The starting point for the revisiting of the Quad. is Scripture. This is much more challenging than it was in Wesley's day due to the fact the varying understandings of Scripture have become more vocal. I think there have always been more and less orthodox understandings of Scripture, just now there is a greater platform and acceptance of divergent ideas. In the current climate there is question as to the historical accuracy of Scripture, questions of its validity, questions to whether God was involved in the writing at all. Much ink and many trees have given their lives to the working out of this concept of Scriptures. It is not my intent to resolve that issue here. My intent is to look at how Scripture informs the life and function of the people called Methodist.
To enter into this discussion, I need to place my understanding and bias regarding the scriptures on the table. The way I understand the Scriptures are this. They are God inspired, and contain the teachings from God about the ways in which we as the created are to live in relationship to the creator. Yes they are written by humans, but I feel God is bigger than our attempts to rewrite the story. It is not important to me if all the details line up, and I am no longer in favor of a literal reading. The Scriptures contain the Truth, and point us to the only one who can with any certainty declare truth, God.
For those who are still reading, I now turn my attention to how we apply scripture in our lives. This first portion of what is know as the Quad. is by far the most important and significant. In fact all the other portions conform to this one. So, what does that mean? It means when faced with a decision, or call to action the Scriptures are the first place we turn, and are the primary resource informing our actions. If our tradition, experience and reason are not in alignment with Scriptures, we must reconsider them in light of the Scripture. Not that we should disregard the other three legs, but they are to always be subject to the Scripture.
This is a great challenge to the church today. Often the church functions from their understanding of tradition, and what they have experienced. Reason, for many, has replaced the Scriptures at the top of the puzzle. In many cases, the other three have realigned the ways in which we understand the Scriptures. This is workable as long as we are changing our understandings of Scripture, not trying to change the scripture all together. I would guess, that there are a great number of churches who are doing things which are not necessarily consistent with the Scriptures, but they have always been done that way, I think this is a problem.
If I had to put it the simplest way possible, it would be this. If your tradition, experience, and reason do not square with the Scriptures, it is not the Scriptures which must be re-evaluated. The people called Methodist, in fact the people called Followers of Christ are to be people of one Book, and if a person only reads one book their whole life it should be the Scriptures. Fore that is the starting point of the story God is writing with our lives through Jesus Christ.