Monday, October 10, 2022

Recommended Reading: What Church Splits Can Teach Us About a Dividing America

Many commentators, including in posts on UM & Global, have noted the parallels between divisions within Methodism and divisions within American society. Certainly, that is true historically, especially for church divisions around slavery preceding the Civil War. Commentators then use this historical parallel to reflect on the significance of present-day conflicts in both church and society, seeking to better understand each in the light of the other.

In this vein, it is interesting to read Russell Moore's article in Christianity Today last month, entitled "What Church Splits Can Teach Us About a Dividing America." Although Moore is well-known as a Baptist and has recently been embroiled in conflicts within the Southern Baptist Convention, his article actually begins by focusing on The United Methodist Church. Moore uses the UMC to note that present polarization runs through the middle of most communities, rather than mapping neatly onto geographic divisions, as in the pre-Civil War era. Moore also writes about those directing their anti-institutionalist rage at denomination structures. While he does not connect this point to the UMC, he certainly could have as well.

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