Kevin Watson is a rising star in Methodist theology, and he’s firmly committed to orthodox doctrine. He teaches Methodist Studies at United Methodist Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. His new book is Old or New School Methodism?: The Fragmentation of a Theological Tradition. It contrasts Bishop Matthew Simpson, friend of Abe Lincoln, who saw Methodism as partner to American democracy, with B. T. Roberts, founder of Free Methodism, who was committed to Methodist distinctives like sanctification.
Many imagine that United Methodism’s current divisions trace to early 20th century debates between modernists and conservatives. But Watson suggests the divisions may date to earlier struggles between what Roberts called “new Methodism” and “old Methodism.”
In my chat with him, Watson discusses this history and applies it to today’s United Methodism, which faces likely schism at next year’s postponed General Conference.
You’ll enjoy Watson’s insights.