Monday, January 12, 2009

theology and experience

I was just reading in this book on the Holy Spirit on how John Wesley's theology came in part out of his experience, not only dogma, or doctrine. I know enough of John Wesley to know he didn't live on experience, yet experience was important in his faith. There is the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of faith: Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. They all play their part, though the part of Scripture for Wesley was primary, it being the word of God. Surely they are listed in logical order with experience at the end.

But while Scripture is primary, tradition following for good theological reasons, and reason as God's gift important within this commitment- experience coming in last doesn't mean it's not essential. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," makes it an essential. It does no good to only say I believe in this and that, in God's truth revealed in Scripture, in Jesus and in creation. Though a faith commitment including intellectual assent to what is said in God's word is essential for our experience. But plenty of people hold to a nominal intellectual assent, but have nonetheless failed to take the plunge of really experiencing for themselves the truth and reality of what they profess, or say that they believe. Indeed it sometimes is a struggle even for an "established" believer like myself. It matters not what I'm facing, if indeed I put my trust in God through Christ. This can seem like a leap of faith, and God knows our weaknesses. God accepts with favor our sincere faith, even when it is weak and vacillating at times. Though God wants our faith to grow, and this can be especially so through the challenge of the dark times.

Let's taste and see for ourselves that the Lord is good. The rest of that passage goes: "Blessed is the one who trusts/takes refuge in him." For me this oftentimes in my past, and now in the present over a certain matter, is crucial. Nothing is more important, nothing at all, than really following through and living in this reality that is ours through faith in God through Christ. We have God with us by the Spirit to help us. I'm doing a little preaching this morning at myself.

What would you like to add to these thoughts?

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