Fun Fact: The "United" in United Methodist has nothing to do with our connectional nature. As one professor said, tongue in cheek, "United Methodists are about as united as Free Methodists are free." The "United" actually comes from the Evangelical United Brethren Church which merged with the Methodist Church in 1969.
Most people in the UMC have never heard of the Evangelical United Brethren. This is a sad thing.
In the merger, the doctrinal statements of both traditions were adopted by the UMC. The Methodists brought to the new church the Articles of Religion and the EUB brought the Confessions of Faith. The AR has 25 Articles that have been passed down exactly as John Wesley gave them to the Methodist Episcopal Church, with two extra ones that tagged along at from the 1939 Uniting Conferences. The CF had been modified to keep the language and understanding of the theology of the EUB current.
There's a website called Wordle that generates word clouds. The basic gist of it is, you enter a body of text in the word cloud generator and it produces an image made up of the words of the text. The more times a word is mentioned in a body of text, the bigger the word. check out what John 14.15-31 looks like.
The most frequently used words in the NRSV version of the text are Father, love, word, keep, and so on.
So what happens when we take then entire body of the Articles of Religion from the Methodist Church and put them in Wordle?
The words Christ, God, faith, sin, Book, and Supper, become prominent.
Now, lets see what happens with the Confessions of Faith from the Evangelical United Brethren.
Wozzers. Believe is just kinda out there, followed by God, Christ, Holy, Spirit, Christian, faith, power, Jesus, sin, grace, Baptism, and so on.
In the merger, the two were deemed compatible doctrinal statements (which I think is debatable), but there are definitely some major differences in emphasis. "Believe" is featured prominently in the EUB Confession, because due to its confessional nature, every article begins with the words, "We believe." The Methodist Articles are structured more like doctrinal statements. Other things I noticed were:
- Trying to find the word "Jesus" in the AR is harder then in the CF.
- "Baptism" is bigger in the CF and "Supper" is bigger in the AR. Could this be because of the Methodist strong connection to the Anglican tradition and the EUB connection to the German Pietist/Anabaptist traditions?
- "God" is slightly larger than "Christ" in the CF, and "Christ" is slightly larger than "God" in the AR.
- "Spirit" in the CF is more prominent than "Ghost" is in the AR.
- Both lack inclusive language for humans.
- "Repugnant" is such a cool word, but it's only found in the AR.
What are some things you notice?