Methodist Church in Britain Embraces the Spirit of the Age
The Methodist Church in Britain has embraced the Spirit of the Age. Twenty-nine out of thirty Methodist Synods in Britain voted to approve same-sex marriage at the Methodist Conference held in Birmingham on 30 June. The vote in support of the departure from Biblical teaching carried overwhelmingly, 254 for to 46 against.
According to the official statement regarding the vote:
“The Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference, prayed ahead of the main debate on Wednesday morning in Birmingham, asking that the Conference’s “words may be imbibed with your grace, with tenderness from on high”.
“A range of views were expressed on the resolutions, in particular on cohabitation and same sex marriages. The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, spoke to the Conference acknowledging the “depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is” with a commitment to work across the Connexion with District Chairs to heal divisions.
“Speakers called for unity going ahead irrespective of the decision. Other speakers spoke of the acceptance of diversity that younger Church members have for each other with younger speakers relating their own lived experience as Christians from the LGBTQI+ community. Another representative asked that the Church does not ostracise those who oppose the introduction of same-sex marriages in the Church, saying the great majority of these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture as they see it.
“The Methodist Church included other denominations and Methodist Churches across the world in the process of listening and consultation, with written submissions from ecumenical partners to the ‘God In Love Unites Us’ report and workshops with global Methodist partners.
“Following the vote on the provisional resolutions the Revd Sonia Hicks said: “The debate today and our wider conversation has been conducted with grace and mutual respect. As we move forward together after this historic day for our Church, we must remember to continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other respecting our differences”.
The vote came as a surprise to many but is in agreement with a long held Methodist theological commitment to what is known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Neither John or Charles Wesley left the Church of England but John added “Experience” to Hooker’s famous Three-legged stool of interpretation which called people to use Scripture, Reason, and Tradition in understanding the Bible. The recent vote is a natural by-product of elevating experience to the same level as Scripture because the democratic consensus of “Experience” becomes the final arbiter of truth.