Epistemology is the study of knowledge; of how we come to know things. Have you ever really thought about that? Have you ever thought about how you know what you know?
John Wesley said that there are four ways that, as Christians, we believe we can know things. He illustrated these four ways in the acronym REST.
1. Reason is first in the acronym REST. We can come to know things by using reason. By reason he means the proper use of the mind to think through something and come to know it as true, or as false. Reason could basically be summed up as the use of the mind.
2. Experience is the E in REST. We can come to know things by experiencing them. This can include normal experiences or experiences with God. Experience is a great way to learn, or come to know, things.
3. The S in REST is Scripture. Through Scripture, God tells us things about Himself, and about salvation, that we wouldn't be able to know without it. It is the book from the omniscient creator of the universe. You'd think it would have some original ideas.
4. The T in REST is tradition. By tradition Wesley doesn't just mean things passed down through the Church from the past, but also things we learn from the Church right now. The Christians that we have around us, and the Christians from years ago, can teach us a lot; partly because they have had experiences, read Scripture, and used their minds too.
We need to be sure that we are conscious of the ways that we are coming to know what is true. We need to continually draw from all of these sources. They are all very valuable and are essential to learning truth and loving God with our minds.
Question to think about and discuss:
In order of importance, how do these rank? Is one more valuable than the other, or are they all equal? (My answer will come in the next post.)