Below is a copy of the paper I presented at the 2018 Society of Vineyard Scholars’ annual meeting at Asbury Theological Seminary. In what follows, I attempt to explore the relationship of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral with our Vineyard DNA, building on Thomas Lyons’ previous SVS 2013 paper. After establishing this interface, I suggest a number of ways in which this valuable method of theological reflection can be cultivated and maintained within the context of of the lived-out and practical ministry of the local church, especially related to community discipleship (or you can download a PDF). [Read more…]
I’m reading a fascinating book recommended to me by my good friend Thomas Lyons titled Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture, edited by Joel B. Green and David F. Watson. It’s of interest due to some of the similar challenges that we are facing in the Vineyard… issues related to the functional authority of Scripture, hermeneutics, etc.
My favorite essay in the book is Elaine A. Heath’s, “Reading Scripture for Christian Formation.” Heath provides a look at how John Wesley approached Scripture and, I think, persuasively argues that Wesley never read Scripture in a dualistic manner. [Read more…]
After what felt like a ton of reading for a class I took on the history of both the Evangelical and Pentecostal movements, I walked away with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for both of these traditions. I think Bebbington’s quadrilateral is still a helpful way to start discussing Evangelicalism and I will forever be grateful for Dr. Allan Anderson’s work on Pentecostalism, especially his observation that the charismatic tradition has an emphasis on experiencing the presence and power of the Spirit and a commitment to missions.
In addition to these characteristics, Evangelicals and Pentecostals have a desire for and openness to revival/renewal. There might be a variety of definitions for how moves of the Spirit are understood, but there is a common appreciation for the pneumatological experience. As we trace the history of these movements, moving through the first and second Great Awakenings and traveling into the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival, careful observers will note that significant leaders have both been involved in and led through these events. Whether we’re talking about George Whitefiled, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley or the late Steven Hill or John Wimber, Evangelical/Pentecostal leaders have been involved in (and often defended!) what can only be defined as revival.
However… I wonder if this is true of today’s Evangelicals and Pentecostals. I know there are people in these two traditions that would say they are absolutely committed to seeking for revival, but is this true for the majority of those who self-idenfity within this world? Would most Evangelicals agree that one of the most important things that we need is a great outpouring of the Spirit? Are most Pentecostals praying and fasting for a the Spirit’s spontaneous breaking into the now?
Of course, it’s probably important to note that my observations and questions arise primarily within a western context. Having spent time in Asia and Africa, I’m quite aware of the fact that the answer to these questions would be a resounding “yes!” But here in North America, and what I’ve experienced and observed in Europe, the answer is more likely a “sometimes” and “maybe.”
Why is this? Why are western Christians becoming either more apathetic, more complacent, more cynical. and more naive about the power, presence, and effectiveness of revival?
While overlooking the complexities involved toward defining revival or renewal, I’d love to read your thoughts on why the longing for revival appears to be replaced by many other concerns. I’m hoping your thoughts would help me for a sermon series I am thinking about putting together for next year that might end up as a small group study of some sorts.
What say you?
“There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one ‘of whom the world was not worthy.’ I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Savior, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.” (Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography: Volume I, The Early Years,, p. 173)
HT: Ray Ortlund