The more I see bumper stickers with brief slogans on some very serious issues such as abortion, salvation, capital punishment, taxes, and gun control, the more I am grateful for my Wesleyan heritage. I cringe when I see these types of bumper stickers because they're often a shallow attempt to approach very serious social issues.
Our Wesleyan heritage offers us an alternative to a bumper sticker approach regarding important issues. It's called, "The Via Media" which is a Latin phrase which means, "The Middle Way." The middle way approach to faith means that as thinking Christians, we will listen to all sides of an issue and that we will interpret scripture in the light of tradition, reason, and experience.
The problem is, as we know, anything worth doing takes a lot of effort and hard work on our part. This means listening to other people's experiences, researching how Christians and the church have approached theses issues over the past centuries, and sharing our thoughtful conclusions in a respectful way so that the conversations can continue.
Once in a while, someone will challenge me with what I call the "pastor litmus test." To test whether or not I'm a real Christian, they will ask, "Do you believe in the sinner's prayer?" or "Do you believe Jesus is the only way to salvation - you have to answer yes or no!" or "Do you believe in hell?" This kind of thing happens to me about 3 or 4 times each year in various settings.
When I was in elementary school, they gave us those blue books to write out our answers in paragraph form but the pastor litmus test demands either yes or no responses. Why do we think we don't need those blue books anymore in our adult years?
What's really sad is that I could give a yes or no answer that would probably help me to pass the pastor litmus test. But for me and for people who claim a Wesleyan heritage, it's not just about yes or no answers. It's also about the journey that leads us to our prayerful conclusions.
And you just can't fit all of that information on a bumper sticker.