Reading the Way to Heaven: A Wesleyan Theological Hermeneutic of Scripture
Author: Steven Joe Koskie Jr
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The proliferation of work on the theological hermeneutics of Scripture in recent years has challenged and reimagined the divisions between systematic theology and biblical studies on the one hand and academy and church on the other. Also notable, however, has been the absence of a full-length treatment of theological interpretation from a Wesleyan perspective. This monograph develops a Wesleyan theological hermeneutic of Scripture, approached as a craft learned from a tradition-constituted appropriation of John Wesley’s hermeneutics. This hermeneutic requires a descriptive analysis of the context, grammar, and ruled reading of the literal sense in Wesley’s interpretive practices, as well as critical interaction with the analysis in light of contemporary issues. As a result of this interaction, continuity and discontinuity between Wesley’s and Wesleyan interpretation emerges and is accounted for.
The Wesleyan theological hermeneutic developed here defines the church as Spirit-formed context within the larger divine economy of salvation, in contrast with Wesley’s emphasis on individual soteriology and underdeveloped ecclesiology. Within this community context, Wesleyan theological interpretation is a means of grace whereby the Holy Spirit reinterprets the identity of readers into children of God. Theological interpretation invites readers on a Wesleyan account to participate in the textually mediated identity of Jesus Christ through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. Wesleyan identity is therefore a figurally created identity based on the literal sense of Scripture. Wesley’s analogy of faith, which rules his reading of Scripture, thus gives way to a more explicitly trinitarian rule of faith.
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