Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Wesleyan Perspective on the Bible?

Ever since the WTS meeting, the theme of which was "The Future of Scripture," I've been ruminating....

Is there a particularly Wesleyan take on the Bible? Wesley was, for the most part, what we would consider today a "biblical literalist." He called himself a "man of one book." Of course, there's nothing especially unique about that. He was, in that sense, a product of the Reformation.

Many would dispute, however, that Wesley was indeed a man of one book. Ever since Outler we've had this "Wesleyan Quadrilateral" that has been thought to reflect a Wesleyan use of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. In that sense, Wesley was a good Anglican in the tradition of Richard Hooker, although he seems to have added experience to the mix. That's not all that unique, either.

I think that, rather than seeking a Wesleyan understanding of scripture, it is more fruitful to identify ways in which scripture informs life lived with particular Wesleyan emphases, such as personal holiness and sanctification, social holiness, the work of the Holy Spirit, and assurance. This type of approach seems to be borne out in the Wesley Study Bible, which is a nice volume if you haven't picked one up.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sometimes it's just too easy....

Glenn Beck has recently advised Christians that, if their churches preach "social justice," they should simply leave them, since "social justice" is a code word for Communism or Nazism.

(scratching my head....)

Apart from the obvious problems with his reading of the gospels, how can the same word refer to both Communism and Nazism?

I could go on, but, why?

You can check out the story here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wesleyan Theological Society

Last weekend Jason Vickers and I traveled to the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society at Azusa Pacific University. The theme was "The Future of Scripture," and the keynote speakers were William J. Abraham and Richard Hays. Abraham and Hays had a very fine dialogue about the nature and function of scripture. The conference was well worth going to.

At this conference, we talked a great deal about the viability of the principle of sola scriptura. In my own paper, I argued that sola scriptura does not reflect the use of scripture in in the first four centuries of the church when the New Testament canon was being formed. Rather, during this period the relationship between scripture and tradition was dialectical, each helping to shape the other. Scripture was never meant to do all of the theological "heavy lifting" for us. Further, sola scriptura unnecessarily limits the theological resources available to us through the Christian tradition.

I was surprised to find that many people agreed with this claim, though at least one person found it highly objectionable. I do think, though, that it's time for a renewed conversation about this issue.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bible and Disability

I had a good meeting with folks from the East Ohio Conference on the Bible and disability. There were a few people from the East Ohio Conference task force on disability in attendance. The discussion was rich and edifying, and it also impressed upon me the need for ongoing education and research on this topic. If you're interested in exploring this issue, a good place to start is with the book This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies, edited by Hector Avalos, Sarah J. Melcher, and Jeremy Schipper.