28 May 2004
Spotlight on theology — A new and significant challenge to Methodists
In a time when The Methodist Church is setting itself new priorities and establishing fresh ways of being church, a new book will challenge Methodists yet further by exploring Methodist theology since 1932, and asking how it can be used in the 21st century.
'Unmasking Methodist Theology', the product of three years work by a Task Group of the Faith and Order Committee, shows how recent Methodist theology can be a resource for the future, as well as showing how Methodism contributes to British Christianity.
Dr Clive Marsh, Co-editor and Secretary for the Faith and Order Committee, said: "It's a challenge to all Methodists, but especially to presbyters, deacons and local preachers, to be more explicit about the theology they live by and commend to others."
He continued on this theme: "It is intended to educate and inspire local Methodism, and will have even wider significance if the insights it offers and the questions it arouses also stimulate thought and action amongst preachers, group leaders of all kinds, and any who make decisions at any level on the church's behalf."
Dr Marsh acknowledged that 'there is a crisis about the state of Christianity in Britain', but said: "This book can contribute to finding answers to much larger questions: What is Christianity for? And what could Christianity offer to people in Britain today?"
Brian Beck, Co-editor and Past President of Conference, also commented on the book's significance: "This book is important because it casts its net more widely than usual in trying to discover the theology that has been driving Methodism since 1932. It is also important because it invites us to see ourselves as others see us. There is plenty here for all thinking Methodists to digest as we debate 'Our Calling'."
Adding his support, Jonathan Kerry, Co-ordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning, said: "Theological thinking in British Methodism is wide-ranging and dynamic - and now we have the evidence!"
In their general report the Faith and Order Committee will inform Conference that: "The book is the work of twenty-five individuals (four co-editors and a further twenty-one contributors). It is intended that the book be used in many contexts and on many levels as a stimulus for theological reflection throughout the Church."
'Unmasking Methodist Theology', edited by Clive Marsh, Brian Beck, Angela Shier-Jones and Helen Wareing. Published by Continuum and available now at £12.99.
- Sarum College, Salisbury, 9 June. A one day conference including the keynote lecture 'Why don't Methodists like theology?' - For more information call Revd Dr Tim MacQuiban on 01722 42480.
- Liverpool Hope University College, 7-9 September. A 48 hour Conference based on the book's contents. For further details contact Ursula Leahy at Liverpool Hope on 0151 2913375