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An Open Letter to the RENEW Network from Jan Love

I found this article via United Methodist News Service:"An Open Letter to the RENEW Network by Jan Love, Deputy General Secretary "

Jan Love, new Deputy General Secretary for the Women's Division of the UMC does a great job, I think, of addressing the concerns of RENEW Women's Network, a group that seeks to call the Women's Division to "accountability." I suggest reading the whole letter, but here are a couple segments that jump out to me -

"The reason I recommend these materials [listed elsewhere in the letter] to you is that, from our point of view, your criticisms of the Women's Division seem to distort our work and portray us as less than the conscientious Christians we all strive to be. We know that you disagree with some of what we do. We would not expect you to abandon your positions, perspective or critique of the Women's Division. From your point of view, however, do your disagreements with us make us any less committed to Jesus Christ than you are? We do not call into question or imply any doubt about the basic integrity of your faith commitment. We ask you to grant us the same courtesy and respect. We know and love Christ just as you do, yet at times we do not recognize your descriptions of our work as accurate portrayals of what we actually do."

This climate of distortion of the views of those we disagree with is so destructive and painful, and certainly, I know, is not limited to any one group or perspective in our church. I really like Love's words on this. When, with our disagreements and accusations, are we really saying that we doubt others' faith commitments?

Love also shares this quote from Tony Campolo, in response to a question about Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Pluralism:

"I don't know of any other way of salvation, except through Jesus Christ. Now, if you were going to ask me, "Are only Christians going to get to heaven?" I can't answer that question - I do not claim to be able to read the mind of God and when evangelicals make these statements, I have some very serious concerns...

I don't know how far the grace of God does expand and I'm sure that what the 25th chapter of Matthew says is correct--that there will be a lot of surprises on Judgment Day as to who receives eternal life and who doesn't. But, I try to make the case that we have to stop our exclusivistic, judgmental mentality. Let us preach Christ, let us be faithful to proclaiming the Gospel, but let's leave judgment in the hands of God."

When in doubt, I always hope to find God even more full of grace than I can possibly imagine.

Good words.


John said…
If we are even considering a debate on whether non-Christians can be saved, or if other religions may be legitimate, then the UMC is long overdue for 'amicable separation'.
Beth Quick said…
Well, I'm fairly certain there are large numbers of United Methodist Christians who believe that people of other faiths can be 'saved' - I didn't think that would come as a surprise. We've lived together with an extremely wide range of viewpoints for a long time in the UMC, and I'm certain we'll continue to do so for some time too!
Here are two mistaken ideas:

1) It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere;

2) Only us members of the Sanctified Brotherhood are going to Heaven.

I've met a few people on both ends, and a lot of people somewhere in between.
Chris said…
I share your concern with respect to distorting the opinions of others. (Which seems to me the main idea of your post, though others have focused only on the quote from Campolo.) It seems clear this is done for a singular purpose: to gain power for one's self or one's movement by ridiculing or demonizing one's opponent. Such activity smacks of the no-holds-barred behavior of politicians in secular life, a behavior unbecoming to followers of the Lord. If Christian men and women have integrity, the very least they can do is accurately characterize the views of those with whom they disagree--be it Maxie Dunham or Gene Robinson. I think a commitment to Truth, perhaps the first requirement in theological dialogue, requires nothing less.
Beth Quick said…
Chris - right on. Thanks for your comments.

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