Voting on the Word of God
Before I begin, I must say that I am proud of the United Methodist Church for standing on the unadulterated doctrine of the Church as it relates to sex and gender issues. The problem, though, lies in the fact that people think they have the right to vote on such things where the Word of God is clear. Where the Scriptures speak, there is no vote. Voting on such things gives people the false idea that they have the authority to alter the Word of God in order to change with the times. (For examples, see the entire book of Judges, all the false prophets, even this one!)
Voting on the Word of God is not an isolated incident for United Methodists. Ultimately, this is the reason churches experience schism all the time and why pretty much anything goes along denominational lines today. It’s not always done as publicly as a convention as most people simply vote with their feet when an orthodox pastor preaches the truth instead of giving into “tolerance.”
Voting on the Word of God is not isolated to conventions and local congregations, either. When Jesus walked this earth in His ministry, there were many who absolutely hated what He had to say and what He was doing because it went against the popular, man-made ideas of the day (called the tradition of the elders), and further, He was calling for people to repent. How dare He! When He confronted the Pharisees and others over this with the truth, they sought to destroy Him. What Jesus said wasn’t some random rabbi’s new ideas. This was actually the Word of God in the flesh staring them in the face, and as time went on in the Gospel accounts, they got angrier and angrier at the Word made flesh.
Jesus’ opponents had a problem, though. It was those pesky crowds. They knew if the vote was cast on what to do with the “Jesus problem,” they would lose and might end up with a crowd revolt on their hands. So what do you do if your side is losing? You strategize and campaign! You make your motives seem meet, right, and salutary and act as if someone is a threat to progress. What do you think Thursday night and Friday morning was all about for Jesus? The Pharisees and chief priests needed to flip the crowd in their favor so that when the vote for the Word of God was cast, it would be a vote against the Word of God.
When the sun rose Friday morning, they presented a beaten and bloodied Jesus who appeared just as they were saying He was…a criminal, as someone who had done something terribly wrong. Now, at this point in the morning, they had the ear of the crowd and shouts for His crucifixion began. The crowd, however, wasn’t fully convinced. They weren’t ready to forsake the Word completely. So the Pharisees ramped up their campaign against the Word of God, and finally saw the way for their motives to succeed. His name was Barabbas. In the instant Barabbas is given as an alternative, the crowd flips, and the shouts of “Crucify Him!” ring throughout the portico. The crowd flipped. Majority ruled. The Word of God in the flesh would be silenced just as they desired.
This, after all, is the ultimate goal of progressive, “American Christianity.” It’s the same goal of the Pharisees with the tradition of the elders—to get the Word of God out of the way so that what I say goes. Pretty soon you’re left with a religion that might proclaim “Jesus,” but he’s not the Jesus of the Scriptures. You might vote to be on the “right side of history,” but you will find quickly that you’re on the wrong side of eternity.
Voting on the Word of God will always lead to schism. In the case of our United Methodist brothers and sisters, it’s only a matter of time before the crowd flips as it did within our own Synod in 1974. It will not be pleasant for them, but even still, we pray for faithfulness among their leadership.
Opposition to the Word of God has been since the Garden, and it remains in full force today. But try as the opponents might, the pure and true Word of God will never be silenced. Their seeming victory over the Word proved instead to be a defeat in only three days. Jesus rose from the dead His Word continues to be proclaimed evermore. It’s time to stand in the face of those who pretend to be Christians yet stand for everything the Word of God calls sin. Faithfulness isn’t up for debate, and if the sanctity of the Word of God is the next item up for vote among your leadership or at your next convention, it’s probably time to find a new church body. It was once so among us. May it never be again!