You will find and introduction to my BOM theological paperwork here: Doctrinal Exam
¶324.9.h: The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church?
Scripture, tradition, personal experience and reason are our source and criteria for continued theological reflection in the United Methodist Church. Scripture and tradition are external forces that act upon us and shape our understanding of God and the world; the second two, personal experience and reason are internal, our thoughts, our history, our hopes, our being. Together, Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason, these shape our understanding of God and the world.
Scripture, through the Old and New Testament, reveals God’s work in this world and contains everything we need to encounter God’s grace. As we read Scripture and examine ourselves in light of what we read, the history of the Church, our experiences of God’s grace, and with the knowledge of continued theological study, we allow the biblical message to change and shape our lives. The role Scripture plays in knowing God is one of stability and constancy through time. The biblical text itself changes extremely slowly, which brings a sense of order and predictability to the Christian faith. Scriptures are a consistent and stable foundation on which our faith has been built. They are the common history used through time, space, culture, and peoples.
God’s work in the world did not cease with the writing of the New Testament. “Christianity does not leap from New Testament times to the recent as though nothing were to be learned from that great cloud of witnesses in between”. God continued and continues to work in the lives of people and communities, through which we can encounter God’s grace. Traditions are ideas and actions repeated by a community, which shape the community. Whereas Scripture is stable and consistent, tradition is not, instead it is redefined with each generation; communities often begin new traditions, return long-lost traditions to a place of importance, and remove other traditions from community life. Because traditions are not consistent through time, it is important that we are theologically mindful of the traditions we allow to shape the communities in which we find ourselves, we must remember that the history of Christianity contains within it “ignorance, misguided zeal, and sin.” Therefore, we continuously return to Scripture, with our personal experience and growing wealth of knowledge, to guide our search for God’s grace in the traditions of the Church.
The church points us towards God’s grace through tradition and Scripture, which are inseparable. They are now, and always will be in communication with one another. The writers of Scripture lived in a community with traditions, those traditions formed Scripture, and Scripture formed new traditions. Today, the way in which communities read and translate Scripture find its shape and form in the traditions of that community. They are in conversation and relationship with one another. Together they are the external forces that act upon us and shape our understanding of God.
Personal experience and reason also shape our understanding of God. God’s grace is brought to life in our lives through our personal experience. Our experience of grace, prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying, allows us to claim the Christian tradition as our own and to participate in God’s continuing work in the world. Experience helps us see God’s grace in the world, “We read Scripture in light of the conditions and events that help shape who we are, and we interpret our experience in terms of Scripture.” As we experience God’s forgiving and empowering grace, we learn to have faith in the truth revealed in Scripture and illumined in tradition, and allows us to claim the Christian faith as our own.
The living core of the Christian faith also holds reason as a way to know God. “By our quest for reasoned understanding of Christian faith we seek to grasp, express, and live out the gospel in a way that will commend itself to thoughtful person who are seeking to know and follow God’s ways.”  By thoughtful study and continued learning, we seek to know God better through Scripture, tradition and experience. Through reason, we can clearly articulate our faith, which allows us to be a witness to God’s work in the world with clear intent and understanding of our faith. Through reason, we become thoughtful Christians living out our faith with a total view of the good news that we know to be true. Through thoughtful reason we can know God more fully and live out the gospel by seeking know and follow God’s ways.
 The text does change, sometimes the make-up of the text (I.E. the removal of the Apocrypha), sometimes through the change in words, (I.E different translations), and through the interpretation done within a community that lives the Scriptures.
 BOD, ¶104
 BOD, ¶104
 BOD, ¶105
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