What holds the Methodist Church together?

Real Clear Religion has kindly put up my piece, originally published with the Institute on Religion and Democracy, on the Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society. Although the UMC is the most conservative of the mainline denominations the GBCS still leans quite far to the left and is absolutely committed to the social gospel. This has given rise to considerable tensions within the denomination, as many Methodist pastors and congregants find that the legislative positions advocated by the board in Washington D.C. fail to match their own convictions about the implications of Christianity for politics.

While many denominations lean either solidly to the left or solidly to the right, the Methodist Church is unique in that it represents a cross-section of the American populace. For obvious reasons, the politicization of America has therefore helped to politicize the Methodist Church itself, now torn apart between left and right. One might think the way to preserve unity in the midst of all of this is to focus on the gospel and the orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith, but a representative of the GBCS argued that a different bond holds Methodists together:

“The Social Principles are a way for us not to kill each other. We don’t talk about it that way, but that’s what they are. We see churches divide … we see churches split. In the United Methodist church we don’t sing the same hymns, we don’t read the Scriptures and the canon in the same way. We speak many, many different languages … but we have one set of social principles.”

You can read my whole piece here.


About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on October 11, 2012, in Social Gospel, United Methodist Church, Unity of the Church and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on What holds the Methodist Church together?.

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