The Gospel and People Can’t be Captured by Labels!

I find it deeply disturbing that The United Methodist Church is considering forming new denominations defined by such ambiguous secular ideological labels as “Progressive,” “Traditional,” and “Centrist.”

The Christian gospel will not fit neatly into any label, any more than God can be fully captured in any creed.

And, people are more complex than can be categorized on the basis of single issues. Identifying people in accordance with ideological labels reduces them to a category less than a child of God who bears the divine image.

When we think we have boxed God within the confines of our thoughts and experiences, we may be sure we have the wrong god! And, when mystery has been removed from any Christian doctrine,  “good news” has become bad news.

Forming a denomination designated explicitly for  “progressives,” “traditionalists,” “centrists,” “conservatives,” or “liberals” is to intensify and broaden practices of exclusion, evasion, and division.

Structural changes are needed and new forms of Methodism will emerge. But ambiguous secular political ideological labels fall sinfully short of the firm foundation on which the church is built!

 

9 thoughts on “The Gospel and People Can’t be Captured by Labels!

  1. I don’t claim to know much, especially about the politics of the Church. I do know I have prayed and pray everyday that whatever the outcome that God’s Will be done.

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  2. There is a very big difference between accepting opposing beliefs and interpretations and a debated, voted upon, and approved doctrine that specifically discriminates against and punishes Christians based upon sexuality. As for your statement that “Structural changes are needed and new forms of Methodism will emerge. But ambiguous secular political ideological labels fall sinfully short of the firm foundation on which the church is built!” To which firm foundation are you referring? The fractured 1st century Christians of Jerusalem vs Christians of Antioch; or the Methodism that emerged from a fractured 18th century Church of England, or the fractured 17th century Church of England from which my colonial ancestors, the Separatists and Puritans, first fled to Holland and then to America. I am sure that there were loyal followers of the monarchy as the self-proclaimed heads of the church who would have argued that these movements were “denominations defined by such ambiguous secular ideological labels.”

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  3. Bishop Carder, once again we hear from you a word of exceptional depth and breadth–a word theologically rooted and faithfully formed, tempered with all the graciousness your current pastoral situation highlights! Thank you.

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  4. Thank you for these poignant thoughts. How can we abandon our “ministry of reconciliation” (Paul) within the the church’s factions when we know we can be a stronger force for God and good when we act together? How can we turn our backs on the model of unity we can posit to a world already all too fractured? I pray the church can summon its most profound wisdom and resourcefulness to find a way to further a united ministry.

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