Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
November 10th, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

How the WCA Can Reach Me.

More than one person has asked me what it would take for the Wesleyan covenant Association to reach me and to have me join. To be truthful, I have mostly dodged the question, but it has been asked often enough that it deserves an answer, however unpopular it may be. I am going to address what it would take in a series of points, in no particular order, so that when asked in the future, I can simply refer people here, but also so that those who have asked get a well deserved answer.  Going into this I want to admit freely that I am cynical of pretty much any UMC group like this no matter it’s theological “side”. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of a UMC advocacy group. I mention this so that it is known upfront, taken into account when reading, and perhaps it will illuminate some of my concerns somehow.
1. The WCA, as would be expected, has issued statements about what they believe about the Bible. Those statements can be found through their website. (https://wesleyancovenant.org/about-page/#1533314242168-c269fe11-86cb) I completely agree with their statement on Biblical authority, and also on their statement of faith introduction which reads: “We affirm classical Wesleyan doctrine and the historic faith, which the church has used to define the parameters of Christian teaching. Doctrine, properly understood, unifies the church and gives direction to its life. ” This is a beautiful and powerful statement. Other beliefs are listed, but there is nothing about how scripture is to be viewed. I understand that much of what is said alludes to what is known as infallibility, there is nothing that says so succinctly. The literal inerrant view of the Bible is a distinctly modern view of scripture (the last 100 years or so), that says the Bible contains no errors whatsoever. The history of this is easy to find, so I will not delve into it here. The infallible understanding of scripture affirms that the Bible is true in faith and practice, but does recognize that while it contains history, it is not a history book, and while it contains things scientific, it is not a science text. Yes, matters of faith and practice are trustworthy and true, without a doubt, but other items may not be.
What is the big deal you ask? Part of the big deal is history. What history has shown in, both within this denomination, and in the church catholic, is that when there are two competing views of scripture, there will inevitably be conflict, and often severe conflict. We are seeing this in the UMC now. Part of it is my step son. IF his pastor or Sunday school teacher is teaching from a modern literal inerrant view point, it creates potential conflict with what is being taught to him at home. I have already had to many instances of having to unteach what he has been taught at church.  Sooner or later, this disagreement on how the Bible is to be viewed will bubble over into needless argument and disagreement. To reach me, the WCA needs to decide if the scriptures are literally inerrant, infallible, etc.  There needs to be some understanding of how the Bible is to be viewed and at least some basic guidance on how it is to be best interpreted.
2. The WCA affirms the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of the EUB. This is good. What I think is needed is some attached commentary, much like Asbury and Coke did with the first MEC Discipline, that explains what they mean. Again, in the UMC right now, we have lots of people who affirm these two things. Many of those who affirm them have a drastically different understanding of what they actually mean. We need some clarity to avoid the same problems we have now going forward.
3. In looking at the WCA council, it appears that there are twenty six individuals there. Of that number, only five re not Reverends, Doctors, or Reverend Doctors. That is a concern to me. In a denomination that took over America on the back of it’s laity, I would have expected a more equal representation here. In the future, I think that I would need some assurances that the leadership will include a more equitable breakdown.
4. I am not paying a membership fee, nor am I accepting a grant that would forgive it, or another to pay it for me. This has been offered. The amount is $100. Whether you think that a lot, a little, or somewhere in between, I am not paying. My $100 gives me a vote, and the ability to come to conferences that I can not afford to go to anyway. It seems to me a problem that if the claim is that the WCA is the best expression of Wesleyan faith available, that it would be charged for. I have never had to pay to be a part of the faith, nor have I ever had to pay to have a voice. I am not starting now. There is no mandatory cost to be a part of the Wesleyan faith, so it seems to me there should not be a mandatory cost to be a part of it’s main proponent.
5. As a member, there are obligations. This is true of any group of course. As laity, I have issues with some of the obligations of membership. “2.  Advocating for the WCA in their local church”. I will do no such thing. The local church I am a member of is entrusted, through our appointment system, to an amazing team of two pastors, and I will not advocate for anything that might even remotely damage their ministry in the local church. Should my pastors wish to do this, I trust that the Spirit has moved them to, but I will not. I will advocate Christ and Him crucified, the faith once and for all delivered, etc. but I will not, under any circumstances, advocate for any para-church group within my local church. I find that rather disrespectful to my pastors and the mission of the local church. “3.  Spreading the word about the WCA to neighboring congregations, clergy, and laity, encouraging their participation as appropriate” Much as I would not do this in my own church, I will also not do it in another church for the same reasons. More than this, all individual members are asked to do this, including pastors. It would not take to long before I walked out of a church where my pastor was openly advocating for a para-church group on a regular basis. It would not take me long to leave. I have come to church to be a part of Christian fellowship, not to be recruited for a group outside.
6. This is the tough one, and one that there is likely not a hard and fast solution to. When I hear and read the words of many WCA members, I can not tell the difference in vitriol between them and Love Prevails or Reconcilling Ministries. The language is different of course, as are many of the theological issues, but I can not tell the difference. I want to be a part of something better, not something that is so anger and hate filled. I want to be a part of a church that is political, there is no choice really as we are a kingdom, but not partisan. The only government that we should be endorsing in a Royal Monarchy with Christ on the throne and us as co-heirs. I read people talking about immigration, for example, that seem incapable of actually viewing those fleeing here as human. I read posts on gun control that tell me that I am either a murderer, or hate God and America. I read posts that talk of LGBTQ individuals being the tools of Satan. There is no place for any of this. It is a symptom of our deep spiritual sickness, and frankly I am afraid that it is being built into the foundations of the WCA due to all the vitriolic rhetoric that we see. I don’t know how that is fixed. Maybe strong statements from leadership on issues as they arise not from an earthly kingdom standpoint, but from the standpoint of the only kingdom that matters? I don’t know. I only know that it is concerning.
There are some other things that I think would be beneficial for the WCA to do, but they do not rise to the level of something I actually have an issue with. These are the five main things that concern me and that keep me from the WCA. These, by and large, outline what the WCA needs to address to get to me. I am not saying that the WCA should. I believe that any organization has the right to set their boundaries and policies. I am not saying that the WCA can. I am unsure about how their internal structure works. I am not saying that the WCA will. I hope that those reading this take it into consideration of course, but I am not expecting change just because there are things I am uncomfortable with. The question has been asked often enough that it deserves an answer. That is all this is. Take it then as you will.
Scott Fritzsche

Comments

One Response to “How the WCA Can Reach Me.”
  1. Mike Frosolono says

    Well-said, well-thought out.

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