Evan has written a post about labeling and listening. Several responses are floating around on FB that suggest defending orthodoxy makes one conservative.
I beg to differ. I am not a conservative (unless I need to be to counter liberals like Ken Ham). Rather, I guess I would be a progressive, at least in the sense that I believe we should be open to change if presented with new information. However, I am still orthodox. This is not narrow-minded/conservative, but holding to the Great Tradition which is greater than I. I believe in indifference to those things that matter little, or those things open to interpretation. Indeed, I believe very much in Wesley’s Catholic Spirit.
Oddly enough, those who count themselves progressive often quote Wesley’s Sermon on the Catholic Spirit to suggest doctrines don’t really matter; all you need is love.
“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.”
But, let me go further into the same sermon. Wesley actually condemns those without a doctrinal spine:
For, from hence we may learn, first, that a catholic spirit is not speculative latitudinarianism. It is not an indifference to all opinions: this is the spawn of hell, not the offspring of heaven. This unsettledness of thought, this being “driven to and fro, and tossed about with every wind of doctrine,” is a great curse, not a blessing, an irreconcilable enemy, not a friend, to true catholicism. A man of a truly catholic spirit has not now his religion to seek. He is fixed as the sun in his judgement concerning the main branches of Christian doctrine. It is true, he is always ready to hear and weigh whatsoever can be offered against his principles; but as this does not show any wavering in his own mind, so neither does it occasion any. He does not halt between two opinions, nor vainly endeavour to blend them into one. Observe this, you who know not what spirit ye are of: who call yourselves men of a catholic spirit, only because you are of a muddy understanding; because your mind is all in a mist; because you have no settled, consistent principles, but are for jumbling all opinions together. Be convinced, that you have quite missed your way; you know not where you are. You think you are got into the very spirit of Christ; when, in truth, you are nearer the spirit of Antichrist. Go, first, and learn the first elements of the gospel of Christ, and then shall you learn to be of a truly catholic spirit.
My concern is that those who would so easily label via media as conservative and then claim the Catholic Spirit know nothing as to what either of those concepts mean. The Via Media group defends orthodoxy, but — and I can say this as one who claims the label — that doesn’t mean when it comes to the issues of LGBT, some who claim the label aren’t open, or even fighting for change.
I’m not interested, when it comes to orthodoxy, in latitudinarianism. If we are Wesleyans we should be concerned with orthodoxy. Equally, as Wesleyans, we should be weary to quote Wesley’s sermon against latitudinarianism in favor of our own latitudinarianism…