Religion Magazine

Wesleyan Quadrilateral

By Sjbedard @sjbedard

Last Sunday, our pastor included the Wesleyan quadrilateral in his sermon. The WQ is a way of discerning between true and false doctrine. It includes Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. If a theological statement goes against all four, there should be great doubt about its truth.

I can already imagine people responding by saying, “Forget the WQ, I use Scripture alone.” No you don’t. I guarantee you that you use reason in your interpretation. You use your mind to know when you are reading history, when you are reading poetry and when you are reading parables. Don’t deny it. What about tradition? When you talk about the Trinity, you likely do not use the basic description found in Scripture but rather use the traditional descriptions developed by church councils. Experience? Evangelicals tend to be afraid of experience. But even experience is biblical. In Acts, the reason that the Gentiles were welcomed in the Church was that they experienced the Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles. The truth is, these are tools that are helpful.

As we talked about this, it got me thinking about how people come into the Kingdom. Some people become Christians by reading Scripture, some by reasoning, some rediscovering their Christian tradition and some people by experience. We shouldn’t force people to become Christians according to our favourite part of of the WQ. If people become Christians through experience, we should not get upset because they did not become a Christian through philosophy. People tend to become a Christian through one part of the WQ. The other parts should come later, but people have to start somewhere.

Be sensitive to who people are, what God is doing and do not push your preferences.

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