Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jesus and United Methodism's "Holy Conferencing!"

Every person is a child of God. Always speak respectfully. One can disagree without being disagreeable. --- Opening statements of report on "Guidelines for Holy Conferencing - What God Expects of Us" as published in 2008 Official Journal of the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church - p. 566

The Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church a while back published in its annual journal what was referred to as "guidelines" for holy conferencing.

This is an effort to get all parties with conflicting views to sit down at the table and get those conflicts resolved without what is termed "acrimonius debate and parliamentary maneuvering."

The guidelines begin with a massive statement of error -- "Every person is a child of God." Biblical references note explicitly that such is not the case! There are those who are clearly identified as children of the Devil. See statements in 1 John 3 and Acts 13:9, 10 for examples. Even Jesus indicated that this reality exists when, in heated conversation with some persons, He referred to them as being of their father, the Devil. (See John 8:42-47). So much for "holy conferencing" on that occasion!

For some time the tactic of holy conferencing has been employed in an attempt to bring together those who profess to believe God's revelation regarding sinful human behavior and relationships and Jesus' power to redeem from such sinful behavior and relationships and those persons who reject God's revelation regarding human sin in behavior and relationships.

One of the main areas of conflict is over the practices of sodomy and lesbianism with some persons opposing it on Biblical grounds and others who are supportive of such practices on grounds of their "interpretation" of Scripture and the human experience of commitment and "loving, monogamous relationships."

It is often cited by the supporters of same-sex relationships and sexual activity that Jesus never made reference to sodomy or lesbianism. No, not explicitly, but He certainly did implicitly when He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." (Matthew 5:17, 18). Sexual offenses are detailed in the moral law -- all the bases are covered.

Recently a group of retired United Methodist bishops issued a statement calling for removal of the statement in the United Methodist Book of Discipline that declares the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching.

Shortly after this the Council of Bishops issued a statement calling for the need to do "holy conferencing" among other things. It is all dressed up in very pious language with the goal that everyone will finally come to the place where sexual immorality, in whatever repugnant form it appears, will be accepted as being "normal" and good by loyal United Methodists. To object, especially on Biblical grounds, is to incur the wrath of the holy conferencing crowd and be labeled as a hate-monger, homophobic, and very unloving.

Those who engage in such activities as fornication, adultery, or incest can employ the same line of reasoning to justify their conduct as do those who attempt to justify sodomy and lesbianism -- "We love each other and are committed to each other."

Holy conferencing will have a lot of heavy hitters promoting it as we approach General Conference 2012.

What about Jesus in all this? He really isn't too well qualified to be a participant due to a dismal failure to meet the guideline standards. Review His encounters on different occasions in which He called those with views far different than His own as being hypocrites, fools, blind, serpents, brood of vipers, etc. A good starting point on this is Matthew 23. Seems a major problem for Jesus was that He did not "respect" those opposing view points!

So, what to do? Is there a United Methodist out there who is a dedicated supporter (maybe a DS or a bishop) of holy conferencing and who will inform Jesus that He needs to clean up His act, quit applying such derogatory terms to those who hold different views from His own, and quit being so disagreeable toward those with whom there is disagreement. Further, He needs to show more respect for those who hold differing views.

If He fails to comply with the holy conferencing guidelines, then He needs to understand that He cannot be a part of the United Methodist Chuch as it sails the peaceful seas of holy conferencing in days to come. He simply is divisive and causes too much strife, and we can't have that in a church where more and more the philosophy that was dominant in the time of Judges is being adopted today - "everyone did that which was right in his own eyes!"

"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" --- Matthew 7:22, 23

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