June 9, 2017
June 9, 2017
How do we know if what we are hearing is “sound teaching?” In Wesleyan theology, we have a useful tool called The Wesleyan Quadrilateral (quad = “four”; laterus = “sides”). This was not a tool that John Wesley himself used or taught, but is a framework that later theologians developed out of the many volumes of Wesley’s writings.
The four sides of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral are scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Scripture is primary in this framework. If we have a difficult question about God or the Christian faith that we are struggling with, our first move should always be towards scripture. Of course, scripture must always be interpreted, and so this is where the other three sides of the tool come into play.
Tradition should be our next stop. Wesley particularly believed that there was great wisdom in the writings of the early church founders. We, as Wesleyans, also have a wealth of tradition and theology that helps guide us from theology to our liturgy and worship. It’s true that these writings aren’t always easy to read and understand, but a patient study over time of our Christian history and thought will reward those who pursue it with a depth and heart and mind.
We also believe that reason and experience should influence us as Christians. God created a good and ordered world and God is revealed through that world. That’s why we, as Christians, can trust science and technology when it is used towards good and ethical ends. We also have our experience, specifically our experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to confirm God’s presence in our lives. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Holy Spirit will give us an answer to a difficult question (like a Christian Magic 8 Ball or something); it means that when we ask difficult questions and pursue difficult journeys, we have the experience of the Holy Spirit to confirm God’s presence with us.
We are blessed, as Wesleyans, to have this tool of “sound teaching” at our disposal. Let us all seek to use it to glorify God.
Questions for the Field
- What difficult questions or tasks are you wrestling with right now?
- How might this tool of sound teaching guide you in your journey?
Family Field Talk
- How do you know if a decision you make is the “right” decision?
- Could you use this Quadrilateral tool to help you with any decisions you need to make?
God, you have blessed us with hearts and minds to experience the world; let us use the gifts you have given us to glorify you, seeking you always with all that we are. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.