Caldwell: Reminders of our Methodist Biblical misinterpretations that have been corrected

Once there were Methodists who supported the enslavement of blacks.

Once there were Methodists who did not support the ordination of women.

Once there were Methodists who voted to create an all black, segregated Central Jurisdiction.

Once there were Methodists who were against divorced clergy.

And there have been Methodists who believed that the consumption of alcohol, the playing of card games, and dancing were “incompatible with Christian teaching”.

Scripture and Tradition were used to justify the attitudes and actions of the denomination in response to the above.

But, when Experience and Reason were interfaced with Scripture and Tradition, remembering the life and religion of Jesus and a response to the Holy Spirit, brought about change.

We who are black have lived our lives both in the Church and the nation, in response to those who justified their anti-black racism on “the curse of Ham” (Genesis 9). This misinterpretation of Scripture has done damage to blacks, Scripture and ALL who proclaim Jesus as Liberator and Saviour.

May the General Conference of 2016 veto the language and legislation of the UMC that has “cursed” same gender loving persons and their unions and marriages for so many years.

Gilbert H. Caldwell
A retired United Methodist clergyman
Asbury Park, New Jersey

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10 Comments on "Caldwell: Reminders of our Methodist Biblical misinterpretations that have been corrected"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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I don’t understand who has “Biblical misinterpretations” about same sex unions
No Christian, Protestant, Methodist, Presbyterian or Catholic , or liberal or conservative, or even atheists can read the Bible and find anything other than God’s disapproval for homosexual unions.

Mark Mcroberts
As a fifty year member of the UMC. I can’t stay a member where I’m not allowed to fully participate in all ceremonies. I was ten when i joined and there was no LGBT exclusion that came later. I know i just dont understand why orientation which is God given is so dang important. I would be allowed to get married if i was a thief or adulter or bigot. But for me and my decendents we are getting ready to quit the church at the end of General Conderence if the UMC does not remove gay folk are inconstant… Read more »
No one is excluded from our Church, but there are laws that must be followed just like in any organization. The difference between the Church and a secular group is that our laws are Biblically based. You are welcome to come to our services but you cannot be ordained or commissioned, nor can you perform a wedding ceremony nor have it in the Church, per the laws of our Church. I have one question: if you are in a same sex relationship, where are your descendants coming from? If I remember my biology, it takes a man and a woman… Read more »
Mike Hodge

Do you realize how arrogant and condescending that reply was? And by the way, did you even read the article? If you disagree with something, that’s fine, but when someone is pouring out the pain they’ve experienced from our church, it seems incredibly insensitive to rub salt in that wound. Your reply totally ignored the article that you were supposed to be commenting on. While you are correct in that it takes a sperm and an egg to create a child, it obviously takes more than reading the Bible to create a caring Christian.


Amen, Mike. Marber should apologize, if Marber is Christian.

Leesa Bumgarner
I feel humbled by Gods loving and saving grace for I know I am so unworthy of his devine forgiveness. I have sinned and get I’m remind that Gods forgiveness is as great as the east is from the west. In my church we just celebrated the third marriage of a member. Which Jesus had spoke against in his scriptures. Yet, this is excepted. How do I explain to my son and his husband that my church see and celebrates the sin of one couple at their many marriages and yet can not share and see in the love of… Read more »
Michael Guertin

Remember that funny passage in 2 Timothy 4 where it says people will find those who will preach what they want to hear?
Show us where in the Bible that God approves same sex marriage. Then when you don’t find any look up all those places where God disapproves of the same as well as all other immoral sexual conduct. When you finish maybe you can decide whether or not God is just.

Richard F Hicks

All people at all times are always literalists – selective literalists. Even Jesus! Read what he did with Isaiah in his first public sermon. After that he is quoted as often saying, “You’ve heard it said, but I tell you . . . ” The fight we’re now having is which set of literalisms get power. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC


I’ve mentioned this before, but in the cases mentioned above there are scriptures that affirm (antislavery, women’s rights… ect.) My Question is are there any scriptures that affirm homosexualtiy? For people like Wesley, wilberforce, Phobee Palmer, to name a few helped change the church’s stance based off of scriptural references. Where are the affirmative Scriptures?

Hugh R. Stone

I would like to thank Rev. Caldwell for his excellent remarks. I respect him as a beloved mentor, teacher, great preacher and friend.

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