The end of Methodism? A view from across the pond

by Richard on February 16, 2010

Only Wonder Understands :: Did David Gamble misspeak?

Gamble isn’t making a statement of intention for merger, in fact, his comments have little to do with any formal arrangements with the Church of England. No, Gamble is asking a question we all should be asking, “How do we most effectively minister in the 21st Century?” In that context he remembers Jesus’ prayer in John 17, a prayer that institutional cheerleaders conveniently forget, which recognizes that the disunity of denominationalism can and sometimes does work in opposition to the will of God, that our disunity keeps some from believing. Gamble acknowledges that the ultimate goal of the church is our mission, not maintaining power or supporting a denominational structure that my be unwieldy in a new world.

I frankly don’t understand the fuss, for Gamble’s comments seem perfectly consistent with the witness of scripture and the call of Christ on all of us. The Methodist Church (be it British or American) has been a force for good, and offers a way of thinking about God that has blessed many, but may be useless if it isn’t engaged in ensuring that “…the word is duly preached, the sacraments duly celebrated, and the people duly formed in discipleship for worship and mission.” To suggest that it may need to go away if it isn’t carrying out the mission of Christ is not capitulation, but a recognition that our structure may have outlived its usefulness and needs to be transformed into something new so as to carry out that mission.

Right on the money, Jay.

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