The anticipated formal split of the United Methodist Church has been pushed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the delay, however, a new ultra-left denomination known as the"Liberation Methodist Connexion," or LMX, has appeared.
LMX – the progressive side of the UMC division – reportedly rejects God's gospel in favor of a politically correct social gospel. "Correct doctrine is less important to the new denomination than correct action, collaborators said during [last] Sunday's presentation," Religion News Service (RNS) reported. "That action includes reparations, caring for the Earth, and finding new ways to live together outside of systems like colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, clericalism and heteronormativity, they said."
A female LMX leader at the presentation attempted to clarify the unbiblical philosophy adopted by her new religious network. "We seek not answers that lead us to correct doctrines as to why we suffer –we seek correct actions, correct praxis … where God sustains us during the unanswerable questions," she declared at the gathering, according to RNS. "God was there in the seeds of the movement John Wesley started – we are its queer, strange fruit."
"While The United Methodist Church will technically continue as a coalition of self-identified centrists and liberals, United Methodism – which was founded in 1968 – is essentially ending next year,"explains Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD). "Its logo of cross and flame … has already been declared racist and almost certainly will be abandoned –and likely the name United Methodist itself also will ultimately be deemed oppressive and discarded."
Although it retains a religious appearance, LMX is firmly rooted in humanist ideals – not God's Word, according to [commentator Mark] Tooley. "LMX will live out theological pluralism to its more logical conclusions – minimizing if not altogether dismissing theological doctrine in favor of political activisms and identity politics," he offers. "No doubt, LMX will start very small and will remain a small niche movement, [and] most radicals will stay within United Methodism – or whatever it is ultimately called – shifting what's left of the old denominational structures ever leftward."
Even though the largest section of the split is conservative, progressive doctrine subverting biblical principles is expected to eventually work its way to the top of the new denomination. "Self-identified 'centrists' will with time mostly shift leftward to the drumbeat of the radicals, but the process will be discomfiting and divisive for them – especially as many of them by default become the new 'conservatives' relative to the rest of their denomination,” [Tooley] notes. "Centrists are largely fine with abandoning historic Christian sexual morality once U.S. Evangelicals and Africans, with some Filipinos and Europeans, form the new Global Methodist Church, but most of them still hope to retain the architecture of creedal Christianity– against which radicals in their revolutionary zeal will constantly push."
"Centrists largely come from philosophically mixed congregations – many of them in the suburbs and still including worshippers who politically lean conservative (most United Methodists vote Republican) and, if not evangelical, who still resonate with the major themes of traditional Christianity," Tooley adds.
"As post-schism United Methodism (psUMC) – under whatever name – increasingly adopts more explicitly radical political, cultural and theological themes, many of these non-liberals in centrist congregations may object, resist, quit or at least quietly fade away."
He suggests preparing for another major shakeup after the split. "How will many members of centrist congregations in post-schism United Methodism react to drag queen eucharists, mandatory pronoun fluidity, or far-left political advocacy in worship and from the pulpit?" Tooley ponders. "For decades, much of United Methodism's liberal activism was indulged by the church's agencies and seminaries, but largely kept out of local churches, as pastors sought to protect their congregations from divisive controversies. Those days will end fairly quickly after the schism is completed."
He anticipates it is just a matter of time before Methodists will join other radical liberals posing as church communities. "Centrists likely think psUMC will resemble the Episcopal Church, i.e. sexually liberal, but still mostly tasteful, liturgical, genteelly declining without imploding, and making room on Sundays for quiet Republicans and other non-liberals," the IRD leader reasons. "Instead, psUMC will likelier resemble the more explicitly left-wing United Church of Christ and, at times, the Unitarian Universalist Association."