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Ecclesiastical is a fancy Greek word for Church—specifically, in this case, for Church leaders.
Below is an email that I sent to our General Conference Delegates, who will be gathering in Saint Louis next February to determine the future of the United Methodist Church—even if the United Methodists will remain part of God’s Church as defined in Scripture… We got in this mess because many of our leaders have been very disobedient to God’s Word…
As our Delegates to the General Conference, you have an awesome and fearful responsibility. I appreciate your willingness to represent our Annual Conference as we decide whether we will continue to be part of the “One, holy catholic and apostolic church,” or if we are now leaving it to form a new movement “foundationed” on sexual licentiousness.
If we were deciding between two or three equally Biblical viewpoints, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. The pressure to pretend that this is the case is extreme; it is also absurd.
This is nothing less than the choice between Apostolic and apostate; between truth and heresy.
Imagine that you were at the First Church Council as recorded in Acts 15. The presenting issue was Gentile inclusion in the faith–specifically, did gentiles have to first become Jewish to become Christian. The deeper issue was salvation by grace through faith, not law. Grace, as you know, prevailed–including the grace to “abstain from sexual immorality.” (Grace is NEVER a license to sin…!
Surely there were good-hearted folks on both sides of the issue. But can you imagine the convoluted mess had the Church Council decided to “kick the can down the road” for 40 years, or to say that it was up to a vote of each congregation or jurisdiction as to how they dealt with the issue?!
Can you imagine James standing up and saying there was a nice center place where most of us could agree to disagree, where anyone could do anything they wanted as long as they kept the money flowing to Jerusalem…?!
Thank God the early leaders were just that–LEADERS!
Jump ahead about 350 years.
Arius was, no doubt, a really nice guy, and a presbyter in the Church in Alexandria, Egypt. He taught–and many followed–that Jesus wasn’t eternally God, but rather a creation of godliness. The Nicene Creed was created to deal with the heresy, and the division in the church was at times serious and severe; yet the truth of Jesus–eternally God the Son prevailed…
Can you imagine if the early Church Mothers and Fathers had allowed a system where the Church in Alexandria could do it’s own thing around it’s little deity jesus, while the Church in Cairo continued to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints?” That kind of unity is a farce. That kind of leadership is criminally neglectful–and the early Church leaders would have nothing to do with it…!
Make no mistake about it–you are going to the Council in Jerusalem; you are going to the Council of Nicene. You are voting whether the 50 Scriptures that speak to sexual immorality, homosexual practice, and male/female-only marriage–all breathed by God (2 Tim 3:16-17) and spoken into existence by the Preexistent, Co-eternal, Living Word of God (John 1)–are still valid, or whether we have somehow come to the place that we can define love better than the One who IS love!
It never should have come to this, but it has. Make no mistake–As a pastor I cannot be part of a system that denies the Deity of Jesus by denying that He is the Word of God, or that denies the power of Grace to heal the sexually broken.
I trust you will vote with Jesus in your heart and two thousand years of courage in your hand…!