7/26/07

Wesley addresses the Clergy: Pt. 2

Above all the things that a minster should learn, says father Wesley, the intention or motivation in executing the ministry is of utmost importance:

"As to his intention...ought it not to be singly this: to glorify God, and to save souls from death? Is not this absolutely and indispensibly necessary, before all and above all things? 'If his eye is single, his whole body' his whole soul, his whole work, 'will be full of light." (WW, x, 486).

This is above all other things for John Wesley. This is significant, I think, because John is sometimes quoted as if the only thing he cared or talked about how people who disagree can get along together. That is important, especially for our contemporary situation both in Church and society, but it is not for John Wesley the most important. The most important is saving souls from death. To understand John's ideas about how this salvation takes place read The Scripture Way of Salvation.

He goes on to say a minister must have love and affection for people, as well as for God. Then he says something very interesting: "And is not even this degree of love to God and man utterly inconsistent with the love of the world; with the love of money or praise; with the very lowest degree of either ambition or sensuality? How much less can it consist with that poor, low, irrational, childish principle: the love of diversions? Not only this, but the love of pleasure...(WW, x, 487)" I really wonder what diversions he is speaking of. As someone who lives in a culture that basically believes the purpose of life is to be entertained (or so our activity would suggest), I wonder if Wesley would see something fundamentally wrong, and therefore de-humanizing, about a culture structured around Getting and Enjoying. I wonder if he would see whole theological movements and church 'marketing strategies' as buying into a lie. I wonder what counsel he might offer to his preachers in such a situation - not only about what to say, but also about how to live.

I've only covered 7 pages of what is (in my edition) a 20 page address. As you can see there is food for thought on every page. I'll leave this here with no promises as to whether I may or may not return to it.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Stephen said...

"I wonder if he would see whole theological movements and church 'marketing strategies' as buying into a lie. I wonder what counsel he might offer to his preachers in such a situation - not only about what to say, but also about how to live."

This made me roar with laughter, because we are having to read a book for the district called, "Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit" (a marketing strategy that supposedly stems from Wesley)

The book did offer something that ties into what I think is Wesley's most important thing. It says that its about the people and claims that Wesley was about saving people, not building churches, not making programs, but about people. Maybe something we should look at today?

2:35 PM, July 30, 2007  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

haha, yeah. I don't think he would see ALL marketing strategies as buying into a lie. Wesley was a pretty good publicist himself. But those that capitalize on our desires for comfort, ease, stuff (I am always amazed and horrified when Churches have random give-aways to attendees to attract crowds - this was in particular what I sparked that comment) and so on. If the remarks at the beginning and end of the general rules are any clue - Wesley was tapping into people's desire to be saved from sin, death, and hell and saved for the kingdom. Of course, contemporary people may not believe these things really exist to begin with, so that may be why some churches feel they have to start with tapping into greed as a motivator...
thanks for good comments stephen!

10:26 AM, July 31, 2007  

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