John Wesley’s Conception and Use of Scripture

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Despite wide acceptance of the “Wesleyan quadrilateral”, significant disagreements have arisen in both academic and church circles about the degree to which Scripture stood in a place of theological primacy for Wesley, or should do so for modern Methodists, and about the proper and appropriate methods of interpreting Scripture. In this important work, Scott J. Jones offers a full-scale investigation of John Wesley’s conception and use of Scripture. The results of this careful and thorough investigation are sometimes surprising. Jones argues that for Wesley, religious authority is constituted not by a “quadrilateral”, but by a fivefold but unitary locus comprising Scripture, reason, Christian antiquity, the Church of England, and experience. He shows that in actual practice Wesley’s reliance on the entire Christian tradition – in particular of the early church and of the Church of England – is far heavier than his stated conception of Scripture would seem to allow, and that Wesley stresses the interdependence of the five dimensions of religious authority for Christian faith and practice.

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