A continuation from 42: 5 things I, me, myself,, love about Methodism – part 1.
So if the first thing I love about Methodism was "Meeting the Living God" then the second is more distinctive about Methodism.
Obviously I am not alone in this. All three of the other Methodists who have written on this theme (Micky Youngson, Angela Shier-Jones and Richard Hall) have all picked theology and in one way or another they have all chosen areas related to inclusion.
Something about me makes me want to be different, I just can't help it. So whilst the Methodist understanding of inclusion summarised by the 4 For All's (All need to be saved, All may be saved, All may know themselves saved, All may be saved to the uttermost) is absolutely fantastic and certainly something I both love and rely on – I wanted more.
So I have chosen a broader theme of "Methodist Theology". It is not just one thing but the way a number of Methodist emphases combine that I absolutely love, a combination I have not seen anywhere else and which I would not want to lose.
So I love Methodist Theology about Methodism. Here are a few thoughts on what that means for me:
- The For All's (see The Methodist Church of Great Britain | All can be saved)
- Wesleyan Aminianism: From which the For All's spring but which more accurately places Methodism as distinctive from Churches that follow Calvinist understandings.
- Sanctification: The rejoicing that we are on a journey. No matter where we have come so far there is more to come in the future (Angie puts this well in her number 3 "Growth in Grace").
- Evangelical: Now this is a bit of a messy one. In recent years this is a term that has frequently been hijacked in ways that are not compatible with Methodist theology. I have frequently been told that I can't be an Evangelical (generally by Calvinists. Yet the traditional understanding (see 42: Back on form: defining evangelical) which defines it as a combination of Biblicism, Christocentrism, Cruicicentrism, Conversionism and Activism fits beautifully with Methodism. Sadly the aggressive redefinition of the word Evangelical and the way that has come to be used in the press has put many Methodists off it (see for example Sally's reaction in 42: What is an evangelical?).
- Focus on pragmatism: When you talk theology with Methodists there is always a conscious attempt to ask pragmatic questions about what this will mean for the way I act today and tomorrow. If exploring models of atonement then Methodists will want to consider what they mean for the way you live as a follower of Christ. They are less interested in what is right but what makes us better disciples. This makes a significant contrast with those who are interested in getting people to sign up to a specific statement of faith. Methodists instead want to ask whether this is Christlike and how signing such a statement will make us more Christlike, the answer is often that it is not and it won't.
- Lack of fixed doctrines. We are not a doctrinal people who want to stand by a fixed list of articles or statements. Out theology is generally about practical application rather than proving we are right.
- Our theology focuses our attention on the poor, the marginalised, the excluded, victims of injustice and strangers because that is where we see Jesus focused and because the God we find in scripture is passionate about these issues.
OK that should be enough for reason number 2 for loving Methodism. Reason 3 will follow later.