Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Doctrinal Minutes

With the publication of volume 10 of Wesley's Works, United Methodists now have access to a succinct summary of the doctrine that Wesley and his assistants agreed to teach in the Methodist preaching houses.  The theological principles discussed in the Doctrinal Minutes are the same as those set forth in the Doctrinal Standards (the first four volumes of Sermons on Several Occasions and the Notes on the New Testament), however at approximately 29 pages this statement of Methodist belief is a much quicker read than the others. 

The main doctrines covered in the Minutes are justification and sanctification with a very brief section on ecclesiology (pp. 783-785).  Various aspects of justification (e.g., what does salvation by faith mean?  what is assurance?) and of sanctification (e.g., how do we increase in holiness?  what is entire sanctification?) are dealt with in a question and answer format.  The answers are brief, at most a paragraph in length, and for that reason provide an introductory overview of Wesleyan theology. 

The Doctrinal Minutes are a summary of theological conversations Wesley had with his preachers at Conferences held from 1744 to 1747.  If United Methodist doctrine were to be discussed at your Annual Conference what doctrines would you want to cover?  How would the "official" United Methodist position on a particular doctrine be determined?  Is this something you would like to see happen at your Annual Conference?

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