Latest Entry:

John Wesley and the Bible

It makes sense to ask a world-class John Wesley expert to give a keynote address at an event exploring a Wesleyan approach to the Bible. Here’s a sneak preview of Randy Maddox’s thoughts on Wesley and Scripture. He presents more at The Bible Tells Me So conference.

Read more...

Archived Blog Entry

40 Comments

Jan

28

John Wesley and the Bible

It makes sense to ask a world-class John Wesley expert to give a keynote address at an event exploring a Wesleyan approach to the Bible. Here’s a sneak preview of Randy Maddox’s thoughts on Wesley and Scripture. He presents more at The Bible Tells Me So conference.

MAN OF ONE BOOK

One Wesley quotation many people know is his claim to be a man of one book. “Let me be homo unius libri,” says Wesley, with Latin flare.

But Wesley was far from being concerned with literally only one book. He read widely and required his ministers to read many other books. Maddox notes that Wesley scolded his ministers who claimed to read only the Bible as exhibiting “rank enthusiasm.” That’s like calling someone today a raving religious lunatic!

By homo unius libri, says Maddox, Wesley meant he regards no book comparatively but the Bible. Scripture is the first book of importance, but not the only important book.

Maddox notes that Wesley drew upon other sources, including scholarly tools, when reading the Bible. He appreciated textual criticism, says Maddox, but was less warm to historical criticism.

ERRORS IN THE BIBLE?

When it comes to the question of biblical errors, some will quote Wesley’s letter to William Law (see correction to this attribution in blog comment below). “If there be one falsehood in the Bible,” writes Wesley, “there may be a thousand; neither can it proceed from the God of truth.”

Maddox notes, however, that Wesley never used the phrase “biblical inerrancy” nor embraced its modern understanding. Modern biblical inerrancy, says Maddox, “insists that the Bible is accurate in every detail, including historical allusions and descriptions on the natural world.” Wesley wasn’t concerned with this, and occasionally he notes apparent discrepancies in the biblical text.

Wesley’s comments about the trustworthiness of the Bible focus on what calls the “rule of Christian faith and practice.” Wesley followed 2 Timothy 3:16–17, says Maddox, in which “inspiration of Scripture is related to its usefulness for instructing in Christian belief and training in lives of righteousness.”

FREE WILL AND THE BIBLE

In one of my favorite parts of Maddox’s conference keynote text, Randy writes the following:

“Wesley’s descendants may want to … suggest that his conviction about how God works in salvation—by undergirding and assisting our will, but not overriding our liberty—has broader implications than he realized. Applied to God’s agency in inspiring the human authors of Scripture, this conviction would allow one to take with utmost seriousness the cultural specificity of the various books in the Bible that modern scholarship makes evident, while still affirming a robust sense of the authority of Scripture as the “book of God.”

I am a descendent of Wesley who advocates precisely what Maddox says. That is, I think we should take as central Wesley’s insight that God assists but does not override the freedom God gives creatures.

Placing this insight at the heart of our understanding of God helps us solve a host of theological problems related to evil, science, and the inspiration and interpretation of the Bible. With regard to the Bible, it suggests that free human authors of Scripture can make errors or have misunderstandings that do not affect the main message in the biblical text.

INSPIRATION AND INTERPRETATION

Maddox notes that Wesley affirmed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit both to the authors of the Bible and to present-day readers. “We need the same Spirit to understand the Scripture,” says Wesley, “which enabled the holy men of old to write it.”

Maddox says Wesley’s deepest concern was personal embrace of the saving truth in Scripture. Even “the devils” believe the Bible, says Wesley, but they do not embrace its saving truth for themselves.

Wesley believes we need to read the Bible “in conference” with others. Some people are simply more mature, and we can benefit from their insights if we listen in community. Meeting in groups to study the Bible is important for forming people and helping to identify the Bible's central purposes.

Wesley recognized the limits of all human understanding. Even spiritually mature persons see through a glass darkly when interpreting the Bible. Wesley writes:

“Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it); yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true.”

Part of interpreting the Bible well, says Maddox, involves “not limiting our dialogue partners to those who are most like us, or those with whom we already agree.” Those who see things differently than we do might identify places where our understanding of something in Scripture might be wrong.

HELPS FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE

Maddox identifies a number of other sources Christians should consult when reading the Bible. Wesley valued the writings and biblical interpretations of those who had come before him in the Christian tradition.

Wesley appealed to what he called “the Rule of Faith” as a tool for interpreting the Bible. The rule of faith identifies the central and unifying themes in the Bible. Difficult, ambiguous, or obscure passages should be interpreted in light of Scripture’s central themes.

Wesley also thought God’s revelation in the natural world could help us interpret the Bible’s special revelation. “And when Wesley confronted an apparent conflict between current science and Scripture,” says Maddox, “he sought an understanding that did justice to both.”

THE CORE OF THE BIBLE

Perhaps Wesley’s most distinctive way of reading the Bible pertains to the lens of love he used to interpret it. Wesley recognized that Christians regard some interpretive lenses as better than others. He writes:

“We know, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ and is therefore true and right concerning all things. But we know likewise that there are some Scriptures which more immediately commend themselves to every [person’s] conscience.”

Wesley prized the theology of 1 John above all others. Maddox notes that Wesley “used 1 John for his sermon text much more frequently (comparative to the number of verses in the book) than any other biblical book.”

Wesley said 1 John 4:19 — “We love [God] because he first loved us” — is “the sum of the whole gospel.” The book stresses clearly God’s goal to transform us so that we might love both God and neighbor and live lives free from the tyranny of sin.

Maddox summarizes:

“Wesley increasingly and self-consciously read the whole of the Bible in light of a deep conviction that God was present in the assuring work of the Spirit both to pardon and to transform all who respond to that inviting and empowering love (and all can respond!). This conviction was not something that Wesley thought he was imposing on Scripture. He was convinced that it was the most central and clear message of Scripture—as seen particularly in 1 John and related texts. At the heart of reading the Bible in “Wesleyan” ways today would be embracing Wesley’s central interpretive lens, even as one continues to test and refine it by ongoing conference with the whole of Scripture and the range of other readers.”

CONCLUSION

I hope you see from this material why I am so excited to have Randy Maddox give this conference address.

I’m also excited that Randy’s lecture will be one chapter among others in The Bible Tells Me So book. This book arises from the conference, and I am co-editing it with Richard Thompson.

For those who have not yet registered for the conference, you can still do so. But for those who cannot attend, I invite you to watch the free online simulcast of The Bible Tells Me So. A link to that simulcast will be placed on the NNU homepage on the first day of the conference, Feb. 10.

Posted in 2011 under John Wesley, Holiness, and the Church of the Nazarene

Add comment

Comments

Jeff Clarke

01.28.2011
12:33pm

Great article, Tom.

John Wesley had a number of very important insights into viewing, interpreting, understanding and applying Scripture that I value greatly today. Reading the Bible through a lens of love is significant. Also, seeing the Bible for what it was meant for, as a document that is ‘useful for instruction’, is refreshing. It removes the need for a perfect text so many strive to attain through variations of an inerrancy doctrine.

Thanks for sharing.

 

Craig L. Adams

01.28.2011
12:41pm
 

John Grant

01.28.2011
2:26pm

Thanks for this article, Dr. Oord.  It is very insightful and helpful.  Looking forward to the conference.

 

Todd Holden

01.28.2011
4:22pm

Tom

You sure know how to make us all salivate for this conference! I am having my patience dearly tried by waiting for this conference. I am over the top excited about the conference and just being with all of my brothers and sisters there!

Also, I think we all want to know when the book, “The Bible Tells Me So” is being published!

 

Thomas Jay Oord

01.28.2011
5:08pm

Todd—Look for the book to be out near the end of the summer.

 

Jon Privett

01.28.2011
9:05pm

In a time where there is a polarity between those who believe “The Bible tells me everything” (absolute inerrancy) and those who believe Jesus loves them because “The Bible tells me so”(soteriological inerrancy), I am glad to hear the emphasis on Wesley’s reading of the Bible as love.

Maybe, unless we kill each other on the Internet or in the foyer or create splinter churches, we can live with each other because the Spirit that enables us to live out the Gospel of Love instead of feasting on each other with literalistic fervor.

And maybe we can quote Wesley while loving those who misuse the quotes (as if they wrote them) or quote another theological tradition.

I am sure glad Jesus loves me either though I can not know or love Jesus inerrantly. May we do as much for others.

 

John W. Dally

02.01.2011
5:34pm

Years ago I came across this quote from Brevard Childs.

“The biblical exegete is forced to hear testimony from inside and outside the community of faith because he lives in both worlds. He dare not destroy the canonical witness by forcing it into the mold of the ‘old age.’ Nor dare he construct out of the canonical witness a world of myth safely relegated to the distant past. Rather, he confesses his participation in the community of faith by ‘searching the scriptures.’ He seeks to share the bread of life with the church through the testimony of scripture. He remains open in anticipation to those moments when the Spirit of God resolves the tension and bridges the gap between faith and history.”

Brevard S. Childs
The Old Testament as Scripture

I have given a copy of it to every student I had in the hopes that they would see the balance between Scriptures and the world we live in and how to work within them both. It hung as a plaque over my desk as I prepared my weekly sermons for over eighteen years.

 

Douglas Perkins

02.04.2011
5:17pm

Thomas, Thank you for this synopsis.  Will the full text of Randy Maddox’s keynote address be published?

 

Thomas Jay Oord

02.05.2011
8:50am

Doug,

Randy’s essay will be included in a book to be published after the conference. The book’s title comes from the conference title: “The Bible Tells Me So.” Richard Thompson and I are editing it.  Look for it in late summer or fall.

Tom

 

Richard Benner

02.21.2011
10:31pm

Reading the comments about scripture and issues such as inerrancy, I am struck by the thought that none of the New Testament writers set about to write “sacred” texts.  They wrote what we now call “histories” of the life of Jesus and the early church and letters to various people on various topics.  In some ways, these were very ordinary, everyday writings with no thought of creating “holy writ.”  It would be a surprise to them to find that over the centuries, their “common” activity would take on such “sacred” meaning that people would kill others and die over their writings.  Yes, Jesus loves me, for the bible tells me so, but it would still be true without having to invest so much sacredness onto the series of personal writings of early Christians.  Much of the debates on topics such as inerrancy, remind me of “angels on the head of a pin” debates of earlier eras.  These debates have almost no relevance to the mass of people I encounter and to the realities of their daily lives.  They are, however, good sport!!
Blessings and gratitude in all things.

 

Tabitha McLaren

09.14.2011
7:15am

“By homo unius libri, says Maddox, Wesley meant he regards no book comparatively but the Bible. Scripture is the first book of importance, but not the only important book.”

I love John Wesley. There is a point in ones life where only reading the Bible is no longer enough. While I do hold that the Bible is the most authoritative book in the world it is not the only book. The Bible is rich in meaning and language but is also thousands of years old. If we only used the Bible to get by then we cannot know how to apply it to us today. The Bible was written for a culture then and in some ways now. In order to understand how it can apply to now we have to think out side the book.

 

Elijah

12.05.2011
12:10am

The quote about there being no errors in the bible was not in a letter to William Law, it’s from a quote in his journal about a book he read by Soame Jenyns called, “View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.”

 

Thomas Jay Oord

12.05.2011
10:08am

Thanks for the correction, Elijah.

 

Annette

05.01.2012
6:13am

For someone to say that just because Wesley didn’t use the word “inerrant” he didn’t believe in inerrancy is ludicrous.  Don’t be so sure in saying that others are the ones misusing Wesley’s quotes.

“Nay, will not the allowing there is any error in Scripture, shake the authority of the whole?” (Works, Jackson ed., 9:150).

“The faith of the Protestants, in general, embraces only those truths, as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God. Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testaments is the object of their faith. They believe neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures…. The written Word is the whole and sole rule of their faith, as well as practice. They believe whatsoever God has declared, and profess to do whatsoever He hath commanded. This is the proper faith of Protestants: by this they will abide, and no other.” [John Wesley, “On Faith,” Sermon #106, I.8].

“The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly”(Letter to Samuel Furly, 10 May, 1755).

“Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context.” (Works, 11:429).

 

Jon Hawkins

09.09.2012
9:48am

I agree with Wesley when reading the Bible in community. It is essential and beneficial to interpret scripture with the body of Christ. I have found great gain in my spiritual walk by doing this on a regular basis. Listening to others interpret scripture by what pops out to them allows me to gain more knowledge. Also, by having questions about a specific passage to address to a community can assist us in any confusion we have.

 

EvanThomas

09.10.2012
7:55pm

I am getting tired of talking about inerrancy.  I would like to talk about how Wesley was a supported and advocate for reading and translating the Scriptures in company.
I typically have a quiet time in the morning with my wife then later in the week I have a guy’s Bible study that I go to then on Sunday I meet with my church in Boise to continue thee Pastor’s sermon going through the book of John.
That, as Wesley would argue, is not good enough. The company that we need to associating with should not include merely our friends and those who think very similarly to us. We should be interpreting and discussing the Holy Scriptures with those who are older and younger than us; with those of a different denomination; with Catholics. These are the one’s who will challenge us and encourage us to test the ways that we think and point out the biases that we come to the table with.

 

Becca Spivey

09.10.2012
11:39pm

I think that one of the biggest mistakes a Christian could make is discounting all other literature and ideas simply because the Bible either disagrees, or it is not how they interpret the Bible. In my critical reasoning class we have been discussing how important it is to listen to and learn what those who disagree with you have to say, because you might be wrong. I think the same can be translated over to theology, and biblical interpretation, and this is why we need to live in community with one another. I think this blog also further shows how uneducated some Christians have become in respects with their Nazarene/Christian heritage. I joked with a friend a couple days ago how the members of the “concerned/reformed Nazarenes” probably would not like John Wesley, because they do not know their history. I also agree with Wesley though that the Bible does need to be our foundation.

 

Robby SKinner

09.11.2012
9:18am

I think one of the most valuable things said here is the fact that we cannot limit our dialogue to people who think like us. We must branch out and at least hear with our own ears the opinions of other wise people who think differently then we do. I had the opportunity to attend a christian high school that was not Wesleyan. I had teachers and parents tell me things about the Bible that my family did not believe or hold valuable. This caused me to enter into conversation with them and think about these things that I would not normally have done.

 

Emma Roemhildt

09.11.2012
3:02pm

What intrigues me the most is that the Bible is that it can inspire readers in ways different than the authors had intended. Restoration-ist readings of the Bible (of which I usually lean) can often be misreadings due to cultural aspects that difference their world from our world. The tradition of reading the Bible keeps it fresh – constantly being read with new eyes. When biblical passages are confusing, when the text may be vague, and the chances of it being misread are greater than not, take heart that we cannot misread the salvation we find in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Betsy Hillman

09.11.2012
4:56pm

My parents taught me to be well read. My dad was always encouraging me to read people like C.S Lewis to expand my mind. But in the end it was about the Bible. And I have to hold to that. I think the evaluation of what Wesley meant was true. But it is more often than not that people are not starting from the people. They want to quote theologians over what scripture says. I have issues with that. I do not want my teens at my church coming to me and saying, “Well Rob Bell said this and this.” And not once going back to scripture. I think it is more important to have a firm understanding of scripture before going somewhere else, and also always returning to scripture.

 

Jarrod Anderson

09.11.2012
7:29pm

This article was interesting in having Randy Maddox share insight of John Wesley. a couple particular points stand out of how John Wesley help the Bible to be so important no other book can compare. His conviction of the Bible was strong, but his conviction didn’t cause him to ignore other books. The other point Maddox shared was how Wesley read the Bible through a lens of love. That love was an overall arching theme through the Bible. I ponder if Wesley had other lenses that he look at the Bible with or if it was simply just this one?

Overall this article shared many insights into who John Wesley is and his insights involving the Bible.

 

Lucas Reding

09.11.2012
10:33pm

One of the more interesting things that Dr. Oord points out is the point that John Wesley takes other books into consideration when answering theological questions.  He does not just lean solely on the Bible, like Luther and the Protestants do when “sola scriptura” came into practice.  This shows just how important the quadrilateral was to Wesley and how important it should be for us today.  We should not “throw the baby out with the bathwater” but also use the wisdom of the Catholic church and forefathers have said about religion and faith.  We have many resources available to use and as a Christian it is our duty to thoroughly search for the best resources and use them to our advantage.

 

James Hardy

09.11.2012
10:54pm

As someone who believes in humanity’s free will, I was really encouraged by the section “Free Will and the Bible.”  The idea of God assisting human writers, rather than forcing them to write says to me that God cares deeply for creation—so much so that God would venture to reveal God’s self to humans—yet God will not override a human’s ability to act on his/her own.  That implies that God takes humans and their wishes as seriously as God takes God’s own desire to love—a balance that must be extremely difficult for God to maintain!

 

Roman Lyon

09.12.2012
10:14am

I really liked and agreed with many things in this article. I especially liked the section that talked about reading the Bible in community. When we read in community we can expand our understanding of scripture by hearing multiple points of view. It is also important that we read scripture with people who have different views than our own. I think God meant for scripture to be understood in many different ways because each person has their own life experiences and will encounter Jesus in their own unique ways (which might be completely different from us, but that’s what makes God so amazing).

 

Joshua Mast

09.12.2012
10:29am

I think there is something here the may not go unnoticed, but I believe could be strongly emphasized and amplified more so - surely Wesley (and a handful of his followers) were knowledgeable of and took a stance about such topics of “inerrancy” and the alike, but that was not their main focus of discussion and theology. The main focus on was on what was, and still is, needed to be applied to us as humans. To be frank, I do not see an incredible amount that can be gained from the topic of inerrancy (though I do think there is a time and place for discussion over it, and I can identify how it can skew views / interpretations). The focus is, as Wesley makes it, is the theology that can flow form the Bible as a primary source, and the contents of that particular theology (i.e. Dr. Oord’s presumably would be a theology of love). Furthermore, as Wesley yearned after, we use many other outside, secondary, sources to strengthen the theology that can flow from within the sacred texts.

 

Kaylee Bunn

09.12.2012
10:51pm

The more I read of Wesley and his theology, the more I like it!  Given the glaring differences that occur between books in chronology and numbers and the scientific knowledge we now have, it seems unrealistic (to me) to use the term “inerrant” to describe scripture. However, I appreciate that Wesley seems to still uphold the authority of scripture in all things it was intended to do, while leaving room for human error in other areas. When the stipulation that scripture must be interpreted through the lens of love is added, it seems to give greater hope for a more accurate and beneficial interpretation made by all.

 

Mark Fonner

03.17.2013
10:58pm

The more I read of Wesley and his view of inerrancy, the more I see a view to revise what Wesley wrote but more importantly what he believed. Wesley clearly believed in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. Yet, your view point is consistent with the rest of the view of the emergent church movement.

Clearly this article falls short of Wesley’s belief and is designed to fit in to a specific view point. Pull the cornerstone away from a building, it will fall. This is no less what is happening here to the Scriptures.

Frankly, I am very disappointed in this.

 

Jonathon Wren

09.10.2013
5:46pm

I think it is important to note the comment on how Wesley never directly addresses the “modern” idea of inerrancy, because back then it was not the same as ours.  His only response to what we talk about inerrancy today is that the Bible stays to the truth of God.

Innerancy is a modern issue, and only seeks to find something that cannot be found.  The real truth that matters is the fact that the Bible reveals truths about God.  Whether every word is from the breath of God, or a human’s writing, it gives a truth revealing God.

 

Greyson Kilgore

09.10.2013
6:27pm

it seems that the conversation about biblical inerrancy is growing in popularity. Everybody wants to talk about biblical inspiration and the overall correctness of the bible. I think this conversation is important, yet I am concerned that after coming to a conclusion about how and when the bible was inspired, we forget about our proper response to the inspired text.

As Dr. Maddix says, the thing that Wesley was most concerned with was the “personal embrace of the saving truth in Scripture.” the proper response to the scripture that God has inspired, and is still inspiring, is the “personal embrace”  of the truth, wisdom, and hope that God gives us as we read.

 

Steven Coles

09.10.2013
7:02pm

I like the idea of the quadrilateral and I personally think that it helps me when it comes to this topic of “inerrancy.” To be frank, I think this issue is a bit blown out of preposition. It is no longer about God and what God has to say through the Bible, but that if the Bible is not error-free then we cannot communicate with God, or that our relationship with God suffers. I think this is a big problem. I think we emphasize the Bible so much that it no longer about God. This is why the quadrilateral is so important, as well as the community to show and to guide ourselves and others to what God is really saying through Scripture by the Holy Spirit. Whether the Bible has errors or not should not be the primary issue, but we should be focused on the creative and redemptive power that God has to work passed the errors in the Bible to communicate to us the messages of love and grace. The Bible is a tool that God uses to communicate to use, not the other way around.

 

Rachael Snyder

09.10.2013
10:25pm

Wesley was no doubt an interesting man and one I would have liked to meet. Frankly, I fail to see the significance of what Wesley thought of the Bible. I understand that we gain much from studying our tradition, and the inerrancy and free will discussions do frequently intersect. For that reason, I would be interested to see what Wesley’s justifications were for his beliefs regarding biblical inspiration. However, beyond seeing that there is historical precedence to support the Nazarene viewpoint on Scripture, I fail to see the relevance. Even if Wesley was a strict inerrantist, I would still hold the same viewpoint. I would be more interested in an article addressing how Jesus approached Scripture and first century rabbinical interpretation.

 

Robbie Schwenck

09.10.2013
10:41pm

I really like what Maddox said about not limiting our interpretation and dialogue only to people who are like us and think like us. I’ve found that the best discussions that I have had about the Bible and interpretation have been with a good friend of mine who thinks much differently than I do about the Bible. We know that we will disagree with each other even before talking about certain things. However, we are still able to have meaningful interactions because we both have the same sort of “Rule of Faith” when interpreting the Bible. Due to other experiences I and other people have had, I believe it’s important that Christians recognize the need to interpret within a community. I also believe this interpretation should be through the ‘lens of love” as the article states.

 

Megan Krebs

09.11.2013
2:02pm

Scripture is of first importance in regard to the spiritual growth and development of both individuals Christians and the Christian Church. So, naturally, how we understand and interpret the Bible is of great importance. It is important to know where we stand on inspiration.
However, I also believe that “objective” evidence regarding errors versus inerrancy is not going to convince many believers. No one was ever argued into the Kingdom of God. Just as love has become Wesleyans’ lens for interpreting the Bible, it should become our lens for discussing interpreting the Bible, particularly with our sisters and brothers from other traditions.

 

Cory Bernaiche

09.11.2013
4:06pm

I think it is interesting that it was noted Wesley never said, directly, biblical inerrancy. It seems this topic has emerged and gained momentum. It would be an amazing time to sit down with John Wesley and discuss what he viewed as an “error” in the Bible. It seems with his statement, “If there be one falsehood in the Bible, there may be a thousand; neither can it proceed from the God of truth,” that Wesley’s idea of biblical inerrancy is not the same definition we think of today.

 

Chelsea Pounds

09.11.2013
8:00pm

I really appreciate the note about reading the Bible in community. I think that it is here where we should be honest and open with the discussion about Biblical inerrancy and about the Bible in general. In these groups, I think that we can safeguard ourselves from coming up with theology that is not helpful and/or destructive.

Also, I think that it’s good to say that there are other texts that are significant. Yes, they may not hold the same authority as Scripture, but I think that the supplemental texts can be great additions to our faith. Thanks!

 

Nichelle Sisk

09.11.2013
9:56pm

Biblical inerrancy seems to be one of those issues that we just cannot seems to agree to disagree on.  I completely agree with Wesley in that we need to read and interpret the Bible in community with others.  Because we view biblical inerrancy differently, we interpret the Bible differently.  With the thought that we need to read and interpret in community and with the thought that because we different views on the Bible and therefore interpret differently, I think that getting together, as a community, and doing interpretation of just one passage together would be amazing.  I feel that if we stopped arguing about inerrancy and started learning from each other’s viewpoints.

 

Josh Godfrey

09.11.2013
10:33pm

Mentioned in the blog post are the concepts of engaging in conversation those who have different beliefs and perspectives than you do to engage in interpretation effectively.  Derivable from other concepts in the blog post (namely those of prevenient grace and God’s revelation through nature), how ought the Church today engage in theological conversations with those outside of our faith?  There are those who interpret the Bible from outside of our faith, and yet we would affirm that the Holy Spirit is preveniently at work in them and that God is revealing Godself to them in a variety of media.  Many Hindus, for example, function on a metaethic of love, much like Wesley did, and offer an interesting perspective on Christian scripture despite being outside our faith.
How do we handle that?

 

Michelle Borbe

09.11.2013
10:41pm

My favorite part about this post is the section on the importance of surrounding yourself with those who hold different opinions than your own. We all come to the table with our own backgrounds and histories that help us develop our own views and thoughts. But how can we grow or learn more about our own beliefs if we are never challenged or in dialog with others who might not hold the same convictions as us. This is a part of the education process but also import in our day to day lives.

 

Topher Taylor

09.11.2013
11:54pm

It’s interesting to see how people interpret the writings and ideas of John Wesley. It’s almost as if there becomes a Wesleyan idolatry by those that follow his beliefs. The thing that I found most interesting was that Wesley would say that the Bible should be interpreted in community. It makes more sense to understand things as a group than on your own; because when you are interpreting scriptures by your self you can come to some crazy conclusions. I am just curious as to what community he interpreted with. It’s also interesting to note that the Spirit is in us as we read scriptures, alone or in community, so why is it almost immediately discounted when someone has a strange revelation that had never really been thought of before outside of that community?
Faith, Scripture, and Spirit all seem to have subjective interpretation. So what makes the community more correct than a single person? And really what makes John Wesley’s interpretation and understanding more valid than Calvin or Luther?

 

Dakota Vails

09.13.2013
7:16am

I like how Wesley was interested in the Bible but made and made it a point to hold it in highest regards. This seems really critical in being a Christian but if we stopped her it would be wrong. We should consult other sources like the Wesley quadrilateral lays out. Reason, experience, tradition, and scripture are all valuable and important resources to living a Christ centered life. If we stopped at just the Bible would miss the rich history of the church and the experience’s we have had with God. Both of which mold and shape our minds. We would also be missing out on some great resources that Godly men and woman have written over the years. For instance what if no one ever wrote a commentary we would start at ground zero every single time and only have our own thoughts to go off of. Wesley is right for saying to his ministers that did this that they were “rank enthusiasm” for in just studying the Bible we miss out on so much rich and valuable information.

 

Leave a comment:

Please keep comments on topic. Your private information here will never be shared with anyone.

 

Thomas Jay Oord is a professor, author, and theologian from the Northwest. Read more