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John Wesley PreachingShould we be moving beyond John Wesley's "General Rules" as 21st century Christians?
Drafters of the popular online statement, "A Missional Manifesto for the People Called United Methodist," have released Version 1.1.
The latest revision continues to draw a high level of interest among both clergy and laity. As of March 6, nearly 75 people had added their names publicly to the document via its website. Click here to read the new version.
In announcing the updated version, the Rev. Jay Voorhees, pastor of Old Hickory UMC in Nashville, TN, noted that the main changes in the document involved adding some requested theological specifics.
"The main changes involved being a bit more Trinitarian in our language, and a more explicit expression of our sacramental theology," Rev. Voorhess wrote in an email. "We also tweaked some things here and there and hope that you find the new version expresses your beliefs in what it means to be United Methodist."
Online signers expressed their affirmation and appreciation for the document.
The Rev. Jeremy Smith, author of the popular blog Hacking Christianity: "TERRIFIC work here, thanks for beckoning the Church forward to new life."
The Rev. Jackson Day of Towson, MD: "I so appreciate your putting this all together; it reminds those who are primarily concerned with making disciples and those who are pimarily concerned with transforming the world that we need each other as part of the same whole."
The Rev. James Gulley of Rocky Mountain Annual Conference: "Keenly interested in the conversation on mission in The Methodist Way."
Krystle Wheeler, a lay member of First UMC in Redlands (CA): "I've felt this for a long time. I couldn't have said it better myself."
However, not everyone endorsed the document unconditionally. An open conversation on the Missional Methodist website explores issues with the Manifesto.
In comments originally posted on United Methodist Insight, Barbara Wendland, author of the popular newsletter Connections, expressed dismay at the Missional Manifesto's masculine language and what she viewed as an over-reliance on John Wesley's "General Rules" from 1735 as a guide for 21st century Christians. Ms. Wendland wrote, in part:
Although John Wesley was an admirable Christian and an innovative and forward-looking one for his time, his time is now long past, and much has been learned about the Bible and Christian history since his time. For this reason, I am dismayed to see today’s UMs being asked--and especially to see many agreeing--to specifically “affirm the teachings of John Wesley” as the current Missional Manifesto asks. What seems vastly more appropriate for Christians in 2012 is to affirm and practice the teachings of Jesus as our best discernment leads us to understand and express them and to see them applying to today’s world.
Drafters of the Missional Manifesto have said previously that more revisions are possible as the conversation continues. Rev. Vorhees also has said that the document may be presented in some form to delegates to the 2012 General Conference.