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The fundamental question

The fundamental question

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

The fundamental question

March 20, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0264}

NOTE:  A headshot of Whitaker is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

On Saturday, April 9, at Bethune-Cookman College from 10 a.m. to Noon and Thursday, April 21, at Florida Southern College from 7 to 9 p.m. we shall have conversations on "In Search of Security."

These conversations are being held in every Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church. They are an opportunity for United Methodists to discuss the search for personal and global security from the perspective of Christian faith and provide feedback to the (United Methodist) Council of Bishops on how the Church can give guidance to the world in this era of terrorism and fear.

Perhaps some will wonder why the Church is engaged in this conversation. Several answers could be offered. The Bible has much to say about the way to a more secure world and life. Moreover, Christians have a moral responsibility to engage the issues of the time from our perspective of faith in the living God.

The most basic answer to why we should be engaged in a concern for personal and global security is that our understanding of salvation requires it. In a book that compares Orthodox and Wesleyan Spirituality ("Orthodox And Wesleyan Spirituality," S.T. Kimbrough Jr., Ed., St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2002), Tore Meistad observed that the fundamental question asked by John and Charles Wesley was not, "How can I be saved?" but "For what purpose am I saved?"

Most Western Christians have asked the first question, but Wesleyan Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians have asked the second question.

Meistad observed that the Wesley's understood God saves us in Christ so we may participate in God's mission of transforming others and the whole creation. The Wesleyan understanding of salvation was expressed by the Eastern father of the church, St. John Chrysostom, who said, "I do not believe in the salvation of anyone who does not try to save others." The Orthodox theologian Patros Vassiliadis sounds like a Wesleyan Christian when he writes: "God is not found by a mystical escape to a spiritual realm ... . Christian mission cannot be limited to evangelizing the world by preaching liberation only from spiritual bonds, leaving aside or scandalously ignoring the political, economical, cultural, ideological oppression of God's creation in his very image of humanity."

We believe in the good news of God's salvation for all creation, beginning with our own new birth through faith in Christ and encompassing a new creation for God's entire world. In this belief, we shall come together to participate in a search for security by looking at ourselves and our world in light of God's revelation to Israel and in Jesus Christ our Lord.


This article relates to Christian Faith/Church and Society.

*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.