Monday, September 14, 2009

Wesley, Pastors, Reason and Logic

I recently picked up John Wesley’s Address to the Clergy. I had a great time reading it through, being motivated by almost everything he said and laughing out-loud at the silliness of our own age.

Imagine an Address to Clergy being written (or Power-Pointed) by a leading minister of our day. What specific advice would it include? What kinds of traits and habits would it tell clergy they would need to have in order to be good and effective pastors?

Here is just a smattering of the first three or four pieces of advice from Wesley to clergy:

To begin with gifts; and, (1.) With those that are from nature. Ought not a Minister to have, First, a good understanding, a clear apprehension, a sound judgment, and a capacity of reasoning with some closeness? Is not this necessary in an high degree for the work of the ministry? Otherwise, how will he be able to understand the various states of those under his care; or to steer them through a thousand difficulties and dangers, to the haven where they would be?

Secondly. Is it not highly expedient that a guide of souls should have likewise some liveliness and readiness of thought? Or how will he be able, when need requires, to "answer a fool according to his folly?" How frequent is this need!

Thirdly. To a sound understanding, and a lively turn of thought, should be joined a good memory;

Fifthly. Some knowledge of the sciences also, is, to say the least, equally expedient. Nay, may we not say, that the knowledge of one, (whether art or science,) although now quite unfashionable, is even necessary next, and in order to, the knowledge of the Scripture itself? I mean logic.

Wesley mentions many other things, including knowledge of history and geometry.

Honestly, has our culture changed so much that now none of these things are mentioned when it comes to a healthy and effective pastorate, or have we dumbed-down the role of pastor so that these things just aren’t on our radar screens anymore?


Brian Roden said...

Have you read "Full Gospel, Fractured Minds?" by Rick Nañez? Its subtitle is "A Call to Use God's Gift of the Intellect" and it deals with the anti-intellectual prejudice in much of the church for the past couple of centuries. He specifically mentions the Wesleys and their broad-based studies. Whenever they traveled together, the one walking behind would be reading aloud from some piece of classic literature while the one walking in front worried about the path.

Phil Steiger said...

I have, and I thought it was a great book. In fact, the way he talked about the Wesleys is what led me into reading them more.

Phil Steiger said...
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Quintessential said...

I enjoyed your article. It is interesting how dedicated Wesley was about personal holiness and the intellectual life. I noticed that in Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. J.P. Moreland's work, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview that they give him quite a bit of credit in their introduction.

I have come to the conclusion that every single sermon ought to include some apologetic note. Alas, the modern preacher would rather watch TV, play video games and/or golf then open a book - including the Bible.

Phil Steiger said...

That work by Moreland and Craig is a great one. I am always motivated by the fact that Wesley was an Oxford trained logician and one of the world's greates evangelists. In our church culture, we just don't put those two things together anymore.