Thursday, October 31, 2019

Wesleyan Tradition and the Reformation

Happy Reformation Day!

I like to remember today that the Wesleyan tradition comes from the Church of England rather than the high Reformation path of the Lutherans and the Reformed. The Anglican tradition has often viewed itself as somewhat of a "via media" or middle way.

1. So with regard to sola fide, we are often accused of believing in works because we believe you can fall away. We are both James and Paul. [1]

2. With regard to sola scriptura, we often speak of a quadrilateral, where some would say prima scriptura is a better description of us. [2]

3. With regard to sola gratia, we fit well with recent scholarship suggesting that grace involved a reciprocal, even if disproportionate relationship between giver and receiver. [3]

4. With regard to solus Christus, we are in agreement, but we recognize that the way of Christ is more a confession of the heart than a mere cognitive assent with the head. [4]

5. With regard to soli Dei gloria, it is technically true, but we would emphasize God's response that we mean everything to him.

[1] The Wesleyan tradition fits very well with the new perspective on Paul.

[2] Insights from twentieth century hermeneutics suggest that words alone have no fixed meanings unless they are located in a context. The locations of biblical context are varied and ancient, requiring "translation" to other contexts. In short, it's never the Bible alone.

[3] Once again, recent clarifications of ancient patron-client language support Wesleyan understandings of grace.

[4] Which can survive the postmodern critique much better than hyper-modernist traditions


Martin LaBar said...

Good summary.

Anonymous said...

I assume with #3 you are referring to works of those such as Barclay?

In regards to head and heart, I hope you can expand on that, including taking into consideration personality differences.