Since the inception of the Wesleyan tradition, Scripture has remained the primary source of religious authority. The functions of Scripture have varied, ranging from the theological to the devotional. But the place of Scripture has remained central to Wesleyans, and the variety of functions of Scripture has remained vital it its beliefs and practices.
In this essay we will delineate the place and functions of Scripture as they have been evident throughout the Wesleyan tradition, beginning with John Wesley. Although the Wesleyan tradition includes more than the theology of Wesley himself, his legacy provides the stimulus from which the tradition developed. We will begin by examining the place of Scripture in relationship to other sources of religious authority in the theology of Wesley and the Wesleyan tradition as a whole. We will continue by examining the functions of Scripture. Generally speaking, the functions of Scripture include the establishment of right beliefs (orthodoxy), a right heart (orthokardia), and right actions (orthopraxis).Gregory S. Clapper suggests orthokardia as complementary to the categories of orthodoxy and orthopraxis in studying the theology of John Wesley. We consider the three categories helpful to the study of Wesleyanism as a whole. See Gregory S. Clapper, John Wesley on Religious Affections (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989), 154-56, 171-73.