This final resolution might seem a bit ridiculous—that we would have to vote on whether we believe Scripture to be… Scripture, but the truth is, many in the UMC have decided to vote these passages out. My heart in all of this has been to help people think through what they are buying into. The truth is, my hope is these resolutions may even bring division—as in the kind Jesus brought—in order that true believes can walk in genuine unity…
RESOLUTION TO RECOGNIZE SCRIPTURES ON MARRIAGE, SEXUAL PROPRIETY, AND HOMOSEXUALITY AS BEING TRULY SCRIPTURAL
Whereas, the United Methodist Church recognizes Scripture as our “sufficient rule;” and
Whereas, the following fifty verses are universally recognized as coming from the Bible and are further recognized as Scripture,
|Scriptures on Sexual Immorality
1 Cor. 6:17-20
2 Cor. 12:21
1 Peter 2:11
1 Cor. 10:8
I Cor. 5:11
2 Peter 2:17-22
|Scriptures specifically on Homosexuality
1 Timothy 1:8-11
1 Cor. 6:9-11
|Scriptures on Marriage being Male/Female only
I Cor. 7:2
1 Peter 3:7
Colossians 3:18 -19
1 Cor. 11:11-12
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church acknowledges and celebrates that the list of Scriptures contained in the table of this resolution are indeed Scripture, and therefore authoritative and “useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16b NRSV)
Submitted by: Rev. Dr. Craig Green and Livingston First United Methodist Church
Resolved Obedience 6
Desperate to save the institution of the United Methodist Church, our Bishops coined a phrase #BetterTogether. Evidently, the concern for a supposed unity is more important than Scriptural integrity. How do I know that? Because our Bishops have also publicly stated their support for a “solution” to the crisis at hand by allowing every Annual Conference to decide whether they will ordain Homosexual Clergy and allow every pastor and local church to decide whether they will perform gay “marriages.”
Somehow, they think we can stay together by blowing completely apart… Thus, this resolution…
RESOLUTION CONCERNING #BETTERTOGETHER… (BUT ONLY IN JESUS!)
Whereas, A currently popular catch-phrase within the United Methodist Church (#BetterTogether) captures a hope for unity between diverse peoples and theologies; and
Whereas, the intent of the phrase, while admirable, glosses over theological differences that are neither superficial nor matters of interpretation, but rather deal with the very Foundation of the Christian Faith; and
Whereas, true unity is impossible separated from Truth-unity; that any supposed togetherness that denies or dismisses the Tri-unity of the God Head as presented from Genesis to Revelation by God the Word Himself, Jesus, is ultimately and dangerously false; and
Whereas, “#BetterTogether” is premised on a sandy foundation unless it is built upon the Solid Rock of Jesus who calls us together in Himself and in what He has taught us; and
Whereas, there are at least fifty Scriptures breathed by Jesus addressing issues of sexual immorality, homosexuality, and male/female-only marriage that are unequivocally clear in calling the Church to be together in righteousness, not political correctness;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference gladly affirms that we are BetterTogether—but only when we are together in, by, and through Jesus; and
Further, be it resolved, thatwe recognize that to deny Jesus as God the Word or to ignore what Jesus defines as sin—or righteousness—is inherently NOT together and NOT better; and
Finally, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference affirms the authority of the Word of God to define and boundary what is truth and freedom apart from what brings bondage, so we are together better on the Rock of Jesus!
Submitted by: Rev. Dr. Craig Green and First United Methodist Church, Livingston
It is amazing what we blame on God… When a tornado blows up, it is often called “an act of God.” When people embrace and justify lifestyles that are clearly contradictory to Scripture, the explanatory phrase is usually, “but God made me this way.”
Funny, but you don’t often hear that defense when the crime is murder, or child pornography, or armed robbery. Even the most liberal church folks seem to realize that God did not make a serial killer “that way.” But when it comes to sexual expression, crediting God for behaviors He clearly has placed off limits is all the rage. Hence, this resolution…
RESOLUTION ON “THE FALL MADE ME THIS WAY”
TENNESSEE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Whereas, a common phrase in the culture, “God made me this way” is Scripturally incorrect and is often used to define and defend behavior and thought patterns that are clearly not from God and do not reflect God’s character and nature; and
Whereas, Scripture makes clear that the Fall, not God, is to blame for the groaning that all of creation makes while awaiting the restoration to perfection coming at the end of the age; and
Whereas, the Fall away from God was not God’s idea or action, but rather the willful rebellion of Adam that differentiates original sin from God’s original righteousness; and
Whereas, Scripture teaches, and United Methodism affirms that all humanity is born in sin (fallen) and therefore stands in need of a Savior, Jesus by Name; and
Whereas, fallen behaviors and thought patterns clearly do not reflect the Glory of God, since God came in the Person of Jesus to rescue humanity from fallenness; and
Whereas, fallen behavior has been defined in Scripture to be anything that does not reflect the Person of Jesus, the second Adam, including but not limited to abuse, hate, theft, dishonesty, sexual behavior outside of monogamous female/male marriage, and alcohol and drug abuse;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference recognize and celebrate the God who comes to rescue and rebirth the fallen and calls us to a transformed life that reflects in mirror likeness (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) the Glory of the Christ as opposed to the sullied existence fallen humanity inherited from Adam and Eve; and
Further, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference encourages United Methodists everywhere to proclaim that “the Fall made me this way, but God is remaking me in God’s Way!”
Submitted by: Rev. Dr. Craig Green and First United Methodist Church, Livingston
One of the many arguments being used in church circles to defend creative rewriting of Scripture to placate cultural sensibilities is termed contextualization. Essentially, the argument is made that what is received as truth in Africa, or Asia, or rural America, will not “float” in sophisticated urban America.
Homosexuality, of course, is the presenting issue. Contextualization advocates argue that it is good and right to present the gospel in ways that people will accept it—even if it is a different gospel than the one presented in Scripture, particularly in terms of human sexual practice. They (arrogantly) assume that Africa (or poor rural folk) will “catch up with” their (supposed) “wisdom” if we just give them a few more decades….
Here is the resolution we are presenting that addresses contextualization.
RESOLUTION ON CONTEXTUALIZATION
TENNESSEE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Whereas, the term Contextualization has become a popular term in our Church cultural, used to explain the concept that varied cultural contexts call for the Gospel to be presented in various ways; and
Whereas, the Scriptural justification for contextualization is seemingly found in 1 Corinthians 9:22b, which reads, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some” (NRSV); and
Whereas, this justification for contextualization seems reasonable until placed in the light of 1 Corinthians 9:21b, which states “I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law,” which makes clear that the cultural context does not and cannot override Biblical truth and morality; and
Whereas, the law and love of Christ does not therefore bend to the context, but rather, the context bends to the loving law of Christ Jesus;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference values the Christ over the Context; celebrating God’s love which transforms cultural contexts by aligning them with Christ’s love, and not the other way around; and
Be it further resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference champions “Christ-textualization” as the way to change a culture and the world, not contextualization—when used as a justification to change the Gospel.
Submitted by: Rev. Dr. Craig Green and Livingston First United Methodist Church
Resolved Obedience 3
The Christian Church has faced many struggles and battles over Her two-thousand-year history. Attacks from without and within are common—and they almost always have a presenting issue, the thing that is most loudly discussed, as well as a core issue, which has almost always revolved around attacks on the reality of the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, and the reliability of the Scriptures…
We are in such times again, and it is rending the United Methodist Church apart. Below is a third resolution that I and we are presenting to our Annual Conference this June…
RESOLUTION FOR BIBLICAL ORTHODOXY
THE TENNESSEE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Whereas, individuals and groups have arisen repeatedly within Christendom challenging the veracity of the Scriptures, the humanity and/or divinity of Jesus, the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, or the reality of the Trinity; and
Whereas, while the presenting issues over the centuries have varied, the core Christological issue has not: Is Jesus Christ truly the fully-God, fully-human living Word of God as presented in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament… or not? And,
Whereas, the presenting issue in the late third century championed by Arian and his many followers denied the full divinity of Christ; and
Whereas, the current presenting issue revolving around human sexuality essentially does the same thing, denying the assertion in John 1 that Jesus is the pre-existent, co-eternal, living Word of God by denying the veracity of what Jesus spoke both orally (the “red” letters) and through inspiration (the “black” letters) of Scripture; and
Whereas, the core issue then as now is the same—the denial that Jesus is God the Word and that the Word has authority within the Church—which undercuts the reality of a Triune God and contradicts the central teaching of the Nicene Creed; and
Whereas, the Bishops of the early church repeatedly showed the courage to confront heresies and incorrect or misguided teachings in defense of the authority of the Word as contained in the Scriptures despite pressure from “really nice folks” within and without the Church who were pressuring for change that aligned with the prevailing attitudes in the culture; and
Whereas, the Bishops in the early Church realized that there was no “holy center” or middle ground between Arianism and Homousian belief; and
Whereas, Bishops and leaders of the modern church should likewise realize the incongruity between sexoualikios protimisi opos kai theos (sexual preference as god) and Homousian (One God in three Persons) belief; and
Whereas, the United Methodist Church desperately needs leaders of equal courage in this day to confront both the presenting and the core issues threatening the very life of the Church;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church calls for our Bishops to exhibit the same courage as their early Church counterparts to defend the Authority of the Word, the Reality of the Trinity, and the supremacy of orthodox Christianity considering the onslaught of antithetical teaching and thought in our time.
Submitted by Rev. Dr. Craig Green and Livingston First United Methodist Church
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon… Mark 15:33 NIV
Three hours of darkness preceded Jesus’s last breath on the cross. All of Israel lay in darkness… It must have reminded many of what they had just remembered and recited on the night before as they celebrated the Passover.
The first 8 plagues endured by Egypt before the Passover were specifically directed at various Egyptian deities. But the ninth plague, while directed toward the Egyptian god Re, the sun god, was different—because Re symbolized the Pharaoh himself… and pharaoh pictures the hardhearted fallen angel named lucifer…
Three days of darkness descended on the Egyptians. But the Light remained shining on the Israelites. Darkness represents the enemy—ultimately Satan, while Light represents the One True God, the Light of the World…
On that Friday, as darkness covered all Israel, an alarming reality must have set in those who had spiritual eyes to see. Three hours of darkness… Three days of darkness… But this time, the darkness covered Israel!
In the ninth plague, the plague of darkness, Pharaoh defiantly denied Moses’ request that Israel could take their livestock with them— “no” to worship sacrifices, and “no” to wealth transferred…
Darkness himself does not want the Kingdom of God to Worship, nor does he want to let go of his wealth… But God’s Kingdom of Light and Life is far more powerful than Satan’s kingdom of darkness and death!
In the 10th plague, God required something that had not been required before—an act of faith. They (Israel, and any foreigners who had ears to hear) were required to take the Blood of the Innocent Substitute, a young unblemished lamb, and apply it to the door frames of their dwelling.
The Blood, applied in faith, did two things. It forced death to pass by, and for Life Himself to Passover—into their very dwellings—their homes—their lives! (Exodus 12:12; 23)
The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn not covered by the Blood. What a powerful picture of the necessity for all of us to have the Blood applied to our lives—by faith!
But there is more to the picture. In Israel, a time was coming when every Firstborn would be dedicated to God—and that the Priesthood would take the place of the Firstborn in being dedicated to God.
This all becomes important as we remember that Jesus is the Firstborn of all Creation and the Firstborn of the Resurrection, and that the Church is called “the Church of the Firstborn.”
This means that Jesus is the eternal God of Creation, that we are all Priests under the Headship of the Great High Priest, Jesus, and that we will, like Him, be resurrected!
CAN GOD PAINT A PICTURE, OR WHAT?! As thoughtful Israelites reflected on that dark day, many must have had at least an inkling that the picture of Passover and the Exodus was fulfilled in Jesus, who must be, therefore, the Messiah of Israel, and the Savior of the world!
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus is the Light of the World! Jesus is the Firstborn of Creation and the Firstborn from the dead! The Blood of Jesus causes death to pass over us and allows for His presence to enter into us! In Jesus, we are called to Worship until darkness shudders in terror, and to understand that the wealth of satan’s kingdom will one day belong entirely to the people of God!
There is a connection between suffering and obedience that tends to make us uncomfortable with both. As we enter Holy Week, it becomes impossible to separate the two—and we should eternally praise God for it!
Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 5:8 says, Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
This passage can seem like a quandary and leads many to ask:
Jesus, as the Perfect Son of God was and is perfectly obedient. He was conceived without Sin and did not bear the fallenness of the flesh within Him. Jesus is perfectly God!
But Jesus is also the Perfect Son of Man. He is eternally the “Second Adam.” His human nature was susceptible to the same temptations that the first Adam was susceptible to. Like Adam, Jesus began without sin. But in stark contrast, Jesus remained without sin—turning to Father in obedience with every insult, every test, every punch, every slap, every indignity, every lie, every whip strike, every thorn puncture, every nail, and every drop of blood… Jesus is perfectly Human!
Adam the First, meanwhile, never suffered anything in the perfect Garden and yet turned away from the Father in outrageous disobedience.
As a human being, Jesus had the same free will as the rest of us do, and as Adam had. Yet He always responded in obedience—even while suffering unjustly and horrifically.
And that leads us to a great mystery—suffering can actually “perfect” (complete) us as we respond to it correctly. Suffering is a given in a fallen world. Our response to it is contingent upon our free will. Do we turn to Father in hope and faith when the pain erupts, or do we erupt at the Father over the injustice of it all?
In a strange way, Adam’s lack of suffering left him weak when dealing with decisions of the heart. For those tested and purified by the crucible of suffering, turning to and trusting in God’s perfect love can strengthen us and lead us to the joy of obedience!
As Romans 8:17 says, we children become heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
As fallen human beings, God does not expect us to be either perfect or perfectly obedient. Yet in times of suffering, as we choose to trust God during confusion and pain, we grow in obedience and are perfected (strengthened) in our connection to our Brother, Jesus.
Jesus is the Perfect High Priest. He is perfectly Divine… And He is perfectly Human. He suffered as a human and perfectly identifies with our suffering. As we turn to Him in our suffering, we identify with His Glorious Divinity.
As Coheirs with Christ Jesus, we will reign and rule with Him eternally in perfect obedience—obedience that was formed in us not by easy comfort, but rather by being comforted by the One who knows perfect suffering…!
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…!
Trust and Obey…
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
This great hymn of the faith was written by John H. Sammis, a Presbyterian Pastor in 1887. It captures succinctly the foundational truth of our faith: To know Jesus is to trust Jesus is to obey Jesus…!
In preaching and teaching on obedience this year, this song has often popped into my head. While pondering what to write in this blog, the Lord showed me the “great disconnect” this hymn uncovers.
Many people today have trouble with the word “obedience.” Many folks struggle with even the most basic and simple acts of obedience concerning the faith—things like committing to a local congregation, regularly attending worship services, reading the Word, spending time in prayer and worship, and of course, tithing.
Why do so many find it hard to obey even the little stuff Jesus calls us to do repeatedly in the Word? Because so many people have deep-seated trust issues that continually cause them to fear commitment, question authority—even obvious Biblical authority—and basically struggle with obedience—even to and with Jesus.
Trust Issues are real and usually crippling in terms of relationships. People who have experienced violations in trust—usually in their formative years—find it extremely hard to trust anyone—even Jesus…!
Before we can obey Jesus, we must trust Jesus. Before we can trust Him, we must experience healing from Him concerning our trust issues.
It is clear why many of us get stuck in a cycle that never quite gets us to a place of deep trust and easy obedience. Because we have such a problem trusting anyone, we never allow Jesus into the most wounded places—the very places that need healing the most. Because we never experience that healing, we never get to a place where relational obedience just flows out of trusting love.
We don’t trust. We never get healed. We fear obedience. We feel like failures but can’t seem to get out of the vicious cycle. We don’t trust. We never get healed. We fear obedience…
Sound familiar? As a Pastor, I grieve for those who spend so much energy explaining why they don’t need a church, why tithing isn’t for them, why reading the Word just doesn’t happen, why prayer and worship “just take too much time.” It takes far more energy to make excuses than it does to trust and obey. BUT FOR THOSE WHO HAD TRUST ROBBED FROM THEM, THIS ISN’T AN EASY THING AT ALL!
So how do you get out of the vicious cycle? How do you get healed of the trust wounds and discover the joy of trusting—and obeying? That question could take a few more blogs to answer, but there is a verse of the hymn that may be incredibly helpful to you…
But we never can prove the delights of His love, until all on the altar we lay; for the favor He shows, and the joy He bestows, are for those who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Tina’s excitement On Wednesday night was beautiful, amazing, and impossible for her to contain. She is currently teaching grades K thru 8 on Wednesday nights—NOT because we have a shortage of teachers, but rather because she is preparing all the kids TOGETHER for the Churchwide Family Passover Seder we are having on Holy Thursday, March 29th, in the FLC at 6:00pm. All adults and children are encouraged to attend!
We will resume the normal separation of children by age groups after the Seder.
The Wednesday Kindergarten through 8th grade group numbers close to 30, and is growing with new kids weekly, but Tina has that “Teacher’s anointing” to keep a large and diverse group on track. It was the Holy Spirit, however, who took center stage Wednesday!
Tina shared that, “the story of Moses and the Burning Bush came alive to the children as He made it clear that He knew each of THEIR names and was calling THEM by name just as surely and supernaturally as He did Moses.” The Presence of the Lord in the room kept the young men and women glued to the story—and to the reality that THEY are being called to a God-sized life!
It was one of those nights when teaching our children and youth is just an overwhelming joy. (Honestly, as many of you know, it doesn’t always feel that way…!) Our decision to combine the classes for a few weeks and teach them all together the glories of the Passover was made so that this Church-wide Passover Seder will have the kind of impact on our children we all hope it to have—a life-changing impact!
That Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away our sins” was beautifully and powerfully displayed at the Passover Seder He enjoyed—and suffered through—the night He was betrayed. The Passover Seder in His day was a bit simpler than the modern one—because the redemptive pictures and story was so much a part of Jewish life then that they didn’t need as elaborate of pictures or explanations as were needed once Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.
Jesus and His disciples, as is made clear in the Gospel accounts, were totally obedient to the traditional sharing of the Seder meal and the retelling and representing of the Passover narrative. Jesus, however, “changed the script,” as He explained how His Blood, His sacrifice, His love, His life and death and resurrection would forever fulfill what the ancient Passover could only fore-picture…
We, too, are called to be obedient to the NEW and everlasting Passover narrative as presented by Jesus—to celebrate it often, and to do so in the timelessness of His once-and-forever sacrifice. Yes, we celebrate it every week as a Church Family in Communion; but the experience of the full Seder meal and liturgy is incredibly powerful.
So please rejoice with me and Tina over the way our kids are growing to “taste and see”—and hear and feel—the greatness of mercy of our God!
Plan also on making reservations to be part of the Church-wide Seder meal and Passover Celebration planned for 6:00 March 29th in the Family Life Center. We will worship, remember, enter into, see the deeper picture, and celebrate a unique and meaning-rich meal together. You really don’t want to miss it!