Recommended Resources for Wesleyan Theology


Here is another piece that I think many will find interesting, especially if you are a lay servant interested in becoming a new lay speaker.

Vital Piety

I was recently asked to write a piece for Seedbed on key texts for understanding Wesleyan theology. Here are the books I recommended:

1. John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology, edited by Albert C. Outler and Richard P. Heitzenrater (Abingdon, 1991) or The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey, edited by Kenneth J. Collins and Jason E. Vickers (Abingdon, 2013) when it is released by Abingdon.

2. Key United Methodist Beliefs, William J. Abraham and David F. Watson (Abingdon, 2013).

3. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology, Randy L. Maddox (Kingswood, 1994).

4. The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace, Kenneth J. Collins (Abingdon, 2007).

5. Mainline or Methodist: Rediscovering our Evangelistic Mission, Scott Kisker (Discipleship Resources, 2008).

6. Wesley and Sanctification, Harald Lindström (Francis Asbury Press, 1996).

7. Aiming at Maturity: The Goal of…

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Wesleyan take on predestination


When I was presenting seminars on the nature of information technology in the chemistry classroom, I would often saw that this particular presentation was “the fourth in a trilogy” (see “What is at the End of the Universe? – https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/what-is-at-the-end-of-the-universe/
Anyway, this is the fourth in the trilogy of posts about being a Methodist and what it means to be a Methodist. My thanks to John, Scott, and Kevin for their work in bringing these points to our attention.

John Meunier

Asbury Seedbed has published an excellent summary of the Wesley approach to predestination.

Read it here.

Here is the summary the post offers of the Wesleyan Arminian position on predestination:

 

  • It was on the basis of these two areas of concern that Wesley advocated for his evangelical Arminian position on predestination, which can be outlined in the following six points:
    • Total depravity is affirmed by Wesley, meaning that the fallen human being is completely helpless and in bondage to sin. Contrary to popular misconception, Wesley does not believe that fallen human beings have an inherent freedom of the will.
    • The atonement is universal in scope.  Christ’s death was sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world, not only an elect few, as proposed by five-point Calvinism.
    • Prevenient (or preceding) grace is universally available. God’s grace is present in our lives before we turn to Christ…

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What is Methodism Anyways?


This is another one of the blogs that I have received in the past week that speaks to the nature of what it means to be a Methodist. It is interesting that Scott is a Yankee in a Tennessee court and I am from Tennessee but in a Yankee court. 🙂

(c) Epworth Old Rectory; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(A Remembrance on Aldersgate)

Over the last week, I had the opportunity to have a meal with a lifelong southern Baptist.   During that meal the question arose of why I was so far from home.   After I told him about why I was the Yankee in Tennessee court, there was a pause, followed by a scrunched brow and “what is a methodist anyways?”

Although I have some text-book answers to that question, the truth is you cannot answer that question, without asking and answering another question; who was John Wesley.    Although it is Jesus in whom we put our faith, trust and love…It was John Wesley, whose life, sermons, teaching, and ministry serves to become a filter of just what a Wesleyan Christian looks like.

Who was John Wesley?

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Christian Perfection: The Reason for Methodism


As I noted earlier, there are many Methodists whose knowledge of Methodism is limited. I am not trying to be critical but if we do not have an understanding of what it is that we say we are, how can we tell (and show others) what it means to be a Methodist?

Vital Piety

On September 15, 1790, John Wesley wrote a letter to Robert Carr Brackenbury where he discussed his declining health. Wesley wrote that his “body seems nearly to have done its work and to be almost worn out.” This acknowledgment of his own mortality seems to have led Wesley to reflect on his life and his involvement in Methodism. Wesley’s description of his sense of God’s purpose for “raising up” the “people called Methodists” is now fairly well known:

I am glad brother D — has more light with regard to full sanctification. This doctrine is the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up.

In other words, Wesley believed that there was a particular reason for Methodism. Methodists existed because God had given them a particular corporate calling – to spread the…

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Holiness in new words


A comment was made to me about the state of knowledge about Methodism among Methodists and the state was not good. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I will post links to other blogs that speak/write about key concepts about what it means to be a Methodist. This is a little convoluted because I am linking to John Meunier’s post and he is linking to the original. Hopefully, you won’t get lost in the clicks.

John Meunier

Ken Schenck of Wesley Seminary here in Indiana wrote a post recently about reformulating the language of key Wesleyan doctrines on holiness to communicate better to contemporary audiences. The whole post is worth reading.

Here’s one small piece.

The old language of eradicating the carnal nature is dead. Nobody thinks in these sorts of terms. I tried to see if I could sell the following language: the Spirit part of your life can so come to dominate the flesh part of your life that you love God and others with ease, overcome temptation with ease, and sometimes don’t even notice that your flesh part is even there.

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“What Should We Be Remembering?” – Thoughts for Memorial Day, 2013


We have set aside this weekend (or rather, this Monday) as Memorial Day, a day to remember. But I sometimes wonder what it is that we are to be remembering.

Are we to remember all those who have died in all the wars that we have engaged over the past 250 years or so? If so, we are not doing a good job of it, for we keeping sending soldiers off to war.

Do we think that war is easier if it is made to look and feel like some sort of video game? Have we not noticed that people still die in a war, no matter if it is by guns, bombs, or rockets or if we are somewhere far away watching on a T. V. monitor.

I am one of the lucky ones. My grandfather served in World War I but he died at home during peace time. My father served in World War II but he also died at home during peace time. I know where their graves are and I know that a flag flies over their grave today. My family has the flags that a greatful government gave in honor of the service.

But how many families don’t have that sort of luck. How many families lost their fathers, their mothers, their sisters, their brothers, their sons, their daughters in lands far away? How many more must die before we truly realize that to honor the dead of past wars, we must not engage in wars again?

How many soldiers and sailors have come home to an indifferent nation, a nation that gladly sends them off to war but ignores them when they come home, some with physical injuries, many with internal injuries that no one can see? Why is that we are willing to pay millions for an unmanned drone but will cut veterans’ benefits because the budget is too big?

What are we doing this Memorial Day that will insure the peace? We must honor the dead because if we don’t, their deaths will be meaningless. But to truly honor their service, we must make sure that there are no more wars.

As long as we engage in acts of violence, any words said to honor those who have died will have no meaning. When we began to realize that war cannot solve the problems that create wars in the first place, then we will have taken the first step. Those who will have died in the past have not died in vain but it will be very difficult to think that what they fought for had any meaning if all we do is go off to war.

And one day we will look around and all we shall see are fields and fields of the youth of this country, killed in a war that no one understood and began for reasons that no once could remember. And with the youth of this country gone, then those who remain will understand too late that to honor the dead is to protect the living.

Right With God


This is the message that Gary Gomes of Goshen UMC (NY) gave at Grannie Annie’s Kitchen on Saturday, May 25th. The scriptures were for Sunday, May 26th, Trinity Sunday (C).

Romans 5:1-5 (ERV)

We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are very happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us.

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Hey, the short of it is, God loves us. Yeah, there are times when that might seem hard to believe, but what we have to remember is that God never promised it was easy. We mess up, we all mess up. One way or another in life, sooner or later we get it wrong. But faith brings us closer to Christ and Christ made sure we all got a share of God’s grace no matter what. If it seems like you have nothing else, know that you have that. Then, with that, move forward learning from our mistakes and taking each day as it comes. You see when we give thanks to God for our troubles, we are doing the opposite of what everyone else does…complaining to God and blaming Him for their problems.
In complaining we think God allows bad things to happen to us. This is not the case. Our troubles are the result of our earthly existence. Trials and heartaches are a part of the human condition that allow us to appreciate the good things in life. Besides, when it comes to our troubles, these things too, shall pass or as Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest stars of the silent movie era, once said “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles” and I can’t help but think he got this message well.

Now this all comes about because of God’s Grace or Love. Now, this Love of God is True Love. I’ve often wondered what the difference between Love and true Love is but I guess it can mean different things to different people at different times. For instance, right now I am thinking that Love is when someone makes you fresh hot ‘_________________’ on a Saturday morning. True Love is when they actually melt the butter to put on them!

Now knowing that this Grace of God is True Love it seems silly that we of so little faith are always asking ourselves the same question. “Yeah, but what if God gets fed up, what if God decides to stop loving me?”

But this is what Paul is trying to tell us when he says we are happy with the troubles we have. That through our faith we must realize that God still loves us, that these troubles only draw us closer to him. From that we will gain patience with our challenges and hope to overcome them. Maintain that hope and you will overcome disappointment. As was quoted by John Wesley, a man folks in this church should certainly be acquainted with, “Hope does not shame us. We glory in this our hope, because the love of God is held abroad in our hearts.”

Yes, Give Thanks to God! He has blessed us and everything that has been given to us, He has given freely with His love. Yet we take Him for granted because we forget. We forget how great He is and how much of a blessing it is to have such a great God who loves and nurtures us every day despite our shortcomings, a God who never forgets us, but forgets our sins, a God who loves us without reservation even when the world may shun us. He is truly the Light of the World! It is easy for us to give him thanks when things go right for us and we feel the light of God shining on us, but we must remember that he is there even when things seem to be going all wrong. God’s Grace is with you. God loves you. You are Right with God.

Lord, we thank you for this day and for your Love. We know we are not perfect and we know you don’t care. What you care about is that we remember your Love and let it build the patience in us to face our most troublesome days. We thank you for this time together in fellowship, for this opportunity to serve and be served as we were taught to do by Jesus. We ask you to look over all of us gathered here and elsewhere today and guide us on your path to greater Glory. We ask for all of this in the name of our savior Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen