The clear distinction between the Christian works of mercy and generic social activism and charity work is often forgotten, leading to a fraught relationship between them and the Christian gospel message. In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul offers us a better way.
A 2005 New York Times poll discovered that 80 percent of US citizens believe that it is indeed possible to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps (quoted on p. 70). In her new book Solidarity Ethics, Rebecca Todd Peters argues that it is this belief in self-sufficiency that, in part, underwrites the structural issues of oppression and inequality of our neoliberal globalized world. Global structural evils stand on the values and worldview of the privileged. And the benefits of privilege are so deeply woven into the fabric of our quotidian realities that it requires a concrete change in perspective—a conversion, in fact—to recognize the problems this privilege also creates for others.
John Wesley once wrote that “Unity and holiness are the two things I want most among Methodists.” The Church’s fights over homosexuality are robbing Methodism of both.
The United Methodist Church has been in the news recently, and will be again soon, because of the Church trials of the Rev. Frank Schaefer and Bishop Melvin Talbert, two United Methodist Clergy who have officiated at same-sex wedding ceremonies.