A Pentecostal appraisal of Scripture, Reason, Tradition and Experience
A Pentecostal appraisal of Scripture, Reason, Tradition and Experience
In this fifth and final session we look at a Pentecostal appraisal of scripture, reason, tradition and experience.

This session invites us to engage in a theological enquiry of our Pentecostal stance with use of the Wesley Quadrilateral. The Quadrilateral offers an approach or a method to scrutinize our distinctives as part of the Christian family and the ways in which we function as a faith community. The Quadrilateral makes use of  an imaginary window with  four lenses: Scripture, reason, tradition and experience to appraise Pentecostalism. In Charlotte Johnson’s view, the interplay between the four perspectives provide an engaging framework not only for an appraisal our Pentecostal theology but also for an examination of the challenges we currently encounter in our lives of faith and witness.

Exponents of this method believe that the application of the four components brings about a holistic understanding of the individual and corporate; personal and public expressions of Christianity in its various forms.


The Scripture is regarded by Pentecostals as the primary source of religious authority. The written Scripture is the pure and direct word of God the sole basis of ageless truth, the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and ethics. Pentecostals believe the word of God is ‘personalised’. God speaks to individuals on a personal level within our specific circumstances through His word and believers are strongly encouraged to spend time each day reading the Bible and discern God’s specific word to welcome, believe and action.


Human reasoning is essential for  rational and cogent thinking. It serves as a vehicle for the Holy Spirit’s role in the Godhead. The Holy Spirit  reveals God’s thoughts, teaches God’s truth, renews minds, guides and provides counsel to believers to read and interpret Scripture in harmony with the word of God. Hence the Pentecostal emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in our will to embrace the mind of Christ.


Tradition as embodied in the ‘collected wisdom’ found in the beliefs, creeds, confession of faith , practices of  Christians throughout the history of Christianity. Tradition provides a point of reference and verification of the Christian faith. Ted Campbell’s summary of  the merits of tradition as a tool in our quest for theological clarity is very insightful:

‘ …in recognising the authority of tradition …is not to favour an antiquated vision of the past; it is rather, the calling to value God’s own work throughout the story of God’s people, and to take courage and confidence in the faithfulness of God speaking to us in tradition belong the witness of the biblical age.’ p 105 Challenges of Pentecostal Theology in the 21st Century


Experience as  foundational  to human knowledge is a fundamental truism. In the Wesley  Quadrilateral this component highlights the specific Christian experience of the forgiveness of sins and  salvation. Wesley and advocates of his Quadrilateral hold the view that the personal testimony of the believer’s experience is the greatest barometer and of the Christian life and witness. ‘Experience’ is highly regarded by Pentecostals. Adherents are taught and encouraged to critically reflect on their personal experience of  God as understood through the reading and application of Scripture in their daily lives. Spiritual formation, growth and development in Christian discipleship particularly in the ‘new’ Pentecostal Churches can be so focussed in this viewpoint that as Charlotte Johnson observes,’… they become locked into a ‘closed’ space, a windowless room where genuine growth and expression of the Spirit-led life is stifled.’ p107 Challenges of Pentecostal Theology in the 21st Century

In recognition of the value of the Quadrilateral as a value tool for theological enquiry at all levels, she poses some pertinent what ifs:

The Quadrilateral, like all methods of enquiry has its flaws. However it has much to offer as a springboard for ‘faith seeking understanding’ as Anselm puts it and a template for new beginnings.

Resources needed

Some Questions for Discussion

Read  Proverbs 1:5   Proverbs 3:13   Proverbs 18:15   Ecclesiastes 7:19

Read   Proverbs 27:17, 1 Corinthians 13:11  2 Peter 3:17-18

Read Psalm 32:8       2Timothy 2:15

Read Daniel 2:19-23  Proverbs 16:16   Proverbs 27:17  2Tim 2:15 

Praise and Worship

Something to think about and do in the days ahead…

What is the Wesley Quadrilateral?

Deirdre Brower Latz video:


Write a journal as you progress through this course will be a useful tool  to aid your reflection, clarify your thoughts, feelings and chart your learning.

Try to write regularly after each session. Here are few prompts to get you started:


Our Gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank you for our lives and the grace to know you personally as our Lord and Saviour.  

Your promises ensure that we are able to experience you by reading, listening and applying the Holy Scriptures that have been inspired by You. 

Our faith is increased by our  growing understanding of You, and we Thank You Lord.

Let us acknowledge the history through the ages built by our ancestors as we are now the products of the past, and optimistically look towards the future, guided by You, Lord.

Help us to continue to be obedient to you by fulfilling our purpose through serving you; through our intellect, emotions, and actions.  Please help us to discern Your will for our lives.

We trust that you will continue to be faithful to us through your grace and mercy, plus your good deeds towards us.

We are grateful that you as our Shepherd, and our Sovereign King who cannot fail us, either in word or indeed.

In God we Trust.