The Use and Misuse of John Wesley on the Authority of Scripture – Glen O’Brien

, posted by drwayman

Here is an excellent paper exploring how John Wesley interpreted scripture.

In his Preface to the Standard Sermons Wesley describes his approach to the reading of Scripture. As a model of his experiential approach it is worth quoting in full:

“To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, — the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: Only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: — “Lord, is it not thy word, ‘If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou ‘givest liberally, and upbraidest not.’ Thou hast said, ‘If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know, thy will.” I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.”

This displays a number of interesting aspects of Wesley’s approach to the Bible:
  1. The source of the biblical revelation is God.
  2. The purpose of the biblical revelation is to point the way to heaven.
  3. The biblical revelation is sufficient for such knowledge
  4. When facing difficulty in understanding the biblical revelation, three steps are followed: a) Prayerfully ask God for understanding, b) Compare scripture with scripture, and c)Consult mature Christian opinion

For the complete paper click here: The_Use_and_Misuse_of_John_Wesley_on_the