Tuesday, June 13, 2006

united methodist doctrine: the extreme center by scott jones

United Methodist Doctrine:  The Extreme Center Cover

Scott Jones is a Bishop in the United Methodist Church; previously he had served as a professor of Evangelism at SMU and as a pastor. I included this book in the midst of the others for the purpose of holding learnings about the present and future church in tension with our heritage as United Methodists. In re-reading this book, I was reminded that Wesley's understanding of grace is worth recovering in our response to the spiritual hungers of this age. Some other learnings:

1. The heart of United Methodist doctrine is soteriology (salvation) , which for Wesley was a "way" or a process.

2. The goal of United Methodist doctrine is discipleship; our beliefs are always shaped by our practices.

3. At its best, United Methodist doctrine occupies an "extreme center", holding in tension worship and service, spiritual formation and social involvement, personal evangelism and political activism. Our culture has a very difficult time holding these in tension (Ken's comment).

4. Wesley distinguished between essential doctrines and opinions. There are some matters upon which Christians disagree, and a "catholic spirit" allows us to recognize this. We recall Paul's word in 1 Corinthians 13 that "we know only in part".

5. The four key concepts of United Methodist theology, all rooted in scripture, are creation, sin, grace and law.

6. Sin is a disease that distorts the image of God in us. Grace is the healing (therapeia psyches) of this sickness, and the restoration of human nature.

7. The process of making disciples includes five steps: proclaiming the gospel; leading persons to commit their lives to Christ; nurturing individuals in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace; sending people out into the world as servants; continuing the mission of seeking, welcoming and gathering persons into the body of Christ.

8. We cooperate with God in the experience of grace (see Philippians 2. 13).

9. The ultimate goal of doctrine for Wesley was holiness: love of God and love of neighbor.

10. The deep divisions within American Christianity between social gospel and evangelical traditions can be held together by an "extreme center", grounded in the experience of God's grace as the way to salvation.


Blogger Rio said...

While you were reading this at LJA, I needed escapism and picked up an historical mystery (which I gave a quasi-review on my blog)! Glad to find your blog.

2:23 PM  

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