Archive: Doctrine matters to Good News

By Charles Keysor

March/April 1981

The original Protestant, Martin Luther, believed that theology is supremely important. It shapes all that a person is and does. What we know, or don’t know, about the Living God ultimately determines our attitude toward other people, ourselves, our world, and our church.

Good News began in 1966 because of a great theological void in our denomination. The “people called Methodist” had moved far off the Biblical foundations laid by Otterbein, Asbury, and the Wesley brothers. We had become largely indifferent to doctrine. We had marginalized the Living God. He and His revealed truth were no longer the beating heart of official church concern.

The emptiness caused by this displacement was – and is – felt by many pastors and people. Something vital is missing. The vigor of Biblical religion flickers low. Somehow, our updated, organizational religion, though “relevant,” is curiously anemic. It lacks power to have much impact upon our society. Paradoxically, the more the church has “let the world set the agenda” the less it has been able to effect real social change… to stem the growing  depravity of a world gone whoring after false gods.

It is my deepest conviction that theological compromise and confusion are the root cause of all that is happening in and to our church. That is why “Methodism’s Silent Minority” was written in 1966. That is why Good News began.

This theological centering makes Good News different from the other “special interest”. church groups. Their raison d’etre is race, sex, socialist ad-vocacy, sexual orientation, minority empowerment, language, or sociology. Ours is theology – God-ology. Many Good News critics have failed to understand this uniqueness. We are not another gimme-all-the-jobs-power-and-money caucus. Rather, Good News has sought to enlarge the influence of historic Christianity in our church.

Much of the opposition has come because Good News, by its very existence, calls into question the theological direction taken by our denomination for 80-100 years. This is far deeper than a mere “lovers’ quarrel”! The difference has to do with the very nature of the Church, the Christian religion, redemption, and what constitutes ultimate authority. Finally, it has to do with whether or not God is really who we see in Jesus Christ and in holy Scripture.

Sometimes I am asked, “What is the most important thing Good News has accomplioshed?” I answer: we have sought to be a clear, faithful voice in the wilderness for historic Christianity. Toward this end, I believe the most important single contribution of Good News (apart from publishing the magazine) is creation of the Junaluska Affirmation.

In April 1974, the Good News Board organized a “Theology, and Doctrine Task Force.’ Named as chairman was a former EUB, Rev. Dr. Paul A. Mickey, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at Duke University’s Divinity School. The goal of this group was to prepare a clear, affirmative statement of “Scrip-tural Christianity,” drawing together the two parallel doctrinal statements which comprise our theological heritage: the Methodist Articles of Religion and the EUB Confession of Faith (1980 Discipline, pp. 55-68).

Two addresses about theology were delivered at the 1974 Convocation by members of the new task force. I spoke about “Our Theological Wilderness, and Riley Case presented a position paper, “The Faith According to Nashville.” This lucidly described the Liberal amalgam which has replaced historic Wesleyan theology in official curriculum – and widely across the official church.

For 18 months the task force labored. Then, on July 20, 1975 the Good News Board formally adopted the group’s work. This happened at Lake Junaluska, so we named our statement “The Junaluska Affirmation.” It is a brief, systematic summary of the essentials of “Scriptural Christianity.” After a preamble come sections on The Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Humanity, The Holy Scriptures, Salvation, The Church, and Ethics.

My research failed to reveal my systematic Methodist statement of faith-essentials since Methodism came to America in the 1700s. Why? We simply adopted as our theological core the Articles of Religion – which John Wesley had adapted from the Anglican Church. To this we added as doctrinal basis his

“Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament” and his “Standard Sermons.” Methodists in America accepted this doctrinal corpus from “Father Wesley,” then we busied ourselves “spreading Scriptural holiness” across a vast  continent with little time spent “theologizing.”

A sequel occurred in late 1980 when Zondervan published Paul Mickey’s commentary on the Junaluska Affirmation. Essentials of Wesleyan Theology interprets the Affirmation for study on college and seminary levels.

This article appeare in the March/April 1981 issue of Good News.  


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