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Reflections On A Post-Cleveland Church

After the final gavel has fallen; after the final vote has been cast; after the last homosexual protester has been arrested and fined; after Cleveland. . . what?

As the United Methodist Church emerges from its General Conference, a new century is dawning. A new opportunity is before us to impact the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to confront a decaying culture with a singular focus on its transformation. The post-Cleveland Church must be focused on saving lost, hurting, worldly souls, not saving its own sorry institutional self. It must be focused on confronting a morally bankrupt culture with the radical claims of Jesus Christ, not sitting back and allowing that culture to emasculate the Christian faith.

A clear vision for witness and ministry in the 21st century needs to be shaped by evangelicals under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Ministry objectives need to be clearly stated and put into practice. The message to those who would undermine the authority of Scripture and the doctrine of the Church must be unequivocal: There will be no more dialogues, no more debates, no more petitions to General Conference, no more hermeneutical gymnastics and theological pabulum attempting to reconcile obedience with abomination. Those who cannot abide by the order and discipline of the Church must depart. They must no longer be allowed to hold the Church hostage to their destructive agenda.

The 2000 General Conference should not be viewed as merely another four-year reprieve. Although not without its imperfections, it ranks as a watershed victory for evangelicals and a devastating defeat for the forces of evil which have tried every trick imaginable to force their views on the Church. Evangelicals should take this victory and run with it. The right vision, properly discerned, articulated and implemented, will transform the face of United Methodism and turn the world upside down.

To all who would invite us to more "dialogue," "debate" or "conversation," we say graciously but firmly, "NO!" We accept, instead, the gracious invitation of God to seek his face, do his will, and let him have his way in his Church.

James Gibson Marshallville
United Methodist Church

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