The Radical Wesley: Wesley's Roots (Ch. 1)

This Chapter of The Radical Wesley is mostly about Wesley's travels to America coming out of the Holy Club at Oxford.

My wife took this picture when we visited Oxford
This is where the term Methodist was derived from his detractors calling names. It was a term to make fun of them for being so methodical. "The members of the Club spent an hour, morning and evening, in private prayer. At nine, twelve, and three o'clock they recited a collect, and at all times they examined themselves closely, watching for signs of grace, and trying to preserve a high degree of religious fervour... they frequently consulted their Bibles, and they noted in cipher [that is, coded] diaries, all the particulars of their daily employment. One hour each day was set apart for meditation... They fasted twice a week, observed all the feasts of the Church and received the sacraments every Sunday."
  • Do we know anyone like this? Who takes the faith so seriously?
    • Part of me yearns for something like this, for a discipline in group for accountability and mutual edification. The other part of me thinks that this is too much... that the faith should be more relevant than this. I lean mostly toward the former.
So they set off for America to settle a colony. Wesley desires to bring the gospel to the Native Americans but also, "to save his own soul and learn he true meaning of the gospel..." (Snyder's words, p. 20). While on board, there is another description of what the mini Holy Club did. It was made up of John, his brother Charles and two friends who were in their early 20's. The description of praxis is this: "The little band followed a strict discipline including private prayer from four till five each morning, joint Bible study from five to seven and public prayers from eight till nine. From nine till noon Wesley usually studied German (so he could converse with the Moravians on board) while the other three were variously employed in study or teaching. The four met at noon for prayer and discussion and again at eight. The afternoons were spent teaching the children and adults who would listen, while the hour from five to six was devoted to private prayer. The four went to bed between nine and ten in their two adjoining cabins" (p. 20).
  • Very methodical... but was it effective. We know John had his conversion experience much later (2-3 years). Was the method to make up for a lack of righteousness felt, or is it s gateway to piety and holiness? Either way, I think it would have been awesome. The 5 hours of sleep concerns me... :).
There is some great words in here about Susannah Wesley (John's mother) who lays into her husband about teaching a bible study that blew up from 30 to 200. I would love to spend 6 months on Susannah alone.

The thoughts that have been coming to my mind lately is that we, as Christians, spend a lot of time on defining Orthodoxy. And I admit, I still have a lot of study to do. But I would love to cease the endless debates about right belief and focus on Orthopraxy. What are the right actions. I am tired of hiding behind the curtain of right belief. "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder" (James 2). Most Christians agree that faith is to lead to works and that faith without works is dead (reciting this same passage). But do we believe it? Do we live it?

The Great Commission, which seems to be perverted by those who want to uphold their evangelistic and church enterprises, does say to go into all nations, baptizing them in name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But the other, equally important part is always undervalued and under expressed "... and teaching them to obey all my [Jesus] commandments..." We have to live it. We have to live it. It has to make a difference in our lives. It has to, or the faith is dead both personally and culturally.

My rabbit trail comes because I see Wesley doing these things. He is starting schools, discipling people to serve in an era where clergy did all, and he is desiring to live biblical church lives. He is doing something. It may seem radical, but it is something, and for THAT I yearn. For that I crave...

At the end of my fast on Tuesday, the Lord gave me a prayer, "May I hunger for your word and way as much as I do for food now. May I hunger for your presence in my life and for that to manifested to the community as much as I do for physical things now." May it be so!


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