Do you often find yourself wondering about worldly issues and how to use the Bible to understand how you should react or embrace those worldly issues? I know I have from time to time. I recently have been mentoring a student in the confirmation process through my church. A recent session when we met we discussed the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The theory is contributed to John Wesley.
I had heard of this theory before. But it was not until this recent meeting where I was explaining it that it stuck out to me as how useful it truly was in such a situation. Sometimes you truly do learn more when you have to make sure someone else understands what you are covering.
This theory takes all four sides into account – Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. When you combine all four sides of the image together this helps you understand what God is trying to say on the topic.
Scripture obviously is looking at what the Bible says. The problem with relying on scripture alone is being sure that what you are interpreting the scripture to be saying is really what it is saying. If you are reading with an outcome in mind sometimes we can make ourselves believe that what we want the outcome to be is what the scripture is telling us.
Tradition means going back and looking at what has traditionally occurred. In the church, in society, etc. How has this issue been handled in the past? Is it an issue that has occurred in the past? What has the church and society came to believe over time as it has evolved?
Reason means to logically draw conclusions from what we know. What does science bring into the equation? Do the conclusions you are drawing seem reasonable and logical?
Experience means looking at what you are experiencing in real life. What others in similar situations have experienced. What have you experienced in your conversations in God? Have you experienced him moving you or interacting with you? Trying to persuade you in on direction or the other?
When you combine all four of these elements together, you will be able to come to better understanding of what God wants you to know on the topic. Is this an easy process? A quick process? Not always. Especially when the answer seems to be contrary to what we want the answer to be. But if we are honest with ourselves, what we want does not always equal what God’s plan for us is.