tag : bright yellow-green apples: get the boot in

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Friday, February 18, 2005

get the boot in

"If you are unsure whether or not Jesus is the second person of the Trinity you can be a Methodist. If you think God is just as likely to be absent as present in the Eucharist you can be a Methodist...But you cannot be a Methodist if you think it proper to exclude anyone else on any of the above grounds."

I believe Stanley Hauerwas was being derogatory here. But to be honest, there’s much in that quote which strikes me as a pretty good advert for my denomination. With so much doctrine and values thrown around, maybe it's positive that there's a fairly un-neurotic side to us. Of course it's more complex than being a pretty good affirming diverse church - we do tend to suffer from a distinct lack of identity, apart from in terms of what social stuff we do. It's one of the greatest challenges, to seek out a way of combining a deeply held sense of affirming faith with a communal interaction that allows for honest variance - especially with so few people actually all that fussed by chapels.

I'd be particularly interested to hear what any Methodists out there think, but any comments - as always- welcome.


Anonymous RobertB said...

Where did you come across the Hauerwas quote? (I recall reading it, but can't remember which of his books.)

You're right he intends it to be derogatory; though he was speaking of his own denomination. (It's possibly also worth flagging up that american United Methodists are not identical to their UK cousins.)

I think the point is that there is a certain inconsistency in those who wish to pride themselves on their inclusiveness, but are blind to those they thereby implicitly exclude.

But excluding (only) the exclusive might nevertheless be a justified stance. In the words of +John Zizioulas:

"Eucharistic communion permits only one kind of exclusion: the exclusion of exclusion: all those things that involve rejection and division, which in principle distort Trinitarian faith. Heresy involves a distorted faith that has inevitable practical consequences concerning communion and otherness. Schism is also an act of exclusion; when schism occurs, the eucharistic community becomes exclusive. In the case of both heresy and schism, we cannot pretend that we have communion with the other when in fact we have not."

The question is whether or not this definition of heresy stands up to inspection and practice!

1:53 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Actually, I got this quote second-hand, from a discussion of 'civil religion' chapter about text-based approaches to studying popular culture & religion...from that book I've got on the go, Understanding Theology and Popular Culture by Gordon Lynch. Aparently the quote's from "In good company: The Church as Polis", if that rings any bells.

I realised that he was talking about the USA 'brand' of Methydism, but it seemed like quite a pertinant quote to me. In terms of expression and action, we do quite well - but in spirituality and communal faith we can suffer from a distinctlt apathetic androgenous feeling.

I certainly appreciate how much acceptance there can be in my denomination - even if most people just don't bother engaging with us. But I'd like to think this could be coupled with a greater vitality than just saying 'Jesus, yes' with a voice of conviction.

I thought the quote you brought up put things very eloquantly, and deals with the tricksy question of inclusion and welcome with the explcuder. It also uses heresy in a sane way, to describe dysfunctional approaches to relating. I would've thought that this is a good working usage, but then I think our faith is more about expressed relating than a propositional faith...not that these can be easily decouped of course...

12:20 AM  
Blogger mary said...

3rd train of thought...

as an anglican/baptist/methodist, i've always felt the methodist church, at least the one i attend, is quite firm on what it believes. in the sermons we were told one thing was true and that was it, no room for confusion there. it doesn't strike me that there's much room for honest variance - but perhaps this is just my church, others could be more varied in their views.

10:54 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Oh it's a fairly mixed thing, that's true. I suppose I was writing from my own experience, in which most chapels I've been to can have varying degrees of amorphousness in thier faith identity. The rare times this has been differed, is in the unhelpfully strict rhetoric you flagged up there. I'd like to think we can have an imaginatively engaging, but accomodating, middle ground - even in these polarised times when everyone wants an excuse to schism.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous andy goodliff said...

Laurence visit here for loads of stuff by Hauerwas. The best introductions to Hauerwas by Hauerwas are Resident Aliens and The Peaceable Kingdom. Must-reads.

4:51 PM  

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