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Conservative Hopes Raise As Liberal Church Declines

From: John Miles smiles@ipa.net
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:32 PM 
To: smiles@ipa.net
Subject: Pohl

Dear Friends,

Thinking about Keith Pohl's article on the control of the United Methodist Church by the south reminded me of something that has been occurring since General Conference. Every time our local Confessing Movement gets together we talk about our concern for the church and our desire to help the UMC maintain it's theological integrity. After we have expressed our concerns we come back to the theme of hope and confidence. Despite our frustrations with the disobedience of some parts of the church we feel things are going in the right direction. There are several reasons for that confidence.

First and foremost, as I stated last week, the form of Christianity encouraged by the left is not very attractive to most people. I was reading an article in Christianity Today by a professor who was formerly a process theologian. After teaching process theology, a theology that suggests that God is radically limited in his ability to intervene in the world, he came to the conclusion that a 30% God is not worth worshiping. By the time liberals have taken apart the bible and the gospels there is so little left that it really is not very compelling. Someone was sharing a story with me recently. They told me that Greg Dell's church had voted by a very slim margin to stay in the United Methodist Church. Greg Dell is the Chicago pastor who performed a "covenanting service" last year. He said the vote was 50 to 54. Here you have one of the most forceful advocates for the liberal position and his church is so small that the vote barely totals one hundred. The conferences that are the most liberal are the ones that are declining the fastest.

Another factors in their decline is that the more liberals dominate a conference the more they exclude evangelicals. There are many conferences in the west and north that would not allow me to be a pastor. I have heard tragic stories of gifted pastors who could not be ordained because they were too conservative. In California-Nevada Conference a number of churches and pastors have left the denomination because they found their conference so hostile to orthodox Christianity. This intolerant attitude on the part of the left is another reason for the decline in membership in liberal conferences across the US.

This is even more important because the United Methodist church refined its formula for electing delegates giving more weight to laity. Next General Conference there will be more delegates from the south and fewer from the north and west. Also there will be more from the overseas delegations that are overwhelmingly orthodox.

Another reason for optimism is our young people. The young people I am seeing far from being liberals are seeking orthodoxy. They have lived in a world of unbelief all their lives and they want very much to have something solid to believe in. Young people are flocking to churches that proclaim a real Savior and a real Way of life.

None of us are ready to declare victory and dismantle our confessing movements, but we feel much better about the direction of the United Methodist Church than we have in years.

Your Brother,

John Miles

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