Crowd funding disobedience (part the second)

edwin-louis-cole-author-obedience-is-an-act-of-faith-disobedience-isYou can find my first remarks here. Should anyone reading this happen to be a Bishop or DS that has remained faithful to the UMC, it’s policies and teachings, thank you. Please understand that this is not directed at you. For those of you in leadership who have encouraged this sort of behavior, please understand that yes, this is very much to you.

The truly insidious part of this effort, and efforts like it, it that they involve me without my consent. See, like it or not, we are connected. That is one of the unique and defining principles of our polity. This is what the church has to say about connection

The principle, basic to The United Methodist Church, that all leaders and congregations are connected in a network of loyalties and commitments that support, yet supersede, local concerns.

Did you catch that? It is about something bigger. It is not about me, or local concerns, it is bigger. God is bigger. Why is it that you can not seem to see that? That pastors, District Superintendents, and Bishops who allow this have forgotten that absolutely vital part of our connection. We are one, from me here in Ohio to a Methodist across the globe. What one does affects us all. I may be a foot and you an hand, but inevitably, what happens to one affects the other. When disobedience is allowed to occur, I am complicit with it, whether I like it or not. In all of this, you, those who continue down this road, those who encourage and allow the rampant disobedience, you have failed me and countless others.

[tweetthis]It is about something bigger. It is not about me, or local concerns, it is bigger. God is bigger. [/tweetthis]

You in leadership, especially those who happen to be Bishops, have failed me greatly. The episcopal leadership of the church should be a sacred trust and a holy calling. You who are to safeguard the church have instead chosen to allow it to be torn asunder. You have allowed the disobedience to grow to such a level that it is now an epidemic in some regions. Yes, the wheat always exists with the tares, but you have stopped feeding the wheat and instead have chosen to sow a field of weeds that attempts to strangle out the wheat. No, the good farmer will not try to pull all the tares, but he will certainly not encourage them to grow and will most definitely remove them where he may. You have failed in this. You have failed me and others…but that is not the worst of it at all, no it is far worse.

You have forced me into a corner not of my own making. You have forced me to decide between my connection to a denomination that you have allowed to be riddled with the disease of disobedience, or to leave and be cut off from the body to wither. I did not choose this, you chose it for me. You chose to allow it to happen unchecked, and in some cases have encouraged it. There is a vast difference between calling for and working toward change and rejecting the authority of the church to do, and encourage to be done, those things contrary to church teachings. Oddly enough, it is that same church and it’s authority that entrusted you with you position. If you reject the authority of the church that gave you position, how can you continue to serve with any integrity?

You can not simultaneously claim the authority of Christ then reject the authority of His bride. It becomes increasingly clear that you too have rejected the authority of the church and instead decided that your authority is superior. You have decided that your voices matter more than the voice of the church. Your actions are righteous no matter the teachings of the church. Your chaos is a thing of beauty to God instead of the orderly worship and function of His church. You have led the charge in rejecting the church in favor of self. You have done this and many have followed. You have rejected being a living stone that can be built upon in favor of being a stone that I, and those like me, stumble over. That was not your call. That was not the sacred trust given you.

The most disturbing thing of all really is that I have to write this. A name of no consequence in a sea of faces. No training, no theological background, nothing to speak of really other than a long litany of really bad choices and decisions. Why is it that I understand the need for the connection of the body better than you? Perhaps it is exactly that litany of bad choices, or my lack of formal training, who can tell. What I know is this, I am a part of this body, and I, and many like me. desperately need you to lead, not in the disobedience of pride, but in the obedience of faith. We desperately require of you the necessity of living up to the sacred trust given you.  We want to trust you and believe in you, yet every time we have the chance to, you fail us. Yes, we will all fail, but you do not see it this way at all. You see it as a crowning achievement. Something to be held high as a standard. You see your failure of me as a success of the church. Even Joel Osteen understands the necessity for commitment to the church. Yes, even Joel Osteen!

You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church.

I mean the guy gets about 99% of Christianity wrong, but even he gets this. We need you to be committed to the church because we understand that if you are not then you can not be committed to Christ.


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19 Replies to “Crowd funding disobedience (part the second)”

  1. Interesting opinion-completely invalid, but interesting. You’ve obviously never been a delegate to an Annual or General Conference or you wouldn’t confuse what happens there with the work of the Holy Spirit.

    1. An interesting thought experiment.

      Ok, admittedly 2028 is a longtime into the future. But let’s just pretend instead of 2016 in Portland, it was 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

      Holy Spirit will have a hard time making it through customs. Especially if he is attached to a gay person. Advice: don’t go; or if you go, don’t say anything!

      Enjoy the freedom of Portland.

      1. BTW, don’t visit voodoo doughnuts. That might be considered a violation of the Book of Disipline. (Or at least, don’t be seen going into the place. Only evidence of unholy doughnuts will be the crumbs, which must be disposed of before attending any UMC meetings.)

      2. It is not a thought experiment, it is a thinly veiled attempt to turn the topic toward LGBTQ issues, when it has absolutely nothing to do with them. Nice try though.

        1. If you express civil disobedience by disagreeing with President Robert Mugabe’s policies, you will be arrested, regardless of the issues. The fact that the conference location was selected to be in Zimbabwe, is a clear message from UMC. If you wait till 2028, you will have no problems in disobedience at the conference. So, would you rather be located in Portland, were disobedience is tolerated by the state, or in Zimbabwe, where disobedience is not tolerated by the state? And the corollary question, do you want to be a member of UMC that tolerates disobedience, or does not tolerate disobedience? Your choice. But I personally see nothing wrong with a split if there is no other solution. For me, inerrancy is a much more important issue than gay rights. If UMC required belief in inerrancy, I would say goodbye. Obedience is not an act of faith, but an expression of subservience, and a giving away of an individual’s free will.

  2. I’ve seen WAY too much bigotry wrapped up in the notion that “The Bible Says so” to believe that “obedience” to the decisions of a church body equals “obedience” to God.

    1. I think that is why inerrancy is a bigger issue than gay-anything. The basis for the “church body” judgment on gays, or marriage, or anything else, is based upon interpretations of text, which has both historical, and human interpretations. Different human, different interpretation. Marriage was a different animal 2000 years ago. And even if it wasn’t, the basis of “one man, one woman” marriage based upon Genesis is pretty darn shaky. If I show obedience to the “church body” definition, based upon original inerrancy interpretations, I am voluntarily giving my brain away. But I AM tolerant to anyone that wants to believe in inerrancy, and follow the Book of Disipline, if that is their choice. Just DO NOT expect me to. If you tell me I am disobedient, then I personally will have no problem in going somewhere else.

  3. Biblical inerrancy is the default position for anyone either unable or unwilling to think for themselves, and who wants someone else to do their thinking for them.

    1. inerrancy is not the default position for those who don’t think for themselves. Indeed, inerrancy often requires a lot of thinking. I am not an inerrantist, but I think at some point of the individual faith journey, it becomes important.

      further, inerrancy — while I believe leads to a biblical literalism — is not always biblical literalism.

      to be sure, I’m an infalliblist rather than an inerrantist, which is of itself functional inerrancy (or rather, the Catholic/Orthodox position in that Scripture is infallible/inerrant in what it teaches

      1. Am I correct in understanding that, while you believe the Bible can contain no errors (infallible), you don’t necessarily believe there are no errors contained therein (inerrant)?

        If not, please clarify. Thus far, I am thoroughly amused.

        1. I don’t know if this is necessarily correct, but I remember reading:
          Inerrant – no errors. (Editorial – texts within the bible contradict one another, so reject).
          Infallible – could mean no errors, but usually meant to mean “trustworthy”. (Editorial – if “Trustworthy”, then there would obviously not be multiple denominations, with various conflicting interpretations, so reject).

          I am sure someone will correct me. Although that is up to interpretation too 🙂

        2. “The Bible is inerrant if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any topic whatsoever. The Bible is infallible if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any matter of faith and practice.” Stephen T Davis. This is probably the simplest explanation of the differences that I have found. Also, inerrancy, as most recently defined by the Chicago statement in the 1970s claims only that the original autographs (i.e. the very first manuscripts written) are inerrant. So the actual claim is only properly made about the original manuscripts.

          1. Now, let me see if I understand this correctly, an International Council on Biblical Inerrancy holds a conference in 1978 and subsequently issues the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy claiming the original texts to be error free. And they know this exactly why since there are no known copies of original manuscripts?

            Frankly, I’ve seen dogs chasing their tales that make more sense than this bunch of hooey!

  4. Interesting how things that I never brought up, and that quite honestly have nothing to do with the topic dominate the comments.

    1. It is because they are all tied together, and are all inter-related. However, I must say, that whatever I say should not be taken too seriously, from the standpoint of most people here. I am not a life-long Methodist. I certainly would never go to any kind of conference. I pay tithing, and go to church on Sunday, and volunteer when I can. But I am not an activist for or against anything in church. I am not even a member, although I took the intro class. I said I would rather be a non-committed attendee, for these various reasons. I already did the member-bit before at other churches, and got bit in the butt. So far, I like everything I see at the UMC I attend. But I would not become a member with this obvious turmoil going on outside the local church. It appears the UMC is good at the local level, but I do not like the undercurrent of politics outside the local level. The interesting thing, is that I never hear politics, obedience, disobedience, gay issues, inerrancy, or what specifically happens at conferences, discussed at the local level. I view this a plus. I probably ought to stay away from the Internet.

  5. It has been pointed out since at least the Enlightenment that the Bible contains numerous contradictions. Whether these are sufficient to negate the message is, of course, a matter for debate. Nevertheless, it is entertaining to watch biblical literalists squirm when confronted with these deviations conflicting with a simplistic interpretation.

    Another difficulty arises from the fact that each craft or profession has its own jargon. Even the same words can have different meaning. For example, a mathematical proof is derived from deduction. Legal proof can include the powers of persuasion as well as evidence. Proof in science does not exist! (This is a loophole that creationists frequently try to exploit in belittling evolutionary theory.)

    Nor do these definitions necessarily agree with common usage. For example, the legal definition of corruption is quite narrow when compared to the accepted understanding of most people.

    Further complexities arise from the fact that definitions can change over time with usage and cultural intercourse. The only static language is a dead language. Latin is the most commonly used example.

    Because no original texts are known to exist, theologians often have to weasel in their defense of biblical authenticity. In a purely legal sense, the case for proving the Bible is the Word of God would be thrown out of most secular courts because no chain of evidence exists. As a result, in the alternative reality of theology, faith is elevated to the same status as evidence.

    When combined with alternative definitions, faith helps to complete an ideological and religious subculture struggling to find continuing relevance in a more questioning world. This can become especially problematic when theologians fail to adequately explain their alternative definitions and curious assumptions.

    Of course, doing so opens the door to still more questioning. Historically, this is something churchmen have studiously tried to avoid.

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