The Bible and Culture

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Dear Mr. Asbury:

I’ve been itinerant again, and most times when I do this, I think about you— all those thousands of miles you road on horseback. How in the world did you do it?  I have about 50 flights a year as well as keeping up my day job and a Bible study and Sunday School and preaching, and writing and I’m racking up the frequently tired miles.

I have seen the occular proof that you actual did all that traveling– I’ve got a piece of Bethel Academy gathering dust on my shelf, that school you helped foster which led to Asbury College and Seminary.  Yes, I know, I know— you didn’t have any higher education and you weren’t too keen on it either.  I remember your comment on Cokesbury College in Maryland when it burned down– you had only wanted a school or academy, not a college, and certainly not one named after you!  

And I’ve been down the Cataloochee Trail near Lake Junaluska N.C. where you crossed over my beloved Blue Ridge mountains and left detritus behind— signs of your comings and goings.   I only found the signs due to a rockslide on the main road (I-40). I had to go on a back dirt road to get around the slide, and lo and behold, you’d been there before me.  It seems like many places I go, you’ve been there before me.  Of course you were single all your life, so I suppose it was easier, and you could be single minded in purpose all the time.  I really can’t, but I am doing my best to follow your example.  You would never have been able to say about me “he got married and was dead to the itinerancy” like you said about so many of those  first itinerants.

I’ve just come back from doing three ‘appointments’ in Kansas and Nebraska.  O.K. so they didn’t exist yet when you were in America.  But guess what– there are Methodists out there still— almost two hundred years after you went to be with the Lord.  I went to Kansas State University and discovered it had its origins in Bluemont College— a Methodist school. Those folks at KSU were mighty kind, and I ran into someone who really knew the history of Methodism in the region, and learned a lot.  Mr. Wesley may have been worried that Methodism would become a dead sect, but we ain’t dead yet.  But some parts of Methodism are sure on life support.

You’ll be pleased to know I went on to Lincoln Nebraska and preached twice in a church plant out there— Horizons UMC.  And guess what– its pastored by Steve and the worship leader is Katie and they are both graduates from the school named after you– Asbury Seminary, hard by the old Bethel Academy in the woods of Wilmore, Ky.  You would have been even more surprised at the huge conference on the Bible and the Global Future at St. Marks UMC in Lincoln. We had all kinds of scholars from many different traditions to talk about this important subject— but the first two presenters were your folks— Methodist ministers Bob Jewett and the rapidly aging BW3. A good time was had by all.   But it is sure is good to be back home in ole Kaintuck on this beautiful fall afternoon.

I almost forgot to tell you— and you’d never believe it,  somebody wrote an enormous biography of your life, and it was published by the University John Wesley attended— Oxford U. Press. What about that!   They are even reviewing the volume at the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Grooup next month.  Who knew you’d be a celebrity one day? But then you would never have wanted that or even approved.

I’ll sign off for now, but if you have any tips for me about travelling all those miles to keep up my end of the bargain of reviving Methodism, please drop me a line.  We could sure use your help about now. The median age of all Methodists in America is about 55 so, revival we need, indeed.

Send my best to both Mr. Wesley’s up there in the Methodist portion of heaven,

On the road again,


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