Loading...
A BYH to the dry-rainy poster (“When it rains it pours”). You conflate LOCAL weather with GLOBAL warming. Please get to...

Doctrines are dividing the United Methodists

Terry Mattingly

Terry Mattingly

Loading…

Sunday, June 9, 2019

This is the second of two columns on divisions inside United Methodism. Part 1 was published May 29.

The word "conversion" has been at the heart of Christianity for two millennia, with missionaries and evangelists urging sinners to repent and change their wicked ways.

Jesus also needed to be converted from his "bigotries and prejudices," according to Bishop Karen Oliveto, who leads the United Methodist Church's Mountain Sky region. Consider the New Testament passage in which Jesus seems to rebuke a Canaanite woman who seeks healing for her daughter. The woman persists and, seeing her faith, Jesus performs the miracle.

"Jesus, Jesus, what is up with you? ... Too many folks want to box Jesus in, carve him in stone, create an idol out of him," wrote Oliveto, in a 2017 online essay that was later taken down. "The wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. ... We might think of him as the Rock of Ages, but he was more like a hunk of clay, forming and reforming himself in relation to God."

In this case, Jesus changed his mind, noted Oliveto, who is the first openly lesbian United Methodist bishop and is married to a deaconess. The global United Methodist Church has repeatedly affirmed its Book of Discipline bans on same-sex marriages and the ordination of "self-avowed practicing" LGBTQ clergy.

Jesus, she added, "is meant to be a boundary crosser, and in the crossing over, reveals bigotry and oppression for what they are: human constructs that keep all of us from being whole. ... If Jesus can change, if he can give up his bigotries and prejudices, if he can realize that he had made his life too small, and if, in this realization, he grew closer to others and closer to God, then so can we."

This doctrinal approach inspires many in the UMC's Western Jurisdiction, a vast expanse stretching from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean. While this region's population has soared in recent decades, 2017 reports found only 295,308 United Methodists. The Southeast Jurisdiction, meanwhile, reported 2,668,806 members.

While 40 years of fighting over sexuality have grabbed headlines, a recent online survey by United Methodist Communications, partnering with Research Now, suggested that these fights have been signs of deeper doctrinal cracks in what is now a global flock.

A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that 49 percent of United Methodists in America favored same-sex marriage, and 60 percent affirmed that "homosexuality should be accepted." This new survey focused on United Methodist laity in America, and avoided sexuality questions. In the new survey, 44 percent of participants identified as "conservative-traditional" on doctrinal issues, compared with 28 percent who claimed to be "moderate-centrist" and 20 percent "progressive-liberal." Membership totals in various regions shaped how the final survey results were calculated. Key findings included:

■ Large majorities of conservative, moderate and liberal laity affirmed the resurrection of Jesus, his birth by the Virgin Mary and that humans are reconciled to God through the cross. Large majorities in these groups said God's grace is available to all.

■ "Saving souls for Jesus Christ" should be the UMC's primary goal, according to 88 percent of conservatives, while 68 percent of progressives chose "social justice."

■ Only 50 percent of liberal laypeople affirmed belief in a literal hell, compared to 82 percent of conservatives and 70 percent of moderates.

■ A relationship with Jesus is the only way to salvation, according to 86 percent of conservatives, while 64 percent of moderate laity agreed and 54 percent of liberals.

■ Asked to name the "most authoritative source" for their beliefs, 41 percent of conservatives said scripture and 30 percent said Christian tradition. Among liberals, 39 percent (the largest group) chose "reason" and 6 percent chose scripture.

■ Women were more likely to be liberals. Church attendance was strongest among traditionalists.

On the theological questions stressed in this survey, self-described moderates tended to be closer to traditional beliefs than to those held by United Methodist liberals, according to Chuck Niedringhaus, who oversees research for United Methodist Communications.

"I don't think you can add the moderates and progressives and say that's where the church is," he told the United Methodist News Service. "Oftentimes we think the denomination is equally divided. It was important for us to see that the plurality of people see themselves as more conservative."

Terry Mattingly is the editor of GetReligion.org and Senior Fellow for Media and Religion at The King's College in New York City. He lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

June 14, 2019

In many ways, theater is like a spelling bee. Those preparing to take the stage spend weeks practicing and memorizing, hoping they won't get tripped up by a word when they get their moment in the spotlight.

Perhaps nowhere is this parallel more evident than in “The 25th Annual Putnam County…

bee

June 12, 2019

Q My doctor told me to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Can you give me any tips? MM, Winterville

A I hope your doctor gave your more information about your dietary goals since you won’t find that title in the diet manual used by health care professionals.

Most registered dietitian…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 12, 2019

One of my favorite summertime activities is attending cookouts. They have a myriad of tasty food from grilled meats, salads, desserts, and all the other fixings we associate with this event. One of my favorite things to serve at a cookout is seafood in any form from grilled, marinated to fried.

If…

The whiting sandwich from 42 Fry.

June 09, 2019

Having experienced deep depression firsthand, I now feel a sense of kinship with others who have struggled to overcome the same condition and still battle regularly to remain mentally healthy

As someone who’s in the public eye in a very minor way, it encourages me to know about far more…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 09, 2019

On our way to play golf today, Charlie and I couldn't think of the name of the movie star who had come up in our conversation. We could remember all the movies he was in, all his co-stars, all kinds of odd trivia about his life and times — everything but his name. That's all right; sometime…

JimMullen

June 09, 2019

This is the second of two columns on divisions inside United Methodism. Part 1 was published May 29.

The word "conversion" has been at the heart of Christianity for two millennia, with missionaries and evangelists urging sinners to repent and change their wicked ways.

Jesus also needed to be…

Terry Mattingly

June 07, 2019

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the co-creators of an X-Men character named Jean Grey. In Marvel comic books, she has been known under various aliases — Marvel Girl, Phoenix and Dark Phoenix. A mutant, Grey was born with telepathic and telekinetic powers. She rivals Professor Xavier in her mind-…

x-men-dark-phoenix-1558109594.jpg

June 07, 2019

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

A DOG’S JOURNEY — A reincarnated dog embarks on a lifelong quest to watch over its owner's young granddaughter. (1 hour, 48 minutes) Rated PG.

ALADDIN — A street urchin teams up with a wisecracking…

Film Cannes Preview - Rocketman-3

June 05, 2019

Dad describes her as spirited. Mom says she’s expressive. Teachers report she’s a quick learner. Most everyone is impressed by how well she speaks for one so young. They’re surprised to learn she is deaf.

At age 10, Allison White already exceeds expectations. She reads aloud and…

Allison during therapy.jpg

June 05, 2019

Pots de creme are a perfect do-ahead dessert. They are best made at least one day in advance, so the custard has time to cool, set and develop in flavor.

These pots de creme are redolent with lemon, and they are a breeze to make. You can make them with either the common Eureka lemons or Meyer…

Lemon Pots de Creme With Citrus Sugar
211 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 22
        Next Page»   Last Page»