Iguana-Wars-5bJust in case you are coming in late I’ve posted the full page as it appears in my sketch book. This doodle actually goes alone with something I’m working on in my theology paper for the Western North Carolina Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry. For the record this isn’t finished yet, but like Luke here there’s something to be learned from trial and error.

  1. Describe the Wesleyan quadrilateral.

Illustrate how it may be used to address a current ethical issue/debate.

The Wesley Quadrilateral is a summary statement put together by Bishop Wilke after reviewing John Wesley’s sermons, notes, and journal entries. Bishop Wilke explained Wesley’s method for grappling with challenges in the world and in Scripture was to use a four part approach. Wesley would first search out Scripture, then review what he has discovered against the traditional teachings of the early church fathers in their original languages as often as possible. Wesley would then consider the matter against his own life experience before applying reason and philosophy to the challenge. These four; scripture, tradition, experience and reason are what are often referred to as the Wesley Quadrilateral.

An issue we might use the Wesley Quadrilateral to tackle is the Western perspective on victory as if failure has no worth. A passing examination of Scripture paints a very different story. The Bible is filled with many stories of failure as the result of sin. Culturally, Israel valued the stories of their failure before God because they help us to see and identify with our failures before God today. It could easily be argued the entire book of Judges is about Israel failing to be obedient and only after suffering at the hands of their enemies do they repent and turn back to God. In the New Testament, Peter was always letting his mouth run away with him (Matt 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-18, 25-27). The Apostle Paul, as a Pharisee persecuted the church before being confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). The Bible is marked by failure and peoples’ attempts to learn from those failures. It seems to me the Bible teaches it is okay to fail so long as our failures help us to grow closer to God.

One of the things I love about the traditions of the Methodist Church is the way John Wesley was so honest in his journals about his struggles and successes. Before Wesley left to go to Savannah he wrote as if he hoped to find his own salvation in the process of reaching out to those he hoped to bring to Christ.[1] Wesley was honest about how impressed he was concerning the Moravians who sang in the midst of the horrific storms that battered their ship on the crossing to Savannah while John Wesley spent this time writing about his unwillingness to die.[2] Wesley was honest about his heart ache at failing in America both personally and professionally.[3] These entries made Wesley’s success in Christ all the sweeter when John Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed during the Aldersgate prayer meeting.[4] However, for John Wesley to finally understand in his heart what he had preached from his head for so long  I believe Wesley had to experience failure, and as such our Methodist tradition would seem to suggest there is some merit to failure.

Again and again in Scripture the message is God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Too often my experience has been when I have had success it is easy to think the successes came from my own ability. When I have experienced failure the tendency is to look to God for answers out of my weakness. I have been deferred for ordination three times which should be enough to say I have personal experience with failure. I know talking about deferment as failure is a touchy subject before the BoOM, but deferment feels like failure. I am not saying deferment is failure to pass judgment on the committee, or to deprecate myself, or to take a swipe at the committee. On the contrary, I am saying deferment is failure because deferment has taught me to reassess the way I view success and failure. Failure is an opportunity to discover our growing edges, and to grow stronger for God’s glory. Even though failure is painful truly important things can be learned from failure. Failure can teach us real lasting success is not about our doing, but about what God is doing in and through Human agents. I believe I have made two over arching mistakes before the ordination committees in the last three years. I have tried to present to the committees what I thought the committees were looking for, and I have poured out my own intellect to try to pass these boards. What I have learned through my experiences with failure and deferment is that what I know is important, but sharing how much God cares is more important. When sharing what I know fails to share how much God cares then I have allowed the focus to become about my pride instead of sharing the gospel. I do not believe what I know is more important than God’s love. However, when I get scared or nervous it is easy to fall back on what I know.

There is a philosophy among martial artists that they do not spar, or practice fighting because it is fun to kick someone else’s butt. Ideally, they fight because it is an opportunity to discover the weaknesses within themselves and face them.[5] Deferment has been an opportunity to face the weaknesses within myself – in particular when I am under stress.

[1] Kenneth J. Collins, John Wesley: A Theological Journey, (Nashville, Abingdon Press 2003), 55.

[2] Kenneth J. Collins, John Wesley: A Theological Journey, (Nashville, Abingdon Press 2003), 57.

[3] Kenneth J. Collins, John Wesley: A Theological Journey, (Nashville, Abingdon Press 2003), 69 & 74.

[4] Kenneth J. Collins, John Wesley: A Theological Journey, (Nashville, Abingdon Press 2003), 89.

[5]Huo Yuan Jia: I believe that there’s no superiority or inferiority in Wushu. Just the distinction of practitioners with different levels of ability. Through the competition we can discover this and meet the true self. Because indeed the antagonist is namely ourself. Only through competition, can one recognise one’s true self.” Hero, directed by Ronny Yu (2006 Hong Kong, China: Bejing Film Studio; 2007).