Monday Methodism: Aldersgate Street

I have been to London a few times, but it’s the first trip four years ago last month where April and I, with our friend Jen, made the Methodist Whistle Stop Tour. We knew there was some sort of monument to Wesley’s Aldersgate experience and heard it was a flame of sort, but we didn’t know what we were looking for. We found it outside the London Museum as we rambled along Aldersgate Street.

The house where John Wesley had his experience has long since gone, but there are a few reminders of what happened. Wesley wrote in his journal on 24 May 1738:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

Exactly the impact it had on Wesley is debated, but it’s hard to deny that something changed in him that evening, even if it diminished in his thinking years later. I don’t know if I would go the full way and call it a ‘conversion’, though. Any thoughts?

Today's Street Sign

Today's Street Sign

A plaque erected by the International Methodist Union, supposedly near the site of the house.

A plaque erected by the International Methodist Union, supposedly near the site of the house.

Jen and me, beside the flame memorial outise the Museum of London.

Jen and me, beside the flame memorial outside the Museum of London.

The plaque describing the Memorial Flame.

The plaque describing the Memorial Flame.

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6 thoughts on “Monday Methodism: Aldersgate Street

  1. I don’t have a name for it but I think it’s something like a touchstone experience of the Holy Spirit that gave him a sense of vocation and direction as well as personal assurance of salvation.

    I don’t think it was a ‘conversion’ experience either.

  2. I would echo Pams thoughts, I guess some would call it baptism in the Holy Spirit, but that does not fit with my theology, neither does conversion. Whatever it was it was powerful and transformative… God is like that!!!

  3. I think I’ve had more than one ‘transformative experience’. (not a huge number, mind)

    The ones I’m thinking of have not been ‘conversion to Christ’ experiences, but they have certainly helped point me in a different direction from the one in which I was going. ‘Depends what you mean by the word conversion’!

  4. I also tend to think about transformative moments as well. Rather than one big BAM, lots of little ones. Some seem bigger at the time, and then fade as others happen. I would say that about my calling as much as my faith walk.

    I don’t know how ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ (as described by Pentecostals) would fit in my theology. I don’t really talk about it much.

    I think, with Pam, I would say it depends on what it means by conversion. My definition has changed over the years for that. To long to think about in this one comment! :)

  5. I think scripture shows us that baptism in the Holy Spirit comes with having a personal relationship with Jesus. (Sorry for using two jargon phrases, but it’s a compact way of conveying meaning.)

    I certainly know Pentecostals who don’t write me off as ‘not baptised in the Holy Spirit’ because I don’t have the gift of prophetic tongues or the gift of ‘letting it all hang out’ in worship.

    By the way, I think I have a ‘gift of tongues’ that is often not recognised by the Church. a) I can pick up foreign languages quickly but possibly more importantly, b) I have an intuitive understanding that different cultures are different and I am comfortable with people of different cultures and they with me.

  6. I have also known Pentecostals who haven’t written me off, but like your use of jargon, I was trying to compact what I was saying!

    I would certainly recognise that as a gift, Pam. I am not bothered with ‘does it fit right’.

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