A Proposal for Moving Forward

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Take it one step farther back

Thank you for this thoughtful commentary on our dilemma. I would respectfully suggest you haven’t taken your analysis back far enough. The mission statement is itself a problem. It is a typically Methodist functional statement: *make . . . disciples . . . transformation.*. It is, of course, rooted in the Great Commission, with the addendum about transforming the whole world (good luck with that). The suggestions provided in the article continue the same functional analysis about how to best organize the denomination. That is the Great Methodist Heresy: if we could just get the organization right, the Kingdom would come.

My suggestion is that we abandon the current Mission Statement — which will always inspire debate about exactly what constitutes Christian discipleship and in what manner we seek to transform the world. Let’s go to a different passage in the Gospels: Rabbi, what is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength. And a second is like it: Love your neighbor and yourself.

And then Jesus added a clarifying amendment: Love one another as I have loved you.

What if we made the mission of the church *to love*? Love God and the creation (John 3:16 literally says “the cosmos”) as Jesus loved. There’s a Biblical mission statement that is about relationship, not about function. What if we evaluated everything we were and said and did by whether it loved God and the Creation as Jesus loved? What if the first responsibility of the church were to teach people how to love? What if the entire context for discipleship and transformation were loving as Jesus loved?

I’m not so naive to believe that people will still not differ in how they understand what it means to love. Or who we are to love. But I do believe that moving from a functional understanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ to a relational understanding is more Biblical, Wesleyan, and useful.

It will be no small thing to change how we think about what it means to be and do church. We are all such good functional Methodists — we have been well trained. It seems to me that the more progressive wing of the church has already moved in this direction, but we all are still caught up in the Great Methodist Heresy, like the author of the article.

I was taught in seminary that fundamentalism is a reaction to the breakdown of the traditional authorities by doubling back on those authorities. Conservative Methodists at least have clarity about their authority — even if I and other progressives believe it to be a misplaced a-contextual and selective Biblical literalism. What they provide their constituents is clarity. Progressives need to learn from them. We also need to provide clarity in this New Apostolic Age. But the clarity needs to be about love, not about organization or about textual authority. Until all sides learn that, we are doomed to endless chaos.

Brooke Willson 30 days ago

Love like Christ = the answer

Brooke....I believe you are spot on with the biblical mandate to love a Jesus loved and lived and taught.

Roger Dowdy 29 days ago

Where you get traditionalists wrong

and put us all in a single box: "...even if I and other progressives believe it to be a misplaced a-contextual and selective Biblical literalism."

The traditionalist biblical interpretation I have been exposed to does not focus on single passages but looks at trajectory and the Bible as a whole as well as how what Jesus did impacts our understanding of the Old Testament. Christ paid the death penalty for our sins in this life which cancels out the requirement of the for stoning and such. However, it does not cancel out our requirement to live a moral life, which God is more than capable of enabling us to do. Where traditionalists and progressives disagree on the sexuality issue is whether or not it is a moral or social justice issue. As a traditionalist with a scientific background, I have not found enough evidence to support the progressive belief that it is a social justice issue. So therefore, I do not see the question of sexuality as being on the same plane as racial discrimination based on color of the skin--something I do not indulge in. Furthermore, despite my beliefs, out in the larger society, where I am running a retail establishment, everybody that walks in the door receives identical care and respect unless their actions makes me suspicious of them. Everybody is free to buy whatever they want for however they want to use it. However, I do not believe anybody should be forced to invest their God-given creative talents to create something that is supporting something they do not believe in.

betsy 26 days ago

Everyone has a plan

What if no plan passes GC 2020 and things remain as they are? This is not an unlikely outcome.

David 31 days ago

I think that's the MOST likely outcome

... and it leaves us in the same place, with no easy way out of the impasse.

JR 28 days ago

Indeed

If there were only one plan offered that could get crossover support (perhaps Bard Jones) vs. nothing, it might have an outside shot. With a handful of plans, none perfect of course yet each with its own constituency of supporters, I will be shocked if a majority ends up passing one of them.

Mike 27 days ago

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