Tag Archives: Institute on Religion and Democracy

Mark Tooley of @theird has joined the middle #umcschism

: United Methodist Church
: United Methodist Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not because he wants too, of course,and maybe not officially — shoot, he may just be doing this to lull us into sleep and then pop one or two caps (schism resolutions) into the hind-end of the UMC… But, for now, he has something of a common sense approach, even if it seems awfully familiar to what others are saying.

Behind the full throttle of his hyperbole are several key factors many of us in the middle have already known and acknowledged. They are,

  • GC cannot pass the necessary changes to create a formal schism. This is what I’ve said to Ritter about his plan (and others who are pushing an internal schism that would have a mini-denomination identified only by their stance on LGBT). When you need not only 2/3 of the GC and then annual conferences to pass something like this — not to mention then requiring congregations to pit themselves against each other, while members pit themselves against each other in these congregations…it will not happen.
  • An actual schism, internal and/or external, would destroy local congregations and the whole of the largest arm of the Methodist movement. As Tooley accurately notes, “Few congregations are purely liberal or conservative.” Well, yeah. I’ve said this before. So have others. Glad Mark is finally listening. 
  • Any split would cause the extremes to develop anti-Wesleyan orthodoxy. Granted, Tooley focuses on his vision of a liberal-led wing of the UMC, that with heterodoxy and little in regards to doctrinal standards. But, his silence for the conservative side should be addressed because I think I can sense some fear of a conservative heterodoxy — congregationalism, neo-Calvinism, and militant fundamentalism.

He goes on to warn against compromise because it would force evangelicals to abandon the United Methodist Church. But, that really falls into the final category above. Evangelicals who abandon the denomination will more than like look like a normal baptist-sect denomination in a few short years. They will simply become the pre-Mohler Southern Baptists (4-point Calvinists) with a polity structure in flux.

I am no fan of Tooley because I view the IRD much like I do Love Prevails and other outside groups — they are lobbyists with their own agendas; however, this is a nice breath of fresh air. Now, I just have to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Dear John Lomperis

Christ is Born
Christ is Born (Photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano)

It is my sincere hope that somehow, someway this finds you as I do not know the means in which to respond to you directly. This forum suits well for my purposes though as I believe that anyone who saw your comments  published in The Christian Post recently needs to see a response. Your words may be found here. I wish to take a few moments to address the two things that I read in what was quoted as your words.

First sir, let me address the statement that the road ahead will be rocky. You are correct, it will be. The road behind has been rocky as well. The road that Jesus had to walk was even rockier and indeed He walked it so that we could have the assurance that no matter how difficult the road was, not only do we not walk it alone, it has already been conquered for us. Yes sir, the road ahead is rocky, but in case you do not know or had forgotten, the destination is more than worth this temporary bump. Christ never promised us a smooth road or an easy road, He did promise instead the opposite the we would have trouble in this world. He then reminded us to not fear because He had over come the world. Where you see a rocky road, I see the amazing witness of the Glory of God when this road has been successfully traveled. Where you see a rocky road, I see only the promise that the good work begun in each of us who believes will be completed. I prefer to focus on the destination and not the journey and humbly suggest that you try to do that as well. I think that it would put this present situation in a different light.

Secondly  sir, I simply must disagree with your assertion that “NO ONE is serious about keeping all current United Methodists together”. In order to properly respond I must take a moment and list my qualifications. I am a royal priest, I am living stone, I am running the race, I am fighting the good fight of faith, I am a coheir with Christ in the kingdom eternal, I am being refined in the fire, I am righteous through faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I am justified and being sanctified, I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling, I am a child of the Creator of the universe who knows me by name and counts the very hairs upon my head, I am one who will stand at the gates of hell and force anyone who is determined to get in to climb over me, I am a member of the church established by Jesus Christ and serve Him through the UMC, I am called to a cause that is nothing short of the salvation of the world through faith in Christ, I am a servant to everyone and a slave to the only One, I am sir, in your words, NO ONE. What I am not is silent. I may be the only one who is serious about keeping the UMC together, but if so, then I have misjudged many people. Even if I am the only one, a lone single voice, the fact of the matter is that it is the powers that be against me…and of course Christ, the bridegroom of the church. What that means is that though the entirety of the denomination may be aligned against me as you would have me believe, it is all of them against me and God. They are outnumbered.





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who do they think they are kidding? #UMC

a very ironic picture of John Lomperis

John Lomperis, director of the United Methodist program at The Institute on Religion and Democracy, told The Christian Post that bad times were ahead for the UMC regarding the debate.

“While no one can say with 100 percent confidence what exactly will happen next, it is very clear that the road ahead will be very rocky, and that NO ONE is serious about keeping all current United Methodists together,” said Lomperis. “We need to accept the fact that no matter which way we go from here, we are guaranteed to lose a chunk of people on one or more sides.” (HT)

If you aren’t familiar with John Lomperis, he’s the guy the IRD hired to work to mold the UMC into the version the IRD believes is compatible to their opinion. I want to emphasis this part especially:

and that NO ONE is serious about keeping all current United Methodists together”

Author Unknown Trust is like a piece of paper....
Author Unknown Trust is like a piece of paper. Once it’s crumpled, it can’t be perfect again (Photo credit: symphony of love)

I have written plenty on John and the IRD before. They know me and I know them. So, when it comes to such brash statements, we cannot surmise that they just didn’t know of not only my part but the part of numerous other bloggers, pastors, and theologians who advocate for “keeping all current United Methodists together.” If they did know, and made such a statement, it is at the very least an obfuscation if not a lie. 

This is what I have maintained for a while now — and have been buffeted in my hope by many of you who have written privately to encourage me. The far right and the far left are worried about the large middle. This is why they have taken to agitprop and hiding behind semantics in their quest to control the UMC. They need you to think there are own two sides to this issue — both sides wanting schism. This is not true as has been and will be demonstrated.

And we need to stop letting both sides speak for, deny the, and run over the middle. Let us pray for John.

If you want to see just how sad their position is, be sure to compare the vitrolic words of John, and his place against the UMC, to the words of the Bishop, and his place within the UMC.

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A response to @ConfessingUMC and their excommunication of @icanhasgozpel and myself

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can find the snipping here. This is my response. It is unedited. I am not feeling well, having eaten what I suspect was either some outdated cream cheese or worse.

You know, Page Admin, you’ve could’ve done us the honor of tagging us in this. I mean, if you wanted an honest dialogue.

The fact that you would suggest we leave is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Wesley. The fact you accused us of being liberals shows why The Communion is needed. I am a conservative. I believe Scripture is primary in our Church life, but as a Wesleyan I believe Scripture must be interpreted through Reason, Tradition, and the experience of Christian salvation. If I did not believe Scripture allowed for what I propose, then I would not do it.

We hope for a honest and intensely theological discussion on this subject, without (as you have done) accusations or charges to leave. As Wesley said, if our hearts, then our hands.

What is your heart here? Is it to dismiss and throw out that which you disagree with? Is this really Christian charity? This is really part of the Wesleyan Tradition?

I came from a sect that practiced Christian charity as you do — and I was kicked out because I believed child molestation was too evil of a crime not to report. And now, because I challenge your theological notions, you are telling me to leave? How godly you must feel.

The argument of ‘scripture never changes’ or ‘what the bible teaches’ is a serious breach of logic. Remember, before Christ, the ‘bible’ taught against Gentiles and was pro-circumcision. Paul likewise re-interpreted Scripture through Christ. We see this in Hebrews.

If the Church’s (or rather our denomination’s) teachings were always considered to be an accurate representation on what Scripture actually says, we should stop this nonsense, repudiate the entirety of the Protestant Reformation and go back to Rome. Even Wesley questioned his Tradition’s teachings about the marginalized among other things. And yet, because we seek to follow in the footsteps of Wesley, of Zwingli, of Wycliff, of Paul, of Jesus and question with serious conviction we may be wrong you would have us leave.

If every United Methodist left the UMC that disagreed with you, there would be about 100 left.

But, you have shown exactly why The Communion is needed — because thus far, too many sides are drawn. We need honest, sincere discussion reflective of the Wesleyan spirit of Christian charity to one another and to the marginalized.

By the way, I appreciate the jab of ‘a blogger.’ I am also an author with two published books and a third on the way. You can Amazon me at Joel L. Watts.

God bless.

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@icanhasgozpel and I Respond to @JohnLomperis via @HuffPostRelig

The Rev. Chris T. and I have responded to an op-ed by John Lomperis via HuffPost – Religion.

a very ironic picture of John Lomperis
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Is @TheIRD floating the idea of supporting #WestboroBaptistChurch?

IRD logo.
IRD logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m trying to make sense out of Barton Gingerich’s latest post at the IRD blog.

He opens with

But how much do we know about them? Yes, they make it above the centerfold on the front page, but what else? It seems our disgust at such revolting behavior keeps most of us from researching Westboro any further. However, I think it is incredibly important to know who and what Westboro actually represents since they have left thousands of Christians cowed in shame for believing in traditional marriage.

The Westboro Baptist Muzzle | Juicy Ecumenism – The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Blog.

He goes on to recount some of the history of the group and then, out of nowhere, lays a conspiracy theory out that even Glenn Beck would disown:

A more sensational conspiracy theory suggests that Phelps & Co. are backed by big time liberal donors.

Then suddenly, he talks about how WBC has cowered Christians from speaking out about upholding “traditional” marriage. I’m sorry, but what? Has Bart not seen what the IRD does on a daily basis? What the SBC and other conservative denominations do on a daily basis? Who has been cowered by WBC? And, besides the slight comments about their church government (vs. their theology), is there a difference between you and them?

My contention has long been that the only difference between WBC and groups like the IRD is that the WBC has the courage of their convictions to stand with little signs to protest. I don’t doubt for a minute groups like the AFA and IRD wouldn’t love to be out there with them.

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The title is fitting to both the subject matter — drone strikes — and the fact that the IRD would have us all be murderous drones in the name of God.

Christian has left a response already that needs not be repeated, just shared. On facebook, I left this one

It would seem that the only real dividing line in using violence is the time and place it is used and who uses it. Drone strikes do not fit well into any Scriptural teaching or any teaching of the Church. What makes drones strikes acceptable to American Christians — some American Christians — is that we are doing to people who look different than us and can bear the blame we place on them for 9/11. If these were drone strikes by, say, Iran on Israel, we would be decrying the brutality of them. This is intellectual cowardice and should, at some point before we are truly all God-forsaken, stop.

Mark Tool-ey is a detestable theologian and a horrible Wesleyan. I regret the stage given this man who would rather see Jesus crucified again than to make peace.

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And this, my friends is how “Christians” from @theird handle challenges


The IRD has set its sights on Rachel Held Evans with several recent articles, namely this one. Oddly enough, a writer for the IRD is also a writer for the Gospel Coalition. Anyway, they aren’t taking too kindly to Evans’ take down of modern day Evangelicalism. Now that she has shown how a woman can do more than stay in the kitchen quietly, they are ramping up their minions to attack.

For example,

I posted a review of Honey BooBoo’s book on Amazon, and that provoked the Attack of the Killer Shrews. Wow, talk about LOYAL fans! If only people were that committed to Jesus of Nazareth! The comments all followed a pattern: “How dare you! Rachel loves Jesus! I love Jesus! Rachel is a woman of valor! You didn’t read the book! Rachel has opened up the Bible for millions of women!”

Never confuse “fame” with “greatness.”

In one post, her critics have all but accused her of promoting the destruction of a man’s property – his future’s wife virginity. I almost wrote vagina, but this is a family blog. The commenters on this post in particular show a complete ineptness of what Scripture says about sexuality. Of course, that won’t stop them, as they seem insist that a woman is less of a good thing if she has sex before marriage.

All of this is nothing more than a bunch of backward “evangelicals” missing the point, judging not on facts but only what they think they know, and generally doing a bang-up job of being the prime example of what it is not to be either a Christian or a real Evangelical.

The author of the most recent article on Evans concludes her statements with this,

Although Evans did not define “biblical womanhood” in any real sense, she showcased clearly her approach to scripture, which deviates dramatically from that of evangelical tradition….

Thank God it deviates… Of course, Evans has a habit of taking Scripture honestly and showing how the so-called “face value” or “plain sense” hermeneutic is quite funny in practice.


It seems unlikely that most evangelicals, who have historically emphasized the authority of scripture, will follow her call to evolve into communities of questioning and doubt.

Authority is one thing – Evans engages the authority of Scripture like we all should. However, what the author really means is that Evans takes Scripture for what it is and where it came from and where it is today. She doesn’t rely upon the final interpretation motif common among Evangelicals today, but instead shows that if you stick Scripture on a pedestal, you are doing it wrong.

It is sad that Evangelicals will not take Evans’ advice and follow her at least partially out of the hindering mindset that is modern (American) Evangelicalism.

Christianity would be better served with more Evans and less Tool-ey clones.

HT to Rod for the pic.

The hypocrisy of @MarkDTooley @TheIRD

…the Bible does not give specific guidance on what U.S. immigration law should be in the year 2013.

This comes from an article from One News Now.

via Tooley Claims Bible Vague On Modern Issues – @MarkDTooley, @TheIRD | Notes from the Pastor’s Office.

You simply have to read Chris’s article.

So, the bible gives us absolute guidance on everything but immigration issues. Perhaps Tool-ey has never read Exodus of Matthew 1-3.

@theird – kill, kill, kill

The problem is that not everything about Manifest Destiny or American Exceptionalism is clearly unbiblical.  Take for example the command of God to be “fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” What that meant in 1840 and what it means now is very different.  In 1840, that scripture provided biblical backing to people longing to try their hand at “redeeming the earth.” Today, if that scripture is quoted at all, it is read apologetically and comes with an appeal for “Creation Care.” (I would argue that environmentalism is a major tenet of modern American civil religion.)

via Discussing Paleo-Evangelicals: A Friendly Challenge « Juicy Ecumenism.

So, let me get this straight… the current thought that to leave our children straddled with imaginary debt incurred in large part because of wars cheered by Christians who believed they were ushering in the End Times is not civil religion, but protecting the environment is civil religion.

Be fruitful and multiply is not and has never been equal to manifest destiny. This is another example of “biblical values.” Manifest Destiny included the genocide of other peoples. The death of hundres of thousands. Taking lands not ours. There is nothing Christian about this.

Further, civil religion is part and parcel of American Christianity, on the both the left and the right. The blogger suggests that it is difficult to tell civil religion and Christianity apart. If that is the case, then I would challenge the blogger as to his Christianity.


Oh yes, Mormon Mitt but not Methodist Adam

While misogyny is still a real force within America, and abortion is a complicated and terrible decision for the women faced with it, it is ultimately a black and white decision: either the fetus has moral weight, or it does not. If abortion is, though, as Hamilton suggests, merely a shade of gray, we Christians must consider which shade. To what extent can Christians be comfortable with the mass destruction of unborn human life?

via The 2012 Election and Adam Hamilton’s Shades of Gray « Juicy Ecumenism.

Sorry – this is not a slander against Mormonism; however, Mitt Romney is a Mormon, a religious group long held to be a cult by every Christian denomination and communion. Well, I mean, until we had a black President. The IRD loves to defend anyone on the so-called right, even accusing those who suggesting Mormonism is still unbiblical of being bigots. How ironic…

Anyway, so Adam Hamilton, a UMC pastor and author, preached a sermon about staying centered on Christ through the divisive election cycle. He purposely did not bring up abortion of gay marriage, but mentioned what he thought people could rally behind.

I am against elective abortion. No doubt. But abortion that saves the life of the mother, or abortions that are aimed at babies unable to live outside the womb, if they are living even then, is a gray area. Gay marriage is a gray area as well. If you believe homosexuality is wrong, but you live in a Republic of laws, including civil rights, then it becomes not a matter of Christian morality, but Republican morality.

Okay, so with that said, what Darling did was to put into Rev. Hamilton’s mouth words and concepts that were not there beforehand. Why is it the IRD suggests we “respect” others, but only if those “others” are registered as GOP? Had Darling listened — actually listened — I would hasten to believe that such a yellow post would not have been written. Perhaps Darling would have learned something about attempting to stay focused on Christ.