In-Sight: Amicable Separation?–Reprise

I almost never write about a previous post, but given the unusual amount of attention that yesterday’s post on “Amicable Separation?” is receiving, I want to write today in response to comments I am seeing in the various social-media where my writing is being read.

Most of all, remember there are two more posts coming on February 11 and 18.  We never fully express ourselves in writing, but this is especially true now, given yesterday’s post was only the first of three.  Stay tuned for two more writings on the topic, “Beyond Separation.”

But in relation to yesterday’s post, here are some reflections I hope you will find helpful.  I assume in what follows that you have read yesterday’s post.

First, I deeply appreciate seeing that most comments are respectful, even when there is disagreement.  This is absolutely necessary if we are to engage in holy conferencing and create legitimate round-tables.  Thank you.  I pray that the spirit of charity will continue.  We have a long and winding road ahead of us in United Methodism between now and General Conference.  We must gather at our round tables as people who incarnate the two great commandments, for Jesus told us that on them hang all the law and the prophets.

Second, true Christians exist in every “camp” and caucus, as well as in the rank-and-file membership who live simply as Christians and without secondary lables or affiliations. Orthodoxy is a solar system of revelation, not just one star in the sky. When we forget that, we allow either/or thinking (and our personal interpretations and preferences) to be definitive, when the fact is, the most any person or group can offer is a piece of a much larger picture.  Any dichotomy–orthodox/unorthodox, conservative/progressive–fails to embrace the full truth.  In substantive matters, there are always more than two chairs at the round table.  Dualistic thinking is contrary to Christian Conferencing. And as Billy Graham reminded us when he was interviewed by Newsweek magazine some years ago, genuine Christians can legitimately disagree on key issues.  That is why charity and conversation are essential.

Finally, if the comments I have seen so far are representative, I believe they show a sincere willingness to find some kind of way forward, and hopefully a way that does not bring about separation.  I continue to cling to Jeremiah 32:27, and I believe if we would spend as much time and energy praying and talking about unity as we have spent arguing about schism, the Holy Spirit would fall on us all, showing us things we could never imagine on our own, and igniting a holy fire in us to be a church that looks more like the Body of Christ than it ever has!  If we believe in quality improvement in business, how can we we not believe even more in Spirit-inspired improvement in the Church?

I believe these things at the core of my being, and I am going to keep saying it, saying it, and saying it–as often and as long as I can.  Stay tuned for the next two posts–and much more.   🙂

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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3 Responses to In-Sight: Amicable Separation?–Reprise

  1. Arbuthnaught says:

    Thanks you for your thoughful article. I could not open the responses on the previous post. Just a quick note. I think in any hierarchy of values that truth ranks higher than unity. I regard unity as a penultimate value not the ultimate value.

  2. Tom Pope says:

    Thanks, Steve, for I your continued insight. I know this has been a challenging road for you. Because you are so important to me as a friend, I have thought and re-thought my position on the major issue facing the church. I have not come to the same conclusion as you, and, yes, I have read your book, but I do firmly believe that respectful disagreement honors God. I am stuck between not condemning others for their behavior, orientation, or whatever it is we are calling it this week, and feeling like I am condoning action which I still believe the Bible calls sin. I don’t see Jesus condemning, nor do I see him condoning, as in the account of the woman at the well. I think we are wrong to address same-sex issues without addressing heterosexual living together outside of marriage, greed, gluttony and the like. One sin is not worse than another here. All in all, You are helping me, in particular, and the church in general, face issues we would rather divide over than come to grips with.
    Thank you,
    Tom

  3. Marie says:

    What blessed words calling for unity, even when disagreing amongst ourselves. When we are united, the wolves’ effort to separate fail. Let’s collaborate with the Holy Spirit to gather us together.

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