The Church in the United States, as it is everywhere, is a living part of the Body of Christ. The American part of that Body is in critical condition. How much longer it will live depends on finding a cure for the disease that threatens its survival. The sickness in question is an ancient one and its name is rarely spoken out-loud. Whether we name it or not this pathology, which will become terminal if not treated, is the spreading cancer of heresy.
The Body of Christ has a host of organs we call congregations, many of which make up systems, we call denominations. Some of these systems that were once faithful and healthy have been riddled with this corrupting heretical scourge. The first symptoms are the revamping of sexual ethics to consecrate same-sex marriages and practicing homosexual clergy. But, this is merely the tip of the apostate iceberg.
Submerged just below the surface is an entire doctrinal structure that repudiates two millennia of biblical teaching. Delve more deeply and one soon finds that those who reject the Bible’s teaching on sexual practice also reject the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, Christ as the risen savior, that salvation is available through faith in Christ alone, or that there is a judgment that determines our eternal destiny based on our response to God’s call in Jesus as Lord. Therefore, of necessity, they also reject the Bible as the only written Word of God. If we decide we can ignore what the Scriptures say about sex, this clears the way to ignore what it says about everything else. So, the matter before us is not really whether same-gender couples can marry but whether authentic Christianity can continue to exist in Western Civilization.
All of this, the Word of God predicted. “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth…” (2 Timothy 4:3-4a).
As with any malignancy, the treatment is to excise the diseased tissue before it metastasizes to the point of inoperability. I serve as pastor in a system of the Body of Christ in which the malignancy has been diagnosed and a decision about whether to operate must be made. The United Methodist Church has roughly 12 million members worldwide; about 7 million in the U. S. and most of the rest in Africa and Asia. As part of the Scriptures, the denomination follows a book of church laws called the Book of Discipline. This book, in keeping with the Scriptures, declares homosexuality to be inconsistent with Christian teaching and forbids the consecration of same-gender marriages and practicing homosexual clergy.
The highest legislative body of United Methodism is the General Conference, which meets every four years, and is made up of representatives from everywhere in the world where the United Methodist Church has members. During the past four decades, attempts have been continually made to repeal the provisions of the Discipline regarding homosexuality by the General Conference. All of these attempts have failed. So, those who advocate the change, including clergy and bishops, have taken it upon themselves to ignore the Discipline and implement what it forbids. As a result, a Special General Conference, occurring before the regular General Conference in 2020, will be held in 2019, in an effort to deal with what is, plainly, a rebellion against the Discipline and the Word of God.
The remedy is not in doubt. The question is whether it will be applied. The only cure for cancer is to eradicate it before it kills the Body. The Apostle Paul makes clear that this is as true of the Body of Christ as any other living body. “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven… But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person… Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Corinthians 5:6b; 7a; 11a; 13b).
Because the United Methodist hierarchy has proven unwilling to perform this duty, an organization has risen up named after the founder of Methodism, the Wesleyan Covenant Association. With members from all parts of the United Methodist world, it is the chemotherapy being infused into our part of the Body of Christ to counteract the spread of this deadly malignancy. It is now preparing to take a stand at the Special General Conference in February 2019, in defense of scriptural authority and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The heretics will there be offered the opportunity to depart in peace, so that the United Methodist system within Christ’s Body the Church, can be restored to health and strength in the Holy Spirit, unencumbered by the spread of heresy.
To prepare, a global meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association will be held on November 3, 2018 in Marietta, Georgia. This meeting will be simulcast to sites all around the world, one of which is Kellogg United Methodist Church in Kellogg, Iowa. The event starts at 9 a.m. on that Saturday. Meals and snacks are included, and you can register by going to www.wesleyancovenant.org and clicking “Unashamed 2018.” The crisis facing Methodists is not unique to them, so you need not be a Methodist to attend, but only a Christian devoted to preserving the Body of Christ in North America for the 21st century.
Whatever our affiliation, as brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray earnestly for the Body of Christ, the true Church because, as Ephesians 4 declares, “there is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” In that one body and one Spirit, we must go forward with one purpose to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, that all the world might be saved through Him.