Albert C. Outler’s papers are now archived at Perkins. There is a new story on this, and on Outler, that is filled with historical inaccuracies. They note,
He taught at Duke Divinity School, Yale Divinity School and finally at Perkins. He edited a collection of John Wesley’s sermons and formulated the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which holds that Christians should bring to bear Scripture, tradition, reason and experience as they live their faith.
Exactly how true to John Wesley’s theology the Quadrilateral is remains a matter of debate. But it’s part of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, part of the education of United Methodist clergy and a big part of Outler’s legacy.
There are more than a few problems with that statement.
- The Quad actually gives three ways to interpret Scripture. You have Tradition, Reason, and Experience. (Experience has its own problems with being properly understood.) It is not a square, but a stool. Scripture is supported and understood by three legs.
- The Quad is not about “as they live their faith” but about how to understand Scripture and formulate doctrine and ethics. This may be semantics, but there is a difference that needs to be understood.
- I think the Quad, properly understood, does well with Wesley’s method-ology.
- Outler’s Quad is not what is in the the Book of Discipline, but something that has been added to since the beginning of the UMC. Maybe it once was, but now it is a camel (a horse designed by committee).
I cannot believe those statements appear on the UMC website, showing the amount of intellectual degradation when it comes to understanding, or even attempting to understand Outler’s framework.