On Epiphany Day, the celebration of the visit of the wise figures from the East to the Christ-Child, I share with you – on behalf of the Inter-Religious Relationships Standing Committee of the World Methodist Council – an Epiphany good-wishes. The painting above (dated 1820) is of Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke, as he is engaging in Inter-Religious Relationships with two “Priests of Buddha” from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). If you are interested to know more about this intriguing painting and of the characters in it, you can go to the following links:
- Article writing by Peter Forsyth presented at the Oxford Institute 2013 for the working group 2. WESLEY/METHODIST HISTORICAL STUDIES (the texts are organised per working group and in alphabetical order): https://oxford-institute.org/2013-thirteenth-institute/working-groups/
- and for the painting itself: http://artuk.org/discover/artworks/adam-clarke-and-two-former-buddhists-133601/search/venue:john-wesleys-house-the-museum-of-methodism-6487/page/2.
The article from Dr. Forsyth is theological, intricate, and highly informative. It is excellent! It does not directly mention the background picture hanging on the wall of Dr. Clarkes’ house. Can you perceive it? Are there also statuettes of Buddhist origin alongside?
What do those faint images say about the Evangelical Movement that produced Adam Clarke and the Evangelical movement in our own century? Which seems so tame in comparison.
John Wesley himself preached a sermon entitled, “A Caution Against Bigotry”:
“What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian, casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in His work, and praise His name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission. Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
Rev. Dr. R. F. Leão Neto
Chair of the Inter-Religious Standing Committee of the World Methodist Council