Continuing with Chilcote’s Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision, here are my notes from chapter 5, “Holistic Formation: Head and Heart.”
1. “The uniting of heart and head in early Methodism was one of the Wesleys’ most remarkable achievements” (p. 69). The lyric of Charles’ says it well: “Unite the pair so long disjoined, Knowledge and vital piety: Learning and holiness combined…” Most movements seem to have a lively emotional or heart-religion emphasis OR a rich intellectual heritage. The Wesleys’ embraced both of these and held them together in a way that made for a powerful movement. “The Wesleys and their followers carefully balanced this form of active, almost burning piety with an emphasis upon the necessity of reasoned religion” (p. 75).
2. Wesleys’ “heart connection.” “The Wesleyan debt to the “heart religion” of Continental Pietism is unmistakable. Methodism is deeply rooted in the pietism of the heart” (p. 73). Wesley had “head knowledge” of God before he gained “heart knowledge” through his Aldersgate experience of assurance of salvation. Converting the heart through an authentic experience of grace made the difference in his faith being alive and active. And it was nurtured with a disciplined approach to classic spiritual disciplines of Christianity: prayer, Scripture (read, preached, meditated upon), fasting, Christian fellowship, Holy Communion.
3. Wesleys’ “head connection.” Though John Wesley’s faith really took off when it entered his heart, he never rejected “head knowledge.” “For the Wesleys, therefore, vital piety was essentially linked with sound learning” (p. 75). It seems that Wesley probably enjoyed learning for its own sake, but the purpose of their focus on the intellectual side of faith was for practical equipping for ministry: “The Wesleys wanted a well-informed laity who had the skills and wisdom to face the challenges of faith in the marketplace” (p. 76).
4. The importance of balance. “God wants to engage both your heart and your mind. God longs to enter into a relationship with your whole self, not just one part of who you are” (p. 77).