How to Use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Part I

Though the Wesleyan Quadrilateral wasn’t invented by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, it is still extremely useful. It was developed by a scholar Outler who studied the way Wesley distilled the Bible’s teachings using four different methods. It is diagrammed as such:

The basis is Scripture which can be supported by Tradition, Reason and Experience. There are two important points about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral that I feel needs special mention:

1. Scripture is the most important.

The elements do not have equal emphasis. Scripture bears the largest importance in coming to biblical conclusions. All other tenets of the Quadrilateral must not contradict Scripture.

2. Scripture must be the starting point.

We cannot use Experience or Reason to interpret Scripture as it will lead to wrong interpretations. Many people make this error. Scripture must read our lives.

3. If you’re unsure about your conclusions, look at other 3 elements.

If the Bible is clear in its teaching or interpretations, we don’t need to look further. However, if you’re not sure exactly what the Bible is saying, we can incorporate the other elements.

In Part II, we’ll look at the individual components.

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