This won’t be a long post. I don’t think I need more than a few words to get this point across.
There is nothing wrong with a moderate amount of inclusion — or exclusion. There needs to be a variety of opinions in most organizations, especially the Church, so that we do not become legalist (progressive or conservative). I am not saying that a tent is a bad thing.
I am saying a big tent lends itself to relativism, so that there is no real cohesion, no mission, no coherent teachings. I am also saying that doing things for the sake of the institution merits nothing except a “win at all costs” mentality, which begets us what we see in the support of Roy Moore.
We have seen statement after statement from politicians and voters supporting Roy Moore, the Republican Senatorial candidate for the Great State of Alabama. Statements have been made in earnest, that it is better to vote for a pedophile than for a Democrat. Today, a Congressman said, when asked, that he is afraid of the dangers of Democrats.
Note, this is not about whether Moore is guilty or innocent – at the moment, he is legally innocent – but about his supporters who would vote for him even if he was guilty.
The Republican Party used to be “the party of family values.” I remember a lot of arrogant and self-righteous speeches against President Clinton and others — and sometimes they were justified. They held themselves up in high esteem in regards to morals, seeing themselves as principled Party.
But to win, to hold the power together… they have started to discard anything that matters to them. They are done with their principles if their principles get in the way of winning.
There is little wonder those on the sides – with firm principles — will not support “Uniting Methodists.” They presented themselves as arguing for the gray as if there is nothing defined in Christian Tradition regarding of the key foundational elements. However, when we are speaking about these issues — such as the authority of Scripture and Tradition — there is no middle ground; there are excuses.
When we are speaking about Wesleyan foundational elements, such as social holiness, there is no middle ground. The Left cannot support Uniting Methodists and neither can the right. “Traditional compatibilists” are merely progressives that haven’t identified as such yet. “Progressive compatibilists” are those willing to sacrifice others for their own stability.
Dr. David Watson wrote something today, analyzing the preliminary report by the Commission on “the Way Forward.” In part, he writes,
The problem is that we lack not only a common vision for the church, but a common vision of the church. Put differently, it’s not just that we disagree over what the church should do. Rather, we disagree over what it means to be a church.
Where we lack vision, we have substituted control devoid of principle. Each side has an agenda – to disciple towards a particular worldview. Centrism, by definition, cannot do that because there is no universal conviction. It is right, but only maybe, for right now and maybe only for this one person. Where there is no vision, the people perish. The vision of the Church involves swords, and hate, and cutting, and binding, and loosening. To suggest the vision of the Church is nothing more than “getting along” or “finding commonality” is to suggest something antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I see no difference between those are willing to lead a theological life unexamined or to throw away principle in order to save their institution (namely, The United Methodist Church), and those who chose to vote for someone like Roy Moore just to win against the Democrats. If we have to stretch ourselves past who we are called to be — and who we present ourselves to the world as – in order to hold a coalition, organization, or Church together… we have lost.
At any point in the history of the Church catholic have we seen “centrism” succeed? In the history of republics, when the voting class forsakes principle and country for party, what follows?