Today we initiate a new communication tool to share with you some thoughts and ideas about our Christian journey together. Today it’s Jack’s turn to share with you why he has chosen to be a Methodist. Check in on our Church App or website for future updates and messages.
Jack: I’m often asked by non-Methodist friends what’s the difference between Methodism and other denominations, or more to the point, why am I a Methodist?
I was raised Roman Catholic, went to parochial school, and even studied for the priesthood, so I felt very comfortable choosing to be a Methodist because both Roman Catholicism and Methodism have very similar theologies. Both are Trinitarian and both understand that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. Both claim that Jesus’ life and death are the sole reason for our salvation from sin.
But Methodism has four major features which resonate strongly with me.
I. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral – Methodists believe that our faith is based on four grounds: scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. Scripture is paramount but must be interpreted through reason, experience, and tradition. Or as a friend of mine put it, in Methodism you don’t check your brain at the door!
II. Methodism’s Understanding of the Universality of Grace – Our denomination teaches that God’s grace is freely offered to all people. We do not merit or earn it and we can decide freely to accept God’s grace or reject it. We believe that God elects all people to be given this grace and to have the opportunity for salvation. Salvation is not limited to Methodists, or for that matter Christians, alone.
III. The Equal Role of Laity in the life of the Church – In Roman Catholicism lay people do not have an equal role in the life of the Church – for that matter neither do women! In Methodism there are different, but equal, roles for clergy and laity. For example, laity has equal representation at our Annual and General Conferences, which make all the major decisions in the life of our denomination.
IV. The Social Justice Ministry of the Church – No other denomination can claim the central importance of social justice in the life of the Church. Our denomination has taken courageous stands on moral issues, such as civil rights, immigration justice, health care for all, climate change, and working for a lasting peace. On occasion we have lost members because of these stands, but our denomination understands that Christians must be on the forefront of fighting for a just and peaceful society.
So I’m proud to be a Methodist and try to work daily to bring others not only to Christ but to our Methodist Church here in Morristown.