Like many churchgoers, C. Joseph Sprague finds himself in a quandary: he loves the church but often finds himself at odds with its principles and/or practices. What makes his situation unique is that in addition to his role as worshiper, he is a bishop who is charged with the responsibility of leadership.
In Affirmations of a Dissenter, Sprague gives readers a composite of affirmation and dissent, of faith and protest. He writes about his trust in and commitment to God's hospitable, unconditional love for all humankind as well as about his discomfort with discernible public trends in religious institutions, particularly United Methodism. The brief chapters of this book cover a variety of topics: biblical literalism; the power of biblical witness; biblical authority as related to homosexuality, divorce, violence, and women; the nature and person of Jesus; hope in the church; leadership; and racism.
"When Joe Sprague ponders the Scripture looking at them through the ministry of our Lord, he grabs your attention. Your mind will race; your heart will beat faster as he walks with Jesus into areas of poverty, injustice, war, and human sexuality. You may not always agree, but you will be brought up short by his openness, his integrity, and his sacrificial commitments. He'll make you a braver, more radical Christian."--Richard B. Wilke Bishop in Residence Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas
"A candid and clarion call for United Methodism to embrace its theological, biblical, and ethical roots without being ensnared by fearful right-wing 'neoliteralists' or cynical left-wing 'progressives.' Bishop Sprague challenges the church to a future vision of hope, emphasizing the Gospel's mandate of inclusiveness, justice, and nonviolence. A refreshing and stimulating presentation of basically orthodox Christian beliefs, this book is 'must reading' for every Christian yearning for a renewed and relevant church in the 21st century." --Donald E. Messer Warren Professor of Practical Theology and President Emeritus The Iliff School of Theology
"United Methodist Bishop Joseph Sprague's book Affirmations of a Dissenter is the bravest statement I've ever read by a UMC bishop on the topics he's writing about. It says some things that urgently need saying in the church." Barbara Wendland in Connections April 2003