Another reason it is hard to stay in the Methodist church

The pastors at my church are excellent and there are good things going on around the world, such as with our orthodox friends in the Kenyan church.  But the national leadership in the U.S. is awful and there are many Methodist churches I wouldn’t send my dogs to.   They are more charismatic in their style, anyway (No offense to my charismatic friends, just a throw-away gag.  I know we tend to be boring worshipers!).

Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, who is staunchly pro-legalized abortion, is a perfect example of what is wrong with the denomination:

The provision of health care for all without regard to status or ability to pay is portrayed in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:24-35). In a conversation that began with the question of how one might obtain eternal life, Jesus asserted that one must love God and one’s neighbor. In response to the next question as to who one’s neighbor is, Jesus told of a Samaritan, an outsider, who coming upon a wounded traveler, provided him with health care. Jesus described the duty to provide health care as owed regardless of the merit or ethnicity of the person in need, and owed to the limit of one’s economic capacity. By the way, this is from #3201, “Health Care for All in the United States,” 2008 Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church.

Twisting the Parable of the Good Samaritan to support universal health care — including government funding of the crushing and dismemberment of innocent human beings who are clearly our neighbors —  is scrip-torture of the highest degree. 

Note how Winkler and the like ask Caesar to take money  — by threat of force, loss of property or imprisonment — from neighbor A to give to neighbor B and then audaciously consider themselves to be the Good Samaritan in the story.  How charitable of them.  Go release some endorphins, folks!

Of course, the real Good Samaritan gave his own time and money, and without coercion.  Winkler-types aren’t even in the story.  They would be a new character, petitioning Caesar to force the Samaritan to help and taking away his opportunity to be loving and generous.

Also note his closing comment:

Any congregation that doesn’t seek health care for all of the uninsured should be sued for malpractice!

I’d say that any congregation seeking glory for asking the government to take money from one group to “care” for another should be sued for malpractice.  And I put care in quotes because Winkler & Co. consider this to be health care.

P.S. Winkler’s implication that doing good deeds merits eternal life is bad theology as well.

43 thoughts on “Another reason it is hard to stay in the Methodist church”

  1. The left believes that acts of individual charity are far too important to be left in the hands of individuals — far better to put the money in the hands of socialists who invariably reward all the wrong behaviors. And, of course, they cease to be acts of charity, because the recipients have rights and entitlements.

    The modern day version would have the Good Samaritan being sued for interfering — either by the victim or the thieves or by the medical services union. Meanwhile, the Innkeeper, a political appointee, would get to send an inflated bill to the government.

    Oh, yeah. And the wounded guy would die because of excess wait times.


  2. Another example here:

    I love the Editor’s Note:

    ” GCORR works to eradicate the sins of racism, prejudice and divisiveness throughout the denomination and the world by healing and empowering people, and transforming institutions to create inclusive, multicultural relationships and ministries.”

    I seem to recall when the Bible was about transforming people, not institutions. Gentle hint. Institutions do not have hearts to transform. And you do not show the love of Christ to instituions.


  3. Three weeks ago, I started the candidacy process to become a local pastor in the UMC (and then move on to seminary). Every day, I wonder if I’ve put my money on a loser. What comes out of the GBCS and GCORR is so disheartening and disgusting that it almost beggars description.

    That said, there are so many good people in the UMC – people who have no idea what is being said in their name by our bureaucracy – and I press on in the hope that I can help (in some small way) to lead those kinds of people to greater faithfulness in fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Take heart. The folks who speak this kind of nonsense don’t matter in the great sweep of the Kingdom. God will prevail.


    1. Hi Joe,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. It depends where you are. The Texas Conference seems to be much better than average.

      My philosophy is simple: Stay and fight for the truth, or leave. But don’t stay and put up with the bad teaching.

      Blessings to you and your ministry!


    2. Yes, Joe, there are also good people who do know what is going on, and stay to fight for what is right. And God still uses the UMC.


  4. I have difficulty understanding the doctrinal appeal of Methodism.

    If one adheres to pure Calvinism, or pure Presbyterianism, there is at least some conception of a teaching authority (a magisterium). With Methodism, or Anglicanism, or most forms of Lutheranism, teaching authority is mostly reduced to popular vote.

    Once truth is reduced to popular vote, the trainwreck is inevitable.


    1. Typical Calvanistic straw man argument. Wesleyan-Arminiam theology is not a matter of democracy. True Arminianism teaches that truth is revealed by God to us just as Calvinism teaches.

      Don’t saddle Wesleyan-Arminian theology with the baggage of our nut jobs unless you want all Calvinists to own Fred Phelps and similar nut jobs.


      1. John, as far as I know LCB is Catholic. He’s also our resident philosopher and hasn’t been around in a while. I was beginning to think he was stuck somewhere in a vortex of logic from which there was no escape.


      2. How can you possibly connect Phelps (of the Westboro Baptist Church) with Calvin. (or with any sane person or theology). There is a “new” strain on Baptist Calvinists, but I’m not buying that the Pheplster is hanging with them


      3. John,

        If I may help clear up some misconceptions, I brought up the issue because I am genuinely curious about it. I am Roman Catholic, but if I were to be a Protestant I would almost certainly be old style Presbyterian.

        It seems to me that Methodism, both as envisioned by the Wesleyan brothers and as it appears today, is a rather significant departure from the expressions of faith found in the early reformers, who maintained some conception of a teaching authority.

        Once the matter shifts to subjective interpretation the whole endevour falls apart, and I have difficulty seeing how Methodism, Anglicanism, or most forms of Lutheranism are able to avoid that doctrinal crisis. As such, I have difficulty understanding the doctrinal appeal of Methodism.

        I don’t have difficulty understanding the doctrinal appeal of pure Calvinism or pure Presbyterianism.


  5. Neil, reading your post, I had a thought (probably not original). There are many of those people (lefties) that believe there is no God and will fight against any reference to God, but then will tell us that we need to obey (their interpretation of) His word.


  6. This is an old debate using old terms and examples..

    For what it is worth, the United Methodiist Social Principles recognize the role of government in ensuring that all people have access to health care. To the extent that the GBCS is reflecting the Social Principles and the Book of Resolutions, it seems a bit curious to attack them for that.

    Many learned and devout Christians disagree about the issue.

    On the abortion issue, the position of the Social Principles is pretty clear as well.

    Again, you may disagree with the denominational statements on health care and abortion, but it seems a bit odd to critique a national board for following the positions adopted and affirmed at the General Conference.


    1. The BoD position on abortion is as clear as mud. Something only a committee could love.

      Do you think his take on the Good Samaritan was accurate? Do you know the scientific fact ghat abortion kills a human being?

      Do you use the same reasoning with pro-gay advocates as you do here?

      Sent from my iPhone


    2. [quote]To the extent that the GBCS is reflecting the Social Principles and the Book of Resolutions, it seems a bit curious to attack them for that.[/quote]

      Considering the GBCS uses their weight and influence to put that language in the BoD, usually through underhanded “consent calendar” shenanigans, it is perfectly acceptable to attack them for that:


  7. The GBCS acts only on those parts of the Social Principles it likes. It twists them to justify its predetermined agenda.

    The GBCS should be prohibited from shaping the Social Principles themselves. It is perverse to have them point to the Social Principles as the excuse for their actions when they use our funds to lobby to make the Social Principles say what they want, so they have a green light to run amok.

    For lay people who do learn about the rogue, abhorrent actions of the GBCS there is little we can do except restrict our gifts so not a dime possibly goes to there. We should complain to our bishops and demand they speak against the GBCS, get ourselves appointed representatives to annual conferences and work there through the social justice committees and oppose contributions to GBCS, and keep broadcasting information about how this group is abusing its powers and the gifts of the faithful of the UMC. Our ultimate goal should be the abolition of the GBCS.


  8. There’s little difference morally between abortion and children dying after they’re born because of a lack of health care.

    Our infant mortality rate of 45th in the world is a national sin. The 44 countries who have fewer infants die are a very diverse group, but they all have one thing in common: universal health care.

    Abortion may be more moral, because in some cases it saves the life of the mother, whereas tying the health care we give babies after they’re born to the wealth of the parents is always wrong.

    If your argument is that everyone has access to health care through the emergency room, don’t even go there. Can a mom go get ultrasounds, baby vitamins or a wellness check at the emergency room?

    To some of us Methodists, being anti-public health care is just like being pro-abortion. I suggest your views are based more on your dislike of the government and taxation than they are on the teachings of Jesus.


    1. As much as I agree with your general sentiments on public healthcare (and I have to declare my bias on the matter as the fortunate recipient of completely free healthcare paid for by the taxpayer, ie wealthier people), I don’t see the similarity between its detractors and pro-abortionists. It may be true that mothers won’t get those things in an emergency room but there are other places where they can get them, and I’m sure Neil will set you straight on that.

      In my experience of commenting here. most of the “regulars” are quite open about the things they dislike about their government, and I have to add that although I disagree with them on many things, I have never heard any of them mis-characterise or mis-represent the teachings of Jesus to suit their own agenda.


    2. “There’s little difference morally between abortion and children dying after they’re born because of a lack of health care.”

      You are correct. In each case the parents are totally responsible for the immoral choice perpetrated upon the child. In each case the parents were obviously not thinking about the welfare of the child when they decided to gratify their sexual desires. In each case the child suffers because they were the result of its parents “accident”.

      You bring up the life of the mother, but rarely will you see an anti-abortion proponent defend risking a mother’s life if the pregnancy truly endangers it. So that angle doesn’t play here at all.

      But if two people cannot afford to have and properly raise a child, perhaps morality states that they should not engage in sexual intercourse. Then there would be no problem with health care costs for a pregnancy that can’t happen.

      More importantly, there will always be a safety net for the truly poor (even when the poor act stupidly and irresponsibly in their sexual activity). It seems a Christian church worth its salt could spend a bit more time preaching about sexual purity, both for its practical as well as spiritual benefits, rather than cave to worldy justifications for abortion.


  9. You oversimplify the infant mortality comparisons. Many nations that report a lower infant mortality than the US simply exclude children born under certain weights, while the US includes them in the statistics. You also fail to note that there are countries with worse infant mortality rates that have universal health care. Please don’t invoke Jesus, as though he would want to see people sent to jail for not purchasing the precise insurance product mandated by the federal government (which is in both the House and Senate bills supported by the GBCS). Instead of using the force of government to spread grace, might not Jesus suggest the UMC sell some of its real estate to provide health services to pregnant mothers and their newborns? How many lives could we save by selling the ultra-expensive real estate and building occupied by the GBCS on Capitol Hill? WWJD, indeed..


  10. It’s enough that you understand that there are Christians who see lack of public health as morally equivalent to abortion, or worse.

    We will be sorted into goats and into sheep depending on how we treat the least of these. I don’t think “we didn’t want the government to do it” is going to be an adequate excuse for the sins which our current system institutionalizes.

    Government is an institution given us by God. It is the mechanism by which we cooperate to accomplish things we cannot do ourselves. Government is a good thing — if you think not, move to Somalia and see what the absence of it looks like.

    The concept that government is bad is closely related to the concept that Christianity is all about the individual. It’s all about me. My personal salvation, my money, my time. The world is centered on me and anything that limits that is inherently bad. To be a Christian, I don’t have to do anything; I just have to believe the correct doctrine.

    So our fight for the freedom to walk past the sick man in the ditch becomes more important to us than the plain fact there’s a sick man in the ditch who needs our help.


    1. Equating crushing and dismembering innocent humans with not advocating taking other’s money to give away just demonstrates the depraviy of liberal morality.

      Sent from my iPhone


    2. You also have multiple false dichotomies. Just because we oppose this ridiculous series of bills doesn’t mean we are anarchists.

      And just because we think it is a bad idea doesn’t mean we are greedy. I didn’t realize you had researched my calendar and tax records to conclude that I’m a goat.

      Sent from my iPhone


  11. In a hypothetical situation where 40 million people who had survived the womb and were…-lets see… I’ll pick the arbitrary age of 2 in keeping with one of those who understands where abortion thinking leads, Peter Singer…-less than 2 years old, and it were legal to dismember them, and throw them in the trash bin, without anesthesia I might add lest we be forced to admit what is actually being done, we could all breath a sigh of relief that those who were not being dismembered and were not in danger of such could count on the church’s support of this practice because those advocating it were doing so in the name of helping “the least of these”. Where’s the logic in that?

    And besides, what ever happened to the Methodist Church’s “open minds and open hearts” slogan. I say, it sounds like there’s a whole lot of judgmentalism going on here in this judgment:

    My personal salvation, my money, my time. The world is centered on me and anything that limits that is inherently bad. To be a Christian, I don’t have to do anything; I just have to believe the correct doctrine.

    Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound open minded or open hearted to me.


  12. “Government is an institution given us by God?”

    You’re kidding, right? You honestly believe that Caesar’s man Pontius Pilate who crucified Christ was given power over the people of Judah and Israel by God?

    The only reason God set Kings over the Hebrews was because they asked for a king so they could be like every other regional power. Even then God warns the Hebrews through Samuel that this is not such a great idea (1 Samuel 8:11-18).

    Government is NOT given us by God. Government is institution WE asked for and WE implement and WE must bear the consequences of every evil committed by government in our name.

    Even the Good Samaritan story is misinterpreted here! The people of authority and stature are the ones who fail to provide care to the fallen man. It is an ordinary person, the socially outcast, who gives of his resources to care for him.
    Caring for the sick is OUR ministry, not to be fobbed off on the wealthy and powerful.

    In the 18th and 19th Centuries Methodists built schools, universities and hospitals. Now we’re reduced to lambasting our own members in Congress with scripted letters filled with biblical misinterpretation and cockeyed views of government. How do pro-choice Christians reconcile their views with Paul’s idea that we are all one body?

    I’m beginning to wonder if Christians really need to be in any denomination at all, much less the UMC.


  13. A couple of thoughts:
    I’m surprised that there was less discussion about the “salvation earned by good deeds as bad theology comment” – this is a big issue for Protestants since the Bible seems to clearly teach that we are saved as we love; in answer to the question “what must I do to inherit eternal life” Jesus said “Love God, love your neighbor”; in summing up his arguments about grace and law in Galatians, Paul says “the only thing that matters is faith, working by love.” (Gal. 5:6); again Jesus – when he depicts the last Judgment depicts the saved and the damned being seperated based upon their works of love (or lack thereof – Matthew 25:31-46). Wesley himself has a strong “works of love” element in his theology; in “The Scripture Way of Salvation” (his best sermon on what salvation means) he clearly says that those who are justified by faith must engage in works of love (if they have opportunity, unlike the theif on the cross) if they are to finally be saved.

    Wesleyan theology, while we agree with Luther on justification by faith alone, has always emphasized the need for a life of love if one is to attain final salvation (and in this respect is closer to some aspects of Roman catholic soteriology than is Lutheran or Calvinist theology; indeed on this point Wesley is probably closer to the Early Church Fathers than he is to the Reformers). And, of course, in the Bible love (‘agape’) is always manifested in action – it is not simply a feeling.

    So you could connect Winklers comments here back to Wesleyan and Biblical theology on this one point. Unfortunately, it seems to me that forcing taxpayers to “serve” their neighbors through government programs completely overthrows the sanctifying grace of serving others in works of love – the point is that we become generous as we give, and we become humble as we serve, and we become loving as we love. Simply sending a check to the government (at the threat of legal sanction) would have no impact on my growth in grace, and this undercuts Mr. Winkler’s appeal to the command to love as a basis for a government run social service program.


    1. This was an interesting post.

      I’m a bit hesitant to weigh in, as I think others might have been, for three reasons.

      1) There is a broad general consensus that a major component of having an authentic relationship with Christ Jesus entails an individual seeking to serve the Kingdom by serving others
      2) The issue can get very complex very quickly, and often there are real issues with semantics (with words being used in only slightly different ways), and this close to the holidays I made the judgment “I just really don’t have the time to start an interwebz discussion on salvation”
      3) The plain meaning of the phrase Neil used is probably what he intended by it. Salvation earned by good deeds is bad theology.

      But, to reiterate what I said at the start, I found your comments really interesting.


      1. I appreciate the kind offers, but I’m not quite ready to leave the UMC to the fakes and the saved-but-very-confused and biblically illiterate leaders and laity.

        Sent from my iPhone


      2. I assume you are wildly opposed to legal recognition of oxymoronic same-sex marriage. After all, the Methodist Book of Discipline is very clear and biblical on that count.

        100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.

        100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.

        100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).

        0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

        I know some biblical illiterates try to change the BoD every year, but they should leave the denomination if they disagree, right? After all, the Libs here think I should leave because I’m trying to change the church back in a biblical direction, when it held more consistently to the authority of scripture, Jesus’ divinity and exclusivity, the sanctity of human life, etc.


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