What Wesleyan believe about the Bible

To help Wesleyan Seniors understand what Wesleyans believe about the Bible we wrote this explanation. How does YOUR denomination's position (or you own) agree or differ form the Wesleyan doctrine on this?

So, what do YOU think?


bookworm said...

I concur with the statement of Wesleyan belief, with the following comments,questions,and quibbles:

Para b. "There is nothing on any page of the Bible that God was not pleased to be there." Well put. I would add - Nothing on any page of the Bible is any man's idea.

"God had purposes for Paul's words of which Paul himself was not even aware". Interesting. Requires further thought and study before I agree or disagree - any elaboration or recommended reading?

Para c. "...fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority."

First - to be clear, "superior" does not mean that in terms of authoritative writings the Bible is merely the best of authority, but that it is wholly other than any human authority.

Second - does saying the original manuscripts are inerrant imply subsequent translations aren't? Is my Bible inerrant or not?

Third - I will argue, a little, over which translation to use, and will do so without supposing I diminish the gospel. If the question is which original manuscripts are the best source for translation, I don't know, maybe I never will. I use both the NASB and NKJV myself. I'm not among those who claim there is only one right English translation. However, I do know not all "translations" are translations. Some so-called translations are at best commentaries, and at worst really bad commentaries.

I'll finish where I started - only a few questions, and little quibbles - the Wesleyan statment is the truth, and well said.

Chap said...

The Evangelical Free statement:

1) We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

Only difference I see is our emphasis on verbal inspiration in order to hold the line on a progressive interpretation of the bible (e.g. intuition, illumination or dynamic theories) and to keep us from some hyper-conservative reading (e.g. dictation theory).

As usual Weslyans are a bit more detailed than we are :)

Anonymous said...

Why to Wesleyans have "inerrancy" in their statement? Isn't that more common for Baptists and Calvinists and unusual for holiness denomiantions? I don't think Nazarenes, Free methodists, Anderson Church of God, or the Salvation Army have such a statement--it is certainly not a biblical word.

Anonymous said...

From the Church of the Nazarene 2005-2009 Manual:
IV. The Holy Scriptures
4. We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures,
by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and
New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing
the will of God concerning us in all things necessary
to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is
not to be enjoined as an article of faith.
(Luke 24:44-47; John 10:35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17;
1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

RaisedWesleyan said...

I remain unconvinced.

Anonymous said...

Inerrancy applies if taken under the context 'An imperfect and finite mind can never fully conceives the perfect and infinite mind.'

Or perhaps it should be:

"OT is NT reveals, NT is OT conceals.

The bible is the mind of God reveals. The mind of God is the bible conceals."

Keith Drury said...

THANKS Chap & Naz for posting your own statements… it remind me that statements such as the Articles of Religion often turn out to be statements pro tem… that is, they are a snapshot of the current positions and over time they change. For instance the Pilgrim Holiness and Wesleyan Methodist denominations had different statements before 1968 and had to merge them in order to merge the two denominations…

Pilgrims said in their typically simple way “..scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation" and Wesleyan Methodists said in their typical more detailed way something closer to what Wesleyan now have--including the term inerrant.

The good leaders in the 1960's had to bring these two statements together. I personally think the most significant changes in the wording of a denomination’s Articles of Religion almost always come through mergers.

It is a fun mind game to imagine what a statement might look like if denominations merged. For instance if the three denominational statements mentioned above so far (Evan. Free, Nazarene & Wesleyans) were try to merge–what might the statement look like (sorry—this is the kind of thing professors do for fun)…

Take only the term “inerrancy” itself…we’d start with….

Wesleyan: “…fully inerrant in their original manuscripts.”

Nazarene: “…inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation”

Evangelical Free: “…without error in the original writings.”

How might this mind-game-merger bring these three statements together? Would we go with Wesleyan and Ev. Free “without error in the original manuscripts” or the Nazarene position that the Scriptures are without error in revealing God’s will regarding salvation like the former Pilgrom statement?

Would we go with the most broad statement (the Nazarene one) or the more narrow ones?Someone might ask if there were "biblical words" that would cover all three of these denomination’s actual on-the-street positions. Would some fight for a term to stay exactly the way it was and had been for 50 years? Would others say, "If you add that word count us out?"

These are the kind of talks that make merger negotiations interesting. In fact, one of the fun things about even talking merger is that everyone discovers what their own statement actually says—like learning a new language often teaches us the grammar of our own language.

So what is the difference between saying the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts and without error in revealing God’s will regarding salvation? What do YOU think is the difference between these statements?

Chap said...

I'll hazard a guess as incomplete as it will be.

I'm going to make a pretty big assumption that must have a historical reference.

Any reference to "without error in the original writings" is an acknowledgement that we have copies of the originals. As good as they are, and sovereignly preserved--they still are copies. If by some providential act the original copies appear and show some variations or abberations to the copies--we go with the originals.
The Free and Wesleyan position seek to preserve this understanding about inerrancy.

I admit I am ignorant about Nazarene tradition or theology. Both Wesleyan and Nazarane are "holiness" churches--but Nazarene has a pentecostal heritage my best guess is their statement reflects an experiential element to God preserving Scripture.

The biggest hurdle to merging statements like these however is that the Nazarene statement opens itself up to all kinds of potential interpretations for inerrancy. Is it only those passages that reveal God's will regarding salvation that are without error and others are not?

Yikes, I'd hate to sit on a merger committee.

By the way, I have no idea how a Reformed, semi-Calvinist, Free church pastor like myself keeps blogging in here ;) Must be God's will

Keith Drury said...

CHAP_-it is your destiny to give insightful comments here... though a Wesleyan might say that you could resist this destiny by free will ;-) (I always enjoy your comments--stay around even when I sometimes write about Wesleyans or holiness churches)

Anonymous said...

Wish we can find an autographa on the following:

"We believe in the inerrancy of the original writings as 'written by the finger of God'(Exodus 31:18,Deu 9:10), through the hands of men (Luke 11:20, John 8:6), led by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16)."

kerry said...

I have heard that Dr. Stephen Paine, former president of Houghton College, was influential in the language retained in the 1968 merger, especially the word "inerrant." At that time, there was a "Battle for the Bible" led by Dr. Harold Lindsell, editor of Christianity Today, who made the argument that the actual use of the word inerrant was important. It was an extension of the polarizing fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the earlier 20th century which most Wesleyan Methodists and Pilgrims tried to stay out of, but our sympathies were definitely with the fundamentalists.

On the issue of whether the Bible in your hands is inerrant, I find it helpful to think of my Bible as completely trustworthy for faith and practice. Robert Lyon said that modern scholarship and discovery of earlier manuscripts have revealed about 5000 errors in the King James Version, but amazingly, NONE of them are significant in the sense that they have any impact on faith or practice. God preserved the truth even through human fallibility. It is important that translations are done by CHRISTIANS, so that we have essentially Christian translations that are illuminated by the Spirit, even when the technical exactness with the original manuscripts is unknown.

bookworm said...

Late on this post - was out of town all week.

I wanted to say I see some comments that help clarify references to original manuscripts/writings. Thanks. Kerry, I like your way of expressing it - we can be confident our translations are "..illuminated by the Spirit even when technical exactness with the original transcripts is unknown."

David said...

Just discovered this thread... Your question about the difference between saying the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts or without error in revealing God’s will regarding salvation, makes it unclear that one article says something about what the bible is "inerrant" (adjective), while the other article says what the bible does "inerrantly revealing" (adverb). And that is a huge difference.

Conscious Trinity said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.