The Sad, Necessary Division of the United Methodist Church

"[I]f the agreement is approved, it will represent—in essence—the final fracturing of the traditional American church from two primary streams of Christianity (Catholic and Protestant) to three—Catholic, Mainline, and Evangelical. The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands—as focused on 'LGBT issues'—but that’s incomplete." - David French

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Bert Perry's picture

I grew up Methodist, and quite frankly this has been coming down the pike for a long time--I can remember going back 40 years, and in reality, it started in the mid-1800s.  I've got a history of Methodism written about a century ago, and around the Civil War, there is an unmistakeable transition between the Gospel as spread by the circuit riders and the social gospel.  I was a "baby Christian" when I read it first, and it was really, really depressing to read.  I can imagine one of the old circuit riders saying "I spent all that time in the saddle and rain and cold for this?  I gave up my chance for marriage and family life for this?".

Really, what's going on is that rural and southern Methodists, along with brothers overseas, have been fighting a rearguard action against theological liberalism for over a century, and now things are coming to a head because the central leadership (which has been fighting with rural and southern churches as long as I can remember) is ignoring votes on official policy.  

There could also be a huge amount of collateral damage in developing countries, because they've been largely led to Christ by the evangelicals, but a portion of the funds which have supported them have come from the theological liberals.  There may also be a lot of damage done as both sides jockey over resources like pensions, buildings, and the like.  It's good news that the split is coming more quickly rather than being long and drawn out, but on the flip side, I'd have to guess that you're going to see a lot of the same things going on that we saw a century ago in the fundamental/liberal split.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.