Orthodoxy: It's Not What You Think It Means



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Orthodoxy and the Wesleyan Doctrine of Santification

As a United Methodist, I BELIEVE in the “Orthodox” doctrine of the Holy Trinity and in keeping with that, I BELIEVE in the Wesleyan “Orthodoxy” of “Sanctifying Grace.” When I was ordained as a UMC minister in 1969, the Bishop paused in my ordination service, to explain to the congregation that the words “Do you expect to be made perfect in your lifetime”? - needed to be understood as an always/already necessary “expectation,” otherwise, we become closed-off to the working of the Holy Spirit in both our individual lives and in the life of our Church. Many early Christian (and I suspect, St. Paul) “expected” that they were living in the “last days.” That may have been a key reason behind St. Paul’s little concern for “marriage” being about “procreation,” but rather about containing human sexual needs.

Surprise! God bestowed upon the Human Race two unexpected gifts – history and “The Holy Spirit.” If Christians were to continue to live in “history,” they would need a manifestation of God’s continuing, always guiding forward, and presence to give a purpose to our human “history.” In other words, to become ever more “perfect” in our understanding of God’s Love and Mercy.

Some Christian “Fundamentalists” and some United Methodists, will proclaim that God’s revelation begins and ends with specific verses in the Bible. To me, that is not an “orthodox” teaching, but rather, a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in the orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity, and a dismissing of one of the KEY theological teaching in Wesleyan theology that gave such weight to the doctrine of “Sanctifying Grace” - a Grace not only active in the life of individual believers, but a Gift given to the Church (capital “C”).

My problem with Dr. Tennent’s blog is that his understanding of “orthodoxy” comes dangerously close to being “a sin against the Holy Spirit.”
The Rev. G. Tom Poe, Ph.D.
Kansas City, Missouri

G. Thomas Poe more than 8 years ago


Dr. Smith, your arguments fall outside the definitions of the true believers and so they will not understand what you are saying. Your words will sound like nonsense because you do not happen to agree with what they understand to be orthodoxy. That's why they do not understand standing with Jesus about oppression. They do not see themselves as oppressors but as saviors. How much more like Jesus can they get, huh? I am pleased tp see so much good thinking going on. There have been some amazing article here in INSIGHT and on other UM media which press for more thought and more options to add to the various confrontational tactics that while revealing, have yet to lead to resolution. I'm glad you shared this. It would be great to have it make a difference.

Jerry Eckert more than 8 years ago