Open Letter to Friends in the Wesley Covenant Association

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Commitment to the Poor

Well I tried to post Jorge Acevedo's entire sermon but your blog wouldn't let me because it was too long. Anyway, you would find plenty of commitment to the Poor at WCA. I assume you and Jorge are FB friends. The talk is called "The Genius of the And". Blessings

Beth Ann Cook more than 3 years ago

Questions of evangelicals

Thanks, Phil, for the questions. I do not presume to speak for others interested in Wesleyan Covenant Association but I will speak as one who has been part of the evangelical renews efforts for many years. My answers to your questions:

1. What is the Good News we share? Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried and on the third day raised from the dead. And "whoever believes in him shall have eternal life."

2. Why so little attention to Christian experience? Evangelical faith in the Wesleyan tradition has the testimony at the heart of its sharing of the faith. Indeed, some (as in Calvinists) argue that it is so obsessed with experience that it uses a subjective standard (experience) that diminishes the object standard of Scripture. By experience I mean the awareness of God's grace and the Spirit's working in our lives. I do not mean the sum total of all of that happens to me, which would involve education, history of relationships and (especially) my preferences.

3. Why silence about the poor? There is no silence about the poor, except, perhaps, if what you really mean is why not public pronouncements and political lobbying for government programs and solutions. Almost all of the efforts on behalf of the least and the last and the impoverished and the economically disadvantaged that I am aware of are initiated and funded and maintained by evangelicals. The whole Rescue Mission movement, Salvation Army, overseas missions... Furthermore, the churches most successful in ministering in disadvantaged areas are evangelical. There are no (well hardly any) Unitarian Churches in the inner cities. There are plenty of Pentecostals and Holiness groups such as Assemblies of God, however. These are groups with evangelical Methodist backgrounds.

4. Basis of Scriptural interpretation? The New Testament interprets the Old. The epistles (that is, the section of the Bible written from this side of the death and resurrection) interpret the gospels. The theological passages interpret the practical problem passages. Thus Romans 1-8 and/or Galations (as with Martin Luther) interpret other passages.

5. What of Wesley's concern about schism? Good point, and to be taken seriously. Schism, it seems, has already taken place. It is not those who stand with everything historic Methodism is about, including the Scriptures, the doctrine, the discipline, who have divided, but those have rejected that for another agenda. Why is mainstream of United Methodism being accused of schism under the present circumstances? How is the integrity of everything that has been historic Methodism to be upheld if a significant minority is so willing to scuttle it and offer a different gospel?

Riley B Case more than 3 years ago

Yo, hold up

In #5, what is this "different gospel" of which you speak? It seems your assertions in this item assume facts for which evidence is lacking. "Mainstream"? How so? Right-wing movements like "Good News," "Confessing," etc. are anything but. Spit it out. Innuendo and masking the right-wing agenda with honor guard phrases is not an honorable argument made in good faith.

George Nixon Shuler more than 3 years ago

Emphasis on the Poor Part 1

In response to your question about emphasis on the poor. I think you will find plenty of it in Jorge Acevedo's WCA Keynote. Here is the text, which he posted:

Genius of the “And”
Jorge Acevedo, Pastor

Years ago, I was privileged to hear Jim Collins of "Good to Great" fame speak. This was before he wrote this seminal leadership book. He had just finished releasing his research that documented the slim margin that distinguished “A” companies from “A+” companies. In those days, it was the difference between American Express and Visa or Dell Computers and Hewlett-Packard. This research was recorded in his book "Built to Last."

The part of his talk that I will never forget was when he taught on one of the distinguishing principles. Collins said that A+ companies practice the genius of the “and” instead of the tyranny of the “or.” In the talk, he described how choosing between seemingly contradictory concepts—focusing on this or that—leads to missed opportunities.
• Is the product low cost or high quality?
• Do I focus on short-term opportunities or long-term strategy?
• Should the company be bold or conservative?
• Is it great customer service or profit making?
Collins and his team at Stanford discovered that the best companies find a way to embrace the positive aspects of both sides of a dichotomy, and instead of choosing, they find a way to have both.

It seems to me that as followers of Jesus in the Wesleyan way, we practice this principle of the genius of the “and” in our understanding and living out of the life of faith. Think about some of apparent choices some in Christianity might want us to make:
• Is it grace or is it truth?
• Is it faith or is it works?
• Is it radical welcome or is it radical Gospel?
• Is it orthodoxy or is it orthopraxy?
• Is it love of God or love of neighbor?
When we in the Wesleyan stream get it right, we refuse to be sequestered to one corner or another, but instead choose the robust middle way, which we understand as the way of Jesus.

Maybe the most profound witness to genius of the “and” at work in our tradition is our Methodist understanding of the means of grace. A quick check on the umc.org website and you find this page (www.umc.org/how-we-serve/the-wesleyan-means-of-grace). We Methodists believe in holding in tension both works of piety and works of mercy. Faith expressed without a robust expression of both in the life of an individual follower of Jesus or a local church is incomplete and unbiblical in our understanding of what it means to live in Christ. For us faith is lived best when as a follower of Jesus I work on my prayer life and work to end human trafficking. My local church is being faithful to the way of Jesus when our hands are lifted high in transcending worship and our hands are reaching low to work with the poor.

This was part of the genius of the Wesley’s and the early Methodists.

Beth Ann Cook more than 3 years ago

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