Helen's Monthly Article - March 2019





DISAGREEING WELL – a lesson from John Wesley
“John Wesley and George Whitefield were both Methodist preachers during the eighteenth century and perhaps two of the most influential figures of their generation. They were also fierce rivals who had profound disagreements on central matters of Christian doctrine.
        To explain it in its very simplest terms, John Wesley was an Arminian: the emphasis in his teaching was on free will – individuals could choose whether they wanted to believe in the Christian faith.
        George Whitefield, on the other hand, was a Calvinist who believed in predestination – the idea that God chose who would follow Him and He would draw those people to Himself.
        These debates continue to rage within the Church more than two hundred years later. They are not inconsequential: they have major implications for how churches are run and how Christians live out their faith. Over the centuries, they have shaped politics and national culture. Are people poor because of their own actions, the actions of others, or were they always destined to be poor?…
        And yet John Wesley could see beyond the gravity of their disagreement to the human dignity of his adversary. He did not simply tolerate Whitefield as a minor irritant with whom he always disagreed. He cherished and celebrated him as someone who had made a major impact for the faith during his lifetime.”
        Within the Methodist church, “For some issues, there is a mixture of agreement and disagreement. For example, attitudes to sexuality vary… The Methodist Church also considers homophobia to be wrong… These differences of view also extend to wider issues around human relationships and marriage, including attitudes to cohabitation and remarriage after divorce. Whilst recognising that the Church (both as an institution, and in the diversity of its people) continues to live with contradictory convictions, it is also important to work together, as members of the Body of Christ, to listen and discuss prayerfully to try to resolve differences, and not passively ‘agree to disagree’. But some matters may remain matters of disagreement.”
        How can we, as church, as individuals, learn to listen to each other in this culture of conflict? One way is to start by thinking, ‘What if I’m wrong here?’. To humanise people I disagree with. That maybe it’s more important to be in right relationship than it is to be right. To be more committed to the other person than I am to my opinion. To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently. To build a culture of listening and of grace.
Grace and peace,
Rev Dr Helen Hooley

http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/disagreeing-well-get-your-spirit-in-shape - take a look at this conversation if you want to hear more.
http://www.christiansontheleft.org.uk/disagreeing_well_a_lesson_from_john_wesley
https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/2108/roots_methodistchurch_challenging_conversations.pdf

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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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Alan Measures,
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