Disaffiliation Rumors, Myths, and Opportunities #4 – Jesus and Our Theological Task

(This post originally appeared on my Facebook – facebook.com/j.lemastersmith on February 1, 2023, all reference are from the UM Book of Discipline 2016).

The rumors circulating around getting rid of Jesus or scripture or some other aspects of life are still false, but there is a section of the Discipline these rumors use to root themselves in reality. It is called “Our Theological Task” It is a portion of our doctrine and polity that allows for flexibility based on context and community.

From the Discipline (¶ 105):

Our doctrinal affirmations assist us in the discernment of Christian truth in ever-changing contexts. Our theological task includes the testing, renewal, elaboration, and application of our doctrinal perspective in carrying out our calling “to spread scriptural holiness over these lands.” While the Church considers its doctrinal affirmations a central feature of its identity and restricts official changes to a constitutional process, the Church encourages serious reflection across the theological spectrum. As United Methodists, we are called to identify the needs both of individuals and of society and to address those needs out of the resources of Christian faith in a way that is clear, convincing, and effective. Theology serves the Church by interpreting the world’s needs and challenges to the Church and by interpreting the gospel to the world.

We allow for contextual and creative interpretations of theology beyond what is written down at any given time. That means we have Methodists who believe different things about everything, including: what is a sin and what isn’t, is one of those. Who can serve and who can’t, is another

In the end, for me it is about essentials. Is the salvific work of Christ, the power of Grace, the Image of God in all people, and the Love of God and Neighbor being proclaimed?


If so, then the rest can work itself out. I even say “salvific work” because there are different beliefs about how Christ saves (atonement, ransom, liberation, empowerment, living example). My hope in this is that we can continue to exist together in a way that does not dehumanize or alienate, and allow for multiple perspectives.

However, if you need a concrete belief system that all members follow, then that’s something different.

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