In this age of looking out for the numbers and not hurting people’s feelings, Wesley’s view may not be too popular. To understand this, take a look at Bishop Willimon’s past blog posts about the numbers game in the UMC. He was greeted with a rather cool reception for suggesting numbers aren’t all there is.
Wesley called it: “But number is an inconsiderable circumstance.”
Imagine, then, our struggles with numbers as we go on discussing the LGBT issue and the such. That seems to be something tossed around — inclusion will either destroy the Church or increase the Church.
Oddly enough, I don’t think Wesley cared about numbers. Rather, he cared about holiness (or in simple terms, doing what was right before God). Yes, he cared about people, but sometimes that meant expelling them from the community (vs. excommunication), something I’m sure he picked up from St. Paul.
To that end, he had no issue expelling members from his societies. For instance, he expelled 64 members from the Newcastle society. Guess what for?
- Two for cursing and swearing.
- Two for habitual Sabbath-breaking.
- Seventeen for drunkenness.
- Two for retailing spiritous liquors.
- Three for quarrelling and brawling.
- One for beating his wife.
- Three for habitual, wilful lying.
- Four for railing and evil-speaking.
- One for idleness and laziness. And,
- Nine-and-twenty for lightness and carelessness.
Can you imagine Wesley coming into a local UMC congregation and expelling people because of their habits?
Holy cow… you talk about schism then! People would be all kind of upset. How dare anyone judge anyone else!
Also, I’d probably be expelled too.
Moral of the story? You aren’t too good for Wesley to have kicked you out of his society. Numbers don’t matter. Do what is holy.