Why I Chose to #BeUMC
The most honest answer of why I chose to #beUMC is probably because in 1925 Ness City, Kansas did
not have a Lutheran church. My grandparents therefore joined the Methodist church, and my mother was raised Methodist. I was confirmed a Methodist in the 6th grade and the only thing I vaguely remember was Rev. Fogelman’s football analogies and a talk on “free will.” What I do remember was goofing off in the balcony during services.
Little did I know that my theology was being formed and shaped. I had the privilege of having open and honest discussions about faith. We could ask questions, we could challenge teachers, we didn’t have to all agree. I loved to argue and that was fine. Mr. Greathouse entertained us with some of the odd and interesting stories from the Bible, preparing me to think of scripture not as historical documentation, but as a way to understand God.
In college I joined a popular women’s bible study. We were given a workbook and each week we were to read from the bible and fill in the blanks. There was only one correct answer. When I asked questions – they were not appreciated. My “what about?” was not to be tolerated. And finally, when my Catholic friend Mary was told that she wasn’t going to heaven because she worshiped idols – we quit.
I was a Methodist and it was OK to think. It wasn’t until later that I learned of John Wesley’s Quadrilateral. (I probably did hear about it in my youth- I just wasn’t paying attention.) It is a four-part test of an idea – Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.
Here is one explanation of the Quadrilateral:
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught that the way to understand any form of Christian
knowledge was to place it in the context of four perspectives: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. By this he meant that regardless of whether one began with scripture (any particular passage of the bible), tradition (the teaching of the community, or church), reason (rational thought, based on logic or evidence), or Christian experience (the sense of what is right within the Christian’s inner Spirit or outer experience), each of the four perspectives, brought to bear on the subject, clarifies or challenges the initial beginning point.
I choose to #beUMC because as a Methodist, I can embrace both science and mystery. I like that it’s OK to not have all the answers, to struggle with doctrine, to challenge traditions, and that I am encouraged to grow in faith.