Theological Statement Theological Statement Guidelines: • Utilize the formatting guidelines (font size 12; line spacing 1.5; margin 1”) • Minimum 18 pages • Maximum 25 pages • When moving to a new question, please label it as such e.g. “a”, “b”, etc. • Title electronic file as: <name>-theology.pdf • Demonstrate an understanding of your theology The Board of Ordained Ministry expects that, as a candidate for Provisional Membership, you will submit materials that reflect your high level of educational attainment. The Board’s primary concern is that, in answering the questions in The Book of Discipline 2016, ¶324.9 you will thoughtfully demonstrate your understanding of the Christian faith considering Scripture, Wesleyan/United Methodist tradition, and relevance to your own experience. The Board of Ordained Ministry invests considerable time and effort in examining your written materials. Although the theological paper is not the sole criterion by which evaluations are made, this document is a significant part of that evaluation. An inadequate paper is a frequent reason a candidate is not recommended to the Clergy Session of Annual Conference for Provisional Membership. In all your responses, intelligent discussion and awareness of the issues are sought, not the simple recitations of a creedal position or a supposed “correct” answer. You have the responsibility to ensure that you have ample time to prepare a statement of which to be proud of and to see that it is delivered to the Registrar of the Board by the expected time. The following notes may be helpful to you in meeting the Board of Ordained Ministry’s standards. 1. Answer each of the enclosed theological questions fully and reflectively. 2. Attention should be given to correct spelling and grammar in the preparation of the theological paper. A flawed paper in this respect may constitute unacceptable work. Have a colleague read and critique your paper prior to submission. Pages should be numbered sequentially. 3. The Board looks for your ability to think theologically and to articulate your beliefs in your own words. By this time in your ministry you have distinctive theological emphases, which should be evident. Within your total theological orientation, we look for coherence, consistency, persuasiveness, and integration with traditional United Methodist belief. Brief creedal statements or answers consisting exclusively of Scripture verses tenuously tied together are not considered acceptable work. 4. All material submitted to the Board of Ordained Ministry will be held to standards described at www.plagiarism.org and in the plagiarism policy which you have already signed. Additional insight into what is considered plagiarism and proper citation of the work of others can be found by searching for the “Harvard Guide to Using Sources.” The Board of Ordained Ministry may run candidate’s paperwork through plagiarism checker software, Google, etc. at its discretion. 5. Note that the Board of Ordained Ministry has added an additional question “q” in keeping with our desire that candidates for Provisional Membership model holistic ministry. Resources that might be helpful in the preparation of your theological statement include: • The Book of Discipline 2016, Part II (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) and Part IV (Social Principles). • John Wesley’s Sermons, This is especially a helpful resource and the basis of our doctrine (along with Wesley’s Notes Upon the New Testament). • Practical Divinity, by Thomas Langford 1998, Abingdon Press • The Orders of Ministry it The United Methodist Church, by John E. Harnish 2000 Abingdon Press • Sacraments and Discipleship, by Mark W. Stamm 2000, Discipleship Resources • John Wesley, by Albert Outler, ed. 1981, Oxford University Press • Evangelism and Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit, by Albert Outler, 1986 Discipleship Resources • Grace and Responsibility: John Wesley’s Theology Today, by John B. Cobb, Jr. 1995 Abingdon Press • The United Methodist Hymnal • The United Methodist Book of Worship Theological Statement Questions ¶324.9 of The 2016 United Methodist Discipline a) Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological, and historical sources. b) What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world? c) What is your understanding of humanity, and the human need for divine grace? d) How do you interpret the statement Jesus Christ is Lord? e) What is your conception of the activity of the Holy Spirit in personal faith, in the community of believers, and in responsible living in the world? f) What is your understanding of the kingdom of God; the Resurrection; eternal life? g) How do you intend to affirm, teach, and apply Part III of the Discipline (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) in your work in the ministry to which you have been called? h) The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church? i) Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today? j) Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity. k) Explain your understanding of the distinctive vocations of the order of elder and the order of deacon. How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role, and your commitment as a provisional deacon or provisional elder in The United Methodist Church? l) Describe your understanding of diakonia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the provisional member. m) What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the Church? n) Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry. o) You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life, and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. What is your understanding of this agreement? p) Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called. q) Social Issue Question: Develop the theological, biblical and ethical/social issues presented in this scenario and indicate your pastoral response to the persons involved. Keep in mind that your response must include both the pastoral care perspective and the larger context of social ethics. Clearly state your personal position on these issues and substantiate them. Feel free to reference Social Principles (from the Book of Discipline), Resolutions (from the Book of Resolutions), Biblical passages, etc. as a part of your response. A Prison Ministry contacts your church about an inmate, who is now serving life imprisonment at the state penitentiary. The inmate had attended the church when he was a youth and now wants to reconnect with the church. A few parishioners remember the man. He had attended the church for a brief time some 30 years earlier when he was the foster child of parishioners of the church. When he was eighteen years old, he and two other young men robbed a store. One of the other young men shot the cashier, killing him. All three received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Those who remember the events recall that the foster parents did not return to church after the shooting and soon afterward moved away. A group from the church visited the man, now in his late forties. He tells the group how there has been proposed changes to the law that would allow his case to be reviewed. He expresses his hope that the law will change providing the opportunity for him to be released from prison. In the meantime, he would like to take college classes that are offered at the prison from the local community college. He asks if the church would pay for the classes. The cost per class would be about $600. Some in the church are excited about the opportunity to help support the man in his pursuit of a college education. Others oppose the idea; suggesting that it is a waste of money to pay for someone who will never get out of prison to take college classes. If they wanted to help some one attend college; they should offer college scholarships to needy students who aren’t imprisoned. Mission money is used to pay for him to take a class; but there are many who are upset that church funds are being used. It is decided that individuals can contribute to further classes, but church mission funds will not be used. The man then requests that the church help him obtain a lawyer so his case can be reviewed. There are some in the church who are adamantly against this including a former prosecutor who remembers the case and insists that he deserves to be imprisoned for life. Others, however, believe that life imprisonment without parole is an unjust sentence and the church should support his efforts to have his case reviewed. Meanwhile, others worry the man is taking advantage of the kindness of some in the church and worry they may end up paying a lot of money for a lawyer when the man has no grounds for an appeal. What ethical/social issues present themselves? What biblical and theological groundwork would inform your approach to this scenario? How would you resolve this conflict?