Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 19th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Why I am #UMC


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel like this would be a great campaign slogan…

Dr. Watson has written about “what’s so great about the UMC.”

There are certain structures and theological stances within the #UMC with which I am dissatisfied. I strongly disagree about their ordination process. “This Holy Mystery” is a start, but we need a better affirmation of the real presence. And why do we use grape juice!!! Further, we need a deeper look at our Arminian and Pietist heritage as well as what it means to be Wesleyan. 

We need to get rid of the enthusiasm running rampant in our churches and institutions of higher learning.

Even with those things, and these are the items I’ve discussed openly, there is something about the UMC.

  1. It allows that it is not the only legitimate Christian expression. Coming from the fundamentalist church where it was indoctrinated to the point of cult-like status that we were the only ones, having the ecumenical spirit envelop us is refreshing.
  2. It provides a structure geared to accountability. We have boards and trustees, elders and bishops. We even have a court system of sorts. We can provide accountability without shaming, shunning, or exile. We can extend our hand of fellowship to non-Christian groups as easily as to Christian groups.
  3. It remains, at least via the Book of Discipline, committed to the orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith while not restricting us to a certain “group-think.” It is prima scriptura, rather than sola or, God help us, solo. It recognizes the value of the Creeds and other canons of the Church.
  4. The social structure of the connection is amazing. It allows conservatives, moderates, liberals and others to join together in a vibrant community and, in many quarters, celebrates this rainbow of thought. It ordains women. It allows for change, albeit slow. It is a global Church. It has a history of supporting justice movements in the United States.
  5. We aren’t Calvinist. We aren’t pentecostal, either (although it seems that this particular vein, one contrary to explicit statements by Wesley, is trying to grab a foothold via Branhamites). The UMC has three simple rules: Do no harm; Do good; Stay in love with God.
  6. It values science and Ken Ham doesn’t like us.

In short, we aren’t fundamentalist or evangelical, but we remain focused on the Gospel, social and otherwise.

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Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


4 Responses to “Why I am #UMC”
  1. David Watson says

    Good post, Joel.

  2. From what I have read, and seen in a Methodist church near where I live, they do not embrace inerrancy. I was totally amazed, when I pulled out a pew bible, and found it to be a NRSV. Seriously considering joining them.

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