If You Attend Church, Do You Know What Your Church Believes?

Discussion in 'Faith & Religion' started by Ken Anderson, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. John Brunner

    John Brunner Veteran Member
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    @Don Alaska I don't want this to get buried in my other response...are you saying that The Book of Discipline spoke out against home schooling??? Was there a rationale provided?
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I know several people who left the UMC here to join the Baptist church due to liberal policies, particularly when they replaced a relatively conservative pastor with a flaming liberal who put more effort into environmental and social justice issues than anything else. I'm not saying that is representative of the UMC, but they did lose membership here. Interestingly, I left the same Baptist church, where I was a deacon, because a new pastor and the church president began championing a national park in the region.
     
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  3. John Brunner

    John Brunner Veteran Member
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    Actually, that liberal pastor is pretty much what the UMC demands of us, as I just now discovered. It seems to be more overt [honest] in some churches or Districts.

    Linked here are the UMC's Social Principles.

    Here is the Social Creed (includes their bold and italicized emphasis):
    *****************************​
    We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends.

    We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.

    We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family.

    We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons.

    We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.

    We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world.

    We believe in the present and final triumph of God’s Word in human affairs and gladly accept our commission to manifest the life of the gospel in the world. Amen.

    (It is recommended that this statement of Social Principles be continually available to United Methodist Christians and that it be emphasized regularly in every congregation. It is further recommended that “Our Social Creed” be frequently used in Sunday worship.)

    A Companion Litany to Our Social Creed
    God in the Spirit revealed in Jesus Christ,
    calls us by grace
    to be renewed in the image of our Creator,
    that we may be one
    in divine love for the world.


    Today is the day
    God cares for the integrity of creation,
    wills the healing and wholeness of all life,
    weeps at the plunder of earth’s goodness.
    And so shall we.

    Today is the day
    God embraces all hues of humanity,
    delights in diversity and difference,
    favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.
    And so shall we.

    Today is the day
    God cries with the masses of starving people,
    despises growing disparity between rich and poor,
    demands justice for workers in the marketplace.
    And so shall we.

    Today is the day
    God deplores violence in our homes and streets,
    rebukes the world’s warring madness,
    humbles the powerful and lifts up the lowly.
    And so shall we.

    Today is the day
    God calls for nations and peoples to live in peace,
    celebrates where justice and mercy embrace,
    exults when the wolf grazes with the lamb.
    And so shall we.

    Today is the day
    God brings good news to the poor,
    proclaims release to the captives,
    gives sight to the blind, and
    sets the oppressed free.
    And so shall we.
    *****************************
    Had I read this when I was looking for a church, I don’t think I would have set foot in a UMC church. Had anyone started spewing this stuff at me, I would have walked out. I joined my church because I got to know the local pastor through a non-profit we both belonged to, and I really liked the way he walked his faith. I have never heard any of this drivel mentioned in any service or any conversation, even though I have participated in many events in larger regional UMC churches and at the District level with members of the UMC hierarchy. There has never been such propaganda laying around anywhere, “continually available” or otherwise. Now I kinda wish there were, since at least there would be some intellectual honesty. As it is, there seems to be no universal courage of conviction. It kinda feels deceitful.

    All of this extraneous UMC stuff—if applied as intended—is nothing but a distraction from “doing the hard internal work.” It focuses on “doing” rather than “being,” like Ken’s point about a prior church of his embarking on a non-Christian mission. It's worse than misusing the pulpit...it risks providing a way to avoid confronting the things in ourselves we should be working on.

    I guess Man perverts everything, huh?
     
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    Last edited: May 4, 2021
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  4. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    In a way, my stance as a non-denominational Christian is a little dangerous or at least to the organized Christian sects it is. One older gentleman approached me and said that as a non-denom I must believe in everything. My response was simply to point out that assumptions that some Christians make bridge into the absurd.

    I went to a Baptist seminary and was ordained by Baptist Convention but yet I wandered into Methodist churches as well as Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, Pentecostal and so forth.
    It feels to me like each denomination faces so many identity issues with inside arguments going on as well as pointing fingers at other denoms that the real issue of getting people to focus on the significance of the cross is lost.

    As the Master said, they have eyes that will not see and ears that will not listen and may I add, mouths that do not preach the Gospel but instead, the worldly concerns of man.
    Many were the times when I was in seminary that at lunch time we students would sit and talk among ourselves about Biblical affairs. When the conversation went to assumptions or things other than what is scripturally sound, my answer was always the same.....Jesus Saves.
     
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  5. John Brunner

    John Brunner Veteran Member
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    I had to redact my other comment because I was getting too verbose.
    Churches would do well to emulate AA. AA knows how to keep the focus where it belongs, as [I believe] it endeavors to make itself the perfect church in so many ways.

    AA has Twelve Traditions (in addition to the 12 Steps). Here are the pertinent ones:

    #5: Each group has but one primary purpose: to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

    #6: An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

    #10: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

    This is to prevent members (and the organization) from going down different rabbit holes as a substitute for doing the hard work on our sobriety (or faith.) All of this outward-looking stuff is--well--outward looking. Working on the political campaign for a declared Christian (or doing all the UMC Social Justice stuff) does not improve one's Christian life...you gotta stay focused on your own walk and on biblical principles while supporting others who are doing the same.

    It saddens me to see the UMC run so far afield, although (as I said) I have not seen this stuff manifest itself on any level...and I've been to events at churches and local HQ in Charlottesville, which is overtly left-leaning. One thing that attracted me to The Methodist Church here in the midst of all these southern Baptists is that the Methodists run their ministers through long-term rigorous training, whereas it strikes me that Baptists will build a church around anyone who "feels the call." I just assumed that Formal Training = Biblically Grounded, while "Feels The Call" = Scripturally Questionable.
     
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  6. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    There are indeed segments that will relate themselves with Baptist tradition which are not fundamentally associated with any major division of Baptists and those can and do recognize someone the congregation wishes to appoint to a position founded by that calling.
    Note: A bit off but my Grandfather was a “self ordained” preacher who pastored several churches in his lifetime as a Pentecostal follower.

    In my case, I went through a Baptist seminary and captured 2 degrees but could not be ordained until a Baptist convention for ordination was held.
    Even then, in the Fundamentalist Baptist or Southern Baptist organizations an ordained minister may not ever be a pastor until he’s recognized as having that calling.
    Of course even then, mistakes are made because people “like” a certain person for their leadership qualities but somehow forget about what a pastor is really supposed to do and be.

    Now back to your initial statement regarding AA. I have to totally agree with you. It’s a sad day when the Bible teaches that we’re to be in the world and not of it but it’s obvious that some churches with their pastors are clearly more concerned with getting mucked down with worldly things than preparing themselves and helping others prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I don't feel as if I need to believe in every distinguishing factor of a church in order to attend and have fellowship with them or even to become a member. The issues that are salvational are what matters and, while denominations may quarrel even about which issues are salvational, I don't quarrel with myself about these things so, as long as the differences are not salvational, as I understand them, I'm good. For example, I joined a Church of Christ in Texas and, while this particular association of churches believed that musical instruments should not be used during worship services, I did not; but neither did I believe that they were essential, so I could easily overlook that.

    When a church takes on "social justice" or "environmental" issues that I do not support, I don't necessarily believe that they are going to hell for it, but neither do I want to lend my support to causes that I oppose. Although I may have no quarrel with a church's statement of faith, I wouldn't remain in a church that was involved in KKK activities, either.
     
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  8. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Veteran Member
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    Just reemember that any and all tithes and offerings that are given can be dedicated to those causes and missions, even when you don't support the causes. In that way, it is kinda like a union....
     
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  9. John Brunner

    John Brunner Veteran Member
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    That's a whole 'nuther subject. Small regional churches resent "corporate" sticking its hand in our pockets, making our decisions, and giving us nothing in return.

    But I get your point. It makes me wonder exactly what activities the UMC might be engaged in that would rub me the wrong way. I doubt they would direct-fund causes outside of the church. And I've never received an invitation to "#RESIST!"

    I know there's support for some number of classic things like homeless shelters, etc. The Saint Andrews Society is a UMC creation, and goes out and gleans to get food for the needy. We get the call in our community, and it's always to help people in crisis (home fires & stuff like that), regardless of who those folks are. Other stuff (like "Peace for Justice Sunday" and "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month") seem to be a direct-give thing, and not taken from the apportionment we're obliged to provide. The same goes for them lobbying for us to do our part to reduce global warming global cooling climate change and increase racial justice (whatever that might be.) I'll have to ask if they're searching for a cure for melanoma. ;)
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    While our local UMC had the extreme leftist pastor, the national park issue was going on here. Locally those who supported the park or other environmentally left issues were often referred to as "greens." I had very few conversations with the leftist UMC pastor, but I liked her husband, although we disagreed on most things. He and his wife came into the restaurant while we were eating one day, and we invited them to sit with us. It was coming up on Christmas, and of them said something about the "hanging of the greens' program or activity that the UMC church was doing, which was probably a reference to decorating the church for Christmas or something. I said, "The hanging of the greens? I could get on board with that." She didn't get it but her husband did and thought it was funny.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I don't much care what political causes someone might want to involve themselves with, and it wouldn't bother me that someone in the church was on another side of one of these issues, but when the church aligns itself on one side of an issue, that's another matter. I was involved in plenty of political issues while I was a deacon in the Baptist church, but I didn't pass petitions around in the church or place political propaganda in the foyer, and I couldn't stay when the other side was encouraged to do that.
     
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  12. John Brunner

    John Brunner Veteran Member
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    I don't see a lot of activism, but the UMC website is chock-full of "get involved," and "go to a demonstration," without any guidance as to whether or not the cause is valid.

    There is lots of evil in the world that is out to set us all against each other. Advising people to "go join a demonstration" or "respond to institutional racism" is not responsible advice.
     
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    When a church becomes a political organization, it's unrealistic to expect those on the other side of their politics to remain. That's the danger, I think. That, and all the more important stuff that is being ignored while the focus is on politics, left or right.
     
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  14. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    I believe I am now financially comfortable enough to become an Episcopalian!


    (I would have to get a release from my Lutheran ties, however...)

    Harold
     
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  15. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    I stopped going to Churches when they became houses of entertainment instead of houses of worship, Bible teaching, and prayer.
     
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