I know this argument is already over. I know it is settled. I know no one who matters will listen, but I cannot escape the conviction that the thing we most need as a church is the thing that has been ruled off the table by the Call to Action and all its related programs and initiatives. We’ve been told that theology is irrelevant to congregational vitality, and so it is unimportant. Indeed, it is divisive to talk about it because it will only lead to disagreements that will bog us down. Leave theology to theologians.
As a congenital conflict-avoider I understand that impulse. I really do. But if I know anything at all about the state of the United Methodist Church, it is that our theological fog is killing us.
Tell me a time when the church has been vibrant — not this or that congregation blessed by a charismatic pastor but the church. Tell me a time when the church has been vibrant without a burning theological vision of its mission and purpose? Show me a revival, an awakening, a reformation that was not at its heart fueled by a passionate conviction about God and God’s purposes and God’s people.
Yes, yes. John Wesley said “think and let think.” But when he said that he was talking of outsiders. He was trying to get critics to lay off his movement. This same tolerant John Wesley had no doubts at all about the reason God had raised up Methodists. He might say having right opinions had nothing to do with true religion, but he had passionate the powerful opinions about what it meant to be a Christian, a real Christian, and he lived that out to his dying day. Methodism was born of theological passion.
Where is our passion? Where is our fire? Do we believe the world needs Jesus Christ? Will we sacrifice our lives for that? Will we sacrifice our pension plans? Would we go hungry or to prison for it? Would we stand in a field while drunks threw rocks and mud clods at us?