Democratized Theology vs. Theology of the Demos (Mob)



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Based on this...

I am not sure if you believe that God had specific intentions/plans/expectations//requirements when he created the world and us and called it good--in short I am not sure if you believe there is such a thing as God's divine will for us and all of creation. If not, we have no common ground to stand on. However, my guess is you probably do. But with this approach to theology, God's will for us becomes a fluid thing and we still do not have any common ground to stand on.
I cannot help but contrast this article with one of the questions the Bishops addressed during their recent meeting:
•What is the core of the gospel that we share?
To me, this question indicates that the Bishops believe that there are certain core truths we should all be holding in common; something I agree with. After spending way too much time cruising the internet listening to every voice I could find within the United Methodist Church, I believe that we all believe there are core truths. The problem is, we do not agree on what they are. Thus we are at a standoff on sexuality, abortion, and Israel. My prediction is that if we stay together the list of what we disagree on will only get longer and more complex because we have different perceptions of the truth and how that truth impacts our lives.

betsy more than 2 years ago

Hi Betsy

This probably comes too late for you to see, but I'll post it anyway in hopes of some discussion.

I woudn't think that Israel or sexuality would even approach the level of a 'core truth'. I can see where abortion might, but I think the BoD is pretty solid on that - we want to reduce the number of abortions (in an ideal world, approaching zero) by eliminating the driving factors.

Core truths (in no particular order) would be love God, love thy neighbor, doing good for your community/country/world, making disciples, etc. I'm sure we could come up with some more, those were just off the top of my head.

Now I would also suggest that these core truths are probably shared across all of Christianity (or should be). So maybe the real question is what are the core truths that differentiate a Methodist from another denomination? That would be the 'next tier' - I still don't think that Israel really hits that level (politically, as support or not for the government of Israel is where I think you were going). Sexuality, again, I don't know that it rises to this level, but you do - and that becomes a challenge. What I'd put here is the Open Table (differentiates from Catholics, for example). I'd certainly put the Wesley Quadrilateral, as other faith traditions don't necessarily include that.

But that level of critical Methodist Principles is what needs to be fleshed out - for whatever groups spin out of the UMC. EVERYTHING in any constitution should be derived from 'first principles'.

JR more than 2 years ago

Democratized Theology

The problem with your idea of Democratized Theology is that some people don't bother playing an instrument, they're in the parking lot banging on their car horn. :-)

I would describe Methodism as a hybrid system. We are organized more like college fraternities. Each conference is organized like a chapter. They recruit new members, those members are initiated, have a trial period and then become full members. Fraternities are very cliquish and who gets through that process is very important for where the fraternity goes in the future.

The chapters meet once a year and along with the members of the fraternity, the members of the laity sends representatives. This gets the church members a say in the running of the organization, but the clergy are the leaders.

Within the clergy members of each annual conference, I do think that there is something like this "theology of the demos" going on. The group most certainly enforces expectations within that group. The bishop of each annual conference may be able to seem extremely powerful, but the group dynamics underneath that wields real power. But the enforcing of the expectations is occuring in all the conferences. Our issue is that these "chapters of clergy" have really gotten far apart and don't like each other to point that its disrupting the function of each annual conference.

Anonymous more than 2 years ago

The Mobs

I afraid that neither the Traditional nor Progressive mobs are going to understand this. The Traditional Mob turned against the COBs because they didn't do what that mob wanted. The Progressive Mob turned against GC because they didn't like the vote. Both mobs see everything in black and white. They want absolutes.
Being in the middle, not because I can't make a decision, but because I see a lot of grey instead of black and white, I am weary of both the extremist mobs.
Maybe we need to change our government to have an arch-bishop make the hard decisions.

Metho-Anglican more than 2 years ago