Monday, September 9, 2013

Apostle's of North American Christianity

Last weekend I took a pilgrimage to Baltimore to visit the shrine of three great Methodists leaders.  In the photo to my left Francis Asbury (the first Methodist bishop to America), Robert Strawbridge (Methodist convert from Ireland and great lay evangelist to the Eastern shore of revolutionary America) and E. Stanley Jones (missionary to India and evangelical statesman) lie buried next to each other.  In seriatim stand three obelisks memorializing three great evangelists: the first a bishop, the second a lay man and the third a missionary.

The more I reflect on their lives the more I become convinced that one cannot understand the Christianization of North America without reflecting on the apostolic force of early Methodism.  Each man, in his distinct vocational role, learned to indigenize the gospel for those who remained outside of Christian faith and community. 

If you wish to learn more about this era I recommend two chapters of Mark Noll's America's God (chs. 15-16).  If that whets your appetitie then turn to John Wigger's American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists.  

Their exemplary lives merit further reflection as we find ourselves in an America that needs re-Christianization.  

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