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Jul 27, 2023



    • John Wesley
    • Holiness Movement


    The following text is written by Bethany Hull Somers and comes from the November/December 2011 issue of Holiness Today. It outlines one of the central ideas born out of the work of John Wesley, who was an 18th-century English theologian. The ideas of Wesley are central to the holiness movement that became prominent in the 19th century. As a part of the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, we have a rich heritage of theological grappling with life. It was Wesley’s deep belief that we participate with God in the holy life; we are not merely passive observers. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a way to define this grappling. Although John Wesley himself never broke down the pursuit of the Christian life into the following four basics, United Methodist scholar Albert Outler came up with this simple and profound way of parsing Wesley’s approach to life in Christ. Wesley’s model had four points: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. The goal is that—through the use of these four elements of discernment and discipline—one will be better able to live a holy life.

    • Scripture. The first point is the Holy Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. Through the guidance of the story of God as found in our Holy Scriptures we are able to find insight and instruction into life in Christ. From the beginning chaos to the final prayer of Come Lord Jesus, the Bible offers us integral spiritual formation.
    • Tradition. The second point is a tradition that is woven through thousands of years of Church history. By observing faithful followers who have sought to live out Christ’s good news, we can be enlightened about God’s will. We trust the foundation of the forefathers and mothers of the faith and build on their examples.
    • Reason. The third point of the quadrilateral is reason. Wesley was a serious thinker. He was methodical (which is why he and his friends at Oxford were coined “Methodists”). The reason piece invites us to use the brains that God gave us to discern, think, interpret, weigh out, and explore life in God.
    • Experience. The final point is experience. Both our personal experiences of hearing God’s voice and stepping out in faith, and our communal experience of living together in a Christian community, provide us with guides for life in Christ.

    The four disciplines for discernment in the Wesleyan quadrilateral help us to be well-rounded in our faith and practice. With the story of God and God’s people in the Holy Scriptures, the thousands of years of examples and tradition of Church history, the God-given reason we have been given to discern, and our individual and communal experiences of faith, we are able to pursue a holy life with purpose and sincerity. May the Holy Spirit be our guide as we seek God in all things.

    Case Study Reflection Questions

    1. If you have one, describe your experience and background with the church. Has your personal experience been one where the values that comprise the Wesleyan Quadrilateral were emphasized, either directly or indirectly? If so, were certain aspects emphasized over others?
    2. How does a method like the one mentioned in the case help someone to work through difficult issues? Give an example of a moral or ethical issue that you’ve thought about in the past (like abortion, environmentalism, homelessness, poverty, etc.) but initially did not feel that you had a good framework to understand it. Now consider that same issue through each of the four parts of the quadrilateral mentioned above. Does this give you a better-informed perspective? If so, how? If not, why?

    Case Study Reflection Questions

    Biblical Perspective course

    1. Here, I would like to mention the significance of scripture in my life. I have been following the Methodist Church. Thus, I selected scripture, because this mainly points out the holiness, based on the ideas of John Wesley an English theologian. Thus, addressing the significance of the scripture is mainly based on the ideals to learn about the significance of both the Old and the New Testament. Thus, scripture helps to take apart, like guidance while developing a story that helps all of us to find God. Alternatively, scriptures also help to develop insight, while this instructs about the life of Christ. Thus, from the beginning to the final prayer, it tells about Come Lord Jesus. Hence, Bible often offers an understanding based on spiritual formations.

    In this context of, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, this has had an impact on my life. Like I have developed the idea of stating the factors of the holiness tradition from the scripture. Thus, the Wesleyan tradition actually acts as a heritage based on theological grappling with life. Thus, I have idealized the ideas based on Wesley’s deep ideas based on the belief that can talk about the participation of God while developing a holy life. Therefore, Wesleyan Quadrilateral has helped me to understand the grappling procedure through the divinity of the Holy Scripture.   

    2. I would like to adopt the methods from John Wesley’s theologies, as this can help one to overcome difficult issues and situations. Like I have been following the scripture while reading it, the holiness of the bible can help to get rid of the difficulties one can face. Thus, in the scripture, it is mentioned that this helps an individual to get out of the chaos based on the final prayer and call for Jesus, like; – Come, Lord Jesus, which can help one to get spiritual formations, that is found in the strong stories found in the Holy scriptures.

    I would like to mention that many times, it is mandatory for women to get an abortion. Thus, in the past, I used to think that killing a life, within the womb can be considered a crime, and can hurt the sentiments of some people. therefore, many people grant abortion to be immoral, as it can be considered an illegal act. However, initially, I could realize the real framework.

    At par with the Quadrilaterals, scriptures, oppose abortion, to be an immoral crime. As it shares the story of God, and God in the scripture stories that he made human after his reflection. Thus, as per the tradition which actually trusts the mothers by their faith and while building some examples, so at per with tradition, abortion can be recognized as a crime. The reason mainly reflects the methodical process to understand the real logic behind aborting the child, which can help one to explore God’s life. Lastly, it is about the immoral fact associated with abortion, that is been experienced by the mother and the small child inside her.    

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