Today educators from the religion departments of the five Wesleyan Church colleges are meeting: Indiana Wesleyan University, Houghton, Southern Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and Bethany Bible College. Today is the roundtable discussion. Tomorrow is a symposium on what a "Wesleyan hermeneutic" might be.
One of the discussions today is what is distinctive about Wesleyan theology. I've blogged on this before. But here is a summary again of what I think we should be saying:
1. Our base camp is in life change.
To frame the question in terms of distinct ideas is already to have altered what we are and have been. Our tradition is focused in becoming more Christ-like, far more than in a set of cognitive ideas. As a result, we are more interested in how our lives end up looking, our resultant behavior more than the fine points of your thinking. In other words, we are a holiness tradition.
2. We recognize a role for works in final justification.
Ok, ok, some might wince at wording it that way. We are justified by faith and cannot in any way earn our salvation. But if works do not result, final justification will not happen. This is of course thoroughly Pauline and biblical and a blind spot of the better known Protestant traditions. But it is clear from the New Testament that a person can begin on this path and not make it in the end, which of course implies a fundamental problem with the Augustinian/Calvinist understanding of predestination.
3. We have and will emphasize the importance of the social gospel.
Yes, "social gospel" is a dirty word/phrase. It is not the whole of the gospel. But it has been a major part of the Wesleyan tradition and will be again. We should not flinch from riding, even leading the wave of ministry to the poor and the oppressed in our world today. We strongly and unflinchingly affirm the full possibility of women in ministry, indeed in any role to which God might call a woman--and He calls them to every role!
That's enough for this morning.