What is the Extreme Center?

I recently wrote a post about my hope that by blogging I will contributing to a middle way / extreme center theological position online. Kim left a comment asking what exactly that means. Here is a summary from our Bishop, Scott Jones, describing the extreme center in Adam Hamilton’s book, Christianity’s Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why it applies to Methodism:

“In the Christian faith, there are people who are extreme right and people who are extreme left. But whether it’s clergy clothing or how our services of worship are conducted or how we read the Bible, we tend to be people of the extreme center. The extreme center means that The United Methodist Church at its best is conservative in some areas and liberal in other areas. We don’t fit a stereotype very well. For example, some denominations are good at helping nominally religious and nonreligious people enter into the Christian life. Well, that’s part of the gospel; and it’s part of what we do as United Methodists. Other denominations want to help the poor and address social issues, however they define them. Well, that’s part of the gospel; and Methodists embrace them as well. The center is a very hard position to maintain because there are always people who are sniping at you from the extremes. Sometimes it’s easier to hold an extreme position because you can be really clear and really forceful, but what you are lacking is the perspective of your brothers and sisters who disagree with you. By occupying the extreme center, we see the value of both sides and try to carve out a position, whether it involves theology or social justice, that embraces the whole gospel.”

You can find more information at Bishop Jones’ blog  – Extreme Center.

I find that there are plenty of strong voices online at polar opposites of a variety of issues both inside and outside The United Methodist Church. I hope to contribute to conversations online in a way that represents an extreme center theological position.

In what ways have you found an extreme center approach to faith to be helpful? unhelpful?

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