New Series Introduction

In the interests of taking into account where I am right now as a means of helping me to understand to where I may be journeying, I have decided to examine some Methodist thinkers. A pretty clear place to start is a book that my wife recommended I read titled, Why I am a United Methodist by Bishop William H. Willimon. The title makes it pretty obvious as to why I am starting with this particular work. But first, it might help to say a few things about both Bishop Willimon and this particular book.

The first point, and perhaps the most blatant one given a brief look at this book, is that this book was first written in 1990. Even though it makes me feel old to say this, 1990 was twenty-two years ago. To illustrate this a bit more, this book was published only one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. All that is to say that things change. There have been cultural and denominational changes over the past twenty years for everyone. So some aspects of this book may strike the reader in a different way than Bishop Willimon intended. I hope to keep this in mind while reading the book so that I can give Bishop Willimon a fair reading.

Second, perhaps Bishop Willimon himself needs some introduction. I have been lucky enough to hear him preach once, at my graduation from a Methodist seminary. He has been described as one of the twenty-five most influential preachers in America by Preaching magazine. Baylor University also listed Bishop Willimon as one of the twelve best preachers in America. I was certainly impressed with what I heard during the graduation ceremony. Bishop Willimon is bishop of the North Alabama conference in the UMC although he has recently announced plans to retire. He has written around fifty different books and is one of the general editors of the Wesley Study Bible. Bishop Willimon has been noted as stressing the wisdom of the Church throughout the ages and so he is also a voice in the post-liberal movement of theologians within Protestantism who have “rediscovered” Tradition.

A former student has summed up Bishop Willimon’s style rather succinctly:

“First and foremost Willimon is a pastoral theologian whose primary message is that the God revealed in Jesus matters for everything in life. Thus his most influential work has been in calling the Church to be a faithful witness to the God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.”

So, in spite of the age of this work, I think it serves as perhaps a decent place to begin some evaluation of where my tent is currently pitched. Right now, I think this series on Bishop Willimon’s book will take the form that each post I write will reflect on each of the seven different chapters in this book.


~ by crossingthebosporus on August 27, 2012.

3 Responses to “New Series Introduction”

  1. Really looking forward to this my friend. I have just started reading Wesley’s ‘Plain account of Christian Perfection’, which my co-author ;just happened’ to have on his bookshelves – you’d love it here, a whole theological library šŸ™‚

    • Ah, I have to balance my desire to live a simple life of few possessions with the conflicting desire to have as much great theology as possible. Why must I suffer so?!? šŸ˜‰

      • It is very hard. I have my temporary answer by living where I am, with access to my brother-in-law’s vast library – which is a constant temptation šŸ™‚

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