America’s Shared Values and the UMC

In The Seven Faith Tribes, George Barna lists twenty shared values from across seven faith tribes that exist in the United States. A few of these are:

  • Represent the truth well
  • Develop inner peace and purity
  • Seek peace with others
  • Demonstrate wisdom
  • Be forgiving

This list helped me clarify the importance of proclaiming a Christian gospel. There are many values that are good and a part of the Christian life, but that are shared among many faith traditions.

What makes the United Methodist Church distinct?

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5 thoughts on “America’s Shared Values and the UMC

  1. A deep and profound calling to Holiness, in particular as John Wesley said, the primary reason God Raised up the People Called Methodist, was to proclaim and encourage Sanctification – more particularly Entire Sanctification.

  2. If holiness is (or at least was) the distinct component of Methodism, it begs the question as to how the UM Church has been marketing itself as of late. The whole ‘Rethink Church’ campaign comes to mind. It asks ‘would you come?’, but it seems to me that if it is being marketed as another civic organization (tutoring, humanitarian aid, etc.) except with generally less funding and resources, the better question is ‘why would you come?’

    Interestingly enough, one of the arguments the earliest apologists made to the emperors was the holiness of Christians- they asked why the empire insisted on persecuting its best citizens. Perhaps holiness should be a focus again.

  3. Well said and I couldn’t agree more. It is precisely the fact that the UM church lost its way on these issues which lead to its current state of malaise. Could we recapture as our mission statement, for example, the mission statement of Wesley – which was “To spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land” instead of some lame (Though arguably better than nothing) statement of our focus being making disciples of Jesus Christ (Which of course can be interpreted 1000 different ways). What is worse, they added the theologically misinformed tag line “For the Transformation of the World” to the end of it. As if the primary mission of the kingdom is to transform the world. This is one instance I go with the Westminster boys – “The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” When the missional focus is misguided, calamity ensues.

  4. instead of some lame (Though arguably better than nothing) statement of our focus being making disciples of Jesus Christ (Which of course can be interpreted 1000 different ways).

    I agree that in its present form this statement could be taken in many different ways; however, I think making disciples is certainly an integral aspect of the church. That being said, I think it is important to note that making disciples is something that happens not in our strength, but in God’s, flowing from the authority Jesus declared of himself over all things. It seems to me that Jesus envisioned 2 components of making disciples: the first being baptized into the life of the Trinity (as Paul would describe it, going from death to life, from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness, etc.) and the second being to obey what Jesus commanded. In these 2 aspects comes first a radical ontological change and then an ethical change. To attempt the latter without the former is doomed it would seem.

    What is worse, they added the theologically misinformed tag line “For the Transformation of the World” to the end of it. As if the primary mission of the kingdom is to transform the world.

    I agree. The difficulty with making the transformation of the world the church’s mission is that the church tends to become subservient to the political and sociological programs of transformation that are currently in vogue. I think Pope Benedict sums it up nicely in his book Jesus of Nazareth in speaking of some of the ways in which the Kingdom of God is envisioned, more particularly those which see the organization of the world into one of justice and peace as its end:

    “This sounds good; it seems like a way of finally enabling the whole world to appropriate Jesus’ message, but without requiring missionary evangelization of other religions. It looks as if now, at long last, Jesus’ words have gained some practical content, because the establishment of the ‘Kingdom’ has become a common task and is drawing nigh. On closer examination, though, it seems suspicious. Who is to say what justice is? What serves justice in a particular situation? How do we create peace? On closer inspection, the whole project proves to be utopian dreaming without any real content, except insofar as its exponents tacitly presuppose some partisan doctrine as the content that all are required to accept.”

    “But the main thing that leaps out is that God has disappeared; man is the only actor left on stage…Faith and religions are now directed towards political goals. Only the organization of the world counts. Religion matters only insofar as it can serve that objective. This post-Christian vision of faith and religion is disturbingly close to Jesus’ third temptation.”

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