In light of my recent posts about the United Methodist bishops (retired and active), it reminded me of how those holding the episcopal office in the Church of the Nazarene have responded to this issue. - What a contrast between the two sets of bishops.
First, let me say, parenthetically, I know my recent posts have not focused on the areas of liturgy/sacraments/worship. That is usually the primary topic on my blog, along with news from within the Wesleyan/Methodist and the Anglican families. I guess it is that "news from within the family" that has dominated lately, but there will be more posts on worship related topics in the future.
With that said, I stand in a unique position. Not only do I have the opportunity to read what the two denominations (i.e., The UMC & the CotN) are saying, but I currently stand with "a foot in both worlds," as it were. As many of you know, I am pastoring a United Methodist Church, but my membership and elder's orders are in the Church of the Nazarene.
I think that each of the two denominations have something to teach the other, if we would listen to each other. However, in this situation, I really think that the United Methodist bishops could take a lesson from the Nazarene general superintendents.
It is not that there are not individual UM bishops who are acting like bishops. But there are plenty who are not; bishops who refuse to make clear their teaching of the faith of the church for their people, but rather hide behind statements like, "Whatever I may personally believe, I have committed to defend the Book of Discipline." On the other hand, there are those who, while careful to make that latter clear, nevertheless make it equally clear that they hope to see the Discipline change on this matter. Then there are those who merely call the church to pray for civil conferencing "on these difficult topics."
Then there are the united voices of the 33+ retired bishops, as posted, below.
Where is the clear statement of the Council of Bishops, not just repeating, "This is what the Book of Discipline currently states," but rather actually doing the job of a bishop by teaching; expanding upon the statement of the Discipline, teaching why United Methodists believe what they believe and why it is important?
It is at this point (among others) that I think the Nazarene general superintendents have faithfully acted as bishops of the Church. They have demonstrated their true episcopal role. They have not merely hidden behind the Nazarene Manual (Book of Discipline) statement. Nor have they side stepped the issue by calling us to merely discuss these difficult topics. (Not that prayerful discussions are unimportant, but to merely call for that alone is fail to faithfully discharge the episcopal role.)
|The Nazarene BGS at the time of the |
publication of the booklet.
In the opening address, the general superintendents say, "In the midst of a broad spectrum of responses that range from unconditional approval to loveless judgmentalism, how do our pastors and churches engage in this ministry? This booklet is intended to assist in affirming the postion of our church and clarifying the understanding of Scripture regarding homosexuality and how you and your congregation can be a much-needed community of hope-filled truth and grace."
And, when the general superintendents received some questions about some of their statements, they went on to produce a paper called, "Further Clarification Concerning the Document 'A Pastoral Perspective on Homosexuality'" in order to address those questions.
Perhaps I have missed it. Perhaps they have done that someplace. I would be happy for someone to post a comment indicating that they have. But, in light of the recent statement by the retired bishops and the report of the reaction of some of the active bishops, it does not appear that they have.
Perhaps when the bishops next meet in Council, they will do this very thing (though, given the range of reactions reported, it seems unlikely that they will make any statement beyond one similar to the very weak statements found earlier in this article).
|The current Nazarene BGS|