United Methodist Church bishop Dr. Karen Oliveto is not only a lesbian, she also believes (and publicly teaches) that Jesus was a bigot filled with prejudices. She does say that Jesus grew and changed, and that’s her point. Bishop Oliveto admonishes, “If Jesus can change, if he can give up his bigotries and prejudices, if he can realize that he had made his life too small, and if, in this realization, he grew closer to others and closer to God, than so can we.”
The United Methodist Church has been on the descent into apostasy for years now. While the denomination is currently in the midst of their 75 weeks of praying about accepting homosexuality, they have long allowed pastors of their churches to go against their current beliefs on the matter. In 2005, Karen Oliveto, a non-celibate lesbian, officiated several same-sex marriages that were held in the United Methodist church she pastored.
Oliveto’s teachings cover the range of normal progressive “Christian” beliefs — the denial of the exclusivity of the Christian faith and the denial of the authority of the Bible, to name two. However, it’s her direct attack on certain Bible passages and Biblical figures that has caused some within the UMC to be concerned.
Writing for Juicy Ecumenism, John Lomperis warns about a sermon that Oliveto preached in 2005. “In her sermon during the closing worship, she criticized St. Paul for casting a demon out of the slave girl in Acts 16:16-18,” he wrote. “Oliveto encouraged her audience to question the traditional interpretation that this exorcism was ‘an act of liberation’ for the girl. Negatively comparing Paul’s response to the slave girl to his subsequent saving of the jailer, Oliveto asserted that Paul was not motivated by compassion for the slave girl and noted that the text does not say that she found salvation.”
Lomperis republished his article from 2005 this summer as a reminder of Karen Oliveto’s apostate beliefs and actions for those in the UMC considering making her a bishop. Since then, Oliveto has been granted the title of bishop (the first lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church’s history) and has continued to preach against the Bible while making shocking statements. As referenced in the opening paragraph of this article, Oliveto is now taking aim at Jesus.
This past August, Oliveto delivered a weekly message that has been posted on Facebook. Her text, Matthew 15:21-28, is the story of the gentile woman who came to Jesus for healing and then delivered the famous phrase, ““Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Exegetically, and in short, the passage reveals that gentiles will be brought into God’s family. It’s a beautiful picture of how spiritual birth trumps physical birth in God’s family. Oliveto has a completely different take on the passage, though. In her interpretation of the passage, Oliveto preached:
Jesus, Jesus, what is up with you? Where is the gentle Jesus, meek and mild, the one who said, “Let the children come to me”? What happened to Jesus, the one who said, “Consider the lilies”. Where did his compassion and love go?
But as I ponder the story, as I look at the verbal jousting between Jesus and this female who is considered less than human because of her gender and ethnicity, I can’t help but note how Jesus comes around.
Too many folks want to box Jesus in, carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. But this story cracks the pedestal we’ve put him on. The wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out. He was still growing, maturing, putting the pieces together about who he was and what he was supposed to do. We might think of him as the Rock of Ages, but he was more like a hunk of clay, forming and reforming himself in relation to God.
That lengthy passage leads into Oliveto’s comment about Jesus being a bigot with prejudices that he discarded as he learned from the woman.
If Jesus was imperfect, if he was bigoted and unloving, there is very little reason to listen to what he had to say or to look to him for salvation. Frankly, that’s probably exactly what Oliveto is moving toward — a complete discarding of Jesus and the Bible altogether.