Legacy: The Revolutionary John Wesley
How do we discern and know religious truth? That’s actually a big question, one that has intrigued theologians, philosophers and preachers for generations. The question is important in figuring out what we believe and also in trying to discern the church’s response to complicated social issues of our time. The simple answer is usually, “Well, God revealed it to me” which is always hard to argue with, but rarely subject to any verification outside of a someone’s own personal encounter with God. We usually start by thinking that religious truth and ideas should be grounded in scripture. We see the Bible as the revealing of God’s story and will for our lives, but we also understand that the Bible can be complex to interpret. There are passages that are straightforward and some that are perplexing and difficult (some parts of the Bible are gruesome, others seem very culturally specific to an ancient time and life—too far removed from our modern reality).
As the Methodist movement was growing, John Wesley gave a great deal of thought to this issue. He understood, as the early Protestant Reformers did, that the Bible is authoritative for us, that it contains words of God and words about God that have stood the test of time and are seen by the Jewish and Christian community as foundational for us. Wesley also said there are additional sources of authority for us: the tradition of the church, our reason that God has given to us to use and our personal experience of God. All four are essential for us. Using all of these sources is part of the method in Methodism. It is our way of looking at faith that helps us to perceive more clearly what God is saying to us. In one of his letters John Wesley would write, “Passion and prejudice govern the world; only under the name of reason. It is our part, by religion and reason joined, to counteract them all we can.” Sunday we’ll wrap up our worship series on John Wesley and his legacy that still lives and guides our church. Join us as we talk about these important tools for knowing and living our faith.
Rev. Dr. Dave Summers
Office: 602-840-8360 Ext 131
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