Monday, June 07, 2010

William Abraham on the Importance of Doctrine

"In the end, the church cannot endure without a body of systematic and coherent doctrine. This was not the problem Wesley faced two centuries ago. His challenge was to take the doctrine the church already possessed in her canonical traditions and make it accessible to the masses of his day. Hence, he did not make doctrine a high priority in his efforts to renew the church of his day.

"Two hundred years later, the situation is radically reversed. We have become so doctrinally indifferent and illiterate that the church is starved of intellectual content. Indeed in many quarters the church has become internally secularized. It has no shared public discourse of its own, other than that borrowed from the secular world, to think through its pastoral care, its mission in the world, its evangelism, and its internal administration. Hence pastoral care is reduced to therapy, mission to sociopolitical action, evangelism to church growth, academic theology to amateur philosophical inquiry, and church administration to total quality management.

"To be sure, only a fool would claim that we cannot learn from the best secular inquiries of our day...Yet it is patently obvious that the Christian tradition has its own special way of thinking about its healing care, its mission, its evangelism, its internal structures, and the like. That special way of thinking is inescapably doctrinal...

"The recovery of doctrinal identity is not then some abstract exercise in constitutional archaeology; it is integral to the deep renewal of the life and work of the church in the current generation."
(William Abraham in Waking from Doctrinal Amnesia: The Healing
of Doctrine in the United Methodist Church
, pp. 104-105)

thx to Jonathan Marlowe

No comments: