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Sola Scriptura?
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, Week 3
by Andrea Lingle

Our garden is a terrible tumbled mess right now. The broomcorn has gone to seed and we haven’t made a single broom. Weeds have invaded the sweet potatoes, and we got one meal’s worth of green beans. This is late summer. We have officially missed fall planting like I do every single year. Every. Single. Year. 

Now that it’s fall we will tear out all of the plants, muttering about how we meant to weed more. In winter we will stare at the abandoned plot with growing fondness, and in spring we will return to the garden with renewed hope, plans and seeds flung wide in an profusion of optimism. 

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a tool through which Christians can explore theology. It provides balance between the four main ways that God is experienced. Without reason the scripture can be used to abuse and control, without tradition, each generation must muddle through without the wisdom of a cloud of witnesses, without experience the whole thing sags into an academic exercise.

Kind of like seasons. 

Each quadrant of the year gives us a different view of the same land. Admittedly it’s not a perfect metaphor, but, to me, it helps. Because sometimes plunging into scripture feels like sorting through the tail end of summer. There is so much there. There is so much history. There are so many weeds. 

But if there is any season that stands with authority, that demands your attention, that requires diligence, it’s summer.

For me, scripture is the quadrant of the quadrilateral that demands rigorous attention and study. It is an invitation to seeing the world from a new place. It is fruitful, abundant, overwhelming, and precious. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)

The Word was the Christ who became flesh as Jesus and served to bring the nature of God before man. The scripture is an emanation of Christ that also brings the nature of God before us. It is the public theo-wrestling of hundreds of generations of God-seekers and it is provocative, revealing, and dear.

The scripture draws those who are brave enough to encounter in it, something deep, something abundant, and something profoundly wild. 

The weeds of summer are overwhelming, but there, behind the shoulder high grass, stand the faces of sunflowers who have nodded at me all summer, beautiful, bountiful, and glorious. While I don’t quite know what to do with the violence of Joshua or the misogyny of Paul, I see the wrestling of Jacob and take heart. I too shall plunge into the heart of this mystery willing to wrestle until my name, the essence of me, changes. 

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

This week, consider the words of the other Wesley, Charles. Charles wrote about nine thousand hymns which give us a lyrical record of the theological journey of the Wesleys, founders of Methodism. This hymn was written in response to the story of Jacob wrestling with God.

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