Albert C. Outler

(1908-1989), American Methodist theologian and philosopher

Bio from Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1/4/2012

Albert OutlerAlbert Cook Outler is generally considered to be one of the most important John Wesley scholars in the history of the Church as well as the first real United Methodist theologian. He was also a key figure in the 20th century ecumenical movement.

Outler was born and raised in Georgia and was an ordained Methodist Elder who served as pastor in several appointments. He received his Ph.D. degree from Yale University, teaching at both Yale and Duke University before beginning a long tenure at Southern Methodist University in Texas. He served on the Faith & Order board of the World Council of Churches and was an official observer at the Second Vatican Council.

Outler is widely credited with being the first to recognize John Wesley’s method for theologizing, via what Outler referred to as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Church Tradition, Reason, and Personal Experience. This understanding of Wesleyan theology is prevalent throughout Methodism, particularly in The United Methodist Church. Using this model, Outler was a key figure in organizing the theological statement put forth by The United Methodist Church after its formation in 1968.

Throughout his career, Outler edited and published Wesley’s works, and at the time of his death he was chief editor for what has been called the definitive modern edition. As he encouraged Methodists to return to Wesley, he is often called “the Father of Neo-Wesleyanism”. His book on John Wesley is considered perhaps the finest one volume introduction to Wesley.

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