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A Disunited Denomination

The Methodist church, like all other denominations, began with a man. John Wesley and his brother Charles started a movement to reform the practices of the Church of England in the mid-1700s. The Church of England was a spinoff from the Roman Catholic Church which was an apostate church from its beginning centuries earlier. The United Methodist Church began in 1968. Methodists do not deny this. Among other marks, it has two unmistakeable features of a denomination: a human standard of doctrine and a human form of government. The following quotation from the manual of this group shows both traits:


“¶ 2553. Disaffiliation of a Local Church Over Issues Related to Human Sexuality—

1. Basis—Because of the current deep conflict within The United Methodist Church around issues of human sexuality, a local church shall have a limited right, under the provisions of this paragraph, to disaffiliate from the denomination for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals…”

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church


Those of us who are not used to authoritative denominational pronouncements find these remarks shocking. Where does the Bible say that people need human permission or the “right to disaffiliate” from a denomination? The authority to separate from religious error comes from God: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). However, to those in this and other denominations, these are official decrees of church leaders that should be accepted. But the issue of same-sex relations proved to be the tipping point for many Methodists. Many have left over this issue, and Methodist leaders show no signs of backing down. Now the denomination is embroiled in a worldwide battle over a subject that should never have been a question at all


Nature itself speaks to this issue. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:26-27). Since nature and the Bible teach us the truth on this matter, there is no need for a Book of Discipline which in this case is completely wrong anyway. If people would follow the Bible there would be no denominations and creed books.


In regard to church government, there is no authority in the New Testament for men to establish a hierarchy or an overruling body above local congregations. God’s plan is that elders should oversee a congregation. There is no Bible authority for any higher system of church organization in Scripture (Acts 14:23; I Pet. 5:1-3). Almost two thousand years of church history confirm the wisdom of God in this arrangement. Power tends to corrupt. Politics, especially church politics, brings out the worst in people. Unscriptural forms of church government have led to some of the worst abuses of power and some of the most evil human beings the world has ever seen.

Kerry

West End church of Christ bulletin article for December 4, 2022

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