The Reflecting God Study Bible

The Wesley Bible, published in 1990 by Thomas Nelson with the NKJV text was reviewed in the Fall, 1994 Arminian Magazine. While I was in general agreement with most of the comments within the Bible, my evaluation will be limited to the classic Wesleyan understanding of salvation. Concerning the work of the Holy Spirit the Wesley Bible is both contradictory and tends to reflect the viewpoint of the later holiness movement instead of John Wesley.

The Wesley Bible is out of print. An adaptation of it, which omitted three essays in the back, called the Classic Personal Study Bible is also out of print. The essays omitted were "Sanctification -- Initial and Entire," "Biographies of Significant Quoted Writers," and "The Thirty Texts of Wesley."

In 2000 Zondervan printed The Reflecting God Study Bible with the NIV text. It is an adaptation by the Christian Holiness Partnership of The NIV Study Bible. However, the NIV Study Bible had a Calvinistic bias. Their task was to edit and revise the existing notes to provide a distinctively Wesleyan emphasis. The page format could not be changed. The writers were to review what was written to determine if the notes included material inappropriate from a Wesleyan point of view and rewrite it, or if some opportunity to express a Wesleyan point of view had been missed to add it. However, regardless of how many words were added or deleted, each page had to end up with the same number of words as the original NIV Study Bible. Zondervan accepted most of what was submitted.

Under such limitations, the notes are not that helpful. While the most misleading notes have been edited, all too often opportunities to expound the Wesleyan emphasis are missed. I also missed the quotations from leading Wesleyan writers which were contained in The Wesley Bible.

In addition to the notes, there are fifteen essays inserted. These basic introductions, definitely written at a lay level, deal in everyday language with such themes as how to study the Bible in the first section. The second section contains an overview of Wesleyan doctrine. Steve Harper deals with prevenient grace, although never using that terminology, in "The Gift of Human Freedom." "The Miracle of Transforming Grace" well describes the victory of the new birth. I have felt that the little booklet "Living the Holy Life Today," by Elmer Parsons, a Free Methodist bishop, was one of the most adequate recent presentations of the doctrine of entire sanctification. In this study Bible Parsons deals very adequately with sanctification in the essay "The Experience of Sanctifying Grace." The theme of holiness is expanded in other essays to incorporate the church as a holy community and the dimension of social holiness. The final section of essays deal with the dynamic of holy love in loving God, loving others, loving yourself, and in the final essay by William Greathouse, "Perfecting Love."

I would conclude that the essays in the Reflecting God Study Bible are probably better than those in The Wesley Bible, but the notes themselves are not as good. Although there is a glut of study Bibles on the market, currently the Reflecting God Study Bible, with its limitations, is the only Wesleyan-Arminian study Bible in print.