Here are my notes from chapter 2, “Inclusive Love,” of Paul Wesley Chilcote’s Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision…
1. “The essential content of the Wesleys’ preaching was the inclusive love of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ” (p. 34). The gospel is inclusive in invitation and exclusive in truth claims: God’s love is for all people without exception and God’s love is revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. “This inclusive, unconditional love is made known to us through the Word and Spirit…the Word (Jesus Christ and the story of God’s love in Scripture) is distinct from, but can never be separated from, the Spirit of God.” In practical application, Wesley taught having “one rule” (Word) and “one guide” (Spirit) for maturing in faith. The Spirit guides us in remembering the Word that proclaims God’s inclusive love (John 14:23-27; 15:13-15).
2. “In many respects, the Wesleyan revival was a rediscovery of the Bible” (p. 36). Wesley declared himself a “man of one book” in the preface to his Standard Sermons, rejoicing that his desire to know the way to heaven was met with the knowledge of that way in the Bible. And “if the Bible and Jesus reveal God’s love for us, then the Spirit is the instrument of that love–the force, energy and power that make that love real for me.” Liberation/Freedom is the result of the Spirit of God revealing the truth of the Word of God (Galatians 5).
3. “The interdependence of Word and Spirit is most apparent, perhaps, in the Wesleyan understanding of the Bible” (p. 38). As mentioned above, Word and Spirit work together for the truth of God’s love to register with us mentally and come home to us personally (head and heart): the words of the Bible “become the living Word for us here and now… Wesley believed that the Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote the Bible, but continually inspires, supernaturally assists those that read it with earnest prayer… The ‘double inspiration’ makes the Bible much more than a recipe book or a static guide to living. It means that the Bible is dynamic and transforming, because the Spirit is both in it and present with us.”
4. Implications of “this unity of Word and Spirit” (p. 39): Chilcote sees connections between the unity of Word & Spirit with other concepts as well: truth & unity and the humanity & divinity of Jesus. I think he states those well. Next, he talks about the modern dangers of tilting towards one side of the Word/Spirit unity–“worshiping of the Bible, rather than Christ” on the one hand, or “fanatical, mystical, spiritualist forms of the Christian faith” on the other. Wesley was accused of “enthusiasm” in his day, which meant a tilt off-balance to the Spirit side in that context. He refuted that accusation. He maintained the balance by taking the approach that the Word was “normative and formative” for Christian life and that it was made so in practical application by the Spirit.