Thursday, July 15, 2010


Just wanted to give a quick word to the followers of this blog:  I really have had a number of topics I've wanted to touch on, recently.  However, we are currently in the process of packing and trying to get moved.  Since the home that we are moving to is not quite complete, and we have not yet closed, I'm not sure when we will be finished with this moving process.  I can say, my first Sunday at my new assignment will be August 1.

Please, keep checking back.  I hope to be posting on a more regular/consistent basis, once we get settled.

Thank you!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Primitive Christianity

In his letter "To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North-America," which accompanied his The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America, John Wesley wrote, "They [American Methodists] are now at full liberty, simply to follow the Scriptures and the primitive church."  Wesley understood Methodism to be "the religion of the primitive church" (Works 3:586).  Elsewhere, Wesley spoke of the primitive church and expressed his desire that we always be imitators of theirs.

For Wesley, as I discuss in my dissertation and in my article in the upcoming Wesleyan Theological Journal, the primitive Church refers primarily to the Church of the New Testament through the first three Christian centuries.  From this, however, the term can be expanded, at times, in some circumstances, to include the fourth and even fifth Christian centuries (e.g., the Nicene formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity) (Campbell, John Wesley and Christian Antiquity, 25).

In fact, Wesley comments:  "The esteeming the writings of the first three centuries, not equally with, but next to, the Scriptures, never carried any man yet into dangerous errors, nor probably ever will.  But it has brought many out of dangerous errors . . ." (Works 3rd ed. 10:14).

During today's Morning Prayer, I sang Charles Wesley's hymn on Primitive Christianity.  The hymn, as presented in Wesley's Works is divided into two parts.  A number of the verses struck a chord with me, and I would like to share some of them.

Part I

1. Happy the souls that first believed,
To Jesus and each other cleaved,
Joined by the unction from above
In mystic fellowship of love.

2. Meek, simple followers of the Lamb,
They lived, and spake, and thought the same,
They joyfully conspired to raise
Their ceaseless sacrifice of praise.

3. With grace abundantly endued,
A pure, believing multitude,
They all were of one heart and soul,
And only love inspired the whole.

4. O what an age of golden days!
O what a choice, peculiar race!
Washed in the Lamb's all-cleansing blood,
Anointed kings and priests to God!

The rest of the hymn goes on to look for those same true followers of Christ in Wesley's own day, and he declares their true, genuine mark to be love.  The second part of the hymn, especially, pleads that God would pour out God's own love and holiness and so fill the Church of his day so that "In them . . . all mankind [might] behold How Christians lived in days of old."

I join with the Wesleys as they sing about the primitive Church, "O might my lot be cast with these."

10. Lord, if I now thy drawings feel,
And ask according to thy will,
Confirm the prayer, the seal impart,
And speak the answer to my heart.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

John Wesley's Conversation With "The Headman of the Choctaw Indians"

Today, I was reading John Wesley's Journal entry for Thursday, July 1, 1736.  At that time, Wesley was in Georgia.  I found his entry interesting on a few a number of ways: Historically; Wesley's approach to Native Americans; the Native American's spirituality; Wesley's approach to the Scriptures; Signs of Prevenient Grace; and (interestingly enough) the issue of abortion, from a Native American perspective, no less.

Here is, in part, Wesley's entry:

Thursday, July 1.  The Indians had an audience, and another on Saturday, when Chigilly, their headman, dined with Mr. Oglethorpe.  After dinner I asked the grey-headed old man what he thought he was made for.  He said, 'He that is above knows what he made us for.  We know nothing.  We are in the dark.  But white men know much.  And yet white men build great houses, as if they were to live for ever.  But white men can't live for ever. In a little time white men will be dust as well as I.'  I told him, 'If red men will learn the Good Book, they may know as much as white men.  But neither we nor you can understand that book unless we are taught, by him that is above; and he will not teach unless you avoid what you already know is not good.'  He answered, 'I believer that; he will not teach us while our hearts are not white.  And our men do what they know is not good.  They kill their own children.  And our women do what they know is not good.  They kill the child before it is born.  Therefore he that is above does not send us the Good Book.'