Why I am Methodist
Recently different news reporters and politicians have been bashing United Methodists. Different people have mentioned that since the Methodist and E.U.B. merger the church has lost approximately 30% of its membership and various other stats about the church in decline. United Methodist churches are closing across the country and more are forced to cut salaries and programs. With all of this people have been asking me why would I want to be United Methodist. A fellow Methodist blogger from the U.K. summed it up very nicely at her site, The Kneeler. While, recognizing that no denomination is perfect if you want to read why I am still Methodist in the midst of everything read after the jump.
To understand this you have to realize I was not raised United Methodist and I certainly don’t claim to have perfect knowledge of Methodist doctrine, polity, or history. So, I am by no means an authority on Methodism and I don’t speak for the denomination this is just what I have discovered in the few years I have been Methodist and Christian at the same time.
1. People aren’t totally depraved.
- In short people have value. In to many churches and in to many places there are ranks of people and ranks to sins which make some people better than others. This idea does not make sense to me when I read the Bible. What I see is a God who saw something sacred and beautiful in the people God created, even though they were distant from God and so God entered humanity as Jesus Christ and took on all the sins of all the people before people even knew they were loved by God. Thus, Through Jesus, God has forgiven all people whether they like it, believe it, want it, or even accept it.
2. Transformation instead of salvation
- Before you deem me a heretic, let me finish. How often do we hear “Pray a prayer and you are saved and life gets better?” What happens when life is still hard, miserable, and just unfair? Was your prayer incorrect or insincere? Maybe you just were good enough before you prayed? Instead it becomes transformation instead of salvation. This was best summed up for me by the words “Sometimes people need a hot shower and a good meal before they can hear the gospel of Jesus.” Methodists are very good at transforming a physical life so that the door can be opened to the transformation of eternal life. We hand out bed nets and have hospitals and schools and camps and all sorts of things so that people can be taken care of so that they can then know about Jesus.
3. Equality of People
- Genesis 3 says that because of the sin in the world there is inequality among men and women. Genesis 3 makes it quite clear this is the result of sin and NOT the way the world was designed to function. Certainly not the way the church is supposed to function. When a church relegates anyone to certain positions because of their gender/color/status that just ain’t right! That is acting in congruence with the sin in the world but the church is not supposed to look like the world we are supposed to look the way the world is supposed to be where people are equal. This is one of the things as Methodists we have done well, all people are welcome in our doors and gender does not stop people from serving even as Bishop.
So no, the denomination isn’t perfect and there are things they can do better but I’m not sure it is about being perfect I think it is about following Jesus and Jesus loves people. Like that old song “Jesus loves me this I know.” I could tell you story after story of people who call themselves Methodists who are jerks with ulterior motives but I could tell you thousands of stories of Jesus followers who call themselves Methodists that taught me “Jesus loves you, this I know.”