for the SBC ERLC and the Methodists is overcoming those mean church members that refuse to let pedophiles and self professed adulterers become church members. What’s next for this bunch, beastiality?

  • It is literally devilish to claim that an unrepentant LGBT is fit to to represent the truth. JESUS says, “I come not to unite, but to divide.” There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing who want access to the sheep fold. They exist to steal, kill, and destroy.” There is a duty to put them out until they repent.

  • Let me help you a little “Dumped”.

    “Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth: I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (variance – conflicting, contradictory, opposed, antithetical.)

    A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

    Matthew 10:34-36.

  • “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matt.7:15

  • I’m sure Glorious Leader, what with his three marriages, fornication, adultery, pussy grabbing, use of and payment to prostitutes, and lies fits right in with the kind of church you are describing.

    You’ve been warning us about the antichrist for 2000 years, and then you voted for him.

  • The UMC people are not going to heal and unite in this condition. This narrowly-adopted outcome is simply going to drive away its younger adults who might have seen this as the one major denomination which was seeking to reconcile evangelicalism with observable realities in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Traditional Plan people have closed that door and aligned themselves with the backward notion of Bible Literalism against which the UMC had once been America’s biggest and best counter-point and refuge.

  • “But when one part of the church believes the other to be illegitimate or bigoted, then that true communion is broken. Conservatives feel like the fundamentals of their faith are being betrayed or misrepresented. More progressive members feel that they are being asked to choose between their church or love for LGBTQ+ members.”
    It is those who chose to deviate from scripture who are accusing those remaining with Christ of being bigots.
    They are misrepresenting the “faith” – actually they show very little if the don’t agree with Christ
    No one is being asked to choose between church and a love for the homosexuals – trying to help them to recognize their sin which is keeping them out of Heaven, and rectifying the problem takes a lot of love – so much love that Jesus died for them
    As satan, through homosexuals, is trying to bring the church down, we Christians need to remember that Christ is Sovereign, He is allowing this for His reasons, and He is not intimidated by it. His truth goes on

  • What was taught from the Old Testament forward was that the remedy for correcting errors if the sinner would not cease and repent was excommunication or shunning – Ezra 10:8.

    This was feared by the parents of the man born blind (John 9:21; 12:42; 16:2).

    Jesus advised it as a remedy – Matthew 18:17.

    Paul excommunicated the incestuous Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:5) and the incorrigible blasphemers (1 Timothy 1:20).

    The failure to remove from its midst the heretics and purveyors of sin (Pike, Spong, et al) has lead the Episcopal Church to ruin since the only excommunicable offense that remains is trying to leave the company of sinners with your own parish property.

  • Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, obeying Christ’s commandments, are His gospel. St. Paul taught us not to associate with fornicators, drunkards, etc. This is not because we shouldn’t love them, but because those who are not spiritually mature enough will be dragged down to the level of the sinner. That Jesus associated with sinners should not be misinterpreted: He was the divine Son of God who overcame Satan’s temptations and remained a sinless sacrifice for our sins on the Cross. To even imagine that we are personally as strong as Christ, is the sin of pride if nothing else. The Traditional Plan people are those who are remaining true to the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles whom He called to represent Him. Either you believe in the Bible or you don’t. If you don’t believe in the Bible, then there is no point in engaging with the Church: you are a hypocrite. You are undermining the Church and changing Christ’s Gospel to suit your own agenda. No unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. So, claiming to be a Christian while f_______ someone up the rectum, or being f________ up the rectum is a sin, and when you die you will go to Hell. If you don’t die before the Lord’s Second Coming, you will be burned as stubble in the field when the Earth is cleansed by fire. A church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club where the self-righteous can go to shine their halos. However, even hospitals have quarantine areas for dangerous diseases, and so should the church. Jesus loved the sinner, but hated the sin. Embracing the sinner with their sin is contrary to the example of Jesus Christ Himself.

  • You, as an older guy, are probably suffering from some sort of obsession. I, as an also-older straight guy, notice it in your reply to me and in some of the rest of your short history of replies to others.

  • And when the antichrist does appear I guarantee that, unlike our usual American buffet of skeevy politicians, he’ll look so spotless he’ll shine like the morning star and anyone who objects to him will be considered insane.

  • You are very perceptive. I suffer from depression, anxiety and OCD as a result of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts in my mid-teens. Nonetheless, as a discple of Jesus Christ – though at times not a very good one – I am obligated to defend the Christian faith from “wolves in sheeps’ clothing” who are trying to diminish the Word of God and Jesus Christ’s commandments because they don’t want to, or find it too difficult to, obey them. No unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. A call to repentance will offend someone. In the New Testament, Jesus talks about how the Israelites/Jews killed God’s Prophets because they were offended by calls to repent. The Israelites/Jews are often referred to in the Bible as being “stiff-necked” and “hard-hearted.” People can shoot the messenger with their invective, but I didn’t write the Bible, I am only quoting it.

  • “How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out that splinter in your eye,” when you cannot see the great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother’s eyes.”

  • Social justice baloney = treating other people like human beings.

    I can see how that cuts into the need for religion to act as an all purpose excuse for acting obnoxious and malicious to others that many have.

    But many people aspire for their religious belief to be something more than merely a pretext for acting like a petty bigot to everyone around them.

  • Its amazing what kind of bullcrap people contort themselves into in order to avoid the simple unambiguous direction gave for his followers to “love thy neighbor”.

    http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002675.html

    there is an entire class of self-identified “Christians” who are not Christian at all, in the sense that they don’t follow the actual teachings of Christ in any meaningful way. Rather these people nod toward Christ in a cursory fashion on their way to spend time in the bloodier books of the Bible (which tend to be found in the Old Testament), using the text selectively as a support for their own hates and prejudices, using the Bible as a cudgel rather than a door. That being the case, I suggest we stop calling these people Christians and start calling them something that befits their faith, inclinations and enthusiasms.

    I say we call them Leviticans, after Leviticus, the third book of the Old Testament, famous for its rules,

  • The only appeal for Christian belief for people of that sort is an excuse to act obnoxiously and hateful to others. It is not about bothering to understand what is said in scripture or meant.

    Certainly not beyond what can be used to justify one’s personal bigotry and general malice to others.
    http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002675.html

    What makes a Levitican, in my book at least, is the willingness to transmute one’s beliefs into hate and intolerance, to deprive others of rights they ought to enjoy. Leviticans have ever been with us. They quoted the Bible to justify slavery. They quoted the Bible to try to keep women in the home. They quoted the Bible to keep the races pure. They quote the Bible to try to keep gays and lesbians from the benefits of marriage. And each time, after they’ve quoted the Bible to their satisfaction, they go out and use that justification for their hate to do terrible things.

  • I agree — we should all examine ourselves first. Then we can obey Jesus’ command to “not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24)

    And even better, take small steps in careful counsel with others: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matt.18:15-18.

    And in all things, caution: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal.6:1-2)

  • Sorry to hear of your teen experiences. I, too, am interested in all of us being focused on Jesus—-but from a different perspective. I’m not a Biblical Literalist, but rather what some call a liberal, or a progressive with respect to both religion and politics. For that reason, I am quite tolerant of same-gender marriage for those who actually do want to settle into lifelong commitment to one other person. As it happens, I am fortunate to be married to one woman for 47 years and to have never experienced mixed feelings about gender or orientation. But, I have learned that other people have other struggles with this. One of my best guy friends from high school had a little brother who grew up gay. I knew him from the time he was six. His differentness was apparent by age ten even inside a family and small town with no “gay culture”. I went to school with another male classmate who had a similar situation—–early onset differentness. Then there are those literally born intersex. I don’t know why Creation produces these situations, but I have decided that “standing against” them is not going to be my main religious focus.

  • The UMC overcame divides over slavery and segregation. It was late, and the damage was lasting. But the divides faded.

  • “Its amazing what kind of bullcrap people contort themselves into in
    order to avoid the simple unambiguous direction gave for his followers
    to “love thy neighbor”.”

    Matthew 18: 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    It does appear Jesus’ view of love and yours are NOT on the same page.

  • Matthew 18: 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    I assume that is more less what you mean by obnoxious and hateful.

  • “Social justice baloney = treating other people like human beings.”

    Sometimes you have to bring other people up short, say “no”, and simply point out they’re wrong.

    YOU do it every day in these very discussions.

  • As best I can tell, those who are religiously worked up against LGBT people are the same ones who will deny origin science, downplay environmental concerns, knock collective bargaining, express endless skepticism about public education, favor high-end tax cuts, favor deregulation of corporate business practices, embrace nationalism, make fun of global focus or “human” rights, insist that the free market will get everybody adequate health insurance, and nod their heads like robots to anyone who speaks the words “small government”. So, I expect that fundamental division in the UMC is much broader than what they just addressed with their “Traditional Plan”.

    For me, Christians either want to tell each other observable truth on real issues—–or—-they want to use Biblical Literalism as their reason for refusing to do so. I always see the anti-LGBT stuff as the leading edge of a baloney intention on most other issues. Only time will tell how the UMC fares with all this. It once had a chance to be a great example of a large church which said, “Wait, we are called to be balanced and truthful on real issues.” That chance is probably slipping away, IMHO, but there is nothing to do now but wait and watch..

  • I totally understand where you are coming from. Although I accept the Bible as the Word of God, I am not a conservative Fundamentalist. The Bible contains eternal Truths and Principles, and we should do our best to follow them. However, just because slavery is in the Bible doesn’t mean that Jesus was okay with it. He was also not okay with “employers” who treated their “servants” badly. When He said , “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” He wasn’t saying that He was okay with the Roman Empire and the way that it managed its provinces with fear and the sword. He just acknowledged what was the reality of the situation for the Jews.

  • Thank you for your understanding. One of my best friends in High School was gay, and it didn’t bother me one iota. The poor fellow died from AIDS, which would have been horrible for him and his family, as well as his partner. I too

    “don’t know why Creation produces these situations”.There is certainly a biological component to their sexuality which they did not choose to have. Even though God forbids acting on same sex/gender attraction, Jesus knows their pain, and ultimately He will be the Judge. Jesus said, “He who says he loves God, but hates his brother, is a liar.” The Bible is quite plain in stating that liars go to Hell. We don’t have to agree with their sexual practices, but Jesus’s example is to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Hating LGBTQ people is not Jesus’s way. However, social activism for anti-discrimination laws – which I support – is not the same as social activism to reinterpret the Bible and the Church.

  • (Tater stares into headlights…)

    Typical that instead of going to the gospel she goes instead to some other hater’s ramblings and pastes it here, as if anyone needs to care. We’ve got enough God-haters here already.

  • I see the Bible as a collection of writings by men during various times in the history of the Jewish people, a pasted-together preservation of some things (individual “books”) which could be found and authenticated only by the opinions of some other men. For me, the “Word of God” description for the entirety of this collection does not work—–when we find that Jesus, a savior, was needed to redirect the minds and hearts of men and women from that which the prior scriptures provided. I have to tell you that I do not believe Genesis is an even-remotely truthful account of origins or the ancient events it purports to describe, such as a worldwide flood, a Babel explanation of languages or——the Sodom story. Lot offering his daughters to a mob of men at the door strikes me as a total absurdity cooked up by a nutty writer, nothing God could POSSIBLY produce. I also believe Revelation is a fantastical tale out of someone’s vivid imagination, an unfortunate excuse for derailing and denying the one thing we are supposed to do, which is actually be honest and kind to each other in the here and now.

    Today, in America, most of the people who call the Bible the “Word of God” are now solidly following one of the most questionable characters this country has ever produced, Donald Trump. Reliance on the Bible in its “every word” form instead of on the Spirit is not working well here—at all. Both civics and real religion are being badly damaged.

  • The Church can believe anything it wants. The whole society, however, consists of those from any, or all, or no religions. I’m glad you support anti-discrimination laws for people as a whole. We used to here, but that freedom of—- and freedom from—- religion is under assault now.

  • Obviously, Jesus and Matthew have very different world views according to your post. Unfortunately, the New testament was written long after both were dead so we don’t know if either was quoted correctly or in context — or quoted at all.

  • So, you’re suggesting that, like yourself, the New Testament is a fake?

    I suppose if and when you rise from the dead, somebody will actually give a fig that you wrote that.

  • “I see the Bible as a collection of writings by men during various times in the history of the Jewish people, a pasted-together preservation of some things (individual “books”) which could be found and authenticated only by the opinions of some other men.”

    Not at all unlike your posts.

  • I’m suggesting what’s factual and obvious to any student of the Bible. Within the Christian community there are many variants of the Bible, they can’t all be literally correct nor can their interpretations. Those editions that flow from the Hebrew scriptures before the sixth century or so are derived from language in use before the creation of the Masoretic Text — that is, before the use of punctuation, sentences, paragraphs, and accents. In addition, it is unclear that the New Testament reflects exact quotes from anyone given that it was written decades after the death of Jesus and the Apostles. And, it remains a fact that Jesus and Matthew had vastly different world views based on the quotes provided above by Shawnie 5. As to what happens to you or I after death, fear not. We’re just atomic specks among some 2 trillion galaxies. Enjoy the ride.

  • I agree with your assessment. It doesn’t just apply to the USA, but also to here in Australia, and New Zealand.

  • There are hundreds of Christian denominations, and if you break down the Anglican Communion/Episcopalians, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the UMC into the individual component churches under the umbrella organisations, there are thousands of Christian Churches, who all don’t believe exactly the same thing. So, FriendlyGoat is correct in his view.

  • I can understand where you are coming from. I don’t totally agree, but you make a valid point about people being inspired by the Holy Spirit in the way they should live their lives.

    Also, the support of Evangelical Christians for Donald Trump does give Christianity as whole, a bad name. I doubt Donald Trump has ever read the Bible from cover to cover. If he had, he would have done something about his Narcissisistic Personality Disorder, and he wouldn’t be notorious for his crooked real estate dealings.

    Living here in Australia – where our own politics is nothing to write home about – I can’t believe that there are people who want to re-elect Trump for a second term. His failings in the way that he treats people is anything but Christian. So, why are the Evangelicals supporting him? What is their hidden agenda?

  • It’s not a hidden agenda. They embraced him because he promised to support the causes of the Evangelicals.

  • FriendlyGoat was talking to me, Concerned Citizen. His point was that he thought I was being a bit harsh on LGBT Christians who want to participate in the church, but experience bigotry, homophobia, etc. My point in reply is that we need to be like Jesus: love the sinner but hate the sin. Jesus Himself said that He was a physician come to heal the “spiritually sick” and teach them to repent of their sins, He didn’t come to teach the “spiritually healthy.”

  • Typical passive aggressive Shawnie thinks people are impressed by proof-texting and wildly dishonest self-serving interpretations.

    You are a prime example of the assessment of conservative Christians as a bunch of obnoxious malicious types. Author John Scalzi hit the nail on the head with a description of that behavior.

  • But the admonition against female clergy and acceptance of gays is stated quite clearly in the Bible whereas racism is not supported in the Bible and slavery is optional. No scriptures were defied in leaving those positions. What is the compromise in this case? I don’t think there is one.

  • Completely untrue. Racism and slavery has been supported by the Bible and Christians using it, as is genocide and dictatorship. Claiming Christians who supported such things as “defying the Bible” is deeply dishonest and self serving fiction. They found their own “gotcha verses” to support such things, just like those against treating gays like people and against female clergy have done.

    All done to avoid the truth behind all of it. People will use the scriptures to justify all manner of atrocious behavior because it absolves them of personal responsibility for it.

    The only thing which has changed here has been the social acceptance of such religious excuses.

  • The author is a “research and special projects associate,” not a “spokesman” for the SBC ERLC. Overall, the ERLC (headed up by Russell Moore) is extremely orthodox and uncompromising in their views on sexuality.

  • Little things like constitutional religious freedom for all citizens. Trump supports it, Dems oppose it. Go figure.

  • Sorry. You are right. It is so easy to get distracted by “Looney Tunes” American poltics these days, it is hard to always to remember what is true amongst the “fake news”.

  • Sorry. You are right. American liberals would only keep those articles of the Bill of Rights which suits their political agenda. If it ain’t broke, leave it alone, I say. Not all Republicans are fascists, just as not all Democrats are Socialists/Communists.

  • First of all, you know exactly nothing about Jesus’ worldview EXCEPT for what the gospels record Him as saying. Second, you have no knowledge about exactly when the gospels were written or who wrote them, so we will go with the earliest church fathers on that since they were in a much better position to know the gospels’ origins than anyone today. Thanks anyway.

  • As always, one must first have some familiarity with scripture in order to determine what a “dishonest” or “self-serving” interpretation is. Ergo you are out.

  • Still not impressed by your passive aggressive veracity impairment.

    But it is fun to watch the lengths you go to in order to avoid personal responsibility for pettiness and bigotry. 🙂

  • Nobody wants to impress you, Tater. An up-vote from you would be serious cause for concern.

  • I suppose I should have said an HONEST up-vote. Like the ones you used to liberally bestow on the embarrassing and probably under-age Not-Applicable.

  • Since when has honesty ever been a criteria you took seriously? I gave up on any pretense that you were concerned with facts or rationally supported argument. No point to it.

  • I’d certainly trade “honesty” from you for even a thimbleful of learning and logic — but of course you’d deliver neither.

  • There are not “many variants of the Bible”.

    Texts discovered from the First and Second centuries have not led to any significant revisions to existing texts because the differences were non-substantial.

    Since what we know about Jesus we know from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John it’s silly on its face to suggest that Matthew and Jesus had different world views.

  • Yes! And the Bible, rightly interpreted according to traditional methods, reveals God’s will that the Church marry homosexuals just as it marries heterosexuals. For proof of what I just asserted, ask for a copy of my essay — which has been critiqued by many mature and learned Christians, including seminary professors, but not refuted in any significant part — by email: rsbell@ameritech.net

  • As a seminary grad, a Methodist ordained elder, and a student of the bible and of church history, there is NO defense of homosexual marriage or homosexual ordination. Read Romans 1-2. It spells out exactly the type of behaviors that are sin, your paper notwithstanding.

  • In Romans 1, Paul called homosexual conduct “para phusin” – unnatural. What Paul meant by “para phusin” is discerned in the context of its use. The context of Paul’s calling homosexual acts unnatural is Romans 1:18-32. Paul remarked that God punishes those who knowingly suppress the truth about him (1:18). Paul continued with the judgment that idolatry is inexcusable denial of the truth about God (1:19-23). How does God punish idolaters? He gives them up to their own shameful passions and to their own depraved reasoning. The idolaters’ shameful passions cause them not only to degrade their bodies by fornication but to degrade them by unnatural homosexual conduct (1:24-27). The idolaters’ perverted reason causes them not only to commit egregious sins but to applaud such sinning (1:28-32). In Romans 1:18-32, Paul endeavored to prove that idolatry is not just another sin with bad consequences; Paul showed idolatry to be a heinous sin with extra bad consequences.
    Now, it is obvious that Paul wanted his reader to understand that homosexual fornication is somehow worse than heterosexual fornication. The point of Romans 1:23-32 is that the consequences of idolatry are especially bad: idolaters are given over not only to fornication but to “unnatural” homosexual conduct and idolaters not only sin in many ways but actually approve of all such immoral conduct. Making the point depends on a reader’s thinking unnaturalness makes any sinful act worse and approval of one’s own sinful act makes one’s own sinful act worse. But it is far from obvious how Paul’s remark in Romans 1:24-27 bears on the question whether God wills marriage of same-sex couples.
    The conservative takes Paul’s assertion that homosexual acts are para phusin to be a moral condemnation of homosexual acts per se and to express the judgment of God. Is this correct? Did Paul think that what is para phusin is per se wrong by God, contrary to God’s will, a violation of the Moral Law? We have relevant evidence. Paul referred to phusis in several of his letters. Here are instances with emphasis added: 1 Corinthians 11:14, “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?”; Galatians 2:15, “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles.”; Galatians 4:8, “At that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.”; Ephesians 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” I find no idea of nature here other than what is usual or given or characteristic. I find no consistent idea that what is natural is right by God or what is unnatural is wrong by God. Now consider a passage even closer to the context of Romans 1:27. Speaking metaphorically to Gentiles of their joining faithful Israel, God’s true chosen people, at Romans 11:24 Paul wrote, “If you were cut off from what is by nature [kata phusin] a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature [para phusin] into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?” Here, as in Romans 1:27, Paul expected the reader to understand that something para phusin is relatively worse than something kata phusin. But here, in Romans 11:24, we cannot understand Paul to be implying that the thing is wrong by God because the thing is para phusin. Paul thought the Gentiles’ joining faithful Israel is quite right by God. It is pretty clear that Paul did not use “para phusin” to express moral condemnation of a thing or to express a judgment that the thing is wrong by God for any reason at all.

  • Well, I looked up what Richard had to say about same sex marriage by misinterpreting what St Paul was saying. I don’t know what Bible he
    was using but I read the original Greek text, the KJV text, and the NASB text, looked up the meaning of kata, para, phusin/physis just to make sure that my Greek was not so bad. I looked up http://www.perseus.tufts.edu, bible tools.org, biblestudy tools.com, Wikionary, and Thayers Greek Lexicon. Sorry Richard but you are just another fake Christian changing God’s laws to suit the sinners who don’t really love Jesus: If you love me, keep my commandments. Thanks to everyone who read my thoughts, but I am off from here.

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