Since its first appearance in the Discipline in 1972, this formulation has come to be known as the "Wesleyan Quadrilateral." The United Methodist Church has ever since been wrestling with how best to understand, interpret, and apply the concept of the Quadrilateral. Most United Methodists think that Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience can and must be used together in some way theologically, but there is considerable disagreement among them as to how this can best be done. The authors of this volume suggest that the solution lies in a "Wesleyan reappropriation" of a Quadrilateral as "the rule of Scripture within a trilateral hermeneutic of tradition, reason, and experience." They are convinced that Scripture is primary but argue that it cannot function in a manner that negates the other components, for Scripture cannot be read or interpreted without the meditation of tradition, reason, and experience. And they hope that this formulation, resulting from their extended conversations with each other may be the beginnings of a shared theological language with which United Methodism can face the twenty-first century.
According to The Book of Discipline, Wesley believed that the "living core of the Christian faith" is revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, "vivified" by personal experience, and confirmed by reason. The thesis of Wesley and the Quadrilateral is that the Church needs serious conversation about reappropriating the Quadrilateral in a manner that is consistent with historical Methodist identity (beginning with Wesley), a conversation that takes the church's past identity with the utmost seriousness while recognizing present and future cultural trends.
Ted A. Campbell is Professor of Church History at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University and has authored the following books for Abingdon Press: Methodist Doctrine, Wesley and the Quadrilateral, Wesleyan Essentials in a Multicultural Society, and John Wesley and Christian Antiquity. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
W. Stephen Gunter is President of Young Harris College - Young Harris, GA.
Scott J. Jones is the Resident Bishop of the Great Plains area of The United Methodist Church. He was formerly the McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, where he taught courses in evangelism and Wesley studies. Previous books include The Wesleyan Way, The Evangelistic Love of God & Neighbor, Staying at the Table, and Wesley and the Quadrilateral, all published by Abingdon Press.
(2012) Randy L. Maddox is William Kellon Quick Professor of Church History and Wesley Studies at The Divinity School, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Associate General Editor of the Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. He is a recognized authority on both John Wesley's theology and the theological developments in later Methodism. Among his special interests are the science and religion dialogue, the nature of evangelicalism, and the theological distinctives of Eastern Orthodoxy. Maddox is an ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Rebekah Miles is Professor of Ethics and Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She is a United Methodist clergy member of the Little Rock Annual Conference. Her service to The United Methodist Church includes membership on the General Board of Church and Society and of the national Genetic Science Task Force as well as a delegate and group leader at a World Methodist Conference.
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