Albert Outler Makes An Appearance In 2016

Reaching into my bookcase recently, I was startled to pull out these two gems that helped move me to United Methodist ministry.  I honestly thought I had loaned them out to someone who neglected to return them . . . but there they were, right where I had left them in my bookcase.

Albert Outler

Albert Outler (1908 – 1989) taught theology at SMU — the same university where, hello!, my father taught law — attended faculty parties at our home on Rosedale Ave (I was nine and had no idea I was in the presence of a Methodist legend), and was likely the most influential figure in the chain of events that led to the birth of the United Methodist Church in 1968.

I came across these two little books in the late 80s as I was preparing to head to Asbury Seminary, and both helped me see the genius of the early Methodist movement.

Outler’s thinking and writing gave me confidence that I could be both Methodist and evangelical; both innovative and denominational; both anchored in history and impacting the present.

My favorite quote from either book is this one on loving God from page 84 of Theology In The Wesleyan Spirit:

[Loving God] is , rather, an awareness of our radical dependence upon God’s grace and our gladness that this is the truth about our lives.

I can’t tell you how many times through the years that phrase radical dependence coupled with our gladness has entered my mind.

I’m so glad, then, that these treasures I once thought lost have now been found.