This morning emergent guru and bomb-thrower Tony Jones used Bishop Willimon’s latest UMR commentary as a justification for shutting down the United Methodist Church. He suggested that all young clergy should get out while the getting is good:
I just hope that enough of you young UMC clergy have the temerity to stand up and walk out of that system. Trust me, what you’re putting up with is not worth the health insurance — you’re getting the raw end of that deal.
I’ve known Tony for some ten years now, and he has repeatedly suggested I should bail too. I appreciate his perspective, but this morning, in the light of all the other emotions swirling through our church right now, I found myself less appreciative at an outsider suggesting we should simply give up. Thus, I wrote him an e-mail this morning, which (with his permission) I share with you:
I’ve tried several times to think about how I could come up with an appropriate response to this morning’s post, but haven’t figured out a way to say what I really want to say without using profanities. [Author’s note — In point of fact, I did use profanity in my e-mail to Tony, a sign of my brokenness, but since this is generally a PG rated blog, I am editing myself to sound better than I really am.]
Yes, we are a very broken institution, composed of very broken people. One might even say that we are completely dead. And yet, I continue to hold on to the belief that God takes dead and broken things and transforms them into new and living things. Be careful about proclaiming the death of the UMC, for the possibility of new life arising from the ashes is always a possibility.
Should I bolt? Probably. Do I want to bolt? Very much at times.
And yet, I continue to hold on to and offer the grace that I believe that God offers us — a grace that never gives up. As a Methodist, I am an Arminian, not a Calvinist, believing that God’s grace is unlimited and while resistible, always present even when we can’t see, hear, or taste it.
Yes, our institution is a mess and may indeed be irredeemable.
But that was the same things some folks said about me at points in my life.
Take care, and know that I love ya even when you dis on my people.
Thanks, Jay. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.