Wesley, Asbury, and Apostolicity

23Oct08

From Wesley to Asbury: Studies in Early American Methodism
by Frank Baker
Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 1976
ISBN 0822303590, 978-0822303596

“Asbury’s apologia pro vita sua was contained in ‘A Valedictory Address’ to Bishop William McKendree, dated August 5, 1813.  In this he used two important adjectives to describe Methodism as he envisioned it:  ‘apostolical’ and ‘missionary.’  He claimed that contrary to popular opinion it was still possible for Methodism to retain ‘such doctrines, such discipline, such convictions, such conversions, such witnesses of sanctification, and such holy men, ‘ as ‘in former apostolical days.’  But only if they remained a missionary church, if their preachers, bishops and elders alike, itinerated, as did Paul, Timothy, and titus, thus maintaining ‘the traveling apostolic order and ministry that is found in our very constitution.'”  (these later quotes are from Asbury’s Journal, III, 475-92, especially pp. 475-6, 491-2) p. 139

The Radical Wesley: Pattern for Church Renewal
By Howard Snyder
Published by Zondervan, 1987
ISBN 0310444713, 9780310444718

“Wesley, the master organizer, never built a great evangelistic organization.  He simply went everywhere preaching, and he sent out other preachers in similar pattern.  Wesley’s gift for organization was bent toward the one objective of forming a genuine people of God within the institutional church.  He concentrated not on the efforts leading up to decision but on the time after decision.  His system had little to do with publicity or public image but everything to do with building the community of God’s people.  From the beginning of Wesley’s great ministry in 1738, the secret of his radicality lay in his forming little bands of God-seekers who joined together in earnest quest to be Jesus’ disciples.  He ‘organized to beat the devil’ — not to make converts but to turn converts into saints.  Wesley would have nothing of ‘solitary religion,’ secret Christians or faith without works.” p. 2

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One Response to “Wesley, Asbury, and Apostolicity”

  1. 1 Jonathon

    So it appears that Wesley promoted organization, structure, and accountability and authority based on God’s Word as the source of all truth in all matters.

    Too bad postmodernism would have us question, redefine, repackage, and defy authority and accountability into our own image and liking based on our own feelings and experiences. What a sandy foundation we stand on to cater to postmodern philosophy and become engrossed in the “conversation” to be accepted, liked and appealing. Too bad that today’s definition of “missional” excludes a clear teaching of the gospel, but instead, focuses on works and a silent witness.

    Yes, let’s take a look at some of the sufferings, zeal, and committment of the saints who came before us!

    Go Wesley!


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