NY Methodist distressed by UMC

A Methodist from New York has written a lament over what he sees as the rightward shift in the United Methodist Church.

“Theological pluralism”, or the “inclusive church”, or the denomination that practiced Mr. Wesley’s “If your heart is as my heart, then give me your hand”, are vanishing. They are being replaced by an exclusivity – and by a surprising and unfortunate overlooking of reason and of experience from the Quadrilateral – and by a narrow theological literalism that is contrary to the basic Protestant Christian teaching of the individual’s relationship directly to/with God.

The author makes use of a popular quote from John Wesley’s sermon “Catholic Spirit.” That sermon certainly rewards reading. I’m not sure Wesley would use it to advance the argument this author makes, but that would be an interesting conversation.


15 thoughts on “NY Methodist distressed by UMC

  1. John,

    Thanks for your post. Bretsch’s piece is riddled with strawmen and caricatures of the position he disagrees with. He also references theological pluralism. This was in the original statement of “Our Theological Task”, but was taken out over two decades ago. Put differently, The UMC has *not* held to theological pluralism, at least according to this statement, longer than it did. It is not a new change. He also seems (I find the sentence difficult to follow) to connect theological pluralism to John Wesley, which I would strongly disagree with. His reference to “Catholic Spirit” is a good example of precisely the misuse of this sermon I wrote about in a blog post awhile back. (It can be found here, in case any of your readers are interested: http://bit.ly/LVwIJf)

    I am disappointed that this was intentionally published on the website of the Upper New York Annual Conference, because it is such a poor statement of what the UMC has believed and currently does believe.


  2. I think the “return to Wesley” movement over the past couple of decades has probably created a “rightward shift.” Overall, I consider this movement to be positive, though as you know, I’m always going to object vociferously to the uncritical appropriation of 18th century epistemology.

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