Brian McLaren writes primarily about the Wesleyan (holiness, too? not in this chapter) movement that started as an Anglican offshoot and its then subsequent offshoots; I'll begin my Methodist Blog with my own experiences within today's American United Methodist Church and its antecedent denoms.
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative,...emergent, unfinished... by Brian McLaren on Amazon
Ages ago I spent my first undergrad stint at Boston University, nominally Methodist (Methodist hymnals in the chapel pews, and BU 's divinity school, referred to as STH for School of Theology, officially is a UMC-affiliated seminary). However, in reality BU is a large, pretty much secular urban school, despite a lot of students attending on Methodist Scholarships and even aspiring to high degrees of holiness.
When I lived in the Intermountain West, I sort of attended a small local UMC for a while and also became pianist for a Tongan UMC, splintered off from another Tongan UMC that practiced glossolalia. Last winter in my Book of Daniel blog (these days I'm not linking to much of anything, though probably at some point I should go back with live links, esp to books and blogs) I mentioned a few of the large number of church bodies, denoms and groups and factions that once had trod the Canterbury Trail, including, of course, the Wesleyan-Methodist movement. Apparently I had a great- or great-great-uncle who was a circuit rider, so he probably was Methodist, despite his biological relative, my grandfather, insisting on being Southern Presbyterian. BTW though, some of my readers likely know about Henry (Heinrich?) Muhlenberg, a renowned Lutheran circuit rider, quite surprising since denoms of continental European origin were under- to almost non-represented as Protestant Christianity moved westward.
Then again, in Tucson on Christmas Eve 2005 I attended the late in the day liturgy at a UMC and oh, would I ever love the Artist in Residence position the keyboard person at that church holds! From everything I could figure out, the church wasn't especially theologically or liturgically substantial, but that has to be my dream job!
Of course, with my being such a Daughter of the Reformation in so many ways, at times I make the sometimes false Reformed/Arminian distinction. Yes, false. But how some ever, whether one is Roman, Reformed, Free Church, or what some ever, we all possess, know and love all those amazingly wonderful hymns by Susanna's sons! Bottom line?
But this is supposed to be another blog in my series on Brian McLaren's a Generous Orthodoxy and as much as I'm enjoying getting back to reading the book, I want to read a lot of other things, work on some theology projects and also finish and begin some design stuff. After all, graduation was three whole entire weeks ago and I've flaked far long enough! On page 244 Pastor Brian says, "Luther and Calvin created Protestant intellectual systems (a kind of conceptual hierarchy) that replaced the Catholic organizational hierarchy. But nobody created a new system of spiritual formation and nurture to replace the richly developed Catholic system of spirituality that had developed during the Middle Ages...until the Wesleys. People had Protestant doctrine, but they didn't have tracks or pathways or methods to help them put that doctrine into practice." My note: actually, Luther never wrote a systematic theology, he was so busy passionately emoting, but I catch McLaren's drift.
At chapter's end he hopes, believes and prays for "a new methodism" that will recognize the importance of small groups, baptism's essential ordination to ministry, queries that help search one's soul and "discipleship as the process of reaching ahead with one hand to find the hand of a mentor a few steps up the hill, while reaching back with the other to help the next brother or sister in line who is also on the upward path of discipleship."
To me what is so key about that reaching upward and backward is to know and live as if all of us are at different stages in every aspect of our journeys in Christ—spiritual, emotional, intellectual, etc., because every one of us can learn something from someone else who is at a different stage in some part of their own journey.