One of the primary goals of my blogs over the last several months has been to debunk false claims from Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) and Global Methodist Church (GMC) leadership. There are clear reasons why a person may choose to leave the United Methodist Church for the GMC. If a person or church makes that choice based on a prayerful, thoughtful, informed decision, so be it. But those people and churches do need to have correct information.
One of the false claims you may have seen is that the GMC are the rightful inheritors of the Methodist Movement. You'll see this in questions like, "Why are we the ones leaving the denomination when we have been faithful to the Book of Discipline?" I'll have a direct response soon to the question of faithfulness to the Book of Discipline. Today I want to address only the underlying issue - which group is the "rightful" inheritors of Methodism?
It's a trick question. While those of us who are progressive on LGBT+ inclusion have repeatedly been called "false teachers," you won't hear us pushing that rhetoric on traditionalists. The GMC will be one of many Methodist denominations in the greater Methodist tradition that encompasses dozens of denominations across the world.
I contend that those remaining in the UMC are at least equal inheritors of our tradition.
First, note that the continuing United Methodist Church is not changing any of our doctrine. Is it true that some United Methodists don't follow that doctrine? Yes. You'll see that in comments like this one that remind us of the prominent case of Bishop Sprague (note that if you have to go back 20 years for your best example of a problem it may not actually be that big of a problem). It is also true that there are churches who refuse women as pastors, pastors that rebaptize and/or do not baptize infants, and churches that teach a strict seven-day creation. Being selective in following our doctrine is not a problem for only one side of our divide.
The GMC is being formed at least in part so that they can attain doctrinal purity. That is a task that is bound to fail. They will be forced, just as the UMC is, with making decisions about whether to take action based on the inevitable deviation from their stated doctrine.
Second, while the UMC is not changing our doctrine, the GMC actually is. The official doctrine of the UMC is contained in the Articles of Religion, the Confession of Faith, the Standard Sermons of Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament (written by Wesley), and the General Rules of the Methodist Church. The GMC adds the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon. Theologically, I have no issue with any of these. It's important to note that, while reason is not clear, Wesley explicitly chose not to include the first two in our doctrine - our Articles of Religion come from the Church of England and Wesley chose not to include Article VIII on the creeds.
What is of ultimate importance here is not the content of the change, but the precedent the GMC is setting. While those of us remaining in the UMC are allegedly changing our official doctrine (which has never been changed), the GMC actually is changing our doctrine at the outset.
Again, I'm not suggesting that the GMC should not be considered part of the Methodist family. I simply reject the contention that we in the continuing UMC are somehow rejecting our own tradition.