BEYOND THE WESLEYAN QUADRILATERAL?
By David S. Wisener
Rev. Wisener is a Free Methodist pastor planting a church in north central Florida
RESPONSE by Howard Snyder
Dr. Snyder is a retired Free Methodist professor from Asbury Theological Seminary
I come from a long line of mainline Methodists through my mother’s family, so from an early age, I was taught the unique emphases John Wesley put on the Christian faith. As many have noted before, Wesley’s evangelism was instrumental in contributing to the Great Awakening and reshaping Christianity over the last 300 years.
I began to develop a love for philosophy in my late teens and early 20s, particularly a field known as epistemology, which is the study of knowledge or, more specifically, what it means to know things. I was interested in exploring the ways in which Christians justify our beliefs as a genuine form of knowledge and, as a good Wesleyan, that led to my first introduction to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is, as described in the Pastors and Church Leaders Manual, “an effort to describe a Methodist methodology for theological formulation.” In other words, it’s meant to be a way for Methodists to determine spiritual truth.
Theologian Albert Outler coined the phrase in the 1960s as his way of explaining how Wesley came to his theological decisions. It lists four sources of truth: Scripture, tradition,