Occasionally I come across well-known saying of John Wesley that Wesley most likely did not actually say. I came across one yesterday, and it made me think: I should start posting these.

So here is the first statement that John Wesley did not actually say:

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and, in all things, charity.

I came across Richard P. Heitzenrater’s chapter, “‘Unity, Liberty, Charity’ in the Wesleyan Heritage.” while reading through Unity, Liberty, and Charity: Building Bridges under Icy Waters, edited by Donald E. Messer and William J. Abraham. [This book was written because the editors were concerned about the “growing polarization and politicalization within our beloved church.” So, they “sought to encourage and participate in open theological conversations where persons of deep and diverse convictions could articulate their differences and explore possible convergences in thought and action” (5).]

In Heitzenrater’s chapter he found that a detailed search of Wesley’s word usage found that “the saying was not used by Wesley.” (29)

Wesley didn’t say that, we should stop saying that he did.