Posted at 11.24.2018
Base on the aforementioned, Scripture is recognized as the primary way to obtain our theology, while custom, experience and reason are resources that illuminate and boost it. While I understand this four-fold style of theological inquiry as it pertains to matters of theology, as it pertains to things of communal concerns there are very frankly some issues the scriptures don't speak to as specifically as some would have us believe. One of the things I appreciate about Wesley and have found especially interesting was his strong dislike to presenting the doctrines of the cathedral too narrowly identified when he commented that it was important "to believe and let think. " Such comment does not mean that Wesley was indecisive about his position on theological or sociable issues, he simply wanted to honor the right of individuals who undertake the serious job of theological reflection to come to different understandings. 2
We live in a pluralistic world and we have to remember that regardless of the conflicting voices that compete for our attention, "God exists in and with everyone and in every of life. God is not present with some and absent from others. All folks experience the fact of God in whom 'we live and move and also have our being' (Functions 17:28), 3 however, not absolutely all persons know that it's God whom they experience. "4
I assume that Wesley noticed the Quadrilateral not as a prescription of how you need to form their theology, but also as a mean of how just about anyone does form theology. His strategy was to describe in a useful way how theology really works in actual human experience. It must be realized, however, that for Wesley, Traditions, Reason, and Experience do not form additional "sources" for theological fact, for he thought that the Bible was the only real source of truth about God. Instead, these form a matrix for interpreting the Bible. Therefore, while the Bible is the only real source of real truth, Tradition sorts a lens by which we view and interpret the Bible. But unlike the Bible, Tradition is not an infallible tool, and it must be balanced and examined by Reason and Experience. Reason is the means where we may evaluate and even issue the assumptions of Traditions. Reason is the first means where we may adapt our interpretations of Scripture.
But for Wesley, the test of the truth of a particular interpretation of scripture is how it is seen in practical application in one's Experience. Always the pragmatist, Wesley believed that Experience developed the best information, after Scripture, for the truthfulness of a particular theological view. He thought Scriptural truths are to be primarily lived, alternatively than simply considered or merely assumed which is the foremost and most feasible test of our own theology. Each one of the "pillars" of Wesleyan Quadrilateral must be studied in balance, and nothing of the other three aside from scripture should be viewed to be of identical value or power with scripture. Scripture should always possess the central place of authority.
What I prize as a United Methodist is the fact that, both laypeople and clergy similar share in "our theological task" which is the ongoing work to live as Christians in the midst of the complexities of your secular world. Wesley's Quadrilateral is described in Methodism as "our theological suggestions" and it is the coaching foundamental given to every pastors as the primary method of interpreting the scriptures and gaining direction for moral questions and dilemmas confronted in everyday living. This brings us to the first pillar of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, Scripture.
Almost every faith has some type of sacred writings, and Christianity is not a different. There are extremely few Christians who would not list Scripture as their top theological source. This has been true right from the start, even from the writing of the New Testament. If we go back even farther to a period when believers cannot actually be called Christians, we still see an focus on Scripture, especially by means of Torah. Needless to say, this raises a major question: When we say "Scripture", from what are we referring? When most Protestants say "Scripture", they are really discussing the Bible usually includes both Old Testament and New Testament.
However, it seems pretty clear that the term "Scripture" in the Old and New Testaments didn't refer to these same literature. We may infer that the term "Scripture" in the writings themselves can refer to our complete Bible, but we will not realize that designation within the pages of the Bible. Some Christians, whether intentional or not, remove certain catalogs when they refer to Scripture. In lots of ways, a person's Traditions helps shape their view of Scripture. So, as you can see, before we even begin to ask ourselves how should we find out about God from the Scriptures, we must first ask ourselves that which we mean by the term "Scripture" because of this meaning can't be determined from Scripture itself. In addition, we can not use Scripture itself to specify the term "Scripture".
This explanation must come from another source, and this source is vital in our understanding of God, since it helps us explain Scripture. Once we are confident that we know very well what we indicate by Scripture, we should ask another question: How does Scripture help us understand God? The simple answer is the fact Scripture speaks of God, narrates God, describes God, and even talks for God. But, record frequently demonstrates that different Christians read Scripture in different ways and come to different understandings of God. Why is this? Because Tradition, Reason, and Experience all play a role in understanding and interpreting Scripture for there is no such thing as a completely neutral hermeneutic, and in simple fact, it could be argued that Scripture had not been designed to be comprehended with a totally neutral hermeneutic.
There is something that the early Christians make reference to as the regula fidei or guideline of trust which in line with the apostolic fathers, this rule of trust is the trust that was passed down from Jesus to the apostles and from the apostles to their supporters, etc. So, for the kids, Scripture should be realized through the hermeneutical lens of the guideline of beliefs. But, what's the rule of faith? Unfortunately, the rule of faith improved from article writer to copy writer as time advanced with more plus more "doctrines" being added to the rule of trust. However, we must recognize that even if we realized just what the guideline of beliefs encompassed, this is also part of Custom, not Scripture.
So, we could remaining with Scripture being truly a very important theological source, but not a source that can or should stand on its own. In fact, two believers can both believe that Scripture is the most crucial theological source, and both may interpret Scripture in different ways due to influence of Custom, Reason, Experience, and possibly other sources. Without understanding these additional options, we will not understand how others are interpreting Scripture. Even for those of us who take great pride in ourselves in being un-Traditional must recognize that people bring our very own ways of interpretation. Which frequently affect how we apply and interpret Scripture. While we may not have the ability to remove all affects outside of Scripture and we probably shouldn't attempt to remove all influences we can acknowledge our Tradition, Reason, and Experience, and exactly how these three connect to Scripture to inform our theological understanding.
As for "Custom" it invokes different thoughts to differing people. Some take into account the confessions and creeds that they maintain to. Other considers the details of their methods but, when "Tradition" is utilized in the world of theological sources, it means that band of teachings which is passed down from individual to individual. When Wesley speaks of Custom, he will not merely refer to ancient Church Traditions and the writings of the great theologians and Church Fathers of times past, but also of the immediate and present theological influences which donate to a person's knowledge of God and of Christian theology. Tradition may include such affects as the beliefs, values and teaching of your respective family and upbringing. It may also include the many beliefs and worth which one encounters and that have an impact on one's knowledge of Scripture.
However, Tradition is a lot more than a series of "We believe" statements. The regula fidei was also regarded as a protection against misinterpreting the Scriptures. Thus, Tradition created a fence surrounding the Scriptures, helping visitors understand this is of the writings. Today, we still have Custom. Each denomination and sometimes communities within denominations and categories that cross denominational lines have their own hermeneutic Traditions. These Practices guide believers as they read Scripture. Even for those believers who like myself, was raised with a un- Traditional backgroud, Custom plays a huge role inside our knowledge of God. Yes, Traditions still performs an important role in creating a person's knowledge of God by keeping a person from straying into unconventional beliefs based after a few select texts from Scripture. Alternatively, Traditions can cause people to over-emphasize certain texts that agree with their Custom while overlooking or de-emphasizing other text messages which disagree using their Tradition.
However, Tradition will not merely influence our understanding and program of Scripture. In similar ways, Traditions forms how we view and use Reason and reasoning, and to what scope we allow Experience to see our theology. Some Customs rely heavily on Reason, while others view Reason with skepticism. Similarly, some Traditions emphasize Experience, while other Customs de-emphasize Experience. Yet there may be connections between Scripture and Custom and the connections works in both directions. There are times when Tradition works together with and against Scripture and vice versa.
In Genesis, God advised Noah to develop an ark. In Genesis, God informed Abraham to sacrifice his child Isaac. In Matthew, Jesus told the rich, young ruler to market everything and follow him. In John, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be created again. In John, Jesus informed Peter to supply his sheep. In Timothy, Paul advised Timothy to proclaim the word of God. Each of these commands is directed at one person in Scripture. Do the instructions apply to only that one individual, to a group represented by that one person, or to everyone? Scripture won't answer this in all cases. However, Custom will tell us how to interpret these various passages, and by the way, different Practices give us different interpretations of a few of these very passages. However, neither Scripture nor Traditions by itself can completely answer fully the question of why we understand God the way that people do. This brings us to Reason.
In 1768, John Wesley wrote in a sharply worded reply to a theologian at Cambridge University, 'To renounce reason is to renounce faith (for) all irrational religious beliefs is false faith. '"5
When we think of Reason, we usually think of varied methods that help form ideas, concepts, and arguments. Evenly so, Reason is the ability to hook up various ideas, concepts, and quarrels through various types of analysis. Thus Reason is use to build up our theology in two various ways: attaching ideas that we find in Scripture, and concluding ideas that aren't found in Scripture. Moreover, Reason doesn't only work in the realm of Scripture is also use to explain and protect our Traditions and our Experience. For it (Reason) explains why we agree to certain conclusions and just why we dismiss other conclusions. Some distinct Reason from faith, seeing Reason as an exercise in breakthrough and justification while faith is approval without breakthrough and description. Eventhough Reason can be exercised through faith, and beliefs can be affirmed by Reason the two are compartable. However, it should be noted that if a person views Reason as the contrary of trust, then this will also inform someone's theology.
So with Scripture and Tradition, it is difficult to learn when Reason is informing our theology and when theology is controlling our Reason. The relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and Reason is often hard to delineate. Perhaps, it isn't essential to determine which particular source leads to a certain understanding of God. However, it is interesting that people often allow many of these theological sources to override others. We may even recognize a certain view from Scripture and Tradition even if that view of God goes against our Reason. What is important here is to recognize that the sources work together to inform our theology. Whenever we know that Scripture, Tradition, and Reason (and Experience) all inform our knowledge of God, we can get started to understand why we hold to your theology.
The final model in the quadralateral to be discussed is Experience which is probably more difficult to discuss of all the other sources put together. However, as Scripture, Custom, and Reason have an effect on our theology/our understanding of God whether for good or for bad, Experience also does the same. Experience includes situations that influence our senses as well as happenings which influence only our potential to obtain knowledge and our emotions: thoughts, dreams and visions. The interpretations of these Experiences inform our theology. It really is difficult, if not impossible to break this routine. In fact, it can be that Experience is so powerful it becomes the primary source for our knowledge of God, whether we realize it or not. Thus, we notice of several who understand God to be cruel and uncaring due to painful encounters in the past. Experience is real, and our theology must account for Experience.
Of course, there are extremes to Experience equally there are for the other theological sources. For some, Experience becomes emotionalism which control buttons their entire life. For others, Experience is to never be trusted and never to be considered. Either extreme can lead visitors to misunderstand how Experience is truly affecting their understanding of God. Often, Experience is dismissed since it is considered as "personal interpretation".
The argument is manufactured that since Experience is dependant on our personal interpretation then it must not be allowed to inform our theology, but perhaps reinforce it. However, this argument fails to notice that only the interpretation of Experience is based on personal interpretation. Furthermore, the interpretation of the theological sources; Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience is dependant on personal interpretation and not merely the interpretation of Experience. Rather than dismissing Experience as personal interpretation, it is much more profitable to recognize it as a mean of giving substance to someone's theology for some reason.
As with Scripture, Traditions, and Reason, it is dangerous and unhelpful to dismiss the affect that Experience has on a person's theology. Instead, by examining our very own theology and the way that Experience structures our very own theology, we can better understand what we think about God. Also, at this point it is beneficial to examine the interaction of all four theological options. We also need to continue asking ourselves as United Methodists if there are other theological resources apart from these four that impact our knowledge of God.
In conclusion, my theological understanding of Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience have all proved helpful together to shape what I preceive about God as a United Methodist. As the quaderlitarials may be seen as objects that happen to be, yet our interpretation of them is personal. This does not mean that there is absolutely no reality. I really do believe that there may be and God is part of that reality. However, our interpretation of Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience all play a role in that attempt to understand this actuality. Now, if God is part of that truth - and I believe that He is i quickly must add him to my theological options, especially his indwelling presence through the individual of the Holy Spirit.
For it is true that God communicates to us through Scripture. And, additionally it is true that God communicates to us through Custom, Reason, and Experience as well. However, these four foundamentals of Methodism are not the completness of God; for God is somebody who exists aside from Scripture, Traditions, Reason, and Experience. My theology of God is not perfect. However, it can develop closer to the truth of God himself when i allow him through these foundemantals to inform, expand, and mature my theology. This assumes, of course, i allow God to utilize these various influences to modify my theology being cognizant that God is the principal theological source. The truth of God is not different from God as He's explained in Scripture, but may be different from our understanding of Scripture. Therefore, when our understandings about God are wrong, we must trust God to show those to us in whatever means he selects. If our understandings about God are right, then we also must trust God to verify that to us, again in whatever means he so chooses.
MidTerm Grade: U.
Rampant Plagiarism. Very disappointing