Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Quote from John Wesley

"Would to God that all the party names and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world were forgot, and that we might all agree to sit down together, as humble, loving disciples, at the feet of our common Master, to hear His word, to imbibe His Spirit, and to transcribe His life in our own!"  - Preface to Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, 9.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Unity is an admirable Christian virtue

I returned yesterday from the West Ohio Annual Conference. It was good to see old friends and to make new ones, and to be about the business of holy conferencing. I know many people would say that annual conferences do not always embody the ideal of holy conferencing, but, at least in West Ohio, I think that we do ok. The last two years have involved contentious issues that we have engaged (most of the time) with gentleness and humility.

Of course, there are folks who will not be satisfied with the decisions of the conference, and the old Protestant temptation to divide may become too strong to resist. But I am reminded in thinking about disagreement in ecclesial settings that unity is a Christian virtue that is often undervalued. Yes, the issues about which we debate are indeed important and need to be taken seriously, but so does the unity of our communion. We should remember that the solution to every problem in the Christian life does not immediately present itself, even to those who are most faithful and prayerful. Consider, for example, that the creedal statements around the Trinity and the Incarnation took around 400 years to develop, though controversies about the nature of the Godhead and the nature of Christ go back to the earliest days of the faith.

Paul asks rhetorically in 1 Cor 1:13, "Has Christ been divided?" It was a poignant question in the first century, and is no less so today.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love Wins

It seems like a lot of people who have been criticizing Rob Bell for Love Wins haven't read the book. This is not intellectually virtuous, to say the least. Regardless, I did read it recently (ok, I listened to the audio book) and I thought it was extremely interesting and helpful. What Bell articulates so well is that Christian orthodoxy is a very wide tradition with considerable room for debate, disagreement, dialogue. Christian orthodoxy does have particular parameters, but within those parameters a lot can happen. Bell is exceptionally skilled at making complex theological ideas accessible. I recommend reading (or listening to) this one if you have the chance.