Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Seabury Western, Bexley Hall, are you listening?

United Seminary President Wendy Deichmann’s column “What’s Right with Orthodoxy” offers a refreshing articulation of Christian essentials from one of United Methodism’s most important leaders. Across 5 years she has presided over the stunning revival of a once nearly dead school, a rebirth rooted in its transition from old line Protestant liberalism to classic Christian beliefs. Last month she was honored in Dayton, Ohio as local executive of the year.
Although United Methodism’s first ever female seminary president (there have been female deans), Deichmann is rarely if ever officially celebrated in a denomination that stresses female leadership. Her brand of fruitful ministry, which has tripled United’s students, does not widely appeal to the ultra political correctness that still stifles declining United Methodism in America. But in a future revived church, she will be honored as spiritually prescient.
Deichmann writes:
Although some will assume or argue that Christian orthodoxy is made up of an oppressively long list of doctrines used to subjugate and control people, history will confirm that Christian orthodoxy is most often expressed in a stunningly short list of beliefs that affirm the Holy Trinity and salvation offered in Jesus Christ.
And she concludes:
Orthodoxy represents the message, identity, and mission of the Christian church
through all ages. It is the heart of the gospel. It does not change with the seasons and cultures of humanity because it represents the core revelation of God in Jesus Christ in human history. What’s right with Christian orthodoxy? Not any given theology, politic, or social view. What’s right with Christian orthodoxy is that it makes it possible for Christians to live in peace with one another and thereby to have a credible witness to the Prince of Peace. Most important, what is right about Christian orthodoxy is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ that it proclaims to us and to the whole world.
Read the rest of Deichmann’s column here in Catalyst, the newsletter of the Foundation for Theological Education, which helps orthodox minded United Methodist scholars pursue graduate studies.
I would add to Deichmann’s essay that orthodoxy, especially if only drily affirmed, is no guarantor of church vitality. But it is certainly essential. No church can bear effective fruit if divorced from the core universal teachings of The Body of Christ.

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