Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Why aren't our interpretations of Scripture equal in authority to Scripture itself?

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Answer

In the Wesleyan world, we have talked about the Wesleyan quadrilateral, which means "Scripture, reason, experience and tradition." And some people got that out of whack to think those are four equal things, that Scripture is the same kind of authority as reason, same kind of authority as experience, and the same kind of authority as tradition. But it wasn't so with John Wesley, and it wasn't so for evangelicals since John Wesley. We have always said Scripture is number one. And then, underneath that Roman numeral, so to speak, is: A, B and C, which would be reason, experience and tradition. So we look at Scripture to say, alright, that is our authority. Is there something in our brain that can help us understand that, some kind of reasonable dynamic that we can understand Scripture? Yeah, sure. Can tradition help us to understand Scripture? You bet. Can our experience help us to understand Scripture? Yes, it can. But, Scripture is always the final word, not reason, not experience, not tradition. Always the Bible.

Answer by Dr. Matt Friedeman

Dr. Matt Friedeman is Professor of Evangelism and Christian Education at Wesley Biblical Seminary.