Monday, February 04, 2013

Restatements of faith

He [Wesley] comes to affirm that it is the presence of God himself through the Spirit that is critical for the relationship to be experimentally real, and God has the ability to communicate directly with all persons through the Spirit. It is the Spirit himself who challenges all theological opinions and practices, approves and confirms experientially that the understanding and application are within the framework of an authentic heart experience of God. The Spirit is free to do this directly with the person or via the use of ‘means’ and this is the key to Wesley’s whole theological enterprise...Wesley initially identified these means as Scripture, reason, antiquity, the Church of England and experience. It is the Spirit’s use of these means of grace that enables Christians within their community of faith to avoid both enthusiasm (the absence of means) and rationalism (unaided human effort). In this evangelical understanding, the person/community doing the reading, interpretation and application of Scripture is never autonomous: it is always the role of the living Spirit to raise up ‘prophets’ to give fresh visions, new perspectives, and new insights; to recapture, renew, or refresh the soteriological beliefs and practices settled between the apostolic times and the early Fathers. There are no ‘new’ doctrines to be discovered, only re-statements and fresh applications.—Wesley as a Pastoral Theologian, page 213

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