It’s not enough to be against something, even something abhorrent. You have to decide what you’re for. This is the challenge facing the traditionalist (evangelical/orthodox/conservative/rompi
It’s not enough to oppose wrong teaching and practice on sexuality. It’s not enough to oppose turning the Gospel into a political program. It’s not enough to say, “the progs have gone too far.” It’s not enough to draw a line in the sand and say, We will not go beyond this point.
Let’s assume that the traditionalists either finally become the dominant faction – not just in General Conference legislation, but in governance at the Annual Conference level – in The UMC. Alternatively, let’s assume that the progs finally take us where we refuse to go and the trads walk out to start their own. Or we can be truly optimistic and assume that GC 2020 begins the process of sorting the factions within The UMC into different denominations, amicably. What then? Around what shall we cohere, if we are finally to have our way?
We have been in opposition so long, we can’t agree on what kind of church we want to have. Each of us thinks he or she knows, and that the others share in that knowledge and commitment. But do we?
We have folks within the traditionalist faction who think re-baptism is perfectly acceptable. We have folks who think the definition of the Trinity is not a fundamental doctrine that we all need to agree upon. We have inherited, and gotten used to navigating, an incoherent clergy system that has allowed each of us to define call and ordination how we please. We resent and resist those placed over us (with reason, I’ll allow). If we are to govern the denomination – or become one of our own – we will have to agree upon what baptism is, who God is, what clergy are and how they are made . . . and we will have to obey somebody, lest everybody just “does what is right in their own eyes.”
It’s not enough to turn back the progs’ attempts to make us into something else. WE have to make us into something else. And we have to agree on what that something else is.