I want to start with a disclaimer. I will say thank you to the precious few Bishops in the United Methodist Church who have remained faithful to the vows they took first as pastors and then as Bishops. You are a treasure to me, and to us all. I am not referring to what you have interpreted the vows to mean, or how the words can be twisted to say something unintended, I mean the actual vows as intended. You are faithful men and women of God and are an inspiration to the rest of us, or at least should be. I do not know many of your names to give proper credit, but the fact that I do not is a testament to the leadership and humility that you have shown. For the rest of you, I have held back. I don’t feel like I should anymore.
Let’s start on a light note and address the elephant in the room. The picture is not a Bishop, but indeed of Tim Curry playing the evil Cardinal Richelieu in the Three Musketeers. In many ways he reminds me of many of our bishops. Since that is now done, let’s get on with the unpleasantness.
I believe in the authority of the church. I believe that authority is conferred on the Bishops by Christ, through His bride (the church). I believe in the power of a vow made to God through the church. I believe in the covenants that holds us all together, but especially the covenant that holds pastors and Bishops to each other as they seek to guide us all. I believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through the general conference (somehow, and yes, it is miraculous that it can) to guide the church forward in both the necessary business functions, but also in it’s theological functions. All of this is in line with the United Methodist faith in case anyone was wondering. I just wanted to provide some perspective into this so that whomever chooses to read this has an understanding. I also believe in speaking the truth in love. Sometimes that means plain and blunt speech. This is one of those times.
Our Bishops have called for unity. The General Conference in a move that was a surprise to many, appealed to them for leadership. What they brought forward fell short of leadership in my opinion, but as I said above, I believe in the authority of the church. Despite my misgivings, I had hope. The Bishops gave carefully worded statements and the like and then within 36 hours disagreed on what those statements meant. Some said nothing had changed and that the processes in the BoD were still to be followed. Some said there was a moratorium. some, not having the courage to pick a side and sounding more like political pundits than leaders of our faith, held some sort of middle ground in essence saying nothing. My own Bishop, when questioned about a marriage between two men, one a practicing UMC pastor, used verbal gymnastics to dance around the matter, including his foreknowledge of it. That is not leadership, that is a cop out. Leaders actually lead. That means they are in front risking all, not cowering behind fancy language. Thank you God that Christ did not model this type of leadership and instead gave a clear example to follow.
Of course this is after a Bishop had come to the pulpit to preach at the General Conference and under the guidance of some spirit that was not holy and lied about what the church actually believes. That is not Christian leadership, it is deception that leads us all closer to the pit. All in all, with a few exceptions, our American Bishops seem more like people of gold than people of God. One can not help but wonder how much their salary plays into things since they are in no real risk of losing it. How brave are you when you have everything to lose. That answers leadership. It does not take a lot of courage to talk about oppression, bigotry, the evils of the church, etc. when that same church pays you over a hundred thousand a year to break its rules. Those of you who will not follow the vows you took and the statements that the bishops made are not leaders, you are unrepentant liars who serve a spirit, but not the Holy Spirit. As Jude might say, you have rejected all authority and insulted angels.
We believe that God speaks through the General Conference to guide us as a church. We should believe this anyway. If we don’t then we are willingly part of a system that we acknowledge is not being led by God, through Christ by the Holy Spirit. That is a much larger problem. You though have chosen to put what you believe is right ahead of what the church has said is right. That means you have no authority. None. I respect authority, but you willingly gave yours up when you chose to elevate yourself above the church. If that were all though, I would not care, but it is not. It’s what you do to the Bride. When you elevate yourself above the Bride of Christ, then go so far as to slander her with lies and make her a whore by laying down with whatever doctrine you find appealing, it is too far. Jesus is Lord or He is not. God speaks through the church or He does not. The Spirit guides the church or He does not. It is that simple. You have decided otherwise and, though your so called leadership made the Bride of Christ a whore by applying and encouraging others to follow doctrines and actions that the church has called sin. Again, as Jude might say, you are like a senseless animal insulting powers that you do not understand and living only by your feelings. That is not leadership, it is apostasy. You lead try to lead the Bride to become an apostate church not connected to the Father. You will not do this though. You can not.
There are too many of us. We are mostly unknown. Most of us do not make the same gold or have anywhere near the temporal authority that you do. We risk it all by speaking the truth. We risk our church homes, sometimes our families and friends. Pastors risk appointments, lay members risk being ostracized by their congregations for speaking hard truths. Yet we still remain faithful to the vows we took as members. We remain faithful when our so called leaders by and large model for us faithlessness. We seek to maintain the purity of the Bride while you turn her into a prostitute for the gold you collect. You pimp out faith to public opinion and pressure instead of remaining faithful to the church you vowed to serve. You act like lions seeking to devour and while we may just be lambs, you have forgotten that we can roar as well. This is why it is time to break up. The Lord did indeed call Hosea to marry a prostitute, but He did not call him to pimp her out as one. That is what you are doing to the church, and those of us who love the Bride will no longer have it.