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A Pentecostal Appropriation of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Experience can be verified inwardly and outwardly. The immediate result of this testimony is the fruit of the Spirit. Wesley said without the fruit of the Spirit the testimony of the Spirit couldn’t continue.53  Both the witness and fruit of the Spirit spring forth from an experiential relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who initiates a Divine encounter where man can experience God. Thomas C. Oden notes, “the Wesleyan teaching of the work of the Spirit focuses on how God the Spirit acts in drawing us toward full responsiveness to the grace manifested in the Son.”54  The Spirit’s initiative in the complex divine/human interaction is to give the witness and fruit of the Spirit to believers so that we may know that we are children of God.

Pentecostal Appropriation of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral
The significance of rediscovering Wesley’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit can bridge gaps between Wesleyan and Pentecostal movements. Pentecostals in particular, inherited Wesley’s distinctive experiential and pneumatological approach to doing theology.55  Like concentric circles, each area of the quadrilateral is interconnected and builds upon the foundation of the Word and the Spirit. With this in mind, I would like to offer a Pentecostal appropriation of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral that examines the way that Pentecostals have integrated each of the four areas of religious authority.

From the beginning, Pentecostals have always emphasized the importance of Scripture.56  In fact, both Wesleyans and Pentecostals place a strong emphasis on the centrality of the Scriptures for Christian life and praxis.57  Pentecostals hold in tension the unique relationship between the Holy Spirit and the living Word of God. Some Christian groups today have mistakenly placed too much of an emphasis on either one at the expense of the other. A proper integration is needed to remain faithful to triune God.

The dialectical balance of Spirit-Word expresses a central feature of Pentecostal theology.58  It is central because the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the Scriptures and continues to inspire and speak to both women and men who read the Bible and are led by the Spirit. Prayer is the medium that brings individuals into contact with the Spirit who inspired the original texts. To hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying through the Word a person must encounter the Living God through prayer. The Word is the Word that God spoke, speaks, and will speak in the midst of all men.59  The confluence of Spirit and Word is consistent with both Wesleyans and Pentecostals.

With Wesley Pentecostals affirm that the reason must be assisted by the Holy Spirit in order to help us understand the things of God.60  We must not be afraid to involve reason with religion, because our theology can and should be a spiritual encounter with the living God. This has wonderful implications for those who are involved in Pentecostal scholarship. We are not just studying about God, but we are seeking to know Him personally through a spiritual approach to theology where the Holy Spirit fuses reason and experience through prayer.

Religious reason is “faith seeking understanding” with the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit as the Divine Guide. Pentecostal scholarship should be an integrative approach to academia that involves head and heart. Steven Land says, “The theological task demands the ongoing integration of beliefs, affections, and actions lest the spirituality and theology fragment into intellectualism, sentimentalism and activism respectively.”61  Pentecostal theology points us away from traditional scholastic ways of doing theology (which tends to limit the Holy Spirit to the written Word) and moves us toward a spiritual theology.

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About the Author: The Rev. Dr. Winfield H. Bevins serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He is also the Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas and an adjunct professor at Trinity School for Ministry. He is the author of Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting (Seedbed, 2016), Rediscovering John Wesley (Pathway Press, 2005), Our Common Prayer: A Field Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Simeon Press, 2013), Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith (NavPress, 2011), and Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship (Seedbed, 2016). Amazon Author Page Facebook Twitter: @winfieldbevins

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