Recovering the Mainline’s Voice



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Reclaiming our voice

Amen! Methodism came into being with a specific message and method. The UMC long ago drifted from both. If she can not be a unique voice in the Christian landscape, there is absolutely no reason for her existence as an independent denomination, might as well shut everything down.

There are many things about Wesley that are currently misused but I believe an inaccurate and incomplete understanding of his sermon "The Catholic Spirit" is the most detrimental. Obviously the first half of the sermon is alive and well, what has been lost is the second half which describes a true person of a catholic spirit. I was so ingrained with the first half of the sermon, it took two readings for the second half to register: a person of a truly catholic spirit is not one who willy nilly abandons their beliefs and understanding to give someone else room to stand; they are a person who is always willing to be open to the possibility that someone else might have a better insight, but after seriously evaluating what the other has to say, they are free to stand their ground. And Wesley practiced what he preached: he was willing to let other views of Christianity exist, but when it came to early Methodism, he had a tight rein on the societies, requiring preachers to be on board with his understandings as well as taking a hard stand against Calvinism. There were definite boundaries to early Methodism, and if a person was not willing to work within those boundaries, then they were invited to leave.

Wesley's sermon on "The Catholic Spirit" needs to be required reading for the entire UMC! Especially by those who are using it to promote a "big tent" Methodism in which anything goes. The book, "Wesley and a People Called Methodist", is also very enlightening.

Orter T more than 7 years ago