Tell us about: The Quadrilateral

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.[1] 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”.[2] 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.”[3] 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.”[4] 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.” [5] 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.

[1] 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.

[2] BOD, ¶104

[3] BOD, ¶104

[4] BOD, ¶105

[5] BOD, ¶105

In the past…

I totally drew my theological method! :-) via ...
I totally drew my theological method! :-) via tiffkei

Today I am thinking about history…

I love! Especially because I am stuck on this one man…my dad’s, dad’s, dad’s, dad’s dad…My 3rd great grandfather. He is there, I can see him, I just can’t find where he came from! Who are his parents? Were they born in the United States? If not where did they come from? I have spent hours looking, researching possible birthplaces, counties, and states. Considering the size of this industry, I know I am not the only one that does this kind of research.

Which always leads me to ask why? Why is this so important that I would spend my breaks from school trying to find this guy’s parents? Would knowing the name of my 4th great-grandparents really make a difference in my life? I wonder if I traced my family line all the way to the first humans: would their names make a difference?

As I prepare to write a theological paper, as I study mission, evangelism, and colonization, I keep circling back to the questions about history. When exactly does an event change from one that shapes and forms me…into “history” or “in the past?” At what point can I say…” that is history and does not matter” and be telling the truth? I know my parents’ lives affect me, so I would have to go back at least to their birth. Their lives were in turn shaped by their parent’s past…and my grandparents were shaped by their parents…so wouldn’t I have to go back at least that far?

What if I leave my direct family line and talk about the societies that shape us. I think most people would agree and say at least as far back as the writing of the U.S. Constitution, we know that document affects our lives; but then, of course, I have to acknowledge that the men who write it were shaped by their history, families, and society.

I would be shocked to hear anyone say “that’s history and we should just let it go” in a discussion about Jesus or the New Testament. But we couldn’t stop there since the New Testament was shaped and formed by the people and writing that came before it. We can clearly see that Judaism shaped Christianity, and of course, Jesus himself was Jewish.

I somehow know that the life of my 3rd great grandfather and the parents that raise him have some effect on me. Maybe slight…but then again maybe greater than I know. When is history … “history?”



prayer beads made by our youth group...amazing...
prayer beads made by our youth group…amazing and beautiful in so many ways! Thank you all! #iseethismoment #prayerbeads #fumc-cs #fumy-cs via tiffkei

Thursday night I start teaching a class on United Methodist basics. I was going to name it Roots but everyone shot that name down because it reminds them of some show they watched…that I have never heard of, of course! So, I went with Rooted. If anyone shows up on Thursday evening, you never know when you are trying something new…I am going to meet the people in the class, introduce the people to the format of the class, and finally we will learn about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. What a better way of beginning the class than exploring the ways in which we learn about God? It seems fitting to me anyway! If you have any good quadrilateral resources…please paste a link in the comments. In fact does anyone remember the name of the Wesley Sermon that explained the quadrilateral? (Kidding!!!)


Here are some I have so far:



Rooted in Ephesians 3:17-19


And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.