Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mr. Wesley's quadrilateral

We are in the midst of a four-week sermon series on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral - a method of doing theology that John Wesley gave to the followers of Methodism.  The quadrilateral is often thought of as a 4-legged stool, though one of the legs must be considerably larger and stronger than the others.  The legs are Scripture, reason, experience and tradition.  It is the interrelatedness of each of these legs that allow us to better understand and interpret scripture.

Scripture is the dominant leg, and is the only one that possesses a "trump" card.  If scripture deals with an issue, we should closely follow it's lead.  If it does not, or if we need to interpret the scripture, the others come into play.  Reason is our God-given capacity for thinking and asking the question "Does this make sense?" When we are interpreting scripture we have to ask if what we think it means makes sense and passes what my Trigonometry teacher called "the plausibility test."  Is the answer plausible?

Experience is the Holy Spirit's interaction with the individual believer and the church as a corporate body.  How has the Spirit illumined us on this particular issue?  How has our life experience helped us understand what the scripture might be saying?

What does Christian tradition teach us about the scripture?  Where have the ancient commentators fallen on the issue?  How has the Church of Jesus Christ treated the issue in the past?  Those are all good questions to ask as we look at difficult passages and issues.

This article offers us a fascinating look at the quadrilateral through the lens of one of my favorite foods - biscuits.  I encourage you to take a look at the quadrilateral with fresh eyes and see how it can provide a balanced way for interpreting scripture and providing guidance in life situations.

I'll be preaching on experience this Sunday if you want to come hear my thoughts.

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