What did Wesley really say about the Bible?

There has been a lot of talking in recent years about The United Methodist Church seeking to recover a distinctively Wesleyan identity, and not drifting into the murky bog of "anything goes" theological pluralism.

We see some signs of this tremendously important "Wesleyan turn" in the popularity of resources like The Wesley Study Bible (co-edited by Bishop Willimon) or Three Simple Rules (by Bishop Reuben Job) based on Wesley's "General Rule" of life. When we as a church are more clear about who we are and what we stand for, it will be easier for us to present a common message and witness to the world. This should mean an improvement not only in our slogan and our TV commercials, but also in our missional work everywhere.

Part of the work before us now that we have decided that we are going to be Wesleyan, is to discover again what that actually means. Many people have different ideas about what Christianity in the Wesleyan dialect actually means; for example, I have personally heard it asserted that John Wesley was a theologically ultra-conservative hell-and-brimstone preacher on the one hand and that he was a liberal and a universalist on the other hand (neither of which is exactly true). What we as a denomination, and especially as clergy, need to do is (re)familiarize ourselves with what Wesley actually did teach regarding not only the basic content of our faith, and also concerning the methods of pursuing theological truth and spiritual growth.

One of the places where the contemporary Church could really use a healthy dose of Wesley is in our understanding of what it means for the Bible to be our "primary authority" (as our Book of Discipline puts it). It might be fair to say that, at least in some cases, pastors and seminaries have at times taught ideas about the Bible that represent a much lower view of Biblical authority than was ever held either by Wesley or the ecumenical Church through the ages. So what did Wesley say about the Bible and its authority?

Rev. Craig Adams has a great post examining Wesley's writings on the subject, a must read for any who would represent The United Methodist Church as its leaders.

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Blogger Craig L. Adams said...

Thanks for the mention, Daniel.

3:49 PM, February 15, 2012  

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