By Larry Duggins
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #13
Doctrine arises out of the life of the Church—its faith, its worship, its discipline, its conflicts, its challenges from the world it would serve. Evangelism, nurture, and mission require a constant effort to integrate authentic experience, rational thought, and purposeful action with theological integrity. A convincing witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can contribute to the renewal of our faith, bring persons to that faith, and strengthen the Church as an agent of healing and reconciliation. This witness, however, cannot fully describe or encompass the mystery of God. Though we experience the wonder of God’s grace at work with us and among us, and though we know the joy of the present signs of God’s kingdom, each new step makes us more aware of the ultimate mystery of God, from which arises a heart of wonder and an attitude of humility. Yet we trust that we can know more fully what is essential for our participation in God’s saving work in the world, and we are confident in the ultimate unfolding of God’s justice and mercy. In this spirit we take up our theological task. We endeavor through the power of the Holy Spirit to understand the love of God given in Jesus Christ. We seek to spread this love abroad. As we see more clearly who we have been, as we understand more fully the needs of the world, as we draw more effectively upon our theological heritage, we will become better equipped to fulfill our calling as the people of God. Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. —Ephesians 3: 20-21 (based on RSV)"
― from "The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016"
“Yet we trust that we can know more fully what is essential for our participation in God’s saving work in the world, and we are confident in the ultimate unfolding of God’s justice and mercy.” God is at work through us, here and now. We believe as a Methodist people that God is at work unfolding justice and mercy. As Methodist people, we live deeply in the assurance of God’s grace.
When we make mistakes as Methodist people, we rely on Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason, applied through the presence of the Holy Spirit, to correct us and to guide us forward. In many ways, the Discipline is a blessing as it reminds us of who we are as Methodist Christians. Recently, we seemed to focus on Robert’s Rule of Order more than our Discipline. As a Methodist people, let’s return to our Wesleyan roots and our Discipline and make room for all.