Contemporary Trends, Christianity, Culture

The Church in Africa is Unimpressed

In response to efforts of the American leaders in the United Methodist Church to influence Africa’s Methodists to reject the Biblical teaching on homosexual marraige, they did not budge:

I thank God for His precious Word to us, and I thank him for you, my dear sisters and brothers in Christ.
As the General Coordinator of UMC Africa Initiative I greet you on behalf of all its members and leaders. We want to thank the  Renewal and Reform Coalition within the United Methodist Church for the invitation to address you at this important breakfast meeting.
As I understand it, the plans before us seek to find a lasting solution to the long debate over our church’s sexual ethics, its teachings on marriage, and it[s] ordination standards.
This debate and the numerous acts of defiance have brought the United Methodist Church to a crossroads (Jeremiah 6:16).
One plan invites the people called United Methodists to take a road in opposition to the Bible and two thousand years of Christian teachings. Going down that road would divide the church. Those advocating for the One Church Plan would have us take that road.
Another road invites us to reaffirm Christian teachings rooted in Scripture and the church’s rich traditions…

While “we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons,” we do not celebrate same-sex marriages or ordain for ministry people who self-avow as practicing homosexuals. These practices do not conform to the authentic teaching of the Holy Scriptures, our primary authority for faith and Christian living.

However, we extend grace to all people because we all know we are sinners in need of God’s redeeming. We know how critical and life changing God’s grace has been in our own lives.

We warmly welcome all people to our churches; we long to be in fellowship with them, to pray with them, to weep with them, and to experience the joy of transformation with them.

Friends, please hear me, we Africans are not afraid of our sisters and brothers who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning, or queer. We love them and we hope the best for them. But we know of no compelling arguments for forsaking our church’s understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church universal.

And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.”

Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.

The rhetoric used by Dr. Kulah is excellent. Why? He lulls white American Christians into a moment of agreement by starting the speech with a beautiful call for unity. A cherished idea in modern academia is that while American academics are superior to all the knuckle-draggers in America, ultimately, they are exactly similar to everybody else on the planet. But once he gains that support, he makes a hardline distinction between two roads the church can travel, “One plan invites the people called United Methodists to take a road in opposition to the Bible and two thousand years of Christian teachings. Going down that road would divide the church. Those advocating for the One Church Plan would have us take that road.”

He then reminds them that elite Americans and their western enlightenment values are of no use to the kingdom of God. This is encouraging.

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