Well, not really.
When “Cancel Culture” comes to church, it finds a welcoming home among Progressive and Liberationist United Methodists.
A traditionalist Methodist is what John Wesley called “a simple, Bible Christian.” Being a traditionalist means having a deep and abiding commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, to personal and social holiness, to the Christian faith as expressed and experienced for over 2,000 years, and to being sent together, in love, compassion, and justice, for the healing of the world in Jesus’ name. Traditionalists believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, is the central means through which the Holy Spirit convinces us of our need for redemption, convicts us of our sin, converts us to faith in Jesus Christ, transforms our desires, re-focuses our loves, and empowers us both to be disciples and invite others to discipleship, too.
The Progressive post-separation United Methodist Church is based upon a reinterpretation of the Bible and significantly different understandings of Jesus, atonement, salvation, the mission of the church, and the role of the church in the larger society.
These differences mean that a “traditionalist” Methodist will not be welcome but rather may be, at best, tolerated until she or he is “brought around” to the right way of thinking, believing, and acting. And if the “traditionalist” doesn’t come to affirm Progressive Christianity, she/he will be shamed, silenced, or side-lined from roles of leadership or influence in a local congregation. Traditionalists will be “cancelled.”
“Oh, come on. That seems a little extreme, don’t you think?”
Here’s a contemporary example from a sister mainline Protestant church. It is the curious and instructive case of Bishop William H. Love, of the Episcopal Church, who is the resident bishop of the Albany, New York area.
Bishop Love is what we would call a traditionalist. He believes that the Scriptures and the long history of the Christian faith affirm marriage as a relationship reserved for one man and one woman. Since he is a Bishop who has pledged himself to uphold the Scriptures and the teaching of the church, he has refused to allow clergy in the diocese of Albany to marry gay and lesbian couples despite the national church’s approval in 2015.
In 2018 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church attempted to craft a compromise resolution (Resolution B012) which would allow clergy and bishops from dioceses that opposed gay marriage to recuse themselves from specific rites and allow another clergy to officiate. Bishop Love determined this would be dereliction of duty for him as a Bishop. After all, he had taken vows to defend the Christian faith and maintain order and accountability among the clergy. In a strongly worded letter, he indicated that he would not recuse himself and would not allow clergy in the diocese to marry gay or lesbian couples.
So now Bishop Love is on trial for refusing the new understanding of marriage. He is being tried by his colleague Bishops. He is being tried for being a traditionalist in a denomination that has continually said, “Traditionalists are still welcome.”
It turns out that the “All Are Welcome” signs adorning so many of our United Methodist church buildings should have an asterisk: “All are welcome…except traditionalists.”
Jesus was quite direct on this point: “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25 NIV). That is common sense. It is also why the United Methodist Church is planning on a divorce at the next General Conference in Minneapolis.
Can you be a traditionalist and part of the Progressive post-separation United Methodist Church? Our Bishops will assure you that you can. That is what his colleagues assured Bishop Love in 2015. Now he is on trial by the church that promised there is room for traditionalists.
Currently in The United Methodist Church among Progressives, including most of our Bishops, it is considered something of a badge of honor to disregard the standards of The Book of Discipline regarding our definition of marriage and our restriction on clergy marrying LGBTQIA+ partners. Once the Progressives control the United Methodist Church after the coming institutional divorce, however, refusal to follow the new rules is not likely to be tolerated. Bishop Love is an instructive case illustrating the dogmatic and punitive nature of Progressivism.
So, if you are a traditionalist Methodist will you be welcome in the Progressive post-separation United Methodist Church? Despite what our Bishops say, it’s worth a second thought. For much more on the curious and instructive case of Bishop Love, click here.