Fighting for Orthodoxy Among the Methodists

Some Good News

The Episcopal Church, with two million members, drove off the cliff in 2003 by electing its first openly homosexual bishop.  In 2005, the United Church of Christ (1.1 million members) officially endorsed same-sex “marriage,” though the UCC had already long been ordaining active homosexuals.  This year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (4.9 million members), by a surprisingly large margin, approved a new policy allowing homosexual clergy and countenancing sex outside of marriage for heterosexuals.  Also this year, the three-million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) turned back another attempt to liberalize its orthodox teachings about marriage and sex.  But liberals are persistent; they will try again.

Among the historic Mainline Protestant denominations, only the United Methodist Church seems poised for a decisive return to orthodoxy after nearly a century-long slide into liberalism.  Why?  Methodists, unlike Anglicans, Lutherans, and Calvinists, are not strongly confessional or historically renowned for theological brilliance.  They are the largest group of the Mainliners, and typically are among its most Middle American and middlebrow.

Maybe the ordinariness of Methodists was ultimately the church’s protection.  Even while its seminaries went solidly liberal by the 1920’s, and the church bureaucracy became infamous for its once avant-garde (but now tiresome)...

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