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Well, that didn’t take long

The United Methodists quickly abandon Biblical Christianity

Michigan Bishop David Bard presides at a session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C., on April 30. Associated Press/Photo by Peter Smith

Well, that didn’t take long

The United Methodist Church committed theological treason yesterday, leaving Biblical Christianity behind in a headlong rush to join the LGBTQ revolution. In the view of the progressives, they were making up for lost time. In the long view of Christian history, they were marching off the map of orthodox Christianity.

By a vote of 692 to 51, and without a word of formal debate, the United Methodist General Conference voted to overturn the church’s historic discipline and doctrine on homosexuality. Yesterday’s vote took place in Charlotte, N.C., but the impact will be felt worldwide.

John Wesley never intended to establish a church. His goal, aided by his brother Charles, was to lead a holiness movement within the Church of England. They were eventually dubbed “Methodists” as a term of derision, simply because of the methodical approach taken by Wesley’s devotional societies. Methodism quickly made its way to the Colonies, and Wesley himself came to Savannah, Ga., in 1735. The Methodist movement was made for the American moment. Wesley was a loyal British citizen and was also loyal to the Church of England. With the War of Independence, the Americans were left to establish their own church. The Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1784 in Baltimore and the movement spread like wildfire. Before long, the Methodists would be the largest single denominational movement in America and remained strong well into the 20th century.

Divided by the Civil War, the church would reunite in 1938 and then add the Evangelical United Brethren in 1968, forming the United Methodist Church. The church did appear united for decades, but liberal-conservative tensions were fully apparent by the end of the 20th century. It was the LGBTQ movement that eventually blew up the church. Though United Methodists were the last of the old liberal denominations of mainline Protestantism to officially join the rainbow revolution, liberal Methodists had long rebelled against official church teaching and policy. They elected gay bishops, fueled LGBTQ activism, ordained LGBTQ ministers, and officiated at same-sex weddings—all in open violation of official church doctrine and policy.

As far back as 1972, the church had adopted language in its Book of Discipline that stated those convictions clearly. As recently as 2019, the Methodists had even strengthened the language. The statement was clear: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” That language is about as clear as it gets. No one misunderstood what it meant. It represented sound Biblical faith and the uniform judgment of the Christian tradition. As of yesterday, it was all gone, utterly gone, and swept aside by the sexual revolutionaries who now govern the church.

During the crucial years of 2022 and 2023, no less than 7,000 congregations left the United Methodist Church.

We can trace certain crucial turning points in church history. Yesterday was one of them. John Wesley’s holiness movement, once America’s largest denomination, now reduced to a shadow of its former self, abandoned the Christian faith and established a new religion with the celebration of LGBTQ sexuality at the center. A mighty movement that Wesley had founded to bring holiness and piety to the Church of England surrendered to the revolution, pushing the new sexuality and radical gender ideologies—and it did so with gusto.

With these issues looming, the conservatives once thought they had the upper hand. They believed that they could force a division of the church and that the liberals would leave and establish an LGBTQ-affirming denomination of their own. But the conservatives overplayed their hand. The conservatives were actually outnumbered and were eventually outmaneuvered. Once they understood the situation, it was the conservatives who left—in droves. During the crucial years of 2022 and 2023, no less than 7,000 congregations left the United Methodist Church. In some conferences, such as the one centered in Dallas, close to 70 percent of the churches left.

To put the matter bluntly, what was left of the United Methodist Church, freed from those conservative congregations, rushed headlong in Charlotte to abandon historic Christianity and join the LGBTQ revolution. They wasted no time. Speaker after speaker introduced themselves at microphones with the obligatory language of name, sexual and gender identity, and preferred pronouns. It was just what the activists hoped and just what the conservatives feared. In one moment, the official stance of the denomination was transformed.

There has been a succession of victories for the progressive activists. The church will move toward regionalism, with some regions moving even more radically toward LGBTQ innovation. Even as yesterday’s historic vote was announced, leaders promised that more votes would come before the meeting ends later this week. But, for those who understand the score, the game is over.

As the last century drew to a close, German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg declared: “If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

That is exactly what happened when the General Conference of the United Methodist Church formally abandoned Biblical Christianity yesterday—and did so before the watching world. The United Methodist Church is now neither united nor a church.

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to clarify that the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church in 1968.

R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also the host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.

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