The disunited Methodist Church

The disunited Methodist Church

The disunited Methodist Church

The leadership of the United Methodist Church has twisted and mangled the beautiful and holy thing John Wesley started and the Holy Spirit sanctified. Disappointing but not surprising.

Ray Rooney
Ray Rooney

Dr. Ray Rooney is editor of digital media for American Family Association and the organization's blog site, The Stand.

I left the United Methodist Church recently after over 37 years as one of its ministers.

My departure wasn’t just about the sexuality fiasco, the interpretation of Scripture, or the disregard of the church’s Book of Discipline that so many of its leaders and ministers seemed to embrace. All of that played a part in my decision to leave but there were two main issues that those things (and others) seemed to funnel into. And I might add, these issues aren’t confined to the United Methodist Church.


Not united

The first was the word “United” in the denomination’s name. The “United” Methodist Church. Paragraph 101 in the Book of Discipline describes the denomination as: “a worldwide denomination united by doctrine, discipline, and mission through our connectional covenant.”


  • Bishop Joseph Sprague denied the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of atonement. He was brought up on charges and beat them.
  • Bishop Karen Oliveto is a self-proclaimed practicing lesbian who is married to another woman. This, despite Paragraph 304.3 in the Discipline which states:
    • “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
    • Oliveto also claimed Jesus had to “give up His bigotries and prejudices” because “He had made His life too small…”
  • Bishop Ken Carter said, “We have to adapt our doctrine and our Scriptures to changing life circumstances that people have.”
  • Click HERE for a more complete list of heresies proclaimed by United Methodist bishops, agencies, and seminaries.

Flagrant heresies. Refusal to abide by and enforce church discipline. And a mission that has become so watered down by both as to be unrecognizable. Leadership claims its number one priority is to make disciples. But what kind of disciples are you making when you abandon “the faith that was once delivered to all the saints (Jude 3)?

Not only did I not feel “United” but I didn’t want to be lumped in with this nonsense any longer. In The Character of a Methodist John Wesley famously wrote:

“But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of christianity, we think and let think.”

Many people like to read that as if the phrase “which do not strike at the root of christianity” isn’t there. But it is. The bullet points above do, in fact, strike at the root of Christianity. The “connection” in the denomination has been its go-to clarion call from everything to raising money to the itineracy of its ministers. Imagine my surprise when our church had its disaffiliation meeting with the superintendent present and he told everyone that what happens in the United Methodist churches in California or the Pacific Northwest, or New York had absolutely nothing to do with Mississippi. What a lack of integrity. All those years of leveraging the "connection" to get what they wanted suddenly went "Poof!"

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:14 thundered in my spiritual ears:

[W]hat partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?

The leadership of the United Methodist Church has twisted and mangled the beautiful and holy thing John Wesley started and the Holy Spirit sanctified. Disappointing but not surprising.


The second main issue that prompted me (and about 6,000 churches) to leave the denomination so far is perhaps even more nefarious. To give some context to what I am alluding to let me refer you to Jeremiah 34.

The prophesied destruction of Israel had finally arrived. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians were right outside Jerusalem’s walls. Jeremiah told the king to set all Hebrew slaves free from their servitude. The people did as directed. However, history tells us that the Babylonians temporarily withdrew their siege of Jerusalem to deal with Egypt. With Babylon withdrawn and the crisis seemingly averted we find this about the slave owners in 34:10b-11,

They obeyed and set them free. But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves.

They seemed to think they were through with Babylon and so they wanted their slaves back. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Babylon would return and finish the deed. Look at God’s response to the re-enslavement of the freed slaves:

Therefore, thus says the LORD: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine declares the LORD (Jeremiah 34:17).

The people were now free from God’s hand of protection and mercy. They were now free to die from battle and the consequences related to the siege.

What does this have to do with leaving the United Methodist Church?

For nearly three centuries John Wesley’s Methodism has been setting the captives of the kingdom of darkness free. Millions over those years were freed from the devastating power and wages of sin by the proclamation of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

But when bishops, superintendents, and many preachers in the UMC began suggesting that everyone in the connection needed to rethink biblical sexuality, the deity and sovereignty of Jesus Christ, and the efficacy of other religions to produce salvation outside of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the only means to forgiveness of sin and access to God…those who had been freed from hell suddenly found themselves enslaved again! As I said earlier, being called a “disciple” doesn’t necessarily mean heaven has been gained. It seemed to matter to Jesus what kind of disciple one becomes.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves (Matthew 23:15)

Also, there is this line in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20):

[T]eaching them [disciples] to observe all that I have commanded you.

Are you making a disciple who will be welcomed into heaven if you teach them that Jesus died for your sins but we just now figured out that some of those things weren’t really sins in the first place? There was no need to repent of them. As a matter of fact, God has learned to be much more accommodating than He has been through all of history up to now.

All that is doing is slapping the shackles back on the slaves while smiling and telling them “Don’t you feel free now?”

Yes, free of God’s protection. Free to die by the hand and whim of the enemy.

By far and away the issues of the United Methodist Church are nestled in and emanating from its leadership and seminaries. You cannot fix sin. That is Jesus’ purview alone. But you can repent of it. When religious leaders say “There’s no need to repent of it because it is not a sin” then it is time to disunite.

One last thing. Look carefully at Jeremiah 34:16,

[B]ut then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves…

Not only was the re-enslavement of the Hebrew slaves by their Hebrew masters a sin of disobedience, but God also considered it a direct transgression of the third commandment. It “profaned my name.” It dragged God’s name (and therefore His reputation or self-revelation) through the mud. It was like saying, “God told me to set you free so I did. But now I don’t think He would mind making you a slave again.” What does that say about one’s view of God if that were true?

You are not really setting a prisoner free if once outside the prison walls, you put a ball and chain around his ankle for the rest of his life. I wanted no part of that nonsense. So I disunited.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

This article originally appeared here.

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