The Book I Have Been Looking For

With all of the conversation about our United Methodist Church’s way forward, I have been looking for a resource that will explore the issues from a clear and sustained theological perspective. My search is over with the recent publication of Bishop Kenneth Carter, Jr.’s Embracing the Wideness (Abingdon 2018). This book has relatively little about the specific issues that are part of the three plans. Instead, it explores several biblical passages, examines numerous resources from the Wesleyan corpus, and provides numerous  rich reflections from pastoral experience. This sustained theological approach leads the author to commend the One Church plan, along with some changes in how we process judicial complaints, as the best way forward. Bishop Carter was one of the conveners of the Commission on the Way Forward, so his writing provides a clear theological undergirding for that commission’s work. There are other plans, beyond the “One Church” model. We will wait to see if anyone is offering similar kinds of theological foundations for the other models as well. In the meantime, I highly commend this book to all who are interested in deepening the conversation beyond the issues of human sexuality or Disciplinary language, and moving us to focus on God’s mission and guidance, through scripture, tradition, experience and reason.