It’s not just some fad. It’s not just a Huey Lewis song either. But let me tell you…
Square is where it’s at.
Quadrilateral, actually. A 4-sided box that contains a method for making sense of the world. This is a United Methodist method, in fact, and one you can put to use immediately.
We call it the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral”, although Dr. Albert Outler coined the term centuries after John Wesley’s time. Outler studied Wesley extensively, and the Quadrilateral isn’t just what Wesley taught but what Wesley did.
It’s a method for strengthening your faith, based on four sources John Wesley drew upon time and again. Here they are:
SOURCE #1: Scripture. This is the big one. Scripture contains everything sufficient for us as believers, and so we look to it to inform our faith more than the others. However, we Methodists want to confirm and enhance our understanding as we interpret the Word. Which brings us to…
SOURCE #2. Tradition. For thousands of years now, people have written about God. Speculated about Jesus. Tried to interpret the work of the Holy Spirit. Those writings form the basis of our tradition–and we use them to help us peel back the layers of scripture and yield new understanding. Tradition can also refer to the activities of different faith groups — including our own — as they’ve passed down through the centuries.
SOURCE #3. Reason. Wesley was a strong proponent of logic, reason, and science. God gave us these intricate minds — it’s only appropriate for us to use them as we try to wrestle with difficult subjects and complicated ideas.
SOURCE #4. Experience. This one’s kind of tricky, because experience can be so subjective from one person to the next. It refers to the experience of the Holy Spirit within and around us–how it has warmed our hearts and confirmed our faith.
Maybe you knew all that and this was just a reminder. Maybe you’ve never explored such ideas before. Regardless, let me make it clear: It’s hip to be square.
It’s incredibly cool to use these four sources to strengthen your faith! People who embrace the Quadrilateral as part of their daily faith walk will find greater depth, greater balance, and greater meaning in their lives.
Now, you might have noticed — it’s actually possible for two people to use these sources and come out with entirely different notions! One person could weigh out scripture, tradition, reason, and experience, and decide they are pro-life, and another could do the same thing and identify as pro-choice. Your faith could point you against gay marriage, and your best friend could believe the opposite. Faithful people can come to very different faith conclusions.
If we don’t all believe the same way, what good is the Quadrilateral in the first place?
Ah, but that’s the hippest part of the whole thing. If we carefully, faithfully use these four sources — we may come to different conclusions, but we ARE believing the same way. We’re holding fast to a process that produces Christians with integrity.
It doesn’t create complete agreement. It creates creative people. People who are willing to investigate and ask questions, to delve into the traditions of the church, to read scripture vigorously, and to seek the Holy Spirit’s blessing.
If we can commit to doing all of that, then there is hope for us to learn and grow together. (Wesley called that Christian Conferencing, a really cool concept for another day).
Do you get it? Those four sources form a STREngth that cannot be ignored. The more people choose to be this deliberate and methodical, the stronger we become as God’s family, even when we don’t always agree.
So spread the word. It’s hip to be square. Let’s make this precious process popular…
Until everybody’s doing it.
Have a great week,