Please read this is the “I’m having fun talking about something I love” voice.
A very good post was put up called: Once Again The Wesleyan Quad
I will now call it the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Should Not Be Allow To Use ‘Butter’ Blog”
The author and I have a lot in common: both United Methodist, both from Ohio, both academic.
The Butter Blog is right on so many points.
- The Wesleyan Quad was not explicitly used by John Wesley in the 1700’s
- Wesley looked to scripture first (Prima Scriptura) unlike other Reformed folks who claimed ‘Sola Scriptura’
- The Quad is not an symmetrical cube but a 4-part sequence which many of us have pointed out.
The Butter Blog is missing a couple of things:
- Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience are found in Wesley and easily retrofitted as ‘the Quad’
- This is the same impulse that developed the canon of scripture because of it’s common use centuries after the founders.
- The Quad was born out of the cultural need of the 1970’s and answered a question that was being asked in that context.
In my mind there are (at least) two vital reasons for the element of experience being added:
First, since 1906 the Pentecostal (and charismatic) movement has place primary importance on the experiential nature of Christian expression. I don’t think that we can afford to (or want to) poo-poo on the largest and fastest growing branch of Christianity globally.
Second, locating ‘experience’ as a site of theological reflection gives validity to the experience of those who have not had a chance to contribute to scripture, the tradition, or ‘reason’ (aka European philosophy) in the way that they may have wanted.
In this way: perspectives of women, people of color, and non-European contributions are included and valued.
So when the Butter Blog argues that:
“Moreover, what too often happens in UM circles is that when the quadrilateral is employed, it is most of the time used for the purpose of pitting one of the four “principal factors” against the others (usually to pit experience against Scripture)”
Well, sort of … not against scripture … but to compliment the scripture and compensate for the lack in scripture …
I hate to be the white guy who has to point out that every person quoted in this Butter Blog seems to have something in common: Kevin Watson, Randy Maddox, Andrew Thompson, and N.T. (Tom) Wright.
As far as the quote:
“The problem, as Thompson rightly notes, is that we Methodists tend to be more American than Methodist.”
That is like saying that International Harvester tends to be more ‘harvester’ than international. Most Methodist (even in Ohio where the articles’ author is from) can’t even tell you what the ‘methods’ are.
I would like to point you in 3 other directions:
- Theology After Modernity edited by
- Quest For The Living God by Elizabeth Johnson
- Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy Woodley
I have 50 other thoughts tonight but unfortunately it is late, and I have a 6am online session to teach for my East-coast seminary class.
BTW: I have an entire session in that seminary class about ‘the migration of meaning’ where we talk about everything from universities in Texas – TCU (the ‘C’ being Christian) and SMU (the ‘M’ being Methodist) – to Emergent (from scientific thought to a ‘brand’ of post-evangelical hipsters).