One of Methodism’s most distinctive theological traits is not a doctrine but a methodology. The “Quadrilateral” represents the four sources that inform our faith, help us make decisions, and live out balanced, healthy lives in Christ. The four components are Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason — and if you’ve ever wondered what makes a Methodist Methodist, the Quadrilateral is it.

Although they are in no particular order of importance (Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason are supposed to be held in creative tension with one another), an easy way to remember the four elements is by their initials: “STER” (the quadrilateral helps “steer” our decision-making along the way). For John Wesley, why you believe something was just as important as what you believe. So the Quadrilateral is the method by which Methodists do the work of “why.” How you arrive at the “why” is the work of the individual within the community.

Since the heart of our identity is a “methodology” and not a “theology,” we’ve never been a confessional or dogmatic church. Wesley felt there was plenty of room for religious “opinions.” If you’re looking for specific theology, you’re barking up the wrong denomination!

“As to opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think”
(Bishop Ken Carder)

“In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
(John Wesley)