Who are we? What are we doing? Where are we going?
All of these are questions we’re asking within the United Methodist Church. Many have come up with solutions or directions to address these questions. The jury is still out on whether or not they’ll sufficiently address the pertinent questions of our sect of the Church. But we ask and offer answers nonetheless.
I’m currently reading some wonderful works by Dr. Russ Richey entitled: Doctrine in Experience and Marks of Methodism. Supplementing my research is a variety of articles and other works on Methodist history and polity.
I’ve come to an early conclusion that, as Methodists, we’re not a lot of things. We’re not denomination built on confessions and intellectual assent to various doctrines (although many would argue that fact). We’re also not a denomination built on the rigidity of religion as a means to shelter one’s self from the cold of the secular world (although some might even argue that fact). But we are a denomination built on the simple and demanding call to faith as the pursuit of holiness of both heart and life. And besides that, we have a history and a structure that, when viewed with the lenses of grace and truth, supports this pursuit. It’s a faulty argument to separate our history and structure from our theological demands–they’re inseparable. Methodist history and polity are, when joined with our distinct Wesleyan theology, the corporate embodiment of this great pursuit of holiness of heart and life.
The design of this series is to ask these questions of who and what we are in light of who and what we’ve been. I’ll be exploring this relationship of our history and polity as they might pertain to our contemporary identity. In other words, if we’re trying to figure out who we’re called to be in a new day and age, it’s probably a good thing to explore who we’ve been in previous ages.
And who knows but maybe, just maybe, our past can actually come to life and speak through the voices of saints who’ve gone before us and paved the way of Methodism over the last 250+ years. In joining our voices with those of our past saints, maybe we can catch a glimpse of a harmonious union of past and present–Lord knows, our future sure depends on it.
In what ways does our Methodist tradition and history inform the way(s) you understand your faith as a United Methodist?
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