Because of “open revolt” occurring within its congregations and leadership, the historical United Methodist Church (UMC) has “basically embraced doctrinal annihilation.” That’s the verdict of Southern Baptist theologian Dr. Albert Mohler, who points to liberalism, sexual progressivism, and LGBTQ issues as culprits in the denomination’s demise.
Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president, devoted all three segments of his April 28 podcast to what he calls a “major crisis” in the UMC. The body’s expected schism has been delayed due to the pandemic with the next General Conference now bumped to September 2022.
Al Mohler: UMC Now ‘Two Different Religions’
The current situation in the UMC is “one of open apostasy,” says Mohler. Although the denomination’s official teachings on sexuality remain conservative, “the liberals have been living, ordaining, preaching and acting in revolt to the official doctrine,” he says, and they “want to see the conservatives pushed out.”
Because the UMC’s liberal wing intentionally refutes biblical teachings about sexuality, Mohler says, the denomination has become “two different religions” that “cannot possibly continue to exist in one church or in one denomination.” Most of the UMC’s “great churches” were built and paid for by conservatives, he says, but “once conservatives are out of the picture,” the pending schism “is only the start of where things will go in the future.”
To preserve the denomination’s conservative roots, a group of traditionalists recently announced the formation of the Global Methodist Church. Due to “unchecked defiance” now occurring within the UMC, says a spokesman, conservative leaders launched this new body “that will be true to its doctrine and teachings and end this endless conflict within the United Methodist Church.”
Two Examples of ‘Doctrinal Annihilation’
In his podcast Wednesday, Mohler mentioned two cases he says exemplify the UMC’s demise. The first is Mount Bethel, a 175-year-old suburban Atlanta congregation he calls “one of the most important churches in the denomination.” Pastor Jody Ray, who is theologically orthodox, recently rejected a liberal bishop’s attempt to move him to a bureaucratic position.
The motives of Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson are “transparent,” says Mohler, who praises Ray for denying the reassignment. During a recent sermon, Ray told his family, “Your daddy didn’t bow the knee or kiss the ring of progressive theology, that is, in fact, no theology at all.”
The other example Mohler cites is the ministerial candidacy of Isaac Simmons, an openly gay man who preaches in drag at Hope United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois. As “Ms. Penny Cost,” Simmons recently preached about Jesus’ crucifixion “through a lens of queerness,” saying, “Your identity is not a sin.” He says he views his candidacy as “a sign of validation,” to which Mohler replies, “Make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is.”
For “centuries,” says Mohler, a drag queen preacher “would have been unthinkable,” not because Christians were out of date but because they were “operating out of a Christian biblical understanding.” He adds, “By the time any kind of church or church body reaches this point, it has already basically embraced doctrinal annihilation. There is virtually nothing left of the historic Christian tradition.”