Methodism: Cutting off its own Limbs

The UK’s Methodist Conference is set to allow same-sex marriages in its churches and chapels. To this end, it set up a ‘Marriage and Relationships Task Group’. 247 out of 295 Conference representatives voted to support the task group’s report, God in Love Unites Us. Tellingly, the document begins with a quote, not from the Bible, but a Nat King Cole song:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is just to love and be loved in return”

Naturally, it goes on to endorse same-sex relationships by proposing to permit couples to be legally and religiously joined by Methodist clergy. The final decision will be made in July 2020, but the outcome seems all but decided. If evangelical Methodists are lucky, there’ll be the odd opt-out clause and nod to conscience’s sake, but they will need to accept that their denomination has further departed from Christian orthodoxy.

Many in the world and media will applaud the denomination’s ‘modernisation’. Its website will boast about its ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’. They will trot out a few texts and mantras about Jesus loving everyone and those on the national leadership will feel like trailblazers, brave men and women fighting against the Goliaths of prejudice and discrimination. Sadly, evangelical Methodists are already taking the exit. I hear that a congregation I know and respect have already voted to secede. Others are drawing up plans to become independent or join alternative groupings such as the FIEC or Free Methodism. These were the growing fellowships, passionate about outreach. Within a few years, the only Methodist congregations left will be liberal, woke gatherings in urban centres or those declining rural outposts of old men stubbornly loyal to a denomination in which they grew up. This conference report, motion and eventual decision will see the Methodist Church cutting and slashing at its own limbs, like the prophets of Baal, attempting to placate and impress the insatiable fertility god before whose shrine they dance and bow. Just as a former generation of Methodist departed because of the national leadership’s abandonment of belief in the resurrection and salvation, so those who then saw fit to remain are now being ushered away by the latest wave of compromise.

If same-sex marriages are so obviously supported and endorsed in the Bible, why has it taken Methodism so long to recognise them? Why are they playing catch up to worldly wisdom and values rather than leading the way, or sticking to what they considered truth for 200 years? When your theology is based upon secular ideals, even with a covering of clichés and supposed proof texts, it means you’re just reflecting the world’s dim light rather than Bible’s radiant brightness. Wherever the pied piper of secular liberalism leads, Wesley’s stepchildren willingly follow. Those Methodists who refuse to dance to this entrancing melody of popularity and worldly acclaim will find themselves increasingly marginalised. They’ll be called bigots, haters, divisive and old fashioned. But didn’t Jesus Himself warn His followers that this would happen?

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.”

Matthew 10:22

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also”.

John 15:18-2 

Sadly for those evangelicals who wish to break away, their buildings still belong to the Methodist authorities, who will unsympathetically consider requests to continue using them for worship. According to the denomination’s annual accounts submitted on 31st August 2018, its expenditure amounted to £49.7 million, but its income was only £43.4 million. The sale of all these empty but once thriving chapels and churches will prove a wonderful windfall of much-needed income. Whereas divine providence will certainly provide the means by which any break-away congregations will be re-housed, the Spirit of God carefully writes a new name upon Methodist Church House:


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