Wesley’s Way: From Many Streams

When the Mississippi River pours into the Gulf of Mexico, it is a mixture of water from other streams.  Similarly, when we receive spiritual nourishment from Wesleyan spirituality, it is a mixture of other traditions.

Wesleyan spirituality is made up of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Classical Protestant (e..g. Luthern and Reformed), Independent (e.g. Puritan), and Anglican influences.  It would be too detailed to look at each of these streams in a blog-sized exploration.  And besides, even these distinctive traditions have overlaps.

But it is important to see the connectedness of Wesleyan spirituality to the larger Christian tradition before we focus upon it in particular.

Moreover, John Wesley was especially drawn to sources that came from “primitive Christianity” (c. 100-450 a.d.) and the later writings consistent with it.

This means that when we study Wesleyan spirituality, we are dealing with a tradition that is “thoroughly orthodox” (a phrase used by Dr.Albert Outler), consciously developed in relation to Scripture and the foundational (creedal) centuries of Christianity.

By his own admission, John Wesley rejected “novelty” (see his Character of a Methodist), being as sure as he could that the Methodists were formed in relation to classical Christianity.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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