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Not all splits are schism

This pastor believes that the UMC should strive for authenticity within its diversity.


In a commentary run in, the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter asks: “Will the United Methodist Church split or not over differing interpretations of human sexuality and biblical hermeneutics? That was the topic of informal conversation at a recent denominational retreat I co-led in New England.”

She goes on to describe what she calls, “self-differentiation,” and states: “Jesus was self-differentiated. He didn’t go along just to go along. He stated his beliefs, his values, and his worldview. Even when it wasn’t popular. He offered his teaching — both when it coincided with current Jewish teaching, and when it veered away from it. He didn’t back down from either.

“He was a non-anxious presence who allowed others to claim their own truth and life experience. He was clear about his purpose, but he didn’t insist that others follow suit. For instance, he never decided for others whether they were “true Jews,” or faithful followers of his. By his estimation, even the Pharisees would enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus didn’t ostracize Judas, or cut him off from the others. Nor did he split his followers from mainline Judaism. That happened way after his death.

“Could we learn to do the same?”

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