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Dialogues: Amongst the People Called United Methodists Paperback – July 16, 2014

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About the Author

WILLIAM J. ABRAHAM is the Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Highland Loch Press (July 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692255672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692255674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,817,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I found this a very hard book to rate; I liked it better upon a second reading. This is a book intended more for informed Methodists than outsiders, as it alludes to a number of people and things that may not be recognizable to most. Fortunately, there is Google.

This book is in the time-honored format of a dialogue among various parties of the United Methodist Church: The Traditionalist, The Evangelist, the Reconciler, the Pietist, and the Progressive; these are not defined, but presumably involved United Methodists know what he means. I don't usually like this format because instead of presenting all sides of the issue, usually most of the characters are straw men, but I think that Abraham has done a good job of using it here. What one might see as a problem is that the author, necessarily perhaps, gives the various parties personalities. My initial impression was that he didn't like Traditionalists, because the character was rather abrasive, but in the end that faction has the most to say and probably, within the book, "wins."

In this rendering, Traditionalist and Evangelist, portrayed as much more mellow, are united in thinking that a schism is desirable. Traditionalist wants Progressive to pack up and leave without the properties they are using if they are unwilling to abide by the decisions of the General Conference; Evangelist thinks that it is unrealistic to think that Progressive will, and wants an amicable schism (if possible) with a fair division of property. Progressive thinks that LGBTQIA rights are so important that they need to break the rules. Pietist has come over to Progressive's point of view on LGBTQIA rights, and together with Reconciler wants the church to agree to disagree and let individual congregations make their own decisions on the issues.
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Creative way to communicate to the average person the positions of varying groups within The United Methodist Church.
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To learn more about the parties in contention in The United Methodist Church today, read this book. It will help to prepare readers for engagement in the actual dialogues on human sexuality that are ongoing and forthcoming. It is hoped that this book will not lead its readers to theologically profile those involved in United Methodist dialogues. Be reminded: this book is about theological arguments. It should leave its readers free to hopefully and lovingly engage the persons involved in the dialogues.
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