Thoughts on Our Theological Task #13
“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.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #12
In our commitment to fully engage with others, the Discipline asks us to bear witness to our faith as United Methodists within the one body of Jesus Christ. As Methodists, we are to be neighbors and witnesses to all others, whether they are like us or not. We are not to crush our relationships to the lowest common denominator but are to raise our relationships to the highest level of fellowship and understanding. If we are to do this with our Muslim brothers and sisters, are we not to do it with our brothers and sisters along the spectrum of human sexuality?
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #11
It is hard to read these words from 1972 and not see the reflection of #GC2019. The Discipline anticipates that it will be hard to address all of the theological issues that will arise in our global church. The world is more connected that it has ever been before, and the pressure of global awareness exposes problems that were hidden before. As a people of God, we are challenged to address social and personal injustice, and we are challenged to do so in the face of our global diversity.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #10
God gave us brains, and I am convinced that God intends for us to use them. From one perspective, humanity was blessed with reason to be able to carry God’s task of creation forward. Just as God calls us to be God’s hands and feet in service to others, God calls us to use our reason to co-create solutions and blessings for all those around us. We are more than simply caretakers—we are agents of God’s creative mercy and grace.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #9
Our life experience is entwined with our Christian experience. The fact that the Holy Spirit lives inside us shifts our entire perspective—Paul says it beautifully in Galatians 2:20 when he says that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives within him. Lived Christian experience changes the way we see scripture and the world around us. Our inner voice works with us to discern right from wrong.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #8
My favorite part of the paragraph on Tradition is the explicit recognition that sometimes we get it wrong. We work with the struggles and conclusions of those who have gone before us, fully acknowledging that, on occasion, they were wrong. That stance is grace-filled and reminds us that imperfections do not render a treasure valueless.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #7
Scripture is the primary source of our doctrine. We believe that scripture authentically reflects the ongoing nature of God’s interaction with creation and humanity in the past, the present, and the future. Scripture reveals the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a way that presents all that is necessary and sufficient for salvation. The Scripture reveals the ongoing action of the Holy Spirit in the world.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #6
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which is the technical name of the four-part method at the core of Methodist sources and criteria for evaluation of sources, lies at the heart of this section of the Discipline. Based on the work of Methodist theologian Albert Outler, the quadrilateral succinctly describes the approach that John Wesley took in defining, describing, and refining the theology of the Methodist people.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #5
Our engagement with scripture, doctrine and theology has a practical purpose. Our theological reflection is to drive our daily activity and to inform the behavior of the Church. If we conclude through our reflection that God is love, we are called to test the truth of that statement by examining how that conclusion shapes our behavior in daily life. If the words and the music do not go together, we are not living into this interpretive stance. If we say we believe in love, but do not act in the world through love, then we are missing the practical purpose of our theology.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #4
God’s greatest gift to humanity is the fact that God chooses to interact with us directly. One of the most incredible and obvious manifestations of that choice is the flesh and blood incarnation of Jesus Christ. God chose to enter the world as one of us to teach us and guide us. Jesus lived a life immersed in God’s grace, pouring himself out for those around him and for all of us who followed them. Jesus modeled life, death, and resurrection for us all.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #3
As Methodist people, we are all charged to apply ourselves to working hard to come to grips with the truths surrounding our doctrine and belief. We are not allowed to simply push the responsibility for serious consideration off onto our clergy, bishops, conference delegates, and lay leaders.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #2
As Methodist people, this paragraph calls us to question expressions of faith. We are not to assume that the way that expressions of faith were held by the generations before us is the way that we should hold them in the present. We are charged to challenge the validity of our denomination’s expressions of faith in light of our own lived human experience and current understanding of the world. We are to struggle with our doctrines to be certain that they reflect love and that they are both understandable and credible to the people of this day and age.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #1
I am unhappy with the outcome of the 2019 Called General Conference (#GC2019) for many reasons. One of the aspects of the conference that I find quite upsetting is my impression that, although much of the debate centered around the retention or rejection of very specific passages within the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (the “Discipline”), the debate itself, both in form and in content, strayed far from the wisdom contained in the Discipline itself.
As a contemplative myself, I am always interested when people talk about silence. For most, a time of silence is about withdrawal from the everyday world for a time of introspection. It is quite common for people to describe a time of silence wistfully, as if it were some unachievable goal. When I suggest getting up a little earlier, or going to bed a few minutes later, or setting an alarm during the day, people often smile and set the idea aside, unwilling to devote any time in their schedule for something as self-indulgent as a quiet time for themselves.
With Dr. Larry Duggins, Dr. John McKellar, and Dr. Todd Renner
The Parable of the Sower
A Book Review by Larry Duggins
As I was searching for an audio book to ride with me on my annual summer trek to Asheville, I stumbled upon The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler. I was hoping to find something written by someone who has a different life view than my own and Ms Butler was an African-American author winner of a Hugo, a Nebula award and a MacArthur Fellowship. Pretty strong credentials. Read more
Two Views on Homosexulaity, the Bible and the Church
A Book Review by Larry Duggins
As part of my personal analysis of the Way Forward issues, I went in search of a good book that fairly deals with the various arguments around the human sexuality issues without screaming at me about them. Read more.
Returning from Camino
A book review by Larry Duggins
Alexander Shaia is a wise and experienced man with a fascinating combination of lived and acquired knowledge. He has studied hard to build a wonderful base of psychological, theological and anthropological knowledge, and he has tempered those with the life experience of an immigrant and a pilgrim. Read more.
Heart and Mind
by Larry Duggins
Occasionally, I will read a book that sticks with me – I think about it throughout a day or a week or a month, and I randomly find myself turning over its ideas as I walk through life. Alexander Shaia’s Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation is such a book.
Paul: An Apostle's Journey
A book review by Larry Duggins
Douglas Campbell’s new work on Paul is a very readable survey into the writings of Paul. Dr. Campbell, a Duke New Testament professor who will be a key player in their new Certificate in Missional Innovation program, has written a book for the rest of us - clear, understandable and to the point. Read more