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Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture

Joel B. Green and David Watson, editors

Publication Year: 2012

The theology of John Wesley has proven exceedingly influential in the religious and spiritual lives of Wesley's followers and his critics. However, Wesley did not leave behind a written doctrine on scripture. This collection presents an array of diverse approaches to understanding John Wesley's charge to read and interpret the Bible as scripture. Contributors move beyond the work of Wesley himself to discuss how Wesleyan communities have worked to address the difficult scriptural—and theological—conundrums of their time and place.

With contributions from William J. Abraham, Justo L. González, Joel B. Green, Elaine A. Heath, Randy L. Maddox, Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, Jason E. Vickers, Laceye Warner, David F. Watson, Kenneth J. Collins, Robert W. Wall, Reginald Broadnax, Meesaeng Lee Choi, Hunn Choi, Douglas M. Koskela, D. Brent Laytham, Steven J. Koskie, and Michael Pasquarello III, Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture ultimately attempts to underscore what it means to stand in the Wesleyan stream and bring about holiness through—and within—daily occurrences.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Abbreviations

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

Everyone would agree that Scripture was central to John Wesley’s life and thought. Beyond general statements like this, though, consensus would be more difficult to reach. What was his doctrine of Scripture? In what sense for Wesley was the Bible authoritative? What was the...

Part I. Wesley on Scripture

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pp. 1-17

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1. John Wesley—“A Man of One Book”

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pp. 3-18

Engaging Scripture, as a witness to and setting of divine revelation, was central to John Wesley’s Christian life and to the spiritual communities that he helped gather and lead. The elderly Wesley stressed this point when reflecting on the early movement at Oxford University:...

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2. Scripture as a Means of Grace

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pp. 19-32

Communicating the presence of God in the Methodist societies laced throughout eighteenth-century Britain was ever the concern of John Wesley. Indeed, beyond the first two precepts of natural law of (1) doing no harm and (2) doing good as found in the General Rules of...

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3. Reading Scripture, the Literal Sense, and the Analogy of Faith

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pp. 33-46

The three topics combined in this chapter cannot be understood apart from Wesley’s theology of Scripture. Even though rarely considered anymore as a condition of its interpretation, what the interpreter believes about the Bible influences how the Bible is interpreted and...

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4. Wesley as Interpreter of Scripture and the Emergence of “History” in Biblical Interpretation

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pp. 47-62

Modern assessment of John Wesley as a reader of the Bible has tended to relegate his work to the category of the “uncritical,”1 often drawing attention to Wesley’s lack of a genuinely historical consciousness and his concomitant failure to allow concerns with historical reconstruction...

Part II. The Nature and Authority of Scripture among Wesleyans

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pp. 63-79

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5. Scripture among African American Methodists

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pp. 65-80

Some may see this passage as hyperbolic, but it is an expression of the high esteem in which the African American community holds the Bible. Now, I must admit that the African American community is very diverse, including many different religious and nonreligious traditions...

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6. Scripture among Hispanic Methodists

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pp. 81-97

As one broaches the theme of Scripture among Hispanic Methodists, several points need clarification. The first of these is the very definition of “Hispanic.”1 While this term is usually employed to refer to people of Hispanic culture and traditions living in the United States, for the...

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7. Scripture among Korean Methodists

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pp. 99-115

From the beginning of Korean Christianity, the Bible has been accepted without question as the sacred text of the Christian faith. In fact, “Bible” in Korean is sung-gyung, “holy sacred book.” This essay will, first, briefly trace the history of Korean Hangul Bible in Korean...

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8. Scripture and Divine Revelation

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pp. 117-132

Treating scripture straightforwardly as divine revelation represents a vision of scripture and a vision of divine revelation that should long ago have been consigned to the ash bin of history.1 The conventional move to identify scripture as divine revelation causes untold pastoral...

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9. A Wesleyan Understanding of the Authority of Scripture

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pp. 133-146

It is relatively commonplace for Christian communities from across the ecclesial spectrum to affirm, in one sense or another, the authority of Scripture. When they begin to flesh out precisely what such authority entails, however, they move quickly into contested territory. Indeed, the...

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10. The Holiness of Scripture

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pp. 147-159

Wesleyans, like other Protestants, spend a great deal of time talking about the significance of Scripture. We talk about the authority of Scripture, the inspiration of Scripture, the infallibility or inerrancy of Scripture, and the sufficiency of Scripture.1 From time to time, we...

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11. Scripture as Canon

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pp. 161-176

John Wesley was a man immersed in the Bible. It is hard to overstate the importance that he placed on Scripture, since he believed that Scripture showed the way to salvation, which meant a renewed life in the present and eternal life with God. He was committed to an...

Part III. Wesleyans Working with Scripture

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pp. 177-193

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12. Scripture and Social Ethics

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pp. 179-193

Like Lotto balls fluttering in their hopper, this essay begins with the question of the ordered relationship of several intellectual arenas. Are we playing “Pick 3”—investigating the proper interaction of Scripture, “social ethics,” and the Wesleyan tradition? Or are we hazarding...

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13. Can We Speak of a Wesleyan Theological Hermeneutic of Scripture Today?

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pp. 195-209

Are Wesleyans still a people of one book? If so, do they know how to read that one book? This seems to be part of the issue surrounding the recent interest in developing a Wesleyan theological hermeneutic of Scripture. How we read, to what end we read, and whether all of this...

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14. Reading Scripture for Christian Formation

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pp. 211-225

What does it mean to read the Bible for Christian formation as Wesleyans? How did John Wesley engage formationally with Scripture, and what did he teach others to do? How have Wesley’s theological descendents—teachers and practitioners of Wesleyan Christian formation...

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15. The Place of Scripture in Worship

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pp. 227-243

“It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him’” (Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8, NRSV; cf. Deut 6:13-14). With these words, spoken in the context of his dispute with the Adversary, Jesus summarized the principle repeated throughout the OT: that the people of God—...

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16. The Place of Scripture

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pp. 245-262

While I do not think this assessment does justice to Wesley’s wisdom and practice, I would agree that it provides a valid description of how he has often been perceived within the tradition that bears his name. What has evolved into a kind of conventional wisdom presents a significant...

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17. Scripture and Evangelism

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pp. 263-275

Reading Scripture within the Wesleyan tradition offers particular emphases that illuminate aspects of the biblical text for the formation and discipleship of Christian believers, particularly with regard to evangelism. Drawing on John Wesley, whose reverence for and priority...


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pp. 277-324

List of Contributors

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pp. 325-326

Index of Names

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pp. 327-333

Subject Index

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pp. 334-336

E-ISBN-13: 9781602586284
E-ISBN-10: 1602586284
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602586277
Print-ISBN-10: 1602586276

Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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