John Wesley developed a discipline that a Wesleyan scholar by the name of Albert C. Outler would later on refer to as: The Wesleyan Quadrilateral. There are four sources of doing theology and doing faith living. They are: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience in specifically that order. They serve as sources of determining how we should believe and how we should live.
How do you discern and make faith decisions? Is it purely experiential? The danger of this is that emotions and opinions can be highly subjective. If it is based on reason alone, there is no grounding in a knowledge source that comes from beyond human reasoning. If it is based on tradition, sometimes traditions can create stagnancy in faith and cause one to lose the vibrancy and vitality of faith. Scripture alone can be troublesome because without the right lens of interpretation, one can misinterpret Scripture and thus apply incorrectly. It is of utmost importance to consider all four sources and carefully arrive at theological viewpoints that in turn influence people’s faith decisions.
The church is where we can practice and uphold the four sources of Wesleyan theology. We learn Scripture, uphold tradition, we converse together and reason through the Scriptures and traditions, and share experiences of God. Collectively, as the body of Christ we read, we think, we remember, we pray, we experience, and we testify the Gospel together. That is one of the reasons why we do church. The Christian journey is not a solo journey. We do not have what it takes to discern and decide on our own. Beginning with a relationship with God, a community of faith is what confirms and affirms that which we learn and experience about God. That has been the story of faith since Genesis all the to the New Testament church and believers today. Let’s do church more deeply so that in each of our faith lives we can better discern, decide and live. Amen.
by Rev. Daniel Park