The Story is the paraphrase of Luke and Acts that is being studied at the moment by the Circuit with Jordan, and also through PresenCE, the Portaferry cross-community group. We are now half way through and so far each week has raised questions on interpretation.
It is interesting that these issues arise in what are relatively familiar books of the Bible so I thought it might be of interest to remind ourselves of a traditional Methodist approach, the Methodist quadrilateral.
I find the quadrilateral helpful as it emphasises a breadth of resources: different translations and commentaries; the range of traditional materials of all types; and reason and experience.
Methodists traditionally use a fourfold approach to learn about our Christian faith and apply it to contemporary issues and to our Christian practice:
We seek to discover the word of God through reading the Bible. There are different understandings among Methodists about the Bible’s authority in our lives. We need to use resources like different Bible translations, commentaries and Bible reading notes.
This is the wisdom and creativity of Christians over time and across the world. It includes inspirational material like hymns, songs, prayers, poetry, Christian art and devotional books. There are also formally agreed teachings like the creeds, the content of the catechism, and statements and reports from the Methodist Conference.
We are called to love God with our minds as well as with our hearts. To the best of our ability we need to think things through in the light of reason. This means becoming aware of different points of view, and using our own critical thinking to make sense of God’s world.
Methodism particularly stresses the importance of our own experience of God’s grace working in our lives. We gain wisdom and maturity from life experience, especially when we pray and reflect about our story with other Christians.