Wesley's Clarity, Methodism's Ambiguity

In a quiet little corner of Skipton, barely a stone’s throw from the high street, is a plaque commemorating John Wesley’s visit in 1764, during which ‘he preached to the inhabitants of Skipton’. Wesley founded the churches known as Methodist, which were once vibrant and strong.

His journal says little about the preaching itself:

I preached at Skipton-in-Craven, at Grassington, and at Pateley Bridge.

Yet I think we can be sure that this brevity was no cover for ambiguity. Those who came to listen will have heard of sin’s terrible effects and Christ’s wonderful redemption.

I looked up the local Methodist church. Its website speaks about ‘ecumenical partnership’ and its desire to greater ‘engage with the community’. What I did not find was any real reference to the gospel. The site was not bereft of spiritual content, like some which are just adverts for room hire. For example, the line ‘We are a church that seeks to embrace all who are of one heart, so that we can seek the mind of Christ and serve Him together', may be found. Yet I could see little explanation of how my sin might be forgiven and how I might attain heaven. When John Wesley came, I imagine he was somewhat clearer than that, making gospel truth unmistakable. It seems that all denominations lose their founders’ original zeal and lucidity. Herein lies a warning for us all.