Why I am Wesleyan

photo(35)

Today the 8th episode of The Threshing Floor came out. I am privileged to produce this podcast with two great friends and for it to be part of the amazing Seedbed family. In this episode all three of the hosts share why we each are Wesleyan. We are also each offering up a blog post today on the topic as well.

For me, there are many reasons I self identify as a Wesleyan. I didn’t grow up Methodist and I wrote about that transition a few months ago. I wasn’t always a Methodist…but I think I have always been a Wesleyan. The United Methodist Church became the place I found my own personal experience best expressed. And experience matters.

Why I am Wesleyan

1. The Theological Beginning Point of an Incarnating God.

I am a big fan of the incarnation. The tagline of my blog is “worshiping a God who has come to our world”. That is the incarnation. We have a God who is not distant and far off, but instead is right here among us. In the very mess of life.

The incarnation is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, so no big distinctiveness here. What I makes me Wesleyan are a few shifts the incarnation gives my larger view of faith.

God absolutely claims us first. He said yes to us before we said yes to him. This is why I (as a pastor) will absolutely baptize an infant. It is why I believe in the true goodness available to all people in prevenient grace.

This also gives us a savior who meets us in communion. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we meet with the presence of Christ at the Lord’s Table. Our Thankgiving isn’t just a rememberance, but it is a Holy mystery of us meeting and being sent by God.

2. Commitment to a Holy God.
When I was in seminary there was always a big conversation about Open vs. Classic Theism. What I appreciated was an alternate conversation about God being understood as Holy. Of course God is holy, but here we find another Wesleyan distinctive.

The very beginning point in our attempt to describe God is Holy. In his own words, God is who he is (exodus 3:14 אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה) If we want to look at the characteristics of what best describes, what is the starting point for the way our God works…it is holiness.

For I am the Lord your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

God wants us to be like him, to be functional images of the one who created us. This is a precious gift.

3. The Importance of Human Experience.
One of the four parts of Outler’s quadrilateral is experience. John Wesley called Methodism an “experimental faith”. Not experimental like a science project or a weird cult, but an experiential faith. Human experience should play a dramatic part of faith. John Wesley had this at aldersgate and we each have primary spiritual experiences.

Not only do we have an experiential faith, but we have a faith in which our experiences about God teach us who He is. These experiences should shape our view of God’s character. We believe God gives us these experiences for this very reason.

These are just a few reasons. I hope the conversation helps you think about why you specifically believe what you do, whatever the faith tradition.