The Wesleyan Covenant Association, which is the backbone for the group leaving the UMC next year, formed five years ago. Remember this is the group that allegedly is much more serious about Scripture than progressives and centrists. The group formed with a big splash - website, articles, speeches, and a fatally flawed statement on...scripture.
Here was the original statement:
“The Bible itself is the sole and final source of all that we believe. It is the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of humanity.”
It was scrubbed from the website in a matter of days and replaced with a different, much better statement. You can read my take on the change here. Neither the original or revised statement appears in the current draft of their new Discipline, but I maintain that the first version is the truest version - the Freudian Slip of the WCA that tells us what they believe. And it's not Methodist.
Reason #3 to #BeUMC - a Methodist understanding of Scripture
The original statement is fundamentalism. It is not what we have historically believed. It does, though, give an important clue to what the group leaving us actually believes.
David Watson, who is heavily involved with the WCA and others, has a great article on what we actually believe that I encourage you to read. In a nutshell, our current statements on Scripture are sufficient. I absolutely love the former EUB statement:
We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.
Among the key differences, our current statement
- Limits Scripture to what its actual purpose is - revelation of God for our salvation, not for example, for science or history
- Identifies Jesus as the Word of God, so that we don't commit bibliolatry.
- Notes the role of the Holy Spirit in understanding
- Allow for differences in theology
If the issue at hand is that progressives and centrists don't believe in Scripture appropriately, why not simply say, "We believe and will practice what Methodists have traditionally believed and practiced regarding Scripture, as contained in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith."?
Only time will tell how the breakaway group ultimately treats Scripture. In the meantime, I'm grateful to be in a denomination that has a nuanced, faithful, and historically Methodist view of Scripture.