The United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy, or SHIELD for short… no, wait… I mean UMSCO (because our anagram was not the first thing they thought about) held their first conference in Cincinnati, Ohio 31 March-2 April. Before that, well known internet trolls trotted out their usual leftist drivel, declaring that orthodoxy is somehow oppressive or a weapon in the “culture war” ongoing in The United Methodist Church. Indeed, as Scripture says and their actions declare true, “to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure.”
Dr. Rankin has written — rather, crafted, because it is done so well — a piece on the Why of the group. I want to add a few things.
Aldersgate provides for a spiritual renewal in the charismatic vein.
Aldersgate Renewal Ministries (ARM) is the working name of the United Methodist Renewal Services Fellowship, Inc. ARM is a non-political and non-adversarial movement that is committed to equipping the local church to minister to the world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
New Room appeals to the wider Wesleyan world, equipping them in pursuit of social holiness.
New Room Conference is our effort in gathering pastors and leaders under one roof to convene conversations, curate content, call to prayer, and inspire a new generation of men and women who long to be a part of a great awakening. Our heart is to resource the Global Christian Movement—not a particular church or denomination or institution.
There are other renewal groups at work in the United Methodist Church. I don’t intend to cover them all.
I just want to speak to UMSCO and why I am involved in it. I see it as a renewal of legitimate orthodoxy. Wesley and other Methodists did not forsake orthodoxy, nor believe it was inconsequential. Yeah. I could list a lot of stuff there, but in the end, Wesley’s sermon “The Catholic Spirit” is so badly proof-texted by non-doctrinal types that it could be a book in the New Testament.
Because what you think actually matters — I can prove this from a scientific standpoint as well as a theological one — I see UMOrthodoxy as focusing on renewing the Christian mind. I think it fits well with Aldersgate (renews the spirit) and New Room (the heart).
In short epistle, “Titus,” the author speaks to some very Wesleyan things (odd…). In chapter one, he writes,
To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work (Titus 1.15-16).
Do you see that? Know/Actions is connected. This is why chapter 2 demands teaching “sound doctrine” while chapter 3 demands that the believer be ready to do “every good work.” If we truly know God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, then our actions will show that.
But, there is something else to orthodoxy. As Karl Barth notes, right teaching (…orthodoxy) leads us to a power promised in Scripture:
He thereby specially depicts the apostles for all preachers and confirms their preaching so that all the world should be bound to their word, and believe the same without any contradiction and be certain that all they preach and teach is right doctrine and the Holy Ghost’s preaching which they have heard and received from Him.
And in concert with Ephesians 4, orthodoxy confirms that the Church is not only unified, but under God:
The presuppositions of the dogmatician with regard to the teaching Church cannot in any sense be those of a personal judgment upon it. He must realise his solidarity with it and take as primary the unambiguous presupposition that in it there is correct teaching. When he does this, he is not referring to himself, or to this or that teacher who in his own judgment teaches correctly. Nor is he optimistically ignoring the many signs which point in quite the opposite direction. He is expressing the confidence that this is the Church which stands under the divine promise and in which this promise has up to the present proved its truth.
So that’s why I am involved. Because everyone is teaching something. Even those who teach against orthodoxy believe in a form of orthodoxy (or, right teaching). Either we proclaim Christ with teaching or we don’t.