Will we walk on this road together?

I read this morning an interesting article written in 1991 by Andrew Walker, a British theologian.*

In it he warns of the assault on Christianity that has been modernity and the misguided attempts of Christians who have tried to unite in the midst of this tide on non-Christian grounds — pluralism, New Thought, process theology, existentialism, new agism.

He calls instead for a joining of hands based on the road of the historic mainstream of the Christian church, which he describes this way:

It is the road that stands for the sacredness and truth of the Holy Bible. The road incorporates and is directed by the ancient creeds and the great councils of the early church and by the undivided ecumenical councils of the first millennium of Chistendom, which sought to bear witness to a trinitarian God and the risen Jesus who was both God and man. It is the road of Christian pilgrims everywhere who press on believing in not only a God of miracles and revelation but also one of personal encounter.

While reading this article, I wondered how many United Methodists would reject his call because they reject what he describes as the main road of “mere Christianity.” On the one hand, I cannot imagine rejecting these things and calling myself Christian. On the other hand, I know that people do.

I wondered if there was a way for us to move forward in our deepest divisions by first gathering together everyone who would gladly stand on this road. Before we get down to debating the proper use of genitals and other matters, can we get everyone in the room to agree that we are Christians defined by the marks sketched out by Prof. Walker?

I’m not convinced that all the people in our debates these days would desire to stand on that road. And I wonder if that is a large part of the reason why we cannot figure out ways to live together. But in deference to Prof. Walker, I also wonder if the unity of the Church firmly grounded on this central road requires me to accept the hand of Christians who have a vastly different understanding of Christian moral and ethical life.

If we can say the Nicene Creed together without crossed fingers, if we can sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” without engaging in metaphorical translation, and if we can read of Paul’s Damascus Road encounter and the raising of Lazarus without trying to explain them away as psychological reactions or literary tropes, then perhaps we should be able to live in peace with one another and unity against the foes who would tear down Christianity. We will continue as separate churches, but perhaps as one Church.

In these convulsive times, it is a hopeful thought.


*The article was in the April 29, 1991, issue of Christianity Today, for which I do not have an electronic copy that I can share.

Jorge Acevdeo in Indiana Nov. 14

I’ll be teaching this day, so cannot attend — life of a bi-vocational pastor — but this looks like a great event for those who can get away on a weekday.

Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World
Jorge Acevedo
Lead Pastor
Grace Church in Southwest Florida
DATE:  Thursday, November 14, 2013
          Event Schedule
8:30 – 9:00 am – Registration & Coffee
          9:00 am – Opening Praise & Worship
9:30 – 11:30 am – Session 1
11:30 – 12:30 pm – Lunch
12:30 – 2:30 pm – Session 2
2:30 – 3:30 pm – Closing Worship
TIME:  8:30 am to 3:30 pm.

WHERE:  Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church

3179 N 600 W (Mt. Comfort Rd) – 1/2 mile north of I-70 (Exit 96) on Mt. Comfort Rd (600W)
Greenfield IN 46160
PHONE: 317-894-8965

TO REGISTER:

Mail registration information (name, address, church, phone & e-mail address) with $40 to:
Indiana Confessing Movement
c/o Karen Ottjes
1315 W Grant St
Thorntown IN 46071

Please include any special needs for lunch (vegetarian or Gluten-free)
For additional information, please contact Beth Ann Cook at revbethanncook@gmail.com

Billy Abraham on engaging the culture

Here’s a video I had not seen before about ways the church could and should engage the world. His talk has three section: the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, the changing culture of North America, and engaging that changing culture with the unchanging gospel.

About 18-19 minutes in he has this interesting claim: We should no longer accept the claim that we United Methodists are an American mainline church.

*Note: He gets  Kenda Creasy Dean’s school affiliation wrong. She is at Princeton.

Jorge Acevedo in Indiana

Have you heard of Jorge Acevedo? His multi-cultural, multi-site, mega-church in southwest Florida has done what the United Methodist Church has struggled to do: reach people. His book, Vital, was a suggested text before the 2012 General Conference, and is a pretty good read.

In November, he’ll be coming to Indiana to lead a day-long seminar called “Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World.”

The location is Mt. Comfort UMC, which is near Indianapolis.

The event is sponsored by the Indiana Conference Confessing Movement.

You can find full details and registration information here.