Over at the Jesus Creed, “T”, has a guest post that is introducing a series on the Wesleyan quadrilateral. For those that are unfamiliar, this quadrilateral refers to the 4 arms that many believe Wesley found essential to the formation of theology. These 4 arms, or areas, are reason, experience, tradition, and Scripture.
I love the use of the quadrilateral and think that acknowledging it and then seeing how much relative weight we give to each is quite useful, not only for ourselves but also in the midst of a discussion. Some like to rank the 4 in a hierarchy, but I like to think of the model as a pie that is composed of 4 pieces. The pieces are of different sizes for different people. My reason piece is clearly the biggest, but for some the Scripture piece might be.
The link to the active discussion at the Jesus Creed is below as is my recent comment…
At the BioLogos conference that I attended this past June, Pete Enns made a comment that I think helps in this debate a great deal. Or at least it helps me in this debate. It’s anecdotal, but I still like it.
He said that he was speaking with a Rabbi friend about issues in dealing with the Old Testament. His Rabbi friend said that in Judaism it’s followers primarily “struggle” with what the Bible says. That is, they reason with it, analyze it, etc. in an effort to make the most sense of it. I think I’m with them.
For me, as a scientist, reason does trump all. I’m not sure I would necessarily rank them as in a hierarchy, but I think of the 4 as all pieces of a pie, with the pieces being of different sizes for different people. My reason piece is bigger than the other pieces, but yours might not be. This can make discussion difficult, but not impossible, as we struggle through the Scriptures together with a common goal. I would tend to believe that reason is more important for most than they actually think though…
I do wonder though if perhaps a triangle isn’t better than a quadrilateral. I would keep reason and experience as arms, and then lump Scripture/tradition together as another. I think this is what we do in practice anyway. Thoughts?