Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
August 10th, 2016 by Joel Watts

Wesley, Scripture, Inerrancy, and the Shorter Catechism

I’m going to have to disagree with some who insist Wesley was an inerrantist. He wasn’t. I do think he was an infallibilist, however, as one would have to be to honestly hold to the Articles of Religion. I could argue this point, but I’m not. Rather, I wanted to follow up yesterday’s post with something from Wesley’s Shorter Catechism.

Q. 2. What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him

A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God, and enjoy him.

2 Tim. iii. 16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach

A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 82. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer.

Q. 83. How is the word made effectual to salvation

A. The Spirit of God makes the reading,” but especially the preaching, of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners,0 and of building them up in holiness and comfort/ through faith, unto salvation.i

Neli. viii. 8. So they read in the Book, in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Acts xxvi. 18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Acts xx. 32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Rom. xv. 4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

2 Tim. iii. 15. And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. See verses 16, 17.

Psal. xix. 7. The law of the Loud is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. See ver. 8.

1 Thes. i. 6. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holt Ghost.

Rom. i. 6. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.

Q. 84. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation

A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereto with diligence/ preparation/ and prayer,’ receive it with faith,” and love, lay it up in our hearts/ and practise it in our lives.

Prov. viii. 34. Blessed is the man that heareth. me, watching daily at my gates, wailing daily at the posts of my doors.

1 Pet. ii. 1. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil speakings. See ver. 2.

Psal. cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderful things out of thy law.

Heb. iv. 2. The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

2 Thes. ii. 10. They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Psal. cxix. 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Luke viii.’ 15. But that on the good ground, are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

James i. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall he blessed in his deed.

If “inerrancy” is limited to what Scripture says about God and “what duty God requires of man” then it is good word, but it is often now. The word has a lot of connotations to it, many negative.

Anyway, consider this a post about moving us to a better — uh, Wesleyan — understanding of Scripture.

(See two things here and here)

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

2 Responses to “Wesley, Scripture, Inerrancy, and the Shorter Catechism”
  1. My perpespective of your perspective of Wesley’s perspective of Scripture is in alignment for what that’s worth. 0ne of the comforts I draw from the canonical approach to Scripture is that it renders the question of inerrancy moot (at least in regard to areas where I suspect you may have a problem: Did an actual fish swallow an historic Jonah?).
    I am also comfortable with the terms infallible and inerrant inasmuch as I would not argue the opposite: Scripture is the faulty and erroneous representation of the word of God.

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