It is a monumental thing to begin. It is a gentle grief to end.
We have a lovely little spreadsheet that helps organize the themes for this newsletter. The weeks are tallied, the authors write, the blog roll—well, it rolls. But, what isn’t recorded in those little boxes is the wrestling. I have wrestled with this theme way more than I anticipated. The Holy Spirit? Of course that one is going to take some thought. But, the quadrilateral? Other than being hard to spell, I thought it was going to be pretty straight forward.
Just like nothing is. Ever.
I have walked around with full blown war going on in my head about what reason, experience, tradition, and scripture really mean to us, a people called Christians. And the problem I have is: these things mean more than they do on paper. Each quadrant of this method has been used for love and liberation and oppression and control. Delving into the quadrilateral has not been the logical and academic exercise I anticipated, it has been like cutting into a grumpy onion.
Why did I have a come-apart about the role of scripture in the Christian life? I use scripture. I know scripture. I have scripture way down deep in my heart. But it’s complicated. There’s the Syrophoenician woman and Noah. Scripture takes work and wrestling, and to try to reduce my thoughts on scripture to a morning constitutional read made me cry.
Because this matters.
It matters more than I realized. To bring balance into the Christian experience is to unbind our religion. It is to widen our embrace. It is to acknowledge the unique, corporate role we all play in this thing we call The Way. To embrace a process of balance is to admit that there are some ways of encountering the Divine at which I am not good—and I will need you to show me. It is to know, unwaveringly, without a shadow of a doubt that you are both infinitely loved and unable to parse out the mysteries of the universe. Quadrilateral or no.
The quadrilateral is a tool that reminds us that, in our quest to discover God, we must go in balance. Balance within ourselves and balance with each other. Knowing that that which we long to know is, fundamentally in balance. Because they are one, the wishes and characteristics of one Person of the Trinity apply equally to all three persons of the Trinity. The deep integration of the persons of the Trinity is sometimes described by the Greek word perichoresis, which many define using words like interpenetration and complete commingling. The idea is that the persons of the Trinity are still individuals, but are so completely immersed in one another, through love, that they are one.
Just as you and I are one.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
How have you wrestled with these ideas? Really. Tell us here.
Larry Duggins, Together: Community as a Means of Grace (Portland: Cascade Books, 2017).
How To Connect: The Wesleyan Quadrilateral
In the liturgical calendar, Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, marks the start of a new year. A new cycle. A new incarnation of what it means to be living in a world with the human and the Divine. Again, this year, a new liturgical journey begins with Advent, a season of preparation, and the Missional Wisdom Foundation would like for you to join us on an exploration into who and what the incarnate Christ is and was: Advent Incarnate.
There will be a few ways to engage in this journey.
- Read the MWF newsletter. Each week The Wisdom for the Way will explore the theology of incarnation.
- Enroll in the Advent Incarnate Journey Course. This course will be an asynchronous (meaning you can take it at your own pace) four-module course designed to give the participant more resources on incarnational theology and a chance to discuss and reflect. This free course will open for registration in mid-November.
- Join me on Facebook Live. I will be doing Facebook Live discussions with Luke Lingle on each week’s Wisdom for the Way writings. These will be Thursdays at 9:00 pm (Eastern) each week of Advent. I will be chatting from my writer’s page: Andrea Lingle. Just search for @alingle from within Facebook.
- Form an in-person or Incarnational Group. This Incarnational Group Guide will have four liturgies to follow, will guide the group through setting an intention of service, and will work well for children, adults, or a mix of both. If you have a group who would like to use this study this Advent, please go to our store for the free download.