Quadrilateral Egg/Chicken Dilemma



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Albert Outler conceived the Quadrilateral

And he came to regret that he ever came up with it!

"Another problem with attaching Wesley’s name to the quadrilateral is that it lends authority to a theological method that is often misused and misconstrued. These misrepresentations ultimately lead to a misrepresentation of Wesley and his beliefs. Since its formulation, the quadrilateral has taken on a life of its own. Its most egregious misuse occurs when people treat all four sources as being of equal authority, thus belittling scripture." From "The Myth of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral", http://www.jonathanandersen.com/the-myth-of-the-wesleyan-quadrilateral/

Just like our misconstrued understanding of Wesley's thoughts on the catholic spirit, the Quadrilateral is one more example of how little we really know about who John Wesley was and what he really did!

Betsy more than 4 years ago


The key element of the Quadrilateral is conversation. It invites us into dialogue with each other with openness and grace. And in this sense the Quadrilateral became essential during the times of merger in the late 1960s. When circumstances were ripe for various factions to split and leave the church it helped set a groundwork for healthy debate.

Rev. Jack Stubbs more than 4 years ago

A Man of One Book

When Wesley declared himself a "Man of One Book" he meant scripture always comes first and foremost. It was someone else who ascribed a Quadrilateral to him. I see Wesley as living as close as possible to scripture and recommending same for us.

Skipper Anding more than 5 years ago


Since Methodists take their cues from Wesley this quote ought to help put some boundaries on reason and experience.
"If any doubt of this privilege of the sons of God, the question is not to be decided by abstract reasonings, which may be drawn out into an endless length, and leave the point just as it was before. Neither is it to be determined by the experience of this or that particular person. Many may suppose they do not commit sin, when they do; but this proves nothing either way. "

We do not weigh these on a balance scale. We test our reasoning against scripture.

Kevin more than 5 years ago

Maybe we need a pentilateral....

Adding "Context." Because all of the Religious Right citations of scripture ignore its context. The Right abuses scripture by reducing it to a "gotcha" list to affirm their prejudices and biases.

Or, a sextilateral, adding "Character." This could include a resolve to "Do No Harm." Religious Right ideology weaponizes scripture to exact harm upon those they deem less worthy than themselves. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," a 1973 short story by Ursula K. LeGuin, serves as a guide to proper response to harm of others. The story describes a civilization which is prosperous and pleasre-full, but it is predicated upon the torture of one small child. In response upon learning of this, most people simply shrug and go about their business, but a group determines that because of this they must leave this evil polity. The story is certainly a metaphor for exclusivist notions of the afterlife in which those who the self-righteous have determined they are better than suffer eternal torment like a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Such a position is essential to Religious Right cosmology, but anathema to true following of Christ.

George Nixon Shuler more than 5 years ago