Our Way of Understanding Scripture and the Wesleyan Quadrilateral
One defining trait of United Methodists is our use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, created in 1964 by theologian Albert Outler as a tool for discernment for people of faith seeking to live out their theology. With Scripture as primary, reason, experience, and tradition serve as additional sources of wisdom as we seek to discern God’s will. How can United Methodists use the Quadrilateral to engage in a world where the Spirit of God is alive and moving in our everyday lives? In what ways do these sources of wisdom inform our faith and our future?
- Article: “Our Theological Guidelines: Wesley Quadrilateral;” the denomination’s web page provides insights into our theological task and how we can pursue it using Scripture, reason, tradition and experience.
- Scripture: Proverbs 2:1-6; Luke 6:1-11
Small Group Session Agenda
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us. Melt us. Mold Us. Fill Us. Use Us. Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on not some of us, but all of us. Holy One, thank You for the gift of Your presence. With every breath, we are made anew. Reveal Yourself to us as the Great I Am and speak through the Scriptures, hymns, and experiences that are lifted before You this day. By the Power of Your Holy Spirit, move among and in spite of us. Remind us of who we are, why we exist, and what we are here to do for Your glory and for the transformation of Your world. In the beauty of silence, and as we communicate with one another, lead us. Interpreter of our collective cries and transformer of our groans, help us to deeply understand and have mercy upon one another. We are Yours, wholly Yours, and we live to glorify Your Name both now and forever. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.
In the gift of this moment, we affirm that we are divinely loved and lovable.
We are the children of God.
Together, we will learn from the actions and words of one another.
Christ’s lessons on love are centered in how we treat others and in how we treat ourselves.
We will exercise courage in this study as we share stories of struggle and strength.
We will stay at the table and receive those stories with grace.
We will not be afraid to launch into the deep.
We will commit to the vulnerability necessary to allow God to break us open.
We will set and respect boundaries and honor confidentiality together.
When uncertainty arises, we will remember the Spirit of “peace that passes our own understanding” and can intercede for us.
We will remember that even when we don’t feel “United,”
The uniting love of Christ can reveal a pathway to greater
wisdom and mutual respect.
No matter what, there is a place for each one of us in this study together.
Let us hold each other up in prayer, hold each other accountable in love, and
trust that our God is making all things new.
Thank you for the gift of being present to one another in this holy time.
Head & Heart Discussion
- When we approach our lives and our faith open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, things change. When have you witnessed the Holy Spirit at work in your church?
- Rev. David McAllister-Wilson talks of how Scripture helps us access “heaven opening in the soul.” Read the passage about Jesus healing on the Sabbath in Luke 6:1-11 using the Quadrilateral to better understand this passage. How is your understanding deepened by the lenses of experience, tradition and reason?
- Bishop Easterling spoke about God at work in the world today, and how we might live as co-creators with God. In what ways would delving deeply into the Wesleyan Quadrilateral affect your faith and your thinking about how the Holy Spirit is moving through our church and culture?
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:24-26
BEYOND THIS SESSION
Prayer and Pathway to Journaling
- What surprised you or caught your attention?
- How does the discussion we had apply to your life, your church, our denomination?
- Where is the Spirit revealing to you areas for growth and transformation?
- How does what we talked about transform your relationship with God and others?
- Write a prayer to ask for God’s support and enlightenment, which applies what you learned, and then go forth and live it.
Wesley and the Quadrilateral: Renewing the Conversation; a variety of United Methodist thinkers join in a conversation on the quadrilateral that examines the past while focusing on our current society and future cultural trends.
A Year with John Wesley and Our Methodist Values; What is the Methodist way of living? A collection of 12 essays by a variety of authors explores the quadrilateral and the impact it can have on one’s faith in today’s world.
- Movie: “Dead Poet’s Society,” 1989
- Hymn: Spirit of the Living God #393
- John Wesley Sermon: “From Preface to Sermons on Several Occasions”