In my recent post, 150 Days of Preparation for Ordination, I listed a few things I’d like to read/reflect on between now and ordination in June.
I just added John Wesley’s historic questions to the list. These questions, found in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (2008) in paragraph 336 (page 246), have been asked of those being ordained since the beginning of Methodism. According to the Discipline, “At the time of examination, the bishop shall also explain to the conference the historic nature of the following questions and interpret their spirit and intent.” (I like that the Discipline acknowledges that the questions may need some interpretation/explanation. :-))
- Have you faith in Christ?
- Are you going on to perfection?
- Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?
- Are you earnestly striving after it?
- Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?
- Do you know the General Rules of our Church?
- Will you keep them?
- Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church?
- After full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures?
- Will you preach and maintain them?
- Have you studied our form of Church discipline and polity?
- Do you approve our Church government and polity?
- Will you support and maintain them?
- Will you diligently instruct the children in every place?
- Will you visit from house to house?
- Will you recommend fasting or abstinence, both by precept and example?
- Are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?
- Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work?
- Will you observe the following directions? a) Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time; neither spend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary. b) Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience’ sake.
The bishop will ask these questions of the ordinands at annual conference. I believe we will also have opportunity to reflect on them at a retreat with the bishop in May when the bishop meets with those to be ordained or commissioned.
I’m guessing that in 200+ years of asking these questions that no one has ever answered no to any of the questions!
(Edited to add: See The Historic Questions 2.0)