Once upon a time it seemed a good thing to many United Methodists that our denomination was not fraught with doctrinal disputes and narrowmindedness the way some are. The phrase, “The thing I like about being United Methodist is that you can beleive whatever you want to beleive,” caught hold. People would say this with pride!
A learned and respected colleague in ministry reiterated this old point yesterday at a meeting I attended. “One of the strengths of Methodism [should we suppose he intended to exclude the EUB part of our tradition, or that, being Texan, he is geographically prejudiced against the old midwestern church?] is that all are welcome at the table, without regard to what one believes.” I was caught between astonishment and gagging, but for the sake of decorum showed neither.
I like the idea that this metaphorical table at which we meet is not under the control of some close-minded fundamentalist. Though, like most, if the table is under the control of someone with whom I tend to agree, I care less about the parameters for exclusion than if it is controlled by someone with whom I generally disagree.
As I pondered this colleagues’ stupifying statement, I could not help but wonder how the church got to this point. Doesn’t calling our particular “table” Christian necessarily imply that some views are more welcome than others? Are there no longer any bounds to what is “Christian” and what isn’t?
Where do we decide what is and what isn’t Christian? At the Table.