Last week, while studying for an exam, I took a break and spent a few minutes browsing in Cokesbury. The woman working there was very friendly. She noticed that I was perusing the Methodist section and told me that the 2008 Book of Discipline was out, which people were very excited about.
Has anyone ever actually read the Book of Discipline? I will willingly concede that it is a good idea to have a copy of the new Discipline, as it is the formal rule book for how we conduct our lives together as Methodists. But get excited about it? It isn’t exactly the 8th book in the Harry Potter series.
At best, we are a weird people if the Book of Discipline is the kind of thing we get excited about.
I don’t think Methodist have corner on the weird market. If that exchange had been among certain circles of Baptists the Book of Discipline would be a listing of churches and individuals being shunned for not agreeing with those in charge.
John Meunier said:
I not only read my Book of Discipline, I write notes and make underlines. I also bring it with me to chruch meetings.
But, I’m weird.
Gary Holdeman said:
I wouldn’t say “excited”…but in my past experience I have noted that “knowing the Discipline” can sometimes save you a lot of anguish, etc. as a pastor. I was in a situation as a pastor when my knowing the Discipline better than my Supt. probably saved my local church from a split. I also view the Discipline as a means of protecting both the church and individual pastors from injustice or, even sometimes, political power plays. The historical section is a great summary of our beliefs and where we’ve been. Keeping up with the changes is helpful in seeing the “big picture” of our denomination. As in many other issues the caution is to steer clear of legalism on the one side and total neglect of our “order” on the other side. It can be a helpful “tool” to bring fairness and a just process in many issues….it is always an inadequate “weapon.”
Shandirai Mawokomatanda said:
Hey! I think those Harry Porter fans are the weird ones 🙂 The BoD is totally a page turner! 🙂
I am with John M. I take it one step further. I have read every one since 1976 cover to cover, and I have a collection that goes back to 1836.
A clergy friend just called me yesterday asking where he could find changes to the Social Principles for a class he’s preparing to teach. He was pretty durn excited when I told him the new BOD was actually out already.
We, too, are nerds. But I haven’t bought a copy myself (yet).
Kevin Watson said:
Dee – I will willingly concede that Methodists don’t have a corner on the weird market.
John – Better to be weird than ignorant of the rules we live by as UMs I suppose…
Gary – Your summary of the Discipline’s usefulness and the importance of having a working understanding of it is right on the mark and hits the tone I intended to hit with this post much better than I did.
My point is not that the Discipline is not helpful, important, or a good book to buy every four years when it comes out. It is necessary because it provides the structure for us to work by. I guess I was writing out of a reaction that it seems weird to be excited about the Discipline… I wonder if Methodists sometimes get more excited about making new rules and maintaining the institution than they do about the practical task of spreading scriptural holiness and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Shandi – I know you well enough to know that you are eagerly anticipating the next Harry Potter movie.
David – I appreciate (and share) your love of the history of Methodism. I don’t know about you, but to me it is striking to notice the simple fact of how much thicker the Discipline has become from 1836 to the present. Standing in Bridwell LIbrary last semester working through the Disciplines for research for one of my classes, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was an inverse relationship between the number of words in the Discipline and our effectiveness in making disciples…
DogBlogger – I guess the content of this blog is sufficient evidence of my nerdiness…
Thanks to all of you for your comments.
All other religions are heretical, the only true Christian religion is found in the Methodist teachings of John Wesley and only though Methodism can one attain (as I have) Christian Perfection.