Monday, March 8, 2010

Charles Wesley and the Wesleyan Approach to Scripture

During Morning Prayer, I sang Charles Wesley's, Come, Holy Ghost, our Hearts Inspire (as printed in Hymn Poems of Charles Wesley for Reading and Singing, issued by Tidings). The second verse of this hymn provides a good example of how Wesleyan Christians approach the Scriptures.

Wesleyan Christians are not fundamentalists. We are not overly concerned about the "inerrancy of the original manuscripts." Rather, we are concerned about the sufficiency and/or the authority of Scripture. We believe that the written Word (the Bible) points us to the living Word (Jesus). We believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture, but also that the Holy Spirit inspires the Word afresh and anew to our hearts in order to shape our lives.

Charles Wesley writes:

Come, Holy Ghost, for moved by Thee
The prophets wrote and spoke;
Unlock the truth, Thyself the key,
Unseal the sacred book.


Marsha Brockman said...

Excellent thoughts. As fundamendalism contiues to make paths into Wesleyan oriented churches, we would do well to remember our roots.

Todd Stepp said...

Exactly, Marsha!

Unfortunately, those of us who did not retain the original Methodist/Anglican Articles, and for whom the change of an Article of Faith/Religion is relatively easy (e.g., a vote at Genearl Assembly/Conference and ratification by the majority of districts/conferences), are especially open to the fundamentalist spread. Especially when we do not, as you say, remember our roots.

The Wesleyan Church fell prey to this and ended up with a thoroughly fundamentalist Article (though the title is still fits the Wesleyan tradition).

The Church of the Nazarene, thanks to Wiley, came up with a really wise approach to the "inerrancy" language that allowed the use of the terminology, but in a thoroughly Wesleyan and non-fundamentalist way.

Still, at the last G.A., there were those fundamentalist among us (some of whom I have much respect,otherwise), trying to move us in that direction. - Thankfully, they did not succeed!