aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

Here I stand

When I graduated from seminary in 1978, I faced a problem. I was considerably more conservative (theologically and politically) than the bulk of United Methodist clergy; well, I should say, than the bulk of the leadership of UM clergy. I wanted to live out the unity that we should have in Christ, and I didn't want to just gripe and grumble all the time.

I decided that the bottom line for me was Nicene orthodoxy. I staked my position on the Creeds. So long as nobody tried to redefine God, I'd let the prevailing liberalism roll on by, unchallenged. I'd even join it when I felt it was onto something good. I would support all my denominational causes, so long as I could say, with integrity, that I was only teaching and preaching the official doctrine of The UMC (as stated in The Articles of Religion, etc.).

I figured this was a pretty safe bet. After all, back in the day, NOBODY was talking about doctrine. The UMC was talking about saving the whales and nuclear freezes and various social/political programs. God was not being argued about at all. Even the Evangelicals, though they harped on Scriptural this and that, seemed bored with actual theology. They wanted to talk about experiences and culture. I had the Creeds to myself.

Imagine my surprise when the liberals discovered the Creeds -- and set out to re-define them, and God. The last eighteen years, despite homosexuality being seen as the main thing we all clash over, we have seen an increasingly aggressive push by "progressives" against traditional orthodoxy. In the end, even the arguments over homosexuality aren't really about homosexuality, per se; they're about what truth is, and who gets to define it. The Evangelical resistance has broadened in its response (which I'm very glad to see), and now we have groups like the Confessing Movement who are picking their battles wisely. Instead of being distracted by merely defending the old Evangelical subculture, they are standing up for the whole history of Christian orthodoxy.

Still, it has made me grumpier to have to deal with all this. I have to struggle to avoid becoming merely an angry partisan. No doubt I sometimes cross that line and become something like those whom I so strongly oppose. It's hard to maintain the right spirit in an atmosphere of constant conflict. But the conflict isn't going to go away, and having been backed into the corner I chose for myself over thirty years ago, I have nowhere else to go.

U.S. Grant said, "I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer." I would say, without much joy, but with obedience, I will fight it out along this line if it takes the rest of my life (or at least, my career).
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