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A Word from Pastor Jon
Last week we started our new members class and the next one is scheduled for July 16th at 6:30PM in the Confirmation Room at Alburnett. The second session will look at our Methodist story which prompts the question, what’s so special about being Methodist or Wesleyan in our theology.
While there are many characteristics of a Wesleyan Christian, over the next month or so, I want to highlight a few as we prepare for our sermon series in the fall on Our Spiritual Heritage
THE PRIMACY OF SCRIPTURE. John Wesley’s conviction on this subject was always clear. He said, “I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures.” Scripture is the primary or preeminent source about matters of faith and the way in which we should live out our faith. From the conception of the Methodist movement, Wesley held to the primacy of Scripture. In 1703 John Wesley, his brother Charles, and some other students at Oxford University formed a religious society called, “The Holy Club”. Other students teasingly called them Methodist because they were so methodical about Bible study and the practice of Spiritual Disciplines.1 Wesley never liked the term Methodist, however it’s the name that stuck!
Wesleyan scholar Randy Maddox writes “Engaging Scripture, as a witness to and setting of divine revelation, was central to John Wesley’s Christian life and to the spiritual communities that he helped gather and lead.” This was clear when Wesley reflected on the early movement at Oxford.2
From the very beginning, from the time that four young men united together, each of them was a man of one book. God taught them all to make his “Word a lantern unto their feet, and a light in all their paths.” They had one, and only one rule of judgment in regard to all their tempers, words, and actions, namely, the oracles of God.3
Wesley, of course, read more than one book. His library numbered over 1,000 books on a variety of subjects. For Wesley, the Bible was his primary guide when it came to his faith and all of his religious convictions were measured and judged based on what the scriptures taught.
One thing is clear, John Wesley and the people called Methodist, had a passion for reading, studying, and applying the scriptures to their lives because the scriptures were divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and bring spiritual insight and benefit to the lives of believers. As we consider our Methodist heritage, what was valid and true for our founder and the countless thousands before and after Wesley, is true for us as well. The Bible is our primary source for faith and practice.
16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NRSV)
The best way to start making the reading of scripture as a priority is to just start reading. The new Upper Room devotional guides are in the foyer and you can start by reading the passage for the day. It’s a good start. I pray that as you read, the Holy Spirit will teach and lead you into greater truths as the Spirit of God has done for so many.
1 Discovery: Basic Belief Studies for Free Methodists, rev. ed., We Believe Series (Indianapolis, Ind.: Light and Life Communications in cooperation with Bristol House, 1999), 40.
2 Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012), 3;139.
3 From John Wesley Sermon 107, One God’s Vineyard,” in Works, 3:504. Wesley is quoting Psalm 119:105.