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John Wesley & the Trustworthiness of Scripture

Here’s a gem from John Wesley on the trustworthiness (dare I say, inerrancy) of scripture:


I read Mr. Jenyns’s admired tract, on the “Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.” He is undoubtedly a fine writer; but whether he is a Christian, Deist, or Atheist, I cannot tell. If he is a Christian, he betrays his own cause by averring, that “all Scripture is not given by inspiration of God; but the writers of it were sometimes left to themselves, and consequently made some mistakes.” Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth (Journal: July 24, 1776, emphasis added).

Two observations are noteworthy. First, Wesley takes the character of God to be the basis for his doctrine of scripture. If God is true and scripture is God’s word, then scripture must be true as well. Second, for Wesley, if a Christian denies the trustworthiness of scripture by suggesting it contains error, it is a betrayal of his own cause. My guess is that many Methodist and Wesleyan types wouldn’t be too comfortable with their founder on this one.

Do you think Wesley’s attitude is characteristic of the various Wesleyan and Methodist groups that claim him as their founder? Is belief in the inerrancy of scripture essential to classical Wesleyan Methodism?

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