The Wesleyan Quadrilateral
Don Thorsen


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     The authority of Scripture has been a subject of continuing, intense debate among Christians for many years. In the Wesleyan tradition this debate has focused on the so-called quadrilateral — a term referring to the four elements that John Wesley viewed as the basis for theological method: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Both evangelicals and liberals invoke the quadrilateral in defense of their views, thus bringing confusion to the debate.

     This book seeks to dispel confusion and enlighten discussion by showing that Wesley always affirmed the primacy of Scripture and saw the other three elements as necessary and complementary in order to interpret, illuminate, and apply scriptural truth to life.


Donald Thorsen has made a strong contribution to contemporary evangelical theology by introducing, by way of a careful study of Wesley’s theology, a proposal for our theological method (the so-called Wesleyan Quadrilateral)….The method if applied promises to reinvigorate classical theology in our time….I find Thorsen’s argument, convincing as historical theology and highly relevant as a constructive proposal for our day.

Clark H. Pinnock, McMaster Divinity College


This study, which highlights the evangelical catholicity of Wesley, will greatly benefit all Christians who seek the renewal and unity of the church today. It is a helpful, illuminating analysis of the epistemological foundations of Wesley’s thought, showing that Wesley is a biblical, evangelical theologian.

Donald G. Bloesch, Dubuque Theological Seminary


Thorsen argues that Wesley’s reinterpretation of sola scriptura to mean that the Bible is the “primary” rather than the “exclusive” authority for theology is precisely what contemporary evangelicalism needs to hear and appropriate. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral commends Wesley’s integration of reason, tradition, and experience as sources of theology as the way to achieve the kind of “catholic evangelicalism” called for by, among others, Donald Bloesch and Gabriel Fackre….This book will be of interest to all concerned with the nature of biblical authority in evangelical theology.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, University of Edinburgh


About the Author:

Don Thorsen is Professor of Theology in the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. He holds degrees from Stanford University, Asbury Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Drew University (Ph.D).





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