The Wesleyan Covenant Association is asking in a new publication, “Are We Better Together?” If by “we” they mean the United Methodist Church, I’m guessing they say “no”. They’d prefer to be with people who think like them and those who don’t share their views, according to a press release I read last week, aren’t really Christian or following Jesus Christ.
For those who choose a different path, is it possible to be in a connectional relationship with those who hold such a narrow definition of Christian tradition and doctrine? As much as I embrace the One Church Plan, it’s also difficult for me to see any option that involves staying in a rump denomination that marries a puritanical form of Methodism with basic fascism.
At some point, the fence riding and proposal forwarding will end. We cannot go on like this forever. Decisions will be made. Those eventual judgments will not be the outcomes of committees, delegates, or bishops. Instead, the consciences of individual clergy and laity will decide not, “Are we better together?” but “Are we going to be Metho-fascists?” Here are a few questions we might ask to see how far we’ve gone down the fascist road.
What are the marks of the growth of fascism in the church?
Are we falling prey to the demagoguery?
Is it easy to be swayed by proof texting?
Will we be distracted and allow the church to be reorganized along lines foreign to Christ’s mission and ministry?
Is the language of hate and the subtle rhetoric of violence now common in our collective discussions of our future?
Will we be distracted by ephemeral issues that take our focus away from the marginalized (the hungry, the poor, immigrants, those without health care)?
Will we fall victim to a warped theology of denominational chauvinism and superiority?
Jesus directly confronted the fascism embodied by the Roman empire and its imperial ideology. Jesus died violently at the hands of a fascist, imperial state. Will we continue Jesus’ legacy of opposing fascism?
Richard Lowell Bryant