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An Open Letter to the Bishops and Church

by Tom Graffagnino

May 23, 1998

Dear Bishops,

Bishop Melvin Talbert (Cal./Nevada) recently stated that he cannot and will not support the Bishop's Pastoral Letter (issued in Lincoln)....a letter that he signed in "unanimous consensus".

  • Are there any bishops willing or able to hold Bishop Talbert accountable to his word?
  • Is the Council of Bishops able and/or willing to call for Bishop Talbert's resignation?

If so....when?

If not...why not?

If honesty, integrity, truthfulness and mutual accountability are no longer concepts of virtue that have meaning in this day and age of relativism (within the church!), we are indeed staring into the eyes of the abyss. Bishop Talbert broke covenant when he issued his recent 'rogue' statement repudiating the Bishop's Pastoral Letter, did he not? Are there no consequences for this type of behavior? Is there really no accountability?......... None?

H.T. Maclin recently wrote that we must be prepared for the very real possibility that the Lord may be willing to allow the Methodist church (small "c") to self-destruct...Indeed, the Lord may well just "step back" and watch Methodism atrophy and die, expiring under the weight of its own hypocritical, apostatic, lukewarm, fence-straddling, bureaucratic and pluralistic befuddlement. I recognize that H.T. Maclin's assessment may very well be right on target. Such a prognosis is, however, still most painful to realize.

But God IS just..... and pain is, after all, often part of the purifying process. God will purify His Church (capital "C").

It is becoming more and more obvious that for some holding positions of authority within the UMC the 'binding' covenantal nature of the recent Pastoral Letter (the Lincoln Letter) may not be worth the paper it was written on......Just as it is also becoming painfully obvious that the binding covenantal nature of the Methodist Book of Discipline (for many) is not worth the paper it is printed on, either..........

Oh well,.........we reap what we sow.

So, it seems we are left with the discomforting realization that H.T. Maclin may very well be correct. We (U.S. United Methodists) are standing at the edge of the abyss. If leadership, honesty, truthfulness, faithfulness, integrity and mutual accountability are no longer qualities or standards worth upholding within Methodism (as appears to be the case today), why should we expect our Lord to preserve us as a denomination at all?

The abyss.....the yawning, gaping darkness of deception and further scriptural perversion, beckons more and more loudly and persuasively, it seems.....And we continue to blindly stagger 'forward', smiling sweetly .....repeating over and over to ourselves the mindless, modern, Methodist mantra :

"Can't we all just get along?"

"Can't we all just get along?"

"Can't we all just get along......?"

We have dug our own pit. Why are we shocked now when we are being forced to realize that the deep hole we've dug (through the relentless spiritual accommodationism, compromise and SILENCE over the generations) is, indeed our own denominational grave?

Harold O.J. Brown in his recent book, The Sensate Culture, made this observation:

"When religious groups compromise their foundational beliefs in order to co-exist with the late sensate culture rather than challenging it or standing against, they in effect consent to their own liquidation."

Welcome to the liquidation sale of United Methodism. Step right up. Peer into the pit........

But, of course, this is nothing new. We have been warned:

"I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the Lord's commands and followed the Baals....... 'So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mt. Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."

'But the people [and Bishops] said nothing.'

(1 Kings 18: 18..21)

But "the people" said nothing............

Perhaps it is too late (for Methodism). But Jude tells us to 'contend for the faith'........


Tom Graffagnino

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