Author: Deji Okegbile

REVIVAL DELAYS, MORAL DECAYS: Between Dewey’s well vs Wesley’s words (1)

While John Wesley’s life parallels many religious trends today, John Dewey, born in 1859, the same year Darwin published his Origin of Species, continue to be the source of much of today’s moral education and social reform. Wesley, a master of 18th century social media and a prophet wayout ahead of others faced an era in which many bright people walked away from the church. In the midst of skeptical winds of the Enlightenment that had been blowing across Europe especially after Wesley’s death, John Dewey particularly did more to shape educational methodology in the twentieth century.[1] Dewey, influenced by his mother, was born and grew up in an evangelical home and experienced conversion he called  a ‘mystic experience.’ In college, he went through a spiritual decline under the influence of a ‘liberal form of theology shaped by German idealism.’ Similar to Process theology that teaches that God and the world are both  in a process of constant change and evolution, Dewely who later adopted a naturalistic philosophy offered himself ‘as a quite-spoken evangelist of a redeeming form of humanism and naturalism.’ His acceptance of Social Gospel that redefined salvation as social progress where humans were merely biological organism seeking to control the enviroment through scientific inquiry.’ Revival delays, moral decays because many have imbibed deeply at the well of Dewey. According to Pearcey, ‘teachers are rigorously instructed not...

Read More

METHODISM, SOURCE OF PENTECOSTAL THEOLOGY: Theology of May 24

Theology without experience is like faith without works; it is dead. Theology of May 24 that was practically experienced many years ago was the foundation of Methodism and the roots of the Pentecostal phenomenon in relation to Wesley’s teaching which gave rise to the ‘Holiness’ tradition in the mid- to late 1800s. It was on May 24, 1738 that John Wesley, father of Methodism received assurance of salvation in a momentous experience of conversion. It lit the fire of evangelistic zeal in his heart which continued until his death in 1791. Wesley records his conversion at Aldersgate Street in these famous words from his Journal: ‘In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation: and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.’ The next morning Wesley wrote: ‘The moment I awaked “Jesus, Master” was in my heart and in my mouth.’ The narrative of Theology of May 24 is the practical personal theological experience meant to cure and...

Read More

‘RE-ALDERSGATE: HEALING OF HEART: Wesley’s Legacy (2)

Bishop Thomas Secker’s dark diagnosis in 1738 of the 18th century England historical moment suggests a time of spiritual and moral decline when ‘gin and gambling were destroying the lives of poor and rich alike.’ It was indeed an age of Dick Turpin, crime figures were so high, there was so much danger from highway men and footpads that Horace Walpole wrote, ‘One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one were going to battle.’ The disease that Secker, a high-ranking Anglican bishop and other statemen could not successfully prescribe a realistic cure has become a major significance of John Wesley’s legacy for the world today. To Wesley, the main danger of the time was ‘formalism … mere outside religion.’ Fred Sanders in his book ‘Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love, explained that, Wesley in protest against formalism and intellectualism challenged the ‘strong delusion’ of mistaking idea of saving faith, against a shallow moralism that substitute good works for true religion. Wesley was not anti-intellectual but has concern of people twisting and investing doctrinal orthodoxy into ‘a strategy for avoiding the presence of God.’ Wesley warned the church leaders to go higher and deeper than mere outside religion, saying ‘let thy religion be the religion of the heart.’ To Wesley, the heart of the church problem is the problem of the human heart. To...

Read More

‘RE-ALDERSGATE: FORWARD TO THE PAST (1)

Traditionally, Methodists today remember Wesley’s aldersgate experience based on his encounter with God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Today is also Trinity Sunday in the Christian calendar and it is a call to action. What is the Spirit calling us to today or is it just a coincidence? The idea of Trinity emerged at the Council of Nicaea in 325, hence The Nicene Creed, and the development that followed in the fifth century resulted in the Apostles’ Creed. The reflection for us today is that, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that was behind Wesley’s aldersgate experience. Today, let us take time to look back again to see our past in future, to rekindle the Aldersgate/Trinity experience in connection with the founding of Methodism. ‘Re-Aldersgate,’ forward to the past, is a call to return to the DNA of Methodism for fruitful future. Methodist tradition is not just ‘a democracy of the dead,’ but a Spirit-filled and Bible believing faith of the Wesleys, though long dead, still speaks. The reflection is, do we still believe and experience today what they believed and experienced way back that brought reawakening? Have we become so cold to the Spirit that makes us distinct? Wesley’s words and fear remind us that the worst thing that can happen is to lose our vitality, “having the form of religion without...

Read More

REFLECTION ON TRINITY SUNDAY: NOT THREE, BUT ONE ETERNAL

Trinity Sunday began to be observed in England under St Thomas Becket in the 10th century and then spread to the rest of Western Christendom. Holy Trinity Sunday is the First Sunday after Pentecost, ushering in the season when the church hears about Jesus’ ministry and then about the church’s own ministry. Trinity Sunday is celebrated as symbolic of the unity of the God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1-17). The endless paradoxes in the Athanasian creed: ‘not three eternals, but one eternal, not three uncreated, but one uncreated…’  may sound like some great riddle with tendency to glaze over. The doctrine of the Trinity is not just a later invention of Greek philosophy but a pointer to the simple faith of the Galilean fishermen. Trinity Sunday, can be fraught with vulnerable analogies. Water as solid, liquid, gas. Egg as shell, white, yolk. Person as parent, sibling, child.  As we celebrate some of the most beautiful mysteries of our faith, the Trinity, Pentecost, and the Ascension, we are invited to look at our lives and communities with new eyes, and to welcome the Spirit that “renew[s] the face of the earth” into the dusty corners of our churches (Psalm 104:30). The Trinity calls us to redefine our expectations of God and to allow the Spirit to reveal new faces of herself. The Easter and Pentecost seasons close with...

Read More