Unsurprisingly, certain members of the liberal wing of the UMC are suggesting underhanded tactics to rip apart the church in the face of their defeat at the Special General Conference. In one case, it is being suggested that United Methodist churches in United States become separate from the global body and govern themselves according to their own wants, unshackled from those pesky Christians overseas. Reading such an article, I can certainly understand why the Bishop John K. Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Area was quoted by the United Methodist News Agency as saying, “As an African, I find myself thinking, is this the church where I really want to be?” Indeed, the reaction to the vote by United Methodists in the U.S. and Europe have the Africans wondering if they should become an autonomous church. But this is exactly what the liberal wing of the church wants.
In a telling moment, Adam Hamilton, who has finally started to come out from under his sheep’s clothing to reveal himself a wolf, had this to say to UMNews.org:
“One is people saying, ‘This is our church and we’re not giving it up and we’re going to resist and we’re going to disobey the Discipline,” he said.
Hamilton added that “if it’s uncomfortable enough” then traditionalist churches may choose to leave and form their own denomination, especially if they can retain their property.
According to Hamilton, this was one of two possible paths for progressives moving forward from the Special General Conference. The other was to form two Methodisms from the existing church. In short, the progressive/liberal wing of the denomination has no real intent to be part of a global church.
This goes a long way to explain another move within the church to determine what can and cannot be contextualized in varying cultures. While there certainly are questions about contextualization in relation to missions, there are some things that should be universal regardless of cultural context. For instance, moral principles based on Scripture should not be altered based on cultural context. If we are simply talking about matters related to trustees and what not, contextualize all you want. If we are talking about moral issues, Scripture is our guide and not our culture.